While television news interviews with the victims of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, along with other reporting, vividly portray the war’s oppressive atmosphere and individual human suffering, why do our mainstream news media forever ignore Israel’s daily toll on Palestinian life, limb, liberty and property? In Palestine, the Zionist regime is totally in control. Facing no effective military opposition it has, since 1967, been blatantly following its founding intention and incrementally annexing the remainder of Palestine beyond its borders. Able to enjoy total military superiority, there is no need for Israel to commit atrocities, such as aerial bombardment to achieve its goals, but that hasn’t stopped it from hitting Gaza with intense and devastating air strikes. Israeli forces march in and out of the enclave whenever they wish, laying waste to the land while the Israeli Navy, almost every day and night, harasses Palestinian fishing boats, occasionally hijacking and even sinking them.
Our news media never interview the victims of Israeli air strikes, neither do they draw attention to Israel’s destruction of Palestinian homes and agriculture nor the grievous cost to Palestinians of having precious land seized by Israel for the imposition of illegal (under international law) Jewish-only settlements. The West Bank is totally under Israel’s supervision and, as one of its own human rights organisations, B’Tselem informs us, imposes “a regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea”, saying clearly that “this is apartheid”. East Jerusalem has already been officially and illegally annexed by Israel. The rest of the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea is controlled by the same regime under “a single principle: advancing and cementing the supremacy of one group – Jews – over another – Palestinians.” For Jewish citizens, including illegal settlers, the Green Line can be ignored for travel to and from Israel. Not so for Palestinians, whose movement across what remains of their land is subject to strict control.
Israeli companies, developing surveillance and spyware technologies, profit from the regime’s deeply embedded long-term military Occupation in Palestine, now marketing the resulting technology worldwide. By 2014, there was already one security camera for every 100 Palestinians in the city, according to a report published by Who Profits. A Palestinian lawyer, imprisoned without charge or trial by the Zionist regime, has filed a complaint in France against an Israeli surveillance firm, the NSO Group, for having “illegally infiltrated” his mobile phone. He and other activists have been spied on by Pegasus malware. Israel’s invasive surveillance regime also employs the latest facial recognition cameras and licence plate readers, and uses spyware on Palestinian computers and mobile devices. Israel uses its imposed denial of privacy to search for “pressure points” where private information can be used to blackmail Palestinians and force them into acts of betrayal.
The mainstream news media never publicise the terror suffered by Palestinian children forced from their beds in the middle of the night by Israeli soldiers. Their distraught parents are never interviewed to help people understand the trauma of home invasion. Imagine the hopelessness for farmers forced to endure the destruction of their crops and olive trees by the Israeli Army and settlers. Why do the news media never treat this suffering as newsworthy? Last year was the worst for Palestinian children since 2014 and still it goes on.
On 13 February, an Israeli Army sniper shot and killed 15-year-old Mohammed Akram Ali Taher Abu Salah in the village of Silat al-Harithiya and 13-year-old Mohammad Rezq Shehadeh Salah was shot and killed by Israeli forces on 22 February in al-Khadr, south-west of Bethlehem.
On 10 April, Israeli Occupation forces launched an attack on the Palestinian West Bank city of Jenin, killing 16-year-old Mohammed Hussein Mohammed Qassim, as well as two women. Doctors at the al-Razi Hospital found fragments of three bullets in Mohammed’s pelvis and buttocks. He had been shot, from the rear of a military vehicle, at a distance of about four metres – the sixth youngster to be killed by Israeli forces this year. A video reveals, on the same day, Israeli troops murdering an unarmed Palestinian woman, Ghada Sbatin. The mother of six had been acting suspiciously, the Israeli Army claimed – so they shot her! In Jerusalem on 15 April, as the dawn prayers were ending at Al-Aqsa mosque, Israeli forces fired rubber-coated bullets, stun grenades and tear gas canisters as well as batons, to drive out worshippers. Two news reporters and two paramedics were among the 158 people wounded, with a further 336 people taken prisoner, including children.
The number of Palestinians either killed or wounded by Israeli Occupation forces, as at 16 April, are: killed, 33 including 7 minors; wounded 470 including one woman, 41 children, 10 news reporters and 2 medical personnel.
At 10am on 18 April, the Israeli Army made an incursion into Gaza, accompanied by bulldozers and reconnaissance aircraft, and laid waste to the land all day until 5pm. Meanwhile, the constant attacks by Israeli forces on Gaza agriculture and fishing boats carried on as usual. At 8:20pm some Palestinian Resistance fighters dared to finally respond to the unremitting aggression and launched a missile from Gaza harmlessly across the Green Line. At 1am the following morning, the Israeli Navy open fired on and pursued Palestinian fishing boats off Rafah and, starting at 1:25am, Israeli war planes made three air strikes on Khan Yunis.
Since two missiles were fired from Gaza on the first day of January, it has taken 106 days of relentless provocation by Israel to see the start of yet another round of ineffectual armed Palestinian Resistance. While Palestinian missiles draw the headlines, Israel’s cruel blockade of Gaza and heartless population-control in the West Bank are hardly ever rated as worth reporting. It works for Israel!
Harvard University report exposes Israel’s inhumanities
On 27 February, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, denounced a report from the Harvard University Law School, Apartheid in the Occupied West Bank: A Legal Analysis of Israel’s Actions, written in partnership with the Ramallah-based Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association. On Twitter, the ambassador vilified the authors of the report, saying that “they decided to delegitimise the Jewish state because of their antisemitic views.” The mainstream news media have largely ignored the carefully-researched report. With 130 footnotes providing essential verifying evidence, it brightly illuminates the absolute population-control afforded by legal instruments and processes developed and imposed by Israel since 1967. These measures deprive West Bank Palestinians of their human, civil and political rights, denying not only any say in their governance but also even their right to protest, however peacefully.
New UN rapporteur deplores international double standards
The Italian international lawyer, Francesca Albanese, appointed to the position of special rapporteur for the Palestinians last February, noted that “ignoring the case of Palestine among others is no longer justified where continued human rights violations are taking place, while the international community can’t be seen as supporting human rights in Ukraine but failing to do anything about Palestine.” On Israel’s refusal to admit that it violates international human rights law, she says: “The Israeli government and its supporters’ repeated claim of exceptionalism have been overused, and it has led to abuses and double standard. It is about time for the international community to question and act upon it.” The first woman to occupy this UN office, Albanese is expert in international law dealing with human rights issues. For three years, she worked for UNRWA in Palestine, horrified by what she witnessed: “At that time, I clearly saw and felt the apartheid policy,” she says.
Holocaust survivor‘s war-crimes case against Israel
A Palestinian-Dutch citizen, Ismail Ziada, has since 2018 been suing Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz and former air force chief, Amir Eshel, over the bombing of his family’s home during the 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza. The Gaza blitz killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, including more than 550 children. On 7 December last year, the appeals court in The Hague judged that the commanders had ‘functional immunity’ because they were acting on behalf of the Israeli state. Ziada will now bring his case to the Dutch supreme court, in an attempt have the lower court’s decision overturned. The airstrike completely destroyed his family home in the al-Bureij refugee camp, killing Ziada’s 70-year-old mother, Muftia, his brothers, Jamil, Yousif and Omar, his sister-in-law Bayan and his 12-year-old nephew, Shaban, as well as one person visiting the family.
Since 2018, Jacques Bude, a retired professor, whose parents were murdered in the Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp for being Jewish, commented: “The Ziada family suffered a painful loss due to the decision of Israeli commanders to bomb civilian targets in Gaza in July 2014 and it is incomprehensible that the courts in The Hague granted functional immunity to the commanders.” Following the attack on the Ziada family home a 91-year-old Dutch citizen, Henk Zanoli, expressed his revulsion by returning his Righteous Among the Nations medal. Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial had given the medal to Zanoli and his mother for having hidden a Jewish child from Nazi Occupation forces over two years until liberation.
Bude survived the war because farmers had hidden him and, in 1949, as a 16-year-old boy, he was taken, against his will, by the Zionist movement to Israel along with other Jewish orphans. He says he hated it there. “I did not want to stay right from the start,” Bude said. “They were real racist militarists” he recalled, saying further “for me, Israel is founded on ethnic cleansing. And if I identify with somebody, it is the Palestinian kid.”
Jewish voices join in condemnation of Zionism
Two Jewish women who came to New Zealand from Israel in 1997, Avigail Allan and her daughter, Yael Shochat, are founders of Dayenu: New Zealand Jews Against Occupation. Speaking of the all-powerful ‘anti-Semitism’ slur used against anyone who dares to speak out against Zionism, Yael says “Jews are terrified. Even if in their heart they don’t feel comfortable with what’s happening, they don’t dare stand against Israel. When we stood up, the word from the community was ‘We have to stay together against antisemitism’.” A petition created by the Palestinians in Aotearoa Co-ordinating Committee (PACC), and promoted by the Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa, calls on “the New Zealand Government to condemn the recent Israeli aggression against peaceful Palestinian worshippers and protestors in Al Aqsa Mosque. The petition has been signed by Alternative Jewish Voices (AJV).
Peace, respect, be friends
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan‘s ideological insult on Twitter, referred to above, claiming that the Harvard University Law School’s report was the result of “antisemitic views”, is vacuous. What is anti-Semitic about defending the human rights of a people whose native tongue is Arabic, the world’s most widely-spoken Semitic language? Zionism does not just seek to destroy the Palestinians’ right to remain in their homeland; it would, it appears, have us believe that the term Semitic applies only to Jews!
It is time now for humanity urgently to unite, not only to respect and defend the threatened principles of the Fourth Geneva Convention but also, to paraphrase a warning from William Shakespeare‘s Henry V: Be friends you earthly fools, be friends. We have climate troubles enough if you could tell.