Google+ Followers

Monday, 21 December 2009

A Slight Beating - Israeli Security Forces Can Attack Arabs With Impunity

Israel calls itself a 'democracy' - the only one in the Middle East indeed. But the question of whether it is a democracy or an ethnocracy, with limited democratic rights for the Herrenvolk, boil down to whether all are treated as equal in the eyes of the law.

One of the hallmarks of the Apartheid system in South Africa was that Blacks who killed Whites were invariably executed. Whites who killed Blacks would receive minimal sentences of a few months or indeed fines or suspended sentences.

My eye was caught by two articles in particular. The first where an attack by the savage Border Police on an Arab, caught on film, was not prosecuted because it was 'minor'. One thing is for certain. No attack on an Israeli Jew by an Arab is minor nor would charges be dropped in similar circumstances. The fact that it was a senior official in the Israeli Prosecution Authority who decided not to proceed with the charges speaks volumes.

The second case is also interesting. An off-duty Israeli soldier ran amok killing 4 Israeli Arabs. Similar situations have occurred with Palestinians who, despairing of their situation, take vengeance on individual Israelis. The difference in their treatment is quite remarkable. There is no known incident where Israeli Jews who killed an Arab who was trying to kill as many Jews as possible have been prosecuted. On the contrary there was the famous incident about 20 years ago where Gen. Yitzhak Mordechai, later Commander of Israel's Southern Command, was responsible for the killing of 2 such Arabs who had crossed the border.

But in Shfarim earlier this year, those responsible for killing the murderer it was decided would be put on trial, because this was 'taking the law into one's own hands' etc. Quite why no Israeli Jew has been prosecuted in such circumstances is indicted is a mystery. Possibly racism is one explanation!

Tony Greenstein

Below are just some articles on the virtual impunity granted to Israeli Jews who kill Arabs and how they are treated differently by a racist court system.

Earlier this year, a settler caught on film attacking Palestinians had the prosecution withdrawn when the State classified the evidence in the case as a state secret and when the Supreme Court said it had to be declassified, the case was dropped entirely.

A Slight Beating

State won't prosecute officers filmed beating Palestinians
By Liel Kyzer, Haaretz Correspondent

Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan rejected an appeal against the decision not to investigate Border Police officers who documented themselves abusing Palestinians.

The appeal was filed by the Yesh Din human rights group.

Senior deputy to the state prosecutor Nechama Zusman wrote last week on Nitzan's behalf that
"the beating in the case was extremely slight and did not cause any actual damage. Therefore, the deputy state prosecutor did not think it was appropriate to intervene in the decision of the Justice Ministry's department for the investigation of police officers to transfer the case to the care of the Israel Police disciplinary department, along with a recommendation to discipline the officers in question."
Yesh Din issued a sharp response on Tuesday. The organization's legal adviser, Michael Sfard, wrote to Zusman that, "Your position demonstrates unprecedented tolerance of abuse of people in custody by a person of authority, through the use of violence and humiliation."
"The question of damage suffered is completely irrelevant, as criminal law prohibits assault and without qualifying it by the gravity of the damage caused," the letter continued. "The argument that beating a prisoner is not a criminal act is even worse than the beating itself, and amounts to a dangerous move by the prosecution."
The organization called upon the prosecution to review its decision to close the criminal case. Sfard asked for disciplinary proceedings to be stalled until a final decision is made, and made clear that Yesh Din is considering further legal measures if the original decision is upheld.

The video clips in which the officers documented themselves beating and humiliating Palestinians in East Jerusalem were revealed over a year ago, and appear to have been filmed in July 2007 and August 2008.

One clip shows an armed Border Police officer hitting a Palestinian detainee on the back of the head. Another shows a different officer forcing a Palestinian youth to salute.

Yesh Din, which made the clips public, said they were found in a cell phone apparently lost by one of the officers.

When the footage became public, Yesh Din approached the investigations department with a request to examine the events in an open criminal proceeding against those involved.

After looking into the matter, the department decided not to press criminal charges and to transfer the case to the police disciplinary unit.

Shfaram calls strike after 12 charged with lynching Jewish terrorist
By Jack Khoury, Haaretz Correspondent

Eden Natan-Zada Shfaram is declaring a one-day general strike in response to the state prosecution's decision to indict 12 of the city's residents over the lynching of Jewish gunman Eden Natan-Zada in 2005.

The city council called the strike for Tuesday after consultations with a local panel formed in the wake of the attack.

MK Mohammed Barakeh told city residents gathered for the discussion that the charges represented a double standard against the Israeli Arab population.
"Police officers and civilians who stopped Palestinian attackers were rewarded with merits, while Shfaram residents who were only defending themselves are being prosecuted. The state and the state prosecutor's office cannot claim to have acted accordingly," he said.
Shfaram mayor Nahed Khazem said that the strike would not include the city's educational institutions. He said that the council and the committee would appeal to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to close the case against the Shfaram residents.

Prosecutors on Sunday charged 12 with taking part in the lynching of an AWOL Israel Defense Forces soldier who murdered four Israeli Arabs on a bus in August 2005, days before Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Natan-Zada was beaten to death after unloading his army-issued M-16 assault rifle on fellow passengers.

According to defense attorney Ahmad Raslan, some of the suspects will be charged with attempted murder, assaulting police officers and other offenses, while others will be charged with rioting that led to Natan-Zada's death.

The decision to indict the suspects comes after nearly four years and multiple hearings on whether to do so and on what charges.

"The prosecution believes that, despite Natan-Zada's atrocious actions, the events that led to his death seriously harmed the rule of law," said a statement issued Sunday by prosecutors.
"In a country governed by laws, whoever takes the law into his own hands and harms someone, even if he committed despicable crimes, will be tried by law enforcement."
Hadash chairman MK Mohammed Barakeh on Sunday accused the prosecution of blaming the victims in the case.
"Instead of investigating the terrorist Natan-Zada's associates in order to bring his partners in the slaughter at Shfaram to justice, they decide that the only guilty person is the victim," said Barakeh.
Barakeh called the decision to indict outrageous and foolish, and said that aside from the four fatalities that resulted from Natan-Zada's rampage, there are more than ten victims still alive who carry the trauma of his actions with them.

Shfaram residents on Sunday said they will hold an emergency meeting in the wake of the indictments.

Last year, the court decided the suspects would be charged with violent assault rather than murder, leading to widespread condemnation among Israeli Arab leaders who harshly criticized the court's decision to charge the suspects with any crime.

Prosecution drops indictment against settler filmed shooting Palestinians
8.6.09. By Tomer Zarchin,

The prosecution has announced that it is dropping the indictment against Ze'ev Braude, the West Bank settler who was alleged to have shot two Palestinians at close range during the evacuation of a disputed house in Hebron in December 2008, and was caught on film doing so.

Ze'ev Braude, 51, of Kiryat Arba, is alleged to have shot two Palestinians at close range during the evacuation of a disputed house in Hebron.

Braude, a Kiryat Arba resident, turned himself in to police last week after an activist with the B'Tselem human rights group caught him on film shooting at Palestinians at short range and hitting two.

During the evacuation of the house in Hebron, Braude approached the Matriya family residence, drew his gun and shouted at the family members to go inside, the indictment says.

Hosni Matriya, 44, went up to Braude and told to leave. Braude struck him and aimed his gun at him, said the indictment. Hosni's father, Abed el-Hai, 67, walked up and asked Braude to leave. Braude pushed el-Hai. Other family members came to help push Braude away and he fired at them. The first bullet passed close to one man's head and the second one hit Hosni's chest. A third bullet hit el-Hai's arm. El-Hai and two family members attacked Braude and stopped him from again firing his gun. They held him until Kiryat Arba residents arrived and took him away, the indictment says.

Hosni, who was shot in the chest, is awaiting surgery to take out shrapnel that remains around the wound. El-Hai, whose arm was broken, has been operated on twice and his arm has been set with screws.

The prosecution said that the evidence proves that "Braude initiated the incident at the plaintiff's house, which was out of his way. During the argument with the plaintiffs he struck his fist into the face of one of them. At this stage none of the plaintiffs was acting violently. The father of the family wrestled with him to stop the shooting - during the wrestling the defendant shot him as well."

Jamal Abu Safan, a relative of the injured Palestinian, told Haaretz that the court's decision shows "how racist Israel and its justice system are." He demanded that an independent body investigate the case.

Braude's lawyer, attorney Ariel Atari, responded that the Palestinian claiming to have been injured can be viewed in the video getting up after allegedly being shot and continuing to hurl stones and strike Braude.

Impunity for settlers, prosecution for Palestinians: the two roles secret evidence plays in the Israeli justice system


4 AUGUST 2009

Impunity for settlers, prosecution for Palestinians: the two roles secret evidence plays in the Israeli justice system

As a Palestinian human rights organisation committed to the promotion and protection of human rights and the rule of law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), Al-Haq strongly condemns the decision of Israeli State Prosecutors to drop all charges against an Israeli settler who shot and wounded two Palestinians in the West Bank city of Hebron in December 2008.

Ze'ev Braude, a resident of the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba', was caught on film as he shot at two members of a Palestinian family while Israeli occupation forces evacuated settlers from a nearby house. During the evacuation, 50 settlers from Kiryat Arba' gathered in an area bordering the Palestinian family's land. Braude and another settler crossed onto the family's property, and Braude, carrying a pistol, attempted to climb onto a balcony where the family had gathered to watch the evacuation. Braude proceeded to fire shots at members of the family when they attempted to prevent him from reaching the balcony. The incident was videotaped by one of the family members, and Israeli human rights group B'Tselem later released the footage to Israeli police and security forces as evidence to support Braude's prosecution.

Braude was formally charged with two counts of intent to cause grievous bodily harm. Following the indictment, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak authorised a certificate of priviledge for evidence included in the prosecution's investigation material, effectively denying Braude access to information that could aid in his defense. Braude's lawyer successfully petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court to declassify the evidence and provide it to his client. In his ruling, Justice Elyakim Rubinstein held that in this instance, the right of the accused to a fair trial outweighed the harm to national security. Subsequent to the Supreme Court's decision, the State prosecution declared that it would drop the indictment against Braude, stating that the protection of classified information for national security reasons outweighed the benefit of proceeding with the prosecution.

This incident highlights a troubling example of the impunity enjoyed by settlers with respect to their violent actions against Palestinian civilians and their property. It also correlates to a broader policy of impunity regarding the settlers' presence in the OPT. The movement of Israeli settlers into the OPT, and the establishment of settlements on occupied territory, violates customary international humanitarian law. The rule, which is codified in Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention, prohibits the transfer of the Occupying Power's civilian population into the territory it occupies.

In addition to the unlawful presence of settlers in the OPT, Israel has failed to fulfil its international legal obligation to prosecute criminal acts committed by settlers. As the Occupying Power, Israel has a duty under customary international law, specifically Article 43 of the Hague Regulations, to ensure public order and safety in the territory it occupies. This case is especially significant because, despite the existence of videotaped evidence of the settler's alleged crime, State prosecutors used their discretion in employing national security claims to drop all charges against the accused. The Prosecution¹s decision to completely circumvent a criminal trial without exploring other procedural legal avenues demonstrates the State's unwillingness to bring settlers to justice for violent actions against Palestinians in the OPT. Such failure to hold settlers to account creates an atmosphere of impunity, which encourages increased settler violence.

This case also illustrates the discriminatory elements of the Israeli justice system, particularly the courts¹ inconsistent treatment in balancing the State's right to keep information privileged with an individual's right to a fair trial. Under international human rights law, Israel is obliged, according to Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to ensure that all persons are entitled, without discrimination on any ground, to equal protection before the law. In this particular case, the Israeli Supreme Court found that the accused settler's right to a fair trial trumped the State's right to safeguard secret information for the benefit of national security.

By contrast, human rights groups have consistently documented cases where Israeli courts have allowed prosecutions of Palestinian defendants to proceed on the basis of secret evidence, thereby denying their right to due process. Israel's practice of administrative detention in the OPT has meant that Palestinians are routinely arrested and held without charge or prosecuted on the basis of secret evidence that is not disclosed to them. The detainees have no legal recourse within the Israeli legal system to challenge the evidence against them.

The Israeli judiciary's decisions permitting the State's use of secret evidence in support of its interests has even extended to allowing arguments about the constitutionality of particular laws to be argued by the State ex parte. In March 2009, three Israeli human rights organizations withdrew their petition to challenge the constitutionality of an Israeli criminal procedure order from the Supreme Court. The petition was withdrawn in protest over the Supreme Court's decision to allow the General Security Service to present information pertaining to the constitutionality of the law exclusively to the Court in the absence of the petitioners, thereby denying the petitioners the right to examine and question the evidence presented.

These cases demonstrate a troubling trend within the Israeli justice system, namely the system's failure to provide Palestinians with an effective means of legal recourse to challenge the system to which they are subject, thereby denying equal protection under the law.

Al-Haq strongly condemns the Israeli government for failing to fulfil its international legal obligations, including its failure to reverse its illegal population transfer policy in the OPT and its failure to effectively prosecute settlers who engage in criminal activity so that they are held to account under the full extent of the applicable law.

Al-Haq urges the international community to take urgent and effective measures to ensure that Israel abides by its legal responsibilities to remove the illegal settlements in the OPT and to adequately protect the occupied population, including duly punishing Israeli settlers responsible for assaulting Palestinians.

An Israeli court has acquitted Julian Soufir despite confessing to the murder of the Arab Jerusalemite Tayseer Karki, 35, with a knife almost a year and a half ago.

Soufir, a Jew who carries Israeli and French citizenships, said on his arrest that he did not feel guilty because he believed Arabs were like cattle and that he was slaughtering one.
The court accepted the testimonies of two defense witnesses that claimed that Soufir was not fully "conscious" at time of the murder.

The savage crime occurred on 14/5/2007 when Soufir asked the taxi driver Karki to take him to Netanya where he took a knife from his brother's apartment then asked him to take him to his own apartment in Tel Aviv. When they arrived there Soufir invited Karki to his house and to use the bathroom and waited for him outside. When Karki got out of the bathroom Soufi stabbed him 24 times in the neck and stole about 15 dollars from his pocket before running away with the cab.

Jerusalem mayor seeks terror victim status for murdered Arab
By Roni Singer-Heruti, Jonathan Lis and Avi Issacharoff,
Haaretz Correspondents Jerusalem

Mayor Uri Lupolianski urged the state on Tuesday to grant the family of East Jerusalem taxi driver Taysir Karaki, who was murdered Monday, the benefits reserved for families of terror victims. Lupolianski instructed the city's social welfare department to aid the family.

On Monday, 26-year-old Tel Aviv resident Julian Soufir, who is suspected of having committed the murder, told police "I decided to murder an Arab."

The police was preparing for a possible retaliation Monday, fearing a reciprocal murder in a mixed Arab-Jewish town, or a Jewish city situated in close proximity to an Arab population.

Police said their initial investigation revealed that the suspect, an immigrant from France whose family lives in Netanya, went to Jerusalem on Monday morning to find a taxi driver to murder.

They discovered the murder of Taysir Karaki, 35, from Beit Haninah north of the capital, almost by chance after they stopped two young men walking down the middle of a Tel Aviv street at around 4:00 P.M., near Yonah Hanavi Street.

The police approached them with a routine request for identification. One of the men told the police that he had "done something in the apartment," and asked the police to accompany him to the nearby dwelling, where they found the victim lying dead inside. "I turned around and immediately handcuffed him," said Avrahali Vanda, one of the arresting officers.

Police said the victim's throat had been slit a few hours before the body was found. His taxi was parked outside.

The Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court extended Soufir's remand by 10 days Tuesday, and the remand of his 21-year-old brother, whom they believe reached the apartment shortly after the murder and remained with the killer until the two were apprehended, by two days. However, the police do not believe the brother took part in the crime.

At the remand hearing, Soufir's attorney argued that the suspect is not fit to stand trial. "As far as we understand, he can't differentiate between good and bad, makes things up and speaks to ghosts and goblins that dictate his life," Soufir's attorney said. Apparently, the police were called to Soufir's Tel Aviv apartment about a month ago after his wife complained that he had attacked her. The suspect's mental stability was questioned during that incident as well and he was sent to Abarbanel mental hospital for an evaluation, but he was released shortly after.

In contrast, the police claim that it seemed to them that the suspect "knew exactly what he was talking about when he described the event, and his memory was good. He also supplied a logical explanation for his actions."

Soufir is scheduled to unergo a psychiatric evaluation prior to standing trial.

Police say the suspect, who is newly religious, seems to have had no prior acquaintance with the victim. "Therefore, at the crime scene itself we began to suspect that this might be a case of murder stemming from nationalistic motives," said Chief Superintendent Avi Neuman, a Yarkon region detective.

The suspect said he went to Jerusalem because he thought he would be able to find an Arab victim more easily there. "We don't know whether he planned it two hours before or two weeks before, but there are certainly signs he planned it," Brigadier General Hagai Dotan, the commander of the Yarkon region police, told Haaretz.

The suspect entered the victim's taxi in Jerusalem and asked to be driven to Tel Aviv. They apparently made one stop along the way at the suspect's request. "When they arrived, the suspect persuaded the victim to come up to the apartment," apparently with an offer to use the bathroom before going home, Neuman said. The suspect then allegedly attacked the victim with a knife he had prepared ahead of time.

The suspect rented the apartment with his wife two months ago, but they are apparently now separated. Neighbors said they did not know the couple, except that they were French. One neighbor said she saw the suspect arrive for prayers daily at the neighborhood synagogue.

Karaki's father, Yasser Karaki, told Haaretz his son, who was married and the father of four children ages six to 12, had driven the children to school and set off for work at 8:30 A.M. "He was a good guy, he was not involved in politics; all he wanted to do was make a living for his children," the elder Karaki said.

The few dozen friends and relatives who gathered on Monday at the Karaki house seemed shocked at the idea Karaki was murdered for nationalistic reasons. A neighbor, Wahib Liftawi, said the police called his nearby grocery store.

"They told us Taysir had had an accident and we should go to the police station in Neve Yaakov," Liftawi said. "Khaled, Taysir's brother, went there and then to Tel Aviv to identify the body. We heard on the news that French people took him to Tel Aviv. They asked him to help them to the apartment with their luggage and then they stabbed him. Allah will not forgive them; he was a good boy."

"Don't worry - it's just another Palestinian child's death"
Leigh Brady writing from Yamun, occupied Palestine, Live from Palestine, 31 March 2006

On 18 March 2006, I visited a grieving family in Al Yamun, a town in the northern West Bank. Their 7-year old daughter had been murdered the night previously by Israeli Border Police, who had entered the town to arrest "wanted" Palestinian militants in a raid led by Israeli Defence Forces (IDF). Her name was Akaber Adbelrahman Zaid and she was on her way to a doctor's clinic to have stitches removed from her chin. Instead she received a barrage of bullets to the head, when an undercover Border Police unit opened fire on the car in which she was travelling with her uncle.

An IDF spokesperson said the police had thought that the wanted militants were trying to escape in the car and thus fired shots at the wheels as a deterrent. Akaber's uncle said it was obvious that the only people in the car were himself and a small child, adding that the policemen had fired at close range. A Ha'aretz reporter inspected the car afterwards and found that all four tyres were still intact. For a specially trained unit of sharpshooters to fire at the wheels of a vehicle from a short distance and miss their target completely seems a little dubious, to say the least.

Akaber joins the ranks of over 700 other Palestinian children to be killed by Israeli security forces since September 2000. Who will take responsibility for her death? Who shall be held accountable? The IDF has acknowledged that in shooting at the car, the policemen involved broke the rules of engagement.

I am eager to know what the penalty for breaking the rules of engagement is. I am also eager to know what the penalty for murdering Akaber will be; if there will be any at all. The army�s response so far has been the following euphemistic statement: "the IDF regrets harming the Palestinian girl and is conducting a comprehensive examination of the circumstances of the event." We will see.

Unfortunately, cases like Akaber's are a dime a dozen. It is widely documented that the IDF often break the rules of engagement when on incursions into the Occupied Territories and enjoy complete impunity for almost all violations committed when on duty, including the killing of children. This impunity overarches both possible legal means of redress for victims, as Israel not only consistently fails to criminally investigate the misdemeanours of IDF officers; it also protects itself institutionally regarding state liability in civil action cases, through its carefully formulated Civil Torts (State Liability) Law, 5712 �1952.

A recent amendment to this law makes it virtually impossible for Palestinians who have sustained damages at the hands of a state agent (e.g. Israeli security forces) in any area of the West Bank or Gaza Strip to make a claim for compensation. The amendment applies retroactively to injuries sustained after 29 September 2000, and even to claims already submitted to the courts, but not yet processed. These measures violate Israel�s commitments under international human rights law to provide an effective remedy to victims of human rights abuses.

On the criminal level, some attempts have been made to put IDF officers on trial in the past, but not only do most of these fail; the verdict usually serves up a further slap in the face for the victim too. Just five days after Akaber's murder, Ha'aretz reported that Captain "R", a Givati Brigade soldier in the IDF, would be awarded 80,000 NIS in compensation from the State of Israel, after being acquitted of a five-count indictment against him related to the killing of Iman Al Hems, a 13-year old Gaza schoolgirl. Iman had been shot by the IDF in October 2004, when she came in the vicinity of their outpost. Captain "R" had then approached Iman, who was already lying injured on the ground and had shot her at point blank range. Transcripts of radio exchange between the soldiers during the incident revealed that Captain "R" stated he did this, "to confirm the kill".

Contradicting himself in court, Captain "R" said he opened fire, not directly aiming at Iman, in order to create deterrence, and that he believed that the young girl posed a serious threat. How mentally disturbed and/or cowardly must an Israeli captain be to feel scared of an unarmed 13-year old schoolgirl, who was already lying wounded and helpless on the ground?

Ludicrously, the judges believed his version of events. This is the way it works here, folks: Captain R was acquitted and then rewarded with compensation and a promotion to major while Iman's family were rewarded with another helping of gross injustice to add to the first injustice of losing their child.

According to the Israeli judge advocate general's office, only 131 criminal investigations into the unlawful killing and injury of Palestinians by Israeli security forces were opened from September 2000 to June 2005, leading to just 28 indictments and a mere seven convictions.

Yet, Israeli human rights group B'Tselem documented the killings of at least 1,722 Palestinians, outside any combat situation, by Israeli soldiers during the same period. According to the Palestinian section of Defence for Children International, more than one-third of those killed were children.

These figures revealing Israel's sweeping practice of impunity leaves me more and more in utter disbelief. It is the kind of disbelief that catapults you into a state of shock. The sheer fact that the Israeli military are getting away with killing hundreds and hundreds of innocent children, without paying any consequences whatsoever, is so outrageous, so unbelievable, that it paralyses you. It renders you helpless, unable to react, unable to focus on what actions to take to remedy the situation. After a while of dealing with this every day, I run the risk of becoming totally numb and, as a result, increasingly unfazed by each new incident, like so many "guest" bystanders before me. On the outside, this could seem like resignation. And it often is. Israel feeds on this. And even the outside world becomes immune; you, the reader, become immune - your threshold for passively accepting atrocity becomes higher. It is to be expected � we all need to protect ourselves from such horrors of daily life in order to survive. The skin gets thicker. But let us not fool ourselves in thinking we cannot do anything to influence the situation.

Our indifference is already influencing the situation. Our indifference is an essential part of the equation that keeps the ongoing impunity in place: it is indifference which allows child killings to continue unhindered. It is the same indifference which breeds state terrorism, and as a response, other forms of terrorism.

I am horrified as are many others that this can go on unchallenged. Of course, there are civil society organisations which are committed to challenging Israel's impunity. They use all the mechanisms available to them to denounce Israel's practices and to demand accountability and reparation for the victims.

Expressions of grave concern and urgent calls to action are issued on almost a daily basis. Research is conducted, reports published and resources made available, yet all these efforts become symbolic in the face of the inertia of the international community.

It seems paradoxical: the EU and the UN provide mechanisms and tools through which and with which civil society can supposedly harness the political and economical clout of intergovernmental organisations to remedy cases of violations of human rights by a state.

Yet the EU and UN have consistently failed to use their political leverage to stop Israel's barbaric policies and practices against Palestinians. Is not one of the principal roles of intergovernmental organisations to protect civilians from mass human rights violations perpetrated by a state? The UN Charter clearly states that the "United Nations shall promote universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms" and that "all Members pledge themselves to take joint and separate action in co-operation with the Organization to achieve this".

If Israel, as a member state, does not uphold the Charter, then why is there no effective pressure from the UN to make Israel abide by the principles of membership? The EU-Israel Association Agreement, which regulates political and economic cooperation between the two parties, stipulates respect for human rights and democratic principles as an essential element of the agreement.

Israel obviously does not observe human rights and democracy in its treatment of the nation it illegally occupies, so why does the EU not follow up this incongruence? The failure of the UN and the EU to use their capacity to hold Israel accountable for its actions is tantamount to actively contributing to the perpetuation of Israel's de facto and de jure impunity.

This depressing fact leads me to search for the motives for their inaction. Is it fear? Perhaps the EU and the UN feel threatened by Israel as Captain "R" felt threatened by Iman Al Hems or as 30 undercover Israeli agents felt threatened by 7-year old Akaber. Are they afraid that by openly criticising Israel the whole geopolitical balance will crumble? Are they afraid that the US would really be in the position to ostracise everyone willing to respond to civil society's pleas for political intervention on behalf of Palestinian civilians? Are they so afraid of being labelled anti-Semitic that they cannot bring themselves to go further than meekly denounce blatant violations of human rights? Yet how can their fear override their humanity?

From where Palestinian children are sitting, it seems that even the bloodiest and most horrifying massacre is not enough to mobilise these supranational powers into action.

After hundreds of deaths of Palestinian children, and hundreds of urgent appeals to the international community falling on deaf ears, it is easy to acquire that dangerous "what's the point in trying?" attitude. As mentioned above, Israel feeds on this.

The Occupation thrives on the millions of people, inside the OPT, inside Israel, in Europe, in America, in the rest of the world, saying to themselves or others, "Yes, this is clearly wrong and unjust but what's the point in trying to do anything to stop it if mass efforts so far have not been able to put an end to it?" While this may be a normal reaction, it is also normal, and necessary, for human beings to find fresh motivation to keep on trying.

I appeal to politicians to review the motives behind their inaction and bystanders all over the world to fight against the numbness and banality of seeing or hearing about child after child being killed. We must keep trying to achieve justice for Palestinians.

As U.S. human rights activist Rachel Corrie wrote in one of her diary entries, just months before she was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer in March 2003, "This has to stop. I think it is a good idea for us all to drop everything and devote our lives to making this stop."

Leigh Brady, from Ireland, has been living in the West Bank since May 2005. She works for the Palestinian Section of the international child rights organisation, Defence for Children International.

See also 1

No comments: