The Israel Institute of New Zealand’s Director, Dr David Cumin, is demanding to know who was responsible for New Zealand’s abstention from voting on a procedural vote at the UN condemning the Palestinian Resistance movement, Hamas. The Institute’s assertion that the vote was intended to bring “a small degree of balance to the international bias against Israel” is absurd. In spite of many Security Council and General Assembly resolutions condemning Israel’s continual violations of international law and Palestinian human rights, the United Nations has failed to take any practical steps to restrain Israel. The truth is, that Hamas acts in response to Israeli oppression and violence – not the other way around.
So far, this year’s final quarter (up to and including 11 November) there were Palestinian ceasefire violations on four days in October and two in November, with none so far this month. However, there were relentless ceasefire violations by Israel on every day in October and November, and up until 24 December. Whereas this month saw just two days respite from Israeli attacks, with no Palestinian missile-firings, the days, and even weeks, of daily attacks by Israeli forces, when there are no retaliatory Palestinian ceasefire violations, show just how Israel strives to provoke. Furthermore, the Israeli military’s overwhelmingly lethal power (US taxpayer-subsidised at $3.8 billion a year) dwarfs anything that Hamas might be able to bring in retaliation. During this quarter, so far, Israeli military action has killed 25 people in Gaza.
5 deaths in Gaza on just 1 day – a total of 6 for the month
This month, on 11 December, a child aged four years and eight months, Ahmad Yasser Sabri Abed, died of wounds sustained in Israeli Army fire on protesters in the town Khuza’a on 8 December. In addition, the first of five more deaths in the month all came on the 21 December, when Israeli Army positions behind the Green Line opened fire on protesters in east Gaza City, killing two people, Mohammad Mu’in Khlil Jahjouh (16) and Abdel-Azziz Abu Shrariyat (28), and wounding 15 others. Another protester, Ayman Mohammad Shabir (18), was shot dead by sniper fire in central Gaza, with eight people wounded. Also on 21 December, in Central Gaza, a special-needs patient, Maher Attiya Mohammad Yassin (40), died of wounds previously sustained on 14 May, when Israeli forces opened fire on protesters in the east of the al-Bureij UN refugee camp. The second death was in Khan Yunis, when Ashraf Mohammad Hamad Radwan (36) also succumbed to wounds received on 14 May from Israeli Army sniper fire on protesters in east Khuza’a.
In October and November, Israel launched 157 air strikes against the civilian population, damaging homes and other buildings. With 30 people killed and over 1,000 wounded, so far this quarter, it is obvious that Hamas could not possibly match the Israeli violence. Israel even opens fire on, and occasionally hijacks, Palestinian fishing boats, causing grievous economic harm to the blockaded population.
Israel’s merciless West Bank population control
As in Gaza, so also in the Israeli-Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israel takes a daily toll of Palestinian, life, limb and liberty, not to mention livelihood. Just this month, up to 24 December, Israeli Army violence has killed eight people and wounded 113 others. Zionist propaganda wants the world to believe that Israel’s assaults on the Palestinian people are nothing but actions necessary for Israel’s security. The truth is, Israel’s military presence in the West Bank is purposely malevolent and essential to the realisation of its territorial ambition. Here are some examples of Israeli spitefulness, taken solely from this month’s Palestinian Monitoring Group’s daily situation reports. [See www.palestine.org.nz for more details on all In Occupied Palestine daily newsletters.]
There were 261 night raids on West Bank towns and villages, many of which included numerous home invasions. Imagine having your home, filled with heavily armed soldiers, being turned upside down in the middle of the night. Again, up until 24 December, Israeli soldiers abducted Palestinian 24 minors, aged 13 to 17. At least 11 of the young prisoners are under age 16. Night and day, for Palestinians, there was no escaping the dozens of Israeli Army checkpoints that obstruct and delay what should be the simplest of journeys, to school and to work, as well as the delivery of goods and access to agriculture.
Israel’s property violations in the West Bank include plunder. This month, the Israeli Army seized a bulldozer being operated by a construction worker, Ahmad Rashid Ali Ahmad, on privately-owned Palestinian land between Bruqin and Lafr al-Dik. In the middle of the night, Israeli forces raided Fasayil village, searched several homes and robbed one householder, Mahmoud Hussein Nuwarat, of cash to the value of 50,000 NIS (US$12,875) as well as gold jewellery. In Jerusalem, an Israeli Occupation court issued an order preventing the Palestinian Authority Governor of Jerusalem District, Adnan Ghayth, from entering the area for a period of 14 days and placed him under home detention for a period of three days. In addition, Ghayth was forced to to pay 5000 NIS (US$1287), as a condition for his release from captivity.
In the Tubas district, Israeli forces raided Bardala village, stole a tractor, belonging to Khalid Rushdi Sawafta, and photographed his livestock shelter. In Majdal Bani Fadil village, Israeli forces robbed Maqbulat Nassrallah Othman of his mobile home and in Salfit, Israeli forces destroyed a car-wash business owned by Hassan Salah Soliman. Israeli forces raided Barta’a village and seized equipment from a poultry farm. In the district of Nablus, the Israeli Army raided Faroush Beit Dajjan village, plundering roofing tools being used in the building of a school and forcing the builders to stop work. Another school was targeted when Israeli forces detained the Head of the al-Samiya Village Council and 13 other people employed there, as they attempted to rebuild seven classrooms destroyed by the Israeli Army two days previously. The construction workers were told they would be held captive for two weeks.
December saw Israeli Occupation forces issue an order to extend water reticulation from the settlement of Shvut Rachel to the settlement of Magdulim, over more than 7km of Palestinian land belonging to the the villages of Qusri and Jalud. The process, including large-scale bulldozing, will destroy a large area of Palestinian land. Also, Israeli forces issued an order to halt building work on a school in the Wadi Suleiman district of Beit Liqiya, while in Hebron, Israeli forces plundered a school building site of tents and construction material. In another raid, the Israeli Army, firing live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades and tear gas canisters, invaded Ramallah and al-Bireh, breaking into the offices of Wafa, the Palestine News Agency and stealing electronic equipment. The troops went on to raid shops and apartment buildings, wounding six residents: Adnan Mohammed Ali (17), Imad Nizam Mustafa Attaya (17), Louay Garara (a paramedic), Anwar Mohamed Awad Matareya and Ziad Sami Abu Tamam.
In Ramallah, Israeli soldiers opened fire on a taxicab near the Surda village road junction, killing the driver. The soldiers then made off with the Al-Rafadin Taxi Company’s vehicle. In the district of Jericho, the Israeli Army raided al-Jiftlik village and destroyed a home under construction. In Tubas district, the Israeli military forced 14 families out of their Khiriat Ibziq village homes, in order to conduct overnight military exercises. In the district of Bethlehem the Israeli Army raided Palestinian farmland in east Teqoa, plundered the area of farming equipment and took prisoner two people, Musa Hussein Tanouh and Murad Musa Hussein Tanouh, who were working the land. The farmland lies close to the Nikodim Israeli Occupation settlement. Israeli forces raided Qalqiliya and plundered equipment from three printeries: Asayel, Saba and Beit Al-Quds. The Israeli Army also invaded and searched the home of a Palestinian resident in Hebron Old City, Hazim Abu Rajab, and robbed him of 1,800 NIS (US$463). And so it goes on, day after day, year in, year out. Israel’s illegal settlers, often with Israeli Army complicity, make life as difficult, and dangerous, as possible for native Palestinians but Israeli Occupation settler crimes are too numerous to be included here.
It is difficult to imagine what dire threat to Israel’s security there could have been but Israeli soldiers recently grabbed three schoolgirls (students at the Beitunya Secondary and Higher Learning School) and forced them into their Jeep. Whatever their motive for such behaviour, the soldiers kept the girls captive in the vehicle for some time.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Marking the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Human Rights Award of the French Republic has recently been presented at the Ministry of Justice in Paris to this year’s laureates, including Hagai El-Ad, the Executive Director of B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. In an address to the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (CNCDH), El-Ad noted that: “The occupation, in and of itself, is organised, prolonged, state violence, which brings about dispossession, killings, and oppression. All branches of the state are part of it: ministers and judges, officers and planners, parliamentarians and bureaucrats.” The B’Tselem Executive Director also warned about “propaganda, lies, and threats by a government which believes that silencing and coverup will enable further human rights violations.”
The Israel Institute of New Zealand complains because the abstention on the procedural vote at the UN meant that there would have to be a two-thirds majority vote for the US-sponsored resolution to enable it to pass. New Zealand, as the Institute acknowledges, did eventually vote in favour of the resolution. Resistance to belligerent, foreign military Occupation and aggression should not be left solely to the defenceless victims. With every human rights violation by Israel, it falls ever more urgently upon the international community to call it to account. While Israel chooses to treat international human rights law with contempt, New Zealand has no cause to serve the Israeli lobby’s campaign to secure exemption for Israel. Well-enforced sanctions and boycotts are now the only non-violent ways to end this racist oppression – and these must include support for international anti-Zionist peace movements.