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Official discourse blanks out discussion of human rights violations in occupied West Bank

International rhetoric continues to focus on Israel’s new settlement construction in the occupied West Bank in retaliation for the UN vote granting Palestinians non-member observer status. European criticism has been constant, albeit far removed from any form of punitive measures. Nevertheless, Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman has deemed an invocation of the Nazi Holocaust to be a suitable counter-argument, shifting the discourse to the international community’s “neglect” over Israeli security.

Lieberman insisted that Europe “is ignoring calls to destroy the state of Israel… When push comes to shove, many key leaders would be willing to sacrifice Israel without batting an eyelid in order to appease the radical Islamist militants and ensure quiet for themselves.”


Israel’s security discourse centres on the elimination of “threats” from Palestinians clamouring for legitimate resistance to the military occupation of their land, as well as Iran’s alleged development of nuclear weapons. In addition, senior politician Shaul Mofaz bemoaned the fact that Israel did not assassinate Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal during his visit to the Gaza Strip last week.

The discourse on settlements is proving a welcome distraction for an Israeli government persisting in severe human rights violations in the West Bank. Once again disregarding UN conventions, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Israeli soldiers continue to imprison and detain children indefinitely, upon charges such as “throwing stones”.

The colonial policy applied in the West Bank affects children and youths in the area, who protest frequently and attend demonstrations, only to be used as scapegoats during arbitrary arrests or night raids. The vulnerability of children faced with the might of Israeli law may have serious repercussions on the immediate family, as well as the community. Arrests and detention target the very core of Palestinian resistance, therefore it is perceived as an effective means to combat social mobilisation. The charge of “throwing stones” at Israeli vehicles or tanks requires only the soldier’s testimony, which of course lacks any contextual narrative of the conditions which push youngsters and teenagers to resort to a futile form of retaliation. Addameer – a Jerusalem-based NGO providing support to Palestinian prisoners – says that many children detained by the Israelis are coerced into becoming informers, thus disruption cohesion within the Palestinian community.

Despite being a major violator of human rights, Israel manages to garner consistent support from governments around the world, as well as the acquiescence of the United Nations. After yet another outrage such as “Operation Pillar of Defence”, the UN has failed to uphold any of its own resolutions and bring Israel to account for war crimes, as defined in the Geneva Convention. The fact is, though, that “war” does not define adequately Israeli violations and “aggression” is eliminated deftly from diplomatic oratory. Human rights organisations “condemn” the violence, but a definite stance needs to be taken if Israel is to be held accountable for its crimes. A mere condemnation from human rights organisations fails to resonate if findings of abuses are not investigated thoroughly by an impartial actor working in situ.

And that is where legality flounders, entangling itself within the illegality of bestowing impunity upon the leaders of a self-declared state, whilst regaling Palestinians with ephemeral promises. Palestinian resistance is no longer confined to its borders – it needs an internationalist approach to oppose effectively the compliant silence and disassociation of governments and international organisations which value a distorted definition of “security” over and above the plight of an oppressed nation.

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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