Swiss professor Riccardo Bocco, a professor of anthropology and sociology for the Graduate Institute in Geneva, claimed Israel had an economic motive in killing Gaza civilians during Operation Protective Edge during a lecture he held at "Peace Week," an event held by the Geneva Peace Building Platform. According to Bocco's claims, the security industry used Gaza as a field experiment and reaped a $7 billion profit as a result.
"The killing of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge had a clear economic motive – the Israeli security industries are the ones who prospered from Protective Edge," said Bocco.
Bocco's lecture was recorded by an Israeli representative at the conference, and a report was handed over to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem as part of a mission to track anti-Israel activities with an emphasis on those which receive sponsorship from international and academic institutions.
The said event went under the title "Geneva Peace Week" and included lectures by several other professors.
"An academic degree never constitutes a guarantee of decency," the Foreign Ministry said in response.
"The Foreign Ministry fights and will continue to fight all of those who take advantage of their position as academics in order to slander Israel. It is unfortunate to see that the UN and well-known academic organizations sponsor debates and seminars that promote incitement and violence rather than peace."
Professor Bocco has been a faculty member at Geneva's Graduate Institute of International Studies since 1986, and heads Palestinian research at the academic institution whose graduates include former secretary general of the UN Kofi Annan and award-winning Israeli historian Shaul Friedlander, who also taught at the institute and now teaches at UCLA.
The Foreign Ministry said that the lecture was a one-sided indictment against Israel.
Bocco allegedly completely ignored Hamas as a source of the fighting, withheld himself from categorizing the actions of the Palestinian organizations as "terror," and did not mention the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teenagers Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frenkel and Gil-Ad Shaer.
According to the Foreign Ministry, Bocco did not mention the massive launching of rockets by Hamas into Israeli population centers and the violations of the cease-fire by Hamas.
Instead, Bocco described the Palestinian civilian casualties as the product of a deliberate strategy: "Israel has a well-planned, deliberate strategy on how to profit from political, social and economic damage directed at Palestinian civilians."
After naming the number of casualties –"the minority of which were involved in the fighting," according to Bocco – the injured and displaced Gazans, and the damaged homes, the professor stated that the purpose of the entire operation was to put pressure on the people of Gaza to support the Palestinian Authority instead of Hamas.
"The message to the Palestinians was clear. The continued support of Hamas will bring them harm," the professor said.
Bocco added that Israel intentionally avoided hurting Palestinian leaders in order to present them as having immunity, compared to the severe damage to the civilian population.
Bocco claimed Israel deliberately bombed big factories in the Strip belonging to wealthy families that have good ties with Israel in order to apply pressure on the economic elite to take action against Hamas.
The professor criticized the use of new technology by the IDF, especially the use of drones, and claimed that it is used to dehumanize the enemy and change the perception of the soldiers, so that they hurt the enemy as though the fighting were a video game.
Bocco also claimed that most of Israel's prime ministers, who were formally senior officers in the IDF, have "hands covered in Palestinian blood."
Professor Bocco said that the fighting in Gaza has helped promote the image of Netanyahu as a leader with a "positive" track record. He also claimed that the fighting enhanced fundamentalist religious processes in the IDF and read the letter that the Givati Brigade Commander had read to his fighters before they entered Gaza. According to Bocco, the commander told the soldiers they were fighting for God and the Jewish religion.
According to the Israeli representative present at the conference, not one of the 300 people in the audience challenged Bocco's remarks or asked difficult questions, and at the end of the lecture he was rewarded with a large round of applause.