New Zealand has only until the end of 2016 to persuade the UN Security Council to respect international human rights law by sanctioning Israel.
On Tuesday, 15 December 2015 in Jakarta, the International Conference on the Question of Jerusalem, sponsored by the United Nations, began discussing ways to exercise the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. A statement was delivered to the Conference on behalf of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, which noted that the recent uprising by some Palestinians against Israelis was, as he said, “bred from nearly five decades of Israeli Occupation. . . it is the result of fear, humiliation, frustration and mistrust.” The Secretary-General also blamed Israel’s “settlement enterprise” for causing so much harm to Palestinian communities. Ban Ki-moon told the Conference that, “Palestinian youth in particular are tired of broken promises and they see no light at the end of the tunnel.” A sad example of this betrayal is exemplified by New Zealand’s draft resolution on Israel/Palestine, prepared for the United Nations Security Council, that seeks to protect Israel from the consequences of its violations of international law.
In the UN statement read out at the Conference, Shawan Jabarin, General Director of Al-Haq, pointed out that, since the annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967, Israel had been consolidating control by weakening the Palestinian presence and ties to the city. A policy of ethnic cleansing was pushing Palestinians out. The statement called for states to sever co-operation with Israel, ban settlement products and implement sanctions. On 9 December 2015, Ban Ki-Moon cautioned: “Preventing genocide means paying more attention to the warning signs, and being prepared to take immediate action to address them.” Speaking in support of his Human Rights up Front initiative, the UN Secretary-General said: “After all, genocide does not just happen; it unfolds over time. It is not part of the accidental ‘fallout’ of conflict; most often, it is systematic, planned, with precise targets . . . prevention of genocide is a specific obligation under international law.” The International Court of Justice and other judicial bodies have made it very clear that governments have a duty to act on this imperative. Zionist population transfer lunacy reached new heights with a proposal by the Israeli Transportation Minister, Yisrael Katz, a member of the diplomatic-security Cabinet, as well as Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy, that the population of Gaza be transferred to an artificial island to be constructed off-shore.
While individual Palestinians who may, or may not, be armed with knives face instant death at the hands of Israel’s Occupation Army, their militarily-imposed settler neighbours routinely, and with impunity, assault and stone native Palestinians, uproot crops and olive trees and sometimes even kill people, including children. But there was not “enough evidence” to prosecute the arrested killers of an 18-month-old baby, according to the Israeli Minister of Defence, Moshe Ya’alon, in a statement on 15 December 2015. Israel’s Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) had already said that there was no evidence to try the suspects. For those who may not know the history of this recent case of settler violence, here is a brief account: On 31 July this year the Israeli-Occupied West Bank village of Douma awakened to an arson attack perpetrated by settler terrorists who set fire to a family home while all were asleep. The arson led to the immediate death of toddler Ali Dawabsha, with his father, Sa’ad, succumbing a week later and mother, Riham, dying one month later. Only little Ali’s brother, Ahmad (4), survived the attack – and he has been in ICU for over four months.
Two narratives: that of the invader and that of the Occupied people
On the morning of 17 December 2015, near the Huwara Occupation roadblock, Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian child, claiming that he had approached them while carrying a knife. Eyewitnesses said the child was not carrying any weapon and never attempted to attack the soldiers. Ambulance driver, Kamal Badran, said the soldiers surrounded the boy, and prevented medics from approaching him. The dead child was later identified as Abdullah Hussein Ahmad Nasasra (15) from Beit Furik, east of Nablus. A report dated 8 December by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) lists the names of 100 Palestinians killed by the Israeli military between October and December this year. Also detailed are the ages and circumstances of their deaths. The majority of the victims were under 20 years of age and each died as a result of several bullet wounds. The oldest victim was 72, the youngest 3; a mother and her unborn child were also killed in an Israeli missile strike on Gaza. Some of those killed had attacked Israelis but the majority had been shot, either at non-violent protests or simply for throwing stones.
Israel’s daily Gaza ceasefire violations
Early in December a Palestinian farmer, Mohamed Abu Taima (29) was working his land when an Israeli Army sniper, positioned behind the Green Line, shot him. He arrived on his land in al-Faraheen, Khan Yunis, at 4pm and was shot a few minutes after starting work. The bullet passed through one of his legs and exploded inside the other one. Minutes after arriving in hospital, Mohamed underwent surgery and, days later, there followed a second procedure. Until now, the doctors don’t know if Mohamed, the father of a small girl, will ever be able to walk properly again. Gaza’s farms and fishing boats are under constant attack. The daily toll on Palestinian life, limb, liberty and property in the Israeli-Occupied West Bank and blockaded Gaza Strip can be seen on the Palestine Human Rights Campaign Aotearoa/New Zealand’s website.
Imagine the outcry and headlines if Israeli homes were being invaded and Israeli children being abducted by armed foreign invaders! At 1.30am on 18 October 2015, a 14-year-old boy, Tareq, was awakened by Israeli Army explosives smashing open the front door of his home. The soldiers crowded into the house, kicking, handcuffing and blindfolding him before abducting him to a military interrogation centre. Under interrogation, Tareq was first accused of throwing petrol bombs but, after telling the officers that he didn’t even know how petrol bombs were made, he was told that he was being accused of throwing stones. The brutality continued and, after two hours of repeated kicks and punches to the stomach, he cried out that he would confess to whatever his captors wanted. The confession he was made to sign was in Hebrew, a foreign language that he could not understand. In the end, no charges were brought against him and he was told to go home. His parents had not been informed of his release and he was left to find his own way home. The child had been held for two days. This was not an isolated case. According to the Israeli Prison Service, there was an 80% jump in the number of children in Israeli military detention in October 2015 — the highest level since April 2010.
The population of Palestine, forced to live in the midst of this foreign-imposed nightmare, and with no means of defence, are dependent upon the willingness or otherwise of the international community to protect them. Instead of invoking international law on behalf of the Palestinian people, our leaders tell them that they must instead negotiate their liberty directly with the Occupying power. This guarantees Israel’s freedom to impose its will, in defiance of international humanitarian law. Why are the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention being held in abeyance to benefit Israel? Why does the New Zealand Government pose as friend of Occupier and Occupied alike, knowing the suffering one imposes upon the other?
A chilling silence
Around the world, the arguments for and against political Zionism rage – but not so in New Zealand! The Zionist tactic here is to maintain, as far as possible, a blanket of silence regarding the tragedy that is at the epicentre of global instability and irrational mayhem. That silence must be broken. In 2014, some 3000 people turned out in Auckland to protest against Israeli attacks on Gaza. Speakers included MPs from the Green Party and activists from Kia Ora Gaza and the Global Peace and Justice Alliance. Afterwards there was a colourful march down Queen Street with chants of ‘Free, Free Palestine’. Since then, support has declined. A handful of people (largely the same dedicated few) gather, with banners and leaflets, on the first Saturday of every month in front of the Downtown Shopping Centre on the corner of Queen and Customs Streets. The wider movement should see this as an opportunity for all to engage with the public, answer questions and distribute leaflets – there is a variety of excellent material available. It is also a chance to argue, in public, with passing Zionists! Who knows, the protest could even become a weekly event?!
Violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention are war crimes
Belligerent occupation is recognised by, and subject to, The Hague Regulations of 1907, as well as by the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and the customary laws of belligerent occupation. Security Council Resolution 1322 (2000), paragraph 3: “Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by its legal obligations and its responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in a Time of War of 12 August 1949; . . .” This is binding under international law because the Security Council vote was 14 to 0. We must all understand that the Fourth Geneva Convention applies to the West Bank, to the Gaza Strip and to the entire City of Jerusalem. Living under foreign military rule, the Palestinian people are “protected persons” within the meaning of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Their rights cannot be ‘negotiated’ away. The Israeli Government and its illegal settler colonists are violating almost every one of 149 Fourth Geneva Convention articles that protect the rights of Palestinians.
The New Zealand Government, as well as our institutions, churches, political parties, movements, businesses, artists and sportspeople should be united in unequivocal and determined support for human rights. Those who may be afraid of being accused of anti-Semitism should broaden their understanding by engaging with anti-Zionist Jews. Israel’s persecution of another Semitic population — the Palestinian people — is an undeniable war crime.
Let there be no doubt about this — it is not rhetoric — a Special Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights adopted a Resolution set forth in UN Document E/CN.4/S-5/L.2/Rev. 1, condemning the provocative visit by Ariel Sharon, the Likud Party leader, to the al-Aqsa Mosque on 28 September 2000. The UN Human Rights Commission expressed grave concern over Israel’s cruelty, which it characterised as “war crimes, flagrant violations of international humanitarian law and crimes against humanity.” Along with the growing civil BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, more and more institutions and public bodies worldwide are rising to their humanitarian duty. The most recent example is the Central University of Barcelona, which has just announced that it is to cut all communication and relations with Israeli universities and institutions related directly or indirectly to the Israeli Occupation in Palestine. The University has also joined the global initiative “Places without racism”, which includes hundreds of municipalities, institutions, universities and organisations the world over. Seville and dozens of other Spanish cities now support BDS.
Remember the tremendous impact of the anti-Apartheid and anti-Vietnam war movements. We can make a difference. New Zealand MPs who care about human rights, if and when able to attend, should come to the monthly rally in support of Palestine and address the crowd. Those same MPs ought to be witnessing for truth in our Parliament and, so that they can no longer be ignored, relentlessly raising the issue of Israel’s daily crimes against humanity. Controversy, publicity and debate would remove the shelter of silence that enables the National Government to pose so hypocritically at the Security Council.
End the news media silence now! Any reporting that does filter through is often misleading and must be challenged. It is possible — the BBC has recently, for the second time in just over six months, been forced to admit it misled its audiences over the situation in Israel and the Occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Our news media must be given no leeway either. All those who care should take every opportunity to write to their MPs, the newspapers and radio stations. Make as much noise as possible — silence only aids and abets the Zionist cause. Waiting for yet another Israeli blitz on Gaza before rallying again is unconscionable — we must unite now and actively strive to prevent any recurrence of such an atrocity. New Zealand’s voice has only one more year to make a difference at the Security Council — we have to ensure that our leaders will know that they face eternal shame if they fail to demand an end to Israel’s war crimes.