Israel: Profile of a Police State
by Stephen Lendman
Police states are defined by lawlessness, injustice, and contempt for democratic values.
Merriam Webster calls them “political unit(s) characterized by repressive governmental control of political, economic, and social life usually by an arbitrary exercise of power by police and especially secret police in place of regular operation of administrative and judicial organs of the government according to publicly known legal procedures.”
Power trumps rights. Crackdowns enforce social control. Arrests, imprisonment, torture, and abuse are commonplace. Murder is committed with impunity. State terror is policy.
Palestinians understand well. They’ve suffered horrifically for decades. Legitimate resistance is called terrorism. Nonetheless, they persist.
Courageous prison hunger strikers define them. They vow to keep struggling for justice. On May 9, hundreds of family members, supporters, and human rights activists protested in front of the UN’s Ramallah office.
The international body has done nothing to help. Demonstrators chanted “(w)e don’t want wheat or bread. We want the liberation of detainees.” They demand UN officials intervene for justice.
Released hunger striker Khader Adnan called “surrounding the UN office….a daring move that aims at sending the detainees’ message to the world.” It’s also a “move that sheds light on the suffering of the political prisoners.”
After weeks of protest actions, Israel began negotiating. Ahrar Center for Detainees Studies head Fuad Al Khoffash called it “cheap bargaining.”
Israel offers easily reversed concessions. Prisoners are released, then harassed and rearrested. Promises are made, then broken. Israel doesn’t negotiate. It demands and wants things its way. Since 1967, Palestinians were denied all rights. Militarized occupation assures none.
Al Khoffash called Israel’s move a maneuver. At issue is subverting unity and breaking the spirit of detainees. They chose “dignity over food.” They won’t tolerate manipulation. They’ve been through this before. Harshness masquerades as concessions. Those made are then broken.
On May 7, Israel’s High Court spurned justice. In response to an urgent appeal to save Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh, they ruled let ’em die. On May 10, both men reached hunger strike day 73.
They face imminent death. Neither committed crimes. They’re wrongfully imprisoned. So are thousands of other Palestinians.
Israel’s High Court won’t intervene. Reasons given are spurious. Right-wing justices work cooperatively with Netanyahu hard-liners. Palestinians behind or outside prison walls don’t have a chance.
On May 8, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) established a hunger striker “situation room.” Plans call for round the clock operation and cooperative efforts to “to gather and distribute any relevant information and to enable a public campaign for supporting the demands by the prisoners to respect their human rights.”
PHR-I will provide information for family members, their attorneys, doctors, and local as well as international human rights organizations and activists. Local and foreign diplomats will be kept informed. So will national and international media, as well as the public.
PHR-I listed prisoner demands. They include:
(1) Ending punitive isolation.
(2) Stopping the practice of imprisoning Palestinians in Israel. Doing so violates international law.
(3) Renewing family visits for Gazan detainees denied them for six years.
(4) Renewing them for West Bank and East Jerusalem prisoners whose families were denied visitation rights.
(5) Providing proper medical care, including access to independent physicians and civilian hospitalization when serious medical conditions exist.
(6) Terminating daily punitive, violent cell and strip searches. Usually done late at night, sleep is disrupted one or more times.
(7) Ending strip searches for visiting family members.
(8) Terminating shackling prisoners during family and attorney visits, as well as when hospitalized for medical care.
(9) Fulfilling prisoners’ right to education.
(10) Ending all severe, disproportional punishments.
(11) Ending violations of other basic rights, including attorney visits during ongoing investigations and restricting judicial oversight.
PHR-I “supports the prisoners’ struggle and their demand for a full respect of their human rights. We are acting on several levels in order to make sure that the prisoners’ rights are maintained in the course of the hunger strike.”
“PHR is making a significant effort to treat and represent people whose medical condition is the worst, and whose right to health and appropriate treatment is being violated behind prison walls.”
Nearly one-third of uncharged Palestinian administrative detainees have been held from six months to a year. Another third endured one to two years of incarceration.
Thirteen have been imprisoned from two to four years, and another two for over four and half years UNCHARGED. Israel can hold them forever in limbo harshness.
Nearly all Israeli prison facilities are within its borders. Incarcerating Palestinians there violates international law. Holding them anywhere spurns it. They’re innocent. They committed no crimes. Free societies don’t govern this way. Police states do. On issues affecting Palestinians, Israel is one of the worst.
Israel’s High Court Affirms State of Emergency Conditions
On May 8, the High Court rejected an Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) petition. At issue is canceling an official state of emergency in force since May 1948 after Israel’s war of independence.
In 1992, the Knesset passed Basic Law: The Government which created an outer limit to the state of emergency for one year reserves the right for unlimited renewals.
Each government took full advantage despite no justification whatever. Israel hasn’t been attacked for nearly 40 years. Yet a virtual state of war exists.
As a result, authorities maintain unconstitutional police state powers. Draconian harshness is enforced. Freedoms are restricted or denied, including expression, labor and property rights.
The court ruled “Israel is a normal country that isn’t normal.” The statement defies logic. Falsely, the decision said Israel “essentially fulfills its mandate as a Jewish and democratic state.”
Jewish, yes, although 20% of its population is Muslim. Democratic, no. Israel mocks democracy. Arabs have no rights. Even Jewish ones are compromised.
Israel “is not normal,” the court held, “in that its existential threats have yet to be quelled….the battle against terror continues, and apparently will continue for the foreseeable future.”
Israel’s only threats are those it invents to impose occupation harshness, attack neighboring states, and threaten other nonbelligerent ones like Iran.
Stop the Wall Activists Targeted
On May 8 at 1:30AM, Stop the Wall (STW) activists issued an “Action alert: STW office raided by Israeli military,” saying:
Ten armored jeeps, dozens of security forces, and intelligence agents surrounded and raided STW’s Ramallah offices. Their property was confiscated. Seized were two laptops, three hard drives, and 10 memory cards with files and photos.
Authorities also took “archival material relating to the work that (STW) does in opposition to Israel’s apartheid wall and the attack on Palestinian human rights that the wall and” settlements represent.
“This is a renewed attack upon Palestinian civil society and their struggle against the physical and psychological oppression, land confiscation and ethnic cleansing policies of the Israel.”
The raid coincided with High Court injustice condemning Bilal and Thaer to death. At issue is quashing resistance before further traction is gained, behind and outside prison walls.
Earlier, STW activists were harassed, raided, and terrorized. Today they say they’re stronger than ever. They have global support. Word spreads. STW urges supporters tell others, demand their governments intervene, and “(l)et Israel know that walls cannot isolate anybody!”
A Final Comment
On May 8, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) issued an “Urgent Alert: Imminent Displacement Risk in the Jerusalem Periphery,” saying:
Palestinian residences in the West Bank’s Area C (east of Jerusalem) face “looming threat of immediate demolition.” Those threatened “include EU-funded residential structures provided in response to previous demolitions in the area.”
Mostly Bedouin communities are affected. They’re targeted for ethnic cleansing to provide land for Israeli residential and commercial development.
Communities were told “they have no option but to leave.” It’s part of a larger scheme to steal all valued Judea and Samaria land. Total Judaization is planned. Arabs aren’t wanted. Those unwilling to leave will be forced out.
Areas most affected include Jerusalem’s periphery, the Jordan Valley, and south Hebron Hills. Israel wants Palestinians excluded. Eviction orders are issued. Private property is confiscated. Residents have lived there for decades, some for generations. International law is violated.
Israel’s Civil Administration (ICA) falsely claims Palestinian structures were built illegally. It also calls Area C sovereign Israeli territory. It comprises over 60% of the West Bank. It contains valued water resources. Israel wants Palestinians denied them, including on their own private property.
Since 1997, ICAHD courageously resisted lawless Israeli demolitions. It also addresses land theft, settlement expansions, Jews-only by-pass roads, apartheid “closure” and “separation” policies, destroying Palestinian fruit and olive trees, the Separation Wall, besieged Gaza, and other vital issues.
It opposes Israel’s lawless occupation and repression of Palestinians wanting to live free, on their own land, in their own country peacefully. It’s their sovereign right.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.