Thaw in Israeli Immunity?
by Stephen Lendman
Hope springs eternal. Palestinians waited so long. Don't expect too much too soon. Anything is better than nothing.
Israel's rap sheet includes decades of crimes of war, against humanity and genocide. Nuremberg justice is long overdue. It's essential. Maybe one day. Not now.
Hopeful signs remain. Perhaps others will follow. On January 31, the UN International Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory published damning findings.
Access them in full through the following link. Multiple international law violations are damning. Settlements breach international law.
They comprise "creeping annexation." They prevent Palestinian self-determination. They must end "without preconditions." Israel must "immediately initiate a process of withdrawal of all settlers from the OPT."
These type statements are unprecedented. Policy with teeth must back them. It's not forthcoming. Maybe later. Let's hope so.
On February 20, Yesh Din headlined "They also shoot sheep. The setting of dogs on sheep and the uprooting of trees is indefensible - and yet, indictments still surprise us."
They rarely happen. Exceptions prove the rule. Prosecutions seldom bring convictions. Hand slaps at most happen.
In December 2012, two settlers were indicted. They assaulted Muhammad Al Qarajat. Their dog bit three sheep. One died.
Qarajat summoned police. They did their job. They took statements. They photographed damage. An indictment followed.
"(I)f you think we were surprised, you should have seen the settlers." Nearly always they're free to do what they wish. Police and soldiers look the other way. It's standard practice.
Exceptions don't matter without lots of them. Maybe later. Not now.
On January 29, Israel's High Court of Justice ruled on a petition submitted by multiple Palestinian landowners. At issue is evacuating the Amona outpost.
It's the West Bank's largest. It's built on stolen Palestinian land. Settlers were ordered out by end of April.
Earlier the High Court ordered evacuation by end of 2012. On December 30, a four month extension was granted.
A three-judge panel rejected Israel's request. It wanted the petition applying only to buildings. It wants stolen land kept. It wants rightful owners denied.
Justices ruled properly. Most often they don't. Hopefully it'll become habitual. Their job is upholding rule of law principles. It's treating everyone equitably. Doing so soon won't happen. Perhaps one day. Not now.
Last year, Turkey indicted four former Israeli commanders. In November they went on trial in absentia. They didn't dare show up. Orders were arrest them on sight.
They're accused of ordering the May 31, 2010 Mavi Marmara massacre. Israeli commandos attacked the vessel preemptively. They did so in international waters.
Nine Turkish nationals were assassinated. Dozens more were injured. Everyone on board was terrorized. Israel planned it that way.
Turkey's trial is largely symbolic. Proceedings began last November. Charges include multiple high crimes. Murder's bad enough.
Damning evidence was presented. Israel is guilty as charged. Clear evidence proves it. Last year's proceedings focused on murder charges.
Subsequents proceedings were held in late February. They address mistreatment, sexual harassment, property theft, and violations of press freedom.
Convictions will set a precedent. It's long overdue. Maybe this time. It's important if only symbolic. It increases the chance of more following.
Perhaps the ICC and ICJ will get involved. Maybe they'll do the right thing. So many Israelis and complicit allies deserve prosecution. Justice is long overdue.
On February 27, Maan News headlined "Minister: PA to sue Israel over prisoner death."
PA Detainee Affairs Minister Issa Qaraqe announced it. "We are preparing ourselves to sue Israel, and we will go to the international courts," he said.
On February 26, the PA called for an international investigation.
A statement said:
Israel "can't be exempt from the responsibility over his death, especially since the circumstances of his martyrdom cannot be separated from the fact that they occurred during his detention and interrogation in occupation prison inside Israel, which is in itself a clear violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention."
It added the need "to monitor what is happening inside (Israeli) prisons, especially in the interrogation cells, as well as the type of health care provided to ill prisoners."
There's little or none. Treatment is deplorable. Medical negligence is commonplace. International law is violated.
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)."
Prisoners die from neglect. Some succumb after release. Withholding care is murder by other means. Israel's a serial abuser. Gulag prison hell proves it. Palestinians are treated like vermin.
Israel tortured Arafat Jaradat to death. Shin Bet interrogators bear full responsibility.
Autopsy evidence confirmed it. Severe upper body bruising, blisters, and blot clots were visible. Jaradat had multiple broken bones in his neck, spine, arms and legs. He died in severe pain.
On February 9, the Global BDS Movement headlined "Protests in Gaza and 40 European cities urge end to trade with Israeli agriculture firms," saying:
Three hundred Gazan farmers and activists marched towards Israel's buffer zone. They demanded boycotting Israeli agriculture firms.
Sixteen Palestinian agricultural and civil society organizations appealed for international civil society help. They want action to enforce boycott demands.
Selling Israeli produce in European supermarkets violates international law and human rights. It's complicit with Israeli
lawlessness. It hardens Gaza's siege.
One farmer spoke for others, saying:
"The daily aggression suffered by Palestinian farmers every day must be highlighted to the world, so people can understand the reality of the attacks and the suffering that has continued throughout the recent 'ceasefire.' "
"The boycotts of Israeli agriculture companies are so important as the Israeli occupation has destroyed our farming production and denied us the possibility of exporting our own products."
"International pressure on Israel is the only way our own economy will be allowed to develop and for us to live normal lives," he added.
Union of Agricultural Work Committees director Taha Rifae said:
"Israeli agriculture companies such as Mehadrin and Hadaklaim profit from the siege on Gaza and grow crops for export to European supermarkets in illegal settlements on land from which Palestinian farmers have been forcibly removed."
"Agriculture is a vital part of our economy and national heritage but it is being systematically destroyed and these companies are the primary beneficiaries. By trading with companies such as Mehadrin, European supermarkets are financing the dispossession of Palestinian farmers."
In France, activists occupied Montpellier's customs office. They protested the port of Sete. It's used to import Israeli produce. It's lawlessly produced on settlements.
Protests were held at supermarkets and other locations in over 14 French cities. Others were held in Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.
In Britain, campaigners picketed more than 35 Sainsbury's stores. It wants its ties to Mehadrin and EDOM cut. They operate lawlessly in Israeli settlements.
Last year, Britain's fifth largest supermarket, The Co-Operative Group, said it no longer would buy illegal settlement products. It cut ties to four Israeli companies.
An unnamed UK businessman said he'd resign as company head. He'll sell his EDOM shares. He cited concerns raised by campaigners. Maybe others will follow his lead.
On January 17, the London Guardian headlined "EU report calls for action over Israeli settlement growth," saying:
EU nations should consider legislation "to prevent/discourage financial transactions in support of settlement activity."
It "should prohibit trade and business with settlements based on their illegality under international law, rather than a politically-driven boycott, said one EU diplomatic source."
UK deputy prime minister Nick Clegg called settlement construction "deliberate vandalism." It prevents peace and Palestinian self-determination.
A French parliamentary report accused Israel of "apartheid" policies.
A "surge in settlement planning" makes things worse. East Jerusalem is occupied territory. It's illegally annexed.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor dismissed the EU report. He called it "unpleasant background noise." Without teeth, he's right. Maybe later. Not now.
On February 27, Lebanon's Al Akhbar headlined "EU urges sanctions against Israel," saying:
Its Jerusalem Report 2012 said settlement construction prevents Palestinian self-determination and peace. Nearly two dozen EU diplomats urged efforts to block Israeli settlements "in and near Jerusalem."
EU nations comprise Israel's largest trading partner. They account for about a third of its trade. Their report calls settlements "systematic, deliberate and provocative."
It recommended member states "prevent, discourage and raise awareness about problematic implications of financial transactions, including foreign direct investments, from within the EU in support of settlement activities, infrastructure and services."
It urges member states "ensure that imports of settlement products do not benefit from preferential tariffs." It wants them clearly labeled. They originate in illegal areas.
The report is advisory. Recommending divestment exceeds previous ones. It's a step in the right direction. Without teeth it doesn't bite.
Maybe next time. Better late than never. It's high time Israeli lawlessness was addressed. Palestinians can only do so much on their own. They need help. It's sorely lacking.
A Final Comment
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is more despot than democrat. Broken clocks are right twice daily. Erdogan governs the same way. Once in a while he does something right. Doing so doesn't make up for when he's wrong.
He's Washington's useful stooge. He's mindless of international law. He helped NATO wage war on Libya. He's Obama's lead attack dog on Syria.
On February 27, he spoke at a UN Vienna conference. He discussed Western Islamophobia. He argued that UN and European officials aren't doing enough to address Muslim intolerance.
He mentioned Zionism. He called it a "crime against humanity." He compared it to anti-Semitism, fascism, and Islamophobia, saying:
"Just like Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, it becomes unavoidable that Islamophobia must be regarded as a crime against humanity."
He's right. It doesn't diminish his complicity in Western crimes. It gives hope that other world figures will challenge Israeli lawlessness. Maybe some day. Not now.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and 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 and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.