Obama Spurns Palestinian Rights
by Stephen Lendman
He frankly doesn't give a damn. He spent three days in Israel. He showed one-sided support. He gave Palestinians short shrift. He spent token time in Ramallah.
He told Israelis "so long as there is a United States of America, Ah-tem lo lah-vahd (You are not alone)." He left no doubt what he means.
Washington and Israel have unbreakable ties. They're longstanding. Obama's visit affirmed them.
He ignored Palestinian suffering. Occupation harshness wasn't mentioned. Nor was Israel's most extremist government in history. It reflects fascism writ large. Obama supports its worst crimes.
Settlements aren't the issue, he suggested. They've expanded exponentially on his watch.
Yesh Atid party leader/Finance Minister Yair Lapid plans accelerated construction. Ministry staff and Israel's Land Administration intend another 16,000 units. More will follow.
Israelis are encouraged to settle on stolen Palestinian land. Kiryat Gat, Tel HaShomer and Modi'in settlements will be expanded. So will others later on.
Israel has its most pro-settler government in history. It's committed to build, build, build. Obama knows. He remains dismissive. Whatever Israel does is OK.
Multiple daily West Bank incursions occurred during his stay. Palestinian men, women and children were arrested. They committed no crimes. They're persecuted for praying to the wrong God.
Settlers attacked, beat and stoned a Palestinian boy. They commit vandalism with impunity. They reside on stolen Palestinian land.
Israeli courts reject compensation and reparations for wrongful Palestinian deaths, injuries and material losses. International law violations don't matter. Israel does what it wishes. It does so with impunity. Justice is repeatedly denied.
Obama turns a blind eye to crimes too great to ignore. He partners in Israel's wars. He spurns peace. He supports Israeli apartheid. Palestinian rights don't matter. His high-minded rhetoric reflects doublespeak duplicity.
He called Israel a "vibrant democracy." It's a rogue terror state. It's racist, repressive and belligerent. It menaces humanity. Obama left what's most important unsaid.
Occupation harshness continues. Gaza's siege reflects collective punishment. On March 24, the Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement said Netanyahu's promises mean nothing.
Palestinian fishing rights were restricted. They're reduced from six to three miles offshore.
Egypt's brokered November ceasefire extended them to 11km. The Convention on the Law of the Sea affirms them up to 12 nautical miles (14 statute ones).
Coastal waters are sovereign state territory. In November 1988, Palestinian statehood was established. Its territory remains illegally occupied.
Israel "tightened restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of Gaza," said Gisha.
Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon ordered them. He did so lawlessly.
Kerem Shalom is Gaza's only commercial crossing. It's been closed for days.
Israel and Turkey reconciled. Netanyahu told Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan that Israel substantially lifted siege restrictions.
He promised humanitarian conditions would improve. He lied. They're worse, not better. Time takes its toll. Gisha Director Sari Bashi said:
"Because of the severity of the prohibition against deliberately harming civilians, the steps taken by Israel, also aimed against civilians, are entirely unacceptable."
"In the last month, there appears to be a new policy toward the Gaza Strip, in which Israel is openly restricting civilian movement to and from Gaza, not because of a concrete security necessity, but rather as a punitive step" against Palestinian civilians.
Collective punishment is illegal. Fourth Geneva's Article 33 states:
"No protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited."
Israel spurns international law. It does so with impunity. Numerous crimes against humanity were committed during Obama's visit. He didn't notice, care, or comment.
Medical providers Peter Smith and Catherine Thick provide volunteer West Bank and Gaza services.
They've done so for five years. They come to relieve Palestinian suffering. They oppose Israel's inhumane treatment.
Their clinics are well-attended. They bear witness to physical and emotional scars. One doctor on staff said:
"Over 80 per cent of Palestinian children suffer trauma at the sound of the Israeli F-16 fighter aircraft which frequently overfly the territory, and we have noticed an increase in the number of deformed babies as well as a sharp increase in the number of cancer patients, especially among children and women, following the 22-day war in 2008-2009."
"There are bombs almost daily. The Israelis do not keep to ceasefires and the violations are never reported."
Obama ignores what goes on. He said nothing during his visit. He spurns Palestinian rights.
Gazans suffer horrifically. Poverty and unemployment prevent them from eating properly. Food distributions aren't enough.
Israel bears full responsibility. Al-Shifa is Gaza's main hospital. It struggles with inadequate equipment. It has too few trained surgeons. One doctor explained, saying:
"Most of our health facilities are unable to provide safe and adequate services and urgently need to be rehabilitated or upgraded."
"The infant mortality rate here is 23 per 1000 live births." (It's) comparable to Nicaragua. Many of the children brought to us had permanent afflictions caused by hypoxia or other birth traumas which the hospitals cannot deal with."
"Severely ill patients need to be transferred to hospitals in Israel, the West Bank or Jordan." It's not easy. "There can be endless delays with applications for transfer which costs lives."
An educational trainer said children too young to understand become "withdrawn, aggressive or radicalized. So another generation lost."
One Palestinian spoke for others, saying:
"The people of Gaza are denied basic human rights and everyday life is filled with hardship. Medical supplies, all services, many foods except for the basics, civil rights and liberty are harshly restricted, regulated and enforced by the Israeli authorities."
"Gaza is forced to buy and import food from Israel as it does not have the means now to produce enough locally."
Much of Gaza's most arable land is off-limits. Israel's lawless buffer zone keeps farmers from using it. Doing so risks being shot and killed.
Gaza's a huge prison. It's ghettoized and abandoned. "Society is fracturing. Traditional community life and values are being destroyed."
Obama pays it no heed. Israeli shells and bombs destroyed Gaza's power plant. One-third of capacity remains inoperable. Israel bans most spare parts and building materials. Fuel's in short supply.
Power outages occur daily. Homes, hospitals, shops, offices, and water purification plants are affected. Nothing in Gaza functions normally. Water's unsafe to drink.
Life in Gaza reflects gross injustice, oppression, dispossession, and horrific human suffering. Israel bears full responsibility. Obama turns a blind. So do other world leaders.
A university student said "We barely have enough to survive. We don't want pity. We want our freedom, and this loss of liberty is what we find most difficult to endure."
Liberation's nowhere in sight. Obama's visit affirmed occupation harshness. Palestinian rights remain systematically denied. They're on their own to survive best they can.
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.
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