Crimes Against Humanity
by Stephen Lendman
Israel commits daily crimes against humanity. Intermittently, crimes or war are committed.
For decades, Palestinians have been ruthlessly persecuted and denied justice.
Dozens of incidents occur daily. Media scoundrels suppress or ignore them.
On July 30, Israel placed 10 International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activists in administrative detention uncharged. ISM resists Israeli repression nonviolently.
Activists are frequently arrested, detained, mistreated, then deported. Israel considers supporting right over wrong illegal.
Palestinian Authority (PA) officials enforce Israeli lawlessness. Collaborationist leaders betray their people. Maliciously they accuse internationals of anti-PA incitement.
Al Haq said the PA’s “persistent disregard for international law, combined with recurring abuses committed by several Palestinian security agencies in the West Bank have done nothing to appease the frustrations of Palestinian people.”
Abbas and prime minister Salam Fayyad lack legitimacy. So do those around them. “Palestinians have come to expect little more than the suppression of freedom of expression, arbitrary arrest and even worse from their governing authority.”
They collaborate with Israel’s illegal occupation. They derive special benefits for services rendered. Palestinians have no confidence they’ll end land theft, settlement expansions, Gaza’s siege, Israel’s separation wall, and numerous other daily abuses.
They enforce and replicate Israel’s worst policies. They attack peaceful protesters violently. They imprison Palestinians for political reasons. They crush dissent. They ignore rule of law principles and judicial rulings. They’re disgraceful puppets serving Israeli interests.
On July 9, solidarity activists were arrested near Jenin. They were protesting Israeli land theft. Villagers participated with them. Israeli security guards and settlers harassed them. Internationals through their lawyer were told they’d be deported.
On July 10, six peace activists were arrested near Nablus. Detention followed. They helped villagers remove illegal roadblocks. Four internationals await deportation. Two Israeli citizens were released without charge.
On July 15, detained activists began hunger striking in protest. Multiple strip searches followed. A Canadian national was beaten.
Following a July 17 hearing, Judge Nissim Yeshaya ordered six activists deported the same day. Their request for delay to appeal was denied.
Two Swedish nationals remained imprisoned. They petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court for redress. Deportations were delayed but requests for bail were denied.
ISM activists are prime targets. Israel’s Interior Ministry says they threaten state security. They “hamper the security activities of the (IDF) and sometimes even endanger the safety of soldiers.”
Their “goal….is to thwart the activity of the security forces in the territories and impede their work of preventing terrorism.”
Israel considers peaceful protests threatening. Palestinians and internationals are targeted, arrested, mistreated, detained, and deported if they don’t reside in Palestine or Israel.
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) discussed four Palestinian patients. They also described a “system that denies medical care.”
Israel denied four Palestinians access to badly needed treatment. They live in Gaza. Facilities there can’t provide it. Their condition is critical. Their request for West Bank or East Jerusalem medical care was rejected. Their lives hang in the balance.
Israel’s bureaucracy is Kafkaesque. Patients go through extensive interrogations. Permit permission is needed. PHR-I petitions on their behalf. Usually it falls on deaf ears. Lives are lost because care unavailable in Gaza can’t be accessed elsewhere.
Abusing Palestinian Prisoners
On August 7, PHR-I, Addameer and Al-Haq reported jointly on four Palestinian political prisoners. They’re on open-ended hunger strikes. Their health keeps deteriorating.
Administrative detainees Samer Al-Barq and Hassan Safadi continue protracted strikes. Israeli Prison Service (IPS) officials mistreat them repeatedly.
On August 5, Addameer lawyer Fares Ziad visited both men. On August 2, PHR-I’s doctor saw them. On August 10, Al-Barq went without food for 80 days. It followed a previous 30-day fast.
On July 31, Israeli special forces (Nahshon) transfered him from Ramleh prison to Ofer military court. They’re known for brutalizing prisoners en route. Al-Barq was ordered to walk.
Weak and unable, his legs were maliciously beaten. A wheelchair eventually arrived. Soldiers refused to help. He crawled, got on it best he could, and wheeled himself.
On August 10, Safadi reached 50 days without food. Previously he fasted 71. He was also abused. On July 30, five Israeli soldiers raided his room. Insults followed, then a severe beating “all over his body.” One leg was injured.
Safadi also said his room is violently searched three or four times daily. He’s held in isolation “with only his clothes.”
He and Al-Barq now share the same cell. It measures about 1.5 by 1.8 meters. It’s windowless with no ventilation. It’s too tiny to accommodate wheelchairs both men need for virtually all daily activities.
Both men protested. In response, guards beat them. PHR-I’s doctor said they refuse vitamins, minerals and other treatment. They call it a last resort against humiliation and violence.
Since Ramadan began on July 20, they only drink water at night. They also refuse blood tests during the period. IPS officials denied PHR-I’s request to examine both men privately. Doing so violates Israeli Patients Rights Law.
PHR-I’s doctor said both men were fully conscious when he visited. Al-Barq suffers weakness and general pain. He received emergency Assaf Harofeh Hospital treatment for a slow pulse.
He was released with no recommendation for further care. He’s slowly dying but hospital authorities didn’t care.
Safadi suffers from vertigo. Attempting to stand especially affects him. He also experiences pain on his left side and rib cage.
PHR-I’s doctor expects their health to keep deteriorating. Their condition requires close monitoring and attention. He also said regular examinations are needed by “impartial” doctors with no restrictions such as court orders.
Two other Palestinian political prisoners also refuse food. As of August 10, Ayman Sharawna and Samer Al-Issawi are on days 40 and 9 respectively. Both were released in last October’s Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal. They were then lawlessly re-arrested.
PHI-I Israel, Addameer, and Al-Haq expressed outrage at how these men are treated. They also noted regular violent attacks on most all Palestinian prisoners. International community intervention isn’t forthcoming.
Mid-May promises Israel made were broken. Palestinians suffer grievously. Hunger strikers are especially brutalized. Somehow they courageously endure. How is hard to explain.
Discriminatory Laws Target Non-Jews
Israel only grants Jews rights. Increasingly, privileged ones alone benefit at the expense of all others. Arab Israelis are marginalized and treated like fifth column threats.
New bills and laws surface regularly. Some would make despots proud. Arab citizens lose land and freedoms.
Citizenship rights for non-Jews are considered privileges. Arab citizens can hold Knesset seats without authority. They’re little more than potted plants.
Political expression criticizing or questioning Zionist policies are criminalized. Jews get most state resources. Arabs are denied adequate amounts. Supreme Court ruling protections are largely ignored.
Discriminatory persecution is official Israeli policy. Palestinians suffer most.
Israel’s Supreme Court Obstructs Freedom of Worship
On August 7, Israel’s High Court ruled Gazan Christians can access Israeli and West Bank holy sites on holidays. Muslims were denied.
Six Muslim women were denied permission to pray at Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque. Limited numbers of Christians, subject to age restrictions, may worship at their holy sites.
Muslim petitioners argued that Israel is obligated to let them travel freely from Gaza to pray. Each Friday during Ramadan, Israel lets 46,000 West Bank Muslims enter Jerusalem to do so.
In its ruling, Israel’s High Court rejected appellants’ argument that religious belief can’t be used to deny access to holy sites. A three-judge panel decided otherwise. Their ruling was convoluted and lawless.
They said discrimination is permissible because Gazan Christians “are a minority group, and according to the respondents, their freedom of worship is infringed upon under the Hamas regime in Gaza.”
Alleged religious discrimination is exaggerated. Islamic law isn’t imposed. In contrast, Israeli discriminatory harshness is severe.
The Court accepted Israel’s argument that travel outside Gaza is limited to “exceptional humanitarian cases.” Most claimants, in fact, are denied. At the same time, about 4,000 Gazan football players, merchants, wedding guests, and others get permission to travel to Israel and the West Bank monthly.
Israel decides who will or won’t go. Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement’s legal director Nomi Heger said:
Israel’s “Supreme Court approved a policy discriminating between Christian and Muslim worshippers for access to the holy sites of Jerusalem, which are under Israeli control.”
We believe that people of all religions should be permitted to access the sites holy to them within the territory controlled by Israel, by balancing the principle of freedom of religion with security needs.”
“We also believe that Israel’s control over Gaza, in the past and the present, imposes obligations to allow access in more than just exceptional humanitarian cases.”
A Final Comment
On August 9, Addameer headlined “Yet another Palestinian civil society leader targeted by Israel: Addameer Chairperson Abdullalif Ghaith receives ban for leaving the country.”
Addameer advocates for human rights. It also supports and defends Palestinian prisoners. Most are incarcerated for political reasons.
Gaith co-founded Addameer. For the past 20 years, he served on its board. He’s well known for championing human rights and political activism. Israel wants him silenced. He’s banned from traveling abroad.
Doing so is lawless. Israel doesn’t give a damn about fundamental law and never did. Authorities in Jerusalem claim he threatens “state security.”
Israel repeats the canard often. Doing so doesn’t wash. Evidence is absent because there is none. Gaith’s restriction runs through January 31, 2013. Expect Israel to extend it on expiration.
Everyone championing human rights in Israel and Palestine faces possible state persecution. Ghaith was targeted before. On October 11, 2011, he was prohibited from entering the West Bank.
Initially it was for six months. It was extended six more months. Israel can enforce restrictions ad infinitum.
Since becoming Addameer chairperson, Ghaith was arrested and detained administratively without charge or trial three separate times. On each occasion, he spent six months in prison.
Why? For supporting human rights, advocating for lawlessly imprisoned Palestinians, and opposing Israel’s illegal occupation.
He’s a marked man. So are others like him. Rogue states govern this way. Israel is one of the worst. It mocks democratic freedoms. It commits crimes of war and humanity unaccountably.
Torture is official policy. Children are treated like adults. All valued parts of Judea and Sumaria are being stolen dunam by dunam. Opponents of rogue policies are ruthlessly targeted.
Addameer calls human rights defenders “persons who work, peacefully, for any or all of the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
Ghaith dedicated his life to them. He also works on behalf of Palestinian political prisoners. He calls “every activity that tackles Israeli violations of human rights a threat to state security.”
“Israel wants its occupation to proceed without any accountability.” It’s not an individual issue, he says. It affects all Palestinians and Israeli Arabs.
Israel can target them physically, emotionally, and other ways. It can’t intimidate, discourage or deter their spirit, courage, or fundamental beliefs.
They represent right over wrong. Their ideas are too powerful to destroy. Victor Hugo once said “(n)o army can withstand” them. Activists like Ghaith prove it daily.
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.