In 1925, still under the ear-ringing shock of bomb blasts tearing human limbs apart and the blinding sight of rivers of blood flooding the trenches of World War I, the writers of the Geneva Convention listed down rules for a “just war” they thought would never, ever be broken, so strongly the international community felt about war-making. History taught them wrong, but the ideology behind the Geneva Convention was a worldwide attempt at instauring basic limits of human respectability and civilized methods of fighting. Realistic enough not to believe a future without wars could even exist, they cordoned off what was acceptable and what was supposed to generate enough uproar to be immediately stopped. As the decades went on, the international community either celebrated the Geneva Convention in all its humanity and peaceful ideology – or ran it into the ground with all the scorn and spite of a belligerent, bloodthirsty nation so confident in its military supremacy that the rule of law became obnoxiously irrelevent.

Such is the case for the recent attack in the Gaza Strip. It wasn’t enough for Israel to use chemical weapons on civilians under the false pretense of creating a smokescreen for soldiers, or bombing densely populated (but what isn’t densely populated in Palestine, where the population is crammed into bits and pieces of land to make room for the colonization?) areas despite repetitive United Nations resolutions urging them to stop. It wasn’t enough for Ehud Olmert to release a statement claiming he would make personally sure his soldiers would stay above and beyond the law by refusing to send them to an eventual war crimes trial, hereby stating he was fully aware of the extent to which his retaliation against Hamas upset and unnerved the international community. Now Israel is once again proving how little respect they have for human life and for the rest of their peers worldwide.  Dominic Maghorn, Middle East correspondant for Sky News, has stumbled upon Israeli soldiers wearing custom-made tshirs celebrating the Gaza massacre, especially that of pregnant women and children. This is the legacy of the Geneva Convention, of the United Nations Charter, and of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This is the nation that stands up against the rules created on their behalf in 1945. The irony is not lost on us.

fashion trends among Israeli armed forces. © Haaretz

fashion trends among Israeli armed forces. © Haaretz

Discovered by Israeli newspaper Haaretz, themselves shocked and disgusted at the print (a pregnant woman at the center of a target, with the following caption “1 shot, 2 kills”), those tshirts were designed for soldiers at the end of a deployement or a training course.  Another one is showing a mosque going up in flames and reading “only God forgives”. Other designs celebrating the targeting of children and mocking women grieving over the tomb of their dead baby (“better use Durex”) have infuriated Breaking The Silence, an association of former Israeli soldiers revealing the truth about being deployed in the occupied territories – information at the complete opposite end of the spectrum from the propaganda distributed by the Israeli Ministry of Defense. Michael Maniken, a campaigner for the association, told Sky News: “The army keeps on saying we’re talking about a few rotten apples but it seems the army doesn’t understand there’s a norm in this kind of action. We’re hearing about this time and time again and the army seems disconnected from reality.” Everywhere in the world, army leaders seem to turn a blind eye on the horrors committed by their soldiers – distraught by illegitimate combat and spoonfed with enough hatred to muster the courage to kill, generals are left without answers once faced with the disastrous consequences of their campaigns of dehumanization.

An Israeli Defence Forces spokesman succinctly commented that those tshirts “are not in accordance with IDF values and are simply tasteless. This type of humour is unacceptable and should be condemned”. We are a long way away from considering the massacre of civilians not in accordance with our values and simply unacceptable, to the point of being condemned. The path towards humanity has to be walked one step at a time.

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