Proportionality and international law

By   /   April 22, 2018  /   2 Comments

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Decades of alien military dictatorship, annexation and racist, colonial settlement have rendered impossible the Palestinian people’s right to lead a normal, decent life. The malevolence is undeniable even though world leaders and the mainstream news media prefer to look away.

Decades of alien military dictatorship, annexation and racist, colonial settlement have rendered impossible the Palestinian people’s right to lead a normal, decent life. The malevolence is undeniable even though world leaders and the mainstream news media prefer to look away. On 9 April, Israeli troops destroyed a West Bank school, kindergarten and health centre. They raided al-Dhahiriah at 10pm and destroyed the Zuwata Primary School. The school, built of brick with aluminium roofing, had six classrooms and 43 students, as well as accommodation for a kindergarten caring for ten children. The premises also housed a community health centre. On the same day, again in the West Bank, the Israeli Army attacked a school in Tel village, wounding and hospitalising a 15-year-old pupil, Ma’moun Basil Al-Hindi.

Israeli terrorism – just a few examples for April

On the first day of this month, Zionist militants from the Kafr Itsiyon Occupation settlement pumped raw settlement sewage onto Beit Umar farmland, ruining grapevines on 40 dunams (4 hectares) of Palestinian land. That day also, in Khan Yunis, Gaza, the Israeli Army shot a handicapped man, inflicting life-threatening head wounds. On 3 April, Israeli soldiers raided the local girls’ secondary school in al-Labban al-Sharqiya village in Nablus, threatening to fire stun grenades and tear gas at teachers and pupils in order to force them out of the school and off the premises. The troops even pursued schoolchildren who had fled onto nearby farmland. On 6 April, a settler mob raided the Hebron Old City’s al-Shlah neighbourhood and invaded a home, throwing bottles and rubbish onto the home of Abdel-Ghanni Qufshiya, and stealing a water tank from the roof. On 8 April, the Israeli Occupation forced the al-Rawadi family out of their home and handed possession over to a settler association, claiming that it had been a settler home prior to 1948! On 11 April, Israeli war planes carried out three air strikes on Gaza City, causing death and injury.

Israeli sniper’s video gives away the hateful intent

A 28-year-old Palestinian has said that he was the man whose shooting by an Israeli sniper was captured on video and later leaked, and he denied the Army’s allegations that he had been organising a violent demonstration at the Gaza border. He told how the soldiers laughed at him after he had been shot. The 81-second video clip, taken by a soldier, appeared on social media on 2 April, revealing the targeting of a Palestinian man who was simply standing in full view of the soldiers. The sound of joyous triumphal shouting and profanity can be heard.

Zionism’s reliance upon lies and deceit

Zionism is dependent upon lies. Israel’s Defence Minister claimed that the photo-journalist recently shot dead by the Israeli Army was a high-ranking member of the military wing of Hamas and had been flying a drone. Fortunately, a US State Department spokeswoman has confirmed that the journalist had passed a US Government vetting process. Eye-witnesses also confirmed that he was not operating a drone. The case made by Zionists against British Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has no credibility either – just more hate-filled lying. Enough – expose Zionism for what it is. Here is video of a Zionist interrogation of Ahed Tamimi – an insight into the Zionist mind.

UK Government loyalty to Zionism

In a letter dated 13 April 2018, the Near East Department of Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FO) complained of what it called a “disproportionate number of resolutions against Israel and the existence of a dedicated agenda item that singles out Israel.” This is, of course, the standard Zionist reaction whenever Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law are brought to public notice. The British Government, evidently, remains fully committed to serving the interests of Israel’s founding ideology. However, the FO cannot escape the fact that, just as all violations of the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention remain unacceptable, so too is its strategy of ignoring such crimes on the grounds that any criticism of Israel is ‘disproportionate’. Either Israel is committing these violations or it is not. It is noteworthy that the FO appeared unable to deny the truth that Israel does indeed violate international humanitarian law. This particular concern, declared by the British Government on behalf of Israel, exposes the May government and Israel to another aspect of disproportionality that they would rather not face.

Proportionality, international law, sharing responsibility

Zionists seriously ask us to imagine the plight of Israeli forces, armed only with war planes, tanks, shells, white phosphorus, high-powered guns, rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades and flying tear gas canisters, as they face the stone-throwing might of Palestinian Resistance to foreign Occupation. One soldier was even slapped in the face by a young girl!

Under international humanitarian law, the principle of proportionality governs the legal use of force in an armed conflict, whereby belligerents must make sure that the harm caused to civilians or civilian property is not excessive. Clearly, when unarmed civilians are targeted, any use of military weaponry is excessive and criminal, especially when international law recognises the right of civilians to resist foreign military Occupation. When such forces deliberately shoot unarmed people, especially children and those who are handicapped, and when they destroy civilian property and livelihoods, they are guilty of war crimes. The individuals who commit such acts and their commanders should face prosecution.

News media indifference

The news media remain silent and even their Letters columns are largely empty regarding these crimes. The NZ Herald recently chose not to publish the following two letters:

From Janfrie Wakim – Palestine Solidarity Network, Aotearoa-NZ:

“There was an outpouring of media criticism recently when the NZ government was seen to be slow to rebuke Russia for its involvement in the nerve agent attack in the UK on two civilians. But where is the condemnation of the silence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs regarding the barbaric actions of the Israeli government on Good Friday? Unarmed Palestinians gathered to take part in a well-publicised, non-violent annual protest, called the Great March of Return, commemorating Land Day. They were met with the brutal force of Israeli IDF and 100 snipers, killing 18 Palestinians and injuring more than 1,400. The Israeli military used drones to drop tear gas over the demonstrators, where entire families were gathered, and prevented medics from evacuating the injured. And then they bragged about it even though such actions against unarmed civilians violate accepted humanitarian law. Israel is expecting to act with impunity and will claim that the murders of civilians are in the interests of ‘security’. There’s no security for Palestinians and more have been killed and injured this weekend. Where is the media outrage ? Why the silence Winston?”

From Leslie Bravery – Palestine Human Rights Campaign, Aotearoa-NZ:

“Israel will not tolerate the slightest sign of Palestinian protest. At the end of 2017, a Palestinian man, Ibrahim Abu Thuraya, who had lost both legs in a previous Israeli air strike was, while seated in his wheelchair, shot and killed by an Israeli sniper for daring to wave a Palestinian flag in protest.

Unconditional US support for Israel, together with the British PM, Theresa May’s witless loyalty to the Balfour Declaration, should tell us it is time for New Zealand to stand independently of those who, our politicians tell us, are our ‘traditional allies’. The Good Friday shootings have prompted the Deputy Director of the US-based Jewish Voice for Peace, Alissa Wise, to note that: “70 years of Palestinian dispossession and expulsion by the Israeli Government is too long.”

Zionist hostility towards Palestinian children

Not content with its destruction of a Bedouin school on 9 April, the Israeli Army returned six days later and robbed the Bedouin community of the tents that had been set up to take the place of the destroyed school building. Not only that, the soldiers also seized the furniture that had been salvaged from the Zuwata Primary School. The community struggles to ensure that the children can continue with their schooling but the Zionist regime is determined to prevent it. Five years ago a UNICEF report called Israeli ill-treatment of children “widespread, systematic, and institutionalised”. Nothing since has changed. Living under Israeli military Occupation, Palestinian children as young as 12 experience horrors no child should. They are awakened by raiding soldiers in the middle of the night and taken at gunpoint, blindfolded and shackled, from their homes. Following solitary confinement, traumatised children are subjected to interrogation with neither lawyer nor relative present. Too often the children are forced to sign confessions written in Hebrew and without translation. We’re talking here about hundreds of children each year, year after year.

The resilience of Palestinian children and their families in opposing this mental oppression and coercion is amazing but children should not have to fight against the injustice of Occupation. They need and deserve our support. Those world leaders who unconditionally ally themselves with Israel make themselves complicit in its atrocious acts of inhumanity. They betray Israel’s victims and reinforce the Zionist regime’s contempt for international humanitarian law. This can only guarantee the prolonging of unacceptable suffering for a population whose homeland has been transformed into a hell created by foreigners.

NZ Government

NZ PM Jacinda Ardern, speaking in London regarding her meeting with UK PM Theresa May said: “The Prime Minister and I also expressed our common commitment to co-operating with close partners at a time when the global rules based system is under stress. We committed to continuing to work together to counter the efforts of those who seek to undermine the international order.” Theresa May’s solidarity with the Zionist argument that it is ‘anti-Semitic’ to require Israel to respect international law does not appear to offer much hope for the survival of international order.

We all bear responsibility. End the silence!

Since New Zealand sponsored UN Security Council Resolution 2334, Israel has continued to show contempt for both the people it persecutes and the UN Security Council. We should be calling upon Britain, the US and the United Nations to stop covering for Israel. In these increasingly violent and lawless times, the Fourth Geneva Convention is the most precious of all international rules. Talk of support for rules-based systems is nothing but empty rhetoric if we continue to ignore what Israel is doing. Whenever it suits a regime change agenda, and with scant evidence, the Western alliance is quick to express outrage at alleged crimes, even to the extent of taking military action. But when faced with decades of Security Council Resolutions regarding decade after decade of Israel’s crimes against humanity, New Zealand’s “traditional allies” remain silent and do nothing.

We have a choice. Either we allow ourselves to go along with the political designs of the ‘club’ or we stand up, independently, for humanity. The creation of a safer, saner, world order depends upon the strengthening of respect for international humanitarian law. In the spirit of UNSCR Resolution 2334, New Zealand should call upon the United Nations to end Israel’s impunity with the warning that any future violations of the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention will result in the imposition of severe sanctions. End the silence!

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About the author

Leslie Bravery

Leslie Bravery is a Londoner with vivid World War Two memories of the Nazi blitz on his home town. In 1947/1948 His father explained to him what was happening to the Palestinians thus: “Any ideology or political movement that creates refugees in the process of realising its ambitions must be inhuman and should be opposed and condemned as unacceptable.” What followed confirmed this assessment of the Zionist entity a hundredfold. Now a retired flamenco guitarist, with a lifelong interest in the tragedy of what happened to the Palestinian people, he tries to publicise their plight. Because the daily injustices they suffer barely get a mention in the mainstream news media, Leslie edits/compiles a daily newsletter, In Occupied Palestine, for the Palestine Human Rights Campaign. These days, to preserve his sanity, he enjoys taking part in a drama group whenever possible!

2 Comments

  1. Lois Griffiths says:

    The article quotes Jacinda Ardern, “We committed to continuing to work together to counter the efforts of those who seek to undermine the international order.”

    Could a government spokesperson please clarify just what is meant by the phrase , “the international order.”
    It sounds like the status quo, whereby the US and Israel..and lackeys.. are ‘exceptional countries’ who can operate by different rules from the rest of mankind.

  2. PB says:

    She’s being careful. The US & its vassals want her to say “international norms – ie, normal for the US to go where it pleases, normal that RUssia and any non-allies are restricted from same, and attacked at will;
    Russia, China and sovereign nations support “international law” – which protects their growth and interests.

    NZ is currently caught in between, but clearly the latter serves NZ best. Unless you believe the US are the biggest bullies and will always win, so go with the winner.

    Hot tip, though: they’ve already lost. Only thing to find out yet is the body count.