Benny Gantz, former Israeli military chief of staff, and presidential candidate [File photo]
A Dutch court yesterday dismissed a war crimes lawsuit filed against former Israeli general and current opposition leader, Benny Gantz, and his co-defendant, Amir Eshel.
The court ruled that it was not competent to rule in the civil case brought by Dutch-Palestinian man, Ismail Ziada, against Gantz and Eshel for their role in the murder of six members of his family during Israel’s 2014 war on the Gaza Strip.
Judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) last week postponed a decision to open an investigation into war crimes committed by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories.
smail Ziada’s complaint was filed against Gantz and former Air Force Commander Amir Eichel, a press release issued by the Palestine Justice Campaign said, invoking “universal jurisdiction” laws.
“I struggle to stand in front of you today to gain justice and accountability,” Reuters reported Ziada telling Dutch judges, referring to the “unspeakable tragedy” that befell his family.
On Sunday 20 July 2014, the Israel air force bombed the Ziada family home in Al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip resulting in the death of Ziada’s 70-year-old mother, three of his brothers, the wife of one of his brothers, his 12-year-old nephew, and a visitor who happened to be at the house at the time of the attack.
Israeli soldiers intervene in Palestinians during a protest against US President Donald Trump’s peace plan in Tubas, West Bank on 29 January 2020
Senior Israeli security officials recently met with their Palestinian counterparts, as well the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership, in an attempt to quell Palestinian protests against the US “deal of the century”, Arab48.com reported on Wednesday.
According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Arab48.com revealed that the Israeli security agencies are seeking high-level security cooperation with the PA, in order to prevent massive demonstrations.
Haaretz announced that Israeli officials had conveyed to the PA leadership that It would be better not to encourage the Palestinians to protests, under the pretext that the deal might not be announced before the Israeli elections.
The Israeli daily newspaper disclosed that the Israeli security officials believe that: “It is not feasible for Israel to pledge to take dramatic steps to agitate the PA, in order not to be pushed to let the Palestinian people protest and start confrontations with the Israeli forces.”
Security evaluations, according to Haaretz, state that the latest Israeli measures taken to ease the Israeli siege imposed on Gaza, aim to maintain peace and to persuade Hamas to keep the protests only within Gaza, and away from the eastern fence between Gaza and Israel.
The Palestinian Center For Human Rights (PCHR): While the Oslo Accords sacrificed human rights and the international law for more than a quarter of a century, the U.S president Donald Trump’s Middle East plan constitutes a full destruction of international law, and legitimizes more than 50 years of Israeli violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) since 1967, that amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. Rather than referring to the principles of international law and the United Nations (UN) resolutions, including UN Security Council resolutions endorsed by the U.S., the current U. S Administration flouts these principles and promotes the logic of force over truth and rewards Israel for its crimes.
Under the so-called peace process, Israel continued to take chunks of the oPt and create irreversible facts on the ground, including tripling its settlement expansion schemes; creating a Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem, isolating and forcing its local Palestinian population out of the city; constructing the annexation wall; imposing a closure on the Gaza Strip; severing the cities, villages and refugee camps of the West Bank apart by settlements, settler bypass roads and hundreds of military checkpoints.
In short, the Israeli military occupation managed to change the features of the oPt, seized its resources and deprived Palestinians from their inalienable rights in favor of Israeli settlers.
Israel created a new version of apartheid in which settlers enjoy privileges at the expense of the indigenous population who are besieged and separated in Bantustans, stripped of their rights guaranteed by international law and oppressed by the means of law and brute force that are enforced by its occupation forces and military rule.
Trump’s plan legitimizes all the above in the name of peace, and upholds Israel’s control over the oPt, yet exempts it from its responsibility towards the population. Under Trump’s scheme, Palestinians would have a mirage of a state that has limited autonomy and lacks geographical integrity or sovereignty over its lands and resources.
We firmly reject Trump’s plan, which legitimizes Israeli crimes and deprives Palestinians of their legal and political rights, and sets foundation for a new type of apartheid.
We believe that the only way to reach a just and lasting peace is through respecting international law, including IHL and the international human rights law, protecting the Palestinian people’s inalienable rights, including their right to self-determination, and ending the Israeli military occupation.
Therefore, we call upon the international community to stand for and protect rule of law and support international accountability mechanisms, including the International Criminal Court.
The international community should take firm action against Israel’s plans, supported by the U.S Administration as evident in Trump’s proposed peace plan, to annex the Northern Jordan Valleys and other parts of the West Bank
The Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) has reported that one of its fighters was killed, Thursday, in an accident in a siege busting tunnel, near Gaza city.
The Brigades said the fighter, identified as Ibrahim Khalil ash-Shantaf, 21, was from Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza city.
It added that he was killed in an accident while working in one of its tunnels near the perimeter fence on the besieged and impoverished coastal region.
It is worth mentioning that hundreds of Palestinians have been killed or injured, in similar accidents. Many of them were not members of the Brigades or any armed resistance group and were working in the tunnels to provide for their families.
Most of the tunnels in Gaza are used for smuggling food, fuel, and medicine into the besieged Gaza Strip.
An elephant trap has for years now laid in the path of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s messianic plans to establish the state of Israel between the river and the sea.
It was the demographic fact that, in that space, there were more Palestinians than Jews. According to 2016 figures from the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) that were provided to the Israeli Knesset’s foreign affairs and defence committee, there were 6.5 million Muslims and 6.44 million Jews between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea, although those figures are out of date now. The committee referred to Muslims rather than Palestinians, thus excluding Palestinian Christians.
This means that Netanyahu’s annexation plan on its own cannot work. The huge concrete infrastructure with which Israel has cemented its occupation of the West Bank – settlements, walls, roads and tunnels – and its apartheid state as cruel and as complete as anything manufactured in South Africa, are all palliatives – medicines which reduce the pain to a Jewish majority state but not the cause.
You can announce as many times as you like, as US President Donald Trump did yesterday, that Israel will take over the Jordan Valley and thus about 30 per cent of the West Bank, and establish Israeli law over the settlements. But without physically moving greater and greater numbers of Palestinians out of the expanded state of Israel, little changes. Annexation just becomes another form of occupation.
Population transfer, mass population transfer, another Nakba or Catastrophe, therefore, lies at the heart of Trump’s and Netanyahu’s “vision” for peace.
This is a peace of sorts. It’s the silence you hear in the Palestinian villages in 1948, in Beit Hanoun in 2014, when Israel bombed a UN school in northern Gaza crowded with hundreds of displaced civilians killing 15 and injuring 200 people, or in East Aleppo or Mosul, after each in turn have been bombed to a pulp. It’s the peace created in the total and complete defeat of the Palestinian struggle for a state built on their own land.
The hidden plan
So, for me, the heart of the apocalyptic vision lay not in the supremacist speeches of Trump or Netanyahu, in which both proclaimed “mission accomplished”, and the complete victory of the Zionist movement over the Palestinian people. It lay in a paragraph buried deep inside the 180-page document, the most detailed document Trump bragged that had ever been produced about this conflict. Precisely.
It’s the paragraph which says that land swaps by Israel could include both “populated and unpopulated areas”. The document is precise about the population it is referring to – the 1948 Palestinian population of the so-called northern triangle of Israel – Kafr Qara, Baqa-al-Gharbiyye, Umm al-Fahm, Qalansawe, Tayibe, Kafr Qasim, Tira, Kafr Bara and Jaljulia.
The document goes on: “The Vision contemplates the possibility, subject to agreement of the parties, that the borders of Israel will be redrawn such that the Triangle Communities become part of the State of Palestine. In this agreement, the civil rights of the residents of the triangle communities would be subject to the applicable laws and judicial rulings of the relevant authorities.”
This is the hidden and most dangerous part of this plan. The triangle is home to about 350,000 Palestinians – all of whom are Israeli citizens – perched beside the north western border of the West Bank. Umm al-Fahm, its main city, has been the home of some of the most active defenders of Al Aqsa.
Yousef Jabareen, a member of the Israeli Knesset from the Joint List, told me: “Umm al-Fahm is my hometown, Wadi Ara is my lifeblood. The Triangle is home to hundreds of thousands of Arab-Palestinian citizens living in their homeland. Trump and Netanyahu’s annexation and transfer programme remove us from our homeland and revoke our citizenship; an existential danger to all Arab minority citizens. Now is the time for Jews and Arabs who value democracy and equality, to stand and work together against this dangerous plan.”
Official ‘ethnic cleansing’
For years now the “static transfer” of this population out of Israel has been toyed with by Israeli leaders of the centre or the right. The idea of a population and land swap was alluded to by former prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon. But it was only Avigdor Lieberman who took the expulsion of Palestinians up consistently as a cause.
He advocated stripping a suggested 350,000 Palestinians in the Triangle of their Israeli citizenship and forcing the other 20 per cent of the Israeli population, who are non-Jews, to make a “loyalty oath” to Israel as a “Jewish Zionist state”, or face expulsion to a Palestinian state.
Two years ago, Netanyahu proposed to Trump that Israel should rid itself of the Triangle. Today these plans for ethnic cleansing have been sealed in an official White House document.
As Palestinian member of the Knesset, Ayman Odeh, tweeted, Trump’s announcement was “a green light to revoke the citizenship of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arab citizens who live in northern Israel”.
The presence of the Emirati, Bahraini and Omani ambassadors in the audience was the other remarkable feature of the announcement in the White House on Tuesday. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the UAE welcomed the plan without reservation. Qatar did too, although it added that the Palestinian state should be negotiated on 1967 borders and Palestinians should retain their right of return.
Trump said he was amazed at the number of calls he received from world leaders in support of his plan. Not least from our very own British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Ditching four decades of British foreign policy on an equitable and just two-state solution, Johnson threw the UK’s weight behind the Trump plan. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also released a statement to say they “welcome” the deal. “This is clearly a serious proposal, reflecting extensive time and effort,” he said.
“I cannot believe the amount of support this morning has,” Trump bragged. “I have been called by leaders, Boris [Johnson] called; so many called. They’re all saying, ‘whatever we can do to help”.
There are some, however, who realise the danger of this plan. Senator Chris Murphy is one of them. He tweeted: “The unilateral annexation of the Jordan River valley and existing settlements, deemed illegal under US and international law, will set back the peace process decades. And it risks real violence and massive destabilization inside places like Jordan.”
No-one should underestimate the historic nature of the declaration that has just taken place. The two-state solution or the idea that a viable, contiguous Palestinian state can be created alongside a Jewish majority state is dead. It was dead long before Oslo Accords.
Arab peacemakers like King Hussein of Jordan was told in terms by both the Soviets – Yevgeny Primakov – and James Baker, then secretary of state, that an independent Palestinian state would never be achieved. This was even before the Madrid conference which preceded Oslo. The king did not need to attend the funeral of his friend Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated in 1995, to realise this. He knew it already. But it really is dead now.
The US has now given its official imprimatur to the eastern borders of the state of Israel. The map Middle East Eye published says it all. The Palestinian state envisioned by the plan looks like an MRI scan of the brain of an Alzheimer’s victim. The Palestinian state has been entirely eaten away.
The message of this map to Palestinians of whatever faction is now crystal clear. Forget your divisions, forget what happened between Fatah and Hamas in Gaza in 2007, cast aside claims of coups, and unite. Unite against an existential threat.
The Palestinians are truly alone. All of the staples of their negotiating position have gone. They have no Jerusalem, no right of return, no refugees to return, no Golan Heights and now no Jordan Valley. They have no Arab allies. Syria is wrecked, Iraq divided, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are now Israel’s playthings. The Palestinians have lost the support of the most populous Arab nation and its richest one.
They have nowhere to flee to. Europe is closed for any future mass migration. They have only one option: to stay and fight. United, they can undo Israel’s supremacist plans for ethnic cleansing. They have done this before and they can do this again.
A new struggle
Palestinians now have to face this reality. The PLO’s recognition of Israel, in 1993, has finally hit the dead end that this road was always going to lead to. The US, international law, UN resolutions were never going to come to their rescue, and in this sense alone, Trump’s brutal plan has done Palestinians a favour. It has blown away decades of fantasy.
What has to start now is a new wave of struggle for equal rights in one state on all of the land of historic Palestine. This will involve a huge fight. No-one should underestimate what will happen if the Palestinian people rise up again. But no-one should be in any doubt too, of the consequences of acquiescence.
This is the first time since 1948 that all Palestinians can join together to do this. They have to seize this opportunity or wither away as a footnote in history.
Since 2001, some 1,200 complaints against Israeli interrogators were filed, according to the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel. Every single case was closed with zero indictments
By Tamara Nassar
Israel is committing crimes against humanity by torturing Palestinian detainees, prisoners rights group Addameer suggested in a recent report.
Israel’s denial of fair trials to prisoners may also constitute war crimes, the group stated.
Addameer had been collecting evidence on Israel’s use of torture and ill-treatment against Palestinian detainees since late August.
Prison officers were found to have ill-treated some 50 detainees, studied by the prisoners rights group, of whom about half were subjected to torture.
Palestinian detainees included women, university students, union workers, human rights defenders and Palestinians lawmakers.
An Israeli court in Jerusalem issued a gag order on 10 September that barred Addameer and the general public from publishing information on cases of Palestinians being held at the Russian Compound, a notorious Israeli detention center in Jerusalem.
The court renewed the order twice after that, until it expired on 7 December.
“Since its creation, the occupying state developed and enforced laws and practices that led to both: the systematic use of torture and to absolute impunity for the perpetrator of this crime,” Addameer writes in a report that goes into some detail about the forms of torture Israeli prison officers employ.
These include beatings, sleep deprivation, stress positions, sexual harassment and others.
More than 70 Palestinians have died after torture in Israeli custody since 1967, according to Addameer’s research.
This number includes 23 prisoners who died after Israel ratified the United Nations convention against torture in October 1991.
Still, not a single individual or entity was ever held accountable.
Overall, some 220 Palestinians have died in Israeli custody since 1967.
Israeli officers “hit, slapped, punched, poked (using their fingers), and kicked the detainees,” in some cases causing them life-threatening injuries.
To make matters worse, officers sometimes blindfolded detainees “so they would not expect the beating or know where it is coming from,” according to the report.
Beatings would sometimes last dozens of hours and be done by more than five different officers at once.
The complicity of Israeli doctors in crimes of torture is not to be ignored, Addameer stressed.
In some cases, Israeli doctors faked medical assessments of detainees, qualifying them for further interrogation despite there being clear signs of torture on their bodies.
To maximize pain and pressure, Israeli officers would sometimes force detainees into stress positions before beating them.
Stress positions not only impose physical pain on detainees, but are means of applying psychological pressure as well.
In almost all stress positions, Addameer says, detainees are forced to maintain a position designed to make them lose balance, giving cause to Israeli officers to beat them.
One such position has the detainee’s legs cuffed to the legs of the chair and the hands to the other side, forcing their back to arch over the seat of the chair.
Interrogators can then either sit on or beat the detainee’s abdomen.
A sketch of the so-called “banana position” was published by Addameer on Twitter, along with other such positions:
The Palestinian chair
Israeli officers went on to teach one method of torture to American occupation forces in Iraq torturing detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison.
Dubbed “the Palestinian chair,” according to Eric Fair, a former American interrogator at the prison, the stress position has detainees crouch their bodies on the chair, with their weight centered on their thighs.
“They call it the Palestinian chair,” Fair wrote in his memoir “Consequence,” referring to two American army sergeants.
“They say the Israelis taught them how to build it during a joint training exercise. I assume it’s called the Palestinian chair because that’s who was forced to sit in it,” he wrote.
“They say everyone breaks in the chair.”
In his memoir, Fair describes the self-disgust he went on to live with having witnessed a detainee tortured in the Palestinian chair.
“Witnessing a man being tortured in the Palestinian chair requires the witness to either seek justice or cover his face. … I’ll spend the rest of my life covering my face,” he wrote.
“Having seen the Palestinian chair, it’s impossible to deny that it has all been wrong.”
Other shared tactics between Israeli and American interrogators and occupiers include sleep deprivation and a variety of psychological tortures including threats of rape.
Israel’s domestic spy agency, the Shin Bet, practices torture “as standard operating procedure in a systematic and wide-scale approach against Palestinian detainees,” which Addameer affirms could amount to a crime against humanity.
While Israel’s high court supposedly outlawed torture in 1999, it ruled that the Shin Bet can use torture in supposedly “ticking time-bomb” circumstances to investigate Palestinian prisoners.
Israel’s “ticking time-bomb” loophole was cited by US foreign spy agency the CIA to justify its torture regime – a US Senate inquiry revealed in 2014 – another example of sinister cooperation between the two states on matters of torture.
Another shared consequence of American and Israeli crimes is impunity.
Since 2001, some 1,200 complaints against Israeli interrogators were filed, according to the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel.
Every single case was closed with zero indictments.
“This Israeli illegal occupation has violated all the legal elements of an occupation under international law,” the Addameer report concludes.
There are no domestic legal means to seek justice, it adds, as those complicit are part and parcel of Israel’s legal system and government.
“In fact, the agencies complicit in those crimes include the intelligence agency, military court, military prosecution, Hight Court, and even the medical staff that were involved in providing medical care and assessment for those detainees subjected to torture and ill-treatment.”
As evidence of Israeli war crimes continues to mount, so should investigations and indictments by the International Criminal Court.
The Israeli occupation police on Wednesday evening closed all the Aqsa Mosque’s doors for about one hour after arresting two Palestinian young men at the holy site on allegations that they were found in possession of a knife.
According to local sources, police officers subdued and hauled two young men to a detention center after chasing them in the Mosque’s main courtyard.
The police claimed that one of the young men was spotted carrying a knife.
They also shut down the Mosque for about one hour and prevented Muslim worshipers from entering or leaving the holy site.