Trump deal will fell peace process house of cards

Omar Karmi Power Suits 24 January 2020

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu on the campaign trail.
 Gili YaariZUMA Press

Brace yourselves, here it comes.

After years of mounting excitement, the time is finally ripe. The US administration is going to show its hand and unveil the “closely-held” Ultimate Deal of the Century™ before the main contenders for Israel’s leadership go to Washington on Tuesday.

Maybe.

It’s “a great plan,” according to man-of-the-hour Donald Trump, the US president, neatly dispelling any complaints from moaning snowflakes who keep harping on about rights and history and justice and truth and sustainability and blah, blah, blah.

But what exactly is this great plan?

According to Trump, it’s not what you’ve read already.

What you may have read already comes courtesy of unnamed “senior Israeli officials.” According to them, the plan will see Israel annex all of Jerusalem as well as between 30-40 percent of Area C of the West Bank (the 60 percent of the West Bank already under full Israeli control). This includes the Jordan Valley and thus access to the outside world.

The plan would also give Israel a green light to annex all but 15 settlements in the occupied territory – illegal under international law, but no longer in the eyes of the US administration.

Israel will maintain uncontested military control over all the territory of historic Palestine and Palestinians will have to disarm Hamas and demilitarize the Gaza Strip.

Just words

But what do the Palestinians get? As anyone with any sense knows, a deal can only be “great” if all parties walk away feeling they’ve gained something.

Business mogul handbook 101.

Palestinians get statehood. Apparently. Some Israelis are not happy about that, so maybe not. Who knows? But according to “senior Israeli officials,” part of a plan that “really would work” is Palestinian statehood.

Over what? Not clear. Whatever is left, presumably, once Israel has had its fill. Territory-wise there would apparently be some land swaps, though with whom, where and how much has not been divulged.

Jerusalem? “Symbolic access,” whatever that means.

Sovereignty? No army, no control over borders, no control over airspace. So no.

Right of return for refugees? None. The US administration has made its own calculations, determining that the number of Palestinian refugees is roughly equivalent to Jews who fled Arab countries, therefore negating any right of return or even right to compensation.

Oh and Palestinians get $50 billion from “Sunni countries.” Thanks, guys.

Why now?

Palestinians have rejected the plan out of hand.

What else is the Palestinian Authority going to do? There is nothing in the plan, as outlined above, that any Palestinian leader could ever accept.

But that may be to miss the point.

Partly, this administration wants to ride roughshod over international law. After all, superpowers should not feel restrained by things such as rules. That’s what makes them powerful.

No better place to signal such intent than with Palestinians, whose case in international law is clear, open and shut.

But also, of course, this is about helping a friend in his time of need.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the incumbent prime minister, is trying to ward off corruption prosecution, a prosecution that will be brought should he fail to ensure immunity for himself.

He may not secure immunity if he does not form the next government. Trump is simply trying to help.

And with two Israeli elections already last year, Trump has had plenty of chances to prove his generosity.

First, he granted US blessing to Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem. Next, he recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights.

Then he reversed the US position on settlements in occupied territory.

Cognizant of this, Benny Gantz, Netanyahu’s main rival, has been falling over himself to promise that his annexation will be bigger than Netanyahu’s.

Not only is he trying to win votes, he is also showing that he knows how to play along with a US president who seems to appreciate sycophancy.

What now?

The plan is yet to be published. Many stalwart supporters of Israel have in the past cautioned against publishing such an obviously imbalanced deal.

There’s a good reason. This forces the hand of the Palestinian Authority. It ends its very reason to exist, namely in preparation for statehood. Real statehood. It crosses every “red line” the PA has ever marked out, whether on refugees, territory, sovereignty, Jerusalem, etc, and so on.

It pulls down the whole peace process charade.

Too many institutions, businesses and industries have been built and too many livelihoods are at stake for the PA to disband itself with immediate effect, however advisable that might be.

Indeed, it may well be that the PA leadership will try to simply sit tight and wait Trump out.

But there really is no time for that. The land is disappearing beneath the Palestinians’ feet.

Trump’s Ultimate Deal is the end of the PA.

PCHR Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations against Palestinians (09 – 15 January 2020)

Source

January 18, 2020 4:20 AM

Summary

This week, PCHR documented 179 violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law (IHL) by Israeli occupation forces (IOF) and settlers in the occupied Palestinian territory. They were as follows:

As part of the Israeli shooting and excessive use of force:

In terms of excessive use of force, IOF suppression of 4 peaceful protests in the West Bank resulted in the suffocation of dozens of Palestinian civilians. Furthermore, 4 IOF shootings were reported at agricultural lands in eastern Gaza Strip and 3 at fishing boats at Gaza Sea; no casualties were reported.

This week, IOF aircrafts sprayed herbicides along the Gaza Strip’s eastern border fence with Israel from its north to its Central Governorate. According to PCHR’s fieldworkers, Israeli aircrafts were flying at a low altitude over the border fence while spraying the herbicides, which reached a distance of 700 to 1200 meters into the Gaza Strip, depending on wind speed and direction. IOF’s herbicide-attack on agricultural lands is repeated twice annually (the end of December and the begging of January and April), which are the beginning of the cultivation of winter and summer crops. It should be noted that spraying herbicides caused damage to leafy crops at lands adjacent to the border fence, which caused heavy losses. Some farmers are deterred from planting their lands that are located near the border fence in fear of such attacks. IOF claim that they intend to eliminate grass and crops that impair vision in the areas adjacent to the border fence.

Under IOF incursions and house raids in addition to arresting Palestinian civilians: IOF carried out 96 incursions into the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem. Those incursions included raids of civilian houses and shootings, enticing fear among civilians, arresting and/or injuring many others. During this week’s incursions, 69 Palestinians were arrested, including 10 children and a woman. Also during their raids, IOF confiscated Palestinian civilians’ money, equipment and other properties under various excuses. In the Gaza Strip, IOF arrested 4 Palestinians, 2 while attempting to cross into Israel via the border fence and 2 at Beit Hanoun Crossing.

In a move unprecedented for more than 25 years, Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett issued a decision on 15 January 2020 establishing 7 new natural reserves and expanding 12 others in the West Bank. Under the Minister’s decision, the Area “C” lands were put under the authority of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. It should be noted that Area “C” lands constitute over 60% of the West Bank and falls under the Israeli military and civil control. It is no secret that Israel intends to annex Area “C” lands; this decision came a few day after Minister Bennett announced his intent to annex Area “C” to Israel and to enhance settlement activity.

Under the settlement expansion activities in the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, PCHR documented 8 demolitions, land razing and demolition notices by IOF, including confiscating a barracks used for livestock and a construction vehicle in Ramallah. IOF also distributed 9 demolition notices and orders to stop construction vehicles in Hebron. Additionally, a blacksmith workshop was destroyed in Jerusalem.

On 15 January 2020, IOF issued a military order to confiscate 350 dunums of agricultural land in Bethlehem in order to expand Bypass road (60), which ties settlements near Bethlehem with Jerusalem, including “Gush Etzion,” “Beitar Illi,” “Eilya,” “Efrat” and “Tzur Hadassah;” as well as “Kiryat Arba” in Hebron.

PCHR also documented 3 settler-attacks that included cutting 80 olive trees and assaulting Palestinian civilians in Nablus.

In terms of collective punishment policy, IOF gave demolition notices to the families of 4 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails targeting their houses in Jenin, Ramallah and Hebron. IOF alleged that their imprisoned sons carried out attacks against IOF and settlers.

In terms of the Israeli closure policy, the Gaza Strip still suffers the worst closure in the History of the Israeli occupation of the oPt as it has entered the 14th consecutive year, without any improvement to the movement of persons and goods, humanitarian conditions and bearing catastrophic consequences on all aspects of life. Furthermore, IOF uses Erez Crossing that is designated for movement of individuals as an ambush to arrest Palestinians who obtain permits to exit via Israel.  Meanwhile, the West Bank is divided into separate cantons with key roads blocked by the Israeli occupation since the Second Intifada and with temporary and permanent checkpoints, where civilian movement is restricted and they are subject to arrest. This week, IOF arrested 7 Palestinians, including a child and a woman, at temporary military checkpoints.

  1. Violation of the right to life and to bodily integrity
  2. Excessive Use of Force against Protests in the West Bank
  • At approximately 13:30 on Friday afternoon, 10 January 2019, a peaceful protest took off in Kufor Qaddoum village, northeast of Qalqiliyah, and marched towards the village’s eastern entrance, which has been closed for 15 years allegedly for the security of “Kedumim” settlement. The protestors chanted national slogans, demanded an end of the occupation and the Israeli forces’ crimes against Palestinians. The protestors threw stones at the Israeli soldiers stationed behind sand berms and the latter responded with sound bombs and tear gas canisters. As a result, a few people suffocated due to tear gas inhalation.
  • A similar protest launched on the same day in the same village. The protestors threw stones at IOF, who responded with rubber bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters. As a result, several civilians suffocated due to tear gas inhalation.
  1. Shooting and other violations of the right to life and bodily integrity
  • At approximately 16:00 on Thursday, 09 January 2020, Dozens of Palestinian young men gathered in Bab al-Zawiyah area in the center of Hebron and threw stones at the Israeli military checkpoint established at the entrance to al-Shuhada’a Street, which is closed. Israeli soldiers stationed at the abovementioned checkpoint deliberately opened fire at stone-throwers. As a result, a number of young men suffocated due to tear gas inhalation.
  • At approximately 14:00 on Friday, 10 January 2020, a number of Palestinian young men gathered at the western entrance to al-‘Aroub refugee camp, north of Hebron. They threw stones at the Israeli military watchtower established at the main road to the camp. Israeli soldiers chased the young men between houses and fired sound bombs and tear gas canister at them. The confrontations, which continued until 17:00, resulted in several civilians suffocating due to tear gas inhalation. No other incidents were reported.
  • At approximately 14:50, Israeli gunboats stationed west of Rafah in southern Gaza Strip, opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 4 nautical miles. As a result, fishermen were forced to flee fearing for their lives. Neither casualties nor material damage was reported.
  • At approximately 14:00 on Saturday, 11 January 2020, Israeli soldiers stationed along the border fence with Israel, east of khan Younis in southern Gaza Strip, opened fire at agricultural lands in eastern ‘Abasan area, adjacent to the border fence. No casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 09:00 on Sunday, 12 January 2020, Israeli gunboats stationed west of Jabalia shore in northern Gaza Strip, chased and opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 3 nautical miles. As a result, fishermen were forced to flee fearing for their lives. No casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 23:10 on the same Sunday, IOF stationed at Beit Hanoun crossing in northern Gaza Strip, sporadically opened fire at the border area and fired dozens of flare bombs in the sky of the area. Neither casualties nor material damage was reported.
  • At approximately 07:00 on Monday, 13 January 2020, Israeli gunboats stationed west of Jabalia shore in northern Gaza Strip, chased and heavily opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 3 nautical miles. The shooting recurred at 09:00 on the same day. As a result, fishermen were forced to flee fearing for their lives. No casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 09:20 on Tuesday, 14 January 2020, Israeli aircrafts sprayed herbicides on the agricultural lands along the border fence, northeast of al-Buraij, and headed north to Gaza Valley and southeast of Gaza City, claiming to eliminate the grass for security reasons in the area. The spraying process continued until 10:30 on the same day morning. These pesticides caused damage to the leafy crops in the area adjacent to the border fence.
  • At approximately 09:30 on the same Tuesday, Israeli aircrafts sprayed herbicides on the agricultural lands along the border fence, from northeast of Beit Hanoun to Beit Hanoun Crossing, northwest of the village. The Spraying process continued until 10:30 on the same Tuesday.
  • At approximately 08:50 on Wednesday, 15 January 2020, Israeli aircrafts sprayed herbicides on lands adjacent to the border fence, east of al-Buraij refugee camp and headed to the east of Deir al-Balah. The spraying process continued until 11:00 on the same day morning.

According to PCHR’s fieldworkers, Israeli aircrafts were flying at a low altitude over the border fence while spraying the herbicides, which reached a distance of 700 to 1200 meters into the Gaza Strip, depending on wind speed and direction. IOF’s herbicide-attack on agricultural lands is repeated twice annually (the end of December and the begging of January and April), which are the beginning of the cultivation of winter and summer crops. it should be noted that spraying herbicides caused damage to leafy crops at lands adjacent to the border fence, which caused heavy losses. Some farmers are deterred from planting their lands that are located near the border fence in fear of such attacks. IOF claim that they intend to eliminate grass and crops that impair vision in the areas adjacent to the border fence.

It should be noted that in 2016, Israeli authorities revealed that the used substances in the air spraying are Glyphosate, Oxygal, and Durex. One of these substances at least are classified as Carcinogenic substances. In 2015, The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), affiliated with the World Health Organization (WHO), classified Glyphosate substance as carcinogenic and causes birth defects. Therefore, a number of states prohibited some of these substances.

  • At approximately 14:10 on the same Tuesday, Israeli soldiers stationed along the border fence, east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza Strip, opened fire at a group of Palestinian shepherds, east of al-Qararah. No casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 10:30 on Wednesday, 15 January 2020, Israeli aircrafts sprayed herbicides on the agricultural lands along the border fence, from southeast of Beit Hanoun to the east of al-Amal neighborhood, northeast of the village. It should be noted that the spraying process target the buffer zone ranging between 200 – 300 meters in an attempt to burn the grass that is adjacent to the border fence.
  • At approximately 14:30, Israeli soldiers stationed along the border fence, southeast of Khan Younis in southern Gaza Strip, fired live bullets and tear gas canisters at agricultural lands in eastern al-Fukhari village, adjacent to the border fence. No casualties were reported.
  1. Settlement Expansion and settler violence in the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem
  1. Demolition and Confiscation of Civilian Property for Settlement Expansion Activities
  • At approximately 11:00 on Thursday, 09 January 2020, IOF accompanied with workers of Israeli special companies moved into Ras Karkar village, west of Ramallah, and stationed on the main street. They dismantled and confiscated a 30-sqaure-meter barrack of ‘Emad Ghanem Sayis, from Kafur Ni’meh village, under the pretext of non-licensing.
  • On Saturday, 11 January 2020, Sayil Ibrahim Ja’abees and Sami Mansour Mashahra implemented the Israeli Municipality decision and self-demolished their houses in al-Mukaber Mount area, south of occupied East Jerusalem, under the pretext of non-licensing. Ja’abees said that his 80-sqaure-meter house built 4 years ago and sheltered 5 members, including 3 children. He added that on last Thursday, he was shocked by raiding his house by the Israeli Municipality staff to hand him the Israeli court’s decision that gave him until Sunday morning to self-demolish his house, and if he will not be implemented the decision, the municipality staff will do so and impose a fine on him. Ja’abees also said that his house was comprised of 2 caravans and a bathroom built on his father’s land, because he could not afford construction costs. Ja’abees pointed out that he and his family became homeless in the cold weather.

Regarding Mashahra, he said that his 65-sqaure-meter house built in 2014 and sheltered his wife and their child. Masharhra added that during the past years, the Israeli Municipality staff raided his house many times and handed him several demolition notices. He clarified that the self-demolition of his house was so difficult.

  • At approximately 07:00 on Sunday, 12 January 2020, a force of IOF accompanied with the Israeli police officers surrounded itinerant vendors and owners of stalls, which were placed in Metar Checkpoint, west of al-Dahiriyia village in southern Hebron. The bulldozer demolished the stalls, damaged the goods and confiscated them, under the pretext of causing a traffic jam at the checkpoint. It should be noted that in 2019, the Israeli authorities damaged the stalls of itinerant vendors 9 times.
  • At approximately 09:30 on Monday, 15 January 2020, IOF accompanied with a driver from “Shillo” settlement, which is established on al-Moghair village’s lands, moved into agricultural lands in al-Sahel area, 500 meters away from the mentioned settlement. IOF expelled Salem al-‘Asi, a bulldozer driver, and confiscated his bulldozer. Al-‘Asi was building an agricultural road on Palestinians’ lands to facilitate their access to their lands. It should be noted that this agricultural work is part of a project to rehabilitate and reclaim agricultural lands funded by the Agricultural Development Association, “Agricultural Relief”. IOF claimed these agricultural lands are classified as Area S, despite the existence of a land registry owned by the Palestinian farmers.
  • At approximately 10:00 on Monday, 13 January 2020, IOF accompanied with the Israeli Civil Administration officers and backed by military construction vehicles moved into Eghziwa area in southern Nablus. The Israeli Civil Administration officers distributed notices to stop construction works and demolish some facilities, under the pretext of non-licensing. The notices included:
  1. Demolishing a 120-sqaure-meter under-construction house property of ‘Anan Mohamed ‘Abed Rabbu.
  2. Demolishing a 12-sqaure-meter residential room and 50-sqaure-meter barrack property of Belal ‘Issa al-Yateem.
  3. Demolishing a 140-sqaure-meter house property of Belal ‘Issa al-Yateem.
  4. Demolishing a 150-sqaure-meter house property of Mohamed Khalil ‘Issa Abu ‘Arram.
  5. Stop Construction works in a 80-sqaure-meter house property of Qasem Mohamed Abu Tuhffa.
  6. Demolishing a 140-sqaure-meter house property of Mohamed Mousa Makhamrah.
  7. Demolishing an 1800-sqaure-meter barrack property of Ahmed Isma’il Dababsah.
  • At approximately 11:00, Hisham Dari self-demolished a retaining wall surrounding his plot of land located at the eastern entrance to al-‘Issawiyia village, northeast of occupied East Jerusalem. He implemented the Israeli Municipality decision and levelled his land. Dari added that the Israeli Municipality prevented him from using his land and imposed fines on him. The municipality also closed the entrance of his land with concrete blocks and chains.
  • At approximately 13:00, IOF accompanied with the Israeli Civil Administration officers and backed by military construction vehicles moved into Zaif area in southern Hebron. The Israeli Civil Administration officers handed ‘Issa ‘Ali Abu ‘Arram a 96-hour- notice to demolish his 200-sqaure-meter barrack, under the pretext of non-licensing.
  • At approximately 12:30 on Tuesday, 14 January 2020, the Israeli Municipality bulldozer backed by IOF demolished Khaled Nimer Abu Kahlil’s blacksmith workshop built of tin plates and bricks near Hizmah military checkpoint, northeast of occupied East Jerusalem, and confiscated its equipment, under the pretext of non-licensing, according to the Mayor of Hizmah Village municipality, Musallam Abu Helou.
  • In a move unprecedented for more than 25 years, Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett issued a decision on 15 January 2020 establishing 7 new natural reserves and expanding 12 others in the West Bank. Under the Minister’s decision, the Area “C” lands were put under the authority of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. The project included the following areas: Soreek cave, al-Moqleq valley, Malha Valley, southern Jordan River, al-Fari’ah valley, and northern Jordan valley.

According to the statement, the 12 natural reserves that will be expanded are: Mountain peaks in western Dead Sea, southeast of Nablus, Fasayil in Jordan valley, Um Zoka in Jordan valley, an area in the Dead Sea, Kharouba village in eastern al-Ramlah, inside the West Bank, northern the Dead Sea, eastern Tubas, northern the Dead Sea, Malha valley, and in Jericho.

Bennett said about his decision to seize areas from the West Bank and establish settlement projects: “Today we are greatly strengthening the Land of Israel by developing Jewish settlement in Area C – with actions, not words,” Bennett said. “Judea and Samaria have natural sites with amazing views. We will expand existing sites and develop new ones…. I invite all Israeli citizens to get up and walk the land, to tour Judea and Samaria, hike, and discover new things and to continue the Zionist enterprise.”

It should be noted that Area “C” lands constitute over 60% of the West Bank and falls under the Israeli military and civil control.

The Minister’s decision came a few day after Minister Bennett announced his intent to annex Area “C” to Israel and to enhance settlement activity.

  • At approximately 14:00 on Wednesday, 15 January 2020, IOF accompanied with the Israeli Civil Administration officers and backed by military construction vehicles moved into Kherbet Tuba in southern Hebron. The Israeli Civil Administration officers handed Huda ‘Isaa ‘Awad Najajrah a notice to stop construction works in a 35-sqaure-meter residential room, under the pretext of non-licensing.
  • On Wednesday evening, the Israeli authorities issued military orders to seize 350 agricultural dunums from the lands of al-Khader and Artas villages, south of Bethlehem, according to Hasan Barijiyah, Head of the Wall and Settlement Resistance in Bethlehem. Barijiyah pointed out that the Israeli decision aims at expanding Bypass Road (60) and denying Palestinians’ access to their lands.
  1. Israeli Settler Violence
  • On Thursday, 09 January 2020, Israeli settlers, from “Rihlem” settlement established in northern al-Sawiyia village, east of Nablus, moved into al-Wad area, which is classified as Area C. The settlers attacked agricultural lands, where they damaged Hamad Saleh Mahmoud Jazi’s olive trees (80) planted 8 years ago. Also, the settlers set fire to Nader ‘Abed al-Rahim Kafina land and burned 30 olive trees.
  • At approximately 06:00 on Wednesday, 15 January 2020, Israeli settlers, from “Yatizhar” settlement, which is established on ‘Oreef, Hewarah, ‘Inabous and Ma’dama village’s lands, attacked with stones the outskirts of ‘Oreef village from the eastern direction. The Palestinian civilians confronted them and threw stones at them. After that, IOF intervene and secure the settlers’ withdrawal. No injuries among Palestinian civilians were reported.
  • At approximately 12:42 on Wednesday, Israeli settlers, from “Yatizhar” settlement, attacked the outskirts of Ma’dama village from the southern direction. They attacked Yehia Mohamed Sa’ied Qat’s house and broke the windows before the Palestinian civilians intervened and confronted them.
  1. Collective Punishment Policy
  • At approximately 02:30 on Thursday, 09 January 2020, IOF moved into Jenin and handed the family of prisoner Ahmed Jamal Ahmed al-Qumbu’, who has been arrested since 17 January 2018, a notice to demolish their 220-sqaure-meter house in al-Basateen neighborhood in northern Jenin for the 2nd time. It should be noted that the family house sheltering 8 members, including 2 children, was re-built 8 months ago. IOF blew-up the house of al-Qumbu’, who was charged with participation in the killing of an Israeli settler namely Arail Shefeh, from “Hefat Gilad” settlement, southwest of Nablus, on 09 January 2018.
  • At approximately 04:00 on Friday, 10 January 2020, IOF backed by military construction vehicles moved into Birzeit in northern Ramallah. They raided and searched a house of prisoner Yazan Hussaim Maghames (25), who was arrested on 11 September 2019. The soldiers handed Yazan’s father a demolition notice and no arrest among the family members was reported. It should be noted that Maghames was charged with participation in the attack at Ein Bubin near Deir Bzai’a village, west of Ramallah on 23 August 2019, which caused the killing of Israeli female settler and injuring her father and brother.
  • Around the same time, IOF moved into Ramallah and stationed in al-Tirah neighborhood. They raided and searched the house of prisoner Waleed Mohamed Hanatsha and handed his family a demolition noticr. No arrest among the family members war reported. It should be noted that Hanatsha, the financial director at Union of Health Work Committees, was arrested on 03 October 2019. He was accused of participation in the attack at Ein Bubin near Deir Bzai’a village, west of Ramallah on 23 August 2019, which caused the killing of Israeli female settler and injuring her father and brother.
  • At approximately 13:00 on Friday, 10 January 2020, IOF backed by military construction vehicles moved into Beit Kahel village, northwest of Hebron. They raided and searched the house of Kamel Mohamed ‘Asafrah (63) and handed his daughter-in-law married to his son Mahmoud (40), who was arrested on 20 August 2019, a notice to demolish their 120-square-apartment located on the 2nd floor. It should be noted that ‘Asafrah was accused of participation in the killing of an Israeli soldier “ David Soreek” on 07 August 2019, near “Gosh Etizon” settlement, south of Bethlehem. The soldier photographed the house and later withdrew. On 20 November 2019, the Israeli authorities demolished 4 houses of Sa’ied ‘Atiyah Mahmoud Zhour (46), Saleh Khalil al-‘Asafrah (60), and Qasem ‘Aref Khalil ‘Asafrah (34) and his brother Ahmed (37) in Biet Kahel village. The Israeli Military Court handed the mentioned persons indictment, accusing their sons of participation in the killing of David Soreek.

Full document available at PCHR official.

IRAN’S QODS FORCE AND MODERN PROXY WARS

Source

On January 3, Major General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Qods Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units were killed by US strikes on the Iraqi capital of Bahdad. The US strike caused a new regional crisis and put the entire Middle East on the edge of a new open military conflict.

In this light, it’s especially interesting to recall what the Qods Force is and how the unit provides the Iranian interests all around the world. The analysis below was originally released by SouthFront in July 2019:

The Qods Force is the irregular warfare unit of Iran’s Corps of Guardians of the Islamic Revolution (Sepah-e Pasdaran-e Enghelab-e Eslami).  Created during the Holy Defense to augment the capabilities of the Sepah to include irregular warfare, it has since become one of the chief means of expanding Iranian ‘soft power’ within the Middle East and throughout the world.  Carrying the Persian name for Jerusalem, it is emblematic of the eschatological significance of the Islamic Republic’s regional military strategy.  More has come to light about this secretive organization since its inception, but precious little of its organization, personnel, weaponry and operations is known, and comes to light only in the wake of its suspected activities.

The close of the Holy Defense in 1988 saw the completion of the first chapter of the history of the Islamic Republic – conventional war.  The peace which followed left the new government intact but the population war-weary; the government needed to turn its attention to rebuilding the infrastructure and bringing orderliness to the disrupted lives of its people. The armed forces – both the Artesh and the Sepah – though rich with battle experience, had been worn down and desperately need this peace.

If this war taught the Iranian leadership anything, the lesson was: prevent another conventional attack by pushing the frontier for possible conflict as far as possible from the border.  To safeguard the home of the Revolution – which Khomeini and his followers viewed, and still view, as the only legitimate Islamic government, and the one which is meant to prepare the way for the return of the Mahdi – a sizeable buffer had to be constructed to allow for its endurance.  While Iran had not been defeated in the Holy Defense, it had been severely wounded by Saddam’s army with Western backing. At end of the war, Iran was in shortage in key resources and finance. The war clearly exposed the weaknesses of both the Iranian economy and the armed forces. The mujtahid rulers needed to create and perfect a national defense based upon self-reliance in order to turn Iran into a fortress for Islam from which calls for Islamic unity in the face of Zionist and Western imperialist influence could issue.  Having survived this baptism of fire intact, and with geopolitics still centered around the bipolar contest between the United States and the Soviet Union, the time for such a reconstruction appeared optimal.

The Sepah was created immediately after the Revolution in order to counter threats from armed opposition groups inside Iran such as the MKO (the Mojahedin-e Khalq or People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran) and to protect the ideological integrity of the new political system. Originally a paramilitary formation, during the Holy Defense it necessarily took on a military character while shouldering with the Artesh the burden of fighting.  During the war, in addition to the many conventional battles fought against the Iraqis, the Iranians also deployed special forces to the front line in the mountainous terrain of the north, and behind the lines to support the Kurdish struggle in northern Iraq against Saddam Hussein regime. To mirror this unit within the Artesh, the Sepah created the Qods Force to engage in all aspects of irregular warfare. Thus, the role of Quds force in the establishment of Hezbollah’s Islamic Resistance (al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya) in 1982 during the Lebanese Civil War was inevitable; following this it was used to support the operations of the Hezbe Wahdat Shia mujahedin in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation.

By supporting Hezbollah and the Hezbe Wahdat, Iran was able to counter, respectively, the American/Zionist coalition and the Soviets, thereby keeping these two groups from threatening the territorial integrity of the Islamic Republic.  When Khomeini died in 1989 and was succeeded by Ali Khamenei, who oversaw the transition from a war to a peace economy, Qods was able, along with its parent Sepah, to maintain its level of funding and even to increase its relative importance within the military strategy of Iran.

Having discussed the ideological and strategic origins and purposes of the Qods Force, let us look at its structure and methods of warfare.  Apart from its three senior commanders, no names can be attributed to either its leadership or the remainder of the force.  Major General Pasdar Qassem Soleimani, presently the most well-known Iranian soldier, has commanded the Qods Force since 1997, and his two deputies are Brigadier General Pasdar Ismail Qaani and Brigadier General Pasdar Ahmad Sabouri.  Because all members of Qods are taken from the larger Sepah, one can presume that it retains the same rank structure as its parent, although it is impossible to verify or deny this.  Similarly, although the size of the Qods Force can be approximated, its small-level tactical organization can only be guessed at based upon the arrangement of other comparable military units.  As indicated previously, Qods has two missions: advising and training of foreign military and police, and clandestine operations.  Teams of men for either type of mission may be formed ad hoc out of the service pools of each of the eight directorates suspected to exist.  According to the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, Qods is divided into the following eight directorates:

  • Iraq
  • Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Yemen (Persian Gulf)
  • Israel, Lebanon, Jordan (Middle East)
  • Afghanistan, Pakistan, India
  • Turkey
  • Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldovia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia (former-Soviet Union)
  • Central and Western Europe and the United States and Canada
  • North Africa

Further, US military intelligence suggests that Qods is divided into several branches of specialization:

  • Intelligence
  • Finance
  • Politics
  • Sabotage
  • Special operations

Because however its operations are unconventional, there is no reason to think that the Qods Force has an organization remarkably different from other secret services.  For its clandestine operations, something approaching a commando team of varying size (anywhere from 5 to 15 men led by one or two officers) seems reasonable.  Also, there could be organic, permanent units of Qods assigned to each directorate, each with a different operational specialty, and these would invariably be combined-arms units but with the component men varying depending upon what needs to be accomplished.  For the advisory and training missions, arguably what constitutes the greatest percentage of Qods assignments, one can imagine an officer/NCO structure corresponding to the level of the ranks needing training; e.g. so many officers of such a rank to train their peers or lower ranking officers, and likewise so many NCOs to train their peers or enlisted men.  As a side note, it has been suggested that Qods trains most of its clients in either the Sudan or in Iran itself.

For all of these missions, the officer/NCO ratio is necessarily higher than in the rest of the Sepah.  For this reason, it can be argued that officers and NCOs comprise a large majority of the Qods Force personnel, seeing that enlisted men would not be used to train or advise their superiors.

Where does the Qods Force carry out its clandestine operations?  From reasonable conjecture regarding the structure, the reach of Qods is world-wide.  It has been suspected of involvement in South America (e.g. in supporting the government of Venezuela), of continuing to intervene in Afghanistan against the American presence, of constituting a permanent training and advisory role to the Islamic Resistance of Hezbollah, of supporting the Syrian government since the conflict of 2011, and most of all of involvement in Iraq since 2003. Since 2008, the Qods Force has been given control of all military operations in Iraq, and it formed and currently oversees the three primary Shi’ite paramilitary organizations which work in conjunction with the Iraqi military: Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (“League of the Righteous”) with 10,000 members, Kata’ib Hizb Allah (“Brigades of the Party of God”) with 30,000+ members, and the Saraya al-Salam (“Peace Companies”) with anywhere from 10,000 to 50,000 members.  This theatre of operations, provided indirectly to Qods by the Americans, gives the most continual experience to its members through the training and directing of these militias.  In the theatre of the Persian Gulf, the recent attacks against oil tankers bear the mark of what Qods is capable of, but the Iranian Government has consistently denied responsibility.  Conversely, American and Israeli special forces possess the capability to carry out such false-flag attacks and their histories give plenty of examples.  Currently, the most important missions which Qods directly or in which it participates are:

  • Missile shipments to Hezbollah
  • Arming and directing of Shi’ite militias in Iraq
  • Support of Syrian Government
  • Support of Houthis

As to types of weapons, the Qods Force probably uses the same species as other special forces (e.g. United States Green Berets, Russian Spetsnaz, British SAS), that is:

  • Handguns (e.g. PC-9 ZOAF)
  • submachine guns (e.g. MPT-9, KL-7.62mm)
  • heavy machine guns (e.g. MGA3)
  • portable MANPADs (e.g. Soheil)
  • rocket-propelled grenade launcher (e.g. Raad, RPG-29)
  • anti-tank weapons (e.g. Saeghe 1/2)
  • portable mortars (e.g. 37mm Marsh mortar)
  • plastic explosives (e.g. C4, Semtex)

The use of heavy equipment does not correspond to its missions.

In terms of size, the active personnel of Qods has been estimated to be anywhere from 5,000 to 20,000, although the most common number given is 15,000.  Globalsecurity.org asserts that in 2008, the Iranian Supreme National Security Council authorized an increase in the size of the group to 15,000, but this cannot be presently confirmed.  By comparison, the Russian Spetsnaz has a strength of roughly 5,000, the United States Green Berets 7,000, the British SAS 400 to 600.

Moving to consider its place in the Iranian political ideology of Twelve Shiism, Qods Force bears great eschatological significance.  A fact which receives barely any coverage in the Western press, the founding of the Islamic Republic was clearly stated by Ayatollah Khomeini to coincide with the approach of the end of the world.  As Twelver Shias, Khomeini and his successors are convinced that the maintenance of velayat-e faqih is critical to the return of the Twelfth Imam, Mohammad al-Mahdi.  The eschatology of the Jafari School of Jurisprudence (the official legal teaching in Iran, named after the Sixth Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq) names Jerusalem as central to the return of the Mahdi and to the establishment of Islamic government throughout the world; i.e. the golden age of Islamic rule as promised by the Prophet Mohammed. According to Sunni and Shia prophecies, the army foreordained to conquer Jerusalem is to be comprised of mostly people from the region of Iran with Iranians having a great and important role in the event. Thus, the naming of the special operations subset of the Sepah after the Persian name for the Holy City of Jerusalem should show the rest of the world just how important to the Iranians is the maintenance of their system of government by all means possible.  Currently, the use of Qods to engage in asymmetrical warfare against the American-Israeli alliance is the best means to ensure this end.  Presently, Qods can be seen as forming a ‘shield-forward’ for the Islamic Republic from a strategic point of view; this gives eschatological importance to their continued support of Hezbollah in Lebanon and to their great commitment in men and material to ensure the continuance of the Syrian government. They believe that when Imam Mahdi returns, Zionism, which Shia regard as one of the main tools in the struggle between Good and Evil, will be defeated in the final great battle for Jerusalem. Therefore they are approaching as close as possible to Israel, serving at the front line. They have succeeded in giving Iran a reasonable amount of protection, if at the expense of their allies who are physically closer to Israel.  The American Navy remains a threat in the Persian Gulf, but the wider Sepah, to whose vigilance this theatre is committed, are confident they can close the Strait of Hormuz if necessary.  The strategic balance is currently in favor of Iran and they have thus fulfilled what they believe to be their role in preparing for the Mahdi’s return.

Of those who believe in the eschatological purpose of the Islamic Republic, the Qods Force is unquestionably the vanguard of the coming march on Jerusalem, and the Western press ignores this to their own peril and the continued ignorance of their audiences.

From military and political standpoints, Qods has been very effective.  Iranian strategy has, since the 1979 Revolution, been to keep the American-Israeli alliance and its proxies at bay.  As stated previously, due to Iran’s inability to wage a full-scale war against both countries, the use of unconventional warfare has made the Qods Force come into prominence within Iran’s national defensive strategy.  Through both its advisory/training roles and its clandestine operations, Qods is used to prevent Iran’s two chief enemies from realizing strategic objectives in the Middle East and Persian Gulf and to make their continued presence within Iran’s immediate zone of security as costly and unpleasant as possible.

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Netanyahu Asks Israeli Parliament for Immunity

January 2, 2020

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday asked parliament for immunity, weeks after the embattled premier was indicted on a range of corruption charges.

Netanyahu, the Zionist entity’s longest-serving premier, is fighting for his political survival on two fronts — the corruption allegations and stiff opposition from a new centrist party.

The immunity request is expected to delay the start of court proceedings for months, as lawmakers are not due to vote on the matter until after March 2 elections.

The request is “in line with the law… (and) with the goal of continuing to serve you, for the future of Israel,” Netanyahu told reporters in Al-Quds (Jerusalem).

His spokesman Ofer Golan later confirmed the request had been submitted to the speaker of Israeli parliament, the Knesset.

Netanyahu was charged by the attorney general in November with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three separate corruption cases.

The leader of the right-wing Likud party denies the allegations and accuses prosecutors and the media of a witch hunt.

Reacting to the premier’s announcement, his rival Benny Gantz, the leader of the centrist Blue and White party, said “Netanyahu knows that he is guilty.”

Gantz said his own party will do everything it can to “prevent immunity”.

“In Israel, nobody is above the law”.

A sitting prime minister is only required to step down once convicted and after all avenues of appeal have been exhausted.

Source: AFP

Boris Johnson Flies the Israeli Flag over Number 10

By Stuart Littlewood

Source

Boris Johnson Netanyahu 4117f

Christians in the Gaza Strip are not allowed to visit holy cities such as Bethlehem and Jerusalem to celebrate Christmas this year.  Israel says so.

Gisha, an Israeli rights group, said the ban points “to the intensifying of access restrictions between the two parts of the Palestinian territory,” calling it “a deepening of Israel’s separation policy” for the West Bank and Gaza. Christian leaders in Jerusalem complain: “Other people around the world are allowed to travel to Bethlehem. We think Gaza’s Christians should have that right, too.”

I well remember Gaza’s Catholic priest telling me, some years ago, that he hadn’t seen his family for 9 years. They lived just a few miles away in the West Bank but the occupying Israeli authorities warned that if he left Gaza they would not allow him back and his ‘flock’ would be without a minister.

If that isn’t religious warfare I don’t know what is.

Meanwhile, sinister moves are afoot in the UK to preserve Israel’s impunity for its crimes against the Palestinians and its contempt for international law. Boris Johnson’s new government is to pass legislation banning public bodies from imposing their own boycotts, disinvestment or sanctions (BDS) campaigns against foreign countries, including Israel, on the grounds that these “undermine community cohesion”.

Where’s the harm in BDS? It’s a peaceful response to Israel’s thuggery. It urges non-violent pressure on Israel until it complies with international law by meeting three demands:

  1. Ending its unlawful occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall (international law recognizes the West Bank including East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Syrian Golan Heights as occupied by Israel).
  2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality.
  3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

And how is Boris Johnson proposing to block BDS? Briefing notes accompanying the Queen’s Speech to Parliament, which sets out the Government’s program, say:

  • ● We will stop public institutions from imposing their own approach or views about international relations, through preventing boycotts, divestment or sanctions campaigns against foreign countries and those who trade with them.
  • ● This will create a coherent approach to foreign relations from all public institutions, by ensuring that they do not go beyond the UK Government’s settled policy towards a foreign country. The UK Government is responsible for foreign relations and determining the best way to interact with its international neighbors.

The notes point out that public institutions should not be pursuing their own foreign policy agenda with public money and there are concerns that such boycotts have legitimized anti-Semitism. The ban will apply to institutions across the public sector, not just councils, and will cover purchasing, procurement and investment decisions which undermine cohesion and integration.

Johnson is getting his knickers in a frightful twist over this. His party’s election manifesto had already pledged:

  • “We will ensure that no one is put off from engaging in politics or standing in an election by threats, harassment or abuse, whether in person or online.”
  • “We will champion freedom of expression and tolerance, both in the UK and overseas.”
  • “To support free speech, we will repeal section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2014, which seeks to coerce the press.”

The Conservatives also promised to champion the rule of law, human rights, free trade, anti-corruption efforts and a rules-based international system – all of which Israel refuses to comply with.

Johnson and his underlings just don’t get it. BDS is a legitimate, peaceful way of opposing the Israeli occupation. Furthermore, the foreign policies of successive UK governments have not met the approval of the British people. Far from it. There is no “coherent approach” or “community cohesion” and never will be with US-Israel axis pimps in control at Westminster.

Just look at our government line-up.

Johnson calls himself “a passionate Zionist”. He praised the ‘genius of Israel’ at a parliamentary reception marking 100 years since the Balfour Declaration and said he was proud of ‘Britain’s part in creating Israel’.

When the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva adopted a resolution to set up an independent, international Commission of Inquiry to investigate all violations of humanitarian and international human rights law in the occupied Palestinian territory, with particular focus on recent events in Gaza, Johnson (then Foreign Secretary) couldn’t bring himself to vote for it.

Conservative glamour-girl Priti Patel, while International Development Secretary, had 14 meetings with Israeli politicians (including prime minister Netanyahu and his security minister) during a family holiday in Israel without telling the Foreign Office, her civil servants or her boss Theresa May, and without government officials present. This was not only a two-finger salute to the ministerial Code of Conduct but a gross breach of security. But what do you expect from a former vice-chair of Conservative Friends of Israel?

She was accused of freelancing in foreign policy and is said to have tried persuading colleagues to send British taxpayers’ money as aid for an Israeli forces project in the Golan Heights…. like we didn’t need the money here with 300,000 homeless and sleeping rough. She actually visited the Golan knowing it to be Syrian territory stolen in 1967 by the Israelis who have illegally occupied it ever since. Touring it with the thieving occupation army was a monumental diplomatic blunder. She was forced to resign. This bird-brain is now Home Secretary.

Muslim Sajid Javid, now Chancellor, remarked in December 2012: “Israel, the only nation in the Middle East that shares the same democratic values as Britain….” He honeymooned in Israel and is a Conservative Friend of Israel. And he has proscribed Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization. Hezbollah came into being as a resistance organization in response to the 1978 and 1982 Israeli invasions of Lebanon. Israel is delighted.

Michael Gove has described himself as “a proud Zionist” since he was a boy. He too is a Conservative Friend of Israel, believes BDS is anti-Semitic and that Israel is “free, democratic, liberal and western”.

Few people I know believe Israel has a friend in the whole world apart from those it has bought, threatened or terrorized into submission and, of course, the sad folk who have allowed themselves to be perverted by Christian-Zionist pastors and the Scofield bible.

Ben Jamal, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: “The campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) seeks to hold Israel accountable for its violations of Palestinian rights and of international law.

“Failing to take action to hold Israel to account makes one complicit. Israel has been engaged in a global campaign to have laws prohibiting BDS introduced so that it can act with impunity. All those who believe in international law, human rights and freedom of expression must vigorously oppose this legislation.”

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinian Christians that Nobody is Talking About

by RAMZY BAROUD

Photograph Source: View of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem. Berthold Werner – CC BY-SA 3.0

Palestine’s Christian population is dwindling at an alarming rate. The world’s most ancient Christian community is moving elsewhere. And the reason for this is Israel.

Christian leaders from Palestine and South Africa sounded the alarm at a conference in Johannesburg on October 15. Their gathering was titled: “The Holy Land: A Palestinian Christian Perspective”.

One major issue that highlighted itself at the meetings is the rapidly declining number of Palestinian Christians in Palestine.

There are varied estimates on how many Palestinian Christians are still living in Palestine today, compared with the period before 1948 when the state of Israel was established atop Palestinian towns and villages. Regardless of the source of the various studies, there is near consensus that the number of Christian inhabitants of Palestine has dropped by nearly ten-fold in the last 70 years.

A population census carried out by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics in 2017 concluded that there are 47,000 Palestinian Christians living in Palestine – with reference to the Occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. 98 percent of Palestine’s Christians live in the West Bank – concentrated mostly in the cities of Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jerusalem – while the remainder, a tiny Christian community of merely 1,100 people, lives in the besieged Gaza Strip.

The demographic crisis that had afflicted the Christian community decades ago is now brewing.

For example, 70 years ago, Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, was 86 percent Christian. The demographics of the city, however, have fundamentally shifted, especially after the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in June 1967, and the construction of the illegal Israeli apartheid wall, starting in 2002. Parts of the wall were meant to cut off Bethlehem from Jerusalem and to isolate the former from the rest of the West Bank.

“The Wall encircles Bethlehem by continuing south of East Jerusalem in both the east and west,” the ‘Open Bethlehem’ organization said, describing the devastating impact of the wall on the Palestinian city. “With the land isolated by the Wall, annexed for settlements, and closed under various pretexts, only 13% of the Bethlehem district is available for Palestinian use.”

Increasingly beleaguered, Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem have been driven out from their historic city in large numbers. According to the city’s mayor, Vera Baboun, as of 2016, the Christian population of Bethlehem has dropped to 12 percent, merely 11,000 people.

The most optimistic estimates place the overall number of Palestinian Christians in the whole of Occupied Palestine at less than two percent.

The correlation between the shrinking Christian population in Palestine, and the Israeli occupation and apartheid should be unmistakable, as it is obvious to Palestine’s Christian and Muslim population alike.

A study conducted by Dar al-Kalima University in the West Bank town of Beit Jala and published in December 2017, interviewed nearly 1,000 Palestinians, half of them Christian and the other half Muslim. One of the main goals of the research was to understand the reason behind the depleting Christian population in Palestine.

The study concluded that “the pressure of Israeli occupation, ongoing constraints, discriminatory policies, arbitrary arrests, confiscation of lands added to the general sense of hopelessness among Palestinian Christians,” who are finding themselves in “a despairing situation where they can no longer perceive a future for their offspring or for themselves”.

Unfounded claims that Palestinian Christians are leaving because of religious tensions between them and their Muslim brethren are, therefore, irrelevant.

Gaza is another case in point. Only 2 percent of Palestine’s Christians live in the impoverished and besieged Gaza Strip. When Israel occupied Gaza along with the rest of historic Palestine in 1967, an estimated 2,300 Christians lived in the Strip. However, merely 1,100 Christians still live in Gaza today. Years of occupation, horrific wars and an unforgiving siege can do that to a community, whose historic roots date back to two millennia.

Like Gaza’s Muslims, these Christians are cut off from the rest of the world, including the holy sites in the West Bank. Every year, Gaza’s Christians apply for permits from the Israeli military to join Easter services in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Last April, only 200 Christians were granted permits, but on the condition that they must be 55 years of age or older and that they are not allowed to visit Jerusalem.

The Israeli rights group, Gisha, described the Israeli army decision as “a further violation of Palestinians’ fundamental rights to freedom of movement, religious freedom and family life”, and, rightly, accused Israel of attempting to “deepen the separation” between Gaza and the West Bank.

In fact, Israel aims at doing more than that. Separating Palestinian Christians from one another, and from their holy sites (as is the case for Muslims, as well), the Israeli government hopes to weaken the socio-cultural and spiritual connections that give Palestinians their collective identity.

Israel’s strategy is predicated on the idea that a combination of factors – immense economic hardships, permanent siege and apartheid, the severing of communal and spiritual bonds – will eventually drive all Christians out of their Palestinian homeland.

Israel is keen to present the ‘conflict’ in Palestine as a religious one so that it could, in turn, brand itself as a beleaguered Jewish state in the midst of a massive Muslim population in the Middle East. The continued existence of Palestinian Christians does not factor nicely into this Israeli agenda.

Sadly, however, Israel has succeeded in misrepresenting the struggle in Palestine – from that of political and human rights struggle against settler colonialism – into a religious one. Equally disturbing, Israel’s most ardent supporters in the United States and elsewhere are religious Christians.

It must be understood that Palestinian Christians are neither aliens nor bystanders in Palestine. They have been victimized equally as their Muslim brethren, and have also played a major role in defining the modern Palestinian identity, through their resistance, spirituality, deep connection to the land, artistic contributions and burgeoning scholarship.

Israel must not be allowed to ostracize the world’s most ancient Christian community from their ancestral land so that it may score a few points in its deeply disturbing drive for racial supremacy.

Equally important, our understanding of the legendary Palestinian ‘soumoud’ – steadfastness – and of solidarity cannot be complete without fully appreciating the centrality of Palestinian Christians to the modern Palestinian narrative and identity.Join the debate on Facebook More articles by:RAMZY BAROUD

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His latest book is The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story (Pluto Press, London, 2018). He earned a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter and is a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, UCSB.

ICC to Probe War Crimes in Palestinian Territories

Source

December 20, 2019

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor said Friday she wanted to open a full investigation into war crimes in the Palestinian territories, sparking a furious reaction from the Zionist entity and welcome by Palestine.

“I am satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation into the situation in Palestine,” ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement.

“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.

She said that before opening a full probe, she would ask the ICC to rule on the territory over which it has jurisdiction because of the “unique and highly contested legal and factual issues attaching to this situation.”

“Specifically, I have sought confirmation that the ‘territory’ over which the Court may exercise its jurisdiction, and which I may subject to investigation, comprises the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza.”

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 Palestine, who joined the court in 2015.

US Support, Palestinian and Israeli Reactions

The issue is highly sensitive, with then White House national security adviser John Bolton threatening last year to arrest ICC judges if they moved against Israel or the United States.

Tel Aviv and Washington 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.

Bensouda launched a preliminary probe in January 2015 into allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Zionist entity and the Palestinian territories, in the wake of the 2014 Gaza war.

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

“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,” the Palestinian statement said.

Israeli Prime Minister Banjamin Netanyahu, however, lashed out at what he called a “dark day for truth and justice”.

“The ICC prosecutor’s decision has turned the International Criminal Court into a political tool to delegitimize the State of Israel,” he said.

The ICC’s preliminary investigation has looked at the 2014 war which left 2,251 dead on the Palestinian side, the majority civilians, and 74 on the Israeli side, most of them soldiers.

Source: Agencies

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