A threshold crossed – Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution

Dawn queue for Palestinians at Israeli checkpoint

Dawn queue for Palestinians at Israeli checkpoint

More on Palestine

A threshold crossed – Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution

On 27th April 2021 Human Rights Watch published a report entitled A threshold crossed – Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution. This documents many examples of where the policies followed by successive Israeli governments over the years merit the definition of Israel as an ‘Apartheid State’.

From it’s inception the State of Israel has been an artificial creation, it’s only legitimacy coming from it being sanctioned by an imperialist power (Britain, through the Balfour Declaration of 1917) where the state was created on land already occupied by another people.

From its earliest days (even before the official declaration of the formation of the State on 14th May 1948) Zionist invaders of the territory of Palestine sought to maintain their control of the area by the use of force and terror. An example (but only one of many) of this is the massacre of Palestinians at the village of Deir Yassin which took place on 9th April 1948 where at least 107 Palestinian men, women and children were slaughtered by members of the Israeli terrorist groups Irgun and the Stern Gang – with the total complicity of the ‘official’ Israeli armed forces.

The word ‘apartheid’ is normally associated with the institutionalised racism against the indigenous population of the regime that existed in South Africa from 1948 until 1994. (It’s a strange quirk of history that the ‘official’ beginning of apartheid – racism had been endemic in South Africa since the arrival of the first settlers in the 17th century – coincided with the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.) However, the separate development that occurred in Palestine in the 1950s and 60s was an apartheid policy in all but name. The process has only been accelerated in recent years, especially after years when whatever the Israelis inflict upon the Palestinian population results in no repercussions from the so-called ‘international community’ and any, and all, resolutions of the United Nations are just ignored with equal impunity.

It is as this arrogance and entitlement grew that Israel’s original attitude to the South African Apartheid regime changed. After initially being a ‘supporter’ of the Black African population when both countries became international social pariahs (apart from their imperialist friends) their relationships became closer. By the early 1980s Israel was South Africa’s closest military ally and the Apartheid regime’s most important foreign arms supplier. Against whom those arms were going to be used if not the Black population of South Africa itself or in support of those opposing the national liberation movements in Southern Africa then where?

By the time the regime in South Africa had changed in the early 1990s Israel was well on the road to replacing South Africa as the world’s most blatant ‘apartheid’ regime.

What is surprising about this report is that it has taken so long to be produced and disseminated. Even the most casual observer of the situation of the Palestinians in those small parts of Palestine they are being forced to live in could have told you that decades ago.

For an online version of the report, which includes a short but concise video, click here.

More on Palestine

9th April 1948 – Deir Yassin Massacre

Deir Yassin

Deir Yassin

More on Palestine

More on the ‘Revolutionary Year’

9th April 1948 – Deir Yassin Massacre 

On the 9th of April 1948 the village of Deir Yassin ceased to exist as a Palestinian village. For it was on that day when members of various right-wing Zionist gangs attacked the village and killed at least 107 people, injuring many more. 

The Zionist terrorist groups involved were principally the Irgun and the Stern gangs but almost certainly supported by other military factions within the Jewish community and the ‘official’ Israeli armed forces, the Haganah. 

There are various arguments as to why the village was attacked but really what these boil down to is an effort to seek a justification for the action of the terrorists. 

Yes, there was a war going on, but that doesn’t mean to say that a heavily armed militia force has the right to go into a village and basically kill any anybody they find at the location.  

It has been argued that Palestinian fighters had attacked Zionist forces from the vicinity of the village but then you come across the sticky justification that was used by the German Fascists when they destroyed the village of Lidice, in Czechoslovakia, killing all adult males and sending the women and children to concentration camps, after the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich. This took place only 6 years earlier in June 1942. 

(It is well worth mentioning here that there are many ‘Deir Yassin’s’ in 20th century history. The village of Oradour-sur-Glane, near Limoges in France was similarly attacked by the Nazis in June 1944. The Albanian village of Borovë suffered a similar fate in July 1943 after Partisans had attacked a Nazi convoy in the nearby mountains only days before. And we should not forget the United States atrocity of the massacre of My Lai on March 16th, 1968 during the Vietnam War.) 

Unfortunately, all that the Jews who were fighting for the establishment of the State of Israel had learnt from their experience under the Nazis, from the 1930s to the end of the Second World War, were the terrorist tactics of those very same people who had persecuted Jewish and other people throughout Europe and their thirst for other peoples’ lands. 

Invaders, fascists and imperialists will often justify their actions by saying that it was the other side that made the first move. However, it has to be remembered that the Palestinians were fighting for their homeland. It was the Zionists who were the usurpers, taking land that didn’t belong to them (whatever justification they sought from the 2,000-year-old religious texts).  

The majority of the members of the Zionist terrorist groups were very recent immigrants to the country and sought to establish the legitimacy of the Jewish claim to the territory by the use of force and terror. 

I have no intention of going through the claims and counterclaims here as they really are not relevant. Nothing justifies the indiscriminate slaughter of men, women and children simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Whether it was part of the original plan or not what the massacre did achieve was the terrorising of the local Palestinian population, in neighbouring villages as well as the village of Deir Yassin itself. Many of the Palestinians in the vicinity sought to get as far as possible away from these various Zionist, terrorist groups. 

Those not killed or injured at Deir Yassin left with whatever they could carry with them. And it was the creation of this climate of fear which was probably the biggest achievement for the Zionists in the attack upon the village. 

Killing Palestinians was good, frightening the rest away was even better. 

But the massacre at Deir Yassin in 1948 was not unique in Palestine and there were a number of similar attacks on other villages in the subsequent years (Zeita, Beit Nuba and Yalu in 1967, for example). 

Perhaps in 2021 there are not the same sort of atacks on Palestinian villages as happened at Deir Yassin but the Israeli Armed Forces continue to maintain a regime of terror and a total disruption of the daily lives of Palestinians with checkpoints and forced searches, etc. 

Even the reaction of the Israeli government (which was given control over huge swathes of Palestinian land by the imperialist powers on 14th May 1948) to the massacre is similar to what is commonplace nowadays. 

Although there was no ‘official’ Jewish representation in the attack upon Deir Yassin such an action would not have happened without some sort of sanction from those waiting to take political power. There was no condemnation of the attack and certainly no punishment of those who perpetrated the massacre. Quite the opposite. If only privately the attack would have been seen as part of the ‘ethnic cleansing’ that was part of Zionist philosophy from the earliest days and resulted in the removal of potential ‘trouble-makers’.   

And the fate of the actual buildings of Deir Yassin is being replicated today. 

Within two or three years of the massacre the buildings had been taken over as part of a Jewish hospital. Later, other buildings were demolished and Palestinian cemetery was cleared for the construction of a major rod. 

Since the massacre Deir Yassin has been erased from the map of Palestine as a Palestinian village and has become absorbed into the Jewish state. 

This is exactly the same as is happening now throughout many parts of Palestine where Zionist settlers are taking over Palestinian land, making villages unsustainable and making the life of the people intolerable. This is in an effort to force the people to leave the land, leave the country and leave the territory to Israel so the state can establish its own racist, apartheid society where the only people who are welcomed are Jewish. 

In remembering the events of 9th April 1948 we should make sure we realise that the same terrorist tactics are being used 73 years later and for basically the same ends – that is, Israel for the Jews only. 

(Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day in Israel) in 2021 was commemorated on 7th/8th April, only a day before the anniversary of the Deir Yassin massacre. Few Israeli citizens, I imagine, considered that the juxtaposition of these dates should have been cause for a time of reflexion.) 

More on Palestine

More on the ‘Revolutionary Year’

Israeli settlers target Palestinian children with violent attacks

Israeli Army response to settler violence - torture the victims

Israeli Army response to settler violence – torture the victims

More on Palestine

‘We are still living in fear.’

Israeli settlers target Palestinian children with violent attacks

This article first appeared on the Defense for Children International – Palestine website on 23rd March 2021. It is reproduced here exactly as it was at that time.

Ramallah, March 23, 2021 — ‘I thought she was dead,’ We’am told Defense for Children International – Palestine following a January incident when Israeli settlers attacked her and her children outside their West Bank home. An Israeli settler struck We’am’s 10-year-old daughter, Hala, in the face with a stone, injuring her. ‘I tried to carry her but I could not carry her alone.’

Palestinian children living in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, find themselves in a hyper-militarized environment where they are vulnerable to violence at the hands of Israeli settlers and soldiers.

Violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians and their property is widespread and occurs daily throughout the West Bank. Israeli settlers perpetrate violence, damage, and destroy Palestinian property, take over land, and commit other offenses against Palestinian civilians living in the occupied West Bank.

Defense for Children International – Palestine documented four Israeli settler attacks in the occupied West Bank between January 17 and February 15, 2021, that injured six Palestinian children between the ages of three and 13. The attacks occurred in close proximity to a number of illegal Israeli settlements spanning the occupied West Bank. Two of the children required hospitalization following the attacks, according to evidence collected by DCIP.

Israeli settlers attack 10-year-old Palestinian girl outside her home

On January 17, settlers from the illegal Jewish-only settlement of Yitzhar attacked the Palestinian village of Madama, in the northern West Bank governorate of Nablus, injuring 10-year-old Hala Q. The girl’s mother, We’am, told DCIP that approximately 20 masked Israeli settlers used rocks to smash windows in homes along their street and that the settlers had attempted to attack the village three weeks prior, but were held off by local residents. Hala was on her way to her uncle’s home nearby to study when she was attacked by an Israeli settler.

‘He was a tall man, wearing jeans, and his face was masked with a cloth, holding a huge rock,’ Hala told DCIP. ‘He threw the rock at my face, and I fell down in front of the house and partially passed out. I felt that someone was pulling me, but I had no power to move at all, then I completely lost consciousness.’

Both Hala’s five-year-old sister, Masa, and We’am sustained injuries to their legs during the attack.

‘When I went out, the masked settler who was standing next to Hala fled the scene.’ We’am, the girls’ mother, told DCIP. ‘I thought she was dead. I tried to carry her but I could not carry her alone.’

Aided by her nine-year-old son, Karam, We’am took Hala into the home, where the family hid while they waited for someone to help them transport Hala to the hospital. The Israeli settlers, who were approximately 15 meters (49 feet) away, threw stones at the house for almost ten minutes, according to We’am.

‘Hala’s face was covered with blood,’ We’am said. ‘My other children were panicking as we were hiding in the house and still hearing the stones smashing our windows.’

Once the attack subsided, neighbors took Hala in a private car to Rafidia Surgical Hospital in Nablus City. Hala was evaluated and had bleeding in her nose and mouth, bruises under her left eye, and a broken tooth. Once she regained consciousness, she was discharged and returned home.

‘None of us could sleep that night,’ Hala told DCIP. ‘We were still scared that the settlers would attack us again. Until this moment we are still living in fear.’

Despite living in the same territory, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank are subject to Israeli military law, while Israeli settlers living illegally in permanent, Jewish-only communities built on Palestinian land are subject to the Israeli civilian legal system. Since Israeli forces occupied the West Bank in 1967, Israeli authorities have established more than 200 Jewish-only settlements that house around 700,000 Israeli citizens, according to the Times of Israel.

Yitzhar is widely known as a hotbed of Israeli settler violence against Palestinians. The illegal settlement was founded in 1983 as a military outpost that soon turned into a civilian settlement. Nearby villages previously used the land for agricultural purposes, and Palestinian villagers are frequently targeted with violence by Yitzhar settlers. The Od Yosef Chai yeshiva is based in Yitzhar and is known for encouraging its students to perpetrate violence against Palestinians. The yeshiva was previously located in Nablus until it moved to Yitzhar in 2000 during the Second Intifada.

30 Israeli settlers attack Palestinian family planting olive trees

On February 15, settlers from Brakha, an illegal Jewish-only settlement south of the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, attacked and injured two girls, aged eight and 10, who were on their land in Burin, some 50 meters (164 feet) west of Brakha. Rafeef I., 10, told DCIP that she, her parents, 11-year-old brother, eight-year-old sister, and an adult cousin were planting olive trees on their land around 4 p.m. when a group of 30 Israeli settlers, some armed, descended towards them from the illegal Brakha settlement.

‘We felt so scared when we saw them approaching us,’ said Rafeef, who told DCIP that the settlers threw stones at the family from a distance of around 30 meters (98 feet). ‘We tried to escape and a stone hit my back so hard that I started screaming and crying, but I kept running back to the village. My eight-year-old sister Alanoud started crying and screaming and saying that she had been hit by a stone. She fell to the ground.’

The Israeli settlers fired live ammunition and tear gas canisters in their direction, and the family fled to their village by car. The settlers also injured Rafeef’s mother in the attack and destroyed the family’s olive trees. ‘We can’t sleep normally because of what happened,’ Rafeef told DCIP.

Despite being civilians, Israeli settlers are issued firearmsby the Israeli government and many subscribe to ultra-nationalistic beliefs that manifest in extreme violence towards Palestinians, including children. Israeli settlers who attack Palestinians are motivated by the drive to dispossess Palestinians of their land, according to Israeli human rights group Yesh Din.

Palestinian toddler hospitalized after Israeli settler attack

Alaa S. told DCIP that his three-year-old son was hospitalized after Israeli settlers attacked his family while they drove from Ramallah to visit family in Tubas, a city in the northeastern West Bank, on January 21, 2021. As the car approached a junction near an Israeli checkpoint located close to the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit El, the family noticed a person in the road ahead signaling with a flashlight for the car to stop.

‘We thought he was an Israeli police officer asking us to stop to make sure that we were wearing masks because of the coronavirus pandemic,’ said Alaa. ‘My wife slowed down the car gradually until it came to a full stop and then within a few seconds, people started throwing stones at the car from all directions while talking to each other in Hebrew. We realized we had been ambushed by a group of settlers.’

The Israeli settlers broke the left rear window of the car, where three-year-old Jad S. sat beside his six-year-old brother, Majd. The terrified family drove to the junction where two Israeli police cars and a military vehicle were stationed, and Alaa reported the attack to the Israeli police officers and soldiers. Alaa noticed that Jad had sustained injuries to his face, and a police officer called an ambulance, which arrived approximately 20 minutes later.

A Palestinian ambulance also arrived at the scene and provided the family with first aid, before taking Alaa and the two children to the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah. Jad was discharged the following day at 12:30 p.m. On January 28, Alaa filed a complaint with Israeli police at the Beit El police station. He has yet to hear from the station regarding an outcome.

‘The rest of us were not injured, but we were all traumatized,’ said Alaa. ‘My sons had nightmares during the nights after the incident. They would wake up crying and screaming and saying stones were being thrown at them. They are scared to leave the house or get into the car. They are saying they do not want to go to Tubas, and they are refusing to sleep alone in their room.’

Impunity is rampant for Israeli settlers who attack Palestinians. According to Israeli human rights group Yesh Din, 91 percent of investigations into ideological crimes against Palestinians are closed with no indictments filed.

Palestinian children share what it’s like to live in Jalazoun refugee camp near Beit El settlement.

Israeli settler assaults 13-year-old Palestinian boy walking home

Haitham A., 13, told DCIP that an Israeli settler attacked him on February 6, 2021, as he walked home with his parents around 8 p.m. in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Hebron. The family had entered the area through an Israeli checkpoint at Jabal al-Rahma, near their home, when five Israeli settlers repairing a motorbike in the street noticed the family.

One of them, a 14-year-old boy, followed the family. Haitham’s mother noticed the settler following them and alerted her son.

‘I turned around and saw the settler was so close. He hit me with his hand on my head, on the right ear, and he ran away into the settlement, but he was stopped by soldiers at the gate,’ Haitham told DCIP. ‘My father followed him and asked him why he hit me. The soldiers called the police. My ear was all red.’

Israeli police forces took the family to Ja’bara police station near the illegal Israeli settlement of Givat HaAvot, where Haitham was taken to an interrogation room, shown videos of the incident, and asked to provide a statement.

In 1984, the illegal Israeli settlement of Tel Rumeida was established inside the Palestinian Tel Rumeida neighborhood in Hebron. Functionally closed by Israeli authorities to non-residents since 2015, Tel Rumeida is heavily militarized, and Palestinians face frequent Israeli settler and soldier violence.

About 200 meters (655 feet) from Tel Rumeida, Hebron’s city center, including the historic Old City, the old market, and the Ibrahimi Mosque, is under full Israeli military and civil control as part of a 1997 agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization, which was approved by the Palestinian Authority. The city was split into two areas, H1, which is under nominal Palestinian Authority control, and H2, controlled by the Israeli military. About 34,000 Palestinians and 700 Israeli settlers live in the H2 area, and thousands of Israeli forces patrol the area, according to B’Tselem.

Palestinian children in Hebron describe how they move around the city, which is filled with military checkpoints and illegal Israeli settlements.

Israeli authorities consistently fail to investigate complaints filed against settlers. According to Israeli human rights group Yesh Din, between 2005-2019, 82 percent of investigative files on ideological crimes against Palestinians were closed due to police failures.

It is rare for charges to be filed and even rarer for Israeli settlers to be convicted for violence or offenses against Palestinians. One recent exception was when an Israeli court found Israeli settler Amiram Ben-Uleil, 25, guilty of the racially motivated murder of a Palestinian toddler and his parents. In the early hours of July 31, 2015, Ben-Uleil and another masked man threw firebombs into the home of 18-month old Ali Dawabsheh, four-year-old Ahmad, and their parents, Saad and Riham, in the northern occupied West Bank village of Duma. Only Ahmad, who sustained burns to over 60 percent of his body, survived.

DCIP has documented 73 settler attacks on Palestinian children since January 2015.

Israel is obligated to protect Palestinian civilians under Article 4 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which applies to situations of armed conflict, including occupation. Despite this, Israeli soldiers deployed throughout the occupied West Bank rarely protect Palestinians from settler attacks and have even participated in some cases.

Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits Israel, the occupying power, from transferring its civilians to the Occupied Palestinian Territory. It also prohibits Israel from transferring Palestinians, the protected population, unless necessary for the protected population’s security or out of military necessity. Violations of Article 49 are grave violations of international humanitarian law and amount to war crimes.

The United Nations Security Council reaffirmed the prohibition on establishing settlements in Resolutions 446, 452, 465, and most recently, 2334. Despite this prohibition, Israel began establishing settlements for Israeli civilians shortly after it occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip in 1967. Israeli authorities frequently displace Palestinian communities and appropriate Palestinian farmland to establish these Jewish-only settlements.

More on Palestine