All responses to the ratification of the Gaza 2014 report were predictable and had little to do with evidence-based judgments. The US was the only member of the UN’s HRC to vote against accepting the widely-acclaimed report of a UN Commission of Inquiry into the attack on Gaza in 2014. The UK voted to accept it despite qualms that it did not defend Israel’s right to defend itself. Netanyahu said the decision had nothing to do with human rights, the HRC was always picking on Israel, the front line of the fight against ‘terror’ and it might leave the organisation.
Less than a week after the US State Department dismissed the UNHRC report on Gaza as ‘biased’ it has issued its own report detailing many breaches of human rights law by Israeli security forces including an ‘excessive’ use of force, detaining Palestinians without due process and holding them in overcrowded prisons. It also accuses Hamas of the unlawful killing and torture of critics and other restrictions of freedom.
We have posted in full the ‘Principal findings and conclusions’ of the Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict. It provides a very clear account of what happened, of the body of international law regulating armed conflict and where these laws were broken by both the IDF and Palestinian armed groups. The Israeli refusal to co-operate with the inquiry seems less a response of fear and more an assertion that the state of Israel cannot be held accountable to or by any body in the world.
The UN’s envoy for children and armed conflict has included Israel in a list of states which harm children. So far, the UN has accepted her list but is under heavy pressure from Israel and the US not to. The Israeli foreign ministry says “This is a heinous and hypocritical attempt to besmirch the image of Israel and it is doomed to fail.”
Like male Palestinian journalists, women – who make up a third of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate – are subject to assaults by Israeli army and police who don’t want their actions recorded. Such assaults leapt in number last year. Palestinian authorities are no more welcoming of critical reporters, but under their aegis women journalists are subject to sexist abuse and threats, which remain beyond the law.
Amnesty International has followed up its critical reports on Israel’s conduct during Operation Protective Edge with two on Hamas. The first, published in March, identified a number of war crimes committed by Hamas including firing from and at civilian buildings, The 2nd details the violent methods used to control people in Gaza and eliminate critics.
It is said so often that antisemitism is rising in Europe that it seems to have become the new commonsense – of course it’s going up, look at all those Jew-hating Muslims. And ‘Palestinianism’ has become dominant making anti-Israelism the new antisemitism said Prof. Wistrich. Yet a careful analysis of the data by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research shows this is not so, though there some anomalies. High antisemitism in Poland, Russia and Spain, more antisemitic attacks recorded in the UK than in France, with its much larger Jewish population. It is clear that current methods of recording and evaluating antisemitism leaves much to be desired say the authors. Meanwhile some Jewish bodies act on the assumption of rising antisemitism with no base of evidence.
No body takes responsibility for the essential infrastructure and amenities of East Jerusalem. And then there is shock when the youth rebel. A report from ACRI, updated from 2013, reads like a blueprint for deprivation, distress, disaffection. Why the Jerusalem municipality is so unconcerned that its neglect of one area is breeding violence as well as poverty is not explained.
A theme this week, continued from last week, is the shambolic inability of Israel’s judicial system to manage even an approximation of judicial fairness. A report from Yesh Din gives accounts of some of the criminal harms done to Palestinians – and the failure (refusal) of police or courts to hold the Israeli offenders to account. Due process does not operate in the land of martial law.
In winter they are freezing, in summer sweltering – life in a shipping container is never easy, but when whole families have to squeeze into them, enduring temperatures that range from 8º to 30º C, life for the homeless in Gaza becomes insufferable. As families leave their relatives’ overcrowded homes and schools return to educational use, a metal box may be the only thing left.
This begins with Adalah’s new report on the acute housing crisis for Arab Israelis in response to the State Comptroller’s report on housing in the country. Within the notoriously bureaucratic system for new housing and town development, state bureaucrats deliberately allocate less space for Arab citizens and leave them out of housing programmes. Overall, the State Comptroller is scathing about the government’s neglect of housing needs, the situation which prompted the 2011 social justice protest.
The Episcopal church in the USA (nearest relative, the Church of England) has been asked by its new group, the Episcopal Committee for Justice in Israel and Palestine, to adopt a policy of divestment from ‘companies that profit from Israel’s illegal occupation and colonization of Palestinian lands’. This is premised on the fact that Netanyahu has rejected the two-state solution and thus there is a new political landscape. There are several background documents here and a message from Bishop Tutu.
When Israel was founded, a strong drive for Jews’ own country was that they could take up farming and manual labour and thus become new men and women. That didn’t last long. Now Israel relies on foreign workers and increasingly, Palestinian children (they’re cheap) for farm work. Report from Human Rights Watch.
In a quick overview of Jews in Britain Tablet magazine harangues the left for pushing policies against the existence of Israel. In fact, Labour is true to the Balfour declaration (see post) which specified that ‘nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious’ rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country’. Those who appeal to the Balfour declaration appear not to have read it. To criticise the idealised Israel is not to wish for its extermination. Obviously.
The rate of Israeli building on Palestinian land increased by 40% last year says Peace Now in a new report. The PA condemns the construction as a ‘war crime’ but most Israeli parties know there are no votes in ending this means of providing cheap housing for Jewish citizens.
There is a circumstance where it is deemed legitimate to bomb a residential home in a military conflict: when it yields a distinct military advantage to the attacker. B’Tselem has examined 70 cases of house destruction and concluded that most were targeted in order to punish an occupant. This means the IDF regards destroying an operative’s family as a legitimate military action (explaining the very high civilian death toll). It clearly is not.
President Hollande has offered a contract to French Jews: they stay at home in France, the state will crack-down on Islamist freedom of speech. This is not done in the name of curtailing hate-speech but in terms of security. But he snubbed Netanyahu’s opportunistic invitation to all French Jews to move to safe Israel by saying this would be a victory for terrorism. Plus the 2012 Palestinian statement against antisemitism and all forms of bigotry and racism.
The Palestine / Israel conflict is not a war between two armies of grown men. The force used by IDF and police, often demolishing houses, but also using live ammunition, leaves many children dead or crippled, orphaned and homeless. DCI-International’s report on a grim year for Palestinian children.
The BDS movement posts the successes achieved by supporters in 2014. Notably these go beyond individual consumer choices to decisions by local councils not to use services linked to, and pension funds to divest from, Israeli settlements.
‘Clean Break’ was a report addressed to new PM Netanyahu 1996 by a group of policy wonks – academics and ‘opinion formers’ on how to rejuvenate Israel’s economy and take control of the region. There is no academic objectivity in it. It is a blueprint for Israeli supremacy – justified by romantic mythology about The Jews.