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Anti-war protest rallies this weekend

22 Jan



Book launch: ‘These Chains Will Be Broken’…

21 Jan

…Palestinian stories of struggle and defiance in Israeli prisons

Palestine Chronicle, 20 January 2020

On Monday, January  20, Clarity Press, Inc. of Atlanta announced the launch of These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons, by Palestinian author and journalist, Ramzy Baroud, and The Palestine Chronicle Editorial Team. 

Bookended by a Foreword by Khalida Jarrar Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and an Afterword by Richard Falk, former UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, the collection conveys in prisoners’ own words, Palestinian suffering in Israeli jails and their enduring resistance to the occupation of their historic homeland.

“These are the stories of Palestine’s true organic intellectuals,” said Baroud, “women and men, mothers and fathers, children and teens, teachers, fighters and human rights’ advocates, united by a single motive that transcends region, religion and ideology: resistance. Regardless of the cost, they are taking a brave, moral and internationally defensible stand against injustice in all of its forms.”

“It has been wrong and inaccurate to label Palestinian prisoners as either victims or terrorists, because both classifications obfuscate the reality of an entire nation facing the onslaught of colonialism, military occupation and the entrenched Israeli apartheid.”

In her Foreword to the book, member of the Palestine Legislative Council, Khalida Jarrar—who has been detained and imprisoned by the Israeli occupation since her contribution to it—wrote that These Chains Will Be Broken will allow readers to “delve into the lives of men and women, read intimate stories that they have chosen to share with you, stories that may surprise you, anger you and even shock you. But they are crucial stories that must be told, read and retold.”

Terming the book “a remarkable work,” award-winning Australian journalist, author and broadcaster/documentary maker, John Pilger, testified to its impact:

“With each story, there is a roll-call of the best of humanity: courage, struggle, determination, generosity, passion, humility and, above all, defiance of injustice. Everyone, especially those of us in the West subjected to unerring propaganda, should read this searing and beautiful book. Then understand all over again that peace and justice are not possible in the world until the Palestinians are free.”      John Pilger

In his Afterword, former UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk addressed the international legal rectitude of the prisoners’ struggle thus:

“The rationale for Palestinian resistance is heightened by having law and morality on the side of demands for an end to the oppressive Israeli occupation and the persistent abuse of fundamental Palestinian rights…”

Baroud, who is also the author of four other books on Palestinian people’s history, said that These Chains Will Be Broken is yet another serious attempt aimed at reclaiming the narrative of our people.

Leading the research in its early stages from the besieged Gaza Strip, Palestinian journalist, Abdallah Aljamal, played an important role in conducting interviews and collecting material with scores of freed Palestinian prisoners and the families of those who are still in prison.

“We worked very hard to achieve this book,” said Aljamal from Gaza. “Two things made the workload manageable: one, knowing that you are fighting for a good cause and two, remembering that no matter how tough our mission is, it doesn’t compare to the suffering of our prisoners and their families”.

Other Palestine Chronicle editors participated in the composition of the book, including Romana Rubeo and Yousef Aljamal. The intensity and beauty of each story is amplified by intricate and exquisite illustrations by Palestinian artist, Dalia Alkayyali.

Mohammed al-Deirawi, a freed Palestinian prisoner whose story is included in the book under the title “Ghadeer”, said, “This book exposes the ugliness of the Israeli occupation and its sadistic practices against Palestinian prisoners – the daily humiliation, the medical neglect, the administrative detention, the imprisonment of minors, the solitary confinement, the killing of prisoners”.

Al-Deirawi added, “What we have witnessed in prison cannot be truly be comprehended by anyone who hasn’t lived these harrowing experiences. This is why These Chains Will Be Broken is a crucial work. It carries our voices and our stories to the world, confronting it, especially civil society, with its legal and moral responsibility towards Palestine, Palestinian prisoners, and the Palestinian people”.

“We urge you to read this book. Our voice, that of pain and resistance, deserves to be heard”.

Further Praise for These Chains Will Be Broken:

“In this must-read ‘history from below’, the Palestinians who tell their stories show prison to be a microcosm of life under conditions of occupation and colonization… powerful and searingly beautiful…” — CYNTHIA FRANKLIN, Professor, University of Hawaii, Member USACBI

“This book is essential in helping us develop a compassionate understanding of the plight of Palestinian prisoners and the Palestinian people.” — MARYUM ALI, Social Worker, Public Speaker, Daughter of Legendary Muhammad Ali:

“The lively, beautiful, and painful narratives recited in “These Chains will be Broken” are a must-read for anyone with a burning conscience and a determined will to see that oppression is not forgotten, freedom will be gained, and justice will ultimately prevail.” — Prof. Dr. SAMI A. AL-ARIAN. Director and Public Affairs Professor, Center for Islam and Global Affairs.

For media inquiries and interviews, contact: 

Ramzy Baroud (English & Arabic):

Abdallah Aljamal (Arabic):; tel: 00972599810200

Mohammed Dirawi (Arabic):; WhatsApp: 00905523796334

Order your copy of ‘These Chains Will Be Broken’ from Clarity Press, or Barnes & Nobles

2020: Gaza is now officially uninhabitable

9 Jan

Tear gas canisters are fired by Israeli forces at Palestinians during a protest near the Israel-Gaza border fence, east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on December 27, 2019. [AFP]

By Ramzy Baroud, Special to Gulf News, 8 January 2020

A new year is upon us, yet the siege on the Gaza Strip persists, only to be interrupted by a massive war, like the one of 2014, or a less destructive one, similar to the latest Israeli onslaught in November. And with each war, more dismal statistics are produced, more lives shattered, and more painful stories told and retold.

In 2012, a United Nations report indicated that Gaza will become unlivable in 2020. When the report was first released, many had hoped that the unprecedented and grim warning by the world’s largest international body would create the needed momentum to push Israel to end its hermetic siege.

Nothing followed that report, however, except a tighter siege, accompanied by several wars that killed and wounded thousands. And now, 2020 has arrived where nearly 2 million people are still incarcerated in the “world’s largest open-air prison”, the uninhabitable Gaza Strip.

For years, civil society groups across the world laboured to destabilise this horrific status quo. They rallied, held vigils, wrote letters to their political representatives and so on. To no avail. Frustrated by government inaction, a group of activists sailed to Gaza in a small boat in August 2008, succeeding in doing what the United Nations has failed to do: they broke, however fleetingly, the Israeli siege on the impoverished Strip.

By the end of 2017, 53 per cent of Gaza’s population lived in poverty, two-thirds living in “deep poverty”. This appalling number includes over 400,000 children.

– Ramzy Baroud, editor of The Palestine Chronicle

This symbolic action of the Free Gaza movement had a tremendous impact. It sent a clear message to Palestinians in occupied Palestine: that their fate is not only determined by the Israeli government and military machine; that there are other actors who are capable of challenging the dreadful silence of the international community; and that not all Westerners are as complicit as their governments in the prolonged suffering of the Palestinian people.

Since then, many more solidarity missions have attempted to follow suit, coming across the sea atop flotillas or in large caravans through the Sinai desert. Some have successfully reached Gaza, delivering medical aid and other supplies. The majority, however, were sent back or had their boats hijacked in international waters by the Israeli navy.

Second Palestinian Intifada

The outcome of all of this has been the writing of a new chapter of solidarity with the Palestinian people that went beyond the occasional demonstration and the typical signing of a petition.

The second Palestinian Intifada, the uprising of 2002, had already redefined the role of the “activist” in Palestine. The formation of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) allowed thousands of international activists from around the world to participate in “direct action” in Palestine, thus fulfilling, however symbolically, a role that is typically played by a United Nations protective force.

ISM activists, however, employed non-violent means of registering civil society’s rejection of the Israeli occupation. Expectedly, Israel did not honour the fact that many of these activists came from countries deemed “friendly” by Tel Aviv’s standards. The killing of US and British nationals Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall in Gaza in 2003 and 2004 respectively, was just the precursor of Israeli violence that was to follow.

In May 2010, the Israeli navy attacked the Freedom Flotilla consisting of the Turkish-owned ship MV Mavi Marmara and others, killing ten unarmed humanitarian workers and wounding at least 50 more.

It must be understood that Israeli violence is not random nor merely a reflection of Israel’s notoriety and disregard of international and humanitarian law. With every violent episode, Israel hopes to dissuade outside actors from getting involved in “Israeli affairs”. Yet, time and again, the solidarity movement returns with a defiant message, insisting that no country, not even Israel, has the right to commit war crimes with impunity.

Freedom Flotilla

Following a recent meeting in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, the International Coalition of the Freedom Flotilla, which consists of many international groups, has decided to, once more, sail to Gaza. The solidarity mission is scheduled for the summer of 2020, and, like most of the 35 previous attempts, the Flotilla is likely to be intercepted by the Israeli navy. Yet, another attempt will likely follow, and many more, until the Gaza siege is completely lifted. It has become clear that the purpose of these humanitarian missions is not to deliver a few medical supplies to the nearly two million besieged Gazans, but to challenge the Israeli narrative that has turned the occupation and isolation of Palestinians to a status quo ante, to an “Israeli affair”.

According to the United Nations Office in Occupied Palestine, the poverty rate in Gaza seems to be increasing at an alarming speed of 2 per cent per year. By the end of 2017, 53 per cent of Gaza’s population lived in poverty, two-thirds living in “deep poverty”. This appalling number includes over 400,000 children.

An image, a video, a chart or a social media post can never convey the pain of 400,000 children, who experience hunger every day of their lives in order for the Israeli government to achieve its military and political designs in Gaza.

True solidarity should aim at forcing Israel to end the protracted occupation and siege on the Palestinian people, by sailing the high seas, if necessary. Thankfully, the good activists of the Freedom Flotilla are doing just that.

— Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons.

Why child labour is common in Gaza

8 Jan

Growing numbers of children have to work as Gaza’s economy deteriorates. [Anne Paq ActiveStills]

By Isra Saleh el-Namey, Gaza, The Electronic Intifada, 2 January 2020

It is cold and windy outside but Anas keeps himself busy.

The 12-year-old has to get drinks ready for people on the Gaza City seafront. In the summer, he sells fruit juices and ice cream; in the winter, tea, coffee and sahlab – a hot milk pudding.

Anas performs this task – along with his older brother – each afternoon. He attends school in the morning.

“I usually don’t do my homework until the evening,” he says. “But if I have an exam the next day, I bring my books with me to work. I study when I have ten minutes off.”

“Better than begging”

Though still a child, Anas has to earn money for his family.

He has five siblings. Their father Adham is in poor health and has long been unemployed.

“I am thankful that my two sons can do some work so that we can survive in very difficult circumstances,” Adham said. “It is hard for them. But it is better than begging for money.”

The UN monitoring group OCHA has stated that child labor is a “commonly used mechanism to alleviate poverty” in Gaza.

Continue reading

ICC takes legal push against Israel to a new level

8 Jan

Fatou Bensouda, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC)

By Ramzy Baroud, Arab News, 7 January 2020

Fatou Bensouda, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), has at long last come to the long-anticipated conclusion that “all the statutory criteria under the Rome Statute for the opening of an investigation (into alleged war crimes by Israel in the Occupied Territories) have been met.”

Bensouda’s verdict has been in the making for a long time and should, frankly, have come much sooner. The ICC’s preliminary investigations into Israeli war crimes began back in 2015. Since then, many more crimes have been committed, while the international community has persisted with its moral inertia.

The ICC statement, issued on Dec. 20, asserted that the court saw “no substantial reasons to believe that an investigation would not serve the interests of justice.” But can the “interests of justice” be served while the US government continues to wield a massive stick, using its diplomatic, political and financial clout to ensure Israel emerges unscathed from its latest legal scuffle?

There is little doubt that Michael Lynk, the UN special rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, was absolutely right when he said that a formal ICC investigation into war crimes in Palestine was a “momentous step forward in the quest for accountability.” He was also correct in his assessment — published on the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights website — that “accountability has, until now, been largely missing in action throughout the 52-year-old occupation.”

I would go even further and expand the timeline of the missing accountability to include the two decades prior to the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Otherwise, how is one to account for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1947-48, the numerous massacres and other wanton killings that accompanied and followed those defining years, or the fact that Israel was never held accountable for its violations of international and humanitarian laws between 1948 and 1967?

That issue notwithstanding, the Palestinian Authority and all political parties in Palestine should exploit this unprecedented opportunity to hold Israel accountable.

All political parties in Palestine should exploit this unprecedented opportunity to hold Israel accountable.

Ramzy Baroud

As soon as the ICC issued its statement, reports conveyed a sense of “panic” among Israel’s leaders. The Times of Israel reported that an Israeli government meeting to discuss the ICC decision was held shortly after the announcement with the aim of considering a proper response, including the possibility of preventing ICC investigators from reaching Israel. This is eerily familiar. Israel has denied entry to — or refused to cooperate with — international investigators and observers on many occasions in the past. 

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Embracing Palestine: How to combat Israel’s misuse of ‘Anti-Semitism’

8 Jan

Jeremy Corbyn, UK Labour Party leader. (Photo: File)

By Ramzy Baroud, Palestine Chronicle, 4 January 2020

At a talk I delivered in Northern England in March 2018, I proposed that the best response to falsified accusations of anti-Semitism, which are often lobbed against pro-Palestinian communities and intellectuals everywhere, is to draw even closer to the Palestinian narrative.

In fact, my proposal was not meant to be a sentimental response in any way.

“Reclaiming the Palestinian narrative” has been the main theme in most of my public speeches and writings in recent years. All of my books and much of my academic studies and research have largely focused on positioning the Palestinian people – their rights, history, culture, and political aspirations – at the very core of any genuine understanding of the Palestinian struggle against Israeli colonialism and apartheid.

True, there was nothing particularly special about my talk in Northern England. I had already delivered a version of that speech in other parts of the UK, Europe and elsewhere. But what made that event memorable is a conversation I had with a passionate activist, who introduced himself as an advisor to the office of the head of the British Labor Party, Jeremy Corbyn.

Although the activist agreed with me regarding the need to embrace the Palestinian narrative, he insisted that the best way for Corbyn to deflect anti-Semitic accusations, which have dogged his leadership since day one, is for Labour to issue a sweeping and decisive condemnation of anti-Semitism, so that Corbyn may silence his critics and he is finally able to focus on the pressing subject of Palestinian rights.

I was doubtful. I explained to the animated and self-assured activist that Zionist manipulation and misuse of anti-Semitism is a phenomenon that has preceded Corbyn by many decades, and will always be there as long as the Israeli government finds the need to distract from its war crimes against Palestinians and to crush pro-Palestinian solidarity worldwide.

I explained to him that while anti-Jewish racism is a real phenomenon that must be confronted, “anti-Semitism”, as defined by Israel and its Zionist allies, is not a moral question that is meant to be solved by a press release, no matter how strongly-worded. Rather, it is a smokescreen, with the ultimate aim of distracting from the real conversation, that being the crimes of military occupation, racism, and apartheid in Palestine.

In other words, no amount of talking, debating or defending oneself can possibly convince the Zionists that demanding an end to the Israeli military occupation in Palestine or the dismantling of the Israeli apartheid regime, or any genuine criticism of the policies of Israel’s right-wing government are not, in fact, acts of anti-Semitism.

Alas, the activist insisted that a strong statement that would clarify Labour’s position on anti-Semitism would finally absolve Corbyn and protect his legacy against the undeserved smearing.

The rest is history. Labour went into a witch-hunt, to catch the “true” anti-Semites among its members. The unprecedented purge has reached many good people who have dedicated years to serving their communities and defending human rights in Palestine and elsewhere.

The statement to end all statements was followed by many others. Numerous articles and arguments were written and made in defense of Corbyn – to no avail. Only a few days before Labour lost the general election in December, the Simon Wiesenthal Center named Corbyn, one of Britain’s most sincere and well-intentioned leaders in the modern era, the “top anti-Semite of 2019”. So much for engaging the Zionists.

It doesn’t matter whether Corbyn’s party lost the elections in part because of Zionist smearing and unfounded anti-Semitic accusations. What truly matters for me as a Palestinian intellectual who has hoped that Corbyn’s leadership will constitute a paradigm shift regarding the country’s attitude towards Israel and Palestine, is the fact that the Zionists have indeed succeeded in keeping the conversation focused on Israeli priorities and Zionist sensibilities. It saddens me that while Palestine should have occupied the centre stage, at least during Corbyn’s leadership years, it was still marginalized signifying once again that solidarity with Palestine has become a political liability to anyone hoping to win an election – in the UK and anywhere in the West as well.

I find it puzzling, indeed disturbing, that Israel, directly or otherwise, is able to determine the nature of any discussion on Palestine in the West, not only within typical mainstream platforms but within pro-Palestinian circles as well. For example, I have heard activists repeatedly questioning whether the one-state solution is at all possible because “Israel simply would never accept it”.

I often challenge my audiences to base their solidarity with Palestine on real love, support, and admiration for the Palestinian people, for their history, their anti-colonial struggle, and the thousands of heroes and heroines who have sacrificed their own lives so that their people may live in freedom.

Continue reading

The Freedom Flotilla to Gaza will sail again

30 Dec

The international Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) has announced that the next Freedom Flotilla will sail again in May 2020 to challenge the Israeli blockade. [Photo: via Twitter]

By Ramzy Baroud, Palestine Chronicle, 26 December 25, 2019

What is Gaza to us but an Israeli missile, a rudimentary rocket, a demolished home, an injured child being whisked away by his peers under a hail of bullets? On a daily basis, Gaza is conveyed to us as a bloody image or a dramatic video, none of which can truly capture the everyday reality of the Strip – its formidable steadfastness, the everyday acts of resistance, and the type of suffering that can never be really understood through a customary glance at a social media post.

At long last, the chief prosecutor of the International Court of Justice (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, has declared her ‘satisfaction’ that “war crimes have been – or are being –  committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip”. As soon as the ICC statement was made on December 20, pro-Palestinian groups felt a rare moment of relief. Finally, Israel will stand accused, potentially paying for its recurring bloodbath in the isolated and besieged Gaza Strip, its military occupation and apartheid in the West Bank, and much more.

However, it could take years for the ICC to initiate its legal proceedings and render its verdict. Moreover, there are no political guarantees that an ICC decision indicting Israel would ever be respected, let alone implemented.

Demonstrators from many countries, including Aotearoa/NZ, gathered outside the International Criminal Court [ICC] in The Hague, Netherlands, on 29 November, urging the court to prosecute Israel’s army for war crimes. The protest also demanded the ICC prosecutor reconsider her decision to not pursue charges in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla case. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Meanwhile, the siege on Gaza persists, only to be interrupted by a massive war, like the one of 2014, or a less destructive one, similar to the latest Israeli onslaught in November. And with every war, more dismal statistics are produced, more lives shattered, and more painful stories are told and retold.

For years, civil society groups across the world labored to destabilize this horrific status quo. They organized, held vigils, wrote letters to their political representatives and so on. To no avail. Frustrated by government inaction, a small group of activists sailed to Gaza in a small boat in August 2008, succeeding in doing what the United Nations has failed to do: they broke, however fleetingly, the Israeli siege on the impoverished Strip.

This symbolic action of the Free Gaza movement had a tremendous impact. It sent a clear message to Palestinians in occupied Palestine, that their fate is not only determined by the Israeli government and military machine; that there are other actors who are capable of challenging the dreadful silence of the international community; that not all Westerners are as complicit as their governments in the prolonged suffering of the Palestinian people.

Since then, many more solidarity missions have attempted to follow suit, coming across the sea atop flotillas or in large caravans through the Sinai desert. Some have successfully reached Gaza, delivering medical aid and other supplies. The majority, however, were sent back or had their boats hijacked in international waters by the Israeli navy.

The outcome of all of this has been the writing of a new chapter of solidarity with the Palestinian people that went beyond the occasional demonstration and the typical signing of a petition.

Continue reading

ICC to investigate Israel for War Crimes in Palestinian Territories

21 Dec

Amnesty: the use of force by Israeli military against protestors in Gaza is a war crime.(Photo: via AA)

Palestine Chronicle, 21 December 2019

BREAKING NEWS: The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has said she will launch a full investigation into alleged war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The announcement by Fatou Bensouda on Friday was welcomed by the Palestinian leadership as a “long overdue step” but prompted an angry response by Israel.

Bensouda said in a statement:

“I am satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation into the situation in Palestine”.

“In brief, I am satisfied that war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip,” she added, without specifying the perpetrators of the alleged crimes.

VIDEO: Situation in Palestine: Statement of the ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, IntlCriminalCourt, 21 December 2019

Bensouda said before opening a full probe, she would ask The Hague-based tribunal to rule on the territory over which it has jurisdiction, as Israel is not a member of the court.

She urged judges to rule on the court’s jurisdiction “without undue delay”. The prosecutor added however that she did not require any authorization from judges to open a probe as there had been a referral from the Palestinians, who joined the court in 2015.

Bensouda has been under growing criticism for failing to move forward with legal procedures regarding Israel’s misconduct in the Occupied Territories.

As South African writer Iqbal Jassat wrote in The Palestine Chronicle on December 17:

“Unsurprisingly the most likely reason for it would be fear of retaliation from Israel and the United States.”

The Palestinian government welcomed Bensouda’s announcement.

“Palestine welcomes this step as a long-overdue step to move the process forward towards an investigation, after nearly five long and difficult years of preliminary examination,” a statement from the foreign ministry said.

Netanyahu lashes out

Following Bensouda’s announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out at what he called “a dark day for truth and justice”.

Netanyahu said in a statement:

“The court has no jurisdiction in this case. The ICC only has jurisdiction over petitions submitted by sovereign states. But there has never been a Palestinian state”.

Bensouda launched a preliminary probe in January 2015 into allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Israel and the Palestinian territories, in the wake of the 2014 Gaza war which left 2,251 dead on the Palestinian side, the majority civilians, and 74 on the Israeli side, most of them soldiers.

Israel and its ally the United States have both refused to sign up to the court, which was set up in 2002 to be the only global tribunal trying the world’s worst crimes, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Palestinians, who signed up to the ICC in 2015, have already accepted the court’s jurisdiction but have repeatedly urged the court to move faster.

A full ICC investigation could possibly lead to charges against individuals being brought. States cannot be charged by the ICC.

. . . .

[NOTE: Unfortunately this landmark decision does not include an investigation into the deadly Israeli commando attack on the Mavi Marmara in 2010.

Earlier this month, the ICC prosecutor refused to press charges over a deadly 2010 Israeli raid on a flotilla bringing aid to Gaza, and urged that investigation to be shut.

Nine Turkish citizens died in May 2010 when Israeli marines stormed the Mavi Marmara, which was among eight ships trying to break a naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. One more died in hospital in 2014. Ed]]

(Sources: Al Jazeera, PC, ICC, Social Media)

Please remember your Xmas solidarity donations

20 Dec
Please consider making a solidarity donation to our Christmas appeal – every contribution helps!

Make a direct payment to our Kia Ora Gaza bank account: Kia Ora Gaza Trust, 03-0211-0447718-000, Westpac Bank, Onehunga branch. Afterwards, email with your deposit details so we can send you an e-receipt.

Or write a cheque for ‘Kia Ora Gaza’ and post to: Kia Ora Gaza Trust, P.O. Box 86022, Mangere East, Auckland 2158

We also recommend donating to :

Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa – account details are:
Account name: Palestine Solidarity Network
Account number: 38-9015-0849542-00
Or Pay Pal account:


The Electronic Intifada: Your support helps us tell Palestine’s stories every day. Donate Now

The Palestine Chronicle: To make a contribution using your paypal account or credit card, please click HERE

Israeli warplanes attack northern Gaza Strip

20 Dec

Palestine Chronicle, 20 December 19, 2019

Israeli warplanes attacked targets in northern Gaza early Thursday morning.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

According to Palestinian media sources, fires engulfed the area hit by the airstrikes in Gaza. Firefighters were scrambled to tackle the flames.

On Tuesday a young Palestinian from Khan Younis, Abdullah Abu Naser (pictured below), was killed in a targeted airstrike as he approached the Israeli border fence in Gaza.

Nobody has been retrieved from the no-go area adjacent to the frontier. Nasser’s father has called on human rights organizations to aid him in the search for his son’s body.

(Sources: Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, PC, Social Media)

Israeli hate crimes against Palestinians get more violent

19 Dec

Video report by TRT, 19 December 2019.

Israeli hate crimes targeting Palestinians in the occupied West Bank are reportedly getting more violent and brazen than ever before. Israeli extremists call their racist hate campaign ‘price tag.’

How easy it is for the world to delete Palestinian pain

18 Dec

A man holds the hand of Maria al-Gazali, a 14-month-old Palestinian baby, as her body lies on a stretcher at a hospital in Beit Lahia, northern Gaza on 5 May 2019. She died during an Israeli air strike (AFP)

By David Hearst, Opinion, Middle East Eye, 14 December 2019

Gaza 2020: How easy it is for the world to delete Palestinian pain

The UN said in 2012 that Gaza would be unlivable by 2020. Israel has contributed to this deliberately

I would like you to try an exercise. Google the words  “family of eight killed” and you will be given several options – one in Sonora, Mexico, another in Pike, Ohio, yet another in Mendocino County, California.

But Google’s massive memory seems to have suffered amnesia over what took place just one month ago in Deir al-Balah, Gaza.

To recap, because you, too, may have forgotten: on 14 November, an Israeli pilot dropped a one-tonne JDAM bomb on a building where eight members of one family were sleeping. Five of them were children. Two of them were infants.

The bodies of five children from the same family killed in an Israeli air strike on 14 November lie in a hospital ward in Gaza (MEE/Atiyya Darwish)

At first, the Israeli army tried to lie its way out of responsibility for the killing of al-Sawarka family (one other family member has since died of injuries, taking the total to nine). Its Arabic-language spokesman claimed that the building was a command post for an Islamic Jihad rocket-launching unit in the central Gaza Strip.

However, as Haaretz revealed, the target was at least a year old. The intelligence was based on rumours, and no one had bothered to check who was living inside that building: they just dropped the bomb anyway.

The Israeli army need not have bothered lying. No one took any notice

Military intelligence capable of identifying and hitting moving targets like Bahaa Abu al-Atta, the Islamic Jihad’s commander in the northern Gaza Strip – or attempting to kill Akram al-Ajouri, a member of its political bureau in Damascus – is simultaneously incapable of updating its target bank from one year ago.

The Israeli army need not have bothered lying. No one took any notice. Neither the exchange of rocke fire nor the killing of the Sawarka family made the front pages of the Guardian, New York Times or Washington Post.

Israel’s diet plan for Gaza

This is Gaza now: a brutal siege of a forgotten people subsisting in conditions predicted to be unlivable by the UN in 2020, a year that is just a few weeks away.

It is inaccurate to say that the deaths of the Sawarka family were met with indifference in Israel.

VIDEO by : Benny Gantz: “6,231 Targets destroyed – parts of Gaza go back to the stone age”

Benjamin Netanyahu’s sole rival for the leadership is Benny Gantz. Anyone in western capitals mistaking Gantz for a peacenik, merely because he is challenging Netanyahu, should look at a series of campaign videos the former Israeli army chief published recently about Gaza.

One of them [posted above] starts with the sort of footage that a Russian drone could have taken after its bombardment of East Aleppo. The devastation is like Dresden or Nagasaki. It takes a disturbing few seconds to realise that this horrendous drone footage is a celebration of destruction, not an indictment of it.

Its message in Hebrew is unambiguous for what is considered in international law a war crime. “Parts of Gaza were returned to the stone ages… 6,231 targets destroyed… 1,364 terrorists killed… 3.5 years of quiet… Only the strong win.”

Indifference is not the right word. It is more like jubilation.

Israel’s suffocation of Gaza predates the siege that started when Hamas took over in 2007. As Israeli writer Meron Rapoport has said, Israel’s leaders have long harboured genocidal thoughts about what to do with the enclave that they chased all those refugees into after 1948.

‘The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger’

– Dov Weisglass, Israeli government adviser

In 1967, former Israeli prime minister Levi Eshkol set up a unit to encourage Palestinians to emigrate.

“Precisely because of the suffocation and imprisonment there, maybe the Arabs will move from the Gaza Strip… Perhaps if we don’t give them enough water they won’t have a choice, because the orchards will yellow and wither,” he suggested, according to declassified minutes of cabinet meetings released in 2017.

In 2006, Dov Weisglass, a government adviser, said: “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.”

The Rafah crossing as relief valve

The passage of time has not dulled nor modified these sentiments.

The difference today is that Israeli leaders no longer feel the need to disguise their thoughts about Gaza. As Gantz did, they say out loud what previously they had said or thought in private.

In private, Israeli prime ministers have never stopped communicating with Hamas through intermediaries, mainly about prisoner exchanges.

Palestinian protesters run from tear gas fired by Israeli forces east of Bureij in the central Gaza Strip in December 2019 (AFP).

Tony Blair, the former Middle East envoy for the Quartet, engaged in his own diplomacy by offering Hamas a sea port and airport in exchange for an end to the conflict with Israel. It did not get anywhere.

Hamas has independently offered a long-term hudna or ceasefire and changed its charter to reflect a settlement based on the June 1967 borders of Palestine. But it has refused to decommission or hand over its armed forces. Fatah and the PLO ended up on a path to decay and political irrelevance since they each recognised Israel’s existence. That does not provide much of an incentive for Hamas and the other resistance groups in Gaza.

Throughout, the oscillation between jaw-jaw and war-war, and the interests of other parties to the siege of Gaza, have also become apparent. At times, these parties have been more Catholic than the pope in wishing to see Gaza and Hamas brought to heal.

One of them is Egypt under the military-led rule of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

The Gaza crossing is a tap. Close it and you put political pressure on Hamas

In 2012, under president Mohamed Morsi’s rule, an average of 34,000 people passed through the Rafah crossing every month. In 2014, after Sisi came to power, the border with Egypt remained closed for 241 days. In 2015 it was shut for 346 days – and open for only 19 days. Sisi has operated the border crossing at Rafah very much in the manner of Israel itself.

The crossing is a tap. Close it and you put political pressure on Hamas by denying the dying access to proper medical care. Open it and you relieve the pressure on the inmates of this giant prison.

A third collaborator to the siege is the Palestinian Authority itself. According to Hamas, since April 2007, the PA has cut the salaries of its employees in Gaza, forced 30,000 of its public servants into early retirement, reduced the number of medical permits to receive treatment abroad, cut medicines and medical supplies. The salary cuts are largely undisputed .

An inhuman experiment

The cumulative effect of the siege on the enclave is devastating, as MEE has reported this week.

Imagine how the international community would react if in Hong Kong or New York, two other similarly crowded territories, unemployment was 47 per cent, the poverty rate 53 per cent, the average class size was 39 and the infant mortality rate at 10.5 per 1,000 live births.

Gaza 2020: How does Palestinian territory compare globally?

Read More »

The international community has grown used to absolving Israel of any accountability for collective punishment and gross human rights abuses.

But surely the point now is that Gaza must be considered a human stain on the conscience of the world.

By neglect, or default, all western governments have actively contributed to its misery. All are deeply complicit in an inhuman experiment: how to keep more than 2 million people on a level of subsistence considered intolerable and unlivable by the UN, without tipping them over into mass death.

What has to happen for this to change? For how much longer will we delete, as Google apparently does, Gaza, its refugees, its daily suffering from the collective consciousness of the world?

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye or Kia Ora Gaza.

. . . . .

David Hearst is the editor in chief of Middle East Eye. He left The Guardian as its chief foreign leader writer. In a career spanning 29 years, he covered the Brighton bomb, the miner’s strike, the loyalist backlash in the wake of the Anglo-Irish Agreement in Northern Ireland, the first conflicts in the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in Slovenia and Croatia, the end of the Soviet Union, Chechnya, and the bushfire wars that accompanied it. He charted Boris Yeltsin’s moral and physical decline and the conditions which created the rise of Putin. After Ireland, he was appointed Europe correspondent for Guardian Europe, then joined the Moscow bureau in 1992, before becoming bureau chief in 1994. He left Russia in 1997 to join the foreign desk, became European editor and then associate foreign editor. He joined The Guardian from The Scotsman, where he worked as education correspondent.

Freedom Flotilla to sail 2020: For the Children of Gaza

17 Dec

Freedom Flotilla Coalition video announcement, 17 December 2019

US Boat to Gaza spokesperson Col. Ann Wright (retired) speaks about the Freedom Flotilla Coalition’s plans to sail in May 2020, on the 10th anniversary of the deadly Israeli commando attack on the Mavi Marmara: against the blockade and for the Children of Gaza. Kia Ora Gaza is part of the international Freedom Flotilla Coalition which held a planning meeting in the Netherlands recently.


Make a direct payment to our bank account: Kia Ora Gaza Trust, 03-0211-0447718-000, Westpac Bank, Onehunga branch. Afterwards, email with your deposit details so we can send you an e-receipt.

Or write a cheque for ‘Kia Ora Gaza’ and post to: Kia Ora Gaza Trust, P.O. Box 86022, Mangere East, Auckland 2158

Gaza 2020: has life become impossible for Palestinians?

13 Dec

VIDEO by Mohamed Hassan, NZ documentary-maker and senior journalist at Middle East Eye. 13 December 2019.

Israel’s siege is ‘main reason for Gaza’s catastrophe’

13 Dec

An explosion erupts in Gaza City during an Israeli air strike in May 2019 (AFP)

By Meron Rapoport, Middle East Eye, 13 December 2019 [Abridged]

Gaza 2020: Palestine’s crisis deepens – and still Israel sticks to its failed policies

Gaza needs more than cosmetic improvements, such as widening the fishing zone – it needs a permanent end to the blockade

One could easily claim that the Jewish-Israeli public is largely blind and deaf to the suffering of the people of Gaza. 

This moral indifference has been manifested repeatedly during the many military operations that Israel has launched on Gaza over the past decade.

Israeli soldiers stand by a military vehicle across the Gaza fence in June (AFP)

Even when entire families have been wiped out by Israeli bombing, very little attention has been paid to the subject in the Hebrew media; it is not part of the public debate. 

It therefore comes as no surprise that the UN warning that Gaza could become uninhabitable by 2020, now less than a month away, has failed to attract the Israeli public’s attention. 

Calls for Israel to disengage

The popular attitude in Israel towards Gaza could be summarised as follows: Palestinians in Gaza have brought trouble upon themselves by electing a Hamas government. Let them pay the price of this choice.

But the issue is much more complicated. Israel is well aware that a humanitarian crisis in Gaza could affect it directly. A 2017 report published by the Institute for National Security Studies, a leading Israeli think-tank, warns that the deteriorating water and sanitation crisis in Gaza could lead to the spreading of epidemics, such as cholera, into Israel.

Political and military logic has taken precedence over all other considerations: Even fears of a total collapse in Gaza are not enough to change this reality.

Fears over the deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Gaza have led to strengthened calls within the Israeli establishment to further disengage from Gaza – to let it run its own affairs, with minimum Israeli interference. Israel Katz, the former intelligence minister and now foreign minister, has proposed building an artificial island near Gaza’s shores, serving as a seaport for aid delivery. 

Yet, Israel has not reversed course, instead continuing its blockade on Gaza. The siege is the main, and perhaps the only, reason for Gaza’s catastrophe. But political and military logic has taken precedence over all other considerations: Even fears of a total collapse in Gaza are not enough to change this reality.

Is ICC about to slam the door on justice for Palestine?

12 Dec

A Palestinian man walks across the rubble of his home destroyed during Israel’s 51-day bombardment of the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014, al-Shujaiyeh, Gaza City, April 2015. Ashraf Amra APA]

By Maureen Clare, Electronic Intifada, 11 December 2019

In the decade since Palestinians first petitioned the International Criminal Court, around 3,500 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Around 800 were children.

Israel has expanded its settlement colonies in the West Bank, encouraged by a Trump administration that has put Washington’s seal of approval on war crimes only tacitly endorsed by previous US governments.

That tacit support has been more than symbolic.

Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, signed a $38 billion military aid pact with Israel – the “single largest pledge of bilateral military assistance in US history” by the State Department’s admission.

All that to secure Israel’s military occupation, now in its sixth decade, and the violent oppression that it requires.

The Gaza Strip has remained under a cruel and illegal siege of collective punishment, all but destroying the economy and plunging the territory’s population of two million into poverty and unprecedented despair.

In 2014, Israel subjected Gaza to a 51-day military assault, during which nearly 150 families lost three or more members in a single Israeli strike as Israel targeted homes, schools, hospitals and other civilian infrastructure.

Two years later, B’Tselem, Israel’s leading human rights organization, declared that it would no longer cooperate with the Israeli military’s sham system of self-investigation, stating that it only serves as a fig leaf for the occupation.

The UN Human Rights Council tasked several independent commissions of inquiry to investigate Israeli crimes in Gaza. They published their reports, but their calls for accountability were ignored or undermined by those in a position to challenge Israeli impunity.

The international boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, which seeks to pressure Israel into respecting Palestinian rights, has been put in the crosshairs of Israel’s strategic affairs ministry.

Palestinian leaders of that popular movement have been punished and threatened, while international BDS supporters are criminalized and smeared.

The preliminary examination of the situation in Palestine by the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has provided a glimmer of hope in this otherwise bleak landscape.

But anyone concerned with justice in Palestine should be alarmed by the chief prosecutor’s latest progress report on the preliminary examinations in the West Bank and Gaza and elsewhere.

In it, chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda states that she “believes that it is time to take the necessary steps to bring the preliminary examination to a conclusion.”

“Distorted quest for balance”

Since 2015, Bensouda has been conducting the preliminary examination into alleged war crimes in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. She has yet to open any formal investigations that could lead to prosecutions.

“The delay in proceeding to investigation … is of grave concern,” three Palestinian human rights groups state in a response to Bensouda’s report, published last week.

The groups – Al-Haq, Al Mezan and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights – say that the section on the situation in Palestine in Bensouda’s report contains “a number of unwarranted and disturbing omissions.”

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What does the future hold as Gaza faces 2020?

12 Dec

A Palestinian boy walks bare-foot following a storm in the village of Al-Moghraga, near the Nuseirat refugee camp, central Gaza in February 2016 (AFP)

By Maha Hussaini, Nada Nabi, Middle East Eye, 11 December 2019

Gaza 2020: ‘Our worst nightmare is when it starts raining’

Palestinians, living under the Israeli blockade, describe conditions in the territory

The United Nations issued a report seven years ago warning that by 2020, the Gaza Strip could be uninhabitable due to severe problems with its water, power, healthcare and education systems. 

Today, on the eve of 2020, MEE spoke with a homeowner, a doctor and a teacher about how their lives have changed in recent years – and what the future may hold.

The homeowner: Aisha Abu Nemer

Aisha Abu Nemer says her family struggles to access clean water (Sanad Latefa/MEE)

Aisha Abu Nemer, 23, lives with her husband and three children – aged eight, six and eight months – in Khan Younis in southern Gaza. 

The shabby house, located in a marginalised, poor neighbourhood, is 50 square metres in total and topped with a tin roof. The family lives in one room, which serves as a living room, kitchen and toilet. In an adjoining, single bedroom where all the family sleeps, there is a mattress on the floor and a white closet, the only piece of furniture in the home.

None of this protects Aisha Abu Nemer and her family from Gaza’s heat, cold or damp.

“Our worst nightmare is when it starts raining,” she tells MEE. “We have to get up at midnight to fill buckets with the rainwater that floods the house and remove the mattresses and blankets from the floor.

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Israel supporters defend Trump’s vicious anti-Semitism

10 Dec

US President Donald Trump pats Las Vegas Sands Corporation chief executive and Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson on the arm before speaking at the Israeli-American Council National Summit in Hollywood, Florida, 7 December.[Patrick Semansky AP Photo]

By Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada,10 December 2019

On Saturday, President Donald Trump spewed out an anti-Semitic diatribe at the Florida conference of the Israeli-American Council, a major lobby group.

“A lot of you are in the real estate business because I know you very well,” Trump told the largely Jewish audience.

“You’re brutal killers, not nice people at all, but you have to vote for me. You have no choice.”

According to the president, Jews would vote to re-elect him just to protect their wealth. He also suggested that some Jews are not sufficiently loyal to Israel.

“We have to get them to love Israel more because you have people that are Jewish people, that are great people – they don’t love Israel enough,” Trump said.

J Street denounced the president’s speech.

The liberal Israel lobby group stated that the president “is incapable of addressing Jewish audiences without dipping into the deep well of anti-Semitic tropes that shape his worldview.”

Democratic Majority for Israel, a lobby group founded to attack supporters of Palestinian rights within the Democratic Party, called the president’s trafficking in anti-Semitic stereotypes “disgusting.”

But what is remarkable is how mainstream pro-Israel Jewish communal groups tip-toed around the president’s words.

Their criticism fell far short of clear condemnation, and the reason is clear: They are prepared to tolerate an anti-Semite and white supremacist in the White House as long as he supports Israel.

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Prospects for a formal ICC investigation into the Palestine situation are nil

10 Dec

Absent a formal investigation by the ICC, Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people can continue with impunity.[Mohammed Sabaaneh]

Is there any prospect of an investigation into the ‘situation in Palestine’ under the watch of the present Prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda?

No, there is not, John Dugard explains, for reasons that might be considered shocking.

Rights Forum, 9 December 2019.

I have a short and easy answer to the question posed. No, there is no prospect of such an investigation under the watch of the present Prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, whose term of office expires in 2021.

Why do I say this?

It has become abundantly clear that the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) is determined not to open an investigation into crimes committed by Israel in Palestine and against the Palestinian people. On 16 January 2015 the Prosecutor commenced a preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine. On 15 May 2018 Palestine itself referred the matter to the ICC.

However, the Prosecutor had already conducted a preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine in 2009, which was discontinued in April 2012, and into the Gaza Flotilla situation from 2013. This means that the OTP has been conducting a preliminary examination for ten years into a situation on which there are four Human Rights Council independent fact-finding mission reports, an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, resolutions of the Security Council and General Assembly, numerous Israeli, Palestinian and international NGO reports, extensive TV coverage and video recordings depicting and testifying to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

And to date it has found no basis to proceed to the next stage of an investigation – which has been reaffirmed by the Prosecutor in her latest report on preliminary examinations. A report which, as usual, fails to give a straight and reasoned explanation for her failure to commence an investigation.

Coupled with this is the persistent refusal of the Prosecutor to open an investigation into the Comoros case [Mavi Marmara – ed.], despite urgings from the judges of the Court.

In my view the only explanation for this refusal to investigate the situation in Palestine and that of the Comoros is that the Prosecutor’s office is guided by extra legal, political considerations in its decision-making.

I am satisfied that there is more than sufficient evidence to support a finding that Israel has committed war crimes by using excessive and disproportionate force and violence against civilians in Gaza and the West Bank. I am also convinced that the evidence is clear that Israel’s settlement enterprise constitutes apartheid and has resulted in the forcible displacement and transfer of thousands of Palestinians from their homes, meaning that it has committed crimes against humanity.

I am, however, reluctantly willing to accept that there may conceivably, possibly be some debate about the law and the evidence relating to the commission of these crimes.

So instead let me base my claim that extra legal factors guide the OTP on the crime of the transfer by the Occupying Power – Israel – of parts of its civilian population into the occupied territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Here the law and facts are clear and permit no possibility whatsoever of dispute or debate.

The law is clear. Article 8(2)(viii) of the Rome Statute makes such conduct a war crime. So do articles 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention and 85(4)(a) of the 1977 Protocol to the Geneva Conventions. So does customary international law.[1]

The facts are clear. Some 700,000 Jewish Israeli settlers live in some 130 settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. These settlements are clearly within occupied Palestinian territory – as held by the International Court of Justice in 2004.[2] Israel continues to expand its settlement empire. These facts have been repeatedly drawn to the attention of the OTP by the Government of Palestine and NGOs.

The evidence clearly provides a reasonable basis to believe that a crime within the jurisdiction of the Court has been committed as required by the Statute of the ICC.[3] Failure to act in these circumstances, when the evidence of Israel’s criminality relating to the expansion of settlements grows, not only removes any pretence of deterrence, but in addition contributes to the commission of the crime. Culpable failure to take steps to suppress a crime when under a duty to do so makes the Prosecutor complicit in the commission of the crime.

There is overwhelming authoritative support for the conclusion that Israel’s settlements are illegal under international law. The International Court of Justice unanimously held the settlements have been established in breach of international law.[4] The Security Council has on many occasions condemned settlements as illegal, most recently in 2016 in resolution 2334. The General Assembly has annually condemned settlements as illegal. The EU and almost all states have condemned settlements as illegal. The International Committee of the Red Cross agrees. Even Israel’s own legal adviser: Theodor Meron advised that they were illegal when Israel embarked upon this colonial enterprise. (Of course President Trump has a different opinion, but this is only evidence in favour of a contrary position.)

This all leads me to conclude that non-legal, political factors guide the decision-making of the OTP. But how have these factors determined the decision-making of the OPT? As I see it, there are two possibilities: a deliberate collective decision by the Prosecutor, her deputy and senior officers not to prosecute; or inarticulated factors that have led the Prosecutor and her staff to a bias in favour of Israel.

The first explanation envisages a deliberate, collective decision on the part of the Prosecutor and her senior staff not to open an investigation. The most likely reason for such a decision would be fear of retaliation from Israel and the United States. Or it might be sensitivity to the widespread view, prevalent among European states, that the ICC is too fragile an institution to withstand the backlash that might follow such an investigation. While such a collective decision is possible I do not think it is the likely explanation.

The second explanation, that inarticulated factors have determined the decision requires some explanation.

The American legal realists, a respectable school of jurisprudence, argues that the judicial decision is the outcome of the entire life-history of the judge; that rules of law and concealed stimuli such as the judge’s political and moral prejudices interact to produce the judicial decision. US Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo warned that ‘Deep below the consciousness are … forces, the likes and dislikes, the predilections and prejudices, the complex of instincts and emotions and habits and convictions’ of a judge which contribute to the judicial decision.

Such inarticulated factors contribute even more to the decision-making of prosecutors. Inarticulate factors are more significant in the context of prosecutorial discretion – a broad grant of discretionary authority with little oversight and limited transparency. It is far easier for a prosecutor to succumb to improper inarticulated influences when she believes that she will not have to publicly justify her position.

Although the decision to investigate is primarily that of the Prosecutor it is strange that no member of her staff has publicly raised objections to the decision not to investigate. One would have expected a whistleblower to expose the decision making of the Prosecutor and her senior staff. The only explanation for this is that they too have reasons, inarticulated, to acquiesce in the decision.

As most members of the OTP staff have limited tenure and are required to consider their next professional post there is inevitably the fear that future job opportunities may be jeopardized by a decision to investigate Israel which will be interpreted by potential employers as a sign of anti-Semitism. There is also the fear that this may result in refusal of entry to the United States. Most European states view Israel as part of the European alliance (hence its inclusion in WEOG, the group of Western European and Others Group in the United Nations) and therefore as a state exempt from investigation by the ICC. Failure to respect this ‘given’ may understandably be seen as an obstacle to future employment.

The inarticulate premise of the Prosecutor is of paramount importance. Are there factors in her life-history, particularly in The Gambia, that may provide some indication of inarticulated reasons for her decision to protect Israel from investigation?

Between 1987 and 2000 Fatou Bensouda was Principal State Counsel, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, and Chief Legal Advisor to the President and Cabinet of the Republic of The Gambia. From 1994 to 2016 The Gambia was under the brutal dictatorship of Yahya Jammeh. Repression was the order of the day as human rights were vigorously suppressed. The Minister of Justice could not remain aloof from this. That she was involved in this process of repression has become clear from evidence before The Gambian Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC). Two men, Batch Samba Jallow and Sainey Faye have recently testified that she was complicit in their brutal torture, long detention without trial and denial of legal representation.[5] This has led two Venezuelan lawyers[6] to lay a complaint with the head of the Independent Oversight Mechanism (IOM) of the ICC that claims that she is unfit to hold the office of Prosecutor. Fatou Bensouda is not on record as having criticized or distanced herself from Yahya Jammeh.

These complaints call for a serious and urgent investigation into the fitness of the Prosecutor to hold office. It is the fear that further abuses may be revealed by Israel if she initiates an investigation may well be the inarticulate factor in her decision not to investigate Israel.

In South Africa, during the apartheid era, legal scholars invoked the methods of the American legal realists to expose the inarticulate premises of white judges who routinely delivered racist and pro-executive decisions.[7] This led to a heightened awareness on the part of judges of the nature of the judicial decision and resulted in more fair and independent decisions. American legal realism is a powerful antidote in an unjust and corrupt system. It might profitably be employed in an examination of the work of the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC.

The purpose of my talk tonight is to make the Prosecutor and her staff aware of the dangers of being guided by their inarticulate premises; premises that have led to a failure to deliver justice for the Palestinian people. I have attempted to expose the kind of extra-legal factors that have probably led the Prosecutor and her staff to show bias in favour of Israel. I hope that they will seriously examine their consciences and question their inarticulate motives for failure to do justice for the Palestinian people.

The above text was presented by John Dugard at a side event to the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute; The Hague, December 5th, 2019. Dugard is a member of the Advisory Council of The Rights Forum.

John Dugard is Emeritus Professor of Law at the universities of Leiden and the Witwatersrand; Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, 2001 to 2008; Former Judge ad hoc International Court of Justice; and a member of the Advisory Board of The Rights Forum.

[1] J-M Henkaerts and L Doswald-Beck, Customary International Humanitarian Law, Vol I: Rules, ICRC, CUP, 2005, Rule 130, p 462.

[2] Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, 2004 ICJ Reports 136, paras 78, 122.

[3] Article 53(1)(a) of the Rome Statute.

[4] Ibid, para 120. Judge Buergenthal of the United States concurred in this finding.

[5] Thierry Cruvellier and Mustapha K Darboe, ‘Will Fatou Bensouda Face the Truth Commission in Gambia?’, JusticeInfo.Net, Fondation Hirondelle, commission-trrc-gambia.html

[6] Carlos Ramirez Lopez and Walter Marquez, retired deputy of the Nationl Assembly of Venezuela and President of the AEl Amparo Foundation. Complaint of 2 August 2019.

[7] See J Dugard, Human Rights and the South African Legal Order, Princeton University Press, 1978, pp 366-388; J Dugard, ‘The Judicial Process, Positivism and Civil Liberty’ (1971), South African Law Journal 181; J Dugard, Confronting Apartheid. A Personal History of South Africa, Namibia and Palestine, Jacana 2019, pp 52-53.

See also:

Human Rights / The Rights Forum calls for broad protest against passive ICC

NOTE: The Rights Forum has petitioned International Criminal Court to open an investigation into possible war crimes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories without further delay. This demand will be hand-delivered to the ICC today, 10 December, on behalf of a coalition of organizations, including Kia Ora Gaza and Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa.

While International Law fails, the Freedom Flotilla sails

9 Dec

Part of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition contingent (including Kia Ora Gaza reps) which joined the protest at the International Criminal Court, at the Hague last weekend. [Photo: Ann Wright]

Freedom Flotilla Coalition statement, 6 December, 2019

“This is not over yet, we are calling on Judges of the International Criminal Court to step in.”

On December 2 2019, the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s Public Prosecutor’s Office decided not to open an investigation into war crimes committed by members of the Israeli military in the boarding of the Mavi Marmara, and its aftermath, which resulted in 10 people being killed, 55 people wounded and outrages upon the personal dignity of potentially many others during the voyage to Ashdod. In its decision, it did not give any new reasons and failed to address the shortcomings of the previous investigation. Lawyers representing the victims of the 2010 Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara are appealing to judges at the ICC to fulfill their function of serving justice and international law.

Lawyers for IHH, a Freedom Flotilla member, have issued a statement announcing that they will appeal the recent decision by the ICC prosecutor to the judges of the ICC:

“We believe that the judges of the ICC will not remain indifferent to this call for justice and initiate a trial process for the punishment of all unjust actions taking place in Palestine. All necessary appeals will be made and the on-going process with the ICC will be followed.”

While the wheels of justice turn slowly, the Palestinians of Gaza cannot wait, as conditions in the illegally occupied and blockaded territory continue to deteriorate. That is why the Freedom Flotilla will be sailing again in May 2020: to challenge this illegal and inhumane blockade of Gaza, along with our governments’ complicity.

The full statement of the lawyers for the victims of the Israeli attacks on the Mavi Marmara is available here on the IHH website.

For media inquiries, please contact any of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition spokespeople.



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