On 19 June, Israeli Occupation forces opened fire on workers making their way to jobs across Israel’s West Bank ‘separation barrier‘, south of Qalqiliya, killing Nablus resident Nabil Ahmed Salim Ghanem. The barrier cuts across Palestinian communities and agriculture and has been ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). This month marks the 15th anniversary of the ICJ advisory finding, which was later voted for in the UN General Assembly. The Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem, sums it up as follows: “In constructing the Separation Barrier, Israel broke up contiguous Palestinian urban and rural blocs and severed inter-community ties that had been forged and cemented over the course of many generations; it imposed an arbitrary reconfiguration of space based on settlement boundaries and for the convenience of Israeli security forces.”
Israel’s IDF military calls itself a ‘defence’ force but the true purpose is revealed in its enforcement, night and day, of population-control over a defenceless people. Just this month, on 5 June, a three-year-old boy, Yousef Sanad Qabha, was travelling with his family from their house to the home of a relative in Jenin. The two homes are separated by the Israeli Mevo Dotan checkpoint. Israeli troops, manning the checkpoint, faced the boy who was wearing a T-shirt displaying an image of a machine-gun and advanced towards him and his mother, pointing their guns at them and shouting “stop, don’t move, get back, freeze.” They were told the T-shirt represented “violence” and that it encouraged “killing and terror.”!
The child’s uncle said the boy, calling out to members of his family to get the soldiers to set him free, was detained, with his mother, for more than an hour. Yousef‘s mother was then forced to strip the boy of his T-shirt, and give it to the soldiers. The boy, his family and the whole population of the West Bank are obliged, night and day, to live in the presence of Israeli Army and settler guns. The people know, first hand, the reality of armed “killing and terror.”
The same day, Israeli troops abducted three Palestinian youngsters; two of them were aged 15 and another, 16. The next day, Israeli Occupation forces issued evacuation orders against eight landowners in the Taybeh area, known as al-Harash, in Tarqumiya, forcing them to abandon their property by claiming their land as “state property.” That morning, Israeli Occupation forces, firing live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades and tear gas canisters, had already raided the Dheisheh UN refugee camp, invading a number of homes and taking prisoner four residents. Also that day, the Israeli Occupation forced a resident, Murad Hamamda, to destroy part of his home in the al-Rkeez area, south-east of Yatta – or otherwise be forced to pay an extortionate sum to the Israeli Occupation demolition squads, who would be sent in to do it.
On 7 June, Israeli forces poured concrete into, and filled with stones, a public artesian well, in the centre of Beit Lid. On 8 June, at 1am, Israeli forces, firing live ammunition, rubber-coated bullets, stun grenades and tear gas canisters, raided the Jenin UN refugee camp and invaded a home, wounding three people. On 21 June, in Tulkarem, 17-year-old Mahmoud Jamal Mohammed Zaghal, was admitted to hospital in Tulkarem, after a savage assault on him by Israeli troops as he tried to make his way to work across Israel’s Separation Barrier, near the village of Farun.
Gaza ceasefire violations
On 6 and 9 June, Palestinian Resistance fighters opened fire towards Israeli Occupation forces, north of Beit Lahiya and, on 17 June, a missile was launched from Gaza towards the Green Line. The first two of the three Resistance attacks were aimed at the Israeli military. The third was a missile-firing and it was these attacks that drew publicity, enabling Israel to claim that it is simply defending itself. All three were Gaza ceasefire violations, of course. But in fact, so were the 72 Israeli attacks on Gaza over the period, including the Israeli Navy opening fire on and pursuing, as well as even hijacking, Palestinian fishing boats.
Israel justifies its aggression and its annexation barrier as ‘defence‘ of its land, yet there have been six Israeli military incursions into Gaza so far this month (up to and including 22 June). While any Palestinian who attempts to flee Israel’s Gaza blockade is immediately taken prisoner, Israeli forces enter and leave Gaza, causing tremendous damage, as often as they please. The Gaza blockade itself, of course, causes enormous and extremely cruel economic harm that is particularly damaging to the population’s health.
State-sponsored Occupation settler terrorism
Israeli settler terrorism is on the increase, often with direct Israeli military complicity. Here are just some of the Israeli settler assaults that took place just this month: On 7 June, Israeli settlers attacked the Church of the Spirit and the Garden of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, digging up graves and depositing garbage there. Settler violence contributes tremendously in furthering Israel’s aim to dishearten the over-run Palestinian population. On 11 June, Israelis, from the Givat Ronen settlement outpost, invaded Burin village agricultural land, set fire to crops and stoned the homes of villagers. The same day, a gang of Israeli settlers, in the Shaab al-Butm area, east of Yatta, severely beat up and hospitalised a shepherd, Hamza Ahmed al-Najjar, while he was grazing his flock. On 13 June, Israeli settlers invaded Burin village land and set fire to around 400 olive trees. On 14 June, settlers savagely beat up and hospitalised an elderly woman, Hajar Mustafa Suleiman, in the Ein Samiya area, east of Kafr Malik village.
On 18 June, Israeli settlers, accompanied by Israeli Occupation forces, attacked a number of shepherds in the Arab Al-Malehat area’s Bedouin community, injuring an elderly farmer, Mohammed Suleiman Mleihat, and robbing him of a tractor. The Israeli Army intervened in support of the settlers, taking prisoner six people. On 22 June, an Iskaka villager, Ali Hassan Yousef Harb, was stabbed and killed during an assault by knife-wielding Israeli settlers as they raided farmland north-west of the village and set up camp, as a first step towards seizure of the land.
Defending the indefensible – betraying the defenceless
Israel imposes its settlers and its rule in the most hostile and self-serving way imaginable. What other state could get away with stealing land beyond its borders and permanently settle terrorists on it? That this terrorism is state-sponsored is undeniable, as is the whole Zionist Occupation and control of the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza. Shamefully, Israel is aided and abetted by great powers and their allies, and never brought to account for its war crimes. In 2017, the US actually established a permanent military base inside Israel’s Air Defence School in southern Israel, near Beersheba. The Israeli Air Force Brig. Gen. Zvika Haimovich said the base will serve as a joint Israeli/American effort to “sustain and enhance our defensive capabilities.” He added that the base will send a “message to the region and our surroundings that our partnership with our friend the United States is important.” Israel has the fourth-largest army in the world, yet still receives $10.2 million in military aid daily from the US. Palestine has no defence, other than occasional People’s Resistance.
Last December, the UN Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, called on the international community to hold Israel to account for its 54-year occupation of Palestine. This appeal called for an end to all settlement activities in Palestinian territories. “On the fifth anniversary of the adoption of Resolution 2334 by the United Nations Security Council, the international community has to take its own words and its own laws seriously.” Our Government needs to disassociate us now from traditional allies who quietly cover for Israel while, at the same time, affording it all the support it needs.