How impunity defines Israel and victimises Palestinians

By Ramzy Baroud

The danger of impunity is the very foundation of most violent crimes against humanity.

Israeli soldiers cover the body of Abed al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif at the scene of a shooting in Tal Rumaida in the West Bank city of Hebron. [EPA]

Israeli soldiers cover the body of Abed al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif at the scene of a shooting in Tal Rumaida in the West Bank city of Hebron

Abed al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif was killed. In the style typical of Israeli aggression against unarmed Palestinians, he was first wounded after allegedly attempting to stab an Israel occupation soldier in the occupied city of Hebron.

He lies on his back, his arms stretched across the road, and his head moving about. A soldier confers with his superior officer, before moving to “confirm the kill” – a term used by the Israeli military in reference to field executions of Palestinians.

The soldier walks to Abed, lying on the ground and clearly posing no threat to anyone – and, in full view of onlookers, shoots him in the head.

The above scene would have been relegated to the annals of the many “contested” killings by Israeli soldiers, were it not for a Palestinian field worker with Israel’s human rights group, B’Tselem, who filmed the bloody event.

Culture of impunity

The incident once more highlights a culture of impunity that exists in the Israeli army which is not a new phenomenon.

Decades ago, there was no equivalent to media such as B’Tselem, Breaking the Silence, or Machsom (Checkpoint) Watch, no social media to spread the news, and few international groups that cared to report on Israel’s violent birth.

Instead, thousands of Jewish militiamen roamed Palestinian towns and villages, armed with a mandate to ethnically cleanse an entire nation within months.

OPINION: Israel-Palestine – The delusion of a two-state solution

Thousands of Palestinians were killed in the “cleansing” process, so Israel could proclaim itself independent. Israeli poet, Natan Alterman, attempted to convey an instance of the horror inflicted by Jewish gangs, which later formed the Israeli army, proclaimed by some as the “most moral army in the world“:

“Across the vanquished city in a jeep he did speed –

A lad bold and armed, a young lion of a lad!

And an old man and a woman on that very street

Cowered against a wall, in fear of him clad.

Said the lad smiling, milk teeth shining:

‘I’ll try the machinegun’ … and put it into play!

To hide his face in his hands, the old man barely had time

When his blood on the wall was sprayed.”

In Palestine, no one is immune to violence. Young and old are shot for the mere suspicion that they may pose danger to the life of Israeli Jews; and Israelis who dare report on these very incidents are shunned by their own society.

The poem entitled About This was published on November 19, 1948, when Israel had almost completely secured the self-imposed borders of its new state, assigning Palestinians to perpetual exile – a journey of pain and blood that is yet to conclude.

Natan Alterman, tried, although failed, to “break the silence” on Israeli impunity.

No accountability

Since then, despite their insistence on embracing life with hope, Palestinian history continues to be delineated by charts crowded with endless bloody statistics.

Palestinians are under attack – systematic, government-led, ordered, or encouraged attacks that point at only one unmistakable conclusion: Israel strives to perpetuate violence and war.

This is a grounded in the fact that Israel has been created through war, and has convinced itself that it can only survive through war.

The result is a terrifying culture of violence and impunity – of men and women armed with machine guns, and children who are taught that violence is the only language that their Arab enemies understand. The Palestinian, for them, only exists to be subdued, controlled, “cleansed” and – when necessary – killed.

Recently, Israel’s chief Sephardic Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef had called on Israelis to kill any Palestinian they believe poses a threat, with no regard for the law or the High Court of Justice.

But, for Yosef, the “High Court of Justice”, is already on his side. Indeed, it was Israel’s judiciary that had approved “targeted killings” of Palestinians suspected of allegedly committing or planning to commit acts of violence.

According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), between September 2000 and March 2008, 500 Palestinians were assassinated by the Israeli army; 228 Palestinian civilians were also killed in what was consigned as “collateral damage”. Among those pulverised by Israeli missiles were 77 children.

No one was ever held accountable for those murders.

OPINION: What Palestinian-Israeli security cooperation?

If one is to list the crimes that are committed routinely by the Israeli army, the list would be endless. The above statistics are a mere glance at a culture that has no regard for Palestinians, thus violating every written or implied rule of war of military ethics or occupation under international law.

Armed settlers rampage through villages of occupied West Bank and the neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem. The number of their violent crimes have grown tremendously in recent years, and even doubled since 2009.

In August 2015, months before the current uprising, Human Rights Watch senior researcher, Bill Van Esveld, wrote:

“Settlers attack Palestinians and their property on a near-daily basis; there were more than 300 such attacks last year, but few attackers faced justice. In the past decade, less than two percent of investigations into settler attacks ended with convictions.”

These settlers complete the violent rule expected of them, alongside the more violent Israeli army.

In December 2015 Israel’s 972Mag wrote about the hundreds of violent incidents of Israeli forces targeting Palestinian medical staff. Palestinian rights group, Al-Haq, documented 56 cases in which “ambulances were attacked”, and 116 assaults against medical staff while on duty.

No one is immune to violence

In Palestine, no one is immune to violence. Young and old are shot for the mere suspicion that they may pose danger to the life of Israeli Jews; and Israelis who dare report on these very incidents are shunned by their own society.

Israel’s Defence Minister, Moshe Yaalon, recently accused Breaking the Silence of committing treason. The supposedly traitorous act of that small Israeli NGO –powered mostly by volunteers – was collecting testimonies by Israeli soldiers and whistle-blowers as evidence that the army is violating Israeli and international law.

Meanwhile, the government is itself actively pushing for yet new laws that criminalise dissent in Israel. One of such bills, championed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself, would allow elected members of the Knesset to vote to oust their own elected peers.

OPINION: The 100-year Intifada

While Israel’s culture of license to do as it pleases is older than the state itself, it is fed by a right-wing ruling elite that incessantly promotes fear and disseminates a confining siege mentality.

“At the end, in the State of Israel, as I see it, there will be a fence that spans it all,”said Netanyahu in February. “In the area that we live, we must defend ourselves against the wild beasts.”

Netanyahu is of course, never a fan of the truth or common sense. His last war on Gaza in the summer of 2014 had killed a total of 2,251 Palestinians – including 1,462 civilians, among them 551 children, according to a report prepared by the UN Human Rights Council.

During that war, only six Israeli civilians were killed, and 60 soldiers. Who, then, is truly the “wild beast”?

Majority of Israelis have long been sold on the idea that their country, despite its brutality is a “villa in the jungle”. According to a recent Pew survey, nearly half of Israelis want to expel Palestinians Arabs – Muslims and Christians – from their ancestral homeland.

In the government, the judiciary, the army, society and the country’s highest moral authorities, which advocate violence and ethnic cleansing and promote genocidal activities, what options are left for Palestinians?

The danger of impunity is not merely the lack of legal accountability, but the fact that it is the very foundation of most violent crimes against humanity.

This impunity began seven decades ago, and it will not end without international intervention, and concerted efforts to hold Israel accountable and bring the agony of Palestinians to a halt.

(Source / 28.03.2016)

Hamas prisoners to go on hunger strike to protest isolation of detainee

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– 30 Palestinian prisoners from Hamas in Ofer jail intend on Monday to go on open-ended hunger strike in solidarity with detainee Shukri Khawaja, who has been in an isolation cell for about one and a half years.   According to the Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies, prisoner Khawaja, 47, is being held in very difficult incarceration conditions and suffers from several chronic health problems. The Hamas-affiliated prisoners declared their intention to start a hunger strike after Israel’s intelligence apparatus, the Shin Bet, had broken several pledges to end his solitary confinement. Since his isolation, the prisoner has been locked up in a three-square-meter windowless cell, deprived of seeing his family, and only allowed for one hour to walk in the prison yard with his legs shackled.

(Source / 27.03.2016)

Six young men suffer bullet injuries in overnight W. Bank clashes

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– Six Palestinian young men suffered bullet injuries last night and at dawn Sunday during clashes with the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) in Qalqiliya and Bethlehem cities. Local sources told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that two young men suffered bullet injuries, one of them in the upper area of his body, during confrontations last night with Israeli soldiers in al-Naqqar neighborhood in Qalqiliya. In Bethlehem, Israeli soldiers fired live bullets during clashes at dawn with young men in Deheisheh refugee camp and wounded four of them. Four young men were also kidnapped during IOF campaigns in Deheisheh camp and Beit Fajjar town in Bethlehem. In al-Khalil, IOF soldiers raided the home of martyr Abdul-Fattah al-Sharif and detained one of his brothers after questioning him.

(Source / 27.03.2016)

House demolition doubled since the beginning of 2016

NABLUS, (PIC)– A report issued by the national office for the defense of land and resistance of settlement revealed that the number of Palestinians’ homes razed by Israeli occupation forces jumped to two times since the beginning of 2016 in comparison to 2015.  The office, which is affiliated with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said that Israel pursues the policy of house demolition as a collective punishment against the families of Palestinians who choose to fight Israeli occupation or for pretexts such as construction without permission.  The report quoted the Coordinator for Humanitarian and UN Development Activities for the occupied Palestinian territory, Robert Piper, as saying that Israel gives construction permits to 1.5% of the applications made by Palestinians.

(Source / 27.03.2016)

Israeli forces raid home of Palestinian killed by Israeli soldier, detain 2

HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli forces targeted the family of Abd al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif and detained two Palestinians during predawn raids Sunday in the occupied West Bank district of Hebron, locals said.

Local sources told Ma’an that Israeli forces raided the village of Jabal Abu Rumman and stormed the home of Khalid Yusri al-Sharif, 25, the brother of Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif, who was killed by an Israeli soldier earlier this week in what has been widely condemned as a brutal execution.

Khalid was detained by the Israeli military during the raid. The forces also detained Adeeb Shafiq al-Qawasmi, 20, after raiding his house in Hebron, locals said, adding that forces raided a meeting hall for the al-Tamimi family.Local sources said military checkpoints were set up at the entrance to al-Fawwar refugee camp and al-Harayiq — a southern entrance to Hebron — where Israeli forces searched cars and inspected ID cards.Israeli forces also injured two Palestinians youths and detained two in predawn raids in al-Duheisha refugee camp in the southern West Bank district of Bethlehem.An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that three Palestinians were detained in the Bethlehem area and two were detained in Hebron in predawn raids Sunday, one suspected to be a Hamas operative, and the remaining for “illegal activities.”The increased security operations by Israeli forces in Hebron come in the aftermath the alleged stab attack by Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif and Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi in the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron’s Old City Thursday.The two were both shot by Israeli forces following the incident and Ramzi Aziz was killed immediately.Minutes later, an Israeli soldier shot the severely wounded Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif in the head at point-blank range, which was caught on video by a local human rights worker who has since reported being threatened by Israeli settlers for filming the event.The Israeli military frequently sets up military checkpoints and increases raid operations in areas near the hometown of an attacker.Increased military presence spread across the Hebron district in particular following the wave of unrest that spiraled in October, with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reporting higher restrictions in the district than any other area across the occupied Palestinian territory.

Israeli military forces have carried out a weekly average of 94 search and detention raids since the start of 2016 compared to a weekly average of 88 in 2015, according to documentation by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
(Source / 27.03.2016)

Abbas Meets Ban Ki-Moon in Jordan

AMMAN (Ma’an) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas briefed United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday on the latest developments in the Palestinian territory.Presidential spokesman Nabi Abu Rdeina told Ma’an that the two men met in the Jordanian capital Amman, and that Abbas brought up the issue of daily Israeli detention raids, and continued settlement activity.Abu Rdeina added that Abbas and Ban discussed Palestinian efforts to bring forward a UN resolution condemning illegal settlement activity in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem –deemed illegal under international law.Abbas also spoke about “constructive” French efforts to organize an international peace conference this summer to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.Abu Rdeina emphasized Abbas’ support of the conference, and thanked Ban for visiting the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared in Lebanon.Meanwhile, Ban stressed the importance of keeping the two-state solution alive, and maintaining international support for the political process.

(Source / 27.03.2016)

Netanyahu: ‘executing wounded Palestinian an ethical act’

Israeli Channel Two poll: 68 per cent of Israelis disagree with public criticism of the Israeli murderer

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that “executing the wounded Palestinian in Al-Khalil is an ethical act.”

“We must all support the IDF Chief-of-Staff, the IDF and our soldiers, who safeguard our security,” he said, referring to the Israeli murder

Days of Palestine, Jerusalem -Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that “executing the wounded Palestinian in Al-Khalil is an ethical act.”

Commenting on the incident during the weekly meeting of the Israeli occupation government, Netanyahu said: “The soldiers of the IDF, our children, maintain high ethical values while courageously fighting against bloodthirsty murderers under difficult operational conditions.”

He severely criticised the voices calling for an investigation into the incident. “Any challenge to the morality of the IDF is outrageous and unacceptable,” he said.

The Palestinian was shot in the head while he was wounded
The Palestinian was shot in the head while he was wounded

“We must all support the IDF Chief-of-Staff, the IDF and our soldiers, who safeguard our security,” he said, referring to the Israeli murder.

On Thursday, an Israeli occupation soldier shot and wounded the Palestinian Abdul-Fattah al-Sharif, 21. Then, one of the Israeli soldiers shot him in the head from a very close distance, while he was motionless.

A couple of hours later, the Israeli rights group B’Tselem published a video for the execution that went viral on the internet and sparked widespread criticism amongst calls to prosecute the murderer.

Do not arrest murderer

Meanwhile, a poll conducted by the Israeli TV Channel two found that 57 per cent of the Israelis oppose investigating the Israeli murderer or the unarmed and motionless Palestinian.

The poll showed that 32 per cent of the Israelis agree that the murderer should have been arrested and investigated over the execution.

In addition, 68 per cent of the Israeli, the poll found, disagreed with the public criticism of the Israeli murder of the Palestinians.

(Source / 27.03.2016)

Rights volunteer threatened after taking video of wounded Palestinian’s slaying

Video depicts Israeli soldier shooting and killing motionless, wounded Palestinian after stabbing attack on another Israeli soldier

Imad Abu Shamsiyyeh hasn’t been to work since the shooting because he’s afraid to leave his family alone

HEBRON, West Bank – Imad Abu Shamsiyyeh and his family are terrified of retribution for a video taken on Friday by Imad, a volunteer member of Israeli rights group B’Tselem.

The video depicts an Israeli soldier shooting and killing a motionless, wounded Palestinian in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron after a stabbing attack on another Israeli soldier.

The soldier seen shooting in the video hasn’t been identified by Israeli authorities. The wounded Palestinian who was shot dead was identified as Abed al-Fatah al-Sharif, who with another Palestinian, also slain, was accused of stabbing an Israeli soldier in the shoulder.

Imad’s wife, Fayza, told Middle East Eye that she and her family won’t be returning home until she feels they’re safe. “I told Imad that he can stay and risk death if he wants, but I won’t stay and die for some bricks that make up a house,” she said after a news conference on Sunday at the Hebron governor’s headquarters.

“There is too much to lose by staying home right now and it just isn’t worth it. The whole family decided we’re going to my parents’ house until things settle down,” she said.

Fayza said that for the past two nights, Israeli settlers have surrounded their home in Tel Rumeida in the H2 block of Hebron’s city centre, where Palestinian security officials have no jurisdiction.

“They were chanting about burning our house down like they did in Duma,” she said, referring to an arson attack by Israeli settlers in the northern West Bank last July, which killed a young couple and their infant child.

While the settlers surrounded their home, Fayza said, Israeli forces stood by and watched.

“I have small children – and believe me I am so proud that my husband took that video to show the world what Israel’s army does – but I won’t sit around and wait for my family to be hurt for it,” she said. “There is no one in Hebron who can protect us.”

Because Imad was credited for the video in a B’Tselem news release just hours after the shooting, his name was widely circulated in the media.

He was later taken in by Israeli authorities for questioning and witness testimony about the incident. During the questioning, Imad said, Israeli forces confiscated the original copy of the video and implied that he wouldn’t be safe, because his name was now known to everyone.

He was asked how the video would benefit him and who he thought would protect him and his family “from right-wing Israelis,” according to Human Rights Watch (HRW), who spoke with Imad after he was questioned.

Imad said he now feels the safety of his family is at risk. He hopes the video will be used as evidence against the Israeli soldier, who has since been detained, but in hindsight he wishes he hadn’t been credited by name.

Allowing his name to be connected to the video isn’t his only regret. Imad said he would have also ensured that his 14-year-old son, Mohammed, hadn’t been present during the filming.

“He was standing next to me while I was filming, and he’s had nightmares the past two nights because of it,” Imad said, adding that even if he can keep his children physically safe, the psychological damage has already been done.

Mohammed told MEE that the nightmares he’s had are worse than actually having seen the soldier shoot al-Sharif in real life.

“When I think back to what I actually saw, versus what my dreams have been, the dreams are much worse,” Mohammed said. “But when I’m awake, I’m not scared of the Israelis. I just worry for my mother and my family because I know they are afraid of something happening to us.”

Imad, who works as a shoemaker, said he hasn’t been to work since the shooting because he’s afraid to leave his family alone.

“I’ve gotten maybe a few hours sleep since I took the video. I’ve been staying up waiting until three in the morning or so, and waking up at six in the morning,” Imad said. “I’m always on guard.”

During the news conference, Hebron Mayor Kamil Hamad called on the international community to help protect Imad and other residents of Hebron’s H2 bloc.

Farid al-Atrash, a lawyer and director for the Independent Commission for Human Rights, told MEE that it is of the utmost importance people like Imad are protected.

“His video will help stop these violations against the Palestinian people because this soldier will be taken to court now with strong evidence, and videos like this help alert the international community to what is happening here in Palestine, so it is very important,” al-Atrash said.

“And the safety of those speaking out, of those exposing these violations, is just as important,” he said.

Al-Atrash and Imad are both hopeful that the video will help indict the Israeli soldier who killed the wounded al-Sharif.

However, in a statement released by HRW after having interviewed Imad, the group noted the Israeli military’s “poor record of accountability for dozens of apparently unlawful killings of Palestinians in the West Bank”, pointing out that their documentation “showed how internal (Israeli) investigations are often nothing more than a sham”.

The group also called on Israeli authorities to “impartially investigate, fairly prosecute and appropriately punish soldiers convicted in the killing”.

(Source / 27.03.2016)

Occupation wounds 2, arrests 4 in West Bank

One of the arrested youth is a brother of a Palestinian murdered a couple of days ago

Israeli occupation forces wounded two Palestinian youths, wounded two others in predawn raid on Al-Duheisha Refugee Camp, south of West Bank city of Bethlehem.

Palestinian medical sources said that two Palestinians youths were admitted to a Palestinian hospital and were treated for light injuries

Days of Palestine, West Bank -Israeli occupation forces wounded two Palestinian youths, arrested four others in predawn raid on Al-Duheisha Refugee Camp, south of West Bank city of Bethlehem.

Local Palestinian sources said that the Palestinian youths turned out to face the Israeli occupation forces, which raided their camp and broke into their homes.

The Israeli occupation forces fired tear gas and rubber-coated-with-steel bullets at the Palestinian youths to violently disperse them.

Palestinian medical sources said that two Palestinians youths were admitted to a Palestinian hospital and were treated for light injuries.

Meanwhile, Palestinian rights group in West Bank reported two other Palestinians were arrested in the same raid. They were identified as Mohamed Sha’fout and Hamza abu-Ajamiyeh.

In Al-Khalil, the Palestinian rights group also said that the Israeli occupation forces raided the house of the Palestinian, who had been executed two days ago, and arrested Khalid al-Sharif, 25, and Adeeb al-Qasmawi, 20.

(Source / 27.03.2016)

65 dead, over 250 injured in bomb blast in Lahore public park


LAHORE (Staff Report) – At least 65 people have been killed and over 250 injured after a suicide bomber hit the Gulshan Iqbal Park, near Moon Market, Allama Iqbal Town on Sunday.

The blast was just outside the exit gate and a few feet (metres) away from the children’s swings.

Eye witnesses said there were pools of blood and scattered body parts at the site of the blast.

DIG Operations Haider Ashraf, while talking to media, said that the eye witness reports have stated that this was a suicide explosion.

Adviser to Chief Minister on Health Salman Rafique confirmed the death toll. Edhi sources add that over 200 are injured.

According to Rescue sources, nearly 300 injured people were shifted to nearby hospitals.

Police and rescuers immediately reached at the site and cordoned off the area.

Scores of the injured persons, including women and children, are said to be in critical condition.


All public hospitals in the city have been placed on emergency.


Men mourn the death of their relatives after a blast outside a public park in Lahore, Pakistan, March 27, 2016. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza

Men mourn the death of their relatives after a blast outside a public park in Lahore, Pakistan, March 27, 2016. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza

The injured have been shifted to Jinnah Hospital , General Hospital and Sheikh Zayed Hospital.


Around 35 people, three of them children, were shifted to Jinnah Hospital while 45 were rushed to Sheikh Zayed Hospital and others were taken to private hospitals.


Troops and personnel of Counter-Terrorism Department also reached the scene to carry out the rescue work and cordon off the area.


According to security sources, upper body of the suspected bomber was still intact and that he could be easily identified.

Park employees said the park was packed with people since it was Sunday and Easter Day.

The Punjab government announced three days of mourning.

Thousands of people visit the park on weekends.

(Source / 27.03.2016)