Silence instead of sanctions is betrayal

At 7.30am on 2 January, two missiles were launched by Palestinian Resistance fighters in Gaza, crashing into the sea off Tel Aviv and Palmachim. Israel held Hamas responsible for the launchings, according to The Times of Israel and responded quickly, with three air strikes on Northern Gaza. The Palestinian missiles had been fired following a year of massive Israeli ceasefire violations. Last month alone, Israel carried out more than 100 Gaza ceasefire violations, including six waste-laying incursions into the territory. Over the period, there had been little armed Resistance from Gaza, the most recent being the shooting and slight wounding of an Israeli civilian carrying out maintenance work on the border fence with Gaza. The Israeli response to that, left three Palestinians wounded. On 4 January, Palestinian Resistance fighters opened fire towards Israeli forces manning the border fence, east of Rafah.

This month appears to forebode an even grimmer outlook for Palestinians subjected to Zionist military dictatorship. By 9 January, Israel had already carried out 62 Gaza ceasefire violations that included, apart from the air strikes, five Gaza communities coming under Israeli fire, including shelling, as well as 17 attacks in which the Israeli Navy opened fire on, and pursued, Palestinian fishing boats. Gaza’s agricultural areas were subjected to Israeli gunfire 34 times.

In the first nine days of this month, the Israeli Army and Navy carried out a total of 69 attacks on Palestinian targets. Israeli military and settler violence, combined, resulted in two Palestinians killed and 59 wounded/injured. During those first nine days, the Israeli Army carried out raids on 141 towns, villages and UN refugee camps, including home invasions, 68 of which took place at night. In addition, Israeli forces inflicted 71 ruinous acts of agricultural/pastoral and economic sabotage in Occupied as well as blockaded areas.

In the West Bank and Jerusalem, from 1-9 January, inclusive, some examples of Israeli cruelty and inhumanity towards the Palestinian people may give just a glimpse of what they have to endure, day after day, year after year, decade upon decade:

Home invasions and forced personal demolitions

At 2:10am, the Israeli Army raided Nablus, firing live ammunition, rubber-coated bullets, stun grenades and tear gas canisters, while storming a number of homes and killing a resident, Bakir Mohammed Musa Hashash.

In Jerusalem, the Israeli Occupation forced a man, Rami Oweida, to destroy his own home in the Silwan neighbourhoodor otherwise be forced to pay an extortionate sum to the Israeli Occupation demolition squads, who would be sent in to do it. A woman, Shaima Dabash, and a man, Ibrahim Abu Kaf, both villagers in Sur Baher, were likewise made to destroy their own homes. Also in Jerusalem another person, Jamal Abu Najma, was forced to destroy his livelihood, a shop, under the same threat.

Israeli forces, near the village of Izbit Salman, seized possession of a bulldozer while the owner, Radwan Othman Qatani, was working on local farmland; they also forced the family of an Al-Aqsa Mosque security guard to demolish a barn on their farmland – or otherwise be made to pay an extortionate sum to the Israeli Occupation demolition squads, who would be sent in to do it.

Even tent-dwellings get destroyed – Israeli Occupation forces, in the village of Khirbet Ibziq, destroyed four tent-dwellings as well as nine more used for raising livestock, along with a water tank and a fodder store, other machinery and, further, more than ten tons of livestock feed.

Israeli Army armed robbery and population-control

Israeli Occupation forces, manning a checkpoint, seized possession of a taxi after taking prisoner the driver, Raafat Rasim Al-Barghouti. In Jerusalem, Israeli soldiers seized possession of a container for transporting goods, along with the property inside it and in al-Isawiya village, they purloined a container for transporting goods, as well as two water-storage tanks. In Hebron, the Army took a bulldozer being used by a landowner, Nabil Al-Sharha, in the Ein al-Fares area of ​​Dura town, to prevent him from reclaiming his land. Israel claims that the land is in an area classified as ‘under its control’. The Occupation plunder included a bulldozer in Madama village, also being used to reclaim village farmland, as well as taking privately-owned al-Isawiya land.

New Occupation settlement outposts and land-grabs

Israeli militants set up tent-dwellings with water supply tanks and surrounded an area, north-west of Jericho, with a barbed-wire fence so as to establish a new Occupation settlement outpost. In Jerusalem, the Israeli Occupation issued an order for the building of 3,557 new housing units between the settlements of Givat Hamatos and Har Homa, to join the two and cut off the Jerusalem and Bethlehem neighbourhoods from each other. The order also provided for another 2,092 housing units to be built on the outskirts of the French Hill in Jerusalem, on yet more Occupied Palestinian land.

Israeli Occupation settlers also invaded Deir Jarir village farmland, uprooting and chopping down olive trees before removing the surrounding protective fence. In Jericho – militants, from the Mevot Jericho Occupation settlement outpost, forced shepherds off pastoral land.

On 9 January, Israeli settlers attacked the family of Adel Al-Salameen, a shepherd in the Makasar area, south-east of Tammun, beating up his wife and children as well as robbing one of his sons of a mobile phone. They also stole a number of the family’s sheep.

Occupation settler agricultural sabotage, assisted by Israeli Army violence

Israeli settlers, supported by Occupation troops firing rubber-coated bullets, stun grenades and tear gas canisters, invaded Burqa village farmland. One person, Jamal Tawfiq Hajja, was wounded and there were several tear gas casualties. In another instance, Israeli Occupation forces fired stun grenades and tear gas canisters towards people who were trying to defend themselves from stone-throwing settlers on the main Jenin-Nablus road.

News media silence and governmental indifference

The world is awakening to this tragedy, whether our leaders and the mainstream media like it or not. In the past, the world’s most powerful leaders agreed to betray the Palestinian right to self-determination but international law now provides the moral reason, as well as means, to bring Israel to account. Individual voices speak out; one of the most recent is actress Emma Watson, who refuses to submit to the misleading, Zionist smear of ‘anti-Semitism’. On Instagram, she recently declared her solidarity with the ‘Free Palestine’ Movement. Miriam Margolyes, well known for her presentation of Charles Dickens characters, and who appeared in the Harry Potter films that so enhanced Watson‘s career, also supported Emma. She said: “I totally support Emma Watson’s recent remarks on Palestine. All decent people should too.” Margolyes made two other crucial comments, which our leaders should consider with care: “What matters is opposing cruelty, speaking out for compassion” and “Criticising Israel is not in itself, an anti-Semitic stance. Conflating the two is a form of disguised censorship”, she concluded.

Very revealingly, The Jerusalem Post editorial board, realising the diminishing efficacy of the anti-Semitism insult, pretended to defend Emma Watson by saying: “If we shout ‘antisemitism’ too often about relatively tame criticism of Israel, and if many people become inured to the shouts, we lose the larger struggle against more serious forms of Jew-hatred.” That would appear to mean that the editors regard Watson’s support for Palestinian human rights as, to a degree, a ‘less serious’ form of ‘Jew hatred’. They want it both ways.

Unable to hide Zionism’s crimes against humanity, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, commented that “fiction may work in Harry Potter but it does not work in reality.” His comment drew a response from 40 stars in the entertainment industry, Artists for Palestine, including Miriam Margolyes: “We join Emma Watson in support of the simple statement that ‘solidarity is a verb’, including meaningful solidarity with Palestinians struggling for their human rights under international law.” The statement also affirms: “We recognise the underlying power imbalance between Israel, the occupying power, and the Palestinians, the people under a system of military occupation and apartheid.”

Artists for Palestine recognise and condemn the undeniable reality, declaring: “We stand against ongoing Israeli attempts to forcibly displace Palestinian families from their homes in the East Jerusalem neighbourhoods of Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan and elsewhere in the occupied Palestinian territory.”

International law and human rights

The international community has passed hundreds of resolutions in the UN Security Council, General Assembly and Human Rights Council, calling on Israel not to annex Palestinian land and not to impose any of the 300 illegal settlements it has in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Israel has similarly been called upon to end its blockade of Gaza. All to no avail.

In a recent interview, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Michael Lynk, reminded the world that there will be no end to Israel’s Palestinian human rights violations until it is held fully accountable for them. He observed “annexation has been illegal in international law, since the end of the Second World War. The international community recognised with the founding of the United Nations in 1945 that countries are not allowed to have acquisitive ambitions beyond their own borders, either in forms of colonialism or in forms of trying to expand their borders.” Bringing this even more up to date, Lynk drew attention to the 2010 amendments in the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court which holds annexation to be a crime of aggression.

The Zionist regime‘s leaders must be made to understand that if they fail to put an immediate end to their human rights violations they will be forced to face exclusion from international trade, cultural and investment associations and, especially, all arms sales. Sadly, world powers, such as the United States, continue to aid Israel. Ignoring a UN Security Council Resolution, the US has still not moved its embassy back to Tel Aviv and it has also failed to revoke the Trump Administration’s recognition of Israel’s annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights.

Boycotting Israel, as exemplified by BDS, is civil society’s way of supporting human rights and international law – setting an example to governments and world leaders. In the UK there is a move to boycott the Israeli pharmaceutical company, Teva, that profits from the Israeli Occupation. In general, the international pharmaceutical industry prices drugs sold to each country according to their standard of living. As a result, Palestinians pay the same prices as in most developed countries. However, Palestinians are not allowed to access drugs more cheaply from abroad and so Teva enjoys the advantage of monopoly to sell its own products to them at very high prices.

Where do our own country’s leaders and news media stand on all this? Are we with our ‘traditional allies’? Or do we unequivocally support human rights and international law? The silence is chilling.

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