Israel’s punitive measures against Palestinians

 Palestine Update 528
Editorial Comment

Israel’s punitive measures against Palestinians

Israel’s relentless pursuit of appropriating Palestinian lands and indulging in unlawful punishment of Palestinians are in its everyday measures of employing unwarranted measures to reinforce its occupation. In that process, it is also ruthless in wanting to alter the demography and heritage as its way of enforcing the occupation. To obliterate all signs of Palestinian identities and presence by creating new social facts on-the-ground is its immoral method of whetting its colonial desires.

The Ibrahim Mosque was built over the cave which contains the tombs of Ibrahim and his wife Sarah and their children, Isaac and Jacob. It is one of the oldest historic buildings that exist in the world in terms of its precedence and its sacredness. Muslims attach great value to the Ibrahimi Mosque as they believe that it was built on the location of the tomb of Prophet Abraham. Jewish settlers also revere the place as they call it the Cave of the Patriarch due to their belief that the tomb of the Prophet Abraham and his wife Sarah is located in a cave below the mosque. Israel has eyed this location for many decades and in Feb. 25, 1994, during dawn prayer, hundreds of Palestinians were attacked by mass shootings and bombings at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, Palestine. The ghastly attack left 29 worshippers martyred and dozens others wounded. Clearly, the attack was premeditated by a group of Jewish settlers along with oblique assistance of the Israeli army that was tactfully not at the sight during the massacre.

The Middle East Monitor reports how warned yesterday that the Israeli army is continuing its attacks on the Ibrahimi Mosque in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, with the aim of Judaising it and changing its features, in order to serve illegal settlers.

As if these were not ominous signs by themselves, Israel continues its demonic policy of house demolitions. Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General has warned Israel “to put an end to the policy of demolishing Palestinian homes and stop evicting Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah and anywhere else in the West Bank”. To add to this fact, we read in a report from the Palestinian Ministry of Education the Middle East Monitor that the Israelis are going to knock down the EU-funded school on the pretext that it lacks a building licence. It must be noted that Israeli authorities are notorious for endlessly delaying licenses of even legitimate construction claims. In desperation, and at high risk, parties begin construction only to find themselves punished for seeking good but being shown as violators of the law.

There are shocking and terrifying military measures such as soldiers unleashing a military dog on a surrendering Palestinian civilian. It surely can’t get more mocking of a person’s dignity than this. It is, in fact, fascism at its worst. It does not stop with this. A Palestinian woman had to face the humiliation of an invasive search that penetrated her sexual organs by Israeli security forces. Her appeal after an investigation into the incident was dismissed last year. April. Surely, Israel’s methods of subjugation have assumed the most ghastly forms. This must end and will. But the religious among us will ask: When Oh God, and how?

Ranjan Solomon 

Dismantle what? Amnesty’s conflicted message on Israeli Apartheid
Amnesty International published its long-awaited report on Israeli apartheid. Amnesty is not the first human rights group to recognize the system of apartheid imposed on all Palestinians. However, the latest report makes a conscious effort to examine how apartheid impacts the lives of Palestinians wherever they reside, including Palestinians in 1948 lands and Palestinian refugees in exile.

We recognize the importance of such reports for global campaigning and advocacy efforts. However, there are issues with this report, just like the ones previously published by international and Israeli organizations. Amnesty’s report fails to recognize apartheid as a tool of Zionist settler colonialism and fails to consider the role of Zionist ideology and institutions in establishing and maintaining this system. It also refrains from recognizing the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. Thus, the report does not break away from the limitations imposed on Palestinians’ discourse, nor does it confront the nature of the Zionist project as both racist and settler colonial.

 Israel continuing to Judaise Ibrahimi Mosque
A Palestinian official warned yesterday that the Israeli army is continuing its attacks on the Ibrahimi Mosque in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, with the aim of Judaising it and changing its features, in order to serve illegal settlers.

The Director-General of the Hebron Endowments, Jamal Abu Aram, said: “The Israeli army has installed an escalator that is longer and wider than a previous one that was removed.” This facilitates settler access “to a place located in the eastern corner of the mosque, where they perform religious rituals,” he explained.

 In August 2021, Israel began construction work, including the erection of an elevator in the Ibrahimi Mosque, despite Palestinian objections. Abu Aram stressed that “the new attacks come within the gradual Judaisation of the mosque, changing its features and turning it into what looks like a synagogue to serve the settlers.”

 UN calls on Israel to stop demolition of Palestinian homes
The UN has called on Israel to put an end to its policy of demolishing Palestinian homes and evicting their residents in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.  The call was made by Stéphane Dujarric, the Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, during a press conference in New York. Since Sunday, illegal Israeli settlers and extreme right-wing MK Itamar Ben-Gvir have increased their attacks on Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of occupied Jerusalem, protected by Israeli security forces. Such attacks are part of the efforts to expel Palestinian families from their homes.

“We are following up closely the situation in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah and the possibility of evicting Palestinians from their homes,” explained Dujarric. “It is very important to de-escalate the tension and maintain self-control and tranquillity. We continuously ask the Israeli authorities to put an end to the policy of demolishing Palestinian homes and stop evicting Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah and anywhere else in the West Bank.” When asked to comment on Israel’s killing of 26-year-old Palestinian Nihad Al-Barghouti on Tuesday, Dujarric replied, “We are worried about the escalation of violence in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem.”S

Israel to demolish EU-funded school in occupied West Bank
Palestinian students attend a class at a school funded by the EU humanitarian aid in the Masafer Yatta area in the South Hebron Hills, which Israel declared as Firing Zone 918 facing the threat of demolition and displacement, on 19 October 2020. [HAZEM BADER/AFP via Getty Images]

The Israeli occupation authorities issued a demolition notice on Wednesday to Ras El Teen School in eastern Ramallah. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Education, the Israelis are going to knock down the EU-funded school on the pretext that it lacks a building licence.

 The ministry condemned the “continuous Israeli violations” against educational institutions located in Area C. It called upon international bodies to put pressure on Israel to cancel its planned demolition of the school, which caters for 44 students, as well as to disclose Israeli crimes against the Palestinians.

Since the start of 2021, Israel has demolished 1,032 Palestinian-owned structures across the occupied West Bank. The list includes homes, schools, shops and farming facilities. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has said that Israeli demolitions have displaced 1,347 Palestinians in that period.

Israel: Soldiers unleash military dog on surrendering Palestinian
Israeli troops unleashed a military dog at a Palestinian man during an overnight arrest, new footage showed on Wednesday, despite the man holding his hands up in the air. Mailk Maala, 19, was arrested on Monday at his workplace in the occupied West Bank city of al-Bireh, near Ramallah.  The footage showed him holding his hands behind his head before the dog was released by soldiers standing in close proximity. “This barbaric act coincides with the absence of the role of human rights organisations in defending the minimum rights of our people in building their future and obtaining freedom.” Maala was working as a guard at an industrial facility in al-Bireh to raise money for his university fees, the commission added.  The dog was muzzled to prevent it harming Maala, the army said, and was released only to frighten him, according to Haaretz newspaper.  The youth was taken to an unknown destination, the commission said, and his family has no information about him. Moments after the dog attacked Maala, soldiers approached him to make the arrest.

Palestinian women haunted by abuse in Israeli jails
A Palestinian woman who was allegedly subjected by Israeli security forces to an invasive search that penetrated her sexual organs filed an appeal after an investigation into the incident was dismissed last April. The woman demanded in her appeal that all officers involved be charged with “rape and sodomy”. The case involves three members of Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security services, and three soldiers. The woman accuses field commanders of ordering two female soldiers to search her vagina and anus during her arrest in 2015.

The incident occurred when Israeli forces entered the Palestinian woman’s home in the West Bank in the middle of the night and found her sleeping in her room. The woman, who posed no threat, says that at that point, a Shin Bet commander ordered two female soldiers, a military doctor and a company clerk, to take her aside and search her body cavities. Her clothes were then removed and each of the two soldiers probed her, both vaginally and anally, the woman alleges. The Shin Bet and the army were looking for a small cell phone sim card which was later found in her room, according to Haaretz.  At the time, the woman was arrested on suspicion of aiding and abetting “terrorist activities” but was eventually convicted of minor crimes and sentenced to two years in prison.

The investigation into the 2015 incident was closed in April 2021 due to a lack of evidence, although some of the officers involved admitted to the allegation, according to transcripts of interrogations. “I inserted my fingers between half a centimetre and centimetre inside,” the army doctor said during questioning. “Because I felt uncomfortable, and it was also clear that it was hurting her, I stopped. I think she groaned with pain and even asked in English what I was doing, so I recoiled.