Protective Edge War Crimes

BADIL Releases No Safe Place: crimes against humanity and war crimes perpetrated by high-level Israeli officials in the course of ‘Operation Protective Edge’

The BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights announces the release of No Safe Place; a report based upon BADIL’s formal submission to the International Criminal Court, delivered to the Office of the Prosecutor in February 2016. No Safe Place provides a damning indictment of Israeli acts and policies employed during ‘Operation Protective Edge’; and concludes that high-level Israeli officials were culpable for both war crimes and crimes against humanity in the context of this operation.
 
Protective Edge – a 50 day military assault directed by Israel against the Gaza Strip and its population – left more than 2,250 Palestinians dead, and almost 170,000 Palestinian homes destroyed or damaged, leaving 108,000 Palestinians homeless. The Gaza Strip’s sole power plant ceased operation following Israeli airstrikes. 17 out of 32 hospitals were damaged, with six closed down as a result. Out of 97 primary health centers monitored for damage and closures by UN bodies, four were completely destroyed, while 45 sustained damage. Palestinian agricultural infrastructure suffered damage to the tune of $550m.
 
This staggering level of death, injury and destruction naturally produced mass forced displacement of Palestinian civilians on a vast scale, and at the height of the violence roughly half a million Palestinians were internally displaced inside the Gaza Strip, accounting for 28% of the enclave’s total population.
 
With forewords from Professor Richard Falk and Dr Michael Kearney, No Safe Place draws upon 90 interviews conducted by BADIL with Palestinians displaced during Protective Edge, and locates this displacement within the appropriate frameworks of international humanitarian and criminal law.
 
As such, the report sets out in vivid detail the wide range of policies and practices deployed by Israel which, contrary to international law, forced Palestinians to flee their homes and communities en masse, including Israel’s active targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure. Moreover, these displaced Palestinians were provided with no safe place to which to flee. To the contrary, humanitarian shelters and civilian escape routes were deliberately attacked by Israeli forces, whilst Israel’s continuing closure of the Gaza Strip has made it impossible to conduct adequate reconstruction, with the result that, for many tens of thousands of Palestinians inside this enclave, their displacement and suffering has no ending in sight.
 
The report thus concludes that there exists a reasonable basis to believe that high-level Israeli officials, within both military and political office, were culpable of, inter alia, the war crime and crime against humanity of forcible transfer, and the crime against humanity of persecution. In addition, the report highlights a range of grievous structural failings in Israel’s internal investigative processes; failings which remove any possibility of these processes providing effective review of the conduct of Israeli forces and/or Israeli officials during Protective Edge.
 
Israel shows no willingness to address these critical shortcomings, and intervention by the International Criminal Court therefore represents the only realistic means of holding to account Israeli perpetrators of these international crimes, and of delivering justice to Palestinian victims. Accordingly, BADIL calls upon the Office of the Prosecutor, as a matter of priority, to initiate a formal investigation into the conduct of high-level Israeli officials in the context of Operation Protective Edge.

This report constitutes a progressive and expert-reviewed analysis on an area which has not previously been thoroughly explored; namely that of forced displacement of Palestinians as a war crime and crime against humanity. This is an area which is steadily gaining greater awareness in the context of Israel’s ongoing occupation of Palestinian territory, with forcible transfer recently receiving extensive coverage in the report of the UN Secretary-General on Israeli settlement construction.  To this end, the evidence presented within No Safe Place points directly towards the culpability of senior Israeli politicians and military commanders for the war crime and crime against humanity of forcible transfer, as well as the crime against humanity of persecution.
For any questions or media requests relating to this email, please contact media@badil.org

Criminalisation of Free Speech and Double Standards | Dissident Voice

http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/04/criminalisation-of-free-speech-and-double-standards/

These opening paragraphs from the Dissident Voice post above show how close we sit in Oz to the Canadian govt’s obsequious relationship with the zionist lobby and Israel.

The BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) Movement is a legitimate peaceful struggle against Israeli apartheid in an illegal occupation. But as we have known forever, one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist…. Oh Canada…zero tolerance against rhetoric? Spare me….

“In what appears to be another attempt to suppress criticism of Israel, the Canadian government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Israel which makes the claim that “the selective targeting of Israel is the new face of anti-Semitism” and declares that Canada will oppose those who support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Shortly after the MOU was signed, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney announced to the UN General Assembly that the Canadian government would exercise “zero tolerance” toward “all forms of discrimination including rhetoric towards Israel, and attempts to delegitimise Israel such as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.”1

Well, “Thats It!”

I met a Muslim man who was said to be the font of all religious knowledge for a group of Palestinians in Melbourne. I asked him if the time of Ramadan was placed like the time of Easter was over seasonal times of celebration and the moon phases. His answer?

“It is what it is and THATS IT!”

Luckily others I met were less rigid. He was known to us after that simply as Mr Thatsit.

I am thinking his type of person has started to take over the world…..but I wont let myself go that far. It does look like the last nail in the coffin that was Yarmouk, Damascus has been nailed this week.

At the end of this post I have included a video posted yesterday which shows IS moving through the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee area yelling “Takfir.” There is no doubt that the beautiful piano man in the video below has gone and any smiles disappeared under Al Nusra and now their ‘friends’ the IS or as they are all known to the locals Da’ash. First the piano man……………

Read the electronic intifada article here

But that’s all gone now as on April Fools Day, 6 days ago, Al Yarmouk, once the largest area housing Palestinian Refugees in Syria,  was overrun by IS. Not that the Nusrats were any better, in fact it is believed it was them that ushered IS in through the corridor streets to Yarmouk. The name Al Yarmouk in Arabic means literally, “The Camp”. Just 8ks from the centre of the once beautiful city of Damascus. Yarmouk was, until late 2011, a thriving metropolitan suburb.

Then in 2011, things started to crack. We were told the war in Syria was a result of the so-called Arab Spring, people inside Syria wanting ‘Regime Change.’ The so-called Free Syrian Army (Moderates?!) were intent of removing a ‘corrupt regime’ and ‘instituting democratic reform’. It was clear then that these FSA Leaders were people who had not lived in the country for years. They were political exiles who did not have the support of the majority of the Syrian people. But the neo-lib and hasbura press continued to ploy us with platitudes and rhetoric to keep us dumbed down.

My first site on MSM of the now bitter and criminally insane war was in 2011. It was of unidentified uniformed snipers labelled ‘Assad regime forces,’ shooting western guns (?) at demonstrators in Deraa from behind a low brick wall…..remind anyone of past covert regime change ‘interventions’? When things got hotter we were ‘informed’ by MSM that the fight was a ‘Civil War,’ ‘fuelled by sectarian interests’. This in a country where Christians still made wine, Muslims were quietly accepting of their various typology and even included around 20,000 Israeli Jews who entered when the Golan Heights were taken by Israel.

Palestinians generally wanted to stay non-aligned, many making this declaration on-line. But Palestinians and their cause is always a international hot potato. They were about to be forced to chose. We saw the Palestinians drawn into a War that they on the whole did not see as theirs. They generally supported the government of Bashar Al Assad who had clearly supported them in the past and this was not their War, but it was closing in on them.

Palestinian refugees in Syria over 18years old do compulsory military service in the PLA (Palestinian Army in Syria) for 18 months, trained by the PLA with  Syrian army weapons and facilities. The PLA was also based in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon with mandates to cooperate with their hosts. Now, the Syrian PLA base is the only one in the entire Arab world. Between January and July 2012, seven organised assassinations were carried out on senior military PLA  members. My brother in law was shot under such circumstances and no doubt other similar lesser ranked soldiers died in in the same way. On 2nd August 2012, a visiting reporter to Yarmouk, Sharmine Narwani (nsnbc), talked to residents following the first major mortar attack on the suburb which killed 20 people.

Foreign media headlines suggested the Syrian government was shelling Yarmouk, but Palestinians inside expressed doubt. Some said these were rebel mortars from adjacent neighborhoods, but it was clear nobody could provide definitive answers for what may simply have been a series of stray shells…. Yarmouk, once home to around a million Syrians and 160,000 Palestinian refugees, was an oasis of calm that summer day of my visit. By contrast, driving through rebel-occupied Tadamoun, Yalda and Hajar al-Aswad on my way in and out of the camp, one could only gape at the burned buildings and vehicles, shuttered shops, rubble in the streets and makeshift checkpoints dotting these new conflict zones.

Attacks inside Yarmouk began with snipers and mortars from neighbouring suburbs, people began to disappear for ransom or just disappear for ever. People knew there was a strong push from Saudi Arabia to ‘change the state of play in Syria and that their money fed the so called ‘insurgents’ who were no more than mercenaries. PFLP leader Ahmad Jabril was clearly behind Al Assad, and left Yarmouk for his own protection, internal cracks began to show. People who remained inside the camp were divided. Thousands of Islamist fighters invaded and occupied Yarmouk on December 17, 2012 In Dec 2012 it was reported that…

All of the camp is under the control of the (rebel) Free Syrian Army,” said a Palestinian activist in Yarmouk. He said clashes had stopped and the remaining PFLP-GC fighters retreated to join Assad’s forces massed on the northern edge of the camp. The stories these fighters tell me is nothing I have read in English, or in any mainstream publication outside Syria. Theirs is a story that is black-and-white. Thousands of Islamist fighters invaded and occupied Yarmouk on December 17, 2012, and Palestinians and Syrians alike fled the camp, literally beginning the next day. see here

At this time most people left Yarmouk, for other Damascan suburbs or moved outside the country predominantly to Lebanon, and onto Europe if they could. In 2013 their fears were even more realised when it became clearer that return to their homes was, if ever possible, a very long way off. Jabat Al Nusra became entrenched in Yarmouk, after yo-yoing in and out due to local fighter efforts and government force attacks.

The militants, they say, systematically destroyed the camp, killed people, looted homes, hospitals – anything they could get their hands on. They insist that the rebels could not have captured Yarmouk without the help of Hamas, and are convinced that Hamas supporters are still inside the camp, now members of Al-Nusra Front, AknafBeit al-Maqdes, Ohdat al-Omariyya, Ahrar al-Yarmouk, Zahrat al Mada’en and other rebel groups that they say occupy the camp. They claim Hamas employed and provided financial assistance to displaced Syrians who escaped conflict elsewhere and settled in Yarmouk. “They hired them for this conflict,” says one. The finger-pointing at Hamas persists throughout all my conversations with refugees in the three separate camps I visit in Syria. While all Hamas officials exited the country early on in the conflict, the fact remains that many Palestinians affiliated with Hamas did not. On the outside, we understand Hamas is not there, but within the camps, Palestinians identify the individuals they accuse of sedition as “Hamas people.” This blurred line has provided Hamas’ political leadership with ‘plausible deniability’ against accusations that it has aided Islamist rebels in the camps. The fuzzy lines first became clear to me in the autumn of 2011 when a Hamas official confided that they had to “remove some people” from these areas who were displaying increasing sympathy with the Syrian opposition.

See complete article here The same journalist that reported the situation (above) returned in March 2014.

A year-and-a-half later, in March 2014, I visited Yarmouk again. The camp is unrecognizable now, and the pictures we see don’t do justice to the damage. At the entrance of the camp, I was greeted by armed Palestinians who are part of a 14-group ‘volunteer force’ formed for the purpose of protecting Yarmouk and ejecting the rebel fighters deep inside the camp. The group falls under the umbrella of the Popular Palestinian Committees for the Liberation of Yarmouk. When I ask them where they’re from, in rapid-fire, one after the other, they tell me,“Safad, Lubya, Haifa, Tiberias, Jerusalem, Acca,” though, of course, they’re too young to ever have been to any of these places. That’s where their parents or grandparents hail from. That’s where they intend to return one day. There’s a lone Syrian among them. He was raised in Yarmouk and is a Palestinian as far as he’s concerned. The stories these fighters tell me is nothing I have read in English, or in any mainstream publication outside Syria. Theirs is a story that is black-and-white.

On 24th Dec 2014, Palestinian Fatah leader Mohammad Ahmad Tarawiya was shot and killed in Yarmouk

The assassination of Tarawiya happened at sustained attempts, since 2012, to target Palestinian refugee camps and to weaken Palestinian factions in Syria which are among the strongest of the progressive and pan-Arabist Palestinian resistance fronts. The assassination also happens against the backdrop of disputes within Palestine’s Fatah movement itself. Within Yarmouk itself, there have been armed rivalries between Hamas and foreign-backed insurgents on one side, and Fatah, the Palestine Liberation Army (PLA), the PFLP-GC and other progressive as well as rejectionist factions on the other since 2012. While it is still uncertain who the masked gunmen that shot Tarawiya were, or on whose behalf they acted, it is certain that Tarawiya had both foreign and Palestinian foes.”

See source here This is what is there now, please check it, watching these guys manoeuvre through empty suburban streets is eerie…………………………………

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=870_1428256142

Ahmad Jebril said in 2012 if Yarmouk falls Damascus falls, I hope he was wrong. Enough people have suffered and 3500 children remain in Yarmouk. No playschool, dancing or piano classes for them.

Israel trains our dual citizens. We consider the IDF a ‘legitimate’ force and they act with impunity. How will these fighters behave when they come home?

As you may know, I am a huge fan of Jonathon Cook. A tireless sound journalist who lives in Nazareth. His insights and investigations are always read-worthy. His latest blog includes video’s of IOF home invasions that show  the complete disregard for human rights towards the Palestinian families whose homes are entered and whose children are traumatised.

The senior IOF officer continues to alert his young soldiers to the need to have both hands on their weapons at all times and the disregard and abuse shown toward the Palestinian families is an offence to humanity.

Watch how  young Israeli Dual Nationals are trained and what they are expected to do when they go with our governments blessing to do ‘a tour of IOF duty’.

Wonder how their experiences in maintaining an illegal occupation will radicalise and transform them.

Consider how their apartheid occupation ‘duties’ will effect them and their relationships with others in our community when they return to Australia when violations of the human rights of Palestinians is ‘just another day’s work’ for them.

As Jonathon says what normal human instincts of compassion have to be battered into submission, what ugly instincts of tribal superiority have to be cultivated?”

Videos of Israeli raids on sleeping children

25 March 2015

I suspect the word “occupation” – even the more precise “belligerent occupation” – fails to convey to most people the reality of daily horrors inflicted on the Palestinians. Of course, we know that occupations in general are bad and that it would be better if this particular one ended. But what does an occupation feel like if you’re a child, if you’re four or eight years old?

Here are two videos, released by B’Tselem, to remind us of what an occupation is like as lived experience rather than as an abstract concept. They document masked, armed soldiers breaking into the homes of Palestinians in Hebron in the middle of the night to force children awake, and then photograph and interrogate them. The soldiers go door to door, from one apartment to the the next, as casually as if they were coming to read the electricity meter. For the soldiers, this is just one of dozens of “jobs” they have that night terrifying families.

Behind the immediate terror of being confronted by these faceless soldiers, the children know from friends or family that there is a real danger they will be seized – maybe tonight or another night – if the military decide they are wanted. They will be taken from their parents without warning to a military prison, where they may be held for months and their family will probably be unable to visit them.

What damage does this do to the children – and what dread do the parents have to live with?

Give a thought too, even if a very secondary one, to these soldiers. What normal human instincts of compassion have to be battered into submission, what ugly instincts of tribal superiority have to be cultivated, for someone to behave the ways these soldiers – and many thousands more like them – do?

– See more at: http://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/2015-03-25/videos-of-israeli-raids-on-sleeping-children/#sthash.ZSf8tAg7.dpuf

Likud use vile electoral propaganda in their current drive to maintain power in Israel.

I just watched SBS ‘The FEED’ brief report on the outrage of Amman based Palestinian Hip Hop band, TORBYEH at the unauthorised theft of their music in a vile Likud advert for the upcoming elections in Israel.

Likud has hijacked on of the band’s  tracks for a deplorable ad that relates voting ‘left’ in the upcoming Israeli election with a vote for terrorism and connects the band’s song ‘Ghorbah’ (meaning ‘exile’ in Arabic) with IS.

Torabyeh’s track, ‘Ghorbah’ from 3 years ago, for your edification below

Yahoo News who I never like to quote, (but was lost for other reports) states;  (full report here)

  Torabyeh denounced the unauthorised artistic collaboration with the Israeli party’s “electoral propaganda attacking the so-called Zionist ‘left-wing’.”

“We strongly condemn and reject this ruthless infringement of intellectual property rights and the distortion of the reputation of Torabyeh,” the group said on their Facebook page.

They said use of their song in this context “implicates the Torabyeh group by containing serious accusations of terrorism and association with IS which is consequently putting the group’s members lives at risk”.

Torabyeh stressed it rejected “all forms of cooperation with the Zionist enemy”, and pledged to “take all necessary legal action against those responsible”.

The Likud advert shows the fear mongering behaviour of Netanyahu and his Likud goons. Sorry I can’t translate Hebrew (but not sorry really). But here’s the drum from liveleak…..

The video shows actors playing Islamic State terrorists driving in a white pickup truck with Islamic State flags waving from its windows on a desert road, as Arabic rap music plays in the background.They pull up next to another car and ask the (Israeli) driver how to get to Jerusalem and get the response, “turn left.”As the terrorists drive away, the “Anyone but Bibi” slogan can be seen on the truck’s bumper with the words, “the Left will surrender to terrorism,” and bullet holes appear on the screen. In the end of the clip the title shows “It is us or them. Only The Likud. Only Netanyau” The video is called: It’s us or them – Daesh version.
 (The) Left part(y) (sic) Meretz already demanded to probe the Likud for incitment in this political campaign ad”. See article here

The Likud Advert…..

The new UN Peace Envoy clearly shows the shonkiness of the “Middle East Process”

Repost from Medhajnews.com Indian news site on the announcement of Nikolai Mladenov as UN envoy to the ‘Middle East peace process’.

Nikolai Mladenov Photo BGNES

Nikolai Mladenov Photo BGNES

The article in full below.

“Set-Up! New UN Peace Envoy Mladenov To Palestine Is A Known Zionist!”

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) warned of the appointment of Nikolay Mladenov as United Nations envoy, replacing Robert Serry, to the Middle East peace process for being known for his support of Israel.

Kayed al-Ghoul, member of the PFLP Political Bureau, said of the appointment “It is contradictory to any effort leading to real peace with justice in the region; rather Mladenov will offer a real cover for the crimes of the Israeli occupation against the Palestinian people”.

Ghoul said, in a statement that the appointment of Mladenov in this position is a further attempt by powerful parties in the international organization, particularly the United States, to strengthen the position of the occupation state in international institutions concerned with the Palestinian cause and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

In the same context, Ghoul denounced the attacks and pressures to which William Schabas, chair of the International Commission of Inquiry investigating the Israeli attack on Gaza and its war crimes against the Palestinian people, was subjected to by Israel and its allies, forcing his resignation and leading to his replacement by a US judge on the panel.

“This was clearly an attempt by the Netanyahu government to cut the road in front of the findings of Schabas on the crimes of the occupation in its war on Gaza”, said Ghoul.

Ghoul called on PA President Abu Mazen to take action urgently to stop the appointment of Mladenov because of his clear history of bias in favour of the Israeli occupation.

“It is definitely in contradiction with the rights of the Palestinian people and incompatible with the growing international public demand to hold the Israeli state accountable for its crimes and siege, and to support the rights of the Palestinian people and their struggle for freedom and justice”, he said.

Serry, whose name has been linked to Gaza reconstruction, is to end his work as UN envoy for Middle East peace process in March. He has been serving the position since 2007.

The legal period of the UN envoy for this assignment is five years. However, the UN Secretary General has the power to extend the term as happened with Serry who served the position for eight successive years.

Mladenov is known for his statements in support of Israel and justification of its crimes against the Palestinian people since he was foreign minister of Bulgaria.

Some history:

Mr. Mladenov earned a Master of Arts in War Studies at the King’s College of London, and a Master’s and Bachelor’s degree in international relations at the University of National and World Economy of Sofia, in Bulgaria. Has held several positions in the inter-governmental and non-governmental sectors, including at the World Bank, the National Democratic Institute and the International Republic Institute.

2010-13 As Bulgarian Foreign Minister he is quoted as saying…

  • Turkey reacted “a little bit too strongly” to the Gaza flotilla ‘episode’
  • In 2010 in a meeting with President Shimon Peres, he said, “We are lucky that the majority of Bulgarian Jews were saved [during the Holocaust] and were able to go on to build Israel. This [history] creates a strong, emotional connection and responsibility on our part to ensure Israel’s safety and its future.” Asked why he made these comments at a time when Israel was facing increasing international isolation, Mladenov said, “Because I think that is what friends are for, to be with our friends when they are in trouble.”
  • Israel, needed to “work better” on explaining its position in Europe
  • tiptoed around the question of whether he felt Israel’s naval blockade on Gaza was legitimate, saying this was a decision Israel had to make based on its own security. He did say, however, that it was important to allow the access of goods in and out of Gaza to develop the economy there, which in turn would create “a bigger constituency in support of peace, because people will see the benefits of that peace emerging.” See 2010 Jerusalem Post Article here

And video of him speaking on Anti-Semitism here

The PFLP response to this UN appointment is clear…

Al-Ghoul said that the appointment of Mladenov in this position is a further attempt by powerful parties in the international organization, particularly the United States, to strengthen the position of the occupation state in international institutions addressing the Palestinian cause and the “Arab-Israeli conflict.”

In this context, he denounced the attacks and pressures to which William Schabas, chair of the International Commission of Inquiry investigating the Israeli attack on Gaza and its war crimes against the Palestinian people, was subject by the Israeli state and its allies, forcing his resignation and leading to his replacement by a US judge on the panel. This was clearly an attempt by the Netanyahu government to cut the road in front of the findings of Schabas and the ICI on the crimes of the occupation in its war on Gaza, said al-Ghoul.”

 

My opinion?

Not a good pick Ban Ki Moon, but it does show your position and that of the UN quite clearly.

 

14yo Palestinian Female finally Released from Israeli Prison Two days Ago – Video Interview

Thanks to the Indian medhajnews.com for the update on Malak, you may remember I posted on her imprisonment by the Israeli judicial system for ‘stone throwing’ after she was arrested on her way home from school.

See my previous post here (in new tab/window) on Malak from Jan 26th 2015

Malak has spoken to the media on her release. See the 6:32 min video below, where unbelievably Malak states the arresting police accused her of being a member of Hamas.

 

 

 

Israeli Racism is OK if its in Hebrew.

Israel’s largest bus company runs ad: “The non-Jew doesn’t want a thing, he waits to be told what the Jew wants!” pic.twitter.com/UZfLg114Mz

Israel’s largest bus company runs ad: “The non-Jew doesn’t want a thing, he waits to be told what the Jew wants!” pic.twitter.com/UZfLg114Mz

THE SIGN ON THE BACK OF THIS ISRAELI BUS READS:

THE NON-JEW DOESN’T WANT A THING, HE WAITS TO BE TOLD WHAT THE JEW WANTS!

On a previous post containing a reblog on the ‘Tel Aviv Stabbings’ I mentioned I had recently heard an interview on radio with a Palestinian busdriver about the brief driver’s strike following a colleague being stabbed to death by ‘settlers’, (I prefer to call them ‘unsettlers’ and that’s when I’m being generous). He spoke of having to go back to work to feed his family and of being spat on and abused on a daily basis by these doyens of civilised diplomacy in Jerusalem.

I wonder how he feels having to drive around a bus promoting the advert above. This is not only racist, its surely inciting violence against Palestinians including the bus drivers in the Occupied Territories where settlers literally get away theft and murder. A recent report states Israeli forces have failed to probe 83% of settler violence cases  (see full article here)

I’d like to know if being racist in a reinvented language makes it OK?

I’d also like to know how Zionists can openly source $100,000 crowdfunding to produce architectural plans that include destruction of the  Al Aqsa in Jerusalem (See original article by Sarah Irving for electronic intifada here )

“In the past three months, Indiegogo has permitted two separate campaigns which clearly violate its terms of use to raise money through its website. Between them, the projects of the Temple Institute and fashion label MTKL promote racism, ethnic cleansing, open sexism, misogyny and rampant militarism — but Indiegogo seems determined to look the other way.”

I wake up each day wondering what further injustices Israel can perpetrate on Palestinians and how much more they will do alongside US silence, complicity, and approval (We in Australia of course continue to behave as the faithful dog, after all we spawned Rupert Murdoch)

 

Dear Syria: From One Refugee to Another – Ramzy Baroud repost from Dissident Voice

Ramzy Baroud often touches a nerve for me, his writing is thoughtful and always shows connectedness to his subject.

I have wanted to post on recent issues relating to the Australian Counter Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Bill 2014 and its capacity for thoughtless personal impact through poor policy interpretation of an overly zealous law initiated under the cloud of ‘Terror Threats’ to Australia trumpeted by our government. The implementation of Policy in Australia means the fact that you are Palestinian, will never be forgotten (even if you become a citizen of this country and carry her passport) by security forces of Customs and Border etc and the various Police entities involved in working under this Act.

Double whammy if you are a Palestinian from Syria.

Triple whammy if your birthplace as a part of the diaspora post 1948 was Libya.

Quadruple whammy if you were once an asylum seeker to these shores.

Quintuple if you had to return to Syria for any valid reason over the past few years.

I am still debating whether it is timely to post my piece or if I should do further research and wait for the right moment to be more in tune with the universe and less fucking angry. (Takfiri outsiders in Al Yarmouk killed by multiple poorly aimed gunshots at least 3 men in recent street ‘court assassinations’ for swearing as I just did- Fuck them and their proxy war trainers, suppliers, financiers and supporters)

I want to THANK you Ramzy for this piece, for the 7 reminders and warnings and particularly for the reminder that some people really do understand why you think of your mother when you hear the word ‘refugee’ and why you say, “Dear Syria”……………….

Dear Syria: From One Refugee to Another

Whenever the word ‘refugee’ is uttered, I think of my mother. When Zionist militias began their systematic onslaught and ‘cleansing’ of the Palestinian Arab population of historic Palestine in 1948, she, along with her family, ran away from the once peaceful village of Beit Daras.

Back then, Zarefah was six. Her father died in a refugee camp in a tent provided by the Quakers soon after he had been separated from his land. She collected scrap metal to survive.

My grandmother Mariam, would venture out to the ‘death zone’ that bordered the separated and newly established state of Israel from Gaza’s refugee camps to collect figs and oranges. She faced death every day. Her children were all refugees, living in shatat – the Diaspora.

My mother lived to be 42. Her life was tremendously difficult. She married a refugee, my dad, and together they brought seven refugees into this world – my brothers, my sister and myself. One died as a toddler, for there was no medicine in the refugee camp’s clinic.

No matter where we are, in time and place, we carry our refugee ID cards, our undefinable nationalities, our precious status, our parents’ burden, our ancestors’ pain.

In fact, we have a name for it. It is called waja’ – ‘aching’ – a character that unifies millions of Palestinian refugees all across the globe. With our refugee population now dominated by second, third or even fourth generation refugees, it seems that our waja’ is what we hold in common most. Our geographies may differ, our languages, our political allegiances, our cultures, but ultimately, we meet around the painful experiences that we have internalized throughout generations.

My mother used to say – ihna yalfalastinieen damitna qaribeh – tears for us Palestinians are always close by. But our readiness to shed tears is not a sign of weakness, far from it. It is because throughout the years we managed to internalize our own exile, and its many ramifications, along with the exiles of everyone else’s. The emotional burden is just too great.

We mask the unbearable aching somehow, but it is always close to the surface. If we hear a single melody by Marcel Khalifeh or Sheikh Imam, or a few verses by Mahmoud Darwish, the wound is as fresh as ever.

Most of us no longer live in tents, but we are reminded of our refugee status every single day, by the Israeli occupation, by the Gaza siege and the internally-displaced Palestinians in Israel, by the Iraq war and the displacement of the already displaced Palestinians there, by the despicable living conditions of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, and throughout the Middle East.

But for us, Syria has been our greatest waja’ in years. Aside from the fact that most of Syria’s half a million Palestinian refugees are on the run again, living the pain of displacement and loss for the second, third, or even fourth time. Nine million Syrian refugees are now duplicating the Palestinian tragedy, charting the early course of the Palestinian Nakba, the catastrophe of 1948.

Watching the destitution of the Syrian refugees is like rewinding the past, in all of its awful details. And watching Arab states clamor to aid the refugees with ample words and little action feels as if we are living Arab betrayal all over again.

I watched my grandparents die, followed by my parents and many of my peers. All of them died refugees, carrying the same status and the same lost hope of return. The most they ever received from the ‘international community’ was a few sacks of rice and cheap cooking oil. And, of course, numerous tents.

With time our refugee status morphed from being a ‘problem’ to an integral part of our identities. Being a ‘refugee’ at this stage means insisting on the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees as enshrined in international law. That status is no longer just a mere reference to physical displacement but also to a political, even a national identity.

Political division may, at times, dominate Palestinian society, but we will always be united by the fact that we are refugees with a common cause: going home. While for the Palestinians of Yarmouk near Damascus, being a refugee is a matter of life and death – often by starvation – for the larger Palestinian collective, the meaning of the word has become more involved: it has been etched onto our skin forever.

But what can one say by way of advice to the relatively new refugees of Syria, considering that we are yet to liberate ourselves from a status that we never sought?

There can be only reminders and a few warnings:

First, may your displacement end soon. May you never live the waja’ of displacement to the extent that you embrace it as a part of your identity, and pass it on from one generation to another. May it be a kind of fleeting pain or passing nightmare, but never a pervasive every day reality.

Second, you must be prepared for the worst. My grandparents left their new blankets in their village before they fled to the refugee camps because they feared they would have been ruined by the dust of the journey. Alas, the camps became home, and the blankets were confiscated as the rest of Palestine was. Please remain hopeful, but realistic.

Third, don’t believe the ‘international community’ when they make promises. They never deliver, and when they do, it is always for ulterior motives that might bring you more harm than good. In fact, the term itself is illusory, mostly used in reference to western countries which have wronged you as they have us.

Fourth, don’t trust Arab regimes. They lie. They feel not your pain. They hear not your pleas, nor do they care. They have invested so much in destroying your countries, and so little in redeeming their sins. They speak of aid that rarely arrives and political initiatives that constitute mostly press releases. But they will take every opportunity to remind you of their virtues. In fact, your victimhood becomes a platform for their greatness. They thrive at your expense, thus will invest to further your misery.

Fifth, preserve your dignity. I know, it is never easy to maintain your pride when you sleep in a barren street covered in cardboard boxes. A mother would do whatever she can to help her children pass into safety. No matter, you must never allow the wolves awaiting you at every border to exploit your desperation. You must never allow the Emir, or his children or some rich businessman or sympathetic celebrity to use you as a photo-op. Do not ever kneel. Don’t ever kiss a hand. Don’t give anyone the satisfaction to exploit your pain.

Sixth, remain united. There is strength in unity when one is a refugee. Don’t allow political squabbles to distract you from the greater battle at hand: surviving until the day you return home, and you will.

Seventh, love Syria. Yours is an unparalleled civilization. Your history is rife with triumphs that were ultimately of your own making. Even if you must leave to distant lands, keep Syria in your hearts. This too shall pass, and Syria shall redeem its glory, once the brutes vanquish. Only the spirit of the people shall survive. It is not wishful thinking. It is history.

Dear Syrian refugee, it has been 66 years and counting since my people’s dispossession began. We are yet to return, but that is a battle for my children, and their children to fight. I hope yours ends soon. Until then, please remember the tent is just a tent, and the gusts of cold wind are but of a passing storm.

And until you return home to Syria, don’t let the refugee become who you are, as you are so much more.

Ramzy Baroud is an author and a journalist. His latest volume is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London). He can be reached at ramzybaroud@hotmail.com. Read other articles by Ramzy.

Israel’s youngest Palestinian female prisoner – this occupation regime calls itself civilised?

 

Yesterday, Al Manaar, a Lebanese online news agency reported on 14 year old Malak al-Khatab ‘detained’ on her way home from school in Occupied Ramallah by the IOF on December 31st 2014. See here.

The report is also on WAFA the Palestinian News Agency here

“A 14-year-old Palestinian girl has become the youngest prisoner in Israeli jails after an Israeli court sentenced her to two months in jail and a fine of 6,000 Israeli shekels (roughly $1,500), a Palestinian NGO said Sunday.”

The Ramallah-based Ahrar Centre for Prisoners’ Studies and Human Rights reportedly advised Al-Manar news that  Malak was “the youngest of around 280 Palestinian children in Israeli jails.” (Al-Manar)

Her crime?

On Wednesday 21st Jan she was convicted, her father Ali  said of “throwing stones at occupation forces, blocking a main road in the West Bank and possessing a knife.” He said Malak was “brought to the court with her hands and feet in handcuffs” and “when the judge read out the verdict, I looked at Malak and she was wiping off her tears as she shivered from cold,”.

Malak’s detention was extended several times and she spent around 23 days awaiting her ruling. At the time, the lawyer defending her was trying to reduce the fine, Malak’s father earlier told WAFA. …. She is now serving her sentence in Hasharon detention centre with another three female prisoners who are, according to her father, taking care of Malak and emotionally supporting her.

Her prison?  Hasharon……

A human rights organization warned of the “catastrophic and unbearable” situation of Palestinian female prisoners in the Israeli Hasharon detention center. The Prisoners’ Center for Studies said the Israeli prison administration has been abusing the Palestinian female captives held in Hasharon. (see here )

For a look at the prison and Press TV video (October 2014) on treatment of female prisoners see here.

The ‘Civilised’ Israeli Occupation, detention of children and International law

1. Detention a last resort for minors

Lawyer Ayed Abu Qutesh – even though the International law allows the detention of minors, it should be always the last decision that any court or state takes. All concerned parties should try to find other alternatives to the detention and actual imprisonment of children, such as fines and suspended imprisonment.

Lawyer Jawad Bolous  – “the Israeli occupation’s policy of arresting minors contradicts with all international laws regarding minors. It starts at the very moment of arrest where soldiers forget that they are arresting a minor, treating the children in a very barbaric way. The minors go through detention until the ruling, while Israel ignores the grave consequences of this detention on their lives.”

2. Family Visitation

Malak’s family wasn’t able to visit her at the detention center, and only saw her at the court on January 11 for the first time after her arrest (on the 31st Dec) . Her father said then that she looked distressed and scared. This lack of access in Israeli gaols is commonplace, many detainees are illegally shipped outside the Occupied areas to prisons to prevent this access.

3. Standards of due process

According to the Defence for Children International Palestine (DCI-Palestine), “Israel is the only state to automatically and systematically prosecute children in military courts that lack basic standards of due process.”

It said in a report on the arrest of minors by Israel that “Around 500 – 700 Palestinian children, some as young as 12, are arrested, detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military detention system each year. The majority of Palestinian child detainees are charged with throwing stones.’

While Palestinian children endure such conduct, no Israeli children come into contact with the military court system, proving the amount of discrimination in the Israeli system.

4. Institutionalised ill-treatment

WAFA quotes a UNICEF report that concludes- ill treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system appears ‘widespread, systematic and institutionalized’. “On average 700 Palestinian children a year, appear before Israel’s military court,” According to the report, children detainees are treated harshly in most cases. It mentions binding hands and eyes, signing documents in Hebrew, physical and verbal abuse, night arrests, threats, strip searches and solitary confinement to name a few.

5. Not harsh enough says Israeli cabinet

Israel’s cabinet’s recent decision to back a law change allowing harsher sentences of up to 20 years for stone throwers after the recent tensions in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Ahmed Melhelm wrote for Al Monitor last year (see here) on Israeli torture of child prisoners…. he raised the following;

  • The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (Adalah)- request to Israel’s Attorney General to halt the physical and psychological abuse practiced against Palestinian children during arrest and interrogation, documenting dozens of cases of torture inside prisons.
  • Defense for Children International (DCI)- “The occupation forces arrest and try about 700 children annually. The monthly average of Palestinian children held in Israeli military detention during 2013 was 199.”
  • Salah al-Hammouri, researcher with the Conscience Foundation for Human Rights in Jerusalem – “The psychological effects of the interrogation are clearly visible on the children that come out of prison, and this is reflected by the fact that they appear older than their true age. They react in unexpected ways — sometimes violently — and many of them refuse to go back to school.”
  • Khodr Rasras, clinical psychologist, Center for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture, “There are immediate effects that are apparent on a child who has been detained, such as a sense of loneliness and isolation from his peers. [The child] seems older than his true age, and has a personality resembling that of an adult, in addition to fear and sadness inside the prison, because he is far from his parents. This creates a psychological state of unease and distress that accompanies [the child] for some time.”…A very small group [of these prisoners] are afflicted with mental illnesses such as depression.” and  “Erasing the psychological and physical effects of torture that appear on children after their release requires effort and time for psychological rehabilitation.”

In December 2014 Al Akhbar reported

“According to a report by The Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights, dozens of video recorded testimonies of children arrested during the first months of 2014, pointing out that 75 percent of the detained children are subjected to physical torture and 25 percent faced military trials.

Israeli forces detained at least four Palestinian children, aged 13 to 16, last month for allegedly throwing stones at Israeli cars, and attempted to detain two Palestinian children, a two-year-old and a nine-year old, on suspicion of throwing stones.”

We know this is wrong, numerous reports and representations fall on deaf ears, Israel continues to put on the mask of the civilised. Guess what Israel and your bastions of caring sensitive hasbara supporters………………WE DON”T BELIEVE YOU! boycott