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15 mars 2017 3 15 /03 /mars /2017 07:10

L’armée pulvérise des herbicides le long de la frontière de Gaza, détruisant les cultures sur 200 hectares

 
 
 

13 03 2017 • 17 h 55 min

 

B’Tselem – 9 mars 2017

Depuis septembre 2000, Israël maintient une « zone tampon » le long de la clôture avec la bande de Gaza, à l’intérieur du territoire de Gaza. À cette fin, il a restreint l’accès des Palestiniens aux terres agricoles qu’ils possèdent à proximité. Au fil des années, l’armée a de temps en temps modifié l’étendue de la zone qu’elle considère interdite aux Palestiniens, de 100 à 500 mètres de la clôture. L’armée n’a pas informé les habitants de Gaza des frontières de la zone qui leur est interdite, ni affiché des signalisations pour délimiter la zone.

Aussi, il y a souvent un écart entre les déclarations officielles à propos de la zone interdite, et la conduite des militaires sur le terrain, laissant les agriculteurs qui vont travailler sur leur terre proches d’une constante incertitude. Comme l’interdiction de pénétrer sur la « zone tampon » est imposée par des tirs, ceci met gravement en danger les agriculteurs. Au fil des années, l’armée a tué et blessé des centaines de civils dans cette zone, dont des agriculteurs, des ouvriers, et des manifestants qui ne représentaient un danger pour personne.

Depuis la fin des combats dans l’Opération Bordure protectrice, en 2014, l’armée a autorisé des agriculteurs de Gaza à cultiver leurs terres jusqu’à 100 mètres de la clôture d’enceinte. Deux fois par an, l’armée a aussi pulvérisé le long de la clôture, en décembre-janvier, et une nouvelles fois en avril, afin de maintenir la « zone tampon », zone où les cultures ne poussent pas. En pratique, la pulvérisation endommageait aussi les terres agricoles qui étaient situées au-delà de 100 mètres.


Cette année, et pour la première fois, l’armée a annoncé à l’avance son intention de pulvériser la zone près de la frontière, pour permettre aux agriculteurs de s’y préparer et de protéger leurs cultures. En décembre 2016, la Croix-Rouge a informé le ministère palestinien de l’Agriculture que l’armée allait pulvériser le long de la frontière Gaza-Israël, depuis le secteur de Beit Hanoun, dans le nord, jusqu’à Rafah, dans le sud, entre le 25 décembre 2016 et le 5 janvier 2017.

Le ministère en a informé les agriculteurs, dont les terres se situent à plusieurs centaines de mètres de la clôture, de la période de pulvérisation et il leur a demandé de faire les préparatifs nécessaires : récolter ce qui était déjà possible, couvrir les cultures restantes avec des bâches en plastique, et gérer leur système d’irrigation au goutte-à-goutte de façon à limiter les dégâts. Les agriculteurs se sont préparés en conséquence. Tout au long des trois premiers jours de janvier, l’armée a pulvérisé la partie nord de la zone, et les dégâts ont été maîtrisés.

Cependant, les 23 et 24 janvier, l’armée a repris la pulvérisation, sans préavis cette fois, le long de la frontière, depuis le centre jusqu’au sud de la bande de Gaza. Les agriculteurs, qui ont été pris au dépourvu, ont subi de lourdes pertes.

 

Les épinards abîmés sur la terre de Salah a-Najar, à Khan Yunis. Photo : Khaled al-‘Azayzeh, B’Tslem, 4 février 2017.

 

Le 23 janvier 2017, aux alentours de 7 h du matin, des agriculteurs du secteur d’al-Qararah, dans le sud de Gaza, ont pu observer deux avions qui pulvérisaient le long de la frontière, côté Gaza. La pulvérisation a duré jusqu’au début de l’après-midi, et elle a repris le lendemain. Des vents forts ont emporté les produits chimiques pulvérisés qui ont endommagé les terres sur 600 à 1200 mètres, à l’intérieur de la bande de Gaza. En plus, il semble que cette année, l’armée utilise des produits chimiques à concentration plus élevée, car les dégâts sur les cultures ont été détectés dès le lendemain, et non deux ou trois jours plus tard comme par le passé.

Le ministère a indiqué que quelque 400 ha de terres agricoles avaient subi des dégâts le long de la frontière. Dans les 200 ha au nord, où les agriculteurs s’étaient préparés, les dégâts sont de mineurs à modérés. Cependant, dans le centre et le sud de Gaza, ce sont quelque 200 ha de terres agricoles qui ont subi de gros dégâts, à la fois parce que les agriculteurs n’avaient pas eu la possibilité de se préparer contre la pulvérisation, et parce que la plupart des cultures dans cette zone sont plus feuillues et donc plus sensibles aux produits chimiques utilisés par l’armée. Le ministère n’a pas autorisé les agriculteurs à vendre les récoltes endommagées, et ils ont été contraints de les détruire et de re-labourer la terre. Selon les estimations du ministère, les pertes subies par les agriculteurs dans ces zones s’élèvent à environ 80 dollars US à l’hectare (75 €).

Dans une réponse donnée à l’organisation des droits de l’homme, Gisha, en 2016, l’armée a déclaré que la pulvérisation était nécessaire afin de « permettre des opérations de sécurité optimales et continues ». Cependant, ce préjudice généralisé pour les agriculteurs dément cette affirmation, en particulier quand la pulvérisation endommage à chaque fois de vastes zones qui s’étendent à des centaines de mètres de la frontière. Si Israël croit qu’une zone tampon « stérile » près de la frontière est vitale pour sa sécurité, il se doit alors d’en instaurer une sur son propre territoire. Il ne peut certainement pas nuire aux cultures des agriculteurs d’une façon aussi considérable et indiscriminée.

Les chercheurs de terrain de B’Tselem, Khaled al-‘Azayzeh et Muhammad Sa’id, se sont rendus dans les zones endommagées dans le sud de Gaza le 5 février 2017, et ont recueilli des témoignages d’agriculteurs :

 


Salah Muhammad Suliman a-Najar, 53 ans, agriculteur, marié et père de de six enfants, d’al-Qararah, district de Khan Yunis, décrit les dégâts causés à ses cultures :
J’ai travaillé toute ma vie comme agriculteur. J’ai maintenant une ferme de six ha de terres louées, des terres qui se trouvent toutes de 400 à 650 mètres de la frontière avec Israël. Je cultive des épinards, du maïs, des fèves, des lentilles et du blé. De toutes ces cultures, seules les fèves étaient prêtes à être cueillies avant qu’ils ne pulvérisent. Les feuilles d’épinard étaient censées être prêtes à être cueillies et vendues sur le marché dans une vingtaine de jours. Le lundi 23 janvier 2017, à 7 h du matin, j’étais dans ma parcelle, comme tous les jours. Soudain, un avion de pulvérisation appartenant aux autorités de l’occupation est apparu et a commencé à pulvériser le long de la clôture-frontière. Le vent soufflait de l’est vers le sud-ouest ce jour-là, c’est-à-dire qu’il soufflait en direction de nos terres, et les résidus d’herbicide ont atteint mes plants.

J’ai appelé la Croix-Rouge et le ministère de l’Agriculture immédiatement, et je leur ai dit ce qui se passait. À 10 h, ce même jour, alors que la Croix-Rouge était présente, un autre avion est arrivé et a repris la pulvérisation sur le secteur. Ils ont pulvérisé jusque dans l’après-midi. J’ai perdu tout ma récolte d’épinards : les feuilles étaient brûlées et la récolte était complètement détruite. Elle ne repoussera pas. Quant aux autres cultures, les plants n’atteindront que 50 % de leur taille, car ce sont des jeunes feuilles. En plus, le ministère de l’Agriculture et le ministère de la Santé nous ont interdit de vendre sur les marchés les plants endommagés par la pulvérisation, et leurs instructions sont de détruire toutes les cultures endommagées.

J’ai perdu tout l’argent que j’avais mis dans ces cultures : 40 000 shekels israéliens (10 240 €), pour l’engrais, les semences, le labour et la pulvérisation. Tout cet argent a été perdu, et maintenant, je dois plus de 40 000 shekels à divers fournisseurs. Je vais devoir re-préparer la terre, et replanter. Ce mois-ci, je vais planter des poivrons, et je vais devoir les recouvrir avec des bâches en plastique pour les protéger, au cas où ils pulvériseraient à nouveau.

J’ai déjà subi dans le passé des pertes à cause de la pulvérisation par l’armée, et personne ne m’a indemnisé pour cela.


Riyad Rizeq Ibrahim Abu Samur, 32 ans, agriculteur, marié et père de 8 enfants, d’a-Zanah, district de Khan Yunis, parle lui aussi des gros dommages qu’il a subis.
Je travaille comme agriculteur depuis dix-sept ans maintenant. Je loue actuellement environ 10 ha de terre où je cultive des épinards, du blé, du persil, des choux, du basilic, et du khubeiza (de la mauve). Les parcelles sont situées à environ un kilomètre à l’ouest de la clôture-frontière. Le lundi 23 janvier 2017, à 7 h du matin, j’étais dans ma parcelle. Le vent soufflait d’est en sud-ouest, vers notre terre. Un avion de pulvérisation est venu et a commencé à pulvériser des herbicides le long de la clôture, et les résidus sont arrivés jusque sur mes plants.
J’ai commencé à crier, désespérément, et à pulvériser des remèdes agricoles comme le manzidan pour essayer de sauver les cultures. L’avion de pulvérisation a poursuivi son travail jusque dans l’après-midi. En réalité, il y avait deux avions à pulvériser. J’ai appelé le ministère de l’Agriculture et la Croix-Rouge. Certains à la Croix-Rouge sont arrivés et ont commencé à filmer les avions pendant qu’ils pulvérisaient.

Environ deux jours plus tard, les cultures ont commencé à montrer des signes de dommages. Ma culture d’épinards était complètement brûlée. Les oignons ont cessé de pousser et le khubeiza, le basilic, le persil, les choux et le blé étaient eux aussi tout brûlés. Les épinards, le persil, les choux et le khubeiza étaient prêts pour la vente, mais maintenant je ne ferai pas un seul shekel avec eux, à cause de la pulvérisation. J’ai arraché toutes les cultures et j’ai tout jeté. Je ne peux rien vendre de ces cultures endommagées, parce que le ministère de l’Agriculture et celui de la Santé l’ont interdit.

C’est une perte d’environ 20 000 dinars jordaniens (26 450 €), ce qui comprend les pesticides, les engrais, les graines, l’eau et le salaire des ouvriers. À l’heure actuelle, je dois environ 150 000 shekels (38 430 €) aux entreprises, aux propriétaires des puits d’eau, et aux fournisseurs d’engrais. Je n’ai pas d’argent pour repréparer la terre et replanter de nouvelles cultures, car les fournisseurs refusent de me vendre des graines, du matériel et des engrais à crédit. Ils me demandent de payer d’abord ma dette existante.

Nous sommes une famille de dix personnes qui dépend des revenus de ces cultures. J’ai aussi dix salariés, tous mariés avec des enfants, à qui je ne peux plus maintenant payer les salaires que je leur dois. Ils ont continué à venir sur ma terre, tous les jours, depuis la pulvérisation, mais ils n’ont plus de travail parce que tous les plants ont été brûlés.

J’avais espéré vendre mes récoltes à un bon prix, ce qui m’aurait permis de louer d’autres parcelles et de planter davantage de cultures. J’ai attendu toute l’année le jour où je pourrai vendre mes récoltes, malheureusement, toute la production a été endommagée.

Au cours de ces dernières années, à chaque fois que des avions ont pulvérisé des herbicides, j’ai perdu toutes mes cultures. Personne ne m’a jamais indemnisé pour ces pertes. Si cette pulvérisation se poursuit dans l’avenir, je ne serai plus en mesure de travailler comme agriculteur. Les pertes que j’ai subies à cause de la pulvérisation sont très sérieuses, et je crains de ne plus pouvoir payer les dettes que j’ai accumulées.

 

‘Omar Abu Zaher lave son champ de fèves après la pulvérisation. Photo Muhammad Sa’id, B’Tselem, 23 janvier 2017.

 

Omar Muslem Hamad Abu Zaher, 43 ans, agriculteur, marié et père de neuf enfants, d’al-Qararah, indique dans son témoignage :
Je travaillais autrefois comme ouvrier agricole en Israël. Depuis le début de la deuxième Intifada, ils refusent de nous donner des permis de travail et depuis je travaille ma terre, ici. Je possède une parcelle d’environ un quart d’hectare, à environ 500 mètres de la clôture-frontière avec Israël. Cette parcelle est la seule source de revenus pour ma famille. Mes deux fils, Shadi, 18 ans, et Ashraf, 17 ans, m’aident à la cultiver.

En septembre 2016, j’ai planté des fèves sur ma parcelle. Elles ont commencé à rendre après environ quatre mois. Une fois le plant arrivé à maturité, il peut être cueilli environ dix fois, parfois plus. Les plants de ma parcelle ont un rendement d’environ 150 kg de fèves à la semaine. Début janvier 2017, j’ai fait ma première récolte et je l’ai vendue sur le marché à un bon prix. Mi-janvier, j’ai recommencé.

Puis, le 23 janvier 2017, les avions israéliens sont venus et ils ont pulvérisé des herbicides le long de la clôture-frontière. J’étais dans ma parcelle ce jour-là, et j’ai vu clairement les herbicides tomber sur ma terre et mes plants. J’ai ouvert la pompe à eau aussitôt et j’ai commencé à laver les plants. Je les ai lavés jusqu’au soir, pour réduire les effets des herbicides, autant que c’était possible, mais ça n’a servi à rien. Trois jours plus tard, les fèves ont commencé à montrer des taches et des marques de brûlures. Certaines dépérissaient.

Le ministère de l’Agriculture nous a prévenus de ne pas vendre la récolte qui avait été endommagée par la pulvérisation directe, de sorte que j’ai dû me débarrasser des 100 kg de fèves environ qui avaient mûri après la pulvérisation. Maintenant, j’attends de voir ce qui va se passer avec les plants. Peut-être, si je suis patient, que les plants porteront des fruits à nouveau, et que je pourrais re-labourer ma parcelle.

Ce n’est pas la première fois que les avions de pulvérisation d’Israël détruisent nos cultures et nous causent un tel désarroi. L’année dernière, j’avais planté du gombo dans la parcelle et j’ai soigné les plants pendant quelques mois. Quand les avions israéliens sont arrivés et qu’ils ont pulvérisé la terre, ils ont endommagé tous mes plants, et j’ai dû relabourer la terre, parce que les jeunes plants de gombo ne peuvent survivre à une exposition à ces agents chimiques.

Nous pensons que les Israéliens le font exprès. Ils pulvérisent au petit matin et quand le vent souffle de l’est vers l’ouest, de sorte qu’il emporte les herbicides vers nos terres. Ils le font pour faire pression sur nous, pour qu’on arrête de planter dans les parcelles qui sont près de la clôture-frontière.

Traduction : JPP pour l’Agence Média Palestine

Source: B’Tselem

 

http://www.agencemediapalestine.fr/blog/2017/03/13/larmee-vaporise-des-herbicides-le-long-de-la-frontiere-de-gaza-detruisant-les-cultures-sur-200-hectares/

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15 mars 2017 3 15 /03 /mars /2017 07:03

Israeli authorities demolish East Jerusalem building under construction

March 14, 2017 10:49 A.M. (Updated: March 14, 2017 12:08 P.M.)
 
 
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities demolished a building under construction in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya on Tuesday morning, a local popular committee told Ma'an.

Local committee member Muhammad Abu al-Hummus told Ma'an that a large number of Israeli security forces stormed Issawiya to protect bulldozers and a Jerusalem municipality crew carrying out the demolition.

The bulldozers then tore down a two-story, 250-square-meter building under construction owned by Majdi Mustafa.

Mustafa said he had only recently started to build the structure, and had not yet obtained a construction permit from the Jerusalem municipality for it.

A spokesperson from the Israeli Jerusalem municipality did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

 

 

Israeli authorities have stepped up issuing demolition warrants for Palestinians in East Jerusalem, particularly after Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barakat warned that the demolition of the illegal Israeli outpost of Amona in the occupied West Bank would be met with the mass demolition of Palestinian homes lacking the nearly impossible to obtain Israeli-issued building permits.

Last month, Israeli authorities demolished at least three homes in Issawiya in a single day.

According to UN documentation, as March 6, 35 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished by Israel in East Jerusalem since the beginning of the year, displacing at least 80 Palestinians. A total of 190 Palestinian buildings were demolished in East Jerusalem in 2016.

Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in East Jerusalem, though the Jerusalem municipality has claimed that compared to the Jewish population, they receive a disproportionately low number of permit applications from Palestinian communities, which also see high approval ratings.

However, testimonies collected by the Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem (ARIJ) found that the procedures to apply for Israeli-issued building permits were lengthy, sometimes lasting for several years, while the application costs could reach up to 300,000 shekels ($79,180).

As four out of five of Palestinians in East Jerusalem live under the poverty line, applying for costly building permits is nearly impossible, leading to only seven percent of Jerusalem building permits go to Palestinian neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu has also pledged to lift all restrictions on settlement construction in occupied East Jerusalem, while more than 6,000 housing units have been approved for construction in both East Jerusalem and the West Bank since the beginning of 2017.

In addition to land seizures and home demolitions, the crackdown on Palestinian Jerusalemites has also seen the escalation of violent night raids by Israeli police, carried out in breach of protocol and without proper search warrants.

The fate of Jerusalem has been a focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades, with numerous tensions arising over Israeli threats regarding the status of non-Jewish religious sites in the city, and the "Judaization" of East Jerusalem through settlement construction and mass home demolitions.

 
 
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15 mars 2017 3 15 /03 /mars /2017 06:57
Publish Date: 2017/03/13
American actor Richard Gere slams Israel over settlements
 
 
 

JERUSALEM, March 13, 2017 (WAFA) – American actor Richard Gere Sunday slammed Israel over the Jewish-only Israeli settlements across the occupied Palestinian territories.

Gere, 67, was quoted by Israeli newspaper Haaretz as saying that “there’s no defense of the occupation.”

“Settlements are such an absurd provocation... and they are certainly not part of the program of someone who wants a genuine peace process,” Gere said.

Gere told Haaretz that he had difficulty deciding whether to come to Israel or not due to his criticisms of the Israeli government policies.

The “Pretty Woman” star took a 48-hour trip to Israel to promote his new film 'Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer,’ a film directed by Israeli writer-director Joseph Cedar and in which he stars.

K.T./ K.F.

 

http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=jxVVq1a58160674077ajxVVq1

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15 mars 2017 3 15 /03 /mars /2017 06:53
Rafle dans les territoires occupés : l’armée israélienne kidnappe 22 Palestiniens
 
 
 
mardi 14 mars 2017 / 5h:10
Photo : ActiveStills.org
 
La police israélienne d'occupation brutalise et kidnappe un manifestant palestinien - Photo : ActiveStills.org
 
Ma’an News Les forces israéliennes ont kidnappé lundi matin au moins 22 Palestiniens, y compris une adolescente, dans plusieurs secteurs des territoires palestiniens sous occupation.

 

Selon une déclaration de la Société des Prisonniers Palestiniens (PPS), huit Palestiniens ont été enlevés dans la région de Jérusalem lors de raids juste avant l’aube. Ils sont identifiés comme étant Karim Abou Tayih, Ayman Abou Tayih, Muhammad Abou Hamam, Mahmoud Abou Nab, Hatim Shweiki, Wael Karawa, Wael Abu Rmouz, et une jeune fille de 17 ans Sundus al-Julani.

La déclaration de PPS a également noté la détention de Mahmoud Matar et de son épouse plus tard lundi matin, qui ont été arrêtés après que leur fils Ibrahim ait été abattu à Jérusalem-Est occupée dans ce que la famille Matar a qualifié d’exécution de sang froid. Son oncle Mahmoud a également été détenu dans le raid.

Dans le district d’Hébron, dans la partie sud de la Cisjordanie occupée, le PPS a signalé que trois Palestiniens avaient été enlevés, identifiés comme Malik al-Jabari de la ville d’Hébron, Rabi Jawad al-Zaaqiq de Beit Ummar au nord-ouest d’Hébron et Salim Mahmoud Tarayra, 48 ans, du village de Bani Naim au nord-est d’Hébron. Ce dernier est le père de Issa Tarayra, âgé de 16 ans, assassiné par les forces israéliennes en septembre dernier.

Un porte-parole de l’armée israélienne a confirmé les trois enlèvements, affirmant qu’Al-Jabari avait été détenu pour être un « agent du Hamas ».

Dans le village d’al-Jiflik, dans la vallée du Jourdain au nord de Jéricho, les forces israéliennes d’occupation se sont emparées d’Ibrahim Saleem Abou Dalakh, Mohamad Ghayth Abu Dalakh, Nawaf Jahalin et Yassir Abu Hattab, selon les informations livrées par le PPS.

Les forces d’occupation ont également arrêté Tariq Maher Zakarna de Qabatiya dans le district de Jenin, Mohamad al-Zghari Suliman Abu Jaber, âgé de 31 ans, de Tulkarem, et Jumaa al-Dusqi, du camp de réfugiés al-Jalazun près de Ramallah.

Les forces d’occupation procèdent à des rafles sur le territoire palestinien occupé presque toutes les nuits, l’ONU enregistrant en moyenne en moyenne 95 raids hebdomadaires en Cisjordanie en 2016 et 73 raids hebdomadaires en moyenne depuis le début 2017.

Israël enlève généralement des membres de la famille de Palestiniens assassinés au cours d’attaques présumées, une pratique qui a été largement condamnée comme une punition collective et illégale en vertu du droit international.

Selon Addameer, le groupe de défense des droits des prisonniers, 6500 Palestiniens étaient détenus dans des prisons israéliennes en janvier, dont 53 femmes et 300 mineurs. Quelque 420 Palestiniens ont été kidnappés tout au long du mois de février, y compris 70 mineurs et 22 femmes et jeunes filles.

13 mars 2017 – Ma’an News – Traduction : Chronique de Palestine

 

http://chroniquepalestine.com/rafle-territoires-occupes-armee-israelienne-kidnappe-22-palestiniens/

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15 mars 2017 3 15 /03 /mars /2017 06:46

Fatah spokesperson: Situation in East Jerusalem 'has become unbearable'

 
March 13, 2017 10:55 P.M. (Updated: March 13, 2017 10:57 P.M.)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- In the wake of the shooting of a Palestinian by Israeli forces in occupied East Jerusalem in the dawn hours of Monday morning, international spokesperson of the Fatah movement Ziad Khalil Abu Ziad said in a statement that “the situation in the holy city,” referring to Jerusalem, “has became unbearable.”

“There is no place left for condemning while Israeli forces continue conducting field executions against Palestinian youths in Jerusalem,” Abu Ziad said in Monday’s statement, accusing Israel of aiming to “explode the situation” in Jerusalem, which has been the site of near constant tension since a wave of unrest began in October 2015, and has left some 259 Palestinians and 40 Israelis killed.

“Israel is attempting in all ways to provoke the emotions of the Palestinian people and push them towards a new confrontation,” Abu Ziad said, noting the controversial ‘Muezzin bill,’ the “execution of Palestinian activist Basel al-Araj,” and the killing of Ibrahim Matar on Monday.

Abu Ziad rejected Israel’s version of events surrounding Matar’s death -- in which Israeli police claimed that “a terrorist” stabbed and injured two officers with knife -- saying that there is no proof that Mattar tried to attack Israeli police highlighting eyewitness accounts saying that the altercation between Matar and the police was “under control” and that Matar could have been detained without the use of lethal force.

Abu Ziad implored Palestinian youths in East Jerusalem “to be careful as they are targets of Israeli police and the Israeli right-wing.”

He also demanded that the European Union intervene in order “to witness the Israeli detentions, killings, expelling of Palestinians and to understand the real initiator of any new confrontation that might spark between Palestinians and Israelis.”

Rights groups have disputed Israel's version of events in a number of cases, denouncing what they have termed as a "shoot-to-kill" policy against Palestinians who did not constitute a threat at the time of their death, or who could have been subdued in a non-lethal manner -- amid a backdrop of impunity for Israeli forces who have committed the killings.

Israel's response to attacks have meanwhile be denounced as "collective punishment" and illegal under international law.

 
 
 
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15 mars 2017 3 15 /03 /mars /2017 02:39

Israeli forces assault Palestinians during protest over home demolitions in Israel

 
 
March 14, 2017 6:57 P.M. (Updated: March 14, 2017 6:57 P.M.)
 
 
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Dozens of Palestinians in Jerusalem protested outside Israel's Ministry of Finance on Tuesday against the “Kaminitz” draft bill being considered for legislation in the Israeli Knesset -- expected to intensify Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem -- while clashes erupted between Palestinians and Israeli police forces.

The protest was called by the Committee of Heads of Arab Local Authorities in coordination with several other committees and organizations.

The committee said that the protesters chanted slogans condemning the demolition of Palestinian homes, while calling the Israeli government “racist.”

Israeli special forces suppressed the demonstration, while assaulting protesters when they attempted to close the street leading to the Ministry of Finance. Those assaulted by Israeli forces included Palestinian Members of Knesset Yousef Jabareen and Taleb Abu Arar -- both members of the Joint list, representing parties led by Palestinian citizens of Israel in the Knesset -- and the head of the Musawa Center Jaafar Farah.

Jabareen said that the assault "confirms the real face of the Israeli police that treats Arabs as enemies and not as citizens with equal rights.”

Jabareen also described the assault on protesters as “despicable,” adding that “it is our right to raise our voices and protest, especially when (Israeli policies) harm our basic right to shelter.” He highlighted that he would not attempt to prevent Palestinians from continuing their "popular resistance" until demolition plans in Palestinian communities are halted.

Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told Ma’an that “the incident did not happen,” and that there were no reports of any demonstration held around the issue of home demolitions. However, a video was released documenting the event and the suppression by Israeli forces which included attempting to beat protesters.

According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Israel’s Kaminitz bill is aimed at increasing the power of “administrative entities, especially national planning entities,” in their “enforcement of planning laws,” and their handling of construction without Israeli-issued building permits.

If adopted into Israeli legislation, the bill would “increase the amount of fines and lengthen prison terms for construction offenses, as well as expand the circle of penalization for these offenses,” according to ACRI.

The committee added that the law would also enforce penalties on Palestinian local leaders if they refused to “take an effective role” in home demolitions in their communities.

While the legislation would be applied to all communities in Israel, it will have a disproportionate impact on Palestinian citizens who have faced an increase in property demolitions in recent months, due to what rights groups have attributed to discriminatory zoning policies in Israel which have excluded many Palestinian-Israeli communities, notably Bedouins, from being included in the regional and municipal development plans.

According to ACRI, since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 not a single Palestinian, or “Arab,” town or village has been built, while the area of these villages have been reduced, now making up less than 3 percent of the area in Israel.

Some 90 percent of Palestinian citizens of Israel, making up 20 percent of the general population, live in these towns and villages. The rising population in Palestinian towns coupled with the reduction of their jurisdictional area has caused a severe housing shortage in the communities, forcing many to build without permits.

ACRI has also noted that Palestinians in Israel require 13,000 new housing units a year to keep up with population rates. However, Israel has only permitted some 7,000 to be built each year.

“The significance is that each year a shortfall of 6,000 residential units is recorded, in addition to the accumulation of decades of shortages the scope of which has not yet been assessed,” the group said.

Meanwhile, ACRI referenced data from the Knesset Research and Information Center, that shows 97 percent of demolition orders in Israel between 2012 and 2014 were issued in the “Arab sector.”

Rights groups have highlighted that the bill does not address the systemic crisis of Israel’s discriminatory building policies in Palestinian communities in Israel, but rather penalizes Palestinians faced with no other option except to build illegally.

The bill would fast-track demolitions in these areas at a time when Palestinian communities have erupted into outrage since the start of the year after the demolitions in the town of Qalansawe and the deadly demolition raid in Umm al-Hiran in January.

On Sunday, dozens of Palestinian citizens of Israel protested in the town of Tayibe in central Israel against home demolitions, saying that Israel's demolition policies were aimed at displacing Palestinians from their villages.

In December, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a video to address settlers of the Amona outpost, assuring them that he would commit to “enforcing laws” on “illegal construction” in Israel, referring primarily to Palestinian communities.

Right groups have argued that the aim of home demolitions is to forcibly displace Palestinians from the region, regardless of their status as residents of the occupied West Bank or East Jerusalem, or as citizens of Israel -- despite the varying legal justifications used by Israel in each instance.

 
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14 mars 2017 2 14 /03 /mars /2017 08:06

Palestinian families prevent Israeli settlers from breaking into Hebron kindergarten

 
 
March 12, 2017 10:51 P.M. (Updated: March 13, 2017 11:56 A.M.)
 
 
 
 
HEBRON (Ma’an) -- Palestinian families and activists prevented a number of Israeli settlers from raiding a kindergarten in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron on Sunday.

Youth Against Settlement (YAS) coordinator Issa Amro said that a number of settlers and their children attempted to enter a kindergarten on al-Shuhada street in Hebron’s Old City, but that Palestinian locals were able to prevent them from crossing the fence surrounding the school.

Israeli settlers in Hebron often gather in al-Shuhada street and the neighborhood of Tel Rumeida during the Jewish holiday of Purim.

The Hebron settlers chanted a number of anti-Palestinian slogans on Sunday, including some hailing Baruch Goldstein, who killed 29 Palestinian Muslims in Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque in 1994.

Located in the center of Hebron -- one of the largest cities in the occupied West Bank -- the Old City was divided into Palestinian and Israeli-controlled areas, known as H1 and H2, following the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre.

Some 800 notoriously aggressive Israeli settlers now live under the protection of the Israeli military in the Old City, surrounded by more than 30,000 Palestinians.

Palestinian residents of the Old City face a large Israeli military presence on a daily basis, with at least 20 checkpoints set up at the entrances of many streets, as well as the entrance of the Ibrahimi Mosque itself.

Additionally, Palestinians are not allowed to drive on al-Shuhada street, have had their homes and shops on the street welded shut, and in some areas of the Old City, are not permitted to walk on certain roads.

Meanwhile, Israeli settlers move freely on the street, drive cars, and carry machine guns.

 
 
 
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14 mars 2017 2 14 /03 /mars /2017 08:01
Publish Date: 2017/03/13
Israeli forces detain 21 Palestinians in West Bank raids
 
 
 

JERUSALEM, March 13, 2017 (WAFA) – Israeli forces Monday detained a total of 21 Palestinians, including a child, during multiple predawn raids across the West Bank, said Palestine Prisoner’s Society.

Israeli police detained at least 11 Palestinians, including a 15-year-old child, during multiple raids across East Jerusalem district.

Among the detainees was Mahmoud Mattar, whose son, Ibrahim, 25, was killed by Israeli troops after allegedly attempting to stab soldiers in the vicinity of the Lions’ Gate (Bad al-Asbat).

Meanwhile, similar raids were carried out in al-Jiftlik village, north of Jercho city in the Jordan Valley, where four Palestinians were detained from their family homes.

In the southern West Bank, forces raided Bani Naim town, east of Hebron, detaining a Palestinian man after ransacking his home.

The detainee was reportedly identified as Salim Tarayra, 48, whose son, Issa, 16, was killed by Israeli troops following an alleged stabbing attempt at the entrance of the town on September 20, 2016.

Forces also raided Beit Ummar town, north of the Hebron, detaining a Palestinian young man.

Muhammad Awad, a local activist who monitors settlement activities, said this brought the total number of Palestinians who have been detained from the town since the start of 2017 to 38.

Another Palestinian was detained during a separate raid across Hebron district.

Meanwhile, a Palestinian was detained from al-Jalazun refugee camp, north of Ramallah, in the central West Bank.

In the northern West Bank, troops handcuffed and detained a Palestinian after breaking into his home in Qabatia town, south of Jenin. The detainee reportedly works as a Civil Defense officer.

A similar overnight raid was conducted into Tulkarem city, where a Palestinian was detained.

K.F.

 

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14 mars 2017 2 14 /03 /mars /2017 07:56

Getting Off Scot-Free: Israel’s Refusal to Compensate Palestinians for Damages Caused by Its Security Forces

 
 
 

Getting Off Scot-Free: Israel’s Refusal to Compensate Palestinians for Damages Caused by Its Security Forces

 

 

Summary, March 2017

From September 2000 – when the second intifada broke out – through February 2017, Israeli security forces killed 4,868 Palestinians who were not taking part in hostilities. About a third of them (1,793) were under the age of 18.

 
Faced with this reality, Israel guaranteed itself a nearly blanket exemption from the obligation to pay compensation for all this harm. The state does not offer Palestinians harmed by its security forces a genuine opportunity to file for damages in Israeli courts, offering them no more than the illusion of being able to do so. By broadening the legal definition of what constitutes “warfare activity” and inclusive construal of this term by the courts, on the one hand, and introducing a series of procedural and evidentiary restrictions in legislation and case law, on the other, Israel has rendered virtually nonexistent the chances of Palestinian plaintiffs getting compensation for the harm they suffered.

 

Paying compensation to persons who have suffered injury to themselves or their property is not an act of charity – it is the state’s obligation under international law. Not compensating Palestinian victims severely infringes upon their human rights as they are denied redress for violation of the basic rights to life, physical integrity and property. Denying the right to receive compensation is tantamount to a violation of the right in itself: the significance of human rights is not limited to merely having them entrenched in some law or international covenant. If no sanctions are enforced when human rights are breached, the rights become moot and the perpetrators have no incentive to institute a change in policy.

 

Background

The law stipulates that the state is liable for damages that are a result of negligence, but it exempts the state from paying compensation for acts performed during “warfare activity”. This exemption is based on the assumption that warfare entails risk and damages that are substantially different than those of everyday circumstances. As combat necessarily involves pressure and uncertainty, tort law is not suited to incidents that take place during war.

In the 1990s, during the first intifada and in its aftermath, residents of the Occupied Territories filed thousands of suits with Israeli courts, seeking compensation for damages caused them by Israeli security forces in circumstances that were not “warfare activity”. The complaints addressed damage resulting from a variety of sources, such as instances of unlawful gunfire (including those involving fatalities or injuries), destruction of property, extreme violence, torture during interrogations by the Israel Security Agency (ISA), and incidents in which ammunition or duds left behind in the field by the military later exploded. Suing for damages was a costly process for Palestinians, dragged out for many years and imposed a series of bureaucratic hurdles. As a result, Palestinians often chose to settle for lower sums that did not reflect the extent of harm they suffered.

In the mid-1990s, to avoid paying even these sums of money, the State of Israel began employing various measures to broaden the exemption from liability for damage its security forces caused Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. These efforts were stepped up after the second intifada broke out in 2000. Over the years, the Knesset amended legislation several times; and, on their own initiative, the courts broadened the state’s exemption from paying compensation. These changes almost completely eliminated the possibility of Palestinians receiving compensation for injury caused them by Israeli security forces, even in incidents entirely unrelated to combat, such as clear-cut policing activities, instances of looting or physical violence.

The state’s justifications for the exemption – refuted

The state cited three major justifications for its refusal to pay compensation to Palestinians harmed by Israeli security forces: that the immunity from liability for “warfare activity” as provided by law and implemented by the courts is too narrow and does not take into account the nature of the first and second intifadas, and that as a result the state was obliged to pay compensation in cases which did not merit doing so; that it cannot fact-check the claims made by Palestinian plaintiffs and, in some cases, has absolutely no way to mount a defense; and that it is customary in armed conflict for “each party to assume the damage it incurs”; accordingly, the Palestinian Authority, like any other state, must shoulder the payment for damages sustained by Palestinians.

 

These arguments are unfounded. First, the exemption in law regarding “warfare activity” had been broadened over the years by the courts, even before legislative amendments were completed. Gradually, judges included more and more types of incidents under this definition, and in some instances chose in advance not to examine the circumstances in which the incident took place, not even the question of whether the soldiers were indeed in physical or mortal danger. Moreover, a good part of the actions of Israel’s security forces in the Occupied Territories has been – including during the first and second intifadas – straightforward policing activity such as staffing checkpoints, making arrests, imposing and enforcing curfews, and dispersing demonstrations. Many Palestinians have been injured in the course of such activities, which are not combat actions. Therefore, there is no justification for exempting the state from paying damages for harm sustained during these activities.

Secondly, while some of the amendments enacted over the years and some of the court rulings were meant, ostensibly, to resolve the difficulties cited by the state, the state continued to refer to the same difficulties even after these amendments were enacted. Yet the main flaw in this argument is that it contradicts the position stated explicitly in other contexts, namely that Israel in fact diligently and successfully carries out effective criminal investigations in similar incidents in which soldiers are suspected of acting in contravention of the law. This is the state’s position notwithstanding that criminal investigations are far more complicated than the process of establishing facts in torts and that the criminal burden of proof is much higher. With regard to these investigations, the state boasts that is has managed to overcome those very difficulties. B’Tselem does not agree that such investigations are in fact conducted, yet it underscores the extent to which the state’s arguments are self-serving. When Israel feels it to be in its best interests, it boasts of having an efficient military law enforcement system with effective investigative abilities for handling cases in which Palestinians were harmed by security forces in the Occupied Territories. Yet, when it finds it expedient, the state argues it cannot carry out this self-same task.

Thirdly, Palestinians cannot be considered citizens of another state capable of compensating them and agreeing upon reparations with Israel. The situation at hand is not that of two equal parties at war, but rather a state of occupation. Even after the Oslo Accords Israel remains the occupying power in the West Bank. Consequently, Palestinians who live in the West Bank – including in East Jerusalem, which Israel officially annexed – are considered protected persons. Similarly, Israel still controls many aspects of daily life in the Gaza Strip even after the disengagement, and repeatedly wages military operations there. In view of these circumstances, Israel cannot reassign responsibility for the injuries it causes and act as though the Palestinian Authority were a sovereign state. The powers Israel handed over to the Palestinian Authority under the Oslo Accords are very limited; any decision by the Palestinian Authority – even on trivial matters – require tacit or explicit Israeli consent. Once again, this is a case of the state picking and choosing arguments to suit its purposes. Israel is well aware of the reality of occupation which it created and continues to maintain; as a rule, this reality is in keeping with state interests. However, to justify evading payment of compensation, the state is willing to change its tune and declare the Palestinian Authority has state-like status – all the while changing nothing in its actual treatment of the Palestinian Authority or its residents.

The implications of denying compensation

Israel’s policy on paying compensation to Palestinians who suffered harm reflects its profound contempt for the life, safety and property of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. The state has also made it clear that, for its part, it bears no responsibility for the consequences of its control over the Palestinian population, both as the occupying power in the West Bank and as an external entity exerting control over the Gaza Strip. Israel’s powers as ruler, which it is quick to enforce when this serves its own purposes, vanish into thin air when it faces accountability for its actions.

The effects of the changes in legislation and in case law are evident in the figures the Ministry of Defense provided B’Tselem concerning compensation suits filed against the state by Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza. The figures indicate two clear trends: First, fewer new claims are being filed with the courts. For example, 2002 to 2006 saw an annual average of 300 new lawsuits. In contrast, 2012 to 2016 saw an annual average of 18 claims – a mere 6% of the average a decade earlier.

The second trend is of Israel paying less compensation to Palestinians. From 1997 to 2001, the state paid an annual average of 21.6 million shekels (approx. USD 5.7 million) – in settlements or purusant to a court verdict. In contrast, from 2012 to 2016, Israel paid an average of about 3.8 million shekels (approx. USD 1 million) – a decline of more than 80% in comparison to the sums paid a decade earlier. The reduction in amounts paid to residents of Gaza during those periods is especially significant – from an average of 8.7 million shekels (approx. USD 2.3 million) a year to an average of about 280,000 shekels (approx. USD 74,000) a year, nearly 97% less. (In comparison, compensation for West Bank claimants dropped from an average of about 12.7 million shekels (approx. USD 3.3 million) to an average of about 3.5 million shekels (approx. USD 900,000) a year – approximately 72% less.)

The state has attempted to play down the significance of these undeniable figures which demonstrate the impact the amendments to Israel’s Torts Law have had, even taking into account fewer casualties and less damage once the second intifada was over. In its response to a High Court petition against one of the amendments, the state argued that the limits placed on Palestinians’ ability to get compensation for harm they sustained does not inhibit critique and review of the actions of the security forces, which are still available via criminal and administrative proceedings.

Yet these other proceedings that the state boasts of quite simply do not exist. In terms of criminal proceedings, in the vast majority of cases, no one is held accountable when the human rights of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories are violated. Government officials are shielded from responsibility a priori, with no state body supervising their actions. The military law enforcement system, which is in charge of criminal and disciplinary proceedings within the military, functions as a whitewashing mechanism. The vast majority of cases it handles – most of which, to begin with, address only the liability of lower ranking soldiers in the field and minor offenses – are closed without filing charges or any other measures taken.

This outcome is no accident; it is the direct result of the way in which the military law enforcement system operates. MPIU (Military Police Investigation Unit) investigations are sloppy, with no real attempt made to get at the truth and almost always without gathering evidence – other than statements from soldiers, and in some cases also from Palestinians. In many cases, statements are given months after the incident, and investigators do not bother to resolve contradicting accounts or press the witnesses, who are usually soldiers implicated in the incident. The MAG (Military Advocate General) Corps orders many cases closed on grounds of “absence of guilt”, almost always adopting the soldiers’ version of events. Many other cases are closed on grounds of “lack of evidence”, based on the partial MPIU investigation carried out under MAG Corps’ supervision.

Administrative review of the Israeli authorities’ actions in the Occupied Territories is primarily in the hands of Israel’s Supreme Court. However, scant comfort can be found in the judgments handed down by its justices. While the High Court of Justice has allowed residents of the Occupied Territories to file petitions against state authorities, the vast majority of these petitions has been denied. Over the years, the High Court has sanctioned almost every human rights violation that the state wished to carry out in the Occupied Territories: punitive home demolition, administrative detention, restricting freedom of movement, expelling Palestinians from the West Bank, building the Separation Barrier, imposing a blockade on Gaza, taking over land, removing entire communities from their land, separating families – to name but a few.

 

This reality enables Israel to exercise its powers in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, and there is no authority in place to hold it accountable for its actions: The military law enforcement system whitewashes offenses, the High Court gives a legal seal of approval for violating Palestinians’ human rights, and the state has guaranteed itself an all but absolute exemption from paying compensation to Palestinians injured by its security forces. In the absence of mechanisms that act to deter and regulate the state, the road to harsh violations of human rights lies wide open.

One of the justifications Israel cites for refusing to pay damages to Palestinians is that it is a matter that should be resolved as part of mutual arrangements to be reached once the conflict is ended. This argument offers no more than bitter irony. It might have been valid had the situation been one of conflict between two countries at war. Yet this year, 2017, marks fifty years since Israel began its occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israel is doing all in its power to prevent the end of the occupation and to establish facts on the ground that will prevent reaching any agreement with the Palestinians. Proposing that the tens of thousands of people injured during this half century wait for the occupation to end and for “negotiations” to be concluded is tantamount to assuring that they will never receive any compensation.

Israeli officials prefer not to make this explicit. After all, instead of using the avenue of legislation to ensure an exemption from compensating Palestinians, the state could simply have flatly refused to pay for damage caused by its troops. Similarly, the state could have declared that it has no intention of carrying out criminal investigations of suspected harm to Palestinians. Instead, Israel elected to maintain a vast, expensive faux system, while making a show of a functioning system.

There are few kinds of injustice that cannot be codified in law, and it is possible to establish systems that offer no more than a pretense of law enforcement. Yet it is impossible to fully conceal the reality of the occupation, including the measures that Israel takes to evade responsibility and ensure a sweeping exemption – with no legal, administrative, or civilian accountability – for violent harm to the Palestinians who live under its control

 

http://www.btselem.org/publications/summaries/201703_getting_off_scot_free

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14 mars 2017 2 14 /03 /mars /2017 07:43

Only Israeli dead matter

Israel has seen uproar over the findings of a report on its 2014 war on Gaza. But it is another sham, like the others

 
Ramzy Baroud

At a glance, Israel appears a true democracy. Take a closer look, and that facade of democracy will soon dissipate, turning into something else entirely.

Tuesday, 28 February, was one of those moments. The chain of events was as follows:

An official Israeli State Comptroller issued another report on the Israeli government’s handling of the July 2014 war on Gaza. It chastised Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and then-defence minister Moshe Yaalon, among others, for the lack of preparedness and for their mishandling of the subsequent 50-day conflict; Netanyahu reacted angrily; Yaalon took to Facebook to defend his record; the opposition in the Israeli Knesset (parliament) went on the offensive; politicians lined up, taking sides; a media frenzy followed; the country was in an uproar.

This is not a precedent. It is a repeat of a recurring scenario that often follows Israel’s military plunders.

When such reports are issued, Israelis sort out their differences in fierce parliamentary and media battles.

While Israelis begin to examine their failures, demanding accountability from their government, Western mainstream media finds the perfect opportunity to whitewash its own record of failing to criticise Israel’s military onslaught at the time.

(Over 2,200 — of whom over 70 per cent were Palestinian civilians — were killed and thousands more wounded in Israel’s so-called “Operation Protective Edge” in 2014.)

According to US media logic, for example, Israel’s investigation of its own action is a tribute to its thriving democracy, often juxtaposed with Arab governments’ lack of self-examination.

When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, instigating a war that resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians, culminating in the Sabra and Shatila massacres, a familiar scenario ensued: The United States did its utmost to prevent any international intervention or meaningful investigation, while Israel was allowed to investigate itself.

The outcome was the Kahan Commission Report, the conclusion of which was summarised by international law expert Professor Richard Falk as such: “The full measure of Israel’s victory is rather its vindication, despite all, as a moral force in the region — as a superior state, especially as compared to its Arab rivals.”

The US media touted Israel’s “moral victory”, which, somehow, made everything okay, and with a magic wand, wiped the record clean.

An editorial in The Washington Post led the congratulatory chorus: “The whole process of the Israeli reaction to the Beirut massacre is a tribute to the vitality of democracy in Israel and to the country’s moral character.”

This sorry state of affairs has been in constant replay for nearly 70 years, ever since Israel declared its independence in 1948.

International law is clear regarding the legal responsibility of Occupying Powers, but since Israel is rarely an enthusiast of international law, Israel has forbidden any attempt at being investigated for its actions.

In fact, Israel abhors the very idea of being investigated. Every attempt by the United Nations, or any other organisation dedicated to upholding international law, has either been rejected or failed.

By Israeli logic, Israel is a democracy and democratic countries cannot be investigated over their army’s involvement in the death of civilians.

This was, in fact, the gist of the statement produced by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office in June 2010, soon after Israeli army commandos intercepted a humanitarian aid flotilla on its way to Gaza and killed 10 unarmed activists in international waters.

Israel is an Occupying Power under international law and is held accountable to the Fourth Geneva Convention. The international community is legally obliged to examine Israel’s conduct against Palestinian civilians and, needless to say, against unarmed civilians in international waters.

Israel’s record of investigating itself, aside from being spun to praise Israel’s moral superiority, has never been of any help to Palestinians.

In fact, the entire Israeli justice system is systematically unjust to occupied Palestinians.

The Israeli rights group Yesh Din reported that out “of the 186 criminal investigations opened by the Israeli army into suspected offenses against Palestinians in 2015, just four yielded indictments”. Such indictments rarely yield prison sentences.

The recent indictment of Israeli army medic Elor Azarya, sentencing him to a (now postponed) term of 18 months in prison for the killing in cold blood of an alleged Palestinian attacker is an exception, not the norm. It has been years since an Israeli soldier was sentenced. In fact, several thousand Palestinian civilians have been killed between the last time a “manslaughter” conviction was passed down on an Israeli soldier in 2005 and Azarya’s indictment.

Azarya, now perceived by many Israelis as a hero, has received such light punishment that it is less than that of a Palestinian child throwing rocks at an Israeli occupation soldier.

Some United Nations officials, although powerless before US backing of Israel, are furious.

The 18-month verdict “also stands in contrast to the sentences handed down by other Israeli courts for other less serious offenses, notably the sentencing of Palestinian children to more than three years’ imprisonment for throwing stones at cars,” UN Human Rights Spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said in response to the Israeli court decision.

While pro-Israel social media activists and media pundits went on to praise the supposedly unmatched Israeli democracy, a campaign in Israel to pardon Azarya continues to garner momentum. Prime Minister Netanyahu is already on board.

Not only is the Israeli justice system unjust to Palestinians, it was never intended to be so. A careful reading of the recent comptroller’s remarks and findings would clarify that the intent was never to examine war against a besieged nation as a moral concept, but the government’s inability to win the war more effectively: The breakdown of intelligence; Netanyahu’s lack of political inclusiveness; the death of an unprecedented number of Israeli soldiers.

Israel’s appetite for war is, in fact, at an all-time high. Some commentators are arguing that Israel might launch yet another war so as to redeem its “mistakes” in the previous one, as stated in the report.

But war itself is a staple for Israel. Hard-hitting Israeli journalist Gideon Levy’s reaction to the comptroller’s report says it best. He argued that the report is almost a plagiarised copy of the Winograd Commission Report that followed the 2006 Lebanon War.

All wars since 1948 “could have been avoided”, Levy wrote in Haaretz. But they were not, frankly, because “Israel loves wars. Needs them. Does nothing to prevent them and, sometimes, instigates them.”

This is the only way to read the latest report, but also all such reports, when war is used as a tool of control, to “downgrade” the defences of a besieged enemy, to create distraction from political corruption, to help politicians win popular support, to play, time and again, the role of the embattled victim and many other pretences.

As for Palestinians, who are neither capable of instigating or sustaining a war, they can only put up a fight, real or symbolic, whenever Israel decides to go for yet another bloody, avoidable war.

No matter the outcome, Israel will boast of its military superiority, unmatched intelligence, transparent democracy and moral ascendancy; the US, Britain, France and other Europeans will enthusiastically agree, issuing Israel another blank check to “defend itself” by any means.

Meanwhile, any attempt at investigating Israeli conduct will be thwarted, for Israel is a “democracy” and, for some reason, self-proclaimed democracies cannot be investigated. Only their sham investigations matter; only their dead count.


The writer is founder of PalestineChronicle.com

 

 

http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/News/19847.aspx

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