A UK charity, Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (LPHR), that works to protect and promote Palestinian human rights and the international rule of law, has recently published its Child Right Bulletin for 1 May-30 June 2020. Some examples from the bulletin reveal a little of Israel’s contemptuous violations against Palestinian minors, even young children.
A 17-year-old Palestinian was fatally shot in the head with a 0.22-calibre bullet by Israeli forces in Hebron and a 14-year-old boy killed by unexploded Israeli Army ordnance he found and then handled, near his home in Beit Lahiya, Gaza. In the West Bank, Israeli soldiers severely beat a 15-year-old boy, breaking his arm and causing abdominal bleeding, while eight Palestinian children were beaten and injured by Israeli Occupation settlers in Jerusalem and the West Bank. At night, on 3 July in Jenin, Israeli forces, firing stun grenades and tear gas canisters, raided Zububa village, seizing and terrorising for a time 17-year-old: Mujahid Niyaz Jaradat. On 7 July, a five-year-old child was run over and hospitalised by an Israeli Army vehicle in Hebron and on 20 July, again in Hebron, an eight-year-old child was run over and hospitalised by an Occupation settler vehicle. On 17 July, in the evening, a gang, from the Kiryat Arba Israeli Occupation settlement, assaulted a family in Wadi Husei that included women and children, and prevented them from reaching their homes. This month, up until 20 July, eight Palestinian minors have been abducted by Israeli forces.
On 8 July, handcuffed and with his feet bound to a bed, Palestinian political prisoner and cancer patient, Saadi Khalil Mahmoud Al-Gharably (aged 75), died, due to medical negligence. The death occurred at the Israeli Kaplan Medical Centre. A report by the Addameer Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association reveals that the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) deliberately and routinely neglects its duty to provide prisoners with necessary healthcare and hygiene, including the avoidance of overcrowding.
On 21 July, a Palestinian coronavirus testing station, set up at the northern entrance to the West Bank city of Jenin, was destroyed by the Israeli Army. Before destroying the facility, Israeli soldiers had raided both the city and the UN refugee camp, opening fire on residents and wounding one person in the leg. Construction of the testing station had been going on since March, accompanied by signs explaining the purpose. Just two days away from opening, the soldiers destroyed it. International pressure and advocacy are desperately needed if there is to be any hope of stopping Israel from committing acts such as this destruction of a facility designed to save lives.
Between 1 and 20 July (inclusive) the Israeli Army destroyed ten Palestinian homes and issued demolition orders against several others. With regard to three of the demolitions, the householders themselves were forced to carry out the destruction, or otherwise be forced to pay an extortionate sum to the Israeli Occupation demolition squads, who would be sent in to do it instead. In addition to the houses destroyed, 38 Palestinian homes were invaded by Israeli troops, often during the night. One of the most traumatic violations any family can suffer is home invasion. It is especially terrifying for the children and an experience that parents must face with the utmost dread and feelings of helplessness.
Gaza ceasefire violations
This month, up until 20 July, a single missile alone was fired towards the Green Line by Gaza Resistance fighters, with Israel carrying out 28 ceasefire violations, including three hijackings of Palestinian fishing boats, three air strikes and two Israeli Army incursions.
Israeli forces, on 2 July, positioned between al-Nabi Elias and Izbit al-Tabib villages, opened fire towards a special-needs patient, Awis Kamal Mara’ba, and took him prisoner. On 10 July, Occupation troops, manning a watchtower at the entrance to Kifl Haris, shot two villagers, killing one of them, Ibrahim Mustafa Ibrahim Abu Yaqoub (34), while wounding and hospitalising another, Muhammad Abdel Salam Asaad. According to the Governor of Salfit, the two men were simply walking through the village, when Israeli troops opened fire “for no reason”. On 18 July, two people were wounded by Israeli soldiers invading a home in the Balata UN refugee camp and, the following day, another person was wounded in the Jenin UN refugee camp.
In addition to all of the above, Palestinians have to suffer the plunder and destruction of their access to water, affecting both supply and storage. The Israeli Army bulldozes crops, and the settlers set fire to Palestinian olive trees. Both invade and seize control of Palestinian farmland, whenever they please.
US, ICC and Julian Assange
Israel’s military Occupation of the West Bank and its criminal violations elsewhere, beyond its borders, bring it close to the epicentre of a global assault on freedom and respect for international humanitarian law being perpetrated by the corporate-controlled great powers. Israel’s major ally and financier, the United States of America, is threatening sanctions against members of the International Criminal Court at The Hague, should they investigate possible war crimes by US soldiers. The US also targets people and organisations that seek to expose and oppose the threats to international security that the US and its friends represent. Right now, the founder of WikiLeaks, journalist Julian Assange, has had to face trial in London over the US demand that he be extradited to the US, where he would face 175 years in gaol. The US is outraged because Assange has revealed its criminal behaviour and intent. It is ten years since WikiLeaks published a video of American oldiers, in a helicopter, shooting into a crowd of people in Baghdad. In all that time, there has been no move to bring the perpetrators to account.
The UK, another US confederate, has imprisoned Assange, not for breaking any law but simply in order to hold him at the pleasure of the United States, pending his desired extradition. A human rights lawyer and UN Special Rapporteur on Torture since 2016, Nils Melzer, tells us “Julian Assange does not have a fair trial in the UK”. Speaking as a UK law professor, Melzer says he is shocked to see that “Julian Assange was not given — and is currently still not being given — adequate access to his lawyers, that he has not been given access to his American lawyers at all although he is threatened with extradition to the United States, and that he has not had access to legal documents for many months.” Being held in virtual isolation in a prison, Assange’s health, and even his life, are facing a growing danger.
Melzer reminds us that this case should serve as a warning. It is setting a precedent “with regard to investigative journalism, secrecy and impunity for torture and war crimes around the world. Firstly, if the United States convicts Julian Assange for espionage, it means that it becomes a crime to expose secret evidence for serious crimes committed by US officials. That is an extremely dangerous precedent because we will then effectively live under censorship.” Melzer, who served with the International Committee of the Red Cross for 12 years in various zones of conflict, also reminds us that “the Iraq war was illegal, a war of aggression that led to more than a million people being killed, and millions being displaced and tortured. So this is not a small case that we’re talking about and the implications it has are emblematic and of global proportions.”
WikiLeaks, the US and Israel
WikiLeaks released diplomatic cables related to Israel from 2007 to 2015, sourced primarily from communications between Washington and the US Embassy in Tel Aviv. These cables and email messages are now part of the Public Library of US Diplomacy. They reveal a relationship in which US acquiescence gave Israel’s interests and intentions precedence, even in contravention of international humanitarian law. WikiLeaks makes plain “the extraordinary extent of Israel’s influence over American officials and legislators and their collusion as Israel continually resorts to violence against Palestinians.” The study, which is extensive and extremely detailed, reveals the intensity of US and Israeli involvement in aggression, oppression and human rights violations.
Paddle Now – uniting for a safer and more humanistic world
Hugh Steadman, the spirit behind the New Zealand Paddle Now newsletter, strives to bring us together in support of organisations that are concerned for the future of humanity and of our planet. Paddle Now reminds us that “rapid climate change and high-technology warfare are global problems that will not be averted without the further development of international law and its enforcement by multinational institutions designed for the task. Significant success in these areas is dependent on improved global governance and the strengthening of multinational institutions, such as the United Nations and courts, responsible for the development and implementation of international law.” Individuals and organisations concerned with combating climate change or the erosion of international law, as well as those working in defence of justice and human rights, are fighting a common cause.
The latest Paddle Now newsletter warns that “at a time of heightened international tension and nuclear danger, NZ is about to be faced with a choice which, if wrong, could well destroy our society.” Hugh Steadman has written to both Ron Mark and Andrew Little regarding this country’s involvement with RIMPAC, the biennial, naval exercise organised by the US Navy’s Pacific Command. Neither politician has replied nor even acknowledged the article sent to them weeks ago. Steadman warns us that:
“NZ’s foreign policy is so secretive and so closed to democratic influence that, according to Geoffrey Palmer, only three members of the Lange cabinet, including the PM, were aware of the decision to install the Waihopai intelligence gathering station. It would appear that none of them had a clear idea of what it would involve, nor the extent that it would bind NZ to follow decisions made in Washington.”
In May 1946, less than a year after the nuclear bombing of Japan, Albert Einstein sent an urgent appeal to prominent Americans, warning that “the unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.” Later, the Russell-Einstein Manifesto posed the question: “Here, then, is the problem which we present to you, stark and dreadful and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war?”
There is a video, Afghanistan War Exposed: An Imperial Conspiracy, that everyone should see because it is about a war to which New Zealand contributed. Abby Martin’s introduction tells us the video “covers the whole truth about the Afghanistan War, from the CIA construct of the 80s through to today’s senseless stalemate. Two decades, three administrations, tens of thousands of lives. It’s time to dissociate our country from such involvement.”
Serve need, not greed
Only the greedy and powerful profit from war – and greed blinds the perpetrators to consequences. There is no absolute democracy. The degree of justice and human rights we may enjoy depends upon the extent of our vigilance. With the threat of nuclear annihilation approaching zero hour, the openly insane preachings of some world leaders make a mockery of reason, especially when coupled with the downplaying of, the now-acknowledged, accelerating climate change.
Never before has humanity been so technologically-enabled to communicate and unite in demanding respect for each other and for the environment. Whatever we feel most able to contribute, as individuals – let us now do it, together.