Israel Accused of War Crimes in West Bank
Stephen LendmanActivist PostAmnesty International’s (AI) new report is blunt. It’s titled “Trigger-Happy: Israel’s Use of Excessive Force in the West Bank.” It begins saying: Out of nowhere many soldiers jumped out and ambushed Samir. They shot him first in the leg, yet he managed to run away towards the village. But how far can an injured child run? Twenty, maybe 30, metres? They could have easily arrested him, especially when he was injured, but instead they shot him in the back with live ammunition. To me, this is premeditated murder.” Killing 16-year old Samir was no isolated incident. Israel’s entire history is blood-drenched. It includes multiple crimes of war, against humanity and genocide. It’s been ongoing since 1948. It shows no signs of ending. Israeli viciousness knows no limits. Samir tried fleeing from where Israeli soldiers ambushed peaceful Palestinian children. They were protesting against Israel’s illegal apartheid wall. They posed no threat. Soldiers used live fire. They remain unaccountable. They’re licensed to kill. They do so with impunity. They’re promoted. They’re decorated. They’re honored for committing cold-blooded murder. AI reflected on disturbing circumstances regarding Samir’s assassination.
They’re “reminiscent of other killings of Palestinians during demonstrations against Israel’s continued military occupation in the West Bank that have occurred in recent years,” said AI. In 2013, Israel murdered at least two dozen other nonviolent Palestinians. Four were young children. They were shot in cold blood. Some in the back. Thousands of Palestinians are wounded annually. Thousands more are lawlessly arrested and detained. Many get long prison terms. Their crime is wanting to live free in peace on their own land in their own country. They want it free from Israeli occupation. Persecution, deaths and injuries are part of daily Palestinian life. Media scoundrels report virtually nothing about it. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Israeli forces killed 27 Palestinians in 2013. Live fire or rubber-coated metal bullets claimed them. Killing Samir followed a familiar pattern. Mostly children and youths protest Israel’s occupation. They’re justifiably outraged about policies underpinning it. They include lawless settlements, land theft, dispossessions, arrests, kangaroo court justice, detentions, torture, closures, checkpoints, curfews, exploiting Palestinian resources, denying the right of return, calling Jerusalem Israel’s exclusive capital, holding an entire population hostage, and denying them fundamental civil and human rights. At most, Palestinians throw stones. Virtually never is a soldier injured. They respond violently. They use tear gas, pepper spray, stun grenades, skunk water, batons, rubber bullets and live fire. They’re unrestrained. They do whatever they damn please. They’re brainwashed from pre-school through higher education and military service. They’re taught to hate Muslims. Anything goes against them is OK. Collective punishment is official policy. Severe amounts are dispensed multiple times daily. The right to peacefully assemble and protest is enshrined in international law. America’s Constitution affirms them. So do international treaties. They’re fundamental. Not in Israel. Not in Occupied Palestine. Excessive force against non-threatening Palestinian protesters is longstanding Israeli practice. Documented evidence is extensive. It’s incontrovertible. It reveals lawlessness. It’s indefensible. It persists multiple times daily without end. Young boys and girls are as vulnerable as adults. Hundreds of military orders control daily life. They cover virtually everything. Freedom of expression and assembly are denied. Gatherings of 10 or more people publicly or privately are prohibited “for a political purpose or for a matter that could be interpreted as political.” Doing so requires advance permit authority. Military commanders have sole authority. Violators face up to 10 years imprisonment and/or stiff fines. Palestinians are forbidden from entering Israeli-declared closed military zones or areas for Jews only. Palestinians caught doing so can be shot. Investigations when conducted are whitewashed. Almost never are soldiers prosecuted. Rare convictions when occur are meaningless wrist slaps. AI’s report shows how “Israeli forces have repeatedly violated their obligations under international human rights law by using excessive force to stifle dissent and freedom of expression,” it said. It “result(s) in a pattern of unlawful killings and injuries of (nonviolent) civilians…” They include young children. Israel acts with impunity. It’s “in no small part” because authorities fail “to conduct thorough, impartial and independent investigations,” said AI. Such arbitrary and abusive use of force contravenes policing standards that protect the right of life and other human rights, and they also violate international humanitarian law applicable in territories under foreign military occupation, including in the West Bank. AI said some cases it documented showed “willful killings.” Innocent victims were murdered in cold blood. Doing so constitutes “war crimes.” Lawless Israeli actions need urgent addressing and correcting, AI stresses. It wants independent, impartial, transparent, prompt investigation of all incidents involving Israeli forces killing or injuring Palestinians. It wants those responsible held fully accountable. AI focused on lawless Israeli force since 2011. It detailed numerous violations. They’re too egregious to ignore. Israeli policy of settling its population on occupied Palestinian land alone “is considered a war crime.” Fourth Geneva and other international laws say so. AI’s report came days before Netanyahu meets Obama. He’ll address this year’s AIPAC conference. It’s in Washington. It begins Sunday, March 2. It runs through Tuesday, March 4. “Instead of giving (him) standing ovations, (congressional members) must hold him accountable during his visit to Washington,” said Sunjeev Bery. He’s AI Middle East/North Africa advocacy director. “Israeli soldiers have repeatedly opened fire on peaceful Palestinian protestors in the occupied West Bank,” he added. This trip is an opportunity for President Obama to decisively address Israeli security force violations in the occupied West Bank by suspending all US arms shipments to Israel. Philip Luther heads AI’s Middle East/North Africa program. AI’s “report presents a body of evidence that shows a harrowing pattern of unlawful killings and unwarranted injuries of Palestinian civilians by Israeli forces in the West Bank,” he said. The frequency and persistence of arbitrary and abusive force against peaceful protesters in the West Bank by Israeli soldiers and police officers – and the impunity enjoyed by perpetrators – suggests that it is carried out as a matter of policy. “The staggering numbers of (killed and wounded Palestinians) provide a sobering reminder of the relentless daily danger” they face. Israel does nothing to address egregious crimes. They persist. They repeat with disturbing regularity. Without international community action, there’s no stopping them. AI didn’t reveal what’s already known. Many reports document Israeli crimes. Reputable independent human rights groups prepare them. AI’s commitment to human rights often falls short. According to Francis Boyle: AI is primarily motivated not by human rights but by publicity. Second comes money. Third comes getting more members. Fourth, internal turf battles. And then finally, human rights, genuine human rights concerns. To be sure, if you are dealing with a human rights situation in a country that is at odds with the United States or Britain, it gets an awful lot of attention, resources, man and woman power, publicity, you name it. They can throw whatever they want at that. But if it’s dealing with violations of human rights by the United States, Britain, Israel, then it’s like pulling teeth to get them to really do something on the situation. They might, very reluctantly and after an enormous amount of internal fightings and battles and pressures, you name it. But you know, it’s not like the official enemies list. AI loosened up on Israel. Maybe pressure brought to bear paid off. Try getting AI to address US war crimes. Try getting it to report accurately on US enemies. “Trigger Happy” departs from usual AI reporting. It’s a refreshing exception. Maybe more reports like it will follow. Maybe enough pressure will force them.Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com. His new book is titled How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War. Also 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. http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/
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