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How Israel oppresses the Palestinians

August 15, 2022 at 3:48 pm

Israeli soldiers interfere with the Palestinian demonstrators during a protest in Hebron, West Bank on August 09, 2022 [Mamoun Wazwaz – Anadolu Agency]

In a pre-dawn raid of the Palestinian neighbourhood of Kafr Aqab on the outskirts of occupied Jerusalem this morning, Israeli Special Forces burst into a home and opened fire at its residents, killing one of them. According to his father, Mohammad Ibrahim Shaham, 21, was “executed”.

“They opened fire at his head from point blank range and left him bleeding for 40 minutes before taking him away,” said Ibrahim Shaham. “We did not know whether he was alive or dead, but a bullet in the head from a very close range means he was dead. It was a cold-blooded execution.”

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, Israeli occupation forces, including undercover forces, and Jewish settlers have killed 137 Palestinians since the start of this year alone: 87 in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, and 50 in the besieged Gaza Strip.

In addition to killing Palestinians on a frequent basis, Israel’s occupation authorities detain them, steal their land, demolish their homes, suppress their freedoms, restrict their movement, impose blockades on them — Gaza has been under siege for 16 years — raid their homes, desecrate their holy sites, forge their history and impose apartheid policies.

In just 48 hours of bombing in Gaza last weekend, Israel killed another 49 Palestinians, including 17 children and four women, and wounded or maimed 360 others. In last year’s Israeli military offensive against Gaza, the OHCHR and the WHO said that 242 Palestinians were killed, including 63 children, and some 9,000 were injured. More than 74,000 Palestinians were displaced.

READ: Israel DM orders military to remain on alert around Gaza

During the May 2021 attack, the Israel air force bombed the only desalination plant in north Gaza, cutting water supplies to more than 250,000 people. They also attacked the northern part of Al-Remal neighbourhood, killing Dr Ayman Abu Al-Ouf, the director of Covid-19 response and head of internal medicine at Al-Shifa Hospital, along with 22 members of his family. They also hit Al-Rimal Clinic, the central laboratory for Covid-19 in Gaza, badly affecting testing and vaccination programmes.

According to Amnesty International, Palestinians held prisoner by Israel are subjected “to unfair trials before military courts, prolonged solitary confinement and inadequate medical treatment.” Addameer, a Palestinian prisoner support organisation, said that a total of 500 Palestinians were sent to prison under so-called administrative detention orders by Israeli military courts in 2021. It added that 170 children were detained. Amnesty International cited a survey by Save the Children stating that Israeli occupation soldiers beat over 80 per cent of child detainees, and denied access to a lawyer to 47 per cent.

Palestinians in Israel — “Arab Israelis” — who use their freedom of speech in the self-proclaimed “only democracy in the Middle East” to criticise the same democracy’s military occupation are being prosecuted under incitement laws. Meanwhile, Israeli Jewish politicians and right-wing Jewish supremacists incite racist violence by Jewish settlers who attack Palestinians with almost total impunity.

Several human rights groups — notably B’Tselem, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch — have condemned Israeli apartheid imposed on its Palestinian citizens and the Palestinians living under occupation. Apartheid is a crime akin to a crime against humanity. Palestinian Israeli citizens are now obliged to regard their mother tongue, Arabic, as a second language. Their schools and medical facilities are also underfunded by the “Jewish state”, and they are banned from celebrating national days and events. Instead, they are supposed to mark events celebrating and glorifying the occupation of their land

Israel is expert at telling lies to cover up its crimes. For example, it denied shooting and killing Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in Jenin on 11 May. Instead, it accused the Palestinians of killing one of their own people, and not for the first time. The occupation state has an army of propaganda specialists to support its fake narrative. This very morning, it justified the “execution” of Mohammad Shaham in occupied Jerusalem at home in front of his family by claiming that he tried to stab an undercover police officer. Again, this is not the first time that such a claim has been made after Israelis have killed a Palestinian. In some cases, video evidence shows that knives are planted at the scene after the event.

Israel also persecutes rights activists who reveal its crimes. Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine Director at Human Rights Watch, was deported after investigating human rights abuses in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The occupation state also banned Laith Abu Zeyad, an Amnesty International campaigner, from leaving the occupied West Bank in October 2019.

READ: The erosion of Israeli deterrence and its reflection on the West Bank

On 19 October last year, Israel declared six Palestinian civil society organisations to be “terrorist organisations”. That was a day after the detention of French-Palestinian lawyer Salah Hammouri, a human rights defender and researcher who works for Addameer. His Jerusalem residency permit has been revoked on the basis of alleged “breach of allegiance” to the occupation state.

Haaretz has reported that earlier this month a large number of Israeli occupation troops “raided the village of Palestinian human rights activist Nasser Nawajah… He was taken handcuffed and blindfolded into detention for 14 hours – all for a 15-minute talk with a Shin Bet [internal security] agent who advised him to moderate his behaviour.”

Nawajah is a field researcher for the Israeli rights group, B’Tselem. The organisation’s Executive Director, Hagai El-Ad, said that an Israeli intelligence officer asked him “to stop causing trouble,” referring to his work for B’Tselem. El-Ad pointed out that, “The truth itself is trouble” for Israeli intelligence agents, the Israeli army and Israeli politicians. “Nasser’s work causes trouble,” he added.

The occupation state of Israel does all of these things to oppress the Palestinians. The regime is run like this, explained El-Ad: settlers carry out attacks; soldiers protect settlers; intelligence services investigate; police arrest; courts provide legal cover; government supports; and mass media justifies. To this we might add that the Israeli government and its mouthpieces seek to discredit journalists, politicians, activists, groups and mass media who reveal its crimes or expose the oppression of the Palestinians.

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