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The Tantura massacre is another Israeli crime for which prosecutions must follow

February 8, 2022 at 3:00 pm

This picture taken on January 25, 2022 showss an aerial view of a Muslim Mausoleum at Dor beach, built over the village of Tantura, where an alleged massacre of Arabs took place after the surrender of the village, north of the Israeli city of Caesarea on the Mediterranean coast. [JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images]

Dozens of soldiers from the then nascent Israel “Defence Forces have confessed to committing the 1948 Tantura massacre in a documentary directed by Alon Schwarz. The Israeli veterans of the Alexandroni Brigade who appeared in the film included the terrorists Moshe Yamant, Haim Levin and Mika Fikon.

Witnesses say that more than 200 Palestinian victims of the massacre were buried in a mass grave near the site south of the occupied city of Haifa. The mass grave is still believed to be underneath the car park adjacent to Dor HaBonim Beach.

“Beneath the place where my father used to park his car when we travelled to Tantura, not far from the memorial that was in fact installed for the fallen soldiers of the Alexandroni Brigade, was, and perhaps still is, a mass grave,” wrote Gideon Levy in Haaretz. “A malicious hand erased its memory.”

Sooner or later the occupation state will be held accountable for its crimes, of which the Tantura massacre is but one of many. After all, this has happened where massacres of civilians have taken place in other countries: Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone spring to mind, for example. It is an international duty to put the leaders of the occupying state on trial for crimes against humanity and war crimes that violate international laws and conventions. Palestinian military courts must also issue rulings against these Zionists, as the Allied powers did after the Second World War when Nazi war criminals were brought to justice. If Nazis can still be hunted down and prosecuted decades after they committed their crimes, then why can’t Zionists? Palestinian diplomats must make moves against the Zionist state in international forums, and sympathetic countries should be asked to criminalise and arrest Israeli officials wherever a law of universal jurisdiction is on the statute books.

Palestinian ambassadors around the world should not ignore this documentary evidence and confessions of those responsible for the massacre in Tantura. History does not and should not forgive and forget such crimes and those who committed them. I believe that the Palestinians are now in a position to reopen the issue of Israeli crimes at the International Criminal Court and seek the prosecution of those responsible.

READ: From Tantura to the Naqab, Israel’s roll call of shame is being exposed

We now have enough information and documents to expose Zionist crimes against humanity and war crimes, and those whose complicity has been exposed, including global imperialists, pro-Israel lobbyists and Arab Zionists who normalise relations with the occupation state, as well as those involved in security coordination with the Israelis. Such support emboldens Israel to commit more crimes and expand its illegal settlements on stolen Palestinian land, which are war crimes in themselves standing in full view of the world.

Dozens of international resolutions have condemned Israel’s actions, and international human rights groups have reported on Israeli apartheid, but with global affairs governed by the narrow national interests and priorities it is obvious that prosecutions are unlikely to follow unless we Palestinians and our supporters speak out. The mainstream media plays a major role in silencing Palestinian voices, apart from a few notable exceptions. Social media is, therefore, a valuable tool of the Palestinians and their supporters to defend their narrative. As a result, the world is waking up to the fact that the Israeli narrative is distorted to suit Zionist interests and has only a tenuous relationship with the truth.

The Palestinians are being let down by their leadership, though. It was the Palestinian Authority which apparently “stonewalled” the UN vote on the Goldstone Report into Israel’s 2008/9 “Operation Cast Lead” attack on the Gaza Strip. According to the Guardian, “If the appointment of a Jewish Zionist judge with impeccable international credentials [to head the inquiry] was meant to appease Israel, it failed. The Israeli government and its supporters in the Israeli media went for Goldstone with a vengeance.” The PA’s action actually served Israel’s interests, and ignored the fact that human dignity, justice and integrity demanded by the souls of the martyrs do not die, and cannot be bypassed, and that their blood demands that their torturers and murderers be held to account.

The PA has acceded to the Rome Statute and is allowed to take cases to the International Criminal Court against the occupation state. However, it has remained silent on such matters, and failed to initiate any lawsuits against the occupation, probably out of fear that international financial support will be cut, and restrictions will be placed on its leaders in the occupied West Bank.

We Palestinians must take advantage of the fact that Israel has been exposed as a racist state and is guilty of terrorism on a grand scale since before it was even created in occupied Palestine. Amnesty International’s latest report is the third since January last year to describe Israeli apartheid against the Palestinian people, after B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch.

Such reports boost international sympathy and support for the people of occupied Palestine against the occupation, and help to douse the flames of Arab Zionism and normalisation. We need to restore our cause to the international agenda, and use the mainstream and social media to promote the reality that our legitimate resistance is defending our people and our land from the crimes of the Zionist occupation.

This article first appeared in Arabic in Felesteen on 6 February 2022

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