The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) has issued its weekly report detailing Israel’s continuous efforts in Gaza and the Occupied Palestinian Territories to undermine and disregard international law. The report details Israeli human rights violations committed from December 20 to December 26 and emphasises the apparent permanence of such violations, which hinders a proper recognition of Palestinians’ isolation within the international community.
Official discourse highlights the humanitarian situation whilst disregarding the fact that the catastrophe is brought about by failing to adhere to international human rights law. Humanitarian discourse has become a convenient diversion which suits the Israeli government, since accusations of abuses are pushed to one side by a preliminary concern for welfare, thus consolidating a cycle of economic dependency whilst furthering Palestinians’ cultural and social isolation.
The violence unleashed against Palestinians during protests against the Israeli occupation and policies makes up a significant part of the report. In Gaza, Israelis opened fire upon civilians during a protest against the proposed 300 metre buffer zone along the border fence. The shooting of civilians continues to mark a trend in Israel’s pretentious “democracy”. In the West Bank, Israeli soldiers shot at civilians in a funeral procession, injuring six people. Following the violence against Palestinians calling for an end to unlawful killings and the protests in solidarity with prisoners on hunger strike, Palestinians protesting against the apartheid wall and further settlement developments were also met with rubber coated metal bullets, sound bombs and tear gas.
Israeli soldiers have damaged property and prohibited farmers from accessing their lands; resistance has been met with beatings, arrests and displacement. House demolition notices have also been issued to families whose dwellings were either in the initial building phases or else nearing completion. Illegal Jewish settlers have attempted to deny Palestinian farmers access to their own lands, with the ensuing clashes alerting Israeli soldiers to intervene with further violence; always, of course, to the detriment of the Palestinians.
The economic and movement restrictions on Gaza make Israeli rhetoric to “ease the blockade” look like a parody of freedom. With only one commercial border crossing open, the Palestinian population in Gaza remains entrenched in poverty and lacking basic necessities and regular access to medical facilities. Israel continues to reduce the number of Palestinian patients admitted to West Bank or Israeli hospitals and denies permission for new patients to seek medical attention, despite the knowledge that hospitals in Gaza are not equipped to provide treatment for certain chronic diseases. Such restrictions ensure Palestinians’ dependence on UNRWA and NGO assistance, diminishing any prospects of self-determination.
The PCHR exhorts the international community to ensure the implementation of international human rights law. As far as Israel is concerned, the international community applies a policy of lenience and indulgence to the detriment of the occupied population; this more or less renders the Geneva Convention obsolete, even though Article 2 of the Euro-Israel Association Agreement, for example, calls upon Israel to respect human rights as a precondition to commercial cooperation between EU countries and Israel. These conditions are concealed and disregarded by the relevant governments; they are, however, exhorted by activists who campaign relentlessly against such blatant contempt for the law.
Key international players, together with the UN, continue to defy international human rights law by declaring that resistance harbours instability for the region. Whilst the legal framework to hold Israel accountable for its crimes already exists, the international community prefers to enhance economic profits whilst depicting colonial and apartheid policies as temporary, uncomfortable afterthoughts. This cannot be good for anyone in the long run.