Scottish Friends of Palestine Briefing Paper November 2014
The difference between children Gideon Levy Ha’aretz 24/08/2014
It is human that the killing of an Israeli boy, a child of ours, would arouse greater identification than the death of some other child. What is incomprehensible is the Israeli response to the killing of their children — After the first child, nobody batted an eye; after the 50th not even a slight tremor was felt in a plane’s wing; after the 100th, they stopped counting; after the 200th, they blamed Hamas. After the 300th child they blamed the parents. After the 400th child, they invented excuses; after (the first) 478 children nobody cares. Then came our first child and Israel went into shock. And indeed, the heart weeps at the picture of 4-year-old Daniel Tregerman, killed Friday evening in his home in Sha’ar Hanegev. A beautiful child, who once had his picture taken in an Argentinean soccer team shirt, blue and white, number 10. And whose heart would not be broken at the sight of this photo, and who would not weep at how he was criminally killed. “Hey Leo Messi, look at that boy,” a Facebook post read, “you were his hero.” Suddenly death has a face and dreamy blue eyes and light hair. A tiny body that will never grow. Suddenly the death of a little boy has meaning, suddenly it is shocking. It is human, understandable and moving. It is also human that the killing of an Israeli boy, a child of ours, would arouse greater identification than the death of some other child. What is incomprehensible is the Israeli response to the killing of their children … We must admit the truth: Palestinian children in Israel are considered like insects. This is a horrific statement, but there is no other way to describe the mood in Israel in the summer of 2014. When for six weeks hundreds of children are destroyed; their bodies buried in rubble, piling up on morgues, sometimes even in vegetable refrigeration rooms for lack of other space; when their horrified parents carry the bodies of their toddlers as a matter of course; their funerals coming and going, 478 times – even the most unfeeling of Israelis would not allow themselves to be so uncaring. Something here has to rise up and scream: Enough. All the excuses and all the explanations will not help – there is no such thing as a child that is allowed to be killed and a child that is not. There are only children killed for nothing, hundreds of children whose fate touches no one in Israel, and one child, just one, around whose death the people unite in mourning.
Missing those who have lived through hell for seven weeks Amira Hass Ha’aretz 01/09/2014
With the Gaza war over, my heart goes out to the children an hour’s drive away whom Israel does not let me watch grow up — The nightmare is in abeyance. No more waking up with a heaviness amid Ramallah’s morning sounds — the sesame-bagel seller hawking his wares, policemen in the distance finishing their training by singing the national anthem, the engine of a cement-mixer owned by the Tarifi Ready Mix Concrete Company groaning outside the window. No more waking up in fear that overnight some of my friends or their relatives and acquaintances were hurt in Gaza. No more discovering that someone’s home was bombed or damaged, or that the people had to leave in a rush after a phone call from the Israel Defense Forces informing them that the neighboring building was about to be blown up. No more feverish searching on news websites for the names of neighborhoods that had just been bombed — to know whether I should dread now, for a couple of hours, that the worst has happened to my loved ones. And all this occurs in a time and place where the unimaginably horrific happens to everyone all the time. No need to wait impatiently for the suitable late morning to start my daily round of phone calls — a kind of macabre inventory: who’s alive, how many whole families have been bombed in their homes overnight … I miss Bassam’s mane of salt-and-pepper hair — Bassam, who taught me how to drive against the traffic. (“If the world is upside down, why not drive the wrong way?”) I miss the scoldings his mother served with lunch. (“What’s this — have you Jews lost your minds?” She and her husband, both about 75, have heart trouble and difficulty walking. They went on a pilgrimage to Mecca at the start of the war and insisted on returning to the refugee camp when the bombings were going on full force.) I miss Fawrat, with her dimples, who describes the fear in a practical tone, as if it were the dough she taught me to knead ages and ages ago. That was when house demolitions by bulldozer, not bombing, were part of our vocabulary. I miss Abu Wissam, a redhead among many other redheads in Beit Lahia, and his jokes about their Crusader ancestors. I miss Gazan-style humor (“We demand immediate resumption of the World Cup broadcasts”; “We’re celebrating victory — what did you think?”; “Another victory like this and there won’t be any more Gaza”; “[Kibbutz] Bror Hayil is rooting for the Brazilian team? We’re rooting for Argentina” — the words of refugees from the village of Bureir, on whose land the kibbutz, with its many immigrants from Brazil, is situated.)…. [Hass, author of Drinking the Sea at Gaza, has not been permitted by the Israeli government to go to Gaza since 2007]
[The following article is adapted from John Pilger’s Edward Said Memorial Lecture, delivered in Adelaide, Australia, on 11 September 2014.]
Breaking the last taboo – Gaza and the threat of world war John Pilger johnpilger.com
“There is a taboo,” said the visionary Edward Said, “on telling the truth about Palestine and the great destructive force behind Israel. Only when this truth is out can any of us be free.”
For many people, the truth is out now. At last, they know. Those once intimidated into silence can’t look away now. Staring at them from their TV, laptop, phone, is proof of the barbarism of the Israeli state and the great destructive force of its mentor and provider, the United States, the cowardice of European governments, and the collusion of others, such as Canada and Australian, in this epic crime.
The attack on Gaza was an attack on all of us. The siege of Gaza is a siege of all of us. The denial of justice to Palestinians is a symptom of much of humanity under siege and a warning that the threat of a new world war is growing by the day. When Nelson Mandela called the struggle of Palestine “the greatest moral issue of our time”, he spoke on behalf of true civilisation, not that which empires invent. In Latin America, the governments of Brazil, Chile, Venezuela, Bolivia, El Salvador, Peru and Ecuador have made their stand on Gaza. Each of these countries has known its own dark silence when immunity for mass murder was sponsored by the same godfather in Washington that answered the cries of children in Gaza with more ammunition to kill them.
Unlike Netanyahu and his killers, Washington’s pet fascists in Latin America didn’t concern themselves with moral window dressing. They simply murdered, and left the bodies on rubbish dumps. For Zionism, the goal is the same: to dispossess and ultimately destroy an entire human society: a truth that 225 Holocaust survivors and their descendants have compared with the genesis of genocide.
Nothing has changed since the Zionists’ infamous “Plan D” in 1948 that ethnically cleansed an entire people. Recently, on the website of the Times of Israel were the words: “Genocide is Permissible”. A deputy speaker of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, Moshe Feiglin, demands a policy of mass expulsion into concentration camps. An MP, Ayelet Shaked, whose party is a member of the governing coalition, calls for the extermination of Palestinian mothers to prevent them giving birth to what she calls “little snakes”.
For years, reporters have watched Israeli soldiers bait Palestinian children by abusing them through loud-speakers. Then they shoot them dead. For years, reporters have known about Palestinian women about to give birth and refused passage through a roadblock to a hospital; and the baby has died, and sometimes the mother. For years, reporters have known about Palestinian doctors and ambulance crews given permission by Israeli commanders to attend the wounded or remove the dead, only to be shot through the head. For years, reporters have known about stricken people prevented from getting life-saving treatment, or shot dead when they’ve tried to reach a clinic for chemotherapy treatment. One elderly lady with a walking stick was murdered in this way – a bullet in her back.
When I put the facts of this crime to Dori Gold, a senior adviser to the Israeli prime minister, he said, “Unfortunately in every kind of warfare there are cases of civilians who are accidentally killed. But the case you cite was not terrorism. Terrorism means putting the cross-hairs of the sniper’s rifle on a civilian deliberately.”
I replied, “That’s exactly what happened.”
“No,” he said, “it did not happen.”
Such a lie or delusion is repeated unerringly by Israel’s apologists. As the former New York Times reporter Chris Hedges points out, the reporting of such an atrocity invariably ends up as “caught in the cross-fire”. For as long as I have covered the Middle East, much if not most of the western media has colluded in this way. In one of my films, a Palestinian cameraman, Imad Ghanem, lies helpless while soldiers from the “most moral army in the world” blew both his legs off. This atrocity was given two lines on the BBC website. Thirteen journalists were killed by Israel in its latest bloodfest in Gaza. All were Palestinian. Who knows their names?
Something is different now. There is a huge revulsion across the world; and the voices of sensible liberalism are worried. Their hand wringing and specious choir of “equal blame” and “Israel’s right to defend itself” will not wash any more; neither will the smear of anti-Semitism. Neither will their selective cry that “something must be done” about Islamic fanatics but nothing must be done about Zionist fanatics.
One sensible liberal voice, the novelist Ian McEwan, was being celebrated as a sage by the Guardian while the children of Gaza were blown to bits. This is the same Ian McEwan who ignored the pleading of Palestinians not to accept the Jerusalem Prize for literature. “If I only went to countries that I approve of, I probably would never get out of bed,” said McEwan. If they could speak, the dead of Gaza might say: Stay in bed, great novelist, for your very presence smoothes the bed of racism, apartheid, ethnic cleansing and murder – no matter the weasel words you uttered as you claimed your prize.
Understanding the sophistry and power of liberal propaganda is key to understanding why Israel’s outrages endure; why the world looks on; why sanctions are never applied to Israel; and why nothing less than a total boycott of everything Israeli is now a measure of basic human decency.
The most incessant propaganda says Hamas is committed to the destruction of Israel. Khaled Hroub, the Cambridge University scholar considered a world leading authority on Hamas, says this phrase is “never used or adopted by Hamas, even in its most radical statements”. The oft-quoted “anti-Jewish” 1988 Charter was the work of “one individual and made public without appropriate Hamas consensus… The author was one of the ‘old guard’ “; the document is regarded as an embarrassment and never cited.
Hamas has repeatedly offered a 10-year truce with Israel and has long settled for a two-state solution. When Medea Benjamin, the fearless Jewish American activist, was in Gaza, she carried a letter from Hamas leaders to President Obama that made clear the government of Gaza wanted peace with Israel. It was ignored. I personally know of many such letters carried in good faith, ignored or dismissed.
The unforgivable crime of Hamas is a distinction almost never reported: it is the only Arab government to have been freely and democratically elected by its people. Worse, it has now formed a government of unity with the Palestinian Authority. A single, resolute Palestinian voice – in the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court – is the most feared threat.
Since 2002, a pioneering media unit at Glasgow University has produced remarkable studies of reporting and propaganda in Israel/Palestine. Professor Greg Philo and his colleagues were shocked to find a public ignorance compounded by TV news reporting. The more people watched, the less they knew. Greg Philo says the problem is not “bias” as such. Reporters and producers are as moved as anyone by the suffering of Palestinians; but so imposing is the power structure of the media as an extension of the state and its vested interests – that critical facts and historical context are routinely suppressed. Incredibly, less than nine per cent of young viewers interviewed by Professor Philo’s team were aware that Israel was the occupying power, and that the illegal settlers were Jewish; many believed them to be Palestinian. The term “Occupied Territories” was seldom explained. Words such as “murder”, “atrocity”, “cold-blooded killing” were used only to describe the deaths of Israelis.
Recently, a BBC reporter, David Loyn, was critical of another British journalist, Jon Snow of Channel 4 News. Snow was so moved by what he had seen in Gaza he went on YouTube to make a humanitarian appeal. What concerned the BBC man was that Snow had breached protocol and been emotional in his YouTube piece.
“Emotion,” wrote Loyn, “is the stuff of propaganda and news is against propaganda”. Did he write this with a straight face? In fact, Snow’s delivery was calm. His crime was to have strayed outside the boundaries of fake impartiality. Unforgivably, he didn’t censor himself.
In 1937, with Adolf Hitler in power, Geoffrey Dawson, editor of The Times in London, wrote the following in his diary: “I spend my nights in taking out anything which will hurt [German] susceptibilities and in dropping in little things which are intended to soothe them.”
On 30 July, the BBC offered viewers a masterclass in the Dawson Principle. The diplomatic correspondent of the programme Newsnight, Mark Urban, gave five reasons why the Middle East was in turmoil. None included the historic or contemporary role of the British government. The Cameron government’s dispatch of £8 billion worth of arms and military equipment to Israel was airbrushed. Britain’s massive arms shipment to Saudi Arabia was airbrushed. Britain’s role in the destruction of Libya was airbrushed. Britain’s support for the tyranny in Egypt was airbrushed. As for the British invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, they didn’t happen, either.
The only expert witness on this BBC programme was an academic called Toby Dodge from the London School of Economics. What viewers needed to know was that Dodge had been a special adviser to David Petraeus, the American general largely responsible for the disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan. But this, too, was airbrushed. In matters of war and peace, BBC-style illusions of impartiality and credibility do more to limit and control public discussion than tabloid distortion. As Greg Philo pointed out, Jon Snow’s moving commentary on YouTube was limited to whether the Israeli assault on Gaza was proportionate or reasonable. What was missing – and is almost always missing – was the essential truth of the longest military occupation in modern times: a criminal enterprise backed by western governments from Washington to London to Canberra.
As for the myth that “vulnerable” and “isolated” Israel is surrounded by enemies, Israel is actually surrounded by strategic allies. The Palestinian Authority, bankrolled, armed and directed by the US, has long colluded with Tel Aviv. Standing shoulder to shoulder with Netanyahu are the tyrannies in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar – if the World Cup ever gets to Qatar, count on Mossad to run the security.
Resistance is humanity at its bravest and most noble. The resistance in Gaza is rightly compared with the 1943 Jewish uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto – which also dug tunnels and deployed tactics of subterfuge and surprise against an overpowering military machine. The last surviving leader of the Warsaw uprising, Marek Edelman, wrote a letter of solidarity to the Palestinian resistance, comparing it with the ZOB, his ghetto fighters. The letter began: “Commanders of the Palestine military, paramilitary and partisan operations – and to all soldiers [of Palestine].”
Dr. Mads Gilbert is a Norwegian doctor renowned for his heroic work in Gaza. On 8 August, Dr. Gilbert returned to his hometown, Tromso in Norway which, as he pointed out, the Nazis had occupied for seven years. He said, “Imagine being back in 1945 and we in Norway did not win the liberation struggle, did not throw out the occupier. Imagine the occupier remaining in our country, taking it piece by piece, for decades upon decades, and banishing us to the leanest areas, and taking the fish in the sea and the water beneath us, then bombing our hospitals, our ambulance workers, our schools, our homes. “Would we have given up and waved the white flag? No, we would not! And this is the situation in Gaza. This is not a battle between terrorism and democracy. Hamas is not the enemy Israel is fighting. Israel is waging a war against the Palestinian people’s will to resist. It is the Palestinian people’s dignity that they will not accept this.
“In 1938, the Nazis called the Jews Untermenschen – subhuman. Today, Palestinians are treated as a subhuman people who can be slaughtered without any in power reacting. “So I have returned to Norway, a free country, and this country is free because we had a resistance movement, because occupied nations have the right to resist, even with weapons – it’s stated in international law. And the Palestinian people’s resistance in Gaza is admirable: a struggle for us all.”
There are dangers in telling this truth, in breaching what Edward Said called “the last taboo”. My documentary, Palestine Is Still the Issue, was nominated for a Bafta, a British academy award, and praised by the Independent Television Commission for its “journalistic integrity” and the “care and thoroughness with which it was researched.” Yet, within minutes of the film’s broadcast on Britain’s ITV Network, a shock wave struck – a deluge of emails described me as a “demonic psychopath”, “a purveyor of hate and evil”, “an anti-Semite of the most dangerous kind”. Much of this was orchestrated by Zionists in the US who could not possibly have seen the film. Death threats arrived at a rate of one a day.
Something similar happened to the Australian commentator Mike Carlton last month. In his regular column in the Sydney Morning Herald, Carlton produced a rare piece of journalism about Israel and the Palestinians; he identified the oppressors and their victims. He was careful to limit his attack to “a new and brutal Israel dominated by the hard-line, right-wing Likud party of Netanyahu”. Those who had previously run the Zionist state, he implied, belonged to “a proud liberal tradition”. On cue, the deluge struck. He was called “a bag of Nazi slime, a Jew-hating racist.” He was threatened repeatedly, and he emailed his attackers to “get fucked”. The Herald demanded he apologise. When he refused, he was suspended, then he resigned. According to the Herald’s publisher, Sean Aylmer, the company “expects much higher standards from its columnists.”
The “problem” of Carlton’s acerbic, often solitary liberal voice in a country in which Rupert Murdoch controls 70 per cent of the capital city press – Australia is the world’s first murdocracy – would be solved twice over. The Australian Human Rights Commission is to investigate complaints against Carlton under the Racial Discrimination Act, which outlaws any public act or utterance that is “reasonably likely… to offend, insult, humiliate another person or a group of people” on the basic of their race, colour or national or ethnic origin.
In contrast to safe, silent Australia – where the Carltons are made extinct – real journalism is alive in Gaza. I often speak on the phone with Mohammed Omer, an extraordinary young Palestinian journalist, to whom I presented, in 2008, the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. Whenever I called him during the assault on Gaza, I could hear the whine of drones, the explosion of missiles. He interrupted one call to attend to children huddled outside waiting for transport amidst the explosions. When I spoke to him on 30 July, a single Israeli F-19 fighter had just slaughtered 19 children. On 20 August, he described how Israeli drones had effectively “rounded up” a village so that they could savagely gunned down.
Every day, at sunrise, Mohammed looks for families who have been bombed. He records their stories, standing in the rubble of their homes; he takes their pictures. He goes to the hospital. He goes to the morgue. He goes to the cemetery. He queues for hours for bread for his own family. And he watches the sky. He sends two, three, four dispatches a day. This is real journalism.
“They are trying to annihilate us,” he told me. “But the more they bomb us, the stronger we are. They will never win.”
The great crime committed in Gaza is a reminder of something wider and menacing to us all.
Since 2001, the United States and its allies have been on a rampage. In Iraq, at least 700,000 men, woman and children are dead as a result. The rise of jihadists – in a country where there was none – is the result. Known as al-Qaeda and now the Islamic State, modern jihadism was invented by US and Britain, assisted by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The original aim was to use and develop an Islamic fundamentalism that had barely existed in much of the Arab world in order to undermine pan-Arab movements and secular governments. By the 1980s, this had become a weapon to destroy the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. The CIA called it Operation Cyclone; and a cyclone it turned out to be, with its unleashed fury blowing back in the faces of its creators. The attacks of 9/11 and in London in July, 2005 were the result of this blowback, as were the recent, gruesome murders of the American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. For more than a year, the Obama administration armed the killers of these two young men – then known as ISIS in Syria – in order to destroy the secular government in Damascus.
The West’s principal “ally” in this imperial mayhem is the medieval state where beheadings are routinely and judicially carried out – Saudi Arabia. Whenever a member of the British Royal Family is sent to this barbaric place, you can bet your bottom petrodollar that the British government wants to sell the sheiks more fighter planes, missiles, manacles. Most of the 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia, which bankrolls jihadists from Syria to Iraq. Why must we live in this state of perpetual war? The immediate answer lies in the United States, where a secret and unreported coup has taken place. A group known as the Project for a New American Century, the inspiration of Dick Cheney and others, came to power with the administration of George W Bush. Once known in Washington as the “crazies”, this extreme sect believes in what the US Space Command calls “full spectrum dominance”. Under both Bush and Obama, a19th-century imperial mentality has infused all departments of state. Raw militarism is ascendant; diplomacy is redundant. Nations and governments are judged as useful or expendable: to be bribed or threatened or “sanctioned”.
When I was last in Gaza, driving back to the Israeli checkpoint, I caught sight of two Palestinian flags through the razor wire. Children had made flagpoles out of sticks tied together and they’d climbed on a wall and held the flag between them. The children do this, I was told, whenever there are foreigners around, because they want to show the world they are there – alive, and brave, and undefeated.
Full or partial damages to 75 kindergartens and day-care centers: Gaza 21/09/2014
The Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center field teams have documented full or partial damages to 75 kindergartens and day-care centers caused during the 51 day Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip this summer. DWRC’s field workers conducted field visits to all the kindergartens that suffered damages and collected information through filling out questionnaires and affidavits from kindergarten owners in the five Gaza governorates, with a particular focus on eastern areas, where these damages were concentrated. Among the 75 kindergartens and day-care centers that suffered damages, 12 were fully destroyed and 63 partially damaged by shelling and bombing. They are distributed as follows: 10 are located in the North Gaza governorate, 17 in the Gaza governorate, 17 in the Middle Gaza governorate, 21 in Khan Younis governorate, and 10 in Rafah governorate. These kindergartens employ 629 female workers, including educators, administrators and cleaning agents, and they used to care for and provide pre-school education to 12,671 children. The owners of some of the kindergartens have undertaken repairs at their own cost in order to reopen them and others have relocated to alternative premises near their original location, while a third group has been unable to open their kindergartens or day-care centers to this day.
UN urges probe into Gaza school shelling John Davison AFP 14/10/2014
UN chief Ban Ki-moon demanded Tuesday an independent probe into Israel’s deadly shelling of a school during the Gaza conflict, expressing shock at the devastation during a visit to the Palestinian enclave. Two days after donor states pledged $5.4 billion (€4.3 billion) to rebuild Gaza, Ban toured some of the areas worst hit during the July-August war between Israel and the territory’s Hamas rulers. “No amount of (UN) Security Council sessions, reports or briefings could have prepared me for what I witnessed today,” he said after being driven through the ruins of Gaza City’s Shejaiya district and the nearby Jabaliya refugee camp. The secretary general was speaking at a UN school in Jabaliya, where tank shells slammed into two classrooms on June 30, killing at least 14 people sheltering there. “The shelling of the United Nations school is absolutely unacceptable. These actions must be fully and independently investigated,” he said. Relatives of the dead held up posters showing their loved ones and disabled casualties waited to see Ban. The UN chief also called on Palestinian militant groups to cease firing rockets at Israel from the territory … At Sunday’s conference in Cairo, Ban said “the root causes of the recent hostilities” were “a restrictive occupation that has lasted almost half a century, the continued denial of Palestinian rights and the lack of tangible progress in peace negotiations.”
In the last days of ‘Operation Protective Edge’, Israel focused on its final goal — the destruction of Gaza’s professional class Dan Cohen Mondoweiss 13/10/2014
I spent the final night of Israel’s 51-day-long assault on the Gaza Strip on the ninth floor of the al Shorouq building, a media building in central Gaza City which had previously been bombed multiple times by Israel. After word spread that the 13-story residential tower known as the Italian Compound was marked for destruction, a series of explosions began to rock the building, sending sparks and plumes of ash pouring into the darkened sky … At just after 4 am, drones and F16s flying at low altitude over Gaza attacked the Basha Tower, a 15-story building only an estimated 100 meters away from the al Shorouq tower. The stately tower was the oldest in Gaza City, as much a symbol of the urban landscape as the World Trade Center was to New York City. Its offices housed medical and dental clinics, non-governmental and media organizations including many of Gaza’s most popular radio stations. Basil Tanani works for Sha’ab radio, which served as a primary outlet of information to Gazans throughout the assault. “The media shows the real face of Israel to the world,” Tanani said. “That’s why they’re targeting the media organizations. They thought that they would silence our voices by destroying these towers, but we are the people and the voice. We’re not going to stop working and making our voices heard.” … The previous night Israeli warplanes and drones brought down the Zafer 4 resident tower, a 14-story residential tower that housed at least 44 mostly middle class families, including that of the director of Fatah’s security apparatus in the Gaza Strip. At the same time, it destroyed the 7-story Zourab building, a commercial center in Rafah. Other nearby buildings were threatened with destruction but spared without explanation. The bombing of these buildings was the finale of Israel’s mass destruction of the Gaza Strip, flattening landmark towers that provided essential social and economic functions, and which stood as symbols of the besieged coastal strip’s beleaguered professional class
The truth about the ICC and Gaza Fatou Bensouda theguardian.com 29/08/2014
Under the laws of the Hague court, my office can only investigate alleged war crimes in Palestine if it grants us jurisdiction in its territory. It has not done so
Has the international criminal court avoided opening an investigation into alleged war crimes in Gaza due to political pressure, as suggested in an article published in the Guardian earlier this week? The answer is an unequivocal “no”. As prosecutor of the ICC, I reject any suggestion of this in the strongest terms.
When an objective observer navigates clear of the hype surrounding this issue, the simple truth is that my office has never been in a position to open such an investigation due to lack of jurisdiction. We have always, clearly and publicly, stated the reasons why this is so.
The Rome statute, the ICC’s founding treaty, is open to participation by states. The prosecutor can only investigate and prosecute crimes committed on the territory or by the nationals of states that have joined the ICC statute or which have otherwise accepted the jurisdiction of the ICC through an ad hoc declaration to that effect pursuant to article 12-3 of the statute. This means that the alleged crimes committed in Palestine are beyond the legal reach of the ICC, despite the arguments of some legal scholars that fundamental jurisdictional rules can be made subject to a liberal and selective interpretation of the Rome statute. They appear to advocate that as the object and purpose of the ICC is to end impunity for mass crimes, the court ought to intervene, even where clear jurisdictional parameters have not been met. This is neither good law nor does it make for responsible judicial action.
The Palestinian Authority sought to accept the jurisdiction of the ICC in 2009. My office carefully considered all of the legal arguments put forth and concluded in April 2012, after three years of thorough analysis and public consultations, that Palestine’s status at the UN as “observer entity” was crucial – since entry into the Rome statute system is through the UN secretary general, who acts as treaty depositary. Palestine’s status at the UN at that time meant it could not sign up to the Rome statute. The former ICC prosecutor concluded that as Palestine could not join the statute, it could also not lodge an article 12-3 declaration bringing itself under the ambit of the treaty, as it had sought to do.
In November 2012, Palestine’s status was upgraded by the UN general assembly to “non-member observer state” through the adoption of resolution 67/19. My office examined the legal implications of this development and concluded that while this change did not retroactively validate the previously invalid 2009 declaration, Palestine could now join the Rome statute. That Palestine has signed various other international treaties since obtaining this “observer state” status confirms the correctness of this position. Nonetheless, to date, the statute is not one of the treaties that Palestine has decided to accede to, nor has it lodged a new declaration following the November 2012 general assembly resolution. It is a matter of public record that Palestinian leaders are in the process of consulting internally on whether to do so; the decision is theirs alone and as ICC prosecutor, I cannot make it for them.
By virtue of the nature of the court’s mandate, every situation in which the ICC prosecutor acts will be politically fraught. My mandate as prosecutor is nonetheless clear: to investigate and prosecute crimes based on the facts and exact application of the law in full independence and impartiality.
Whether states or the UN security council choose to confer jurisdiction on the ICC is a decision that is wholly independent of the court. Once made, however, the legal rules that apply are clear and decidedly not political under any circumstances. In both practice and words, I have made it clear in no uncertain terms that the office of the prosecutor will execute its mandate, without fear or favour, where jurisdiction is established and will vigorously pursue those – irrespective of status or affiliation – who commit mass crimes that shock the conscience of humanity. My office’s approach to Palestine will be no different if the court’s jurisdiction is ever triggered over the situation.
It is my firm belief that recourse to justice should never be compromised by political expediency. The failure to uphold this sacrosanct requirement will not only pervert the cause of justice and weaken public confidence in it, but also exacerbate the immense suffering of the victims of mass atrocities. This, we will never allow.
26 post-ceasefire violations documented by Canadian-based think tank IMEMC/Agencies
16 Sept — On 26 August a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas was agreed, bringing a fragile end to a war which killed some 2150 Palestinians (mostly civilians) and 73 Israelis (mostly soldiers), Al Ray reports via Global Research. Since the ceasefire, Hamas has not fired a single rocket, attacked an Israeli target, or done anything to break the terms of the ceasefire.
Israel has done the following:
- Annexed another 1500 acres of West Bank land
- Seized $56 million of PA tax revenue
- Not lifted the illegal blockade (as required by the ceasefire)
- Broken the ceasefire by firing at fishermen on four separate occasions
- Detained six fishermen
- Killed a 22-year-old, Issa al Qatari, a week before his wedding
- Killed 16-year-old Mohammed Sinokrot with a rubber bullet to the head
- Tortured a prisoner to the point of hospitalisation
- Refused 13 members of the European Parliament entry into Gaza
- Detained at least 127 people across the West Bank, including a seven-year-old boy in Hebron and two children, aged seven and eight, taken from the courtyard of their house in Silwad – and tear-gassed their mother
- Continued to hold 33 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council in prison
- Continued to hold 500 prisoners in administrative detention without charge or trial
- Destroyed Bedouin homes in Khan al Ahmar, near Jerusalem, leaving 14 people homeless, and unveiled a plan to forcibly move thousands of Bedouin away from Jerusalem into two purpose-built townships
- Destroyed a dairy factory in Hebron whose profits supported an orphanage
- Destroyed a family home in Silwan, making five children homeless
- Destroyed a house in Jerusalem where aid supplies en route to Gaza were being stored
- Destroyed a well near Hebron
- Set fire to an olive grove near Hebron
- Raided a health centre and a nursery school in Nablus, causing extensive damage
- Destroyed a swathe of farmland in Rafah by driving tanks over it
- Ordered the dismantling of a small monument in Jerusalem to Mohamed Abu Khdeir, murdered in July by an Israeli lynch mob
- Continued building a vast tunnel network under Jerusalem
- Stormed the al Aqsa mosque compound with a group of far right settlers
- Assisted hundreds of settlers in storming Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus
- Prevented students from entering al Quds University, firing stun grenades and rubber bullets at those who tried to go in
- Earned unknown millions on reconstruction materials for Gaza, where 100,000 people need their destroyed homes rebuilt. The total bill is estimated at $7.8 billion
32 Palestinians killed in West Bank since June Ma‘an 29/08/2014
As the eyes of the world focused on Gaza in recent months, Israel stepped up a campaign of repression, detentions, and settlement building across the West Bank, the Palestine Liberation Organization said in a report released on Thursday. Thirty-two Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in a two month period beginning on June 13, the report said, and 1,397 Palestinians were injured by Israeli fire. During the same period, 1,753 Palestinians were detained — an equivalent of 24 a day — while Israeli forces conducted 1,573 military raids across the West Bank, or an average of 21 a day. The PLO report — which was entitled “Business as Usual” — also highlighted that the construction of Jewish-only settlements built on lands confiscated from Palestinian locals in the occupied West Bank had surged during the same period, with three different projects having been announced on Aug. 25-26 just as the Gaza ceasefire was declared. The report said that over the summer so far, more than 1,472 settlement homes had been approved, slated to house around 6,000 Jewish settlers. Israeli settlements are generally built on the hills in and around Palestinian towns and villages, and critics charge they are strategically located so as to encircle them and make a contiguous Palestinian state impossible. The report also said that the period from June 13 to Aug. 26 had also witnessed a total of 249 attacks by Jewish settlers on Palestinian civilians, or around three a day.
“Israeli aggression against the Occupied Gaza Governorates ran in parallel with the Israeli oppression and colonization in the rest of the Occupied State of Palestine,” the report said. “Though Israeli spokespeople tried to present their attacks on Gaza as a particular action against Palestinian resistance groups, Israeli occupation and colonization policies all over the Occupied State of Palestine make it clear that the ultimate Israeli goal continues to be to prevent the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian State,” the report continued. The report also highlighted statements by top Israeli officials which use the situation in Gaza as a “justification for not withdrawing from the West Bank,” including a July 11 statement by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu where he said: “The Israeli people understand now what I always say: there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the Jordan River,” referring to the West Bank. The sharp rise in killings, injuries, and detentions across the West Bank coincided with the launch of the largest Israeli offensive on the West Bank since the Second Intifada in response to the disappearance of three Israeli teens in a settlement near Bethlehem.
The IDF’s real face Gideon Levy Ha’aretz 30/08/2014
In civilian life, anyone suspected of manslaughter or murder is immediately arrested, with an investigation coming later. In the IDF the opposite is true — Khalil Anati was from the Al-Fawar refugee camp in the southern part of the West Bank; a soldier in an armored jeep shot him in the back with a live round and killed him as he was running home. He was 10 years old. Mohammed Al-Qatari was a promising soccer player from the Al-Amari refugee camp near Ramallah. A soldier shot him from a distance of several dozen meters while he was taking part in a demonstration against the Gaza war. He was 19 years old when he died. Hashem Abu Maria was a social worker from Beit Ummar who worked for the Geneva-based NGO Defense for Children International. He participated in a demonstration against the Gaza war, trying to protect children by preventing them from throwing stones. An IDF sharpshooter situated on a distant balcony shot and killed him. He was 45 years old, a father of three children. Soldiers killed two more demonstrators at that demonstration. These people were among many others killed by IDF fire far from the battlefields of Gaza. According to data provided by the United Nations Office for Coordinating Humanitarian Affairs, the IDF killed 20 adults and three children in the West Bank during the fighting in Gaza. Soldiers also wounded 2,218 people, 38% of them by live fire, a particularly high number in comparison to 14% in the first half of 2014 and 4% in 2013. None of those killed were endangering soldiers’ lives, none of them were armed or deserved to die. The fighting in Gaza loosened all restraint. Under its umbrella soldiers permitted themselves to use live fire in order to disperse demonstrations, settle scores with people throwing stones or Molotov cocktails – including children – and punish anyone demonstrating against the war. Perhaps these soldiers were envious of their comrades fighting in Gaza, perhaps they were frustrated at being far from the real action – in any event they were confident that no harm would befall them, not while in Gaza there was almost a massacre taking place, with the nation’s heart going out to its fighting men. No one stopped them, no one was arrested or prosecuted….
Beit Ummar: Heart of Darkness Stephen Williams Palestine Chronicle 16/09.2014
The title of Joseph Conrad’s novel “Heart of Darkness” refers both to a geographical entity- colonial Congo in the 19th Century- and to a spiritual and moral wilderness in which the human soul is debased by hatred and greed. And last week I was there; in Beit Ummar. But it wasn’t Beit Ummar itself that was the Heart of Darkness- on the contrary, there I found kindness, compassion and resilience -“samud”- amongst the community. The darkness was outside, in the settlements that surround it, and among the settlers themselves whose behaviour impinges on every aspect of the lives of Beit Ummar’s citizens. Economic growth, education, family relationships, all suffer at the hands of a group of invaders who think themselves above the law; as indeed they usually are. I’ve travelled to Hebron on a number of occasions over the past decade but this time, Abdullla wanted me to drive another route from Bethlehem. It took as past a succession of settlements that, clearly, before long will amalgamate and become a continuous conurbation. And then, pressing up against the town of Beit Ummar itself were Migdal Oz to the east, Karmei Zur to the south, Efrat, Kfar Etzion to the north. Each one occupies Palestinian land. Each one is intent on further expansion as the indigenous community is hemmed-into its ever-shrinking reservation. There are times when the visitor to Palestine is battered by the litany of daily injustices, casual cruelties and acts of petty spitefulness which dominate the lives of an occupied people. As I sat with the Mayor, Nasri Sabarna, and his team, I learnt how their lives were ordered by the whims of settlers and of how even the youngest were subjected to their hatred. The day before, the Mayor had managed to extract a boy from the clutches of the IDF who had hauled him off to one of the settlements at the behest of its inhabitants. A word to a soldier is enough; that child did something, said something or looked at him inappropriately. “Would you like to see a photo?” the Mayor said. I nodded. And there he was; a frightened child of eight, snatched from family and friends by heavily-armed soldiers, acting at the behest of settlers. Eight years old. I marvel at the lack of embarrassment on the part of these callow youths of the IDF whose role, it seems, is to jump at the command of any settler, however crazed, malicious or mendacious. Shame? Embarrassment? Evidently not; the next day a child of a similar age was subjected to the same treatment nearby in Hebron. The scene was captured by ISM volunteers on camera. It is no surprise that, as the Mayor reported, Beit Ummar has a higher percentage of child detainees than anywhere else in Palestine. The settlers have seen to that…
Israeli forces arrest two children, fire 29 rounds of tear gas at schoolchildren ISM Khalil Team23/09/2014http://palsolidarity.org/2014/09/video-israeli-forces-arrest-two-children-and-fire-29-rounds-of-tear-gas-at-schoolchildren/
HEBRON, The morning started off peaceful as children passed through the checkpoint but as word spread that two Palestinians had been murdered by the Israeli army the night before, tensions began to rise quickly. Israeli forces had a clear presence at the checkpoint from the start. A few small stones were thrown by a small number of young boys, but landed nowhere near the checkpoint. Three Israeli Border police proceeded to fire the first round of tear gas at the children. In total, 29 tear gas canisters and 5 stun grenades were fired. This was extremely excessive and unnecessary as the Israeli border police were clearly in no danger. Two ambulances were called to the scene due to the immense amounts of tear gas fired and a Palestinian teacher stated that 30 school children and 15 teachers suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation … Later on the Israeli forces threw stun grenades and brutally grabbed and arrested two young Palestinian boys between the ages of 14 and 15 years old. One of the boys whilst in a headlock and handcuffed was punched several times in the side. ISM activists ran up to ask the boys their names and correct ages but the Israeli forces were very hostile. They were both forced through the turnstiles and were kept at the checkpoint for a few minutes before Israeli forces marched them to the police station near the Ibrahimi mosque….
Two young Palestinians arrested and abused ISM Khalil Team 24/09/2014
Monday afternoon in Hebron, two young Palestinian men were arrested and abused north of Qeitun after being falsely accused of stone throwing. 21-year-old Muhammad Ghaleb Abu Sbeih was walking home from work when soldiers from the Israeli military force arrested him. Six boys had been throwing stones in the area and Muhammad was accused of taking part even though the soldiers had no evidence. A local Palestinian stated that Muhammad had been beaten while walking up to the checkpoint where he was held for two hours along with 19-year old Shadi Abdel Hamed Al-Atras. When the boys’ families arrived the soldiers were rude to the mothers and Muhammad’s sister. Muhammad’s mother heard her son’s screams from inside the army jeep in which he was being held captive and beaten. Initially, the soldiers denied that anyone by that name was in the jeep but then changed their tactics and started mocking the family, saying bad words to the women in both Arabic and Hebrew. The soldiers kept laughing and joking around and at one point they wanted the password for Muhammad’s iPhone to access it. After being held inside the jeep for two hours, Muhammad and Shadi were finally driven away and the soldiers shouted, “with love Muhammad“ and clapped. The young men were driven to Kiryat Arba police station and are still being held. According to the DCO (District Coordination Office) Muhammad is being transferred to Ofer court and Shadi has been moved to a checkpoint in Hebron where he will hopefully soon be released.
Settlement organisation entices Jews into Jerusalem settlement for $136 per day 3/10/14
4https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14506-settlement-organisation-entices-jews-into-jerusalem-settlement-for-136-per-day The Ir David Foundation, known as Elad, has published an announcement on social media networks in search of Jewish settlers to live in Palestinian homes that it has captured in the town of Silwan, occupied East Jerusalem, in return for a financial reward estimated at 500 shekels ($136) per day, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported on Wednesday. Elad is known for its Judaisation projects of the city of Jerusalem. According to the association’s advertisement, an amount of 500 shekels will be given to each settler who agrees to live in one of the homes that have been seized, with the settler only required to “keep his gun loaded and ready to fire at any time”, according to the declaration. Haaretz quoted one of the advertisements as follows: “We are looking for people who can stay in the apartments and watch them until families move into them.” … With the assistance of armed guards, the Foundation seized, overnight on Monday, ten individual buildings that include 23 apartments in the Wadi Hilweh neighbourhood of Silwan, located just south of Al-Aqsa Mosque, claiming that the settlers now own them.
Settlers take over 7 E. Jerusalem homes in dead of night Orly Noy 972blog 30/09/14
‘Settlers say that they bought the house, but they haven’t shown us any documents,’ says one Palestinian woman whose home settlers took over Tuesday morning. ‘Now they’re sleeping in my bed; all of our clothes and furniture is still inside — Israeli settlers took over seven homes in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem Tuesday morning, primarily in Wadi Hilwe, the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare. According to residents, the settlers arrived at around 2 a.m., escorted by large numbers of riot police…… Inside the building, Bushra [Hayat] is going up and down the stairs, making her way in between the police officers, trying to steal another glance into the apartment in which settlers are now holed up. Earlier she broke a side window and now through it she can see that the new tenants have already managed to tear down one of the walls. They’ve also already put bars on the outside windows — efficient. All the while, she’s trying to find out how her diabetic father is doing; his condition deteriorated after clashing with the police and he is now in the hospital. “He arrived early in the morning, when he heard. When he got here, they had already changed the locks and he wasn’t able to open the door to the house. I wasn’t able to with my key either.”
In Silwan, the settlers are winning – big time Yonathan Mizrachi 972blog 1/10/2014
After seven years of activism and struggle in Silwan, the settlers are winning — big time. The biggest losers so far are the Palestinian residents, and especially those activists standing front and center in the struggle for their homes and identity. Seven years of struggle and Silwan’s residents can’t claim even one tangible and clear victory. Not one home has been returned to its original residents, not one settler has left Silwan and the “City of David” archaeological site is only becoming a stronger national tourism destination. More so, among the Palestinians, some of them lost their homes, some have been persecuted and arrested by the police based on various accusations, some of them have lost their sources of income and some have been physically harmed. Some of them have been harmed in more ways than one. But the common denominator among everyone is the feeling — or maybe the knowledge — that they are still being oppressed by the authorities and the settlers. The struggles in Silwan take place in very low resolution: every house, street, archeological excavation or tunnel dug is part of the political battle and affects the residents’ lives. It’s very difficult to understand the political significance of every action or project like this. But when you connect all of the various dots in Silwan it becomes clear that it’s all related. The houses, the excavations and the tunnels are part of one goal: building the Israeli “City of David” in place of Palestinian Silwan. It appears that the difficulty in grasping the details permits the settlers to continue advancing their various plans and to claim that the efforts and goals are not one and the same.
Otherwise Occupied: The commandment to expel Amira Hass Ha’aretz 20/10/2014
After the big expulsion of between 700,000 and 800,000 Palestinians in 1948, we have made do with smaller expulsions, and excel in camouflaging them under various legal definitions or varying circumstantial theories. The Israeli civil-military bureaucracy does not attempt to bathe its acts in any single guiding ideology … Here is an inventory of the methods of expulsion in their various concealments:
- “Stop being a resident.” Israel’s control of the Palestinian Population Registry allowed it to expel some 250,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip between 1967 and 1994 by revoking their status as residents (because they remained overseas for over seven years). These figures were provided by the Defense Ministry … We must add about 100,000 Palestinians (at least) to this number, who fled or were expelled from the West Bank and Gaza during the June 1967 war and were not present during the census conducted that summer. They have not been allowed back to their homes. The Israelis who have emigrated to Los Angeles, it should be noted, continue to be Israelis.
- “Trickery.” The Oslo Accords speak of a mechanism for the gradual return to the West Bank and Gaza of those who “lost” their identity cards in 1967. Later, Israeli representatives in the negotiations claimed that the intention was for those who had physically lost their ID cards, not residency status itself …
- The continued control of the Palestinian Population Registry in the West Bank and Gaza, 20 years after the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, allows Israel to continue and prevent hundreds of thousands from returning to their homes and families. Also, to approve only a few tens of thousands to return through the goodwill gesture of “family reunification.”
- Defining the Palestinians born in East Jerusalem as “permanent residents” whose status is a sort of favor the country grants – like the favor it grants to a priest from the Philippines, for example, who wants to live in the Holy Land under Israeli rule. However, this is a favor with a condition: Whoever lives abroad for seven years will see this favor revoked. His status as a permanent resident will be revoked. … Since 1967 through the end of 2013, Israel expelled 14,309 Jerusalem-born Palestinians that way (according to information that the Interior Ministry gave to HaMoked). Not so many? Think about the 7,000 “victimized” settlers from the Gaza Strip and the noise they are still making because their project of land theft and water robbery came to an end in 2005.
- Bedouin. Who counts them? They are always being expelled. From water sources, pasture lands, because of military firing ranges. Because of nature reserves …
- Bedouin. Who counts them (II)? Under media silence, a few dozen Bedouin from the Kaabneh tribe, who had lived in East Jerusalem since the 1950s, were expelled to the West Bank.
- “Area C.” Even before being defined as such, the Israel Defense Forces and Civil Administration implemented draconian rules (for Palestinians only) on housing, construction and agriculture. This is the reason that only some 300,000 Palestinians – 12% of the residents – live on some 60 percent of the area of the West Bank.
- In 2002, Israel expelled 26 of the Palestinians who were besieged in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, to Gaza. They were promised they could return after two years…
- Making life in the enclaves insufferable. The chances of a young Palestinian finding work are shrinking, mostly because of Israeli control over most of the territory of the West Bank, and because of the limitations on movement it imposes. Twenty percent of the residents of the West Bank, and 40 percent of the residents in the Gaza Strip, say they would like to emigrate.