7 things you may have missed this week in Palestine
Irish media continues to frequently ignore important stories emerging from Palestine-Israel, stories that are vital to context setting and framing during those times when the issue actually does hit international headlines.
By ignoring such stories, which expose the true nature of Palestinian life under military occupation and apartheid, the media can only be considered to be complicit via their silence.
Therefore the IPSC continues with our new weekly round up of the most important stories that you may have missed if your only source of information is the Irish mainstream media.
#1. A Palestinian fisherman was shot dead by the Israeli navy.
In a fresh violation of the 2014 ceasefire agreement, Israeli naval forces shot and killed 34-year-old fisherman Tawfiq Abu Rayyala and detained two others who were fishing within the arbitrary six mile limit imposed by Israel as part of its illegal siege on the Gaza Strip. There were four previous shooting attacks on Palestinian fishermen earlier in the week, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, but no injuries.
#2. A second Palestinian, 21-year-old Naji Abu Sabalah, was killed earlier in the week when an unexploded Israeli ordnance left over from the assault on Gaza last summer detonated.
His brother Akram was seriously injured by the same device. According to PCHR the explosion happened when:
[The brothers] were transferring sand from a street near their house using a motor cart to their house near Virgin Mary Association in al-Shokah village in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip… The Palestinian police said in their investigations into the incident that the object, which is part of the Israeli remnants, is a 40mm grenade that did not explode and fired by an M16 rifle”.
At least eleven people, including one child and two journalists, have been killed in Gaza by unexploded Israeli ordnance since the end of Israel’s attack on the region last August. Several others have also been wounded in such explosions. Aid groups warn that unexploded ordnance represents a particular threat to children, who often think the bombs are toys. Haaretz reported last September that Gazan “police explosives teams working to detect and destroyed unexploded ordnance are hamstrung by lack of resources and equipment” due to the illegal Israeli siege. Furthermore, according to article:
The Palestinian Police said they do not have the tools and know-how to deal with such a large quantity of unexploded ordnance, particularly unexploded advanced missiles that require a great deal of knowledge to dismantle and remove safely. Sources in Gaza noted that they have very primitive equipment, for example, they do not have robots and other remote equipment to dismantle explosives in the field.
Even before the most recent fighting, unexploded ordnance from the 2008-9 and 2012 offensives was a major threat to Gazans. A 2012 report published by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said that 111 civilians, 64 of whom were children, had fallen victim to unexploded ordnance between 2009 and 2012, reaching an average of four every month in 2012.
#3. The Israeli Foreign Minister has stated that Palestinian citizens of Israel whom are ‘disloyal’ to the state should be beheaded.
Speaking at an election event in Herzilya, Avigdor Lieberman stated ‘Israeli Arabs’ (ie, Palestinian Citizens of Israel) who support Israel “should receive everything [in terms of rights]; those against us, it cannot be helped, we must lift up an axe and behead them.”
Several weeks ago Lieberman also stated if re-elected it was his intention to introduce a law that would see the executions of Palestinian political prisoners convicted of ‘terrorism’ by Israeli military courts. According to Amnesty International, these courts – which have a 99.7% conviction rate and that often require only the evidence of a single Israeli soldier to convict – do not meet international fair trial standards.
According Addameer, the Palestinian Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, as of December 2014 there were some 6,200 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails, including 156 minors, 23 women and 22 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.
In 2003, during a stint as Transport Minister, Lieberman called for the drowning of Palestinian prisoners.
Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that although Israel has a judicial death penalty in place for “genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, treason, and crimes against the Jewish people”, it has only been used once to execute Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in 1962. However, when it comes to Palestinians, Israel has a policy of extrajudicial execution of political opponents. For example, according to a PCHR report from 2009 entitled Extra-Judicial Executions Committed by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF):
From the beginning of the Second Intifada in September 2000, until 30 June 2008, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) carried out 348 extra-judicial execution operations in the OPT. During these operations, a total of 754 Palestinians were executed, which is 20% of the overall number of Palestinians killed by IOF 4 since the beginning of the Second Intifada. The victims included 521 targeted persons, and 233 bystanders, including 71 children and 20 women. 405 of the victims were executed in the Gaza Strip and 350 were executed in the West Bank. In the Gaza Strip, 248 of the victims were targeted people, and 157 were civilian bystande rs. In the West Bank, 274 of the victims were targeted persons and 76 were civilian bystanders.
#4. UNRWA has said there are 800,000 needy Palestinians in the Gaza Strip
The Commissioner General of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Pierre Krähenbühl , has stated that the number of needy Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip has increased by 80,000 to 800,000 during the period of the ongoing illegal Israeli siege.
UNRWA classifies families with an income of less than $1.5 per day for each member as being under the official poverty line. Those families with more than $3 per person per day are regarded as “poor”.
#5. Hamas has reportedly offered Israel a five year ceasefire in return for the lifting of the illegal siege of Gaza.
According to the in the Times of Israel report, Hamas is offering that “all forms of military conflict between Israel and the Palestinians will cease … above and below ground” provided Israel ends “the blockade on Gaza, including: opening all crossings around Gaza; permitting unfettered import and export from Gaza; allowing the construction of a sea and airport.”
A separate document (mentioned in the above TOI article) passed to Quartet Middle East Peace Envoy Tony Blair in the name of Hamas states that the organisation “will not oppose the creation of a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines with Jerusalem as its capital and with keeping the return for the Palestinians [refugees],” is “eager to install and continue the calm” while wanting to see the seaport and airport issue solved by indirect talks. It also states that Hamas is committed to the Palestinian national reconciliation document of 2006 and other more recent reconciliation agreements, and is “eager to have good relations with the international community, as the movement is ready to talk to the international community over all the issues that may serve the international stability and peace”. The document furthermore demand the Hamas demands lifting of Israeli’s illegal siege, that border crossings be opened, that the speeding up of “reconstruction and development”, and “demands to work together with all parties concerned in order to bolster the national consensus government and help it succeed”.
#6. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights released a report concerning women’s rights in the occupied Palestinian Territories.
Entitled On International Women’s Day, Women’s Suffering is Doubled and Unprecedented Due to Consequences of the Israeli Offensive on the Gaza Strip, the report looks at the status of women’s rights in the occupied Palestinian Territories. It paints a grim picture of a worsening situation, stating that:
Women’s suffering doubled in the Gaza Strip in particular due to the consequences of the latest Israeli offensive, as they have been enduring hard and complicated living conditions. During the 50-day Israeli offensive, women were exposed to the risks of death or injury because of the Israeli excessive use of lethal force as well as the blatant Israeli violations of the principles of distinction and proportionality under customary international humanitarian law. According to documentation of human rights organizations, 293 women were killed (18% of the civilian victims during the Israeli offensive). Moreover, 2,114 women were wounded, dozens of whom sustained permanent disabilities. Women’s suffering was not limited to killings that affected them or their families, but it increased because they were forcibly displaced from their houses and were forced to resort to UNRWA shelters amidst inhumane conditions that lack the minimal basic services, including clean water, potable water and environmental health services…
In the West Bank, women’s suffering continues due to the Israeli violations against the Palestinian civilians. Women experience harsh conditions because of the Israeli arbitrary practices of killing acts and/or house raids, arrests, including arrests against women and girls, house demolitions, and restrictions on the freedom of movement by permanent and temporary checkpoints. All these measures have increased women’s suffering and negatively affected their life.
At the internal level, women’s suffering has not stopped due to the ongoing gender-based violence, which increased because of the deterioration of economic, social and living conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory. According to PCHR’s documentation, 16 women were killed last year in different contexts related to gender-based violence.
#7. An editorial in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz has stated that Israel has imposed “apartheid for Palestinians” and that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is moving “center stage in the West”.
The piece in the Liberal Zionist daily paper, entitled The real existential threat to Israel states that:
Israel is mortgaging its national resources to maintain a dual regime of democracy for Jews and apartheid for Palestinians. But the illusion that the occupation is comfortable and quiet, and that most Israelis are isolated from it, is fated to explode…. Calls for boycotting Israel and recognizing Palestine even without an agreement have moved from the political fringes to center stage in the West. Instead of the Palestinians giving up their national aspirations, Israel is being forced to contend with claims that Zionism and democracy are mutually exclusive.
Palestinian academic and leading member of the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), Omar Barghouti., commentary on this, in many ways extraordinary, editorial are worth reading in full.
It is not common for the main mouthpiece of Israel’s soft-to-center Zionists to speak with such frankness, without the usual — and sometimes intelligent — Zionist whitewash that Haaretz is famed for. There is still ample whitewashing in this editorial too.
Palestinian refugees, who constitute the absolute majority of the 11.8 million Palestinians, are, again, not mentioned. The 50 racist Israeli laws that make Israel an apartheid state, with or without ending the 1967 occupation, are stubbornly ignored. The Zionist establishment’s fanatic commitment to “maximum territory, minimum Arabs” is omitted. The rise of Israeli fascism and the mainstreaming of Jewish fundamentalism are conveniently brushed aside. The late, respected editor in chief of Haaretz, David Landau, was among those who realized towards the end of their careers that Israel was indeed slipping into fascism.
Haaretz’s horror that Israel may, god forbid, have to “contend with claims that Zionism and democracy are mutually exclusive” would have been funny if it weren’t so real. “Soft” Zionists have lied so frequently and consistently that they’ve come to really believe their own lie that Zionism can be anything but a racist, colonial ideology.
Haaretz ignores the 1975 UN General Assembly resolution that condemned Zionism as a form of racism. This historic decision was revoked by the UN in 1991, under intense Israeli-US bullying and direct threats, and with ample complicity from the Palestinian leadership that was keen to reserve a seat at the Madrid Peace Conference, sponsored by Washington, at any price. But the original 1975 “Zionism is racism” resolution was based on the UN definition of racial discrimination in the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination:
“any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.”
Clearly, this applies to political Zionism as an ideology and to Israel’s more than 50 discriminatory laws. This examination of the racism inherent in Zionism and in Israel as a Zionist state may be useful.
Many secular Jewish groups around the world oppose Zionism and consider it a racist ideology. The world’s largest Hassidic community, Satmar, is staunchly anti-Zionist, albeit for religious reasons.
Still, this editorial is noteworthy in its use of the term apartheid in describing Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and in admitting that BDS has moved to “center stage in the west.”