ISCI is a cross-disciplinary research centre working to further our understanding of state crime: organisational deviance violating human rights

The War on Gaza: Israeli state crime and western complicity


‘I don’t know how my family are’, says Coventry restaurant owner Manal Timraz. ‘Last night was a bloody night because of the armed invasion and because of the types of weapons the Israeli Defence Force are using – gas bombs that create a sweet smell of oranges but cause great devastation.’

As Israeli attacks against Gaza enter their 11th day Manal has good reason to fear for the lives of her family. So far 285 Palestinians have been killed, with 20 killed overnight in IDF bombardments. Giving the lie to IDF claims that they are targeting Hamas militants, three quarters of all those killed have been civilians and most of them women and children.

For Manal, Israel’s most recent assault on Gaza reawakens devastating memories. Between 2008 and 2012, as a result of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead bombardment of Gaza, she lost 22 family members. During just one F16 airstrike on 27th December 2008, 15 of her family were killed instantaneously, 11 of them small children aged between 2 and 12.

One of Manal’s surviving cousins is a photographer documenting those killed and injured at the scene of Israeli bombardments. Another cousin is delivering petrol directly to stranded ambulances and hospital generators across Gaza city. ‘You can’t import fuel into Gaza so there are desperate shortages. My cousin, has a petrol station but since the bombardment it has been too dangerous for his drivers to transport fuel around the city but he couldn’t let the hospitals run out so he decided to deliver the fuel himself. Every couple of days he has to take his trucks across the city to refuel the hospital generators’.

He has rare access to wireless and telephone and spoke with Manal just after he had escaped certain death when a bomb exploded behind him. ‘I would have been gone if I had stayed seconds longer’ he told Manal, ‘I was carrying fuel to fill up three trapped ambulances and in order to get to them, after the explosion, I was forced to think about my life – I thought of my 22 lost brothers, sisters and cousins and realized that every time I deliver fuel which might save lives I am also bringing my family back.’

It is this resilience and steadfast determination to continue living and to continue the struggle for justice which gives Manal and other Palestinians like her some hope for a better future, even at this at this bleakest of times. 

For those Palestinians living outside Gaza there is a dreadful sense of fear, helplessness and despair watching as Israel and its international backers engage in state crimes on a colossal scale:

‘This is the third time that Israel has attacked Gaza but never before on this scale’ says Manal,  ‘In 2008 I tried to contact the BBC but they ignored me. In the past only those connected would have known what was happening in Gaza but social media has meant that Israel’s crimes are more widely known. I’m glad channel 4 has someone inside Gaza – in 2012 they didn’t. At least the world has seen some of what Israel has done, at least it has been aired. But this is shocking isn’t it – we applaud Channel 4 because they manage to sneak in one reporter to do his job!’

When asked why Israel has attacked with such brutality Manal points directly to the international community.

Yesterday (17th July 2014) at the same time as the US called on Israel to prevent civilian casualties, (in response to the killing of four young boys as they played  football on the beach) State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki reasserted Washington’s condemnation of Hamas’s “indiscriminate rocket attacks” targeting Israeli civilians and affirmed U.S. support for Israel’s ‘right’ to defend itself.  One wonders from what, and how indeed Jen Psaki squares 285 dead Gazans – largely civilians –  with the doctrine of self defence?

‘International states bear the greatest responsibility’ according to Manal Timraz,  ‘The US state funds Israel – enables it to kill our people and destroy our infrastructure. In Sheffield, here in the UK, she says poignantly, ‘they manufacture  and sell the F16s that Israel is using right now to bomb Gaza, the F16s that killed my family as they sheltered in their home’.