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Identifying human rights violations while maintaining Israel’s settler-colonial project

A published United Nations press release incorporated another bout of concern following Israel’s destruction of 30 dwellings in the Jordan Valley which displaced 41 Palestinian civilians, including 24 children. Despite a reminder regarding the continuity of forced displacement since the beginning of this year, responsibility and accountability remain a distant premise as people are reminded of the obvious – appealing to sentiment over suffering while adamantly refusing to incriminate Israel for its ongoing human rights violations.


According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OCHA), the demolished buildings which ostensibly lacked permits included ‘donor-funded structures’. The destruction also affected refugee families who were forcibly displaced on December 3, 2013. Details regarding the inhumane aspect of forced displacement were included in the OCHA report, notably the physical aggression carried out by Israeli soldiers upon a 43 year old woman suffering from cancer. The demolitions occurred during a delegation visit to Medical Aid Palestinians’ mobile clinic in the Jordan Valley. A tweet by Labour MP Richard Burden stated “As Jack Straw and I visited Bedouin community there with @Caabu/@MedicalAidPal, Israel displaced 41ppl in Jordan Valley”.

While the cited statistics reflect the precariousness faced by Palestinians – 1035 Palestinians, including 526 children, have suffered displacement in Area C and East Jerusalem; the press release remains confined to the dynamics of diplomacy, deploring Israel’s actions while affirming the UN’s inability to uphold the numerous charters and resolutions which the organisation is fond of quoting, according to the circumstances.

The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator James W Rawley reiterated the obvious infringement of international law and attempted to emphasise the humanitarian aspect by stating: “I am concerned about the destruction of Palestinian structures in the Jordan Valley yesterday, resulting in the forced eviction, displacement and dispossession of vulnerable Palestinians…These demolitions must be brought to an immediate halt”. The repetitive rhetoric demeans Palestinians and manacles the population to permanent dependence. Rather than focusing upon Israel’s colonisation agenda, the UN seeks to highlight the Palestinians’ plight in a manner which disassociates the colonising power’s aims from its actions. The reconstruction of Israel’s colonisation by an international organisation supposedly protecting human rights supports the fabrications of security concerns disseminated by Israel, creating an ambiguity that justifies Israel’s puerile excuses with regard to the continuous demolitions and forced displacement.

It is impossible to diminish the tangible impact of the humanitarian aspect, yet the UN has repeatedly isolated the perpetrators from the crime in order to ensure Israel’s impunity. The organisation’s calculated use of language justifies not only the recurring human rights violations, but also the existence of an illegal state founded upon the same crimes which have been perfected throughout the decades. Statements regarding settlement activity as illegal under international law have reverberated endlessly, to the point where rhetoric has obscured the ramifications arising from Israel’s settler-colonialism precisely due to the UN’s normalisation of violations. Despite a multitude of statements professing otherwise; maintenance of the ‘conflict’ at the expense of Palestinian suffering remains a preferable option for Israel, the UN and its allies.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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