Israeli Soldier Sentenced to 18 Months for Execution-Style Killing of Palestinian

alsharif_family

Family of Abdul Fattah al-Sharif, a 21-year-old Palestinian shot last year, sit in their Hebron home watching television coverage of the sentencing of Elor Azarya, the Israeli soldier convicted of killing him.

[ Ed. note – Abdul Fattah al-Sharif was shot in the head by an Israeli soldier in Hebron, in the occupied West Bank, on March 24, 2016. He was lying on the ground wounded at the time. His execution-style killing, which was captured on video, took place on the Jewish holiday of Purim. The video later went viral and made headlines around the world.

You can go here to watch the video of the shooting, and here to watch Israeli settlers celebrating Purim on the same Hebron streets later that same day. Al-Sharif and a companion, Ramzi Aziz Qasrawi, were both shot on March 24 following an alleged stabbing attack upon an Israeli soldier. I put up a number of posts last year on the incident, most notably Looks Like it Was a Purim Execution, which I published on March 25, and Ruled By the Insane, an article I wrote and published on April 19 and which deals with a protest held in Tel Aviv in support of the killer. Elor Azarya, the Israeli soldier who shot al-Sharif, was elevated to the status of national hero. Today Azarya was sentenced to 18 months by an Israeli military judicial panel.

The light sentencing underscores the fact that there are two standards of justice in Israel, one for Israeli Jews and another for Palestinians, which of course is the hallmark of apartheid. As the article below notes, Palestinian children will typically serve more time in jail simply for throwing rocks. ]

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Israeli Who Executed Injured Palestinian Gets Slap on the Wrist

By Michael F. Brown

Elor Azarya, the Israeli army medic who shot dead injured Palestinian Abd al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif last year in the occupied West Bank, was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in prison, one year of probation and a demotion.

If not pardoned first, he may walk free after serving just a year in prison.

The light sentence was imposed even though judges found beyond any doubt that Azarya had acted in revenge.

“We are not surprised, from the onset we knew this was a show trial that will not do us justice,” al-Sharif’s family told media. “Even though the soldier was caught on video and it is clear that this is a cold-blooded execution, he was convicted only of manslaughter, not murder, and the prosecution asked for only a light sentence of three years.”

hebronmurder

“The sentence he received is less than a Palestinian child gets for throwing stones,” the family added.

Azarya was indicted for manslaughter after he was caught on video shooting the head of the wounded and incapacitated al-Sharif lying in the street, killing him, on 24 March 2016.

Al-Sharif was shot dead along with Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi, both 21 years old. Israel alleges that they stabbed a soldier near the Tel Rumeida settlement in Hebron.

The killing of al-Qasrawi was not caught on video.

Israeli hero

Significant segments of Israeli society – egged on by right-wing politicians including education minister Naftali Bennett and defense minister Avigdor Lieberman – objected to any trial at all for Azarya and have celebrated him as a hero.

The trial court found “beyond all reasonable doubt” that Azarya had acted out of revenge rather than in self-defense.

But after obtaining a conviction, prosecutors asked for only three to five years imprisonment.

azaryasentenced

Elor Azarya with his mother in an Israeli military courtroom on February 25, 2017, shortly before being handed down his ridiculously light sentence.

At the time of the verdict, Human Rights Watch said that senior Israeli officials have been “encouraging Israeli soldiers and police to kill Palestinians they suspect of attacking Israelis even when they are no longer a threat.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly announced after the January conviction that Azarya should be pardoned.

He is accurately reading public sentiment, with Israelis reportedly supporting clemency by more than three to one.

Netanyahu, who is under investigation for corruption, is also trying to keep up with Bennett, a rival for the post of prime minister, who has repeatedly insisted Azarya be pardoned.

Impunity

The light sentence would appear to be another instance of the systematic impunity Israel affords its personnel who kill or injure Palestinians.

Last year, the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem announced it would no longer refer complaints of violence against Palestinians to Israel’s military justice system.

“We will no longer aid a system that whitewashes investigations and serves as a fig leaf for the occupation,” Hagai El-Ad, the group’s director, explained.

Samir Zaqout of the Gaza-based Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights told Al Jazeera he was not surprised by the outcome.

“Palestinians don’t expect any kind of justice from the Israeli legal system,” Zaqout said. “The lives of Palestinians are judged as worthless.”

Bill Fletcher, Jr., former president of TransAfrica Forum and a Palestine solidarity activist who was involved in the anti-apartheid movement, told The Electronic Intifada, “The sentencing of Elor Azarya reminds us that the value of Palestinian life is not the same as the value of Jewish citizens of Israel.”

“An 18-month sentence is nothing more than a slap on the hand,” Fletcher added. “It will do nothing to discourage further terrorist acts against Palestinians.”

Continued here

Related

A Candle in the Dark

masters of victory

From the Village of Jibshit came out a man with a firm courageous position, a man that devoted his life for the sake of Jihad, Resistance, Land, Nation, and Islam. He was a man that held the meanings of moral and support and used them to revive people, and a man that always uttered the words of bravery, audacity and perseverance.

That man was assassinated by the filthy hands of the enemy, yet his precious blood did not go in vein. His Martyrdom was a memorable victory, for he was a flame glowing in the path of the Islamic Resistance, and he was the brightest color of dignity and honor.

He is the great leader Sheikh Ragheb Harb, the most eloquent of words, and the most luminous of positions.

Ragheb1

In loving memory of his Martyrdom, Moqawama.org had a special interview with his son Ragheb Harb Junior, who was born 6 months after Sheikh Ragheb’s Martyrdom.

Speaking of Sheikh Ragheb Harb’s character, Ragheb Jr. said his father was a leader; he held the main characteristics of a leader that made him unique in society. “My Father dealt with people as if they were his own family, he was a leader and a loving father to everyone.” he said.

He noted that his father was known for his fidelity for Islam, adding a quote from his father, “There is no better tomorrow without Islam.”

Ragheb continued that his father sacrificed his own self, family, money, time and efforts for the sake of Islam. He tried his best to help people and raise them to be part of a high, educated, knowledgeable Islamic society. “I’m sure my father’s ultimate joy was when he dedicated his blood for the sake of his goal, and that was the noblest thing ever”, Ragheb added. 

Ragheb2Being a leader in Hizbullah makes it hard to live a normal life, meaning that at many times, the leader may have to be away for a while. Ragheb Jr. considered he was privileged, for his father’s path despite the sacrifices, was an honor.

He said there is a huge difference between a person sitting at home and caring less about his responsibilities and a person away from home and holding not only his responsibilities but that of a whole Islamic nation. “Even though he was away, my family knew he had a sacred aspiration, and so they were all patient for the sake of his goal”, Ragheb said. “My father hardly came home, especially during the “Israeli” occupation, but mother took his place, and filled in the gaps. She was his Jihad companion.” he added.

As for Ragheb’s personal relationship with his father, he said that even though he didn’t have the chance to meet him in person, he learned from his father through the stories told by his siblings. “While he was at home, father used to play with my siblings, tell them jokes, and he was always concerned about their academic results. Even though he had a lot to do outside yet these things never controlled his thoughts at home. He used to preach in a funny way.” Ragheb added that his father’s basic request was for them to sustain their religion.
 

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Ragheb was influenced by his father psychologically and personally, he said that with no doubt he felt that his father was a blessing sent from God, and that he was affected by his superb and decent characteristics. “His imprints and breath where left everywhere”, he added.

Receiving Sheikh Ragheb’s martyrdom was a shock to the family. Ragheb Jr. said that his father had always sought after martyrdom, but his assassination was a shock to the family. “It was a Friday night, father came back home from the Mosque and sat down for awhile, and afterwards he said he was going to see the neighbors. After a couple of hours, my parents heard people echoing “Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar”. They didn’t know what was going on, not until they heard someone saying: “Sheikh Ragheb was killed”, It was the hardest news ever, for it wasn’t familiar yet.” he said.

Sheikh Ragheb had a great influence on Ragheb Jr.’s life. He said: “Father was a source of pride and dignity; he taught me the true meaning of anticipation and perseverance”. He added that his father’s path is with no doubt the right path leading to happiness in this life and the afterlife.”

 

Ragheb4

Speaking of the imprints of the Martyrs in our lives, Ragheb said that the Martyrs are following the path of Imam Hussein (pbuh), the path of Imam Ali (pbuh), the path of Imam Hassan (pbuh) and Ashura’a. Islam is immortal and continues to grow due to their valuable blood.

Ragheb continued:” All our accomplishments are due to what the blood of the Martyrs reaped throughout history. Our time isn’t any different than the previous times, for the blood of the precious Martyrs, are still pouring on Islam. It is the light of God on earth and God’s light is sealed.” Ragheb said that the imprints of the martyrs are countless; we’ll get to know their value as we grow older.

Ragheb ended by sending a message to his father saying: “Oh Father if you had the chance to ask about this world, you’d ask about Islam, the resistance, the Mujahideen, the oppressed, the land and your sons. As for Islam it is the Light that will never be turned off. As for the resistance, it is the beacon that was fueled by your blood and the blood of all the Martyrs, and its fire will remain so that it burns the bigotry of the enemy.

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As for the Mujahideen, they have never changed their determination and they never will, they will continue this path as it was drawn.

 

As for the tyrannized; they will remain our first priority until God gives permission for their savior to appear. As for the land it will remain precious and dear with the Jihad, strong with our fists, green with our pouring blood. As for us your children, if God wants, we’ll keep on following your dear path under the banner of Imam Khamenai and Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah until we reach what you reached.”

Source: al-Ahed news 

16-02-2010 | 09:59

Israelis Stop Planting, Destroy Olive Tree Seedlings

Trees

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

By Joyce Kilmer

Appeal Aimed at Fordham University: ‘Don’t Ban Students for Justice in Palestine!’

 

Posted on January 31, 2017

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[ Ed. note – Imagine a student organization at a major American university–(where such lofty ideals as academic freedom and free speech presumably are held dear)–being banned before it even gets organized or holds its first meeting.

Well, that’s what happened at Fordham University with the local Students for Justice in Palestine chapter.

The school’s dean of students, Keith Eldredge, vetoed a measure approved by the University Student Government association which would have recognized the SJP group. Eldredge announced his decision in a December 22 email sent out to the young student activists who had applied for permission to form the organization on campus.

“After consultation with numerous faculty, staff and students and my own deliberation, I have decided to deny the request to form a club known as Students for Justice in Palestine at Fordham University,” he wrote. “While students are encouraged to promote diverse political points of view, and we encourage conversation and debate on all topics, I cannot support an organization whose sole purpose is advocating political goals of a specific group, and against a specific country, when these goals clearly conflict with and run contrary to the mission and values of the University.”

So in other words opposing an apartheid state and calling for an end to a decades-long occupation runs against the “mission and values” of Fordham University? What’s disgusting about this is that Fordham is, at least nominally, a Christian university that was founded by the Catholic diocese of New York. So is Eldredge trying to imply that SJP’s support for the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement somehow violates the teachings of Jesus?

“There is perhaps no more complex topic than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and it is a topic that often leads to polarization rather than dialogue,” Eldredge goes on.

So Jesus–a man who called the Pharisees hypocrites, turned over the tables of the money changers, and accused the Jewish scribes of turning his Father’s house into a den of robbers–was somehow timidly averse to being polarizing when a clear need presented itself?

“The purpose of the organization [SJP] as stated in the proposed club constitution points toward that polarization,” the dean continues. “Specifically, the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel presents a barrier to open dialogue and mutual learning and understanding.”

Thank you, Dean Eldredge, and I’m sure the Zionist settlers in the West Bank are also aware of the dire need for “open dialogue and mutual learning and understanding”

Maybe the occupation of Palestine is a “complex topic” to the deans at Fordham University, but of course for most of the rest of us, it’s really not that hard to figure out.

The current president of Fordham is the Rev. Joseph M. McShane. If you follow one of the links below you will find a letter addressed to McShane written by Palestine Legal, whose mission is to protect “the civil and constitutional rights of people in the US who speak out for Palestinian freedom.” Quite a big job obviously and probably about to become even more challenging.

Also below you will find an appeal addressed to Fordham University by the Friends of Sabeel North America. I must say I admire their diplomacy. It’s probably more than I could have mustered. FOSNA, by the way, is a Christian ecumenical group affiliated with Sabeel, an international peace movement launched by Palestinian Christians. ]


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After subjecting Palestinian student activists to an extensive and abnormally elongated vetting process that lasted over a year, Fordham University in New York City has banned its chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights stated that the ban “blatantly violates [the University’s] promise to guarantee freedom of inquiry on campus,” calling on Fordham’s administration to “immediately permit and facilitate the formation of SJP.”

On Monday, FOSNA Executive Director Tarek Abuata sent an open letter to Fordham’s administration urging them to reinstate the chapter.

Help us tell Fordham University that as people of conscience, now more than ever, we have a responsibility to take action and support Palestine solidarity efforts.

Please call, write, or e-mail:

President Rev. Joseph M. McShane
president@fordham.edu

Keith Eldredge, Dean of Students
eldredge@fordham.edu

Office of the President, Fordham University
441 East Fordham Road
Bronx, NY 10458
Tel: 718-817-3000

Free debate and open inquiry are hallmarks of university study. Help us ensure that Fordham University gives students who seek to debate, organize, and advocate for justice in Palestine and Israel the opportunity to do so as part of their educational experience.

Support our work by donating

Letter in support of Fordham Students for Justice in Palestine:

President Rev. Joseph M. McShane
Keith Eldredge, Dean of Students
Office of the President, Fordham University
president@fordham.edu
eldredge@fordham.edu
441 East Fordham Road
Bronx, NY 10458
Tel: 718-817-3000

Dear President Rev. McShane and Dean Eldredge,

Friends of Sabeel North America is a Christian ecumenical organization seeking justice and peace in the Holy Land through nonviolent advocacy and education. As executive director, I write to express deep concern that Fordham University has decided to prohibit students from organizing a Students for Justice in Palestine chapter on your campus.

You may have seen this week’s statement from the Catholic Bishops of the 2017 Holy Land Coordination. This statement provides an urgent plea for the people of the world (and Catholics in particular) to pray and act for justice in the Holy Land:

Fifty years of occupation demands action.

For fifty years the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza have languished under occupation, violating the human dignity of both Palestinians and Israelis. This is a scandal to which we must never become accustomed.  Our Coordination has called for justice and peace every year since 1998, yet the suffering continues. So this call must get louder. As Bishops we implore Christians in our home countries to recognise our own responsibility for prayer, awareness and action.

So many people in the Holy Land have spent their entire lives under occupation, with its polarising social segregation, yet still profess hope and strive for reconciliation. Now, more than ever, they deserve our solidarity.

(See the signatories and full text)

We implore you to encourage your students to become active for justice and peace in Palestine and Israel by allowing the SJP chapter to form. As you know, throughout history students have been at the forefront of debating and organizing for justice causes (women’s rights; abolition of slavery; equality in racial, ethnic, and economic matters; opposition to war and to the apartheid regime in South Africa).

The First Amendment protects free speech as a hallmark of our democracy. Free debate and open inquiry are hallmarks of university study. Please give to the students who seek to debate, organize, and advocate for justice in Palestine and Israel this fundamental opportunity as part of their educational experience at Fordham University.

Friends of Sabeel North America has worked closely with SJP groups across the country. We find they are composed of bright, compassionate, highly conscientious students. SJP chapters are usually comprised of Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and secular students. They represent a cross-section of ethnic, racial, and religious diversity.

Please allow your Fordham students the freedom all Americans hold dear. Encourage rather than prohibit their work for justice in Palestine and Israel as the Catholic Bishops of the 2017 Holy Land Coordination have urged.

With warm regards,

Tarek Abuata, Executive Director

Friends of Sabeel North America


Fordham University’s Ban on Palestinian Rights Group Sets Dangerous Precedent

By Joe Catron | January 26, 2017

Mint Press News

NEW YORK — Nearly a hundred students and community members rallied on Fordham University’s Manhattan campus before marching to nearby Columbus Circle on Monday.

The protest marked the latest chapter in an ongoing effort by students at the Jesuit institution to found a chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine on their campus.

SJP organizations, which take their name from a still-existing student group founded at the University of California, Berkeley in 1993, already exist on over a hundred campuses in the United States, as well as several overseas.

A national organization using the same name organizes annual conferences attended by many of these loose affiliates, but maintains no formal relationship with them.

On Nov. 19, 2015, four students at Fordham applied with the university’s administration to register an SJP club at the school’s Lincoln Center campus.

By all accounts, they did not expect the grueling ordeal that lay before them.

Their plans finally ground to a halt on Dec. 22, 2016, when Keith Eldredge, dean of students at the Lincoln Center campus, informed several SJP activists in an email that he had overruled a vote by the school’s United Student Government to recognize the group a month earlier and denied it registration as a student organization.

“According to sources within student government, he has never even reviewed a club for veto, let alone actually vetoed one, in his entire ten years here at Fordham,” Sapphira Lurie, a senior and lead campus organizer for Fordham Students for Justice in Palestine, told MintPress News. “This is a clear example of the Palestine exception to free speech.”

“The Palestine exception,” a term popularized by Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights in a 2015 report of that name, refers to barriers to free speech and organizing faced by Palestinian and solidarity activists in the US.

In a Jan. 17 statement on Fordham’s ban of SJP, Palestine Legal, a nonprofit organization that provides legal assistance and representation to Palestine activists, said it had responded to more than 600 attempts to repress their activities nationally since the start of 2014.

Of these, it said, “the vast majority” targeted students and faculty.

On campus, these efforts often include obstacles to student organizing, like challenges to event funding and space registration, or the unwarranted suspension of recognized groups, as well as the intimidation, and occasional termination, of faculty.

But Fordham’s preemptive ban of a student organization sets a dangerous new precedent, one students and other local activists are determined to fight.

“As far as we’re aware, this is the first time a college has summarily banned a group supporting Palestinian rights before students even held their first meeting,” Radhika Sainath, a Palestine Legal staff attorney and cooperating counsel at the CCR, told MintPress News.

‘Fordham breached its express promise’

Palestine Legal’s statement summarized a letter, sent by it and the CCR to Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., Fordham’s president, on the same day.

When they filed their application, the letter said, “[T]he students expected Fordham would approve their group within a few weeks so that they could start their educational programming.”

[[[ Read Palestine Legal’s letter to Fordham’s president Rev. Joseph M. McShane. ]]]

Instead, they faced months of stonewalling, punctuated by meetings at which administrators asked if they would consider a different name, expressed concern at their support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and use of the word “apartheid,” and inquired about their willingness to work with groups like Jewish Voice for Peace, J Street, and Seeds for Peace.

The administrators also inquired whether an anti-BDS resolution passed by the New York City Council or an executive order and blacklist opposing the movement issued by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, all last year, should preclude SJP’s recognition by the university.

As the USG decision on Nov. 17 neared, one administrator, Dorothy Wenzel of the university’s office of student leadership, who had previously admitted to polling Jewish faculty on whether SJP should be allowed to register at Fordham, instructed a USG officer to notify the school’s Jewish Student Organization of the pending vote.

Continued here

In the meantime, in the “only democracy in the Middle-East”…

January 21, 2017

Daily life in the “Jewish state of Israel with its eternal capital Jerusalem”, life goes on.  Or does it?  You tell me.

Hezbollah: Al-Quds Heroic Operation Displays Cowardice of Elite Zionist Soldiers

January 9, 2017

Hezbollah flagHezbollah hailed on Monday the heroic operation which was carried out by the Palestinian struggler Fadi Qanbar in the occupied city of Al-Quds, leaving a number of Zionist soldiers killed or injured and forcing dozens of others to escape.

In a statement, Hezbollah added that the scene of the operation displays the pride of the Palestinian people and the cowardice of the elite Zionist soldiers.

This martyrdom operation indicates that the Palestinians’ commitment to the resistance approach as the only way to liberate the occupied territories from the Zionists and insistence  on inflicting the heaviest losses by all means on the usurping entity, according to the statement.

Hezbollah pointed out that what martyr Qanbar has done is a right and duty and springs from the heart of the Palestinians’ resistance against the occupation and that the operation cannot be placed in the context of the global terror practiced by ISIL and other terrorist groups as what the enemy leaders claim.

The statement maintained that the Zionist entity is the source of terror in the region and has been behind the tragedies of the Umma since decades.

Hezbollah offered congratulations to the Palestinian people and the martyr’s family, stressing support to their resistance against the Zionist occupation.

Source: Hezbollah Media Relations

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Israel’s never-ending crimes: It’s not just settlements

source

By Stanley L Cohen

Israel has not just committed unspeakable acts of genocide but done so with absolute transparency.

Last week, the world stood fixated at a largely symbolic gesture by the United Nations in which it found the continued Israeli occupation of the West Bank of Palestine to be illegal. Or did it?

Although the UN Security Council, with rare uniformity, chastised Israel for flouting the law of occupation, the resolution, crafted with ambiguous lawyerly precision, left experienced thinkers on the subject debating just what it means.

In its most ambitious read, some would argue it appears that the decree concerned the occupation as a whole, and swept within its prohibitive reach all settlement activity since 1967 when Israel seized the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, from Arab-Palestinian control.

Others view its advisory language as helpful through its continued embrace of the time-tired two-state solution and its apparent call for a return to the status quo ante of some 15 years ago when illegal settlements had not as yet swallowed much more than 60 percent of the West Bank.

In its least appealing landscape painting, it would appear that the resolution seemingly bestows upon already completed settlements de facto legitimacy and addresses only that part of the building glut currently under way or planned for tomorrows yet to come.

To make matters worse, despite its gratuitous dicta, the resolution remains very much a toothless declaration without any enforcement mechanism whatsoever – essentially relying upon a sudden burst of Israeli conscience to reverse a steady march of indifference to international law that has led Israel’s way since the very first day it was manufactured from stolen land in Palestine.

Defiant Netanyahu

Predictable in immediacy and urgency, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threw his weekly tantrum, accusing the world of a dark conspiracy organised by the soon to be ex-President of the United States, Barack Obama, who on his way out of the door after years of obsequious obedience to Israeli will, has suddenly discovered that it’s OK to say no … well … maybe … or perhaps, to its glaring intransigence.

But then again, it’s kind of hard to take seriously “pressure” exerted by a country that has just enriched Israel’s military coffers and occupation to the tune of $38bn.

Not satisfied with the echo of his own vitriol, Netanyahu was just beginning. Next, he singled out Senegal – one of the most impoverished countries in the world and a mover of the resolution – for economic reprisal. Its offence is having the temerity to believe in the rule of law and being housed in the international building with flags of 193 nations and the State of Palestine that sits overlooking the East River of New York City.

Netanyahu told the world just what he thinks of the UN and its resolution when he announced plans to proceed with the building of thousands of new housing units in Jerusalem in particular.

“Israel will not turn its other cheek,” Netanyahu proclaimed as he went on to prophesy a “plan of action” against the UN directly. Not long thereafter he suspended working ties with the UK, France, Russia, China, Japan, Ukraine, Angola, Egypt, Uruguay, Spain, Senegal and New Zealand, those countries that supported the resolution.

Like a dark lord

Netanyahu should quit while he’s ahead, but he just can’t. There is no incentive. Like the hundreds of earlier resolutions critical of Israeli policies, as worded, the most recent condemnation by the UN can do little more than cry out for justice in the night from a state built from the marrow of genocide.

I get “bombast”, “brash” and, at times, even “bully”. However, it’s the two-legged beasts that feed on the innocent I do not. Netanyahu is very much that kind of beast – an ogre who lives in a world surrounded by dark, deadly thoughts. With delusion his ally, dishonesty his friend and death his messenger, he thumbs his nose at the world as his reign of state terror consumes more and more civilian victims guilty of no offence other than breathing the air that surrounds them and seeking a free life.

When the history of our times is written, an honest accounting will no doubt add Netanyahu’s wicked shadow – and that of his predecessors – to the list of fiends that have seen the world as little more than a playground within which to use their toys of death and despair – always, of course, for the right reasons and always, of course, against the meek and defenceless among us.

The sum total of Israel’s efforts these past 68 years is nothing short of the deliberate infliction upon Palestinians, as a cognizable group, conditions of life and death calculated to bring about their physical destruction in whole or in part.

In the world of Joseph Stalin, induced famine was the prime weapon of choice, though mass execution and exile helped him dispose of tens of millions he viewed as “enemies of the people”.

To Henry Kissinger, the world, particularly Indochina, was very much a small chess game. Civilians were mere pawns ripe for sacrifice through hi-tech weaponry, including biological and chemical warfare, to enforce his worldview at any cost. Millions lost their lives to his cerebral game board.

To Pol Pot, struggle was little more than purification, erasing through starvation, overwork and execution a quarter of his people whose sole crime was to see life through a prism that collided with his own – no matter how soft their view or backward his sight.

In Rwanda up to half a million women were sexually assaulted, mutilated or murdered, along with an equal number of male Tutsis, as enemy agents of the Hutu state – machetes and rape induced Aids to the plentiful weapons of preference.

Slow-motion genocide

These are but a few of the extremes of genocide, those rare cases we are told noted mostly for mass murder, systemic rape or group starvation – the worst of the worst. Yet, genocide does not demand of us an immediate mountain of bodies or an explosive rage of terror for international law to take hold.

As it turns out, in what increasingly seems to be more than mere passing coincidence, the legal definition of “genocide” enacted by the UN General Assembly was born in 1948, the very same year as Israel – which has since gone on to become both expert at its application and legendary in its denial.

In relevant part, under the applicable Convention, genocide means “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) killing members of the group; (b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; or (c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”. Each and every one of these types of genocide has been perpetrated by Israel, seemingly with almost proud boast, and no accountability, for almost 70 unbroken years.

One need not rest upon obtuse historical footnotes to find abundant, indeed systemic, acts of extermination carried out by Israel since 1948 against Palestinians – very much a cognizable “national, ethnical, racial or religious group” as those terms are contemplated and commonly understood and applied under international law.

Beginning with its mass expulsion, rape and murder at the onset of the Nakba (the Catastrophe) Israel has devoted itself to 68 years of non-stop genocide coming up for air only periodically to retool or to change the nature of its weaponry of choice.

What started out with the expulsion, at gunpoint, of more than 700,000 Palestinians from their ancestral homeland set in motion a refugee stampede that has grown to more than seven million displaced and stateless people, providing the world more than a disturbing glimpse of what was to come decades later in Syria.

Never-ending violence

Over the years, Israel has found diverse ways to kill more than 400,000 Palestinian civilians and injure or cripple two to three times as many, including tens of thousands of women and children. Whether by tank fire, rockets, or cluster or phosphorus bombs, it has given new meaning to the evil of willful group slaughter.

In its thirst to ethnically cleanse all of Palestine of its remaining inhabitants, it has made use of starvation, in violation of Additional Protocol I to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, as a method of war targeting foodstuffs, crops and livestock throughout the occupied territories.

In particular, it has destroyed more than a million olive trees which not only serve as an essential mainstay of Palestinian culture but, along with hundreds of thousands of razed fruit trees, constitute key products of a Palestinian national economy largely in various states of ruin.

In Gaza, Israel has targeted hospitals, schools, daycare centres, multi-storey apartment complexes, UN Relief and Works Agency shelters and mental health clinics with a deadly proficiency that would make historic war criminals blush with envy.

It has laid waste to thousands of its hardscrabble built homes and left upwards of a hundred thousand Palestinians internally displaced, indeed homeless – leaving many families at a breaking point.

For the survivors of the Gaza killing fields, Israel has made life unbearable over the past decade though a criminal embargo that not only guarantees insufficient caloric intake, fresh water and medicine, but denies to its 1.8 million survivors building materials essential for the reconstruction of its beleaguered, and largely levelled, infrastructure.

Not satisfied with physical pain alone, with cruel, wanton abandon, it is no stretch to find that its master plan has consciously induced levels of post-traumatic stress disorder unmatched anywhere else in the world.

Given all these palpable elements of ethnic cleansing, it is reasonably projected that Gaza will be uninhabitable by 2020 thereby once again driving several million traumatised refugees out on to the road of an uncertain and dangerous diaspora.

To describe Israel’s Gaza strategy as anything but one intended to cause “serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group” is to deny a very public and systematic orgy of punishment meted out to Palestinian civilians on the basis of group identity and dynamic – and nothing more.

In the West Bank, Israel’s calculus of pain and punishment is largely a difference without a distinction: one that varies in form but not intent or ultimate goal.

Not satisfied with the 531 villages and localities it depopulated and completely eradicated during the early days of the Nakba, since 1967 Israel has stolen, resettled and annexed almost all of the West Bank, including much of East Jerusalem, in clear violation of Article 4 of the Geneva Conventions which prohibit an occupation force from doing little more than erecting limited bases for its own security needs in occupied land.

During this criminal land grab, it has approved, indeed subsidized, the building of illegal housing for some 800,000 – largely immigrant – settlers at the same time it has destroyed almost 50,000 Palestinian structures, largely homes, many of them ages-old, rendering tens of thousands of its indigenous population homeless, often destitute or dependent upon the largesse of already overcrowded housing of family or friends.

None of these facts about Israel’s sordid and deadly history can be dispatched as the product of mere hyperbole or unsupported hearsay.

Claims of Israeli genocide have been substantiated time and time again by a host of independent human rights organisations and NGOs, with no axe to grind, and include findings from respected groups from within Israel, itself.

In point of fact, from its arrogant perch, Israel has not just committed unspeakable acts of genocide but done so with absolute transparency as if to say to the rest of the world: there we did it, and we are well beyond the reach of international law.

Make no mistake about it, the sum total of Israel’s efforts these past 68 years is nothing short of the deliberate infliction upon Palestinians, as a cognizable group, conditions of life and death calculated to bring about their physical destruction in whole or in part.

In the presence of overwhelming evidence of premeditated Israeli genocide, to argue otherwise is to reduce the dark, evil and systematic deeds of Stalin, Kissinger, Pol Pot and the Hutu state to little more than a collection of misunderstood happenstance.

Yes, Mr Prime Minister, you should quit while you are ahead. Today, Israel stands charged with violations of the law of occupation. Tomorrow, it might very well, indeed should, find itself seated in a well-deserved international dock on trial for genocide.

Stanley L Cohen is a lawyer and human rights activist who has done extensive work in the Middle East and Africa.

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