Palestinians face a stark choice – either to accept subservience or to resist it
Last month in Gaza, a boy playing soccer near the al-Bureij refugee camp was shot by Israeli soldiers. The wound inflicted was so severe that he has since had to have his leg amputated. On 19 April, Doctors Without Borders, also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) medical teams reported extraordinarily large wounds being inflicted among protesters by Israeli Army snipers, causing terrible destruction of bones and soft tissue, with huge exit wounds as large as a fist. MSF agrees with hospital staff in Gaza, who say that they haven’t seen wounds of such magnitude since Israel’s 2014 ‘Operation Protective Edge’ Gaza blitz.
Why Israel reacts so violently against every Palestinian protest
Either Israeli soldiers are so poorly trained that they cannot recognise children through their telescopic sights, or they are deliberately targeting them. The young footballer is by no means alone. See this video interview with 12-year-old Abderahman Nofal, shot in the leg by an Israeli Army sniper. His mangled leg also had to be amputated. Listen to his mother’s anguish. The malevolent motivation of the Zionist Army is clearly demonstrated by the targets it chooses. By 20 April, 500 minors had already been wounded and the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that 48 members of its medical staff were also wounded, simply for trying to evacuate the injured. Thirteen ambulances were targeted with live fire and tear gas canisters.
It would seem that children who dare to play football, within sight of its soldiers, offends against one of the Israeli Army’s prime ideological commitments, which is to suppress the slightest display of spirit by the Palestinian people. At enormous cost to themselves, they continue to protest because, for a defenceless population, public demonstrations are one of the few opportunities of resistance available.
Undermining the right even to education for Palestinian children
The Israeli assault on Palestinian education is another way of undermining hope for a positive Palestinian future. A Joint statement last September by Save the Children, UNICEF and the Humanitarian Co-ordinator for the OPT, delivered by the Humanitarian Co-ordinator, Robert Piper, noted that : “We must all stand up and be counted in defence of the right of Palestinian children to a sound education and in a safe environment. International law is unambiguous here – children and classrooms enjoy unique protections that must be respected by all.” The right of education for one million Palestinian children was recognised as being at risk. This was, of course, ignored by our news media and political leaders. Last year, Defence for Children International published a report on Israel’s abuses against Palestinian children in 2017.
A daily toll
Israel remorselessly suffocates every aspect of Palestinian life on a daily basis. Some headlines from just one day, 23 April 2018, might prompt us to imagine what daily life is like for Palestinians living under Zionist Occupation. Remember that generations of children have grown up and become adults under this regime. Try to imagine what that must feel like:
~ Special-needs patient dies from Israeli Army sniper wounds
~ Israeli Army explosives destroy Palestinian home and damage 4 others – 2 people injured
~ Israeli Army exercises force 5 Palestinian families out of their homes
~ Child tear-gas victims evacuated during Israeli Army assault on West Bank village school
~ 3 Israeli Navy attacks on Palestinian fishing boats
~ Israeli Army storms Gaza farmland, bulldozing crops
~ Israeli Army opens fire on protesters in Gaza
~ Night peace disruption and/or home invasions in 5 towns and villages
~ 11 attacks (9 of them Israeli Gaza ceasefire violations)
~ 21 raids including home invasions
~ 1 beaten – 1 dead – 6 wounded
Video: Israeli soldiers celebrate as they shoot Palestinians
Israeli Occupation soldiers celebrated as they fired weapons at Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank village of Madama, near Nablus, on 13 April. Watch them discussing the use of live ammunition against Palestinians, who pose no threat, before becoming more guarded as they realise they are being being filmed. The occasion was, according to the Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem, which published the video, an attempt by residents to remove a roadblock the Israeli Army had placed at the entrance to their village. B’Tselem commented that the soldiers were “joyfully cheering about shooting a person trying to clear the access road to his home and calmly discussing other ways to hit him and the other people with him”.
UN recognition of Right to Resist
The 1974 UN General Assembly Resolution 3314 prohibits states from “any military occupation, however temporary”. The Resolution, besides affirming the right to self-determination, freedom and independence of peoples forcibly deprived of that right, also acknowledged the particular plight of those subject to colonial and racist regimes. The UN Resolution also noted the right of the Occupied to “struggle . . . and to seek and receive support” to achieve liberation. On 3 December 1982, another UNGA Resolution, 37/43, acknowledged the lawful entitlement of Occupied people to resist Occupation forces by any, and all, lawful means. The Resolution also underlined “the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and foreign occupation by all available means, including armed struggle”. In particular, Section 21 of the Resolution expressly condemned “the expansionist activities of Israel in the Middle East and the continual bombing of Palestinian civilians, which constitute a serious obstacle to the realisation of the self-determination and independence of the Palestinian people”.
Palestinians, like all other people before them who resisted foreign Occupation, have no choice. The Occupier desires complete subservience to its rule and that means an end to freedom of expression and identity. For those of us who have never had to endure the grim reality of life under a regime of constant malevolent oppression, the challenge to the imagination is extreme. But we must try to understand.
Warning from the International Criminal Court
On 29 April, the International Criminal Court issued an unprecedented warning that Israeli leaders may face trial for the killing of unarmed Palestinian protesters in the Gaza Strip. “Since 30 March 2018, at least 27 Palestinians have been reportedly killed by the Israeli Defence Forces, with over a thousand more injured, many, as a result of shootings using live ammunition and rubber bullets,” Fatou Bensouda, the ICC’s Chief Prosecutor, stated that “Violence against civilians – in a situation such as the one prevailing in Gaza – could constitute crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or “the Court”) . . .” The statement continued: “I remind all parties that the situation in Palestine is under preliminary examination by my Office. While a preliminary examination is not an investigation, any new alleged crime committed in the context of the situation in Palestine may be subjected to my Office’s scrutiny. This applies to the events of the past weeks and to any future incident.”
To Resist is human
Whereas Palestinian Resistance receives neither aid nor recognition, the Zionist state is rewarded with massive US military subsidy, in addition to being diplomatically favoured by Western-aligned countries. Thus, Israel is encouraged to sneer at the sponsors of UNSC 2334 while shamelessly and brutally denying the Palestinian people their UN-recognised human rights. Political Zionism is proving to be one of the greatest threats to international law, peace and stability.
On 30 April, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, when asked for his view concerning Israel’s brutal assaults on Palestinian protesters, expressed his support for Israel’s behaviour, saying: “We do believe the Israelis have the right to defend themselves, and we’re fully supportive of that.” So even though Israel fails to silence its victims, it continues to draw comfort and impunity from its allies. Their acquiescence in Israel’s human rights abuses is unacceptable and shameful and the New Zealand Government should forthrightly disassociate itself from such complicity.
Palestinian protesters are out there, reminding us of both their existence and the enormity of the atrocities being perpetrated against them. World leaders seem to have forgotten the history of a time when Resistance movements were both admired and ably assisted. The Fourth Geneva Convention followed from that epic struggle.