Good News and Bad from Palestine
by Stephen Lendman
First the good news. There’s much to report. On November 29, 2013, the UN General Assembly designated 2014 as the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian people.
A previous article asked why this year? Why not every year? Why not action, not words. Hope springs eternal. Maybe policy changes will follow.
Good things are happening. Global BDS successes highlight them. They’re impressive. They’re essential. They suggest more ahead. More on this below.
BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti asked “why BDS?” It defines three fundamental Palestinian rights. It supports them uncompromisingly. They include ending:
- Israel’s lawless West Bank, Gaza, Golan, and Lebanese territory occupation;
- institutionalized discrimination against Israeli Arab citizens; and
- permitting diaspora Palestinians right of return.
BDS supports Palestinian sovereignty. It wants East Jerusalem as Palestine’s exclusive capital.
It wants Palestinians controlling their borders, air space, coastal waters and resources.
It wants no Israeli soldiers or settlers on their lands. It wants Israel’s Apartheid Wall demolished.
The International Court of Justice ruled it illegal. It breaches international law. It must be torn down, it said.
BDS wants reparations for destroyed Palestinian homes and property. It wants Israeli lawlessness ended.
It wants international law enforced. It wants long denied peace, security and stability. It wants Palestinians free at last.
Barghouti calls Israel “exclusivist, ethnocentric” and unjust. It’s morally, ethically and legally reprehensible. It’s repressive. It’s undemocratic. It’s lawlessly out-of-control.
BDS is a vital initiative for change. It’s effective. It’s working. It punishes Israel politically and economically. It demands worldwide support.
In early January, Norwegian singer Moddi cancelled his planned Tel Aviv performance. He did so following calls for a cultural boycott. Gazan activists urged him not to come.
Veolia was one of three companies comprising the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad (MBCR). It holds a 60% share.
On January 8, it lost a $4.26 billion contract. Boston BDS “Derail Veolia” to be “on the right side of history” prevailed. It’s complicit in numerous West Bank human rights violations.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) awarded its contract to MBCR’s sole competitor, Keolis America.
On January 13, Dutch pension fund PGGM announced it’s divesting from five large Israeli banks. It cited serious international law violations.
Media reports suggest other European banks may follow. ABP and two other major European investors raised concerns about Israeli banks financing illegal settlements.
On January 17, Villar Focchiardo became Italy’s 6th local council to condemn Pizzarotti & Co.’s involvement in building a high-speed Jews-only West Bank railway on stolen Palestinian land.
Last summer, Al Haq published a legal opinion. It found “substantial grounds” to hold Pizzarotti responsible for “serious violations of international law such as war crimes of pillage and destruction and appropriation of property.”
In 2011, Beutsche Bahn withdrew from the project for this reason. Villar Focchiardo’s decision came when other European governments and companies are taking greater care to avoid complicity with Israeli lawlessness.
In December, Britain published new guidelines. They warn about “clear risks related to economic and financial activities in the settlements.” They neither encourage or support them.
Romania banned its construction workers from settlement expansion activities. It said doing so violates international law.
New 2014 EU guidelines prohibit awarding grants or loans to entities involved in illegal settlement projects. Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni expressed concern about BDS successes.
They “won’t end,” she said. “The boycott is advancing uniformly and exponentially. Those who don’t want to see it will end up feeling it.”
Israel is a pariah state. It’s incrementally becoming “a lone settlement in the world,” Livni added.
Other Israeli politicians voice similar concerns. At the same time, they support business as usual policy. They endorse so-called peace based on unconditional Palestinian surrender.
BDS successes suggest hope. Jordan Valley Israeli settlers complained about European retailers increasingly spurning their products.
G4S provides security-related services and equipment. It’s a UK/Danish company. It supplies Israeli prisons, police, checkpoints, and Apartheid Wall operations.
In April 2012, Palestinian civil society and human rights organizations called for action to hold it accountable. They accused G4S of complicity with Israeli international law violations.
A panel of legal experts said it’s potentially criminally liable. Oslo University students pressured administration officials to terminate its G4S contract.
Similar pressure got EU nations to decline renewing their own. It involves security services at some of their Brussels premises.
European parliamentarians raised concerns about serious international law violations. UK broadsheets featured a demonstration outside G4S’s annual meeting.
Britain’s Good Energy announced its termination of business with G4S. It issued a statement saying it felt feedback pressure from customers.
Several Danish charities and a bank terminated G4S contracts. Months earlier, it lost its Danish Merkur Bank business.
Its spokesman, Karl Johnsen said it was “because of G4S’s involvement in the Israeli occupation of Palestine.”
Earlier, Amnesty International Denmark terminated its G4S contract saying:
“We do not want to work with G4S because the company’s global activities do not live up to Amnesty International’s requirements for corporate action in relation to human rights.”
In December, the Netherlands trade union Abvakabo ended its relationship with G4S. It provided security for its Utrecht office.
Spokesman Marion Nordemeule said action was taken because of G4S’s “role in Israel’s violations of international law.”
Last September, the Dutch Green Left party (GroenLinks) said it’ll no longer use G4S because of its “activities in the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel.”
In mid-January, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) UK staff said G4S’ Israeli security services will be investigated.
At issue is international law violations. Britain warned about doing business in Occupied Palestine.
The UK Trade and Investment web site says operating in illegal settlements is risky.
It warned against conducting financial transactions, investments, purchases, procurement and tourism.
It said EU citizens and businesses should “be aware of the potential reputational implications of getting involved in economic and financial activities in settlements, as well as possible rights abuses of individuals.”
“Those contemplating any economic or financial involvement in settlements should seek appropriate legal advice.”
Under 2013 UK guidelines, G4S and other companies must provide evidence of concern for protecting human rights.
On February 1, Denmark’s Danske Bank (its largest one) divested from Israel’s Hapoalim. It did so for its involvement with illegal settlement construction.
It earlier terminated investments with two other Israeli companies. It cited international humanitarian law violations.
Days earlier, the Norwegian Ministry of Finance said it’ll exclude Israeli firms Africa Israel Investments and Danya Cebus from its Government Pension Fund Global.
It cited “serious violations of individual rights in war or conflict through the construction of settlements in East Jerusalem.”
Momentum shows signs of building. Doing so is encouraging. BDS successes suggest more to follow. Slapping Israel down hard is long overdue. So is holding its war criminals accountable.
On February 1, Tunisians rallied in Tunis. Dozens of associations demonstrated against Zionism. They demanded criminalizing Tunisian/Israeli ties.
They cited longstanding Israeli crimes. One protester perhaps spoke for others, saying:
“Zionists are funding and arming terrorists and the media are targeting the Syrian government.”
“Three years on, Syria is still resisting global hegemony.”
“The Syrian Arab army will win against the fierce imperialist attacks of Zionists and the terrorist Wahhabi and Takfiri allies.”
Demonstrators burned Israeli flags. They chanted anti-Zionist slogans. They called for national protests.
Maybe similar regional ones will follow. Israel threatens Middle East peace and stability.
It’s nuclear armed and dangerous. It maintains formidable chemical and biological weapons arsenals.
It uses them in waging wars. It uses radiological weapons. It maintains occupation harshness.
In the week ending January 29, it conducted 73 lawless Palestinian West Bank community incursions (over 10 a day).
It conducted two more in Gaza. At least 42 Palestinian civilians were arrested. They included six children.
Ten Palestinians were arrested at checkpoints. Four children were targeted.
Israeli naval forces attacked two Palestinian fishermen. One boat sustained damage.
Israeli crimes against humanity repeat multiple times daily. Rogue states operate this way.
America and Israel are by far the worst. They threaten humanity’s survival.
On February 1, the Ahrar Center for Detainees’ Studies and Human Rights reported Israeli forces killing six Palestinians and kidnapping 383 others in January alone.
Air and ground attacks were involved. So were dozens of weekly community incursions.
Nine Palestinians kidnapped in Gaza are patients. They were seized at Erez crossing.
They had Israeli permits to seek medical attention. Imagine requiring them for vitally needed healthcare.
Imagine them for any reason. Militarized occupation mandates are merciless. Palestinians are denied virtually all rights.
Children are treated as ruthlessly as adults. Ahrar said soldiers and settlers conducted over 30 lawless violations against Palestinian lands, property and holy sites.
A mosque was burned. Farmland and orchards were uprooted. Produce was stolen. Excessive force is longstanding Israeli practice.
On February 1, Israeli soldiers shot two Palestinian youths. They were wounded.
Israeli dogs mauled them. Soldiers beat them with batons and rifle butts. They kicked and punched them.
They dragged them on the ground over 300 meters. They caused multiple fractures and other injuries.
Tareq Barghouth is Palestinian Ministry of Detainees legal counsel. He called what happened “immoral.”
It constitutes “very serious violations and escalation.” Neither youth was threatening. They were visiting a friend.
They were attacked provocatively. Barghouth accused Israeli soldiers of “criminal acts.” They barely stopped short of cold-blooded murder.
What happened wasn’t an isolated incident. Similar ones occur regularly.
On January 31, Israeli soldiers lawless invaded al-Jalazoun refugee camp. It’s north of Ramallah.
Clashes followed. At least 14 Palestinians were injured. Eyewitnesses said soldiers acted provocatively.
They used rubber-coated bullets, tear gas and live ammunition. They did so against Palestinians protesting Mohammad Mubarak’s death.
Israeli soldiers murdered him in cold-blood. He was working at the time. He was involved in road repairs.
He was a flagger. He helped direct traffic. He was unarmed. He threatened no one. He was shot and killed anyway. It was preemptive murder.
On February 1, Israeli soldiers invaded Hebron. Five Palestinians were arrested. They included two young children.
Concussion grenades were fired at Palestinian homes. Nearby towns and villages were attacked the same way. So was al-Fawwar refugee camp.
On January 31, Israeli soldiers kidnapped seven children in Bethlehem. They fired rubber-coated bullets and tear gas.
Local youths hurled rocks and empty bottles in response. Ahmad Breijiyya was lawlessly abducted.
He’s Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements coordinator. His whereabouts is unknown.
On January 31, Israeli soldiers shot and injured two Palestinian youths. They did so at a checkpoint east of Jerusalem.
They abducted them. They’re held incommunicado. It’s unknown how seriously they were injured. Or if their wounds are being properly treated.
On January 31, dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded Jenin. They broke into homes lawlessly.
They ransacked them. They terrorized local families. They rampage across Palestine daily the same way.
They operate with impunity. They claim sovereignty over Occupied Palestine.
Community incursions occur multiple times daily. Ransacking homes follows. It’s for training purposes.
It’s about terrorizing Palestinians into submission. Crimes against humanity explain what threatens all Palestinians. They’re lawlessly occupied.
Israel’s military Advocate General lied claiming “no legal obstacle to holding training in inhabited areas as part of maintaining security in the area.”
“The orders issued for the drills that take place in populated urban areas include a statute requiring coordination with the ones doing the drill.”
“It will also be made clear that as part of the training exercises, the soldiers must avoid putting the population at risk, damaging their property or causing unreasonable disturbance to their daily routine.”
It bears repeating. Israel’s occupation is lawless. Collective punishment defines it. So does institutionalized racism.
Ruthlessness is longstanding Israeli policy. International humanitarian law is clear.
Occupied people are protected persons. Occupiers are responsible for their well-being.
No physical, psychological or moral coercion is permitted. No intimidation, reprisals, pillage or hostage-taking.
No holding people against their will. No restricted freedom of movement. Nothing comprising public safety and security.
No collective punishment. No denial of food, healthcare, shelter, clothing, education, transport or other essential services.
No denying the right of paid employment. No forced labor. No guilt by accusation.
No forcible transfers. No ethnic cleansing. No gulag prisons. No compromising all other universally declared human rights.
Settlements are illegal. Occupiers are prohibited from transferring portions of its population to occupied territory.
Nor may occupied people be deported to an occupying power’s land – or any other country, for any reason with no exceptions.
Displacing Palestinians, destroying their homes, other property and personal possessions, stealing their land, as well as letting settlers occupy it directly contravenes fundamental international law.
Geneva’s Common Article 3 requires “humane treatment for all persons in enemy hands, specifically prohibit(ing) murder, mutilation, torture, cruel, humiliating and degrading treatment (and) unfair trial(s).”
On January 31, Maan News contributor Abdulrahman Murad headlined “Is Israel building up for an offensive against Gaza?”
Palestinians fear the worst. Murad “received two inquiries from oversees friends during the past few days regarding the high-pitch Israeli threats against Gaza, and Hamas in particular,” he said.
“The last one was asking for a confirmation of Israeli TV channels warning foreigners in Gaza to immediately leave, in anticipation for military action.”
Netanyahu threatened to “teach Hamas a lesson very soon.” Does he have Cast Lead 2.0 in mind?
Israeli drones overfly Gaza daily. They’re “a permanent source of fear,” said Murad.
In December, Israel deployed three missile batteries near Beersheba, Sderot and Ashdod.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon is militantly hardline. He suggested “preparation for possible escalation.”
Doing so would be lawless aggression. It’s longstanding Israeli policy. Pretexts are invented. Palestinians are blamed for Israeli crimes.
Besieged Gazans suffer most. Will more Israeli aggression follow? It’s hard imagining how much more suffering Gazans can take.
World leaders able to make a difference turn a blind eye. Israel gets away with murder unaccountably.
Occupation harshness is merciless. Ruthlessness defines longstanding Israeli policy. Its deplorable record speaks for itself.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.