Since removing settlers and redeploying its armed forces to the perimeter fence in 2005, Israel has subjected Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to numerous devastating assaults, a blockade, and routine attacks on the likes of farmers and fishermen.
Many of these policies have been the subject of substantial condemnation – from Palestinians, of course, as well as Israeli and international human rights groups, and even world leaders and politicians – albeit, critically, with little concrete action at the state level.
Israel, however, has sought to thwart even the possibility of meaningful accountability. Its approach has been very simple: in the face of criticism for breaking the law, change the law. Read more
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are set to mark the one-year anniversary of the Great March of Returnprotests, anticipating more of the same lethal violence that has characterised Israel‘s approach since the demonstrations began.
Last month, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry (COI) published a damning indictment of Israeli forces’ conduct in suppressing the protests. Read more
It is now over a week since an Israeli sniper shot and killed Palestinian journalist Yaser Murtaja, as he covered the ongoing “Great Return March” protests in the occupied Gaza Strip. Incredibly, at the time of writing, the Israeli military has still not offered any explanation of why he was shot.
The killing of Murtaja has prompted widespread condemnation. He is, however, just one of 35 Palestinians killed – including three children – by Israeli forces since 30 March, with a further 1,500 protesters shot by Israeli live fire (see these AP reports). Read more
Yesterday, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) warned that the use of live fire by Israeli soldiers against Palestinian protesters in the occupied Gaza Strip could “constitute crimes under the Rome Statute”.
The ICC’s intervention, in the context of its ongoing preliminary examination into potential crimes committed in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), is unsurprising given three factors: the number of casualties, the orders given to Israeli soldiers, and the minimal likelihood of accountability. Read more
A key element of Israel’s military regime in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), an occupation that will complete fifty years in June, is the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) unit, which is overseen by the Ministry of Defence.
COGAT, whose operating budget in 2015 was nearly half a billion shekels, describes itself as “responsible for implementing the government’s policy in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] and vis-à-vis the Gaza Strip.” Read more
In a recent, controversial interview with Al-Quds newspaper, Israeli defence minister Avigdor Lieberman vowed that the next war on the Gaza Strip would be the last. Was this just bluster, or does it represent a shift in Israeli strategy towards Gaza and Hamas?
Analysts are divided. “No one has a clear-cut answer about this,” Adnan Abu-Amer, political commentator and Dean of the Faculty of Arts at Gaza’s Al-Ummah University, told Al Jazeera. But if there is a war, he continued, “it will be fiercer than ever, and Israel won’t let it last 51 days”. Read more
The new military aid deal formalised by the United States and Israel on September 14 could serve to boost an intransigent, right-wing Israeli government that has already shown little appetite for substantial concessions to the Palestinians, analysts say.
“The primary lesson that the increasingly extremist Israeli right will draw from this agreement is that there are no significant international consequences, but rather, significant rewards for their behaviour,” Mouin Rabbani, a senior fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies, told Al Jazeera. Read more
Ever since the the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip began in 1967, successive Israeli governments have taken advantage of every opportunity at hand to increase the settlers’ population in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).
The illegality of Israel’s settlements has been affirmed by the United Nations Security Council, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, settlement policy is a war crime.
Aside from being a grave breach of international law—and, as Amnesty International has put it: “inherently discriminatory”—the settlements are also a substantial obstacle to the establishment of a viable, sovereign Palestinian State in the OPT. Read more
In March, I debated the motion ‘This House Believes Israel is a Rogue State’ at the Cambridge Union. Opening proceedings, I suggested that the opposition might well “concede” that “Israel is not perfect”, intentionally missing the point about Israel’s rights violations being systematic.
Revealingly, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews Vivian Wineman almost immediately did just that, telling the debating chamber: “We’re not arguing that Israel is perfect.”
Central to how Israel presents itself is the idea that while Israeli political leaders and military officials can and do make mistakes, there is a robust system of legal accountability that means such offenders are brought to book.
Last week has demonstrated how the reality is very different; that Israelis who commit atrocities against Palestinians benefit from a culture of impunity for civilian and soldier alike. Read more