On Saturday, 30 March, the anti-Zionist Israeli peace movement, Gush Shalom, held a demonstration, opposite the Defence Ministry in Tel Aviv, in solidarity with the people of Gaza. Gush Shalom announced the protest with the following message: “Already for a whole year, the two million inmates of the world’s biggest prison – the Gaza Strip – are beating against the bars of their prison cell – and are answered by the live bullets of Israeli Army snipers.” In commemoration on that first anniversary of the Palestinian ‘Great March of Return’ Gush Shalom called for:
■ Full civil and political rights for the Palestinians living under Israeli control and occupation.
■ An end to the systematic shooting of unarmed civilians.
■ An end to criminal bombings.
■ An end to the siege which is suffocating Gaza’s economy and society.
The following day saw the end of yet another month of hateful domination perpetrated by the Zionist regime against the indigenous Palestinian people, not only in Gaza but also in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Seen to enjoy the support of powerful leaders, such as Donald Trump, Israel leads the way for growing right-wing extremism. Last month, Trump showed utter contempt for international law with his assertion that the US should recognise Israeli sovereignty over the invaded and annexed Golan Heights in Syria because of what he called its “critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel” and “regional stability”. His words are code for military dominance, never mind that Israel ethnically cleansed 130,000 Syrians from the territory it invaded! Are we so naïve as to ignore the fact that Israel is in cahoots with the huge US corporate, Genie, that is now looking for oil reserves in the stolen territory with the subsidiary GOGAS segment covering approximately 396.5 square kilometres in the southern Golan Heights? Besides exploiting Occupied Syria’s coveted fresh water, Israeli is also profiting immensely from the burgeoning tourist industry it has established in the territory. The research centre Who Profits is dedicated to exposing the profiteering that Israeli control over Palestinian and Syrian land affords Israeli and international companies.
Security for whom?
Last month, The Independent‘s Middle East correspondent, Robert Fisk, wrote: “When Colin Powell told the US State Department to instruct its embassies to call the West Bank “disputed” rather than “occupied”, the American press and television almost at once switched nomenclature. And so when the State Department suddenly referred to Golan a few weeks ago as “Israeli-controlled” rather than “Israeli-occupied”, we all knew what was coming.”
The forces behind mainstream news media and Western leaders’ silence regarding Israel’s relentless violations of international law are also responsible for the perverse bias against Islam and the Middle East that directs security services around the world.
Israel is no respecter of mosques. On 12 March in Jerusalem, Israeli police invaded the Al-Aqsa Mosque, assaulting and forcing out worshippers and security guards. A child, Amin al-Bassati, as well as nine men and women were injured.
The Israeli Occupation has taken to issuing orders against Palestinians, banning them from entering the mosque for varying periods and, towards the end of the month, even banned an Al-Aqsa Mosque staff member from entering. In Bethlehem on 19 March, Israeli Occupation settlers invaded Beita village, slashing motor vehicle tyres and spray-painting racist hate messages on the walls of a mosque. On 19 March, settler militants, escorted by Israeli troops, invaded the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and molested worshippers.
Settler violence and racism
Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states: “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” It also prohibits the “individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory”. Israel’s settlement policy involves extensive appropriation of Palestinian land, as well as theft and/or destruction of Palestinian property. It uses settlements as a way of expanding its territory. Fanatical settlers, convinced of their God-given superiority over ‘the other’, are an essential weapon in Israel’s determination to intimidate and terrorise unwanted Palestinians.
On 1 March in Jerusalem, Israeli settlers, raiding the al-Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, beat up and hospitalised a Palestinian man, Ameen Al-Natsha. In Tubas, on the same day, a settler mob threatened and forced Palestinian shepherds away from their flocks in the area of Ein al-Hilwa. Two days later in Salfit, a gang of Israeli settlers invaded Bruqin olive groves and severed the branches off 30 trees.
On 5 March, Israeli settler militants invaded Burin village farmland and severed the branches off more olive trees. In Jerusalem that day, a gang of Israeli settlers raided the Aqbat Darwish neighbourhood and seized the family home of a local resident, Jawdat Al-Halabi. The next day, militants from the 777 Israeli Occupation settlement outpost invaded and plundered Khirbet Yanun village farmland, uprooting with bulldozers about 15 olive and almond trees. The settlers then occupied the land and installed mobile homes. Militants from the Asfar Israeli Occupation settlement later the same day raided al-Shiyoukh agricultural land and uprooted 60 olive trees. On 10 March in Tubas, settler fanatics invaded the Bayoud area in Ein al-Hilwa and set attack dogs on shepherds and livestock.
On 16 March, in Qalqiliya, armed Israeli settler terrorists opened fire on Palestinian farmers near Far’ata village. The day after, there were nine acts of Israeli settler violence – beatings, hospitalisations and vandalism. In Jenin, raiding Israeli settlers yelled racist abuse in an area between Jab’a and the village of Sanur. In Qalqiliya, Israeli settler militants raided Jinsafut village, stoning homes and vehicles and smashing windows and windscreens. In Nablus, a stone-throwing settler mob raided Assira al-Qibliya village, injuring two residents and shattering the windows of villager Abdel-Rahma Mohammad Ahmad’s home. Again in Nablus – stone-throwing militants from the Yitzhar Israeli Occupation settlement stoned passing residents and vehicles in north Huwara. Also in Nablus, Zionist thugs from the Shavie Shamron Israeli Occupation settlement beat up and hospitalised three Palestinian residents: Nash’at Dwikat, Samer Abu Al-Hayat and Raed Al-Thulth. In Hebron, militants from the Kiryat Arba Israeli Occupation settlement stoned passing residents and vehicles and again, in Hebron – a mob from the Migon Israeli Occupation settlement in east Yatta stoned nearby Palestinian homes.
On the night of 19 March, Israeli forces and settlers raided Nablus, opening fire on a vehicle and killing two residents, Raed Hisham Mohammad Hamdan (21) and Imad Mohammad Nuri (29), injuring a further 13 people and causing 15 tear gas casualties. On 20 March, a gang of Israeli settler terrorists stormed Burqa, stoning the home of a villager, Mahmoud Kamil Hajat, damaging two parked motor vehicles and opening live fire on villagers. At dawn on 24 March, a gang of settler militants raided the al-Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in Jerusalem, slashing the tyres of 28 vehicles and spray-painting race-hate graffiti on the walls of homes. The next day, in Hebron, Zionist fanatics from the Kiryat Arba and Kharsana Israeli Occupation settlements invaded Palestinian farmland and cut branches off olive and almond trees.
Israeli Army and settler attacks on Palestinian agriculture, as well as water supply and storage, are a constant background to Palestinian life under Zionist control. Two examples must suffice: on 7 March, in Hebron, the Israeli Army uprooted 100 olive trees on Tarqumiya farmland and, on 18 March, Israeli forces raided the Um Nir area in Yatta and destroyed a well belonging to a villager, Farid Ahmad Al-Jabour.
The Israeli Occupation constantly violates the Palestinian education sector. On 12 March, Israeli forces raided Ibziq village and issued orders to stop the installation of solar panels at the Al-Tahadi School. The next morning, Israeli forces invaded Hebron City and, firing stun grenades and tear gas canisters, surrounded the Preparatory School in the Old City. The troops targeted children and staff arriving at the school, preventing anyone from entering or leaving. There were many tear gas casualties, and children were traumatised by the violence. This was not an isolated occurrence, the Israeli Army repeatedly attacks the school.
On the morning of 19 March, Israeli forces raided the Shuafat UN refugee camp and destroyed a two-storey building, part of the Al-Razi School. On 20 March in Hebron, Israeli troops raided the Zeid Jaber Secondary School and terrorised a child inside his classroom. Also in Hebron, on 24 March, Israeli forces launched a morning attack, with stun grenades and tear gas canisters on schoolchildren and teachers, near the al-Nahda School for Boys, causing several tear gas casualties.
The concept of home should epitomise tranquility, peace for sleeping children and security for them at play. Not so for Palestinian children, who tremble with fear as Israeli air strikes hit their neighbourhoods. Children in Occupied Palestine have to accept the reality that heavily-armed Israeli soldiers assume the right to invade their homes without warning, even at dead of night. Israeli settlers also attack Palestinian homes. On 4 March at 3:20am, Israeli troops, firing rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades and tear gas canisters, raided Ramallah and invaded several homes, wounding one resident and taking prisoner three others. Earlier on the same day, at 2am, Israeli forces raided Qalqiliya, searching two homes and robbing the householders of cash. More money was taken in a home invasion in Nablus that day, at dawn, when Israeli forces raided Nablus and searched a home, robbing the owner, Huthayfa Al-Shulim, of 2787 NIS and 335 JD. Also the same day in Bethlehem, at 1am, Israeli forces raided Teqoa, invading several homes and ordering two 16-year-old youths, Mohammad Jum’a Al-Sha’er and Ahmad Mahmoud Abu Farah, to report for interrogation at Israeli Military Intelligence. Again the same morning, at 3:25am, the Israeli Army raided al-Khadr and abducted a 16-year-old youth: Raed Hassan Musa.
On 5 March, a gang of Israeli settlers raided the Aqbat Darwish neighbourhood in Jerusalem and seized possession of the Jawdat Al-Halabi family home. On 6 March, among many home invasion raids, the Israeli Army destroyed two Palestinian family homes. The first occurred at 1:30am when Israeli forces, firing rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades and tear gas canisters, raided Kobar village and destroyed the family home of a Palestinian man, Issam Omar Al-Barghouthi, being held prisoner by the Israeli Occupation, and stole a motor vehicle owned by the prisoner’s father. The second was at 7am when Israeli forces destroyed the home of a resident in Burqa village: Musheir Soliman Sayef. Also on 6 March, in a raid that began at 2:50am, Israeli forces raided al-Doha and the al-Duheisha UN refugee camp, teargassing and hospitalising a 40-day-old baby: Najeh Thaer Al-Mi’awi.
On 7 March, Israeli soldiers destroyed three Palestinian tent dwellings in south east Yatta, Hebron. On 9 March, Israeli soldiers in east al-Bireh seized, and held captive for a time, two children playing outside their home: Mohammad Abu Musalim (7) and Mahmoud Ghassan Abu Musalim (11). That day, in two Jerusalem neighbourhoods, the Israeli Army forced two Palestinian families to destroy their own homes. On 12 March, raiding Israeli forces, firing live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades and tear gas canisters, searched homes and shops, shooting dead one person, Mohammad Abdel-Fattah Shaheen (23), wounding 40 others and causing tear gas casualties. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) confirmed that Shaheen’s death was caused by live ammunition. Rampaging Israeli soldiers seized CCTV recordings from streets and shops.
Two more family homes were destroyed by Israeli troops on 13 March. During the night in Salfit on 17 March, Israeli troops, firing rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades and tear gas canisters, raided al-Zawiya, wounding two people (Hamza Jawdat Muqadi and Abbdel-Jalil Nitham Shqier) and abducting a 15-year-old boy, Nour Amin Abu Liela, as they searched Palestinian homes, one of which was measured, in preparation for its destruction. On 19 March, at 9:05pm, Israeli forces raided Abwein, surrounded a home and opened fire with Energa anti-tank grenades, killing a resident, Omar Amin Yusef Abu Liela (19), and searching several homes, wounding three residents: Yazan Adnan ‘Aliwa, Ayman al-Zubaidi, and’ Abd Mahmoud Mahareb. Five more people were taken prisoner.
On 20 March, the Israeli Army destroyed a home in Tuba village, plundering the house of solar electricity panels and two water tanks. The same morning, Israeli forces destroyed a home in south east Yatta. The next day, Israeli forces raided Tulkarem, searched a home and robbed the householder, Daud Abdel-Rahman Jaber, of 1000 NIS (US$258) in cash. On 26 March at 3am, Israeli forces, firing rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades and tear gas canisters, raided Tubas and searched several homes. An exploding stun grenade set one house on fire, damaging furniture in the home of Hamada Rayiq Abu Nassar. Israeli soldiers also took prisoner two people, Bassil Abdullah Thib Jabr and Bassam Abdellah Jabr.
Just after 9pm on 24 March, in Bethlehem, Israeli forces opened fire on a motor vehicle, as it passed through the al-Nashash road junction, carrying a Palestinian man, accompanied by his wife and children. The driver, Ala Mohammad Taha Ghabaytha (38), was critically wounded in the abdomen and another resident, Ahmad Jamal Mahmoud Manasra (26), who exited his vehicle in an attempt to attend to the wounded man, was shot dead by Israeli soldiers. On 26 March, Israeli forces, firing live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades and tear gas canisters raided the al-Duhisheh UN refugee camp and searched several homes, killing a 17-year-old paramedic, Sajed Abdel-Hakim Hilmi Mizhir. Sajed, dressed in his first aid uniform, was shot in the abdomen with live ammunition while performing his duty. He died from his wounds in hospital. By the end of March, Israeli snipers had killed four more people, three of them teenage minors, and wounded another 100. Mercy does not exist in the Zionist vocabulary.
Global revolt against Israeli war crimes
On 1 April, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers presented a petition from the International Lawyers Campaign for the Investigation and Prosecution of Crimes Committed Against the Palestinian People to Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor of the ICC. The petition, which has the worldwide support of tens of thousands of lawyers, condemns “the unimaginable atrocities that have been committed and continue to be committed by Israel against Palestinian civilians which deeply shock the conscience of humanity.”
On 2 April, members of the European Parliament called on the EU to review its Association Agreement with Israel. Drawing attention to “serious violations of International Humanitarian Law and the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949).” EU lawmakers reminded Federica Mogherini, Vice-President of the European Commission, that failure to demand accountability “sends a message to Israel that attacks against healthcare workers, infrastructures and civilian unarmed in general, are tolerated . . .”
Rabbi Alissa Wise, Deputy Director of the US-based Jewish Voice foir Peace, has drawn attention to the Israeli Premier’s alliance with the forces of racism, saying that: “As members of the Jewish diaspora, and as people everywhere who care deeply about a just peace for all in Israel/Palestine, it’s our responsibility to overwhelmingly reject this horrific, anti-Arab, anti-Palestinian, anti-democratic vision.” With US threats against the International Criminal Court and unconditional support for Israel’s acts of ethnic cleansing and colonisation in Jerusalem, it is clear that New Zealand has lost the support of our ‘traditional ally’ when it comes to any defence of international humanitarian law.
On 30 March, the Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa-NZ issued a news media release Land Day and Anniversary Of Great March of Return Gaza reminding the public and the New Zealand Government of the World Health Organisation (WHO) appeal for US$ 5.3 million to respond to trauma and emergency care needs in Gaza. PSN Aotearoa-NZ reminded us also that: “Israel is an occupying power under international law, obliged to protect the people of Gaza and ensure their welfare.” The PSN press release concluded with the declaration: “The time for gentle posturing by New Zealand has passed. Israel is not only strangling Gaza but rapidly confiscating Palestinian land on the Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem in clear violation of international law”. The press release also called upon the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, “to summon the Israeli Ambassador to her office so she could tell him to leave New Zealand until Israel can abide by the norms of international law.”
Acts of love and solidarity terrify the racist, power-hungry leaders of Israel and its allies. The great unity that expressed itself in New Zealand, following the massacres at the Christchurch mosques, sent a strong signal of rejection to all who support race-hate and population control.
Challenge their inhumanities. Reveal and shame the silence that serves to cover for them!