- Each year, PCHR publishes its annual report on Occupied
Palestine, this year's a detailed 250 page review of the past year, including
the first days of Israel's war on Gaza, Operation Cast Lead, "the
major issue in the record of human rights and international humanitarian
law violations in the Occupied Palestinian Terrority (OPT) in 2009,"
the bloodiest since the 1948 Nakba that stole a nation from its people.
- Today, 1.5 million Gazans struggle to rebuild their lives,
"in spite of sustaining permanent disabilities, losing loved ones
or becoming homeless" after war under siege - collective punishment
in violation of international law, and fundamental human rights, including
free movement of persons and goods, proper shelter, adequate health care
and education, and the right to rebuild homes and other structures destroyed
by the war's onslaught.
- Israel's settlement expansion, Separation Wall, and control
matrix exacerbates West Bank conditions, "turning Palestinian communities
into (isolated) Bantustans." In addition, efforts continue to consolidate
and illegally annex East Jerusalem by dispossessing its residents, en route
to making the entire city exclusively Jewish, unheard of in the modern
era, especially by a so-called civilized state, in fact, barbarian and
brutish while touting its democratic credentials and victimhood, more evidence
of a scoundrel caught red-handed.
- PCHR stresses the horrific human rights violations and
deterioration throughout the year, intensified since Hamas' January 2006
- "willful killings and violations of the right to
- -- collective punishment policies represented by a tightened
closure and severe restrictions on the right to freedom of movement;
- -- detention and torture of Palestinians (official Israeli
- -- continued settlement activities and attacks by Israeli
- -- continued construction of the Annexation Wall inside
the West Bank territory," on 12% of stolen Palestinian land.
- Nonetheless, the international community doesn't enforce
their international law obligation to stop human rights violations and
hold those responsible accountable. As such, they're complicit, guilty
through silence and failure to act.
- Worse still, the West and colluding Arab states participate
in Gaza's isolation by financially boycotting, and bogusly criminalizing,
its legitimate government, democratically elected, in support of Mahmoud
Abbas' coup d'etat regime, Fatah in the West Bank, soundly defeated in
the January 2006 election.
- Innocent victims are punished, reeling under 43 years
of occupation, an unprecedented international betrayal.
- Occupation Force Crimes
- Numerous ones occur daily, explained in weekly PCHR updates,
like its June 17 - 23 one covering:
- -- peaceful Gaza and West Bank protestors attacked, injuring
three civilians (including a child) in Bal'ein village, west of Ramallah;
- -- dozens more harmed by tear gas inhalation;
- -- three journalists assaulted in Beit Jala;
- -- 10 civilians, including three human rights workers,
a journalist and five medical volunteers arrested;
- -- four Gazan farmers and workers, including two children,
shot and wounded in their fields;
- -- 43 civilians, including five children, arrested in
16 West Bank incursions and three others in Gaza;
- -- the suffocating Gaza siege continues unabated;
- -- the West Bank and East Jerusalem remain locked down
by a control matrix of about 630 checkpoints and 60 - 80 "flying"
ones, including in and around Jerusalem, severely restricting access to
and throughout the city; and
- -- ruthless ethnic cleansing continues, stealing land
and bulldozing homes for settlement expansions and other Jews only projects.
- When completed, the Separation Wall (half finished) will
stretch 724 kilometers (on 12% of stolen Palestinian land), encircling
the West Bank, further isolating the population. Civilians protesting against
it nonviolently are systematically assaulted, tear gassed, fired on, injured
- In addition, two-thirds of the main roads are closed
or controlled by security forces. Further, one-third of the West Bank,
including East Jerusalem, is inaccessible to anyone without a (very hard
to get) permit, that if obtained takes months and must be renewed - measures
to make life in Occupied Palestine oppressive, punishing, and impossible,
including random searches on streets and in private homes, some followed
by arrests and imprisonment.
- Numbers of Dead and Wounded in 2009
- Forty-three years of occupation have taken an unprecedented
toll. In 2009 alone, it included:
- -- 1,092 killed, including 831 civilians, the others
- -- civilian victims included 305 children and 101 women,
targeted the same as men; civilians attacked like freedom fighters;
- -- 1,066 were killed in Gaza, 97% of the total;
- -- the war's toll killed 1,419 Palestinians and wounded
another 5,200, many severely from loss of limbs, brain damage, or other
- -- from September 2000 (the start of the second Intifada)
through December 2009, 6,520 Palestinians were killed, including 4,955
civilians, tens of thousands more wounded;
- -- after the January 18, 2010 ceasefire, the IDF killed
47 Palestinians, including 26 civilians, seven of them children; 12 civilians
were killed by Israeli snipers in Gaza buffer zones, gunned down in cold
blood; five others died when tunnels were bombed;
- -- in the West Bank, Israeli forces killed 18 Palestinians,
including 15 civilians, six of them children; Israeli settlers killed three
more, including two children;
- -- all of them posed no threat, including participants
in nonviolent protests against the Separation Wall, land confiscations
or home demolitions; nonetheless, Israeli forces murdered them in cold
blood, claiming self-defense, the usual bogus pretext.
- PCHR investigations confirmed that Israel "used
excessive and disproportionate force against Palestinian civilians, who
are recognized as protected persons under international humanitarian law"
- what Israel doesn't acknowldege or the principles of distinction and
- Evidence clearly shows that Israeli forces repeatedly
used (and continue to use) excessive and disproportionate force against
nonviolent Palestinian civilians, in violation of international law.
- They posed no threat, yet were killed when their homes,
other buildings, factories, or vehicles were bombed. Some were extrajudicially
executed, others when their communities were invaded - in all cases, crimes
of war and against humanity.
- Throughout 2009, Israel tightened closure on the West
Bank, and imprisoned Gazans under siege, denying them enough food, medicines,
fuel, electricity, and other common essentials - exacerbating a worsening
humanitarian crisis, suffocating 1.5 million people, and paralyzing the
- "The members of the international community, especially
the High Contracting Parties to (Fourth Geneva) have shamefully failed
to take the action necessary to ensure" this stops and to hold Israel
accountable. Instead, they've been complicit in the worst of its crimes,
and share equal guilt, especially America, Israel's paymaster/partner.
- Israeli forces also prevent Palestinian civilians from
entering Israel or going abroad for medical care, other emergencies, education,
or their right of free movement - denied throughout Gaza, the West Bank
and East Jerusalem. Palestinians are imprisoned on their own land in their
own country by a hostile occupier, there illegally.
- Throughout 2009, the humanitarian crisis worsened, the
- -- 40% unemployment, over 55% in Gaza where poverty exceeds
80%, affecting 1.2 million people;
- -- since September 2000, incomes have steadily decreased,
down 45% at yearend 2009; and
- -- national output dropped sharply in all sectors, especially
- Other Imposed Harshness
- In December 2009, at least 9,381 Palestinians were imprisoned,
including 310 children and 34 women, mostly inside Israel - a clear international
law violation under Fourth Geneva's Article 76 stating:
- "Protected persons accused of offences (sic) shall
be detained in the occupied country, and if convicted they shall serve
their sentences therein."
- They must also be afforded proper food, hygiene, medical,
and other essentials, including spiritual assistance. In addition, minors
must be given special care, and women must be confined in separate quarters
under female supervision. Israel, however, has male guards in women's prisons
and treats children the same as adults, besides violating other international
laws regarding the treatment of prisoners.
- Israeli forces disregard them as well commit regular
assaults, other incursions, and arrests during house raids, especially
in West Bank villages and refugee camps. Also at checkpoints, roadblocks
and during nonviolent demonstrations.
- Throughout 2009, security forces arrested about 5,000
Palestinians, including 1,000 in Gaza, mostly civilian men, women and children,
all treated horrifically, included elected officials, imprisoned for belonging
to the wrong parties and wanting Palestine to be free.
- At yearend 2009, 26 PLC members were incarcerated, most
from the Change and Reform bloc, affiliated with Hamas. Another was speaker
Dr. 'Aziz al-Dweik, now released. However, civil activists are detained
for defending human rights, they like others treated harshly, most of them
tortured like other Palestinian prisoners. Others are kept in solitary
confinement for prolonged periods.
- Testimonies confirm prison horror stories, including
physical and mental torture, exposure to extreme heat or cold, starvation,
sleep deprivation, beatings, pressure to collaborate in exchange for release,
(in some cases, threatened harm to family members if refuse), and/or forced
confessions in Hebrew, not Arabic, for crimes they didn't commit.
- During Cast Lead, Israel "wantonly and extensively
destroyed Palestinian civilian property, including homes, agricultural
lands, as well as health, educational, religious and economic facilities,"
all in violation of international law. As a result, about 450,000 Gazans
evacuated their homes for safer locations, "causing many to recall
scenes of the forced mass migration" during 1948, what those who endured
it can't forget, nor their children who know the toll on their parents,
why the event is called the Nakba, the catastrophe, affecting the entire
- Cast Lead's toll was horrific by any standard, PCHR documenting:
- -- 2,116 totally destroyed homes, containing 2,881 housing
units for 3,253 families and 18,750 individuals;
- -- another 3,277 houses with 4,925 housing units for
5,483 families and 32,703 individuals rendered uninhabitable, their damage
- -- 16,000 others were partly damaged;
- -- in total, 51,453 civilians lost their homes, victimized
by illegal bombings or shellings; and
- -- in the West Bank, Israel demolished 134 houses, including
83 in East Jerusalem; another 23 Palestinian civilians were forced to destroy
their own homes and pay the cost.
- Today under the extremist Netanyahu government, conditions
are worse than ever. Besides daily repression, settlement construction
continues, the Municipality of Jerusalem and Israeli ministries taking
bids for 3,400 housing units on occupied Palestinian land, ordering homes
demolished and thousands of donums of land confiscated for them.
- Complicit with Israeli security forces, the judiciary
legitimizes occupation policies, Israel's High Court, for example, rejecting
Palestinian petitions against the expropriation of their land for settlement
construction and the Separation Wall. Rarely ever does the court order
its route changed. Even then, it seldom happens.
- Illegal construction imposed new hardships, including
farmers denied access to their land beyond the Wall without hard to obtain
permits to reach it. Yet to get them, they must be registered owners, nearly
impossible due to land registry complications because earlier ownership
was under deceased persons' names. In addition, registries haven't been
updated, and some heirs don't live in the West Bank.
- Other hardships include:
- -- new movement restrictions for Palestinians living
near the Wall's route, not just affecting farmers; and
- -- access to medical care, education, and relatives is
impacted, plus restricted hours to move through gates at the Wall, "operated
under a strict security system," often closing for no apparent reason,
and even when open, onerous to pass through.
- A Nation and Occupation Repressively Persecuting Non-Jews
- For Palestinians, Israel's legal system is nightmarish,
the chance for impartial investigations impossible, in violation of international
standards. They require those responsible for crimes be punished, victims
afforded redress, and justice to be blind to race, religion or ethnicity.
- Under military occupation and for Israeli Arabs, the
system is fundamentally flawed and unfair, under laws affording justice
solely to Jews. As a result, PCHR and other human rights organizations
pursue universal jurisdiction (UJ) remedies, a legal principle empowering
courts in other countries to indict, prosecute and convict persons guilty
of international crimes, no matter where they occurred.
- Nonetheless, winning judgments against Israeli officials
is daunting, not accomplished so far, politics and national alliances superseding
the rule of law - what no longer can be tolerated at the expense of victims'
- The UN Fact Finding Mission conducted extensive investigations
into Israel's Gaza war, as well as West Bank and East Jerusalem attacks,
confirming gross international law violations - crimes of war and against
- Yet over Q 4 2009, "persistent efforts were made
to undermine" reports from the UN Human Rights Council, General Assembly
and Security Council, again, Palestinians denied their rights.
- As a result, on October 16, 2009, at the urging of the
Palestinian leadership, the UN Human Rights Council (at its 12th Special
Session) issued a Resolution condemning illegal Israeli acts, especially
annexing East Jerusalem lands. It also endorsed the Goldstone Commission's
conclusions and recommendations - a first step toward justice, so far not
- Israel's harshness continues. A subservient Mahmound
Abbas issues presidential decrees without presenting them to the PLC or
involving the legitimate Hamas government.
- Though released from detention in June 2009, PLC Speaker,
Dr. 'Aziz al-Dwaik, is prevented from even entering his Ramallah office
by presidential decree, an illegitimate act by a coup d'etat president.
- The split between West Bank and Gaza is untenable, the
result of Israel targeting Hamas, bogusly calling it a terrorist organization,
Abbas its servile tool obeying orders and being rewarded with White House
visits and photo-ops, the benefits for betraying his people, including
remaining president long after his term expired and not calling new elections.
- Life in Occupied Palestine remains grim, Israeli imposed
viciousness creating enormous hardships for millions of victimized Palestinians,
ongoing for 62 years, 43 under occupation brutishness - illegal, unjustifiable,
and unconscionable by a so-called civilized state, in fact, run by hooligans,
war criminals, respecting might alone over right, what grassroots activism
no longer can tolerate nor should anyone of conscience anywhere.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
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