Learn something new about Palestine and Israel this week – recommended reading

Learn something new about Palestine and Israel this week – recommended reading

These eight recent articles will help you get better acquainted with the methods and motives of Israel, America’s “closest ally” – Scroll down to read them

Israel is pillaging not just Gaza’s cities but also its waters

by Sultan Barakat, reposted from Al Jazeera, March 4, 2024

As Israeli historian Adam Raz describes in his recent book, Looting of Arab Property in the War of Independence, Jewish fighters and civilians looted everything from jewellery, books, and embroidered gowns to food and livestock to furniture, kitchenware and even floor tiles…

Today, the war in Gaza is serving as a convenient cover for another theft on a grand scale; this time Israel is seeking to plunder the maritime offshore gas reserves that are the property of the state of Palestine.

In late October, the Israeli Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure announced that it had awarded concessions for natural gas exploration to Israeli and foreign companies in zones that significantly overlap with the maritime borders of Gaza.

Needless to say, Israel as an occupier has no right to award licenses in areas that it does not hold sovereignty over under any circumstances.

Palestine is a party to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and has declared its maritime boundaries in accordance with these principles.

On February 8, four human rights organizations in Israel and Palestine – Adalah, Al Mezan, Al-Haq, and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights issued a joint news release regarding the awarded gas exploration licenses in the occupied waters of Palestine.

They announced that they had sent legal notices to [three foreign companies] asking them not to undertake any activities related to the licenses

“You should be aware that the International Criminal Court currently has an active investigation open into international crimes committed in territory of the State of Palestine, and has jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute any individual(s) it finds responsible for committing war crimes, including pillage…Complicity in violations of [international humanitarian law] can also expose companies like yours – and your managers and staff – to the risk of civil actions for damages,” the notices warned…[more]


History will record that Israel committed a holocaust

by susan abulhawa, reposted from Electronic Intifada, March 6, 2024

It’s 8 pm in Gaza, Palestine right now, the end of my fourth day in Rafah and the first moment I’ve had to sit in a quiet place to reflect.I’ve tried to take notes, photos, mental images, but this moment is too big for a notepad or my struggling memory. Nothing prepared me for what I would witness.

Before I made it across the Rafah-Egypt border, I read every bit of news coming out of Gaza or about Gaza. I did not look away from any video or image posted from the ground, no matter how gruesome, shocking or traumatizing.

I kept in touch with friends who reported on their situations in the north, middle and south of Gaza – each area suffering in different ways. I stayed current on the latest statistics, the latest political, military and economic maneuverings of Israel, the US and the rest of the world.

I thought I understood the situation on the ground. But I didn’t.

Nothing can truly prepare you for this dystopia. What reaches the rest of the world is a fraction of what I’ve seen so far, which is only a fraction of this horror’s totality.

Gaza is hell. It is an inferno teeming with innocents gasping for air.

But even the air here is scorched. Every breath scratches and sticks to the throat and lungs.

What was once vibrant, colorful, full of beauty, potential and hope against all odds, is draped in gray-colored misery and grime…[more]


Anesthetics, crutches, dates. Inside Israel’s ghost list of items arbitrarily denied entry into Gaza

By Tamara Qiblawi, Allegra Goodwin, Nima Elbagir, Caroline Faraj and Kareem Khadder, reposted from CNN, March 2, 2024

Humanitarian workers and government officials working to deliver urgently needed aid for Gaza say a clear pattern has emerged of Israeli obstruction, as disease and near-famine grip parts of the besieged enclave.

The Israeli agency that controls access to Gaza for the multi-billion-dollar aid effort has imposed arbitrary and contradictory criteria, according to more than two dozen humanitarian and government officials interviewed by CNN.

CNN has also reviewed documents compiled by major participants in the humanitarian operation that list the items most frequently rejected by the Israelis. These include anesthetics and anesthesia machines, oxygen cylinders, ventilators and water filtration systems.

Other items that have ended up in bureaucratic limbo include dates, sleeping bags, medicines to treat cancer, water purification tablets and maternity kits.

For months, queues of trucks bound for the enclave have been backed up along the highway leading from the Egyptian town of Arish, a major logistical hub for aid, to the Rafah crossing with Gaza. In a satellite image from February 21, a queue of trucks can be seen stretching out for 4 miles from the crossing…[more]


Israel’s human shields: Its own people

by Ali Alsayegh and Hannah Al-Khafaji, reposted from Middle East Monitor, February 3, 2024

In recent years, there has been extensive reporting on Israel’s use of Palestinians as human shields during their military operations. Human shields are defined by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) as: “A method of warfare prohibited by IHL where the presence of civilians or the movement of the civilian population, whether voluntary or involuntary, is used in order to shield military objectives from attack, or to shield, favor or impede military operations.”

We intend to demonstrate that Israel also uses its own people as human shields to favour its military operations to colonize Palestine.

Israel’s settler colonial project uses violence to forcibly displace Palestinians from their land and replace dispossessed Palestinian towns and villages with Israeli settlements. Palestinians are then forced into remnant neighboring Palestinian areas, where they dream of returning to their land. The result is Israeli settlers then living near the areas aggrieved Palestinians have been pushed into.

The Israeli state propaganda machine incentivizes Israelis to move to settlements financially and through religio-nationalistic narratives while conveniently neglecting the realistic probability of Palestinian resistance. Many settlers even willingly consented to moving into the land while being aware of the high probability of Palestinian resistance.

When Palestinians inevitably resist and attempt to reclaim their stolen land, Israeli settlers will inescapably be the first ones in the firing line. When settlers become casualties, Israel exploits their deaths and injuries to curry favor for their disproportionate military responses to Palestinians from within the area where the attack emanates. Typically, this violence is followed by renewed attempts to occupy said territory…[more]


U.N. Aid Agency Researchers Allege Abuse of Gazans in Israeli Detention

Monika Pronczuk and 

An unpublished investigation by the main United Nations agency for Palestinian affairs accuses Israel of abusing hundreds of Gazans captured during the war with Hamas, according to a copy of the report reviewed by The New York Times.

The report was compiled by UNRWA, the U.N. agency that is itself at the center of an investigation after accusations that at least 30 of its 13,000 employees participated in the Hamas-led attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7. The authors of the report allege that the detainees, including at least 1,000 civilians later released without charge, were held at three military sites inside Israel.

The report said the detainees included males and females whose ages ranged from 6 to 82. Some, the report said, died in detention.

The document includes accounts from detainees who said they were beaten, stripped, robbed, blindfolded, sexually abused and denied access to lawyers and doctors, often for more than a month.

The draft document describes “a range of ill-treatment that Gazans of all ages, abilities and backgrounds have reported facing in makeshift detention facilities in Israel.” Such treatment, the report concluded, “was used to extract information or confessions, to intimidate and humiliate, and to punish.”

The report is based on interviews with more than 100 of the 1,002 detainees who were released back to Gaza by mid-February. The document estimates that 3,000 other Gazans remain in Israeli detention without access to lawyers. Its findings echo those of several Israeli and Palestinian rights groups, as well as separate investigations by two U.N. special rapporteurs, all of whom allege similar abuses inside Israeli detention centers…[more]


After 150 Days of Death and Destruction in Gaza, Israel Is Neither Stronger nor Safer

by Gideon Levy, reposted from Ha’aretz, March 7, 2024

With the war now having passed the 150-day mark, every Israeli should ask themselves honestly: Are we better off now than on October 6, 2023? Are we stronger? Safer? Do we have greater deterrence? Are we more popular? Prouder of ourselves? Are we more united? Better in any way? The incredible thing is that the answer to all these questions is unequivocally no.

These 150 days have been cruel and difficult and have done nothing to benefit Israel and will do nothing for it, neither in the short nor long term. On the contrary, Hamas has come out stronger. Thousands of its fighters have been killed, but it has become the hero of the Arab world. Still, most Israelis want at least 150 days more of the same; there has been zero public opposition to the war, even after five months of death and destruction on an unprecedented scale, after Israel has become an outcast, hated across the world, bloodied and economically damaged…

As for Israel’s international status, this country has never been such a pariah; even our all-but guaranteed ties with the United States have deteriorated to a low we have never experienced before. The daily toll of fallen soldiers, the fact that most of the hostages have yet to be released; that tens of thousands of Israelis have been internally displaced, that half the country is a danger zone. The West Bank is threatening to explode, and nothing can hide the bottomless hate that we have managed to sow in Gaza, the West Bank and the Arab world.

With 100 Palestinian deaths every day, Israelis seem convinced that 30,000 more deaths will turn Gaza into a paradise, or at least a safe place. It’s difficult to recall such blindness, even in Israel…The main thing is to push forward with the war because Hamas wants it to stop and we are here to show them what’s what.

We have a duty to draw up a balance sheet – “What has Israel gotten out of the war – and then ask ourselves courageously: Should we have gone to war?…After 150 days in which there is nothing to enter into the benefits column on this balance sheet, just heavy costs, we can start to doubt its wisdom from Israel’s perspective.

We have said nothing yet of the shocking price paid by Gaza and its residents who, under the shadow of war, are suffering greater abuse than ever before.

Other than joy at Gaza’s calamity, what else have we gotten out of this war? Look at the results. Things will only get worse. Is that what you really want?


When words fail, we must turn to the law

by Mohamad Alasmar, reposted from Al Jazeera, February 23, 2024

A crisis. A horror. A tragedy. All words we’ve heard many times over to describe the situation in Gaza. All woefully insufficient.

As a Palestinian, I can assure you if there’s one thing Palestinians aren’t short of, it’s words.

But the scale of the violence in Gaza since the attacks on Israel on October 7, which killed about 1,139 people, is unlike anything we’ve experienced before.  Israeli forces have killed an average of 250 Palestinians a day, exceeding the daily death toll of all other conflicts in recent decades…

And so, words have begun to fail us. Many now say there simply are no words that justly capture the torment we’re facing. I disagree.

There are still some words we can and must fall back on, words that anchor us to our collective humanity. The language of human rights, international law and accountability. Words like obligations, violations, atrocity crimes. The laws of occupation. And the laws of war.

I emphasize these words because they are the right words to use, but also because they counter other words that have come to the fore, such as the language of dehumanization, which paves the way for atrocity crimes to be committed…

Horrifyingly, at least four of the six grave violations against children have been perpetrated since the war began, including children killed in Gaza and Israel, the abduction of children from Israel to Gaza, attacks on hospitals and schools across Gaza, and the denial of humanitarian access for children in Gaza…[more]


‘We are the masters of the house’: Israeli channels air snuff videos featuring systematic torture of Palestinians

by Jonathan Ofir, reposted from Mondoweiss, March 6, 2024

Over the past month, mainstream Israeli television channels have aired what can only be described as snuff films. They depict the systematic torture of Palestinians from Gaza in Israeli jails. Such videos have aired on at least three occasions — twice on Channel 14, and once on the public broadcaster, Channel 13. While Channel 14 is considered right-wing, so is about two-thirds of the Israeli public, and the more “mainstream” Channel 13 has shown no qualms about airing similar footage.

The broadcasts follow prison officials into detention centers to document the mistreatment of prisoners, which seems to be something that the officials — and apparently the viewers — find satisfying rather than revolting. The airing of these snuff films is a demonstration of societal sadism.

As Yumna Patel has recently reported, several rights groups have sounded the alarm over the widespread and systemic abuse that Palestinian prisoners face at the hands of the Israeli authorities. These groups’ calls have been unintentionally buttressed by Israeli soldiers’ unapologetic videos of themselves torturing or demeaning Palestinian detainees, which they boastfully post on social media. Now, it seems that the phenomenon has expanded to mainstream Israeli television.

The two aforementioned reports on Channel 14 (threads with subtitles can be found here and here) contained footage of actual interrogation sessions during which torture was used. The Channel 13 report did not, but it exposed some of the worst prison conditions to be broadcast to the public. These conditions include forcing prisoners to live in inhumane conditions and subjecting them to torture and harassment. The 11-minute video with translated subtitles is available here

It’s hard to imagine the depths to which Israeli society has sunk. The official tells the Channel 13 reporter that “the feeling is one of pride.”

The reason such sadism has become formalized as a matter of policy is because this is what the Israeli public demands. The Israeli Democracy Institute released a survey last week showing that two-thirds of Jewish Israelis oppose “the transfer of humanitarian aid to Gaza residents at this time,” even if “via international bodies that are not linked to Hamas or to UNRWA.” For right-wing voters, the opposition to aid jumps from 68% to 80%.

This is not Israel’s Abu Ghraib moment, because when Abu Ghraib was revealed, most Americans were revolted. Israeli society, on the other hand, is thirsting for genocide. No wonder they consume such videos as entertainment on mainstream TV…[more]


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