If the international community does not come to its senses and force Israel to abide by the rules that are binding to every state in the world, it will pull the rug out from under the global effort to protect human rights in the post-WWII era.
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: Israel - Arms embargo needed as military unlawfully kills and maims Gaza protesters. Many are shot from behind.
Israel is carrying out a murderous assault against protesting Palestinians, with its armed forces killing and maiming demonstrators who pose no imminent threat to them, Amnesty International revealed today, based on its latest research, as the “Great March of Return” protests continued in the Gaza Strip.
Most of the shots appear to be deliberately inflicted life-changing injuries – during the weekly Friday protests that began on 30 March.
Amnesty International has renewed its call on governments worldwide to impose a comprehensive arms embargo on Israel following the country’s disproportionate response to mass demonstrations along the fence that separates the Gaza Strip from Israel.
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have protested for the fifth Friday in a row, as part of the Great March of Return movement.
Since the protests began on March 30, 42 Palestinians in the coastal enclave have been killed by Israeli forces, with more than 5,500 injured.
At least 25 Palestinian protesters have reportedly been injured by live Israeli gunfire or have suffocated from teargas inhalation, as demonstrations erupted for the fifth Friday in a row in Gaza, according to reports.
The Palestinian news agency WAFA reported that at least six Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces fired live ammunition at protesters, while the rest were hurt because of teargas inhalation.
Hundreds of protesters have been gathering at the eastern and northern border of the Gaza Strip on what they called the "Friday of Rebellious Youth".
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein has condemned Israel's use of "excessive force" against Palestinian protesters, saying its security forces must be held to account for the many deaths and injuries sustained by Palestinians in the past month.
The Great March of Return series of protests have been bloody.
The Israeli military has reacted with deadly and purposeful force, killing and wounding at seemingly random. And still people have come from all over Gaza to demonstrate and protest their right of return to the lands from where they, their parents and grandparents, were once evicted.
With them we came, the journalists, watching and filming, bearing witness to the events as they transpired and talking to people to hear their stories and motivations.
For us, too, the protests have been dangerous. We are exposed, just like the Palestinian population, to gas and bullets.
So far, there have been two fatalities among those covering the protests. There have been a high number of injuries to journalists – as many as 66 over the four demonstrations held so far, according to Ashraf al-Qedra, a spokesperson for Gaza’s ministry of health – prompting calls for the protection of journalists and investigations into the violence. Human right organizations and international watchdogs like the Committee to Protect Journalists have been at the forefront of these calls.
These have had little effect on Israel’s behavior.
Ahmad Abu Hussein, the latest journalist to die while doing his job in Gaza, was shot through the abdomen on 13 April during the third of the Great March of Return protests. The photojournalist was wearing a blue flak jacket that was clearly marked with the word “PRESS” emblazoned across the chest in capital letters.
Footage of his shooting shows he stood at a fair distance from the boundary – reported as “permissible” by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz – with a blue helmet and flak jacket amid a crowd of demonstrators:
The number of casualties among journalists suggests a deliberate violation of international humanitarian law. Journalists are considered civilians and therefore entitled to all the rights and protections afforded to civilians in war time.
That status was reaffirmed in 2006 by the UN Security Council, which unanimously adopted UNSC Resolution 1738 calling for an end to attacks on journalists in conflict areas.
The fact that in many, if not all cases, journalists were wearing clearly marked protective clothing, however, suggests that their wounding – and killing – by the Israeli military is deliberate policy.
That was also noted by the Committee to Protect Journalists in a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“The shootings suggest that Israeli authorities could be trying to suppress media coverage of the protests,” the watchdog stated. To no avail so far.
Abby Martin exposes Palestinian life under Israel's occupation
The letter denounced Israel’s newly-founded Herut party and its young leader, Menachem Begin.
Herut was carved out of the Irgun terrorist gang, famous for its many massacres against Palestinian Arab communities leading up to the Nakba, the catastrophic ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people from their historic homeland in 1947-48.
In the letter, Einstein, and others, described Herut (Freedom) party as a “political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to Nazi and Fascist parties.”
For a letter of this nature to appear a mere few years after the end of World War II and the devastation of the Holocaust is a profound indication of the clear chasm that existed among Jewish intellectuals at the time: the Zionists who supported Israel and its violent birth, and those who took the high moral ground and objected to it.
Sadly, the latter group – although still in existence – had lost the battle.
Herut later merged with other groups to form the Likud Party. Begin received the Nobel Peace Prize and the Likud is now the leading party in Israel’s most right-wing government coalition. The ‘Nazi and Fascist’-like philosophy of Herut have prevailed, and it now engulfs and defines mainstream society in Israel.
This right-wing tendency is even more pronounced among young Israelis than previous generations.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the leader of Begin’s party, the Likud. His current coalition includes Russian-born Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, founder of the ultra-nationalist party, Yisrael Beiteinu.
In response to ongoing popular protests by besieged Palestinians in Gaza, and in justification of the high number of deaths and injuries inflicted on the unarmed protesters by the Israeli army, Lieberman argued that “there are no innocent people in Gaza.”
When the Defense Minister of a country espouses this kind of belief, one can hardly be shocked that Israeli snipers are shooting Palestinian youngsters, while cheering on camera as they hit their target.
This kind of discourse – Fascist par excellence – is by no means a fringe narrative within Israeli society.
Netanyahu’s coalition is rife with such morally-objectional characters.
Israeli politician, Ayelet Shaked, has often called for the genocide against Palestinians.
Palestinians “are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads,” she wrote in a Facebook post in 2015. “Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs … They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”
A few months after the publication of the statement, Netanyahu, in December 2015, appointed her as the country’s Justice Minister.
Shaked belongs to the Jewish Home Party, headed by Naftali Bennett. The latter is Israel’s Minister of Education and known for similarly violent statements. He was one of the first politicians who came out in defense of Israeli soldiers accused of violating human rights at the Gaza border. Other top Israeli politicians followed suit.
On April 19, Israel celebrated its independence. “The Nazi and Fascist” mentality that defined Herut in 1948 now defines the most powerful ruling class in Israel. Israel’s leaders speak openly of genocide and murder, yet they celebrate and promote Israel as if an icon of civilization, democracy and human rights.
Even cultural Zionists of old would have been terribly horrified at the creature that their beloved Israeli has become, seven decades after its birth.
Certainly, the Palestinian people are still fighting for their land, identity, dignity and freedom. But the truth is that Israel’s biggest enemy is Israel itself. The country has failed to part ways with its violent politics and ideology of yesterday years. On the contrary, Israel’s ideological debate has been settled in favor of perpetual violence, racism and apartheid.
In the supposed ‘only democracy in the Middle East’, the margin of critique has grown very limited.
It is the likes of Netanyahu, Lieberman, Bennett and Shaked who now represent modern Israel and, behind them, a massive constituency of right-wing religious and ultra-nationalists, who have little regard for Palestinians, for human rights, international law and such seemingly frivolous values as peace and justice.
In 1938, Einstein had contended with the very idea behind the creation of Israel. It runs counter to “the essential nature of Judaism,” he said.
A few years later, in 1946, he argued before the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on the Palestinian issue: “I cannot understand why it is (meaning Israel) is needed … I believe it is bad.”
Needless to say, if Einstein was alive today, he would have joined the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, which aims at holding Israel accountable for its violent and illegal practices against Palestinians.
Equally true, he would have surely been branded anti-Semitic or a ‘self-hating Jew’ by Israeli leaders and their supporters. Today’s Zionists are, indeed, unfazed.
But this painful paradigm must be overturned. Palestinian children are not terrorists and cannot be treated as such. They are not ‘little snakes’, either. Palestinian mothers should not be killed. The Palestinian people are not ‘enemy combatants’ to be eradicated. Genocide must not be normalized.
70 years after Israel’s independence and Einstein’s letter, the country’s legacy is still marred with blood and violence. Despite the ongoing party in Tel Aviv, there is no reason to celebrate and every reason to mourn.
Yet, hope is kept alive because the Palestinian people are still resisting; and they need the world to stand in solidarity with them. It is the only way for the ghost of Herut to quit haunting the Palestinians, and for the ‘Nazi and Fascist’ philosophies to be forever defeated.
Meanwhile, in the Nablus district in the West Bank, Israeli occupation forces
continue to play the handicapping/killing game
The mainstream media once again have enthusiastically endorsed USA&France&UK's latest strike on Syria, pulled off without UN's approval and in blatant violation of international law. Reporting in breathless detail the weapons used and the sites bombed, the mainstream media seem to agree with Trump, May and Macron that Syrian President Bashar Assad is a “Gas Killing Animal” responsible for the ghastly deaths of Syrian innocents in a chemical attack, one which demands swift, forceful retaliation. This rush to judgment comes even as international organizations have yet to conduct any formal investigations into the evidence of what, if anything, happened in Douma and who is responsible.
Now compare this intense media coverage of the alleged Syrian chemical attacks to the near silence accorded the horrific civilian massacre perpetrated by Israeli soldiers in Gaza, at the very same time. The Gazan health ministry reports that at least 39 unarmed Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces over the past weeks, with hundreds more injured during six weeks of planned demonstrations titled the “Great March of Return,” which largely consistes of tire-burning to hide from Israeli snipers and prayer.
Even Human Rights Watch denounced the killings as “calculated” and “unlawful.” A video of an Israeli sniper shooting an unarmed Palestinian man is but one example of the substantial available evidence of this deliberate killing of innocent civilians. After the sniper shoots the man, one of the soldiers yells “yes!” and “son of a bitch!” in celebration as a crowd rushes toward the body.
Israel’s defense minister Avigdor Lieberman rejected calls for an inquiry into these Israeli killings of Palestinians, saying soldiers along the Gaza frontier “deserve a medal” for what they did. The United States, rather than labeling Lieberman a “killing animal,” instead blocked a Kuwait-drafted U.N. Security Council statement that would have called for an independent investigation. And the mainstream media says next to nothing.
Three differences in the reportage here are readily apparent:
First, the evidence: In contrast to still unverified reports of who’s responsible for the alleged Syrian attacks, there is overwhelming first-hand video evidence of the flagrant massacre of unarmed Palestinian civilians in Gaza by Israeli soldiers.
Second, the manner of killing. The alleged murder of civilians using chemical weapons apparently calls for worldwide moral indignation and humanitarian retaliation, whereas indiscriminate murder by sniper rifles, as done by Israel in Gaza, causes no such concern.
Third, the victims: the US media’s almost total neglect of the brutal murders of innocent Palestinian men, women and children leads to the inescapable conclusion that, in contrast to Syrian victims, Palestinian victims don’t matter.
How do we account for this discrepancy?
Thirty years ago Noam Chomsky and Ed Herman explained it incisively in their book on US mass media called "Manufacturing Consent". Their seminal insight was the distinction between 'worthy' and 'unworthy' victims. They showed through copious research that the US media consistently portray people abused or murdered by enemy states, such as Syria, as 'worthy' victims, whereas those treated with equal or even greater severity by US client states, such as Israel, are ignored as 'unworthy victims'.
They also showed that as long as the major media outlets endorse official US consensus – say, that Assad is a “Gas Killing Animal” – they are not required to produce credible evidence, construct serious arguments, or present extensive documentation.
Meanwhile, the public generally does not even notice the chilling silence accorded to 'unworthy' victims of client states like Israel, whose suffering is drowned out by the disingenuous humanitarian outcry for the suffering of worthy victims of enemy states like Syria.
Of course what determines whether victims are worthy or unworthy has nothing to do with their actual suffering, or the ghastliness of their deaths, but rather with whether the state perpetrating the suffering is friend or foe.
Conclusive demonstration of this is that Assad’s alleged Syrian victims are deemed worthy and must be avenged, whereas the Syrian victims of US airstrikes and drones are almost invisible, as unworthy as their suffering Palestinian counterparts.
Bias-"impartial" journalism is all about focus, tone and space.
That is why while the lenses are turned elsewhere, IDF soldiers invaded Nabi Saleh on Friday, April 20, triggering clashes with Palestinian youth, who responded with stones to make the soldiers leave. The clashes lasted several hours, during which the IDF soldiers shot scores of tear gas, fired rubber-coated meal bullets and live ammunition that wounded two of the protesters.
Meanwhile, in the Nablus district in the West Bank, Israeli occupation forces
continue to play the handicapping/killing game
And Israel, also in the West Bank, continues to steal Palestinian water
However, not mentioning the United States' complicity, as long as the European Union financially support for Israel’s war industry continues, Netanyahu and his gangsters will continue to kill without being disturbed.
It may not be visible to the average citizen – unless they go digging through the databases documenting the millions channeled to companies making weapons that rain death on Palestinians, but the support is an stablished fact.
But as Israel marks what it calls its “independence,” several European states are openly celebrating their military alliances with an entity founded through the ethnic cleansing and destruction of Palestine and which only continues to exist through the brutal occupation and dispossession of millions of Palestinians.
European and NATO countries, including Austria’s neo-Nazi government, sent their air forces to take part in a show over Tel Aviv on Thursday, Israel’s official “independence” holiday according to the Jewish calendar.
That’s just a few miles up the coast from Gaza, where the buzz of drones and the roar of jet engines from Israeli warplanes has for years been used to deliberately inflict terror on Palestinians – that is when the planes are not dropping bombs, as during Israel’s 2014 assault that killed one in every 1,000 of the two million people confined in the besieged territory.
Western air forces do not limit themselves only to display flying alongside Israel.
Some Arab governments also appear willing to step up their cooperation with Israel.
This year, the United Arab Emirates again took part in exercises with the Israeli air force, a sign of Israel’s ongoing rapprochement with the Saudi-led bloc of Arab regimes.
Emirati military leaders see the United States as a "big brother"both to their country and to Israel.
The UAE air force has for three years been involved in the Saudi-led US- and British-backed war on Yemen that has killed thousands of civilians and created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Western air power has from the start been an essential element in Israel’s subjugation of the Palestinians and its wars against other countries in the region.
Let's not forget that American, British and Canadian military aviators played a key role in Zionism’s 1948 colonial conquest of Palestine.
In 1998, Gordon Levett, a Royal Air Force squadron leader during World War II, reminisced in The New York Times about his role flying in the nascent Israeli air force as it began its 70-year career of bombing the people of the region into oblivion: ”It was quite fun stuff,” Levett said.
The air force displays are only a part of the effusive congratulations and support European governments are extending to Israel on its 70th “birthday.”
“Their independence is our Nakba,” the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) said on Thursday. “The ethnic cleansing of 750,000 to one million indigenous Palestinians 70 years ago and turning them into refugees to establish a Jewish-majority state in Palestine is no cause for celebration.”
The BNC, the steering committee for the global boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign, emphasizes: “The Nakba is not a crime of the past, it is ongoing. Seventy years later, Israel continues to demolish Palestinian homes, steal our lands to build illegal settlements exclusively for Jewish-Israelis, push Palestinians out of Jerusalem by revoking our residency rights, and deny Palestinian refugees, like many of our members, our internationally recognized right to return to our homes.”
The BNC points to Israel’s attempt to “criminalize our grief.”
This is a reference to Israeli laws penalizing commemoration of the Nakba that are akin to the recently passed Polish law promoted by Holocaust revisionists to whitewash Polish complicity in the Nazi extermination of the country’s Jews.
But Palestinians will not be silenced.
“We commemorate by asserting our right to return home and to live in freedom and dignity,” the BNC insists. “Thousands of Palestinians in Gaza continue to take part in the Great March of Return, facing the Israeli military’s shoot-to-kill-or-maim policy.”
As for what people around the world – especially in the countries “celebrating” Israel’s “independence” can do – the BNC urges mass mobilizations to push “governments and institutions to ban all trade with and divest from companies implicated in Israel’s illegal settlements and other violations of Palestinian human rights.”
“There should also be a comprehensive military embargo against Israel, including a ban on collaborating in or sharing military research with Israel,” the BNC states.
The grotesque display of Western complicity in the skies over Tel Aviv serves as a reminder that Israel's apartheid system rests on pillars of global support, and therefore the Palestinian struggle can only succeed if it also mobilizes grassroots support all over the world.
On the day Israel “celebrates,” young Palestinians in Gaza are using the social media hashtags #GazaUnlocked, #YouthUnderOccupation and #GazaToHeartland to remind the world that they are not free, they refuse to be forgotten and they are struggling for their rights.
The urgency is great. Palestinians cannot afford to wait another 70 years for their liberation.