In its fight against supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and other defenders of Palestinian human rights, the Israel Law Centre, Shurat HaDin, claims it is “working with Western intelligence agencies across the globe to file legal actions.” A Wikileaks release informed the world in 2013 that Shurat HaDin also has close ties with the Israeli spy agency, Mossad. Last November, The Electronic Intifada described how Shurat HaDin’s director, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, told US embassy staff that the group “took direction” from Israeli spy agencies, including Mossad, quoting the classified 2007 document released by Wikileaks:
“In an interview to promote her new book Harpoon, Darshan-Leitner this month laid out just how intimate the organisation’s ties with Mossad are. Soon after the group’s foundation, she told Reuters, ‘she was invited to Mossad headquarters for a consultation’.”
The Israeli Government, according to the 2007 cable, “saw the use of civil courts as a way to do things that they are not authorised to do.” In 2012 Leitner said, in an interview, that: “The Israeli government has some constraints . . . they have international treaties they are signed of and they cannot do what private lawyers can do.”
The International Criminal Court
Palestine has appealed directly to the International Criminal Court (ICC), requesting the Prosecutor to investigate on-going and future crimes “committed in all parts of the territory of the State of Palestine”. The ICC is giving serious consideration to the request from Palestine, with the Prosecutor promising in regard to the request: “I will always take the decision warranted by my mandate under the Rome Statute.”
In a significantly worded comment, Shurat HaDin refers to the Palestinian approach to the ICC by saying that the Palestinian Authority “has ostensibly acceded to membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague . . .” and, while admitting that “the State of Israel is not a member of the ICC”, laments that not being a member “complicates its ability to formally respond to these complaints.” It is easy to understand why Israel avoids membership of the ICC. The growing, self-imposed isolation of the Zionist regime is likely to be its downfall and the world should take note that, by acceding to ICC jurisdiction, it is Palestine that has firmly committed itself to world community standards and ethics.
Shurat HaDin’s own-goal scored for Israel
Shurat HaDin has since added greatly to the isolation of Israel by attempting to extort damages from Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab for successfully appealing to the pop singer Lorde to “join the artistic boycott of Israel”. Even the Israel Institute’s co-director, David Cumin, was alarmed by the court action, commenting that it was “an attack on the free speech rights of the two New Zealand women”. Instead of securing damages, Shurat HaDin’s own-goal for Israel has resulted, instead, in a surge of support for the campaign by Justine and Nadia to raise money for the Gaza Mental Health Foundation. Israel’s aerial blitzes and unremitting violence have resulted in over half of the children there suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
While Zionist propaganda would have the world believe that the regime’s violence against Gaza is simply defence against Palestinian missile attacks, the truth is that the Israeli violence is actually designed to provoke violent acts of Resistance. This month alone, up to and including 16 October, there were no Palestinian missile-launchings yet Israel committed 89 Gaza ceasefire violations, resulting in 13 deaths, including two children: Fares Hafez Abdel Aziz Sersawi (13) and Ahmad Samir Harb Abu Habil (15). Israeli air strikes and other attacks also wounded, or otherwise injured, another 408 people. So far, the people of Gaza have steadfastly refused to abandon their appeal for justice – the Great March of Return.
Israel calls Palestinian villagers ‘squatters’
Israel’s recently-passed ‘Nation State law’ determines a status of second-class upon Israel’s non-Jewish citizens, while in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, the Israeli regime’s racist Occupation continues to also take its toll on Palestinian life, limb, liberty and land. For Israel, this is now Zionist Judea and Samaria and the Israeli Occupation dismisses native Palestinians as merely “squatters” in their own land. Any who try to resist Israel’s moves to ethnically cleanse them are insultingly accused of ‘terrorism’.
In a letter sent earlier this month to the EU Ambassador to Israel, Emanuele Giaufret, and to ambassadors from the United Kingdom, Sweden, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Italy, the Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman called the population of the West Bank village of Khan al-Ahmar “a small group of squatters” and complained that Europe would object to Israel questioning its “internal judicial processes.” Liberman’s letter was a furious and irrational response to a warning from the European Union to Israel that destroying Khan al-Ahmar, located in the geopolitically sensitive corridor between Jerusalem and Jericho, would make it impossible for that area to become part of the permanent boundaries of a future Palestinian state.
An earlier EU resolution has determined that: “The demolition of Khan al-Ahmar and the forcible transfer of its residents would constitute a grave breach of international humanitarian law.” The French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on 9 October that his country was “paying particular attention to the case of Khan al-Ahmar, given its location in an area of strategic importance for the contiguity of a Palestinian state and for the viability of a two-state solution with Jerusalem as the capital.” He also warned of “the potential humanitarian, as well as political, consequences of the demolition of this village and the displacement of its inhabitants.” European Union foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, had formerly outlined in a statement, that the “European Union and its Member States have repeatedly stated their long-standing position on Israel’s settlement policy, illegal under international law, and actions taken in that context, including the demolitions of Palestinian communities and possible forced transfers of population.”
The aroma of contempt
Since 2 October, the Khan Al-Ahmar villagers have been on high alert, awaiting the imminent arrival of Israeli Army bulldozers. A recent visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel has, no doubt, helped to delay the ethnic cleansing but the world needs, urgently, to step up the pressure. The Israeli Defence Minister’s racist reference to the villagers as “squatters” reveals the ideologically-driven contempt behind Israel’s imposition of colonial settlements on Palestinian land. The hostility of brainwashed Israeli settlers is making life intolerable for the native Palestinian people they surround. One example of the depravity resulting from fanatical belief in Zionist ideology can be seen – and smelled – in the river of Israeli settlement sewage, directed onto Khan al-Ahmar. It has created a huge pond of effluent in the village – see photos. This method of stinking terrorism is by no means aimed solely at Khan al-Ahmar, it is a fact of life for many Palestinians living under foreign Zionist military Occupation.
Recently, on 12 October, a Palestinian woman, Aisha Mohammed Talal al-Rabi, aged 47, was stoned to death by Israeli Occupation settlers. Video footage taken by a field worker for the Israeli Human Rights Organisation, Yesh Din, based in both Israel and the West Bank, shows the settlers, from the notorious Yitzhar Occupation settlement, fleeing the scene. Yesh Din also noted that the Israeli Army did nothing to stop the stoning or help in any way. The crushing Israeli military Occupation weighs heavily upon Palestinian family life. In 1999, it was Israeli soldiers who killed Aisha’s brother, Fawzat Mohammad Bolad, only hours before his wedding.
On 13 October, yet another village bore the full brunt of Zionist Occupation malice as the Israeli Army, firing stun grenades and tear gas canisters, raided Kafr Qaddum, attacking a woman’s home and exploding a tear gas canister inside it, causing the woman, Hiyam Ishyawi, to lose consciousness. Using concrete blocks to seal off all roads to the village, the Occupation forces went on to destroy the main water pipeline and prevented the Village Council from repairing it. Another example of Israeli Army support for settler violence occurred on the same day, near Nablus when, Israeli Occupation forces fired stun grenades and tear gas canisters in support of settler fanatics who, after invading Orif village, found themselves facing resistance from villagers.
On 14 October, Palestinian villagers had to endure Israeli Occupation settlers spray-painting race-hate graffiti on their homes. More settlers then plundered the Palestinian olive harvest and destroyed the trees. Rabbis for Human Rights, a non-denominational human rights group, says it has documented four cases in three different locations in the past week in which settlers were seen vandalising Palestinian olive trees. Imagine the trauma of losing both the hard-worked-for harvest and the trees upon which future harvests depend. Also on 14 October, in al-Khadr, a gang of Israeli settlers from the Evrat Israeli Occupation settlement raided farmland, felling and uprooting 370 grapevines and 30 olive trees.
On 15 October, Israeli soldiers abducted five Palestinian children, the youngest, during an invasion of his home, was aged 11. More settlement sewage was pumped towards the threatened village of Khan al-Ahmar and another Palestinian olive harvest was plundered by settlers. Settler violence hospitalised one Deir al-Hatab village harvester, Amjad Khaled Odeh. Near Hebron, Israeli forces raided Susiya village and robbed a man, Husam Na’im Hamamdah, of excavation machinery, a forklift and electronic equipment he owned, as he carried out work for a local landowner.
On 16 October, eight Israeli air strikes hit Gaza, killing one person and injuring six others, one critically. Israeli Army fire from behind the Green Line wounded two more people. In the West Bank, heavily armed Israeli soldiers invaded a home in Ramallah and robbed the family of cash and a computer. Two 17-year-old Palestinian youths were abducted by Israeli troops in two more home invasions. One of the abductions occurred at 6am and the other between 2am and 3:30am.
At 4am, 17 October, the Palestinian Resistance, finally, fired two missiles towards Israel. If that missile attack counts as two Palestinian ceasefire violations for the month, then it is dwarfed by Israel’s ceasefire violations that numbered 89, not counting the individual number of missiles and other projectiles that hit Gaza this month.
Hagai El-Ad, the Executive Director of the Israeli anti-Occupation human rights organisation B’Tselem addressed the Security Council on Thursday, 18 October, at the quarterly session scheduled in accordance with Resolution 2334. In his speech, El-Ad compared the Israeli Occupation with apartheid-era South Africa and urged the international community to act in defence of the Palestinian people. The B’Tselem Executive Director said that Israel was “splitting up an entire people, fragmenting their land, and disrupting their lives.” Regarding the menace hanging over the villagers of Khan al-Ahmar, El-Ad observed that the “Israeli-established planning regime in the West Bank is meant, by design, to serve settlers and dispossess Palestinians.” El Ad criticised Israel’s High Court for giving the green light to the demolition of the village, describing it as complicity in a plan that is “nothing short of the war crime of forcible transfer of protected people in an occupied territory.”
Where is New Zealand’s voice in defence of Palestinian human rights? Winston Peters remains silent over Khan Al-Ahmar and still has not declared this country’s foreign policy with regard to our open questions sent to him on 22 September. Will our Prime Minister take up the plight of Khan Al-Ahmar with our Foreign Affairs Minister and urgently express New Zealand’s solidarity with the villagers, and the statements made on the matter by the European Parliament?
The Israeli Defence Minister, Avigdor Liberman’s recent claim that Khan Al-Ahmar is an “internal” Israeli matter and that other countries have no right to intervene is pure fiction. It demonstrates just how detached the Zionist regime is from the requirement to respect international law and diplomacy. Liberman must be reminded, in no uncertain terms, that Khan al-Ahmar is not in Israel. Illegal, belligerent military Occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem by Israel violates the Fourth Geneva Convention and Parties to the Convention have a duty to intervene to protect the indigenous population. Defenders of human rights urge the New Zealand Government to join with other countries in demanding an end to the Israeli Government’s plan for both population transfer and the destruction of people’s property. For pressure to be effective, it must be made clear that if Israel were to proceed with its plan for Khan al-Ahmar, its failure to respect international humanitarian law would result in serious consequences.
Despite the Israeli High Court decision that the demolition and population transfer can proceed, action appears to be in abeyance for now, no doubt due to the continued courageous resistance of the villagers and warnings from several European countries. This is an opportunity for our country to engage with the world community in efforts to restrain Israel and strengthen respect for rules-based international order. End the silence!