News / Middle East

Gaza War Crimes Fallout Deepens Political Rift in Israel

A year after Israel's invasion of the Gaza Strip, fallout from the war is deepening political divisions in the Jewish state. The three-week conflict claimed the lives of 1,400 Palestinians, according to Arab accounts, and 13 Israelis.

A right-wing Israeli advocacy group has ignited a storm with a public campaign targeting an Israeli human rights organization that assisted United Nations officials investigating the Gaza War.

The U.N.'s subsequent Goldstone Report accused Israel of war crimes in Gaza, prompting outrage in Israel. The popular view among Israelis is that the nation was acting in legitimate self-defense in response to years of Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza.

So the right-wing group Im Tirzu launched an ad campaign accusing the left-wing New Israel Fund of treason for helping the Goldstone Commission bring war crimes allegations against Israel. Im Tirzu spokesman Erez Tadmor says the fund is backing the Palestinian militant group Hamas that rules Gaza and is giving a bad name to the Israel Defense Forces.

"Basically when you support the propaganda of the Hamas, and you call Israel [a] murderer of children and you insight against the IDF soldiers, this is not a human rights issue. These are just lies," he said.

One ad depicted the leader of the One Israel Fund, Naomi Hazan, with horns - an image often used in anti-Semitic propaganda. Hazan says it is an attack on Israeli democracy and freedom of speech.

"Nobody has a monopoly over patriotism, and I am willing to say that what is being done now by those people who are directing this campaign is the most anti-Zionist action I've seen in years," said Hazan.

The dispute underscores a growing rift between the Israeli right which opposes major territorial concessions and the left which supports Palestinian rights and independence. But with the peace process stalled over most of the past decade, hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu swept to power last year - another sign that the right is getting stronger at the expense of the Israeli left.

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