Palestine Update 509
Europe’s complicity with the Israeli occupation
If there is anything that matches Israel’s illegitimate and cruel measures in the Palestinian areas, it is the complicity of global powers in sustaining Israel’s military vice-like grip over the Palestinian people. Civil society groups around the world and the human rights community are calling on Israel to fulfill its obligations under international law and abandon its apartheid-like “inhuman acts” that include intermittent military targeting of civilians and civilian homes, killings, the arbitrary arrest and detention of children, patients, fishermen, and other vulnerable groups; and the sustained closure and blockade of the Gaza Strip.
In a first of its kind, Al Mezan, a Gaza-based human rights group, describes how these practices amount to “murder, infliction of mental and bodily harm, arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment, imposition of living conditions calculated to cause the physical destruction of the population.” The measures, it is argued, leave the population in denial of the right to freedom of movement and to leave and return. The report coincides with the Israeli action to designate six human rights groups as terrorist groups without actually showing evidence to bear out their claim, and further exposes Israel’s deliberate intransigence.
In another statement from Al Mezan, (http://www.mezan.org/en/post/24085) “while deploring the protracted closure of the Gaza Strip, Al Mezan stresses that the Israeli authorities’ fluctuating and arbitrary maritime restrictions represent one of the forms of collective punishment inflicted on Gaza’s population and prohibited under Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and customary international humanitarian law. The recurrent violations against Palestinian fishermen include the excessive and lethal use of force, extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrests and detention, and some forms of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatments or punishments. When they are intercepted by the Israeli navy, Palestinian fishermen are often forced to undress and swim in cold water to the navy boats and are verbally abused. Their boats are usually damaged, particularly the engines, and confiscated. These practices directly violate international human rights and humanitarian law, and amount to different forms of inhuman acts under the 1973 Apartheid Convention”.
Accordingly, Al Mezan urges the Israeli occupation authorities to end the maritime blockade on the Gaza Strip and to release the remaining boats still under seizure. The Center also calls for the immediate return of confiscated fishing gear and equipment and compensation to the affected fishermen for the damage to their business during the period of suspension. Lastly, Al Mezan calls on the international community for an urgent and effective intervention to end the Israeli closure on Gaza and ensure respect for international law in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT).
In a blatant display of double standards, Israel claims and receives compensation for its occupation of Palestine from the West. While Europe blinds itself to Israeli crimes, at the same time, it comes down hard on Hamas and ignores its right to resist Israel’s military designs. In other words, Europe countenances Israel’s violent methods on Palestinian civilians but will not accept the Palestinian right to defend through retaliation. Nor does Europe provide serious challenge to this asymmetrical situation by forging a peace that is just and sustainable. In a subtle way, Europe’s actions (and inactions) allow Israel “to exacerbate the current state of extreme injustice in Palestine”. Israel would rather appeal for more aid to Palestine not because it has any enhanced love or concern for the Palestine. It sees advantage in endorsing aid to Palestine just so it does not have to fulfill the responsibilities of an occupation power. Without declaring it so, Israel is basically endorsing support to humanitarian needs in Palestine while refusing to the table for peace talks and a comprehensive end to the occupation and the conflict that it entails. Israel’s manipulative selfishness is there for all to see.
Zvi Bar’el, a Haaretz commentator, writes: “one could argue that every dollar given to the Palestinians freed up an Israeli dollar for investment in settlements.” Indeed Europe is subsidizing the occupation and thwarting a just peace.
The two news reports shared under will take readers into the nuances of the situation crated by Israeli manipulation and European connivance.
Read and disseminate widely.
Al Mezan issues a new report: ‘The Gaza Bantustan—Israeli Apartheid in the Gaza Strip’
‘The Gaza Bantustan -Israeli Apartheid in the Gaza Strip’ builds on Al Mezan’s decades-long work to promote respect, protection, and fulfillment of international law in the Gaza Strip, an integral part of the OPT, and is the Center’s first report focused on apartheid in Gaza. The report—draws upon relevant work by Palestinian, Israeli, and international human rights organizations, academics, and experts, and reaffirms that Israel’s institutionalized and systemic racial domination and oppression of the Palestinian people, including those residing in Gaza, contravenes Article 3 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, amounts to the crime of apartheid according to the Apartheid Convention, and constitutes a crime against humanity as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Various “inhuman acts” calculated to “establish and maintain domination by one racial group over another” as defined by the UN Apartheid Convention are discussed. Those include: the use of excessive force and the recurrent military targeting of civilians and civilian homes, killing thousands; the arbitrary arrest and detention of children, patients, fishermen, and other vulnerable groups; and the sustained closure and blockade. Al Mezan concludes that these practices amount to murder, infliction of mental and bodily harm, arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment, imposition of living conditions calculated to cause the physical destruction of the population in whole or in part, and denial of the right to freedom of movement and to leave and return, as defined by the Apartheid Convention.
This report is issued at a critical time for Palestinian civil society and human rights defenders, following the recent designation of six Palestinian human rights organizations as “terrorist” by the Israeli government. Al Mezan calls upon the international community to fulfill its obligations to end Israel’s iniquitous apartheid regime as it did in relation to its South African predecessor. As Nelson Mandela said in 1997:
The United Nations took a strong stand against apartheid; and over the years, an international consensus was built, which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system… but we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.
Israel begs world to keep paying its occupation bills
Israel’s enablers met in Europe to discuss aid to the Palestinian Authority earlier this month. The meeting offers a lesson on how third states use aid to relieve Israel of its obligations under international law and prolong and exacerbate the current state of extreme injustice in Palestine.
Norway chairs the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee meetings where third states negotiate aid to the Palestinian Authority with the participation of Israeli officials. Their latest gathering was on 17 November. The stated aim of the committee “is to develop the institutional and economic foundation for a Palestinian state based on a negotiated two-state solution.” But the Israeli government – currently led by Shaked’s fellow Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett – candidly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian state without any consequence from their international friends.
The double standards are mind-boggling. While warmly embracing Israeli peace-rejecting war criminals, US, UN and EU officials treat Hamas in Gaza as a pariah for its principled rejection of the Oslo surrender to Israel. For this stance asserting their rights, Palestinians in Gaza have endured an Israeli economic blockade for more than 15 years, paying with their lives and livelihoods. The UN, EU and World Bank have given their stamp of approval to Israel’s cruel siege by falsely stating that it was imposed “due to security concerns,” rather than as a form of regime change warfare.
In its report to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee this month, UNSCO, a UN mission that represents the secretary-general, acknowledges that Hamas has consolidated its power and increased its military capacity, despite Israel’s siege on Gaza.
The blockade in Gaza is at once a war crime of collective punishment and a policy failure for those who support Israel’s regime change ambitions in the territory. But instead of unequivocally calling for an immediate lifting of the blockade, UNSCO urges Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza to reunite “under a single governance structure” – presumably, one that does not challenge Israel. Much is demanded of the Palestinians living under the boot of military occupation, but next to nothing is asked of their oppressor.
Tel Aviv even dares to “beg the international community” for donations to the Palestinian Authority as Akiva Eldar, a writer for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, recently put it. While openly declaring that it has no plans to return to the negotiating table, Eldar added, Israel “is nevertheless demanding that the world keep serving as the Palestinian Authority’s private charity – that is, that US, European and Japanese taxpayers continue to fund the occupation.”
Relieving Israel of responsibilities
Aid to the Palestinian Authority – which, on paper, is intended to serve as an interim body towards the establishment of a Palestinian state but in reality serves as a policing arm for Israel’s occupation – relieves Israel of its financial responsibilities towards Palestinians living under its occupation. Funds used before the signing of the Oslo accords in the 1990s to provide for the basic welfare of Palestinians living under occupation are available to Israel to fuel its settlement-building in the West Bank in violation of international law. According to Eldar, Israel’s spending on settlements “has increased fourfold” in the years since the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee was established. Zvi Bar’el, another Haaretz commentator, writes that “one could argue that every dollar given to the Palestinians freed up an Israeli dollar for investment in settlements.” And so Israel approved plans to build more than 3,000 new homes in West Bank settlements two weeks before the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee conference. And still, the same parties that micromanage aid to the Palestinian Authority impose no conditions on Israel, which continues to enjoy a seat at the international donors’ conference table