Five Gaza fishermen injured by Israeli fire

Four others were arrested

Five Palestinian fishermen wounded on Monday as Israeli navy opened fired at them off the Gaza coast.

Fishermen sometimes flee heavy Israeli fire, leaving their equipment and fishing nets with their catch behind in the sea

Days of Palestine, Gaza Strip –Five Palestinian fishermen wounded on Monday as Israeli navy opened fired at them off the Gaza coast.

Palestinian medical sources said that all the five fishermen suffered light injuries. Three have left hospital and two remain for further follow up.

Meanwhile, witnesses said that four other fishermen were arrested as the Israeli warships encircled their boats just four nautical miles off the coasts; two miles less than the limit allowed by the Israeli occupation.

Chief of the Fishermen Syndication Niza Ayyash named the fishermen arrested and said they were led to an unknown place.

Palestinian fishermen in Gaza are subject to daily Israeli harassment and assaults, which sometimes cause injuries and deaths.

(Source / 01.06.2015)

Rohingya women raped at transit camps

Nur Khaidha and her husband Nurul Amin talking about the human trafficking transit camps. - Bernama pix

Nur Khaidha and her husband Nurul Amin talking about the human trafficking transit camps

ALOR SETAR: Female Rohingya migrants detained at a human trafficking transit camp in Padang Besar, Thailand, were treated like sex slaves.

Nur Khaidha Abdul Shukur, 24, who was held for eight days with her baby at the camp, said the women were also gang-raped by camp guards.

She said: “Every night, two or three young and pretty Rohingya women were taken out from the detention pens by the guards to a clandestine place.

“Two young women at the camp became pregnant after the gang rape,” she said to Bernama through an interpreter here.

Nur Khaidha said there were also cases of women being taken away by the guards for several days to fulfil their lust.

“They will go missing for two to three days after being taken by the guards.

“I did not question them when they were returned to their pens, but I know what had happened to them.

“We knew from their expressions,” she said, adding that women who were detained were not allowed to talk among themselves or risked being beaten up.

She also said that in the camp where she was detained last year, there were 15 Rohingya female victims, with five having small children.

But the five women with children were not abused by the guards.

“Maybe the guards did not rape us because we had small children.

“But I prayed everyday so that I would not become their rape victim,” she said.

Nur Khaidha, who is from Maungdaw, Myanmar, resolved to cross the Andaman Sea on a boat to Malaysia with her child to follow in her husband’s footsteps.

Several months earlier, her husband, Nurul Amin Nobi Hussein, 25, had boarded a boat from Maungdaw to Ranong, Thailand, in his effort to set foot in Malaysia.

Unknown to his wife, he was detained by a human trafficking syndicate at the transit camp in Wang Kelian, Perlis.

Her husband was detained in the camp at Bukit Wang Burma for 22 days before he made his escape.

Nurul Amin, who now works at a workshop in Alor Setar, said his desire for a better life made him and his family take a gamble to ride the “death” boats to Malaysia.

He also said that Rohingya women had been raped by the guards at the transit camp in Wang Kelian.

“In the night, several of the guards will go to the pens housing the women and take them to a nearby place.

“We heard the shrieks and cries of the women because the place they raped them was very close to our pens, but as it was at night, we could not see what was happening,” he said.

A year on, Nurul Amin and his wife Nur Khaidha were thankful they were free of the misery of being detained at the transit camps of the human trafficking syndicates.

And they hope for a better future.

(Source / 01.06.2015)

Palestinians in the Bourj el-Barajneh camp are regularly killed by loose electric cables.

Draped with water pipes and high voltage wires, the major fuse box that splits power from the grid in the centre of Beirut’s Bourj el-Barajneh is known locally as the “wall of death.” Rusty and exposed, it stands at head height on a major thoroughfare in this overcrowded Palestinian refugee camp. Several people have died tinkering with it over the years, and yet nothing has ever been done to make it safer.

For a symbol of the struggle Palestinian refugees face in trying to live a basic but dignified existence when 18,000 human beings are squeezed chaotically onto just one square kilometre of land, look no further.

According to camp officials, 48 people have died from electrocution in Bourj el-Barajneh in the past five years. The majority of these accidents were preventable, but the combination of a lack of funding, Lebanese political intransigence and Palestinian infighting have scuppered any chance of carrying out the simple reforms that could have saved dozens of lives.

Two children walk under the 'wall of death'

Two children walk under the ‘wall of death’

Ahmed al-Qaed, 54, was deaf and desperate. He settled for employment as a builder in construction. Earning a meagre $26 a week, his wage barely supported his wife Amal and their three children. In Bourj el-Barajneh, any construction work is also highly dangerous.

Last October, Ahmed took a break to have lunch at home with his wife. Shortly after he returned to work, there was a frantic banging on the door. Ahmed had been electrocuted by a dangling overhead cable. Carried to hospital, he died hours later. “He was a modest man,” 34-year-old Amal said solemnly. “[But] he was good to us.”

Ahmed al-Qaed left behind Amal and their three children Mahmood, Omran and Raghed 

Ahmed al-Qaed left behind Amal and their three children Mahmood, Omran and Raghed

A women and young girl walk under wires and water pipes in the camp

A women and young girl walk under wires and water pipes in the camp

Bourj el-Barajneh was formed in 1948, after the creation of Israel forced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to flee, 100,000 of them ending up in Lebanon. Nowadays, there are at least 400,000 Palestinians in the country. Around half of them live in 12 recognised refugee camps, of which Bourj el-Barajneh is one.

After the 1969 Cairo agreement, the camps were given semi-autonomous status and placed under the governance of popular committees. These organisations were designed to fulfil municipality functions such as providing water and electricity to residents.

But as the Palestinian presence became more unpopular, fuelled by the involvement of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war, the government made it harder for them to stay.

In 1987, the government unilaterally cancelled the Cairo agreement without designing a new legal framework to replace it. The popular committees remained intact, but their powers became more unclear and overlapped with those of the Lebanese state.

In 2010, new legal restrictions were introduced prohibiting building materials from being imported into Bourj el-Barajneh. This has created crippling delays.

To bring in the materials needed to tackle the electricity crisis, the Palestinian popular committee still needs permission. But the Lebanese government is hostile to improving infrastructure in the camp as this is seen as encouraging permanent refugee settlement.

Darkazally Zizette, public information officer for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the agency responsible for Palestinians, said attempts had been made to address the issue but the basic facts remain.

With the Lebanese government also threatening to demolish any large reconstruction projects undertaken without consent, the Palestinians have no option and are forced to cope with lethal electricity hazards and poor service provision — street lights are nonexistent and blackouts are common.

Even when minor repairs are allowed, UNRWA struggles to coordinate projects because of infighting between the rival Palestinian factions who are vying for political influence and control over the camps.

In a dark alley, a man uses the light from a touch keyring to see his way

In a dark alley, a man uses the light from a touch keyring to see his way

With different schemes designed by a multitude of NGOs and wrangled over by opposing groups in the camps, plans to address electricity hazards are often uncoordinated and inconsistent.

Abu Bader, chair of Bourj el-Barajneh’s popular committee, admitted that more needed to be done to reconcile rival Palestinian interests, but said the Lebanese government bore the greatest responsibility for their poor living conditions.

“We want to live in dignity,” Abu Bader told IRIN, while drinking tea in his office. “But the government doesn’t want Palestinians on their land.”

Lebanon’s Social Affairs and Interior Ministry declined to comment.

Because camps in Lebanon were hastily built as temporary shelters after 1948, sustainable infrastructure was never put in place. And with Palestinians making up the largest and most protracted refugee crisis today, rampant overpopulation only makes the hazards worse.

Rare respite: The Bourj al-Barajneh camp has high levels of poverty

Rare respite: The Bourj al-Barajneh camp has high levels of poverty

The displacement of over 50,000 Palestinians from Syria into Lebanon has compounded the problem. UNRWA’s funding shortage is so acute that from July it will suspend housing assistance to Palestinians from Syria in Lebanon, while the government remains reluctant to permit refugees to upgrade the camps.

Afraid to encourage assimilation and upset the delicate balance between the country’s many different Muslim and Christian communities, the government maintains that improving camp life would threaten Palestinians’ “right to return” to their homeland.

Sitting on a chair behind her three children, Amal – herself from Syria – held her husband’s I.D. card in the palm of her hand. Placing it on the table next to her own, she wondered how she could possibly support her children without him.

“I can’t go back to Syria,” she said, despondently. “I hope to find someone to help us here.”

A flock of pigeons swoop of the heart of Bourj al-Barajneh at dusk

A flock of pigeons swoop of the heart of Bourj al-Barajneh at dusk

(Source / 01.06.2015)

Israeli occupation killed 3, arrested 352 in May

Among the 352 arrests, 14 females and 50 minors, including nine year olds

Israeli occupation forces killed three Palestinians, arrested 352 others during May, report said on Monday.

Arrest campaigns, carried out by the Israeli occupation forces, accompanied with house inspection, property confiscation, child and woman abuse and other forms of aggression

Days of Palestine, West Bank –Israeli occupation forces killed three Palestinians, arrested 352 others during May, report said on Monday.

The report issued by Ahrar for human rights and prisoners studies. It monitored Israeli violations against Palestinians in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

According to the report, freed prisoner Rami Shalameesh, 36, was injected unknown drugs inside Israeli prisons in 2006 that caused him sever disorders, doctors said, led to his death.

Omran abu-Dheem, 41, was shot by the Israeli police after unintentional collusion of his car and Said al-Nadi, 50, succumbed to wounds he had during last summer’s Israeli offensive on Gaza.

Regarding the arrests, the report said that the occupation arrested 14 female Palestinian citizens and 50 minors. Most of the arrests took place in Jerusalem.

Among the males arrested, the report said, two fishermen, whom the Israeli occupation attacked their fishing boat off the Gaza coast and arrested them and a trader, who was arrested at Eretz Crossing.

(Source / 01.06.2015)

Turkey to finance the construction of 20 apartment buildings in Gaza

File photo of Palestinian homes and buildings destroyed by Israeli airstrikes.

File photo of Palestinian homes and buildings destroyed by Israeli airstrikes

Turkey will finance the construction of 20 residential buildings to host families whose homes were destroyed during the last Israeli war on the Gaza Strip, a Turkish official has announced.

The representative of the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA), Bulent Korkmaz, told Anadolu news agency on Sunday that TIKA will finance the construction of 20 apartment buildings, amounting to 340 units on a total area of ​​19 dunums (0.019 km2) in Gaza.

The Turkish official, who visited Gaza on Sunday to participate in a mass wedding ceremony funded by the Turkish government, explained that the buildings will be constructed in the Valley of Gaza, a village south of Gaza City.

On Sunday, 2,000 Palestinian couples celebrated their union in a mass wedding ceremony funded by the Turkish Ministry of Religious Affairs in cooperation with TIKA at a cost of $4 million.

The Turkish Consul in Jerusalem, Mustafa Sarnic, announced last week that Turkey has provided $369 million worth of assistance to the Gaza Strip during the past ten years.

He told reporters at his residence in Jerusalem that Turkey provided urgent development aid to Palestine and Gaza in 2014 alone amounting to $34.7 million, as well as other emergency aid worth $24.5 million.

“Turkish civil society organisations provided $9.4 million in aid development, in addition to $7.7 million for emergency assistance to others, bringing the total figure to $76.3 million provided in 2014,” the Turkish Consul added.

(Source / 01.06.2015)

Syrian Coalition Calls on Friends and International Coalition to Stop ISIS’s Advance on Aleppo

President Khoja urgently appeals to neighboring countries to coordinate amongst themselves in light of the inaction of the international community, and to act as one hand and intervene immediately to prevent their neighbor Syria from turning into a hotbed for the worst kinds of terrorism.

In a joint press conference with Interim Prime Minister Ahmed Tomeh and Interim Defense Minister General Salim Idris, Khoja calls for relieving the free people of Syria through establishing safe areas so that Assad’s warplanes do not serve as ISIS’s air force.

This is already taking place in Aleppo, as the regime’s warplanes are bombing rebels in the areas ISIS are preparing to attack. The regime’s air force is openly serving ISIS; it bombs rebels while ISIS advances.

“It is no longer reasonable nor acceptable to leave the Syrian people a victim to multi-faceted terrorism, starting with the terrorism of the regime and its allied Iranian militias and ending with the terrorism of ISIS. Nor is it acceptable that Syrians see the international coalition’s aircraft flying over their heads without bothering about ISIS slaughtering them,” Khoja added.

He warns that abandoning Syria in this current situation will have serious consequences that will spill over to the whole region.

“We call upon all brotherly and friendly countries to accelerate the provision of civil and military support to vulnerable areas where the regime conspires with ISIS and the allied Iranian militias, namely in Damascus, Aleppo and Homs, and Dara’a, Qalamoun and Suwaidaa’. We call upon them to make the liberated areas safe and to support the steadfast residents of Aleppo and also the Qalamoun rebel fighters who are countering an invasion by Iran’s proxies in evident coordination with ISIS.”

“We call upon all factions to unite, close their ranks and to provide all possible support for the Qalamoun and Aleppo battlefronts. We also call upon them to deny the Assad regime the opportunity to survive the series of defeats suffered by its forces,” Khoja said.

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 01.06.2015)

The false arrest of Khalida Jarrar: Israeli ‘justice’ put to shame

The charge sheet against the Palestinian legislator — in jail now for two months — ought to be studied in every law school: This is how you slap together false accusations and fabricate an indictment.

Here’s a case after which nobody will seriously be able to make any of the following five claims anymore: one, that Israel is a state of law; two, that the regime in its occupied territories isn’t a military dictatorship; three, that Israel has no political prisoners; four, that the military court system in the territories has any kind of connection, however weak, to law and justice; and five, in light of all of the above — that Israel is a democracy.

Does that sound overblown? Sometimes, one case suffices to prove a point.

Khalida Jarrar, a member of the Palestinian parliament, has been under arrest for two months already, yet virtually no one has uttered a peep. At first, Israel said it would deport her to Jericho for six months, but Jarrar refused to recognize the legitimacy of the one deporting her. The Israel Defense Forces folded.

Then she was put under administrative detention, as punishment for her refusal to be deported. But the IDF was frightened by the wave of international protests over its detention without trial of a legislator. So it decided to put her on trial.

The indictment, comprised of no fewer than 12 counts, ought to be studied in every law school: This is how you slap together false accusations and fabricate an indictment. This is how the system that dares to call itself a “legal system,” with “judges” and “prosecutors,” “verdicts” and “hearings,” actually behaves. Everyone plays along with this ridiculous costume party and takes their senseless roles seriously. And this is the result.

Jarrar, a veteran political activist who has no criminal history even according to the occupation authorities, who was elected in democratic elections and who fights for the rights of women and the release of prisoners, is accused of a plethora of crimes for which the words “grotesque,” “parody” or “farce” would be far too kind. Of what is she not accused? The fact that she opposed the occupation, visited a released prisoner and called for the release of the leader of her movement (the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine); that she participated in a book fair and even “asked about the welfare of the activists and the success of the books at the fair”; that she gave interviews, speeches and lectures; that she participated in marches; and that maybe — it’s doubtful even according to the indictment — she once incited to the kidnapping of soldiers in order to bring about the release of Palestinian prisoners.

Twelve counts of shame for the authors of this indictment — one of the most ridiculous legal documents ever written here, even by the military legal system. A system where the judge salutes the prosecutor, who outranks him militarily, and both are skullcap-wearing Orthodox Jews, perhaps even settlers — purely by chance, of course; it would never influence their worldview, never affect their conduct. A legal system that doesn’t even bother to translate the judge’s words for the defendant, and in which the judge delays his decision to free her for 72 hours, which somehow turns into another week (!) of detention. But who’s counting?

So Jarrar passed this weekend, too, in prison. After even the military judge recognized the hollowness of this indictment and ordered her released on bail, the prosecutor appealed. The appellate court accepted his appeal and ordered her kept in prison until the end of the trial. The court knows why it overturned the decision of the trial judge, Maj. Haim Balilty: The IDF had announced that if the court ordered her freed, she would be put under administrative detention. The rule of law.

A feminist parliamentarian, a brave, determined and patriotic lawmaker, is being kept under false arrest — and it’s as if nothing had happened. A handful of Knesset members from the true left took the trouble to visit her and speak out on her behalf, but aside from that, there has been complete silence and apathy. The Knesset speaker didn’t raise an outcry; the Supreme Court president didn’t utter a word; the head of the Israel Bar Association kept mum. So did women’s organizations and most of the media.

One day, they will (perhaps) be asked: Where were you when Jarrar was rotting in jail? What did you do then? Did you understand that by your shameful silence, you contributed to turning Israel into a state of political prisoners — today Jarrar, and tomorrow yourselves?

(Source / 01.06.2015)

Saudi Shia mobilise self-defence groups as Isis threat grows

epa04761737 People help a man wounded in a suicide attack on the Shiite Imam Ali mosque during Friday prayers in a village in the eastern province of Qatif, Saudi Arabia, 22 May 2015. According to intial reports some 30 people are thought to have been killed in the explosion when the Mosque was filled with an estimated 150 Shiites, a minority, roughly 10-15 percent, population in the mainly Wahhabi country, and whos live mainly in Qatif and al-Ahsa. EPA/STR

People help a wounded victim of a bomb attack on a Shia mosque in Qatif

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Members of Saudi Arabia’s Shia minority are forming civil defence groups after twin suicide bombings over the past two Fridays — claimed by the Sunni jihadi Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis).

The attacks, which killed about 25 people, mark an escalation of Isis activity in the oil-rich kingdom, with the group saying it wants to rid the Arabian peninsula of Shia Muslims. Last November, Isis gunmen killed seven worshippers at a Shia shrine in al-Ahsa, in eastern Saudi Arabia.

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The worst sectarian atrocities in the kingdom’s modern history have prompted the formation of civil defence groups among the country’s 10-15 per cent Shia minority, an “unprecedented development”, according to Toby Matthiesen, a research fellow at the University of Cambridge.

Activists say the self-defence groups have detained people on suspicion of planning to carry out further attacks, handing them over to security forces.

“These are volunteers who have seen a security vacuum and have to find a way to defend themselves,” said Hamza al-Hassan, an exiled Saudi activist based in London. “This is self-defence — it is not a political issue.”

Saudi authorities have strengthened security in Eastern Province — where most of the country’s Shia population live — boosting the number of checkpoints and enhancing inspections on the causeway to Bahrain. Analysts close to the government expect a further tightening of security akin to the crackdown on domestic jihadis that quashed the al-Qaeda insurgency of 2003-06.

Many Shia feel that more needs to be done. Some within the community have called for the arming of groups, sparking fears that self-defence civilian forces could form the first step towards militias such as the “Hashd Shaabi” in Iraq — so-called popular mobilisation forces to stem the advance of Isis, which have also been accused of carrying out atrocities against Sunni civilians.

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The formation of such groups has alarmed the Saudi establishment, and some “volunteers” have already been detained by the authorities.

Their creation comes against a background of increased sectarian strife. While the ruling family and pro-government clerics have condemned the suicide attacks, activists have criticised the authorities for tolerating an increasingly divisive media and inflammatory statements by radical Sunni clerics.

Some school textbooks and conservative Wahhabi teachers compound discrimination by describing Shia Muslims as outside true Islam. A pejorative Sunni term for the Shia, “rawafid” (or “rejectionists”), is gaining currency in debate on social media.

Since the 2011 political revolutions, unrest in Bahrain and Iran’s support for the regime in Syria have sparked an upsurge in anti-Shia sentiment. The emergence of Isis as a defender of the Sunni world against transnational Shia expansionism has fostered growing support among many youths who see the group as one of the Arab world’s rare military successes.

Saudi Arabia’s war on Zaydi Shia rebels in Yemen has compounded these purist ideals by fostering a jingoistic euphoria in the kingdom as the state acts against perceived encroachment of Iran into Arab capitals. Isis’s emerging strategy appears to be to tap into that well of sectarianism — seeking to recruit from the growing ranks of disaffected Saudi youth.

“These appear to be young Saudis who are not travelling abroad, but are willing to carry out attacks at home,” said Mr Matthiesen, who fears further attacks. “Rather than going after foreigners in well-defended compounds, they are blowing up fellow Saudis, who happen to be Shia.”

(Source / 01.06.2015)

Rights groups urge Merkel to press Egypt over violations

Merkel

German Chancellor and leader of Germany’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Angela Merkel

Five prominent rights groups on Monday urged German Chancellor Angela Merkel to press for an end to human rights abuses in Egypt when she meets President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi this week.

El-Sisi begins Tuesday a visit to Germany at Merkel’s invitation.

He will meet the chancellor on Wednesday and other officials, but German parliament speaker Norbert Lammert has called off a meeting he was due to have with Sisi citing human rights abuse.

The five human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, highlighted violations in Egypt in a joint statement addressed to Merkel.

“The government headed by President El-Sisi presides over the gravest human rights crisis in Egypt in decades,” the statement said.

They urged Merkel “to make clear in your meetings with President El-Sisi … that the nature and extent of Germany’s relations with Egypt going forward will depend on the Egyptian authorities taking prompt and concrete measures to put an end to government policies that systematically violate Egypt’s obligations under international human rights law as well as the Egyptian Constitution of 2014,” the statement said.

It called on Germany to “continue to freeze the transfer of all arms and security related items that could be used for repression until Egyptian authorities have carried out judicial and impartial investigations into the killings of hundreds of protesters by police and security forces, and bring those responsible to justice.”

Since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi following nationwide protests against his rule, Egyptian authorities have led a crackdown on his supporters, many of whom have been imprisoned. The sweeping crackdown has likewise seen several top secular activists jailed.

Also, dozens have been sentenced to death in mass and speedy trials, including Morsi himself.

Meanwhile, Egypt was hit by a wave of bomb attacks over the past year and a half, with Islamist militancy particularly intensified in the restive peninsula of Sinai.

(Source / 01.06.2015)

Gaza Strip needs more than sympathy – Israel must be held to account for its war crimes

sandstorm Israel

A Palestinian youth stands in front of the ruins of houses that were destroyed during the 50-day war last summer, on a stormy day in the east of Gaza City

The international community is showing growing sympathy for sovereignty for the Palestinian people. Since Sweden became the first Western EU country last October to announce recognition, the Vatican has followed and parliaments in the UK, France, Spain and Ireland have all passed motions in this direction – albeit non-binding.

These moves are welcome gestures, but they will not change life on the ground for Palestinians, unless the international community is also prepared to seek accountability for war crimes in the region.

The Palestinian Authority announced it would, on 25 June, submit two lawsuits against Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and call for a date to allow the presentation of files of Israeli war crimes. These moves follow Palestine’s accession last month to the Rome Statute of the ICC, which mean violations of international law in Palestine can now be investigated.

Also, on 29 June, the UN inquiry into potential war crimes committed during the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict – which killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, seventy per cent civilians and sixty per cent of these women and children – will be published.

This must be the trigger for a full investigation by the ICC into last year’s death and destruction in Gaza.Finally we may see individuals, including political leaders, held accountable. Indeed, ICC Prosecutor General Fatou Bensada has already warned Israel that it may launch a full investigation.

According to Bensouda the ICC would “be looking at alleged crimes committed by all sides, in total independence and impartiality, and without fear or favour”. That is the real meaning of justice: if human rights are to be truly universal no individual can be above the law.

Some argue that ICC investigations will endanger prospects for peace. But over the last two decades, the Israeli government has shown no interest in furthering the peace process. In a candid moment at the end of the Israeli election campaign, Netanyahu ruled out a two-state solution while he was Prime Minister. He ruled out the very premise on which decades of the peace process have been based.

‘Illegal siege’

Until now, the international community’s strategy has been to soft-peddle on accountability for Israel in the hope that this will help the peace process. This clearly has not worked. Impunity has only encouraged more and more aggressive attacks, resulting in the death of thousands.

Together with the illegal siege on Gaza, which has blockaded the movements on individuals and goods, this has fuelled a cycle of violence. Only by making all parties responsible for their actions under international law will there be any possibility of peace.

As lawyers and human rights activists, we have tried for many years to achieve justice through the Israeli legal system. But we have faced constant barriers to justice.

For instance, the 2013 amendment of the Israeli tort law exempts Israel from its liability for injuries and damages inflicted on civilians in Gaza. It also lowered threshold for Israeli forces using violence against civilians: they no longer have to feel in imminent danger of their life before opening fire.

Israel protests that its military tribunals are capable of dealing with the infractions of its soldiers, and thus that the ICC need not interfere. Expecting an army to investigate its own commanders, however, is too much to ask for – especially with the changes in Israel’s military doctrines, which now appear to tolerate civilian deaths on a large scale. In the last three wars against Palestine, the most severe penalty handed to an Israeli soldier was seven-and-a-half months’ imprisonment for stealing a credit card.

Israel’s policy of transferring parts of its civilian population to illegally occupied territory – by the building of settlements in the West Bank – should also be investigated by the ICC, as such activity is classified as a war crime according to the Rome Treaty.

Gaza living in ruins

A Palestinian draped in a Palestinian flag stands next to burning tyres outside the headquarters of the United Nations Special Coordinator in Gaza City during a protest against the decision by the main UN aid agency to suspend payments to tens of thousands of Palestinians for repairs to their homes damaged in last summer’s war

It is often said that since Israel is not a member of the ICC that there is no chance of indicting any Israeli citizen, but this is not true. The ICC has jurisdiction over any crimes committed in Palestine, irrespective of the perpetrators’ nationality. Any indictment would have an immediate practical impact. Travel to other countries that are members of the ICC (for instance every EU country) would carry with it the constant risk of arrest for anyone indicted. Equally, the symbolism of an ICC indictment would be devastating for the international reputation of the country.

It is crucial that the ICC be allowed to carry on its investigations unimpeded by political interference from any quarter. Israel has blocked access to numerous investigators, including the UN Commission of Inquiry into the Gaza Conflict. We therefore call upon the European states that have shown such strong support for the ICC in the past to continue to support its independence, and allow it to work freely if it faces similar obstacles.

It should be able to investigate the conflict in Gaza in exactly the same way it investigates crimes in other parts of the world – whether in South Sudan or the Central African Republic. There must be no double standards.

The ICC’s deliberations cannot help those killed last year. However, working for justice is the most effective action we can take to prevent such violence in future. There cannot be peace without justice, and it is difficult to accept that when a child is killed every two hours for 50 days that no one should be held responsible.

(Source / 01.06.2015)