by Khalil Marwan (Occupied Arab World, Crescent International Vol. 27, No. 21, Ramadan, 1419)
Amid the drum-beating in western capitals as well as some Muslim capitals on the fiftieth anniversary of the universal declaration of human rights, Israel was busy doing what it does best: killing and maiming Palestinians. In the three-day period leading upto US president Bill Clinton’s visit to the region (December 12-14), three Palestinians were shot dead, and 136 injured, some of them critically, in various West Bank towns such as Ramallah, Al-Bireh and Qilqilya. On December 17 another youth, Mohamed Ahmed Daoud, 19, was shot dead in Al-Bireh.
Luay Abdul Latif Hamed, 20, from Amari Refugee Camp, and Jihad Ayad, 17, from Silwad, were shot dead on December 10. Nasser Erakat, 21, from Abu Dis, who was injured with 28 others a day earlier in Jerusalem, died of his injuries in hospital. Two others from Qilqilya, Mohammed Amer Suleiman and Kamal Mansour Adwan, both 18, were shot dead on December 11. Amer was hit in the left eye and his brain blown out. Another 18 were injured.
Nasser, nephew of Saeb Erakat, minister of local government in Arafat’s PNA, was shot with a dum-dum bullet. The use of such bullets is illegal as they explode on impact. Sources at the Makassid hospital confirmed that Daniel Begal, Israeli chief of minorities police, personally came to the hospital together with a number of officers demanding the return of the bullet that killed Nasser.
The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment (LAW) quoting hospital staff said that the bullet was of an unusual type, not seen by them before. LAW also obtained a copy of the receipt given by the Israeli police, with Begal’s signature, for the bullet. Jihad Ayad was also killed by a dum-dum bullet. The increasing use of dum-dum bullets indicates Israel’s total disregard of all international conventions, including those to which it is a signatory.
In the days leading up to the visit of US president Bill Clinton to Israel (December 12-13) and to Ghazzah on December 14, the Israelis intensified their oppressive tactics. Netanyahu had declared on December 10 that he will crush the Palestinian uprising. He demanded that Arafat’s PNA deal with what he called acts of ‘terrorism’ - resistance to zionist occupation is terrorism, as far as the zionists are concerned.
That Netanyahu and his gun-toting brutes had already embarked on a killing and crushing spree, was evident from the mounting death and injury tolls from various towns in the West Bank. In Hebron, 28 people were injured; in Bethlehem 62; and in Selfeed 15 more. Qalqilya had 45 injuries, Tulkarem, three, and Jenin three, in a period of two days.
Some of the injured were in critical condition. 17-year-old Hamid Nahas from Ramallah was shot in the eye; Madji Jawaha, another 17-year-old from Ramallah, was shot in the head, and Bassam Haj Hassam, 18, from al-Bireh, was shot in the face. Despite denials, the zionists are using live ammunition.
While proclaiming to the loud cheers of its western supporters that Israel respects human rights, pointing to a string of international treaties it has signed, its record reveals quite a different story. Examined last year on four of its treaty obligations by independent, impartial committees made up of experts nominated by States that are signatories to these conventions, Israel was found to be in violation of each one of them.
The Committee on International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, reported on December 4, 1998 that Israel was in violation of the human rights of Palestinians living in the Occupied territories. It rejected Israel’s claim that the Covenant did not apply there.
The Committee also found that some Israeli practices were discriminatory and ‘constitute a breach of Israel’s obligations under the Covenant’ and that the ‘Government of Israel does not accord equal rights to its Arab citizens.’ In South Africa, this was called apartheid; In zionist Israel, it is called ‘democracy.’
It further pointed out that the ‘Law of Return discriminates against Palestinians in the diaspora upon whom the Government of Israel has imposed restrictive requirements that make it almost impossible to return to their land of birth.’ It also noted that ‘closures have cut off Palestinians from their own land and resources resulting in widespread violations of their economic, social and cultural rights.’
The Committee also criticised Israel’s Permanent Residency Law and the practice that involves Israel withdrawing residency rights from Palestinians living in Jerusalem. Also, it deplored the Israeli practice of home demolitions, land confiscations, and restrictions on family reunification. The Committee criticised land expropriation for settlements and by-pass roads, finding that the ‘consequence, if not the motivation, is the fragmentation and the isolation of Palestinian communities.’
Israeli settlements are in direct contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that an occupying power shall not transfer its civilian population onto occupied territory or change the status of the land under occupation. Ariel Sharon, Israel’s notorious foreign minister who rightly earned the epithet, ‘the Butcher of Beirut’, called on settlers in November to ‘take over the hills of the West Bank before it is too late.’
The Human Rights Committee had met in July 1998 to consider Israel’s report on fulfilment of its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Committee, made up of 18 eminent international jurists and lawyers, expressed concern, in a report dated August 18, 1998, that Israel denies the applicability of the Covenant to Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, and about the numbers of Palestinians killed by security forces, and about the use of torture, which is a violation of the Covenant.
The Committee also criticised Israel’s use of administrative detention under which Palestinians are held, without charge or trial for a period of six months. This is then extended every six months resulting in some detainees being held for upto four years without any formal charges or trial. It also deplored the demolition of homes and found the Law of Return and Israel’s residency policies as incompatible with the Covenant.
Israel follows a code, partially secret, called the ‘Landau Rules’, after an Israeli supreme court judge who said in his report in 1988 that Israeli forces could apply ‘moderate physical pressure’ to extract confessions from detainees. This, Israel admitted, involved ‘hooding, shackling in painful positions, sleep deprivation and shaking of detainees.’ The Committee against Torture found that Israel violated the Convention against Torture.
Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, reporting on March 30, 1998, stated that Israeli settlements were illegal. It called for a halt to the demolition of Arab properties in East Jerusalem and for respect for property rights. The Committee expressed its ‘profound concern’ of Israel’s use of inhuman and degrading treatment under the Landau Rules, as it was disproportionately used against Arabs.
Muslimedia: January 1-15, 1999