On the morning of 30 March this year, referring to the Great March of Return protest in Gaza and the West Bank, Israel’s Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman tweeted: “Anyone who approaches the border puts his life in jeopardy”. Take note of that first word, ‘anyone’, because there you have it – the Zionist regime’s true intention towards the protesters – to terrorise, by inflicting large numbers of fatalities and many, many, more injuries of such severity as to result in amputations and life-long suffering. Zionist propaganda claims that Israeli forces were targeting armed terrorists but deception is a mainstay of the Israeli ideology’s narrative. In spite of Israeli Army claims to the contrary, Human Rights Watch observers could find no evidence of any protester using firearms. On 29 March, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted a video of a man shot in the leg, describing the injury as the “least” that any Palestinian protester would face.
In a recent article in the New Zealand Herald, Rob Berg wrote that in “2007 Hamas took over control in Gaza” in a “bloody coup” – without acknowledging the essential fact that Hamas was elected to govern, in an election that international observers agreed was full, fair and exemplary. The “bloody coup” was actually defence against a joint attempt by the US and Israel to overthrow the Hamas Government. An article in The Guardian tells how the Bush Administration, determined to punish the Palestinians for voting the ‘wrong way’, began a secret project for the armed overthrow of Hamas. Vanity Fair reported that President George Bush and the Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, had signed-off on a plan for the removal of Hamas.
Hamas, Israel’s great diversion
Israeli propaganda claims that the Great March of Return was instigated by Hamas as a cover for acts of terrorism. As the world has seen, the terrorism emanated from Israel. Berg’s claim that the use of live ammunition was justified for use against those “posing a real threat to Israeli civilians” is equally preposterous. Over a period of seven weeks, Israel killed 104 protesters and wounded over 12,600, around half of whom were hospitalised. One Israeli soldier was injured and absolutely no Israeli civilians were endangered. The vast bulk of Palestinian deaths and injuries were caused by gunfire from safely-positioned Israeli Army snipers, often firing from the tops of high, protective banks of earth. A complaint to the International Criminal Court (ICC) explains in detail the reality of the disparity between the security enjoyed by the Israeli military, which is blockading Gaza, and the naked defencelessness of the Palestinian protesters. United States action in blocking a draft UN Security Council statement, calling for an investigation, is a sure sign that Israel does have something to hide. Meanwhile, the death toll from critical woundings continues to mount.
For nuclear-armed Israel, whose military is massively subsidised by the United States, any sign of Resistance, armed or otherwise, is intolerable so, while Berg’s article takes care to tell us that Hamas invested in “weapons” and “rockets”, Zionists would have the world forget that thirty years ago an International Atomic Energy Agency Conference (IAEA) GC(32)/RES/487 declared itself “conscious of the grave consequences that endanger international peace and security as a result of Israel’s growing nuclear capabilities and threat”, in particular with regard to “Israel’s policy of aggression and expansion in the region and its acts of oppression against the Arab people in the Occupied Territories, which grossly violate international law and the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.” Israel still refuses to co-operate with the IAEA.
When it comes to disparity though, the most outstanding statistics are to be seen in Israel’s relentless attempts to provoke missile-firings towards Israel from Gaza in violation of the ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas. Since the beginning of April up to and including 21 May, there were just four Palestinian ceasefire violations – all targeting the Israeli Army. Over the same period, there were 386 Israeli Army, Navy and Air Force ceasefire violations, targeting Palestinian protesters, fishing boats, agriculture, refugee camps, villages and towns. In the early hours of Wednesday, 23 May, Israeli air strikes destroyed two unarmed Palestinian fishing boats, and a fishing port in Gaza City was also attacked. In just one week, 13-20 May, the Israeli Army targeted medical teams arriving to rescue casualties. An article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz explained that the medics allowed for this by working in teams of six: “If one is wounded, two others will carry him away for treatment and the three who remain will continue to work, praying that they won’t be hit themselves.” In that one week, one paramedic was killed, 14 medical personnel were wounded and ten others injured. In addition, Israeli Army fire damaged twelve ambulances.
Israel is a belligerent Occupying power that has fenced off Gaza, for use as a ghetto. The refugees, that Israel created and is responsible for, are demanding that their internationally-recognised right of return be respected. Palestinian refugees have also been ousted by Israel into refugee camps elsewhere in Palestine and beyond. UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency provides shelter for more than 1.5 million Palestinians, in 58 recognised Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. These are less than a third of the total number of Palestinian refugees from Zionism. Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.” Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights clearly states that “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country.”
Shameless territorial ambition
In Syria, with Israel’s Occupation and colonisation of the Golan Heights, the refugees feel Israel drawing closer, especially now that it has begun to increase its pressure on Donald Trump’s Administration to arrogantly and preposterously grant Israel ‘sovereignty’ over the territory. The Trump Administration has already shown contempt for world opinion and international law in recognising Jerusalem as the Zionist regime’s capital and now an Israeli Minister, Yisrael Katz, has told the Reuters news agency that US endorsement of Israel’s 51-year Occupation of the Golan Heights is “topping the agenda” in present talks with Washington. Katz said: “The most painful response you can give the Iranians is to recognise” what he called “Israel’s Golan sovereignty, with an American statement, a presidential proclamation, enshrined (in law).” Israel seems suddenly to have become interested in a new form of international law – one that can be selectively contrived to suit the Zionist agenda and Israel/US allies’ interests. The move is also seen by Israel as a necessary follow-up on the unilateral US exit from the international nuclear agreement with Iran.
The massacre of refugees in Gaza should also be understood in the light of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Conventions on the Protection of Civilians in Time of War (1949), which declares “Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.” Note that Article 49 takes care to draw attention to the unacceptability of motive as excuse for violations of human rights. In view of the impunity granted to Israel by the great powers, it might be appropriate, after nearly seventy years of atrocities, to add the words “especially Zionism” immediately after ‘motive’ at the end of the Article’s first paragraph. The Occupying power’s violent and criminal disrespect for the refugees has a long history and, in spite of decades of international censure, the Zionist regime has never properly investigated reports of unlawful killings by its Occupation forces, nor has it ever held violators sufficiently to account for wrongdoing.
Israel’s Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israel’s public radio: “You have to understand, there are no innocent people in the Gaza Strip. Everyone has a connection to Hamas.” No wonder the toll of Palestinian death and injury is so high. The Zionist ideology dehumanises Palestinians, en masse, in order to justify Israeli state terrorism. While the Palestinian people protest, as they must, to remind the world of the enormous injustice they continue to suffer, every act of resistance to Zionist oppression is met with collective punishment.
Creeping dystopia threatens global stability
Israel’s disrespect for the rights of refugees includes frequent attacks and night home invasions in UNRWA refugee camps, which never draw the attention of Western-aligned leaders or our news media. Our political leaders love to proclaim their “shared values” but seem to regard Israel’s terrorising of UN refugee camps as none of their business – even when, as in Gaza, they are subjected to air strikes. The recent Israeli Army targeting of ambulances and medics in Gaza, in full view of the international community, is another cause for shame. Shame on Israel and shame on our political leaders for not calling the Zionist state to account. UNRWA refugee camps are the responsibility of the global community and medical personnel and ambulances are protected under international law but our leaders have done nothing to defend international agreements from wanton violation. The protests of Palestinians are falling, yet again, on indifferent ears; Israel’s allies would have you forget the Palestinian people and we must not be party to their complicity.
Those in power, who instigate the suffering, hope that the more commonplace it becomes, the more acceptable and ‘normal’ it will be made to appear. Palestinians have a right to be heard and respected – their cause should also be ours and, if we had any humanity or commonsense, it would be. Our silence and inaction are enabling the advance of a not-so-invisible creeping global dystopia.