Tuesday, 26 September 2017
 
 
IOP 08 September 2017 Print
Wednesday, 13 September 2017
While the Occupation is business as usual for Israel,

there should be no business with Israel

In Occupied Palestine

Zionism in practice

Israel’s Daily Toll on Palestinian Life, Limb, Liberty and Property

(Compiled by Leslie Bravery, Palestine Human Rights Campaign, Auckland, New Zealand www.palestine.org.nz) [If you have difficulty with the display of this newsletter, it may be better viewed on our website]

08 September 2017 {Main source of statistics: Palestinian Monitoring Group (PMG): http://www.nad.ps/ NB:The period covered by this newsletter is taken from the PMG's 24-hour sitrep ending 8am the day after the above date.}

We shall always do our best to verify the accuracy of all items in these IOP newsletters/reports wherever possible [e.g. we often suspect that names of people and places that we see in the PMG sitreps could be typos but as we do not speak Arabic, we have no alternative but to copy and paste these names from the PMG sitreps] – but please forgive us for any errors or omissions (not of our own making) that may occur! L & M.

Israeli soldiers terrorise

10-year-old boy


Night peace disruption

and/or home invasions

in refugee camp and

3 towns and villages


7 raids including home

invasions


1 wounded – 9 taken prisoner –

2 detained


Economic sabotage

Home invasions: 01:10, Beit Fajjar.

Peace disruption raids: 04:20, Kobar - 18:15-21:15, Qalqiliya - 17:25, the Aida UN refugee camp - 16:35, Hebron - 03:00, Hebron - al-Karmil - Beit Ummar.


Palestinian missile attacks: none.

Economic sabotage: Gaza — the Israeli Navy continues to enforce an arbitrary fishing limit.

Israeli Army rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades and tear gas canisters: Jerusalem – 10:00, Abu Dis: rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades and tear gas.

Israeli Army rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades and tear gas canisters: Jerusalem – 18:35, Abu Dis: rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades and tear gas.

Israeli Army child terrorised: Jerusalem – 19:00, Israeli troops seized, and held captive for a time, a 10-year-old child: Mohammad Al-Sa'ou, in the Al-Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.

Israeli Army rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades and tear gas canisters: Ramallah – 16:40, Deir Jarir: rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades and tear gas.

Israeli Army stun grenades and tear gas canisters: Bethlehem – 01:50, Jib al-Thib: stun grenades and tear gas.

Non-violent resistance: Qalqiliya – 13:40, protest in Kafr Qaddum: rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades and tear gas. One person, Assaf Abdel-Hadi Ali, was wounded and several people were overcome by Israeli tear gas.

Raid – UN refugee camp: Bethlehem – 17:25, Israeli forces raided the Aida UN refugee camp.

Raid – Israeli troops and settlers: Qalqiliya – 18:15-21:15, Israeli forces raided Qalqiliya, took prisoner one person and detained another.

[NB: Times indicated in Bold Type contribute to the sleep deprivation suffered by Palestinian children]

SEE ALSO: Life under Israeli Military Occupation

(after Behind the Wall, below)

 

Two Israeli judges who

endorsed torture

and hostage-taking

Michael Brull explains, former Australian High Court Justice, Michael Kirby, appears to have a blind spot when it comes to the law as it applies to Palestinians.

By Michael Brull | 10 September 2017

https://newmatilda.com/2017/09/10/michael-kirby-has-praised-israeli-judges-who-endorsed-torture-and-hostage-taking/?utm_campaign=shareaholic&utm_medium=email_this&utm_source=email

Former High Court of Australia Justice Michael Kirby gave an interview to the Australian Jewish News earlier this month (1 September 2017), where he singled out for praise two Israeli judges, Moshe Landau and Aharon Barak.

Kirby went on note that he was “very impressed by Israel, of course – by a country that has a rule of law principle in its constitution, that has liberal and forward-looking judges and upholds the principles that there are no black holes in the law. That is what Justice Barak constantly said, 'No black holes. We don’t have areas where the writ of the courts doesn’t run to'.”

Former Justice Kirby said that he has visited Israel “several times”, and even “sat on the old Supreme Court of Israel” at the invitation of former President of the Court from 1980-82, Justice Landau. Kirby said Landau was “a wonderful man”. In Australian jurisprudence, Kirby is widely regarded as among the most liberal justices that has ever sat on the High Court, and is known for his passionate dissents in favour of liberal values and international law.

The Israeli Supreme Court, on the other hand, is generally regarded as a rubber stamp for almost every egregious crime of the Israeli occupation. This includes the two men Justice Kirby singles out.

One of them handed down a judgment where he legitimised hostage-taking. The other – who Kirby regards as “wonderful” – effectively legalised torture. Kirby’s comments also included factual errors – Barak was President of the Supreme Court years after Landau, but didn’t succeed him, and Israel doesn’t have a formal constitution.

The “wonderful” President of the Supreme Court who legalised torture

In 1967, Israel conquered the West Bank and Gaza, which became known as the Occupied Palestinian Territories. From the beginning, the occupation was brutal. Right-wing Israeli historian Benny Morris, in a history of the Israeli-Arab conflicts, wrote:

Like all occupations, Israel’s was founded on brute force, repression and fear, collaboration and treachery, beatings and torture chambers, and daily intimidation, humiliation, and manipulation… Military administration, uncurbed by the civil rights considerations that applied in Israel, possessed ample measures to suppress dissidence and protest. These included curfews; house arrest, with resulting loss of wages; judicial proceedings, ending in prison terms or fines — the work of the military courts in the territories, and the Supreme Court which backed them, will surely go down as a dark age in the annals of Israel’s judicial system — or expulsions; administrative detentions, or imprisonment without trial, for renewable six-month terms; and commercial and school shutdowns, usually in response to shopkeepers’ strikes or disturbances by students.”

In 1987, Moshe Landau headed a Commission to look into how Israeli intelligence organisation the Shabak (GSS, or ISA) interrogated Palestinians. The Landau Commission found that the “effective interrogation of terrorist suspects is impossible without the use of means of pressure”. Thus, Landau wrote that when ordinary interrogation techniques “fail to achieve their goal, the use of a moderate degree of physical pressure is unavoidable”.

Unsurprisingly, Israeli intelligence took this as a green light for torture. The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) observed that “the Israeli security forces tortured thousands of Palestinian detainees every year. PCATI estimates that almost all interrogees were subjected to at least one form of torture during their interrogation”. The Landau Commission didn’t publicly release its recommended forms of torture (“moderate physical pressure”). Yet PCATI observed that standard forms include:

~ Shackling interogees in painful stress positions for hours and even days at a time with a wet, foul-smelling bag covering their heads.

~ Isolation in solitary confinement.

~ Beatings.

~ Violent shaking – when an ISA interrogator grabs the interrogee’s shoulders or shirt lapels and shakes his body and head violently back and forth.

~ Sleep and food deprivation.

~ Exposure to extreme heat or cold.

~ Shackling to a small, slanted chair.

~ Cursing and psychological degradation.

~ Exposure to loud music.

~ Threats to the detainee or his/her family.

~ Deprivation of basic sanitary conditions and changes of clothing.

~ Isolation from the outside world (including attorney and relatives), often for months at a time.

PCATI noted: “These methods caused often irreversible psychological damage and bodily injury, and in some cases even death.”

In 1992, the Red Cross complained that Israel’s form of “physical and psychological pressure” breached the Geneva Conventions. In 1994, the United Nations Committee Against Torture responded that that Landau Commission’s notion of “moderate physical pressure” being lawful was “completely unacceptable to this Committee”. Also in 1994, Human Rights Watch wrote a report on Israeli interrogation methods. They found that “Within one or two days of their arrest, persons taken to GSS (Israeli intelligence) interrogation wings are placed in a universe of discomfort, pain, humiliation and threats”.

It found that at “all stages of GSS interrogations, the methods of torture and ill-treatment tend to follow a well-defined set of steps and guidelines. Interrogation methods are selected to inflict extreme physical pain and mental anguish without causing lasting or traceable physical injury”.

HRW observed: “Our investigation also found that torture and abuse were more the rule than the exception, and that tens of thousands of Palestinians had suffered abuse at the hands of GSS and the IDF.”

This is just one part of the legacy of former President of the Israeli Supreme Court, Moshe Landau. Who Kirby called “a wonderful man”, seemingly an example of Israel’s “liberal and forward looking judges”.

The other Israeli justice who also thought torture was okay

The other Israeli justice cited by Kirby was Aharon Barak, who was also a President of the Israeli Supreme Court. One of the judgements Barak is well-known for was his 1999 judgment on torture. Whilst Landau had effectively legalised it on a grand scale in the Occupied Territories, Barak rejected the Landau Commission’s position. In 1999, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled mostly in favour of a petition to ban torture by PCATI and other human rights organisations. In a normal liberal democracy, this judgement would have been straightforward: the court would have said that torture is never permissible, and was henceforth banned. In Israel, it wasn’t. The court wouldn’t rule that the methods of interrogation under review constituted torture, or even ill-treatment. Human rights groups thought this might be because if the court admitted that torture had occurred, they would have a duty under international law to punish the perpetrators.

PCATI observed that whilst the judgement “forbade the use of several torture methods, [it] nevertheless left significant loopholes which enable the ongoing use of torture and ill-treatment in ISA interrogations. The primary loophole is the ‘necessity of defence’, which under certain conditions absolves interrogators of criminal liability for using prohibited interrogation methods including physical abuse of the detainee.” The “necessity” defence arises in what are alleged to be “ticking time-bomb cases”.

PCATI’s reports published in the years since the HCJ ruling have revealed that “numerous Palestinians” are subjected to “torture and ill treatment” by the Shabak. PCATI catalogued them:

~ Routine methods including sleep deprivation, shackling to a chair in painful positions, beatings, slapping and kicking, threats, curses and humiliation.

~ Special methods such as bending the body in painful stress positions, prolonged shackling with handcuffs behind the body, deliberate tightening of handcuffs, stepping on handcuffs, application of pressure on various limbs, forced squatting in the “frog” position, choking, violent shaking and other means of violence and degradation (pulling out of hair, spitting, etc.).

~ Subhuman detention and imprisonment conditions: sleep deprivation, exposure to extreme heat or cold, constant exposure to artificial light, detention under sub-human conditions contravening the basic standards outlined by the UN (prison cells with cockroaches and mice, abhorrent sanitary conditions, rations too close to the hole in the ground which serves as toilet, failure to provide warm water or a change of clothes, weak artificial lighting all day and so on).

~ Psychological torture and damage through the use of threats or the creation of false scenarios to pressure detainees, often using the interrogee’s family members.

Likewise, Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem found that:

relying on the “ticking time-bomb” exception, ISA agents have continued to use interrogation methods that constitute abuse and even torture. A number of join[t] reports by B’Tselem and HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, based on hundreds of affidavits and testimonials given by Palestinians who had undergone ISA interrogations indicate that the ISA still routinely employs psychological and physical abuse in interrogations. … This combination of conditions both in and outside the interrogation room constitutes abuse and inhuman, degrading treatment, at times even amounting to torture. It has been used systematically against Palestinians interrogated by the ISA…”

There was a decline in torture after Barak’s 1999 judgement. However, Barak did not ban torture entirely. The effect of his weak and inadequate judgment was that by 2003, Amnesty International observed that “the torture of Palestinians held by the GSS was once again widespread”.

Using hostages as bargaining chips is okay too – liberal Israeli Justice

In Beyond Chutzpah, US scholar Norman Finkelstein examines the record of the Israeli Supreme Court. One particularly shocking example dates from 1997. Israel was seeking a prisoner exchange with Hezbollah in Lebanon. It was holding 21 Lebanese people in detention. President of the Court at the time, Aharon Barak, ruled that “a detention is legal if it is designed to promote State security, even if the danger to State security does not emanate from the detainees themselves,” and that “detention of the appellants for the purpose of release of the captured and missing soldiers is a vital interest of the State.”

Let me underline that. The detention of the people was not because of any threat emanating “from the detainees themselves”. It was “for the purpose” of releasing Israeli soldiers. B’Tselem reacted with disgust: “Israel’s High Court of Justice recently approved the administrative detention of Lebanese nationals as ‘bargaining chips’ in negotiations for the return of missing Israeli soldiers. The taking of hostages is a patently illegal act under international law. Now Israel – usually at the forefront of the international struggle against terrorism – has granted legitimacy to one of the trademarks of terrorist groups around the world.” The United Nations Human Rights Committee similarly expressed concern at “the administrative detention of some Lebanese persons who are held as bargaining-chips, and do not threaten State security”. Amnesty said that the ruling was “contemptible and explicitly legitimizes hostage-taking”.

In 2000, Barak changed his mind. According to Finkelstein, Barak conceded in his judgment that “there is probably no State in the Western world that permits an administrative detention of someone who does not himself pose any danger to State security”. He also admitted that “holding persons as ‘bargaining cards’ actually means holding them as ‘hostages’”. By his own admission, Justice Barak legalised Israel taking people as hostages. And why did he change his mind? Finkelstein writes that one of Barak’s reasons was his conclusion that “there is no probability or even a reasonable possibility that the continued detention of the petitioners would lead to the release of the captured and missing soldiers”.

And so on

For reasons of brevity, I have just reviewed the record of Justices Barak and Landau on two issues. Given the position of Barak on taking hostages and using them as bargaining chips, and Landau’s position on torture, readers can imagine their broader record in relation to the human rights of Palestinians. As noted previously, Benny Morris singled out the Supreme Court for censure in its role in enforcing the occupation, and he is right to do so. Academic David Kretzmer wrote a study of the Israeli Supreme Court and the Occupied Territories. He concluded: “In its decisions relating to the Occupied Territories, the Court has rationalised virtually all controversial actions of the Israeli authorities, especially those most problematic under principles of international humanitarian law.” These include legitimising deportations by military authorities, punitive house demolitions, the establishment of settlements, and administrative detention.

In 2006, Justice Kirby identified Guantánamo Bay as a “legal black hole”. As noted, he thought Barak deserved special praise for opposing legal black holes. Yet Israel has a prison facility known as Israel’s Guantánamo, Facility 1391. Detainees aren’t told where they are, and are denied visitors. Though its present facility was set up in the 1980s, Israel has tried to keep it secret. It refuses to disclose who is being detained their, their conditions, or even to let Red Cross visit. In 2003, HaMoked petitioned the Supreme Court to shut the camp down. The Supreme Court, unsurprisingly enough, rejected that petition. Kirby distinguished himself by his defence of vulnerable minorities as a Justice on the High Court of Australia. Oftentimes he did so in complete isolation, as six other Justices ruled on the other side of the question, against the rights of asylum seekers and other groups.

One of my favourite judgments by Justice Kirby was in the case of Wurridjal. Handed down in February 2009, a group of Aboriginal people had tried to plead their case against Northern Territory Intervention legislation before the High Court. Six Justices refused to even give them a hearing, dismissing them before they could get to trial. Kirby issued his final, passionate dissent:

If any other Australians, selected by reference to their race, suffered the imposition on their pre-existing property interests of non-consensual five-year statutory leases, designed to authorise intensive intrusions into their lives and legal interests, it is difficult to believe that a challenge to such a law would fail as legally unarguable on the ground that no “property” had been “acquired”. Or that “just terms” had been afforded, although those affected were not consulted about the process and although rights cherished by them might be adversely affected. The Aboriginal parties are entitled to have their trial and day in court. We should not slam the doors of the courts in their face.”

It seems as though Justice Kirby’s days of dissent are over. If any Australian had been subjected to torture – or detained as a “bargaining chip” – because of a fellow judge, it seems unlikely that Justice Kirby would have stayed silent, or praised them as “wonderful”, “liberal and forward-looking”. Whilst Kirby hasn’t quite slammed the doors of the court in their face, it is sad that he seems unwilling to give a fair hearing to the Palestinians.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Michael Brull writes twice a week for New Matilda. He has written for a range of other publications, including Overland, Crikey, ABC's Drum, the Guardian and elsewhere. His writings can be followed at his public Facebook page.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Palestine Yearbook 2015

The genocide the world ignores

by Diana Lodge

Everyone should have a copy

of this invaluable resource!

To order the book:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=The+Palestine+Yearbook+2015

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Julie Webb Pullman – Today in Gaza

http://gaza.scoop.ps/

http://todayingaza.wordpress.com/

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Behind the Wall

Rich Wiles is a photographic artist who has been living and working in Palestine for some years. His photographic work has been shown around Europe, the US, Australia and in Palestine itself. Since 2006 he has been writing from Occupied Palestine under the title Behind the Wall. Much of this work is based in and around the refugee camps in Palestine, highlighting daily life and memories of refugees who still live in forced exile for over 60 years since Al Nakba (The Catastrophe).Visit Rich's website to view photos, many of which can be 'clicked on' to reveal information about them along with other tabs to Rich's biography, Contact etc. www.richwiles.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Life under Israeli Military Occupation

Every area of Israeli-Occupied Palestinian territory experiences arbitrary restrictions of movement imposed by the Israeli Army. The lack of freedom of movement is the frustrating and humiliating background to daily life for the Palestinian people, whose suffering includes a variety of human rights abuses, from night home invasions to wanton acts of agricultural and economic sabotage. The Israeli Occupation Army enforces a permit system for the benefit of settlers that determines where Palestinians may live in their own land.

Water

A major aquifer under the West Bank is controlled by Israel and from it the occupying power illegally plunders two-thirds of the precious water. Across the Occupied West Bank, Israel's illegal settlements have completely free access to water. Settler homes enjoy full swimming pools and well-watered gardens, while Palestinian access to their own water is severely restricted. Israel compounds this crime in two ways: The Zionist state forces Palestinians to pay the Israeli government public water supply company Mekorot for what little water they are allowed and, at the same time, Israel forbids Palestinians to sink wells or even build water storage facilities. Palestinians living under Israeli occupation are restricted to about 70 litres a day per person – well below the 100 litres per capita daily recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) – whereas Israeli daily per capita consumption, at about 300 litres, is about four times as much. In some rural communities Palestinians survive on far less than even the average 70 litres, in some cases barely 20 litres per day, the minimum amount recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for emergency situations response.

In addition, reports by both the World Bank and the United Nations Environment Programme show that the water crisis in Gaza is likely to be critical and irreversible by 2020. The reports show that Gaza is almost completely dependent on a coastal aquifer that has now become filled with undrinkable sea water. Both international bodies express concern that Israeli military occupation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip means severe limitations on people's access to essential water supplies.

One example of the water discrimination faced by Palestinians is the plight of Furush Beit Dajan villagers in the Jordan Valley. A visit by a delegation that included two British MPs in January 2015, co-ordinated by EWASH member Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee (PARC), heard how the Israeli occupation was choking the community’s access to water. Israeli settlements surrounding the village faced no restrictions on access to water resources while Palestinians are only allowed to extract water from wells down to a depth of 80m. Palestinian farmers are unable to obtain the quantity or quality of water necessary to effectively irrigate their crops. Following the Occupation of the West Bank in 1967 the Israeli Army seized all the agricultural land in the area and Palestinian farmers are forced into renting their own land back from the Israelis.

Restrictions of movement

Israel places checkpoints at the entrances to towns and villages to prevent people from entering or leaving. Interference with people attempting to move around towns and villages consists of blocking roads with concrete blocks, barbed-wire and/or earth mounds. People attempting to transport farm produce and other goods find obstacles placed on the roads by the Israeli Army. Trucks have to be unloaded by hand and similarly re-loaded onto vehicles brought from beyond the obstructions. Road closures are used to isolate areas wherever the Israeli Army considers the presence of Palestinians to be ‘illegal’. When the Israeli Army declares a curfew, anyone appearing in the street or at a window is liable to be shot dead. There are instances of Palestinian mothers giving birth at checkpoints, having been denied ready access to hospital. In some cases mothers have died as a result of Israeli Army indifference. *Restrictions of movement comprise: Closures of checkpoints - Flying checkpoints - Closures (per district) - Closures of main roads - Closures of crossings.

Agricultural and economic sabotage

Both the Israeli Army and illegal (according to international law) settlers terrorise Palestinian farmers, often preventing them from working their land, as well as frequently uprooting or setting fire to Palestinian olive trees and bulldozing their crops. The United Nations (UN Security Council Resolution 465) has repeatedly upheld the view that Israel's construction of settlements constitutes violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The International Court of Justice (see also summary) says these settlements are illegal and no foreign governments support Israel's settlements. The aim of the settlements is both to take land and resources from the local people and to bring pressure to bear on them to leave. On 21 January 2015, the newspaper Falesteen reported that the Israeli Occupation settlement of Kiryat Arba in Hebron had demanded the equivalent of US$22,359 in property 'taxes' from a Palestinian farmer, Al-Ja'bari, for his nearby house and farmland.

The Gaza fishing industry

The Gaza fishing industry is being crippled by the enforcement of a draconian fishing limit. The Israel Navy forces Palestinian fishing boats to remain within a three-nautical-mile, over-fished zone, sometimes at the cost to crews of life, limb and property. Gaza City's ruined international airport is permanently closed. Palestinians needing to enter or leave Palestine can do so only with Israeli permission. In addition to Israel's occasional massive bombing raids, Gaza residents are forced to live with the constant fear of overflying drones and the traumatising effects of sonic booms created by Israeli war planes. The effects on the children of Gaza are particularly distressing.

House demolitions and evictions

The Israeli Army routinely destroys Palestinian houses built without Israel's permission. Since the beginning of 2015, the Israeli Occupation has demolished 77 homes, livestock shelters, farm buildings and other structures in Area C of the West Bank, resulting in 110 people, around half of them children, losing their homes at the height of the winter, according to a report compiled by the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). OCHA also reported that between 19 and 26 January, Israel had already demolished 41 structures, far higher than the weekly average in 2014 of nine demolitions per week. In that seven-day period, the Israeli occupation delivered 45 'halt to construction' orders and two demolition orders. In 2014, Israel demolished the homes of 969 Palestinians – a total of 493 homes and ancillary structures in Area C of the West Bank which, under the Oslo Accords, is under exclusive Israeli control. In East Jerusalem seven Palestinian buildings were demolished, including two on 29 January in the Jabal Mukkaber neighbourhood. Buildings were also torn down in Issawiya, Shuafat and Ras al-Amud. In East Jerusalem, 208 Palestinians were displaced in 2014 after Israel demolished 97 buildings. In 2014, according to OCHA figures, the Israeli occupation destroyed 590 Palestinian-owned structures in Area C and East Jerusalem, displacing 1177 people. The 41 structures destroyed by Israel between 19 and 26 January, according to OCHA, were in Bedouin and other pastoral communities in Hebron, Jericho, Ramallah and Beit Iksa, north-west of Jerusalem. The destruction included buildings that had been donated by European humanitarian organisations. Construction stop orders were issued for a park funded by donor nations in the Yatta area and buildings in the Ramallah area and near Tubas, in the northern Jordan Valley.

On 23 January 2015, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Co-ordinator, James W. Rawley, expressed his concern over the recent spate of Israeli Army demolitions of Palestinian homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. "In the past three days, 77 Palestinians, over half of them children, have been made homeless," said Mr. Rawley.

"Some of the demolished structures were provided by the international community to support vulnerable families. Demolitions that result in forced evictions and displacement run counter to Israel's obligations under international law and create unnecessary suffering and tension. They must stop immediately," he said.

Discrimination

Israel's planning policies very much limit the ability of Palestinians to build in East Jerusalem, discriminating against them compared to Jews. In Area C – the majority of the West Bank – except in certain exceptional cases, Israel does not allow Palestinians construction levels to match natural population growth, and prevents hundreds of communities with some 300,000 Palestinian residents to connect to essential infrastructure and services (according to OCHA figures). Under this Israeli-imposed regime, Palestinians living in overcrowded housing and appalling conditions, are faced with the choice, either to move out to the Palestinian enclaves in Areas A and B or build homes without Israeli permits and face the consequences.

Home invasions and abductions of children and other youngsters

Israeli troops frequently invade Palestinian homes (often at dead of night) and abductions of Palestinian minors are commonplace. Israeli soldiers often vandalise the interiors of Palestinian homes being raided and frequently terrorise children and other minors with threats. Youngsters abducted by Israeli soldiers are often blindfolded and their wrists tied behind their backs. Many children are illegally taken to prison in Israel, where more terror is practised against them, such as solitary confinement and shackling in painful positions for long periods. The majority of these children are detained inside Israel in violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

This inhumane treatment of children prompted an Investigation and Report by UNICEF in February 2013. The report found that each year approximately 700 Palestinian children aged 12 to 17, mainly boys, are arrested, interrogated and held captive by Israeli army, police and security agents. The majority are charged with throwing stones, an offence that carries a maximum penalty of ten years' imprisonment, or 20 years if thrown at a moving vehicle (six months maximum for a juvenile, 12-13 years). The usual process, as described in the UNICEF Report, is for the child to be aggressively awakened in the middle of the night by armed soldiers, and forcibly brought to an interrogation centre, tied and blindfolded, sleep-deprived and brought to a state of extreme fear. The transfer can take up to an entire day. Interrogation takes place in a police station (without a lawyer or family member present) using a mix of intimidation and threats. Child prisoners have been threatened with death, physical violence, solitary confinement and sexual assault, against themselves or a family member. Most children confess at the end of such interrogation. Some children have been held in solitary confinement, for a period ranging from two days up to one month before the court hearing. Children are generally brought before a military court in leg chains and shackles, wearing prison uniform. Most see their lawyers for the first time when they are brought to the court. UNICEF found that the practices described are in violation of international law.

Israel’s toxic hazard weapon

Israel has devised yet another technique designed to to drive Palestinians from their land and weaken their resolve to resist. It is a direct assault on their health that carries the menace of further agricultural and economic sabotage. For instance, activity at Israel's Barkan industrial complex generates growing quantities of polluting waste-water from the production of plastics, lead and other commodities that endanger human health. Pollution from Barkan flows into the streams that run through valleys where there are Palestinian farms as well as towns. Israeli Occupation settlements discharge their untreated waste to add to the pollution. This poisons Palestinian land, crops, farm animals and essential, if meagre, water supplies. Settlers – with Israeli Army assistance – release wild pigs, that reproduce rapidly, into Palestinian areas, spoiling agriculture and damaging olive trees, fencing and small buildings. The pigs cannot be controlled because Israel will not allow the people to own or use firearms, or even knives, to kill the pigs. Poison cannot be used because of the danger to Palestinian farm animals.

'Rubber bullets'

The unqualified term 'rubber bullets' is misleading because it implies that ammunition is made solely of rubber. In fact there are two types of such bullets, both of which are made of steel with a minimal coating (1mm to 2mm) of either rubber or plastic. The medical journal The Lancet has published the results of medical examinations of victims wounded by rubber-coated steel bullets, coming to the conclusion that when firing this type of ammunition it is “impossible to avoid severe injuries to vulnerable body regions such as the head, neck and upper torso, leading to substantial mortality, morbidity and disability.”

Tear gas – Israel's daily violations of the CWC

Israel has signed, but refuses to ratify, the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Tear gas riot control agents, including tear gas and pepper-spray, are banned in international warfare under both the 1925 Geneva Protocol and Article 1 of the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention. The CWC defines chemical weapons as “munitions and devices that are designed to cause death or other harm through toxic chemicals” that lead to “death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm to humans or animals.” According to the CWC, “riot control agents” are any chemicals, not specifically named in their list of prohibited chemicals, that can cause humans to suffer rapid “sensory irritation or disabling physical effects which disappear within a short time following termination of exposure.” Belligerent military occupation by a foreign power is an act of war and when the Israeli Army fires tear gas grenades at Palestinian villagers in their homes or at protesters it is violating the CWC; the more so when standard weapons of war, such as live fire, accompany the use of tear gas. Persons blinded by tear gas cannot avoid live fire, rubber-coated bullets, stun grenades or military vehicles and bulldozers. But that is the reality for Palestinians living under Israeli military Occupation.

Israeli Army military exercises force Palestinians out of their homes

An example of this practice is contained in an International Women's Peace Service (IWPS) report on the Israeli Army's terrorising of a Bedouin community in the Jordan Valley. The report tells of a continual programme of Israeli military training in the village of ‘Atuf that traumatises the population. Every week 22 families, amounting to 172 individuals, are displaced from their homes from 4am to 5pm by Israeli military live-fire exercises. Since 1967 Israeli troops have been forcing the Bedouin people to leave their houses each week. Whole families and their livestock are displaced to outlying fields to the sound of gunfire and explosions. The entire area is designated “Area C” and there is a 'closed military zone' where nothing is allowed to be built or improved. A whole valley of fertile farmland lies uncultivated while the nearby Occupation settlement of Beqa constantly expands. In both ‘Atuf and Tamun countless houses have been demolished by the Israeli Army and many more are under demolition orders. Since 1970, 14 people have been killed and 30 have lost limbs due to exploding abandoned Israeli Army ordnance. The explosives can be as small as a pen, easily mistaken by children as harmless. The continual sound of explosions and gunfire results in many cases of psychological trauma, especially to children, and the only school in the district is within earshot of the weekly Israeli military exercises.

Ethnic discrimination

In addition to all of the above, Palestinians citizens of Israel as well as those living under occupation have to contend with more than 50 discriminatory Israeli laws. These affect all areas of life, including rights to political participation, access to land, education, state budget resources and criminal procedures. Some of the laws also violate the rights of refugees.

Israeli Army violence

The Israeli Occupation Army enforces many of the above restrictions with the threat, or actual use, of military action as well as personal physical assault. Thus, daily life for Palestinians is conducted in an all-pervasive atmosphere of violence and fear.

The Prawer Plan

The Israeli Knesset approved a plan which has since been suspended for the mass expulsion of the Arab Bedouin community in the Naqab (Negev) Desert in the south of Israel. If fully implemented, the Prawer Plan would have resulted in the destruction of 35 'unrecognised' Arab Bedouin villages with the forced displacement and dispossession of up to 70,000 Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Leslie Bravery www.palestine.org.nz

PHRC | Palestine Human Rights Campaign Aotearoa/New Zealand

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See this In Occupied Palestine newsletter at: the PHRC website: www.palestine.org.nz

- and you can check out previous editions by clicking on In Occupied Palestine listed under Contents

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