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Until Return - Issue 3

Israel--Above the Law? or No Law
by Dr. Jess Ghannam
Al Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
December 11, 2007

A special report from UN Special Rapporteur for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights Martin Scheinin has released findings about the nature of Israel's counter-terrorism actions against Palestinians. His conclusion is less than surprising:

In the report, the Special Rapporteur finds serious incompatibilities between Israel's counter-terrorism laws and practices and Israel's international human rights obligations. Among his conclusions and recommendations are the following:

* "not all acts of violence committed against an occupying power, particularly when violence is targeted at military forces of an occupying power, amount to acts of terrorism." [para. 3]
* "All legislation, regulations and military orders must comply with the requirements of the principle of legality. Having achieved those requirements, the enactment by the Knesset of this new [counter-terrorism] legislation should be accompanied by a repeal or revocation of all current counter-terrorism legislation, regulations and military orders." [para. 55]
* "[The incompatibilities of Israeli law and practice include those related to] the prohibition of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; the right to life and humanitarian law principles concerning legitimate targeting; the right to liberty and fair trial; and the severe impact of the construction of the barrier in the West Bank and associated measures on the enjoyment of civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights and freedoms in the OPT." [para.54]
* "Given the illegality under international law of the existence and continued development of Jewish settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the Special Rapporteur recommends that a decision be made immediately to withdraw all such settlements." [para. 59]
* "To replace the still unfinished barrier, extending deep into Palestinian territory, with a security infrastructure that respects the Green Line or is otherwise accepted by the Palestinians." [para. 59]
(ref to full report: )

The conclusions are well known to Palestinians, the world community, and people committed to justice and the rule of law. Israel continues to operate outside the law, violate international law, and engage in practices that promote apartheid. Clearly, Israel is not a nation of laws that promote equality and international justice. Rather, it is more like an illegal colonial settler outpost with a formidable military and nuclear weapons. It does what it wants, when it wants and does so with impunity. The atrocities in Gaza are the clearest reflection of this impunity and disregard for the law. In just the last week, the Israeli military continued it's murderous rampage against the civilian population Gaza, a collective punishment of 1.5 million men, women, and children whose only crime is a desire for freedom and self-determination.

At a most basic level of humanity, Israel rejects the reality of Palestinians. A 2 week old Palestinian baby born with a heart defect was denied this week the possibility of leaving Gaza for treatment. Almost certainly, this baby will die because of willful neglect. Clearly a 2 week old Palestinian baby with a heart defect is a security threat to Israel. But for Israel, every Palestinian is a security threat if they breathe and demand freedom.

In that case, anyone in the entire world that cries for freedom and justice for all is a security threat to Israel. Freedom and justice are threatening to Israel because it thrives on denial, racism, and a continuation of its mission--the creation of a land without Arabs, without Palestinians, and without memory of its past.

Palestinians are dying in Gaza. Israel continues to limit food, water, and medicine and choke the life from all Palestinians. And the world watches.

Back to Until Return Issue 3


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