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Amnesty’s flawed report denies the reality of Israel’s colonial violence

Israeli and mainstream media have once again united in a chorus of righteous indignation following the release of Amnesty International’s report “Strangling Necks – Abductions, torture and summary killings of Palestinians by Hamas forces during the 2014 Gaza/Israel conflict.” That title –which makes a big mistake by describing Israel’s offensive Operation Protective Edge as a “conflict” rather than colonial aggression – is surely intended to divert attention from the crucial element in question, that is, Israel’s premeditated efforts to extend its colonial presence into the Gaza Strip.

Following a general introduction in which readers are reminded that “Hamas and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza committed war crimes by firing thousands of indiscriminate rockets and other projectiles into southern Israel”, Amnesty proceeds with a discussion of executions carried out by Hamas of Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel. The “research” for the report, as its methodology section testifies, was conducted by a single field worker based in Gaza, as opposed to a multidisciplinary team.

“The Israeli authorities,” claims Amnesty, “have refused up to the time of finalising this report, more than nine months after the hostilities ended, to allow Amnesty International and other researchers from international human rights organisations to enter the Gaza Strip through the Erez crossing with Israel, despite the organisations’ repeated requests for entry since the beginning of the conflict.”

Departing from inaccessibility as well as the flawed premise of the “occupying power” as opposed to colonial entity, Amnesty embarks upon a criticism of Hamas’s judicial system to pave the way for its subject; the execution of Palestinian collaborators whose actions on occasions brought about the killing, by Israel, of fellow Palestinians, most of them civilians.

Substantive quoting of international human rights law is utilised to provide a framework for the prohibition of executions, in particular through paraphrasing Article 8(2) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court which prohibits torture and extrajudicial executions regardless of their roles.

Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum described the report as unprofessional and lacking credibility. “The report is dedicated against Palestinian resistance [to the Israeli occupation] and the Hamas movement… It deliberately exaggerated its descriptions without listening to all sides and without making an effort to check the veracity of details and information.”

Amnesty International’s earlier reports also discussed Israel war crimes committed against Palestinians in Gaza. However, as with most other major human rights organisations, Amnesty has embarked upon the usual strategy of manipulating language to suit alleged research purposes and, ultimately, an imperialist agenda. Apart from a generic and misleading context of Operation Protective Edge, the organisation fails to acknowledge Israel’s role in recruiting collaborators, a phenomenon that has occurred in other scenarios such as in Israeli jails holding Palestinian political prisoners.

Furthermore, the deliberate use of the term “occupying power” is creating a cycle in which Israel is absolved for its existence, resulting in the predictable reverberation of condemnation of its actions alongside its inevitable impunity. The report, therefore, has to be viewed as yet another exercise by an imperialist-aligned organisation denying the reality that was Gaza last summer – the Palestinians’ entirely legitimate resistance against Israeli colonial violence.

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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