Tag Archives: Fourth Geneva Convention

Palestinian Hunger Strikers: Fighting Ingrained Duplicity

12 May

The article below was written jointly by Noura Erakat and myself, and was posted on the Jadaliyya website on May 11, 2012

[Palestinians hold photographs of their relatives jailed in Israel during a support rally for Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, May 5, 2012. Image by Majdi Mohammed/AP Photo.][Palestinians hold photographs of their relatives jailed in Israel during a support rally for Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, May 5, 2012. Image by Majdi Mohammed/AP Photo.]

On his seventy-third day of hunger strike, Thaer Halahleh was vomiting blood and bleeding from his lips and gums, while his body weighs in at 121 pounds—a fraction of its pre-hunger strike size. The thirty-three-year-old Palestinian follows the still-palpable footsteps of Adnan Khader and Hana Shalabi, whose hunger strikes resulted in release. He also stands alongside Bilal Diab, who is also entering his seventy-third day of visceral protest. Together, they inspired nearly 2,500 Palestinian political prisoners to go on hunger strike in protest of Israel’s policy of indefinite detention without charge or trial.

Administrative detention has constituted a core of Israel’s 1,500 occupation laws that apply to Palestinians only, and which are not subject to any type of civilian or public review. Derived from British Mandate laws, administrative detention permits Israeli Forces to arrest Palestinians for up to six months without charge or trial, and without any show of incriminating evidence. Such detention orders can be renewed indefinitely, each time for another six-month term.

Ayed Dudeen is one of the longest-serving administrative detainees in Israeli captivity. First arrested in October 2007, Israeli officials renewed his detention thirty times without charge or trial. After languishing in a prison cell for nearly four years without due process, prison authorities released him in August 2011, only to re-arrest him two weeks later. His wife Amal no longer tells their six children that their father is coming home, because, in her words, “I do not want to give them false hope anymore, I just hope that this nightmare will go away.”

Twenty percent of the Palestinian population of the Occupied Palestinian Territories have at one point been held under administrative detention by Israeli forces. Israel argues these policies are necessary to ensure the security of its Jewish citizens, including those unlawfully resident in settlements surrounding Jerusalem, Area C, and the Jordan Valley—in flagrant contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention‘s Article 49(6), which explicitly prohibits the transfer of one’s civilian population to the territory it occupies.

The mass hunger strike threatens to demolish the formidable narratives of national security long propagated by Israeli authorities. In its most recent session, the United Nation’s Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination concluded that Israel’s policy of administrative detention is not justifiable as a security imperative, but instead represents the existence of two laws for two peoples in a single land. The Committee went on to state that such policies amount to arbitrary detention and contravene Article 3 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which prohibits “racial segregation and apartheid.” Nevertheless, this apartheid policy has so far escaped the global condemnation it deserves. In general, Palestinian grievances are consistently evaded with the help of media bias that accords faint coverage to signs of resistance, including even this extraordinary non-violent movement mounted by Palestinian victims of institutionalized state abuse.

Although there has not been a principled or total abandonment of armed struggle by Palestinians living under occupation, there has been a notable and dramatic shift in emphasis to the tactics of nonviolence. For yearsliberal commentators in the West have been urging the Palestinians to make such a shift, partly for pragmatic reasons. Even President Obama echoed this suggestion in his 2009 Cairo address when he said,

Palestinians must abandon violence….For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’sfounding.

But when Palestinians act in this recommended manner, the West averts its gaze and Israel responds with cynical disregard, dismissing near-death Palestinian hunger strikers as publicity stunts or cheap tricks to free themselves from imprisonment. Today, Palestinians have epitomized the best of American values that reflect the global history of non-violent resistance, as they wage a mass hunger strike, engage in a global boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israeli Apartheid, and risk their bodies on a weekly basis in peaceful protests against the Annexation Wall. The latter continues to expand its devastating encroachment upon and around Palestinian lands in defiance of a near unanimous Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice as well as countless Security Council Resolutions.

Yet, this America chooses to label the hunger strikers’ prison guards, the architects of racist laws and policies, as well as the engineers of the Apartheid Wall, as the sole and exemplary democracy in the Middle East. Rather than condemn Israel’s colonial practices, which constitute the core of Arab grievances and explain the widespread resentment of the US role in the Middle East, a US Congressional House panel has just now approved nearly one billion US dollars in additional military assistance to augment Israel’s anti-missile defense program. If passed, Israel will receive a record amount of four billion dollars in military aid next year—more than any country in the world.

There is a stark contrast between the round-the-clock coverage given to Chen Guangchen, the blind Chinese human rights activist who escaped from house arrest to the safety of the US Embassy, and the scant notice given this unprecedented Palestinian challenge to the Israeli prison system that is subjecting the protesters to severe health risks, even death. What is more, such hunger strikes are part of a broader Palestinian reliance on a powerful symbolic appeal to the conscience of humanity in their quest for long-denied rights under international law. Said deprivations include a disavowal of a peace process that has gone nowhere for decades, while a pattern of settlement expansion has made any realization of the widely endorsed “two-state solution” increasingly implausible. The prolonged nature of the occupation also steadily transforms what was supposed to be a temporary occupation into a permanent arrangement best understood as a mixture of annexation and apartheid.

In the face of this opportunity to place pressure upon Israel to comply with international law and human rights norms, the international community of governments and inter-governmental institutions has been grotesquely silent as Palestinians place their very lives at sacrificial risk. For its part, the United Nations’ most senior officials said nothing until a group of forty young protesters blocked the entrance of UN offices in Ramallah on 8 May, demanding the issuance of a statement on behalf of the hunger striking prisoners. Together with the help of a global social media campaign to trend #UNclosed, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and UNRWA’s director Filippo Grandi have finally issued statements expressing deep concern. Grandi has gone the farthest to urge that Israel either provide trials for the detainees or release them, though his statement has been conspicuously removed from the Agency’s website.

It is hard to deny the irony of tacit approval, at worst, or timid condemnation, at best, in the United Nations, the United States, or elsewhere. In its 2008 Boumedienne decision, the US Supreme Court declared that (arguably) the world’s most villainous and immoral persons are entitled to habeas corpus review in US courts in order to avoid the cruelty of indefinite detention. Yet, Israel’s policy of detaining indigenous Palestinians who inhabit the lands the State seeks to confiscate and settle for more than four decades has denied those Palestinians exactly such legal protection. What are Palestinians to do in the face of such frustrating circumstances? What message does the lack of international support for their strong displays of nonviolence, self-sacrifice, and personal bravery send to them and to their Arab and Muslim counterparts who are once more exposed to blatant US hypocrisy in the region?

Palestinian civil society is now mainly opting for explicit acts of collective nonviolent resistance to register their dissatisfactions with the failures of the United Nations—or inter-governmental diplomacy in general—to produce a sustainable peace that reflects Palestinian rights under international law. The main expression of this embrace of nonviolence is the adoption of tactics used so successfully by the anti-Apartheid campaign to change the political climate in racist South Africa, yielding a nonviolent path to multiracial constitutional democracy. At the present time the growing BDS movement is working to achieve similar results.

Let us recall that successful global nonviolent movements are not restricted to fasts and marches, but include the boycott, non-cooperation, and civil disobedience tactics deployed by Palestinians today. Though President Obama, encumbered as he may be by a domestic election cycle, may feel compelled to ignore Palestinian responses to his call, the rest of the world should not.  Certainly, US-based and global citizens should demand that the Western media begin to act responsibly when dealing with injustices inflicted on the Palestinian people, and not sheepishly report human rights abuses only when committed by the adversaries of their state. The media itself is a tactical target and a residual problem. In solidarity with the hunger strikers, civic allies should address the institutional edifice upholding administrative detention. It extends from a discriminatory core and therefore its requisite treatment includes ensuring the enjoyment of internationally guaranteed rights; rights enshrined by the BDS call to action and reified by the movement’s steady and deliberate progression.

GravatarMy U. S. government, in this situation, is misguided and wrong wrong wrong….

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An American Awakening?

5 Oct Wall Street 1


             The exciting presence of protestors on Wall Street (and the spread of the #OccupyWallStreet protests across the country) is a welcome respite from years of passivity in America, not only in relation to the scandalous legal and illegal abuses of comprador capitalists, but also to the prolongations of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a shocking disregard of the impinging challenges of climate change, a rising Islamophobic tide at home, and a presidency that seems less willing to confront hedge fund managers than jobless masses. But will this encouraging presence be sustained in a manner that brings some hope of restored democracy and social wellbeing at home and responsible law-oriented leadership abroad?

 

            There is little doubt that this move to the streets expresses a deep disillusionment with ordinary politics based on elections and governing institutions. Obama’s electoral victory in 2008 was the last hope of the young in America who poured unprecedented enthusiasm into his campaign that promised so much and delivered so little. Perhaps worse than Obama’s failure to deliver, was his refusal to fight, or even to bring into his entourage of advisors some voices of empathy and mildly progressive outlook. From his initial appointment of Rahm Emmanuel onwards, it was clear that the Obama presidency would be shaped by the old Washington games waged by special interests, as abetted by a Republican Party leaning ever further to the right, a surging Tea Party that is pushing the opposition to the outer extremes of irrational governance, and a Democratic Party that is trying to survive mainly by mimicking Republicans. If such a portrayal of ordinary politics is more or less correct it is a wonder that a more radical sense of America’s future took so long to materialize, or even to show these present signs of displeasure with what is and engagement with what might be.

 

            For those of us with our eyes on the Middle East two observations follow. The extraordinary falling back from Obama’s speech in Cairo of 2009, which was, contrary to how it was spun by the pro-Israeli media, a very cautious approach to the Israel/Palestine conflict, but at least forward looking in its realization that something more had to be done if negotiations were ever to be more than a charade. The speech contained lots of reassurances for Israel, especially it treated the dispute as essentially territorial (withdrawal to 1967 borders, which deliberately pretends that refugee and exile rights of Palestinians are irrelevant to a just peace), and only seemed to project balance when it insisted on a suspension of settlement expansion as a confidence-building step toward a new cycle of negotiations. It really was a most modest request to insist that Israel temporarily stop expanding settlements that were almost unanimously seen as flagrant violations of Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention and posing a real threat to the viability of an independent Palestinian state. When Israeli leaders and their zealous American backers indicated ‘no go,’ the Obama administration back peddled with accelerating speed, gradually isolating the United States on the global stage by the unconditionality of its support for Israel even in situations where Israel is seen by virtually the entire rest of the world as defiant toward international law. Besides this, a few months ago the leaked Palestine Papers underscored Israel’s disinterest in a negotiated solution to the conflict even in the face of Palestinian of huge Palestinian Authority concessions behind closed doors. Of course, Obama should not take the whole blame as Congress has outdone him when it comes to support for partisan positions that often seem to outdo the Knesset.

 

            The latest phase in American foreign policy in relation to the conflict is associated with the American threat to veto the statehood bid of Palestine in the UN Security Council, coupled with its arm-twisting efforts to induce others to vote with the U.S. against statehood or at least abstain, so that Palestine will not get the nine affirmative votes it needs to receive a positive recommendation and the U.S. will be spared the embarrassment and backlash of casting a veto. The shrillness of the sterile call by Obama in his 2011 speech to the General Assembly to the parties to resume negotiations after almost twenty years of futility, and for the Palestinians the effects were far worse than mere failure    (the ordeal of occupation, loss of land to settlements, annexation wall, road infrastructure).  It should finally be understood. Time is not neutral. It helps Israel, hurts Palestine.

 

            Disavowing American party and institutional politics and situating hope with the arousal of progressive forces in civil society is different from concluding that the Wall Street protests is more than a tantalizing flash in the pan at this stage. Even this cautionary commentary should make it obvious that the events owe their primary inspiration to Tahrir Square (with a surprising initial push from the Canadian anti-consumerist organization Adbusters, previous mainly known for its irreverent and vaguely anarchistic magazine by the same name), especially the ethos of a nonviolent leaderless, programless spontaneous rising that learns day by day what it is about, who it is, and what is possible. Of course, the stakes for activists are much lower than in Egypt or elsewhere in the Middle East, as there is little risk of death at this point on American streets. At the same time, the monsters of Wall Street are not quite as potent a unifying target for an militant opposition as was the grim personage of Hosni Mubarak, cruel autocrat of more than three decades, and so it may be harder to transform the protests into a sustainable movement.

 

            In the end, we must hope and engage. The beginnings of hope are rooted in the correctness of analysis, and so we can be thankful that this initiative places its focus on financial and corporate structures, and not on the state. Further along these lines, if the struggle will gain momentum it will be totally thanks to politics-from-below. The implicit not so subtle point is that the center of power over the destinies of the American people has shifted its locus from Washington to New York, and from the penthouse to the the basement!!  We’ll see!!

Observing the 63rd Nakba

15 May

The latest news reports that at least 14 were Palestinians killed and scores more than that number injured by Israeli soldiers using live ammunition against Nakba demonstrators at confrontations near the Israeli borders with Lebanon (Ras Maroun), Syria (Golan Heights), Gaza, and West Bank. An immediate reaction is to contrast sophisticated Israeli non-lethal crowd control when dealing with settler violence and the lethal responses to Palestinian resistance politics in these four distinct settings. All in all, what is exhibited by these encounters is an upsurge of Palestinian militancy, perhaps a prelude to a third intifada, and the continuity of Israeli reliance on excessive force designed to punish and intimidate, which is a characteristic severe violation of Israel’s duties as an occupying power as defined by international humanitarian law. 

One of the many signs of the growing worldwide movement in support of the Palestinian struggle for their rights under international law and elemental morality is the increased international awareness of the Nakba. On this 63rd anniversary of the catastrophic Palestinian experience since 1948 when an escaping and expelled 760,000 Palestinians (now this dispossessed population has grown to 4.7 million; the 160,000 Palestinians who managed to stay behind in what became Israel now number 1.3 million) there is an encouraging sense that the destiny of the Palestinian people has entered a more hopeful phase: the Arab Spring, combined with earlier political developments in Turkey and Lebanon, have shifted the regional balance toward a greater identification with the Palestinian people and their just claims under international law and morality; the growing BDS worldwide campaign has extended the symbolic battlefield in the Legitimacy War against Israeli occupation, and related policies of apartheid, ethnic cleansing, barrier wall, blockade, settlements; the decision by the recently unified Palestinian leadership to seek acknowledgement of Palestinian statehood in the United Nations this September opening possibilities for further motivating the international community to live up to its responsibilities to address Palestinian grievances that have gone unanswered for these 63 years of UN endorsement of the valid establishment of Israel,  despite it being a colonial settler state imposed on and carved out of  historic Palestine; new signs of activism among the Palestinians living under occupation and in exile; the manifest and deplorable double standards involved in supporting the violent imposition of a No Fly Zone on Libya, which is in reality an effort to achieve regime change on behalf of a rebel insurgency of unknown character, while refusing to protect the people of Gaza who have severely victimized by a total blockade that has lasted almost four years, a massive case of deliberate and criminal collective punishment outlawed by Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Against such a background the ongoing mobilization of public engagement on behalf of Palestinian rights should enlist all persons of conscience throughout the world, a populist dynamic that is happening and should intensify in the coming year. From this perspective it may soon be the case that the annual observance of the Nakba will be treated as the first truly global holiday the world has known.

Despite these developments there is no indication whatsoever that the Israeli leadership or public has any interest in achieving a sustainable peace or that it is prepared to desist from its expansionist and annexationist approach to the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. There are a few lonely Israeli voices calling for justice to the Palestinian people. For instance, Gideon Levy calling on Israel to teach ‘a different heritage lesson,’ that of the Nabka. Writing in Haaretz (15.5.2011) Levy writes, “Not only is it possible to permit the Israeli Palestinians to commemorate the day of their heritage and express their national and personal pain, something that should be self-evident, but also to teach us, the Jews, the other narrative..Only on the day that the pupils in Israel also learn about the Nabka, will we know that the earth is no longer burning under our feet..”

The Nakba is of course a day of grievance and resolve for all Palestinians including the several million living in refugee camps for decades in the countries surrounding Palestine and other millions in exile throughout the region and the world. A sustainable peace must realize the rights of all Palestinians, and must be broader and deeper than ending the occupation or establishing a Palestinian state. Palestinian representation to be legitimate and effective must keep faith with this wider Palestinian reality, and not confine its political program to a territorial imaginary. Just as the Palestinian solidarity movement is without boundaries so must be the campaign to achieve full realization of all of the rights of the dispossessed Palestinian people.

To live under Israeli occupation or as refugees for a day is difficult, for a week is unendurable, but to do so for decades is intolerable beyond words of outrage and empathy. We cannot grasp the enormity of this ordeal merely by underscoring the fact that Nakba occurred 63 years ago and that the added cruelty of the occupation started in 1967. Only the existential experience of being on the ground in occupied Palestine or visiting refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan, or Syria can begin in a modest way to impart an understanding of the suffering and insecurity that is a daily reality of all those so confined, and even this can give rise to a false consciousness of ‘knowing.’ Those that visit can leave, those subject to regimen cannot, and that makes all the difference!

Below is the text of a press release issued in my capacity as Special Rapporteur for the Palestinian Territories Occupied since 1967, and released under the auspices of the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights in Geneva.

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                                                                                          16 May 2011

 

The UN human rights expert on the 63th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba


16 May 2011
UN human rights expert on the 63th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba

GENEVA – The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, Mr. Richard Falk, marks the 63rd anniversary of the Nakba, the catastrophic beginning of the Palestinian tragedy of dispossession and occupation, with the following statement: 

“I commemorate Nakba this year dismayed by the killing of demonstrators observing the day in the occupied Palestinian territory and elsewhere in the region.

Since the Nakba on 15 May 1948 Israel has continuously confiscated Palestinian land in order to build illegal settlements and populate them with Israeli citizens. It is astonishing that no one in the international community has stepped forward, after 63 years, to coerce Israel to comply with international law. Israel’s legacy of ethnic cleansing persists, and manifests itself in an array of challenges to the security of residency for Palestinians living under occupation.

“The construction of the Wall inside the West Bank results in an additional 12% of land confiscation and demolition of Palestinian homes, in flagrant defiance of the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice.

“This past week seven Palestinian families in the West Bank village of al-Walaja received demolition orders. This is a reminder that the Nakba continues. Israel’s pursuit of what it calls ‘facts on the ground’ consistently forces Palestinians to abandon their homes, lands, and lives, creating a reality better understood as virtual annexation. 

“This is a particularly notable Nakba anniversary, as it coincides with the release of information confirming that Israel secretly revoked as many as 140,000 residency permits of Palestinians between 1967 and 1994. This is not only another violation of Israel’s obligations as the Occupying Power under the Fourth Geneva Convention.  It is also a glaring example of several sinister schemes that Israel has employed over the years to rid historic Palestine of its original inhabitants, in order to make space for Israeli citizens.

“The international community needs to take urgent action to compel Israel to end its confiscation and occupation of Palestinian land.” 

ENDS

In 2008, the UN Human Rights Council designated Richard Falk (United States of America) as the fifth Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights on Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. The mandate was originally established in 1993 by the UN Commission on Human Rights.

Learn more about the mandate and work of the Special Rapporteur:http://www2.ohchr.org/english/countries/ps/mandate/index.htm

OHCHR Country Page – Occupied Palestinian Territories:http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/MENARegion/Pages/PSIndex.aspx

OHCHR Country Page – Israel: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/ILIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Nikki Siahpoush (Tel.: + 41 22 928 9430 / email:nsiahpoush@ohchr.org) or write to sropt@ohchr.org. 

 



Israel’s Violence Against Separation Wall Protests: Along the Road of STATE TERRORISM

7 Jan


One of the flashpoints in Occupied Palestine in recent years has involved non-violent weekly protests against continued Israeli construction of a separation wall extending throughout the whole of the West Bank. A particularly active site for these protests has been the village of Bi’lin near the city of Ramallah, and it is here where the Israeli penchant to use deadly force to disrupt nonviolent demonstrations raises deep legal and moral concerns. These concerns are accentuated when it is realized that way back in 2004 the International Court of Justice (the highest judicial body in the UN System) in a rare near unanimous ruling declared the construction of the wall on occupied Palestinian territory to be unlawful, and reached findings ordering Israel to dismantle the wall and compensate Palestinians for the harm done. Israel has defied this ruling, and so the wall remains, and work continues on segments yet to be completed.


It is against this background that the world should take note of the shocking death of Jawaher Abu Rahma on the first day of 2011 as a result of suffocation resulting from tear gas inhalation while not even being part of the Bi’lin demonstration. Witnesses confirm that she was standing above the actual demonstration as an interested spectator. It was a large year end demonstration that included the participation of 350 Israeli and international activists. There was no excuse for the use of such a harsh method of disrupting a protest against a feature of the occupation that had been pronounced to be unlawful by an authoritative international body. As it happens the brother of Ms. Rahman had been killed a few months earlier by a tear gas canister fired with a high velocity from a close range. And there are many other reports of casualties caused by Israel’s extreme methods of crowd control. International activists have also been injured and harshly detained in the past, including the Irish Nobel Peace Laureate, Mairead Maguire. Together these deaths exhibit a general unacceptable Israeli disposition to use excessive force against Palestinians living under occupation. Just a day later an unarmed young Palestinian, Ahmed Maslamany, peacefully on his way to work was shot to death at a West Bank checkpoint because he failed to follow an instruction given in Hebrew, a language he did not understand.


When this lethal violence is directed against unarmed civilians seeking to uphold fundamental rights to land, routine mobility, and self-determination  it dramatizes just how lawless a state Israel has become and how justifiable and necessary is the growing world campaign of delegitimation centered upon the boycott, disvestment, and sanctions movement (BDS). Each instance of Israeli excessive and criminal violence inflicts suffering on innocent Palestinian civilians, but it also is a form of martyrdom in the nonviolent Legitimacy War that the Palestinians have been waging within Palestine and on the symbolic global battlefields of world public opinion with growing success.

Israel knows very well how to control unruly crowds with a minimum of violence. It has demonstrated this frequently by the way it gently deals, if it deals at all, with a variety of settler demonstrations that pose far greater threats to social peace than do these anti-wall demonstrations. It is impossible to separate this excessive use of force by Israel on the ground against Palestinians from the indiscriminate use of force against civilians in Israel’s larger occupation policy, as illustrated by the cruel punitive blockade that has been imposed on the people of Gaza for more than three years and by the criminal manner in which carried out attacks for three weeks on the defenseless population in Gaza exactly two years ago. Is it not time for the international community to step in and offer this long vulnerable Palestinian population protection against Israeli violence?

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Underneath Israel’s reliance on excessive force as a matter of strategic doctrine are thinly disguised racist ideas: Israeli lives are worth many times the value of Palestinian lives and Palestinians, like all Arabs, only understand the language of force (an essentially genocidal idea launched influentially years ago in a notorious book The Arab Mind by Raphael Patai published in 1973. It is also part of a punitive approach to the occupation, especially in Gaza, where WikiLeaks cables confirm what was long suspected: “As part of their overall embargo plan against Gaza, Israeli officials have confirmed to [U.S, Embassy economic officers] on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gaza economy on the brink of collapse without quite pushing it over the edge.” (cable reported on Jan. 5, 2011, Norwegian daily) Then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in a speech delivered in January 2008 said of the blockade: “We will not harm the supply of food for children, medecine for those who need it and fuel to save lives..But there is no justification for demanding we allow residents of Gaza to live normal live while shells and rockets are fired from their streets and courtyards (at southern Israel).”

This is a clear confession of collective punishment of a civilian population by Israel’s political leader at the time, violating the unconditional prohibition of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Such gross criminality should subject Israeli political leaders to international mechanisms designed to impose accountability on individuals responsible for the commission of crimes against humanity. It also makes it evident that the blockade is punitive, not responsive to cross-border violence that incidentally at all times was far more destructive of Palestinian lives and property than that of Israelis. Beyond this, the Hamas leadership in Gaza had since its election repeatedly attempted to establish a ceasefire along its border, which when agreed upon with the help of Egypt reduced casualties on both sides to almost zero after being establishment in mid-2008. This ceasefire was provocatively disrupted by Israel on November 5, 2008 to set the stage for launching of the massive attacks on Gaza, lasting for three weeks after being initiated on December 27th of 2008.

In that war, if such a one-sided conflict should be so described, the criminality of the tactics relied upon by the Israeli Defense Forces has been abundantly documented by The Goldstone Report, by a comprehensive fact-finding mission headed by John Dugard under the auspices of the Arab League, and by detailed reports issued by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. There is no reasonable basis for any longer doubting the substance of the allegations of criminality associated with those three weeks of all out attacks on the people and civilian infrastructure, including UN schools and buildings.

The Goldstone Report correctly noted that the overall impression left by the attacks was an extension of the Dahiya Doctrine attributed to an Israeli general during the Lebanon War 2006 in which the Israeli destruction from the air of a district in South Beirut was a deliberately excessive response, at the expense of civilian society, because of being an alleged Hezbollah stronghold, and in response to a border incident in which ten Israeli soldiers lost their lives in an encounter with Hezbollah combatants. The 2009 Goldstone report quoted IDF Northern Command Chief Gadi Eisenkot, who said, “What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on. We will apply disproportionate force on it and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases. [...] This is not a recommendation. This is a plan. And it has been approved.” In effect, the civilian infrastructure of adversaries such as Hamas or Hezbollah are treated as permissible military targets, which is not only an overt violation of the most elementary norms of the law of war and of universal morality, but an avowal of a doctrine of violence that needs to be called by its proper name: STATE TERRORISM.

We have reached a stage where the oppressiveness of the Israeli occupation, extending now for more than 43 years and maintained in multiple daily violations of international humanitarian law.  In its essence and by design the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip should be understood and condemned as STATE TERRORISM as exhibited both in structure and practice.

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