Julie Webb-Pullman reports

Posts tagged “Human Rights

“Human rights no longer treated as a priority, but as a pariah,” Zeid tells 25th anniversary gathering in Vienna

UN Office of the High Commissioner 

Vienna (22 May 2018) – In a speech delivered Tuesday at an international conference marking the 25th anniversary of a landmark human rights declaration, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein issued a stark warning that the world in general, including Europe, is back-sliding on human rights.

 The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted by consensus on 25 June 1993, and heavily influenced by the atrocities occurring just across Austria’s border with the former Yugoslavia, laid down the blueprint for human rights in the post-Cold-War era. It also set in motion the establishment of the UN Human Rights Office that Zeid now heads.

 “This anniversary could be the occasion for a polite celebration of the achievements of my Office over the past two and a half decades – and they are many,” Zeid told the delegates gathered in Vienna. “But today is not a time for soporific complacency. Human rights are sorely under pressure around the world – no longer a priority: a pariah. The legitimacy of human rights principles is attacked. The practice of human rights norms is in retreat. Here in Europe, ethno-populist parties are in the ascendant in many countries – fuelling hatred and scarring their societies with deepening divisions.”

 Referring to Austria, the High Commissioner added “In this country – which more than most should be aware of the dangers of ethnically divisive rhetoric… – false and incendiary statements have been made which are fundamentally at odds with the Vienna Declaration.”

 The full text of his 870-word statement can be read below: (more…)


A question from Gaza: Am I not human enough?

by Maisam Abumorr
Source: Al Jazeera

Abumorr (400 x 265)

I remember when I attended a three-day workshop on international law and human rights by the ICRC in Gaza, one of the attendees asked the trainer: “What do I do to be qualified to obtain those human rights?” The trainer replied without much thought: “Nothing. You should be a human, that’s all”.

The question now is, what am I supposed to do/be to be qualified as a human? As far as I can tell, I live like normal humans do. I love, I hate, I cry, I laugh, I make mistakes, I learn, I dream, I hurt, I get hurt, I love pizza, I watched Titanic 6 times, I have a crush on Bradly Cooper, I get sick, I sometimes tell lame jokes to which only I laugh and last time I checked myself in the mirror I very much looked human. (more…)


Any ceasefire agreement must be based on international law, respect for human rights

Press Release
Ministry of Health Gaza
August 06, 2014

The Ministry of Health Gaza insists that any ceasefire agreement must guarantee the human rights of our people, most importantly, the right to health.

We therefore stress that any agreement arising out of the talks in Cairo must be based on international law, not self-interest.

We emphasise that international law is something that is applied without fear or favour, not negotiated.

Loss of Palestinian land up until 2012

Loss of Palestinian land up until 2012

(more…)


Internationals in Gaza Against Israeli Escalations

Gaza-Today-400-x-222

July 08, 2014

We as internationals have a voice that Palestinians are denied. We raise it today to break the silence that permits Israeli violations against Palestinian people, and against you, through Israel’s breaches of international law. (more…)


“Best prospect now for realizing Palestinian self-determination is grassroots mobilization”- UN rights expert

PRESS RELEASE
United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

GENEVA (8 May 2014) – The outgoing United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, Richard Falk, today urged more businesses and civil society “to join the growing global solidarity movement to resist the prolonged Israeli occupation and creeping annexation of Palestine.”

His appeal comes in the wake of the collapsed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks brokered by the United States over the past nine months.

“Both Israelis and Palestinians deserve a just resolution to this conflict with human rights at its core, but the latest round of talks has again created false hopes and fuelled feelings of frustration,” the expert said. (more…)


Gaza Govt Promotes Human Rights Training

The Gaza Interior Ministry today announced that the Reform and Rehabilitation Center in collaboration with an Independent Commission for Human Rights on Wednesday began a specialized course entitled “Human rights, Inmates and Law Enforcement” at the headquarters of the Authority in Gaza City.

The course provides workers with training in international and local human rights standards, to promote the rights of inmates in Gaza’s rehabilitation centers.

25 members of the Reform and Rehabilitation Directorate from all centers in the Gaza Strip are participating in the training, which takes place over 20 hours on three consecutive days.

In other recent moves, The Palestinian Interior Ministry in Gaza signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Gaza to develop humanitarian and international committee training courses.

Interior Ministry adviser for international affairs Maher Alrami noted when signing the MOU that since the Haniyeh government took control of the Gaza Strip in 2006, the Interior Ministry has put considerable effort into training its staff in humanitarian and human rights issues.

“The Islamic religion accords dignity and prestige to human beings in times of peace and of war,” Alramli said.

The Reform and Rehabilitation Directorate of Gaza’s Ministry of Interior is receiving increasing recognition in the Arab world for the quality of its rehabilitation programmes, which it conducts in co-operation with a range of organisations such as the Independent Commission for Human Rights, the ICRC, the Palestinian Centre for Democracy and Conflict Resolution, UNDOC, UNDP and others.


Israel marks 5th anniversary of Operation Cast Lead with air strikes on Gaza

On the eve of the fifth anniversary of its brutal Operation Cast Lead, Israel launched a series of attacks on the Gaza Strip on Thursday night, injuring at least two people. One of the injured has been identified as Salem al-Asi, aged 41 years.

The targets included the Al Nafaq Street in Gaza City, which has barely recovered from being submerged by flood-waters during recent storms, adding further suffering for the already-reeling residents.

Thursday’s attacks follow hard on the heels of Israel’s killing of three year old Hala Abu Sabikha whilst playing in her yard. Hala’s aunt and other relatives were also injured when an Israeli tank fired three shells at the family home.

Israeli Human Rights organisation B’Tselem condemned that attack. “Deliberate firing at a home occupied by civilians, without its inhabitants having been given any prior warning and without the military ensuring that the civilians have vacated the premises, as appears to be the case in this situation, is unlawful,” they reported.

In response to what is a clear war crime, rockets were later fired from Gaza into Southern Israel, which according to Israel’s own military reports, “fell in open areas, causing no damage or injuries.”

But in blatant contravention of proportionality of response, Israel then launched a series of air strikes on the Gaza population.

According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Israeli forces have killed 4 civilians near the Gaza Strip border fence in 2013, and wounded 55, including 12 children.

Rockets from Gaza have not killed or injured any Israelis in the same period, although one Israeli citizen, Bedouin labourer Salah Abu Latif, 22 was killed by sniper fire last week. The Palestinian Resistance Committees (PRC) claimed responsibility for that shooting.

During Operation Cast Lead, some 1500 Palestinians were killed by Israel, while there were only 13 Israeli deaths, four of them from ‘friendly’ fire.

Operation Cast Lead also ushered in a new era in the use of prohibited weaponry, such as white phosphorous and depleted uranium, for which Israel has still not been held to account in the international arena.


Dr Eyad El-Sarraj, Palestinian psychiatrist, human rights campaigner dies in Gaza

Dr Eyad El-Sarraj, tireless human rights defender

Dr Eyad El-Sarraj, tireless human rights defender

Dr. Eyad El-Sarraj, Palestinian psychiatrist and Commissioner-General of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens’ Rights, passed away in Gaza a short time ago.

Born in Beersheva, Palestine on 27 April 1944, Dr El-Sarraj arrived with his family in Gaza in 1948 as refugees.

He grew up to become the first psychiatrist to practice in Gaza, beginning in 1977. Dr El-Sarraj went on to found and direct the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP), which he established in 1990 to promote the mental well-being of three major target groups in the Palestinian community: children, women, and victims of organized violence and torture.

“We strongly believe that there is a correlation between human rights and mental health, because sound mental health cannot be gained under violent circumstances, and human rights will not be respected in a society exposed to ongoing trauma,” states the organisation’s strategy document.

His human rights work was not without cost – in 1996 he was arrested and tortured for condemning torture and violation of human rights by the Palestinian Authorities.

But it was also not without recognition – in 1997 he was winner of the Physicians for Human Rights Award, and in 1998 of the Martin Ennals Award for human rights defenders.

In 2010 he was awarded the Swedish labour movement’s largest and most prestigious award, the Olof Palme Prize for his self-sacrificing and indefatigable struggle for the Palestinian people.

“In his professional and political work, Eyad El-Sarraj has stood on the side of the individual human being, regardless of nationality, gender or social position. He has brought into the light the destructive influence of repression on mental health,” the Committee stated when announcing the award.

In the same year, Dr El-Sarraj was jointly awarded the Juan José López-Ibor prize in psychiatry, along with Professor Jules Angst, in recognition of his contribution to advancement of the rights and dignity of people with a mental illness, and his scientific research.

Other notable activities include being a consultant to the Palestinian delegation at the Camp David 2000 Summit, and his appearance as an expert witness before the United Nations-mandated Goldstone Commission on the war crimes committed during Israel’s 2008-9 military offensive “Operation Cast Lead.” His evidence on the long-term psycho-social impacts of the conflict on civil society in Gaza was quoted in the final report.

The light that Dr Iyad El-Sarraj shone into some of the darkest corners of Palestine can not be dimmed by his death.

“You are the window through which I can breathe,” one of his patients once told him.

His legacy of hope, and a legion of Palestinians both taught and inspired by him, will continue his important work, and keep the windows open to let in the air and light that Israel, and now Egypt, are determined to prevent entering.

May Dr El-Sarraj find the peace in death that he tried to bring to so many in life.


Just Gaza

(First published here)

22 November marked the first anniversary of the 2012 Israeli Operation Pillar of Cloud offensive against Gaza. It would be good to be able to say that it marked the END of that offensive, but as events over past days have clearly shown, it did not. Why not?

Maybe if we look to the body charged with ensuring international peace – The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) – it might hold some clues.

Assassinations
The Operation Pillar of Cloud offensive began on 14 November 2012 with the assassination of Ahmed Al-Jabari, head of Al Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas. What did the UNSC have to say about this extra-judicial killing?

Nothing. The assassination of Ahmed al-Jabari by the state of Israel did not attract a single statement, let alone a UNSC Resolution condemning it – unlike the assassination by Zionist terrorists on 17 September 1948 of the UN Mediator in Palestine, Count Folke Bernadotte, which was denounced in UNSC Resolution 57 the very next day, or even the assassination in Tunisia on 16 April 1988 of the founder of Fatah, Khalil Al-Wazir, denounced over a week later in UNSC Res. 611.

Both of these gentlemen’s murders were roundly condemned by the international community, yet the UNSC remained as silent on the political assassination of Al-Jabiri as it did on the assassinations of at least another 24 Palestinian political leaders killed by Israel between 1972 and 2012. (See appendix)

However, in 2011 the UNSC managed to condemn the assassination of Chairman of the Afghanistan High Peace Council and former president Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani in Afghanistan, in the 2000’s it condemned all targeted assassinations of Lebanese leaders, and in the 1990’s it condemned the assassination of officials of the legitimate Government in Haiti and the attempted assassination of Egyptian President Hosni Mubrak in Ethiopia.

The only straw Palestinians have to clutch at is that in the 1980’s the UNSC did manage to condemn the attempted assassinations of the mayors of Nablus, Ramallah and Al Bireh.

That was when Jimmy Carter was president of the United States. No US president since has had the courage or moral fibre to not only apprise themselves of the ‘facts on the ground’, but also to publicly disseminate them, as Carter has belatedly done.

On the contrary, every US president since has used their power of veto in the UNSC to block almost every resolution condemning Israeli actions against Palestinian interests.

Civilian Targets and Excessive Force
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights reported that during Operation Pillar of Cloud, over 100 of the 171 Palestinians killed were civilians, including 20 elderly people, and 35 children. 625 of the 648 wounded were civilians, including 214 children, 93 women, and 16 people with disabilities.

Entire families were wiped out by direct targeting of residential properties by missiles with warheads weighing hundreds of kilograms – the al-Dalu and Hijazi family homes, and Bassel al-Shawa’s apartment between them accounting for 19 deaths including seven children, and 32 injured.

196 residential units housing 1,229 people were destroyed, and another 243 were severely damaged. 233 public facilities, including religious, educational, health, sports, industrial, commercial and agricultural facilities, four media institutions and four banks were also struck.

Deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian targets and use of excessive force constitute war crimes, and breach a number of UN instruments, particularly the Geneva Convention. What did the UNSC do? Held an emergency meeting on 14-15 November 2012, and came to no decision.

In the 1970’s the UNSC strongly condemned Portugal for the invasion of Guinea territory, and grieved at the loss of life and extensive damage caused by Portugal’s invasion, and in the years since has managed to make similar statements defending the self-determination and territorial integrity of Namibia, East Timor, and several other countries under threat – but seemingly cannot muster the same moral fibre when it comes to Gaza.

Would another UNSC Resolution have made any difference? After all, since 1955 the UNSC has made 43 Resolutions condemning, deploring, noting concern, calling on or making demands of Israel in relation to Palestinian rights – sometimes merely just to comply with prior UN decisions – but all to no avail.

Israel apparently enjoys total impunity, routinely thumbing its nose at the international community – and at the UN itself.

Add the US power of veto in the UNSC and the situation is even more daunting. As Stephen Lendman noted in 2006, over the last 50 years the US has used its Security Council veto dozens of times to prevent resolutions condemning Israel for its abusive or hostile actions.

“By its actions and with 6% of the world’s population, the US has thus arrogantly ignored the will of nearly all the other 94% to support its client state even when Israel had committed war crimes or crimes against humanity the rest of the world demanded it be held to account for,” he wrote.

Ceasefire
In the first three months after the so-called Pillar of Cloud ceasefire agreement, there were over 800 violations of the truce by Israel and just two by Palestinians, according to data collected by the United Nations, the Israeli Legal Centre for Freedom of Movement (GISHA), the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, and Israeli and Palestinian media outlets.

Who has investigated these breaches? Enforced this agreement? The answer is obvious – no-one, least of all the UNSC.

When has Israel ever kept its word, which ceasefire agreement has it ever observed? What agreement has it ever honoured? Oslo? Camp David?

Without minimising the situation in the rest of Palestine, where territorial integrity and rights are trampled by occupation, settlements, excessive use of force, deportations, house demolitions, arbitrary detention, extra-judicial killings and particularly gross abuses of the rights of children, the current situation in Gaza a year after the so-called truce is dire.

Even such Geneva Convention basics as ensuring the living conditions of the civilian population following hostilities by the maintenance of essential public utility services, for example water and sanitation, electricity supply, are patently absent in Gaza one year after Operation Pillar of Cloud.

Not content with destroying housing and infrastructure, Israel in collusion with post-coup Egypt, now prevents all building materials from entering the Gaza Strip, meaning that essential reconstruction of buildings and services destroyed or damaged in the offensive cannot proceed.

Israeli Blockade
The UN reports the humanitarian situation in Gaza today is at crisis point, with sewage flowing in the streets and power cuts of 16 hours a day, while other humanitarian organisations report lack of essential medicines, water, employment and other necessities of life.

Even the UN’s own agencies are not immune from the Israeli/Egyptian stranglehold. UNRWA chief Filippo Grandi told donor representatives last week that 19 of its 20 construction projects in Gaza had ground to a halt because since March the agency had not had any construction projects cleared by the Israeli government, and for the past month, has been unable to import building materials.

“First and foremost, the Israeli blockade – which is illegal – must be lifted,” he said.

Based on the failed notion of trying to subdue an entire people by famine in all its forms, the Israeli blockade of Gaza is clearly an act which violates international law, contradicts the aims and principles of the United Nations Charter, and is a transgression of the right to peace, development, self-determination and safety.

Not only UNRWA’s Grandi, but also the UN Goldstone Report, the UN Human Rights Council’s Independent Experts, and other UN agencies all hold that the Israeli blockade of Gaza is illegal.

So who will force Israel to lift it?

Is the international community, particularly its peace-making and peace-keeping instrument the veto-encumbered UNSC, up to the task?

UNSC
We have seen that when it wants to, the UNSC IS capable of condemning the type of political assassinations that launched Operation Pillar of Cloud, we have seen it IS capable of condemning war crimes and crimes against humanity similar to those perpetrated against Gaza during that Israeli offensive, and we have seen it IS capable of demanding and achieving access to the types of public utilities and humanitarian aid currently denied Gaza.

So why is it ignoring Gaza’s plight? Because they are ‘just Palestinians’?

Yes, they are just Palestinians – they are JUST Palestinians. And like every world citizen, they deserve justice.

Is it not time that the UNSC acted not only in accord with its own agencies, but also with the principles of the UN Charter, and delivered justice to Gaza?

Is it not possible that maybe, just maybe, the US will have another principled Carter-moment, and support a UNSC resolution in the interests of justice, not Israel, that resolves to lift the illegal blockade of Gaza, as a first step towards Palestinian peace?

Wouldn’t that be a change Obama could be remembered by!

The alternative is certain death for thousands more Palestinians.

APPENDIX

This is not an exhaustive list of all assassinations of Palestinians by Israel, merely of many Palestinian political leaders. Nor does it include the assassination of Yasser Arafat, as this has yet to be investigated to determine who was responsible.

In addition to actual killings, there have been several unsuccessful assassination attempts, most notably those of September 1997 on Khaled Meshaal, chairman of Hamas’ political bureau, in Amman, Jordan, and of August 2001 on senior Fatah member Marwan Bargouthi in the West Bank.

In the former, Israeli agents attempted to kill Meshaal by injecting poison into his ear. The latter saw Israeli forces launch at least two missiles at a convoy of cars carrying Bargouthi, which missed his vehicle.
Although Israel denies responsibility for some of the above killings, it does, however, admit to more than 200 targeted assassinations since 1956.

Assassinations of Palestinian political leaders by Israel 1972 – 2012

1970’s

8 July 8 1972 – Ghassan Kanafani, member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Palestinian author, major international literary figure and intellectual, killed in Beirut by a Mossad car bomb.

16 October 1972 – Wael Zwaiter, Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) representative to Italy, renowned Palestinian intellectual and pacifist, shot and killed by Israeli agents in Rome.

28 March 1978 – Wadie Haddad, senior member of the PFLP, dies in East Germany from slow-acting poison ingested several months earlier. It is later revealed that Israeli agents were behind his murder.

1980’s

21 August 1983 – Mamoun Meraish, senior PLO official and top aid to Yasser Arafat, is shot and killed by Israeli agents in Athens, Greece. According to later Israeli press reports, future Foreign Minister (currently Minister of Justice) Tzipi Livni is involved in Meraish’s killing.

9 June 1986 – Khalid Nazzal, Secretary of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), is shot dead by Israeli agents in Athens, Greece.

October 1986 – Munzer Abu Ghazala, member of the PLO’s Supreme Military Council, killed by an Israeli car bomb in Athens, Greece

16 April 1988 – Khalil al-Wazir, military chief of the PLO, and founder of Fatah, shot dead in Tunisia. The US State Department condemns the murder as an “act of political assassination.”

1990’s

26 October 1995 – Fathi Shiqaqi, a founder of Islamic Jihad, shot by Mossad agents in Malta, as he leaves his hotel.

5 January 1996 – Yahya Ayash, Hamas military commander, killed in Gaza by an Israeli explosive device planted in his cell phone.

2000’s

25 July 2001 – Salah Darwazeh, senior Hamas activist, killed by Israeli ground-to-ground anti-tank missiles fired at his car in the West Bank.

29 July 2001 – Jamal Mansour, a senior member of Hamas’ political wing, killed in an Israeli helicopter strike on his workplace.

5 August 2001 – Amer Mansour Habiri, member of Hamas, killed by Israeli helicopter strike on his car in Tulkarem.

15 August 2001 – Emad Abu Sneineh, a member of the Fatah Tanzim militia, killed in Hebron by undercover Israeli agents.

27 August 2001 – Abu Ali Mustafa, secretary general of the PFLP, killed by Israel using US-made Apache helicopter gunships to attack his office in Ramallah.

23 November 2001 – Mahmoud Abu Hanoud, senior Hamas military leader, killed by Israeli helicopter strike on his car near Nablus.

14 January 2002 – Raed Karmi, a leader in Fatah’s Al Aqsa Brigades, killed by an Israeli bomb planted outside his Tulkaram home following a ceasefire agreement

23 July 2002 – Salah Shehada, Hamas leader, killed when Israel bombed his Gaza apartment building, also killing 14 others including 9 children, and scuttling a ceasefire agreement.

8 March 2003 – Ibrahim Maqadma, one of the founders and top military commanders of Hamas, killed by four missiles from two Israeli helicopters fired at his car in Gaza.

22 March 2004 – Sheik Ahmed Yassin, 67-year-old wheelchair-bound spiritual leader and co-founder of Hamas, killed by Israeli rockets as he left morning prayers at a Gaza City mosque. Nine bystanders were also killed.

17 April 2004 – Abdel Aziz Rantisi, a co-founder of Hamas and its leader since the assassination of Sheik Ahmed Yassin, killed by an Israeli helicopter strike on his car

8 June 2006 – Jamal Abu Samhadana, founder of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) and Interior Minister of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government, killed by Israeli rocket attack in Rafah.

1 January 2009 – Nizar Rayan, senior Hamas leader, killed in Israeli rocket attack on his home, which also killed 15 of his family members, including 11 children

15 January 2009 – Said Seyam, prominent Hamas leader and Interior Minister of the elected government of Ismail Haneyya, killed in an Israeli airstrike on his brother’s central Gaza City house. Seven others were also killed.

2010’s

19 January 2010 – Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, senior Hamas leader, killed by Israeli agents in Dubai

9 March 2012 – Zuhair al-Qaisi, head of the Gaza-based PRC, killed in an Israeli rocket attack on his car in Gaza City. His aide, Mohammed Hannani, was also killed.

14 November 2012 – Ahmed al-Jabari, head of Al Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, killed in an Israeli rocket attack on his car in Gaza City.


As Gaza drowns in sewage, UN rapporteur announces first UN World Toilet Day

Gaza streets awash with sewage. Photo: Majed Abusalama

Gaza streets awash with sewage. Photo: Majed Abusalama

As streets in Gaza flow with excrement, as families stay awake until 2am to take advantage of the two hours that water will flow through the taps – if they are lucky – the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque, celebrated the UN General Assembly’s decision declaring 19th of November as UN World Toilet Day with a Press Release on November 15.

The irony will not escape Palestinians in Gaza – they must be asking themselves “Is she for real?” Or is it just a very cynical preliminary to announcing Gaza’s latest distinction – from being the largest open air prison in the world, to being the largest open air toilet?

“I hope this declaration galvanises national and international action to reach the billions of people who still do not benefit from this basic human right,” the Special Rapporteur said in the statement released the day after the al-Sabra neighbourhood in al-Zaytoun, Gaza City, was flooded with sewage.

Perhaps she could make a special effort to contact Israel and Egypt directly, being the UN member states that are preventing the entry of fuel supplies into Gaza necessary to run the power plant that provides the electricity to run the sanitation and water pumps that would enable Gazans to enjoy this ‘basic human right.’

Perhaps she could make a special effort to remind the Palestinian Authority (PA) to take off their blinkers and ‘observe’ the conditions of their fellow statesmen and women in Gaza, and maybe even suggest the PA cease colluding with Israel in extorting exorbitant prices for fuel from the besieged Gazan authorities – fuel which the European Community has funded, but which both Israel and the Palestinian Authority are seeking to profiteer from by imposing on Gaza excessive price hikes (Israel), and additional taxes (the PA).

And perhaps the United Nations and its member states could ‘put their money where their mouth is’ – they still have three days in which to clean up their act, and ensure that World Toilet Day is not the day that Gaza is officially accorded that questionable distinction.


Palestinian Detainees issue must not be buried with Hamdiyeh

by Julie Webb-Pullman

As Palestinian detainee Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh was being buried in Hebron, the Palestinian Minister of Religious Affairs Ismail Al Radwan was denouncing his murder at the mourning tent set up in his honour in Gaza City by the Ministry for Detainees’ and Ex-Detainees’ Affairs.

Minister of Religious Affairs Ismail Radwan and Minister of Detainees' Affairs Dr Attallah Abu ElSebah at Soraya today

Minister of Religious Affairs Ismail Al Radwan and Minister of Detainees’ Affairs Dr Attallah Abu ElSebah at Soraya today

Radwan demanded that the international community form a committee to supervise Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails, to ensure they are given their basic rights.

Several hundred people gathered to add their support to the Minister’s call, amongst them Sabrin Al Baz.
“I have come here today with about 100 others from the Adawa Islamic College to show our support for Maysara Hamdiyeh,” she told me.

“All Muslims must support this issue, it is not just an issue for Palestinians, but for human rights everywhere. They belong to everyone. What do you do when someone takes something that is yours away from you?” she asked.

“You must fight to get it back. We must protect and defend our claim, as Palestinians and as Muslims. But people everywhere must also help to protect them,” she said, reiterating Minister Radwan’s call for international action.

Sabrin El Baz, Adawa Islamic College

Sabrin El Baz, Adawa Islamic College

The third death of a Palestinian detainee in almost as many months demands international attention, and very close scrutiny of the conditions under which they are being held in Israeli prisons.

That even the International Committee of the Red Cross and local Israeli human rights groups cannot gain access to these prisons to monitor conditions, signals that there are likely gross abuses being hidden from public view. These deaths are compelling proof.

The international community has a moral obligation to expose these atrocities to the cold light of objective assessment, and ensure that the ongoing issue of the torture, abuse and medical negligence of this most vulnerable population is not buried along with Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh.

"The Ministry of Religious Affairs demands the leaders of the Ummah protect the lives of the patient detainees inside Israeli jails"

“The Ministry of Religious Affairs demands the leaders of the Ummah protect the lives of the patient detainees inside Israeli jails”


Palestinian Detainee Death: We are all Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh

By Julie Webb-Pullman

Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh died today shackled to his hospital bed, the latest victim of Israel’s cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment of Palestinian detainees.

Suffering from cancer since at least August 2012, he was not told of his diagnosis – or given any treatment other than painkillers and flu injections – until March 2013, when he was finally commenced on chemotherapy. This treatment might have had some chance of helping him if it had been administered early enough – but it did not begin until the cancer had already metastasised to his spine…then it was suspended ‘for the Jewish holidays,’ according to his lawyer Rami al-Alami.

Such blatant breaches of both medical ethics and human rights norms are both scandalous, and scandalously common.

The litany of medical neglect by Israeli Prison Services (IPS), which many ex-prisoners describe as a deliberate punitive policy by medical personnel in league with the Israeli prison authorities, is demonstrable in the 200+ prisoners who have died whilst in Israeli custody – 51 of them from medical negligence – and those who have died soon after release.

The latter include Hayel Abu-Zaid, Sitan Al-Wali, Murad Abu-Sakoot, Fayez Ziyadat, Zakariya Eissa Daud, Zuhair Labadah, and Ashraf Abu-Thurai’a who died in January 2013.

Palestinian Minister of Detainees’ and Ex-Detainees’ Affairs Dr Attallah Abu Elsebah has released numerous press statements over recent years advising of the medical negligence being suffered by more than 1000 of the 4500+ Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails. They currently include some 18 prisoners permanently resident in the Israeli Prison Service’s Medical Center (IMC) in Ramleh Prison suffering from life-threatening or malignant diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and kidney failure, and 85 disabled prisoners with mobility, mental, and sensory disabilities.

Israel’s own human rights and medical experts decry the practices of their prison authorities. Physicians for Human Rights–Israel reports that the Ramleh IMC operates with virtually no supervision, medical or otherwise, and is characterized by inadequate medical care, non-medical staff intervening in treatment, problems in transferring patients to outside institutions, neglect in cases of disability and rehabilitation, threats against patients that have filed complaints, and inadequate sanitation and living conditions. [1]

“The IPS, the main entity responsible for the custody of incarcerated persons, goes to great lengths to prevent outside inspections. The IPS does not allow open tours of its facilities, and only permits pre-coordinated visits with attorneys or doctors with individual prisoners, during which the attorney or doctors may not visit a prisoner’s cell in order to assess the conditions of incarceration,” they report on their website.

A Council for European Palestinian Relations description of the conditions for Palestinian detainees stated that health examinations are conducted through a fence, and any necessary surgery or transfer to hospital for additional medical treatment is usually postponed for long periods of time. [2]

“Demands made by Israeli organisations to provide health care to detainees have consistently been refused, in addition to petitions made by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC),” they add.

Right to health care in prisons

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) has been deemed by the Human Rights Committee to protect the rights of prisoners to health care through Article 6 guaranteeing the right to life, the Article 7 prohibition that ‘no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’, and Article 10 guaranteeing the right to humane treatment of prisoners. These articles have led the Committee to hold that ‘adequate’ or ‘appropriate and timely medical care must be available to all detainees.’ [3]

The Committee has also held that ‘free access to doctors’ should be guaranteed in practice, immediately after arrest and during all stages of detention. [4]

In fact the Human Rights Committee found a violation of Article 6, the right to life, in a very similar case to that of Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh. In Lanstova versus Russia, a man died in prison because of the failure of the prison authorities to take appropriate medical measures when his health dangerously deteriorated. [5]

How does Israel get away with it?

Whilst Israel has ratified the main human rights conventions, including the ICCPR, it is not a party to any of the Optional Protocols other than Children in Armed Conflicts, nor has it accepted the jurisdiction of any of the treaty body committees.

Specifically, Israel has not signed the First Optional Protocol of the ICCPR, thus complaints against Israel cannot be received by, or acted on, by the Committee.

Rogue State
How ironic that Israel is able to continue to be a member state of the United Nations, claiming all of the benefits of protection for itself under international law, while accepting none of the accompanying obligations and responsibilities towards others, particularly Palestinian detainees – and while Palestine itself cannot even achieve full recognition as a state.

One might wonder why a state that has breached over 80 UN resolutions, including the United Nations Charter itself at least 22 times, is left to continue ‘business as usual’ against Palestinian detainees –three of whom have already died this year – and is never held to account. Is the UN showing unmistakable signs of its advancing age, and heading for total impotence, and irrelevance?

Noam Chomsky has defined a rogue state as “a state that defies international laws and conventions, does not consider itself bound by the major treaties and conventions, World Court decisions — in fact, anything except the interests of its own leadership, the forces around the leadership that dominate policy.” [6]

Regardless of the impotence of the UN system to enforce international law, particularly in the face of the US power of veto that would inevitably be used should any attempt be made to oust Israel from their hallowed halls, the international community of states has no other moral choice but to act, and to act immediately, to rein in the rogue state of Israel, and force it, as they did apartheid South Africa, to act in accordance with the fundamental rights and principles that define world citizenship – mutual respect, and self-determination.

To do any less is to critically undermine not only the human rights system and its basis in universality, indivisibility, and interdependence, but also the very foundations of civilisation.

Because ultimately, we are all Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh.

[1] http://www.phr.org.il/default.asp?PageID=114
[2] http://thecepr.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=116%3Apalestinian-prisoners-in-israel&catid=6%3Amemos&Itemid=34
[3] HRC, Concluding Observations, Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea, ICCPR, A/56/40 vol. 1 (2001) 98 at para. 86(16); HRC, Concluding Observations, Portugal, ICCPR, A/58/40 vol. 1 (2003) 56 at para. 83(11); HRC, Concluding Observations, Kenya, ICCPR, A/60/40 vol. 1 (2005) 44 at para. 86(19)
[4] HRC, Concluding Observations, Ukraine, ICCPR, A/57/40 vol. I (2002) 32 at para. 74(15).
Cf. HRC, Concluding Observations, Benin, ICCPR, A/60/40 vol. I (2004) 30 at para. 83(17).
[5] Lanstova v The Russian Federation Communication No 763/1999, UN Doc CCPR/C/74/D/763/1997 (2002).
[6] http://www.chomsky.info/interviews/200105–.htm


Israel: immune or impugnable?

From Alray Media

Image

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

Whilst Israel has ratified the main human rights conventions, it is not a party to any of the Optional Protocols other than Children in Armed Conflicts, nor has it accepted the jurisdiction of any of the treaty body committees, which means that relevant committees cannot receive or act on complaints or claims against Israel.

Even where Israel has ratified conventions, it has made important reservations, rendering itself virtually immune from almost any action against it.

The most we can hope for is that the circumstances of Arafat Jaradat’s death will be exposed to the international community, and will serve as a catalyst, as did the death in South African custody of Steve Biko in alerting the world to the atrocities being committed by the apartheid state of South Africa and ultimately leading to its downfall.

The rogue and apartheid state of Israel is equally in need of the disapprobation and condemnation of the international community for its chronic and extreme abuses of Palestinians and Palestinian detainees, for its daily practices of torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of Palestinian detainees and their families, and for its blatant disregard of international laws, norms and minimal standards of civilised behaviour.


14 Palestinian and Israeli Organisations Condemn Lack of Accountability for Torture of Palestinian Detainees

PRESS RELEASE
Al Haq

Friday, 01 March 2013 Ref.: 44/2013

The Palestinian Human Rights Organisations Council (PHROC), along with Adalah, Public Committee Against Torture in Israel and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, express their outrage at the death of Arafat Jaradat, 30, which, according to the autopsy report of Dr Saber al-‘Aloul, Director of the Palestinian Medico-legal Institute, was caused by torture and ill-treatment inflicted while in Israeli custody. The preliminary autopsy, to which there are links below, found that Arafat displayed severe bruising on his upper back, deep bruising along the spine, and significant bruising on both sides of the chest. The postmortem also discovered bruising on both arms and inside the mouth, blood around the nose and three fractured ribs. In addition, the examination discounted the claim by the Israeli authorities that Arafat died of a heart attack. His heart was completely healthy and there was no evidence of damage or weakness of any kind. The report concludes that all injuries were the result of very recent, severe and direct torture. The undersigned organisations reiterate the demands made by UN representatives for an immediate international investigation into the death of Arafat Jaradat with a view to holding those responsible for his death accountable.

Arafat Jaradat was arrested on 18 February on suspicion of throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at settlers and was transferred to al-Jalameh prison where he confessed to throwing stones but denied any involvement with firebombs. On 21 February, his lawyer, Mr. Kamil Sabbagh, reported that Arafat was suffering from severe pain in his back and appeared to be psychologically and physically weak after three days under interrogation. According to Mr. Sabbagh, Arafat also expressed strong fear at the prospect of returning to interrogation when his detention order was extended by 12 days. After a request from Mr. Sabbagh, the Israeli military judge ordered that a full physical and psychological examination of Arafat be carried out, the results of which were to be presented to the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) and the court. It is unclear if this medical examination ever took place. If it did, the results of the exam should be disclosed. If it did not, the Israeli authorities must explain why this order was not complied with.

The absolute prohibition against torture is a peremptory norm of international law and “has now become one of the most fundamental standards of the international community”[1]. Since 2001, there have been more than 750 complaints of torture and ill-treatment against the ISA. Not one complaint has resulted in a criminal investigation. Indeed, given that all complaints are reviewed by the Inspector of Interrogee Complaints, who is himself an ISA agent, it is a process that guarantees the absence of credible and impartial investigations. The fact that the Israeli Attorney General has ratified each recommendation not to investigate is further evidence of the institutional impunity which shields the ISA and those who commit torture in Israeli prisons.

Article 12 of UN Convention Against Torture, of which Israel is a State Party, obliges States to perform prompt and impartial investigations in all alleged incidents of torture. Torture is also considered a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and is further listed as both a crime against humanity and a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. In addition, torture has permissive universal jurisdiction according to customary international law, which allows any State to prosecute those accused of torture, regardless of their nationality.

However, in 1999, the Israeli High Court of Justice ruling in the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel v The State of Israel contributed significantly to the current climate of impunity, shielding those who commit torture. While the Court affirmed that the practice of torture was prohibited, it also held that such prohibition would not apply in cases of “necessity”, leaving room for the use of extreme measures in arbitrarily-defined situations, in blatant contradiction to the jus cogens status of the absolute prohibition of torture. The ruling effectively allowed for the continuing use of torture by affirming that an Israeli official charged with torture would not be criminally liable by virtue of the “necessity defence”, which can legitimise the use of “physical pressure” in certain circumstances.

In 2009, the UN Committee Against Torture reiterated its call on Israel to remove ‘necessity’ as a justification for the crime of torture as well as calling for all interrogations to be recorded on film. These demands have been ignored. In short, while torture is a crime that the international community maintains cannot be allowed to go unpunished, in Israel both the High Court of Justice and the Attorney General contribute to the lack of accountability that pervades the Israeli judicial system. Unless this culture of impunity is challenged, Palestinians in Israeli prisons will continue to be victims of torture and ill-treatment with regularity.

Arafat’s death is symptomatic of the utter disregard with which Israel holds the lives of Palestinian prisoners. Since the beginning of the occupation in 1967, 203 Palestinians have died in Israeli detention centres. At least 71 of these died as a direct result of torture.[2] One hundred and seventy eight Palestinians are being held in administrative detention without charge or trial or any access to the information upon which their detention is based. Presently, ten Palestinians are engaged in hunger strikes in protest against their detention. Tarek Qa’adan and Jafar Azzidine, who spent more than 90 days on hunger strike and are in critical condition, have suspended their strikes for a week ahead of a court hearing on 6 March in the hope that their detention orders will be dismissed. Both men had their administrative detention orders renewed for another three months on Friday 22 February.

In light of the above, the undersigned organisations call for the following steps to be taken:

– An international investigation into all complaints of torture by Israeli forces must be carried out, followed by effective accountability for those responsible and redress for victims;
– All ISA interrogations of Palestinians must be subject to video recording, in line with the recommendations of the Turkel Commission;
– Given that Israel does not offer due process or a fair trial to Palestinian prisoners, all administrative detainees should be promptly released;
– The UN Committee Against Torture and Third States should pressure Israel to adopt adequate criminal legislation to define and penalise torture under domestic Israeli law;
– The European Parliament must promptly activate the parliamentary fact-finding mission that includes members of its Subcommittee on Human Rights to investigate the conditions of detention and interrogation of Palestinians detained by Israel;
– The EU parliamentary fact-finding mission must include an investigation into Israel’s illegal practice of administrative detention and the use of the “Unlawful Combatant Law”;
– All hunger strikers in advanced stages must be moved immediately to civilian hospitals where they can receive the appropriate standard of care without being shackled;
– Immediate intervention from the IPS to provide all hunger strikers with unrestricted access to independent doctors;
– All hunger strikers should be allowed family visits;
– UN Member States should urgently put pressure on Israel to end its policy of arbitrary detention and to abide by the standard rules for the treatment of prisoners adopted in 1955, which set out what is generally accepted as being decent principle and practice in the treatment of prisoners.

Preliminary Autopsy Report

Original Arabic report
Unofficial English translation of report

[1] Prosecutor v Furundžija (Judgment, Trial Chamber) ICTY-95-17/1 (10 December 1998), para. 59.

[2] Data on file with Addameer.

SIGNATORY ORGANISATIONS:
Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minorities in Israel

Addameer Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association
Sahar Francis
General Director

Aldameer Association for Human Rights
Khalil Abu Shammala
General Director

PCHRS

Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies
Iyad Barghouti
General Director

Al-Haq
Shawan Jabarin
General Director

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights
Issam Younis
General Director

Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights
Najwa Darwish
General Director

Defence for Children International
Palestine Section
Rifat Kassis
General Director

Ensan Center for Human Rights and Democracy
Shawqi Issa
General Director

Hurryyat – Centre for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights
Helmi Al-araj
General Director

Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights
Issam Aruri
General Director

Public Committe Against Torture

Physicians for Human Rights – Israel

Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling
Maha Abu Dayyeh
General Director


Video

ADDAMEER: HUNGER STRIKES ESCALATE

PRESS RELEASE
ADDAMEER Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association
26 February 2012

HUNGER STRIKES ESCALATE: 12 Detainees on Hunger Strike, some nearing death as the Israeli Prison Service denies Addameer’s lawyers visitation rights

Occupied Ramallah, 26 February 2013 – Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association can confirm that the number of prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli Occupation’s jails has increased to twelve.

Detainee Ayman Sharawna (36 years old) from Dura Al Khalil: Sharawna started his hunger strike on 1 July 2012 in protest of his re-arrest under Article 186 of Military Order 1651. This law allows a special military commission to effectively “cancel the early release” of prisoners who were released in the prisoners exchange deal. In Sharwana’s case, this means that he can be sentenced to serve the remaining 28 years of his sentence.

Sharawna briefly suspended his hunger strike in December 2012 at the promise of a court hearing to resolve his case. He resumed his hunger strike on 17 January 2013 after learning that the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) deceived him in their promise. He is currently in isolation in Ayalon Prison in Beer al-Saba’, and is subjected to harsh and degrading treatment by the IPS and the special forces.

On 20 February 2013, the Israeli Supreme Court considered an appeal in Sharawna’s name regarding Article 186 of Military Order 1651. The court decided to return the case to the Military Commission to make a decision, before it can be raised again in the Supreme Court.

Detainee Samer Al-Issawi (33 years old) from Issawiya, Jerusalem: Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) re-arrested Issawi on 7 July 2012. He has been on a hunger strike intermittently for over 200 days in protest of his arbitrary re-arrest. Issawi is a recently released ex-prisoner who was released in the latest prisoner exchange deal on 18 October 2011. He suffers from a severe decrease in weight as his weight hovers around 45 kilograms, a 23 kg decrease since his arrest. Issawi is not strong enough to move on his own and has to use a wheelchair. He recently escalated his hunger strike and stopped drinking water.

On 21 February 2013, the Israeli Magistrate Court sentenced Issawi to eight months as of the day of his arrest, on the grounds that he violated a military order by entering the West Bank. This ruling is in addition to a forthcoming sentencing by the Military Commission under Article 186 of Military Order 1651 which will consider if Issawi will be sentenced to complete his previous sentence of 20 years.

Administrative Detainees Jafar Azzidine (41 years old) and Tarek Qa’adan (40 years old), from Araba, Jenin: Azzidine and Qa’adan started their hunger strike on 28 November 2012, in protest of their administrative detention orders. On 24 February 2013, they were transferred from Ramleh Prison Clinic to Asaf Harove Hospital as their health condition seriously deteriorated due to their refusal to drink water. They were scheduled to have hearings today in Ofer Military Court to confirm their renewed administrative detention orders for an addition three months beginning on 22 February 2013. The court hearing was postponed until tomorrow (27 February 2013) and will be held in the hospital due to their fragile health condition and their inability to move.

Eight additional detainees announced their joining of the hunger strike. They are:

Detainee Mona Qa’adan from Araba, Jenin: Qa’adan entered a hunger strike on 20 February 2013 in support of her detained brother, Tarek Qa’adan, who is also on hunger strike. It is reported that she is currently in isolation as punishment for having joined the hunger strike.

Prisoner Maher Abdellatif Younis, the longest serving Palestinian prisoner in the Occupation’s jails: Younis began his hunger strike on 24 February
2013 and is currently in Gilboa Prison. He announced his strike with the goal of shedding light on the issue of pre-Oslo prisoners (who currently number 109), and the necessity of their release en masse without appeal. Younis (54 years old) is from the town of ‘Ara in the “Triangle” region in northern Palestine, and has spent over 30 years behind bars.

Administrative detainee Hazem Al-Tawil, resident of the city of Al-Khalil (Hebron): He entered an open hunger strike on 20 February 2013 after one day of detention in protest of the issuing of a six-month administrative detention order against him. He is currently in an isolation cell in Ofer Prison. It is noteworthy that Al-Tawil previously spent a year and a half in prison on the basis of administrative detention orders.

Detainee Samer Al-Barq (38 years old) from Jayyous, Qalqilia: The military prosecuter proceeded to renew an order of administrative detention against him last Sunday 24 February 2013, for a period of three months. The detainee undertook a number of hunger strikes in the past years and has been administratively detained since July 2010. He currently languishes behind bars in Hadarim Prison.

Addameer learned that detained Younis Al-Hroub announced a hunger strike in protest of his administrative detention. Prisoners Ayman Saker, Sofian Rabie and Omar Dar Ayyoub announced an open hunger strike in support of the other striking prisoners.

Addameer Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association expresses its concern for the lives of hunger striking prisoners and detainees and maintains that the just solution for the issue of striking prisoners lies in the meeting of their demands and the treatment of all Palestinian detainees in accordance with international humanitarian law, particularly the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions and other conventions of international human rights law.

Addameer calls on the Arab Republic of Egypt to work seriously on releasing all prisoners freed in the prisoners exchange deal and on forcing the Occupying State to cancel Article 186 of Military Order 1651, which authorizes the detention of freed prisoners.

Addameer condemns the decision of the Israeli Prison Service to forbid lawyers from visiting detainees and prisoners on hunger strike. Addameer considers this to be the latest installment in a series of abuses faced by the organization and its staff in an attempt to silence their voices and undermine their determination to support the fight for justice and freedom for prisoners, and the end of the occupation.

ACT NOW!

*Write to the Israeli government, military and legal authorities and demand the release of the prisoners on hunger strike.

Brigadier General Danny Efroni
Military Judge Advocate General
6 David Elazar Street
Harkiya, Tel Aviv
Israel
Fax: +972 3 608 0366; +972 3 569 4526
Email: arbel@mail.idf.il; avimn@idf.gov.il
Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon
OC Central Command Nehemia Base, Central Command
Neveh Yaacov, Jerusalam
Fax: +972 2 530 5741
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak
Ministry of Defense
37 Kaplan Street, Hakirya
Tel Aviv 61909, Israel
Fax: +972 3 691 6940 / 696 2757
Col. Eli Bar On
Legal Advisor of Judea and Samaria PO Box 5
Beth El 90631
Fax: +972 2 9977326

*Write to your own elected representatives urging them to pressure Israel to release the hunger strikers.


Jaradat – Palestine’s Biko

from Alray Online

Jaradat

by Julie Webb-Pullman

The West Bank and Gaza have erupted in rage at the Israeli murder-by-torture of 30 year-old Palestinian father of two Arafat Shahin Jaradat, the 79th prisoner to die in Israeli jails since 2000 due to torture, medical neglect, excessive use of force during interrogation, or execution by arresting officers.

As the results of his autopsy circle the world, the western media is finally wakening from its slumber, to report on the latest Israeli atrocity.

Six broken bones in Jaradat’s neck, spine, arms and legs are only the beginning of the story. The autopsy also revealed evidence of severe torture on the muscle of the upper left shoulder, parallel to the spine in the lower neck area, and evidence of severe torture under the skin and inside the muscle of the right side of the chest. His second and third ribs on the right side of the chest were broken, and he also had injuries in the middle of the muscle in his right hand.

At a news conference in Ramallah this evening the PA Minister of Detainee Affairs Issa Qaraqe said, “The evidence corroborates our suspicion that Mr. Jaradat died as a result of torture, especially since the autopsy clearly proved that the victim’s heart was healthy, which disproves the initial alleged account presented by occupation authorities that he died of a heart attack.”

Jaradat’s lawyer Kameel Sabbagh said in a statement today that at his court appearance last Thursday in relation to a stone-throwing incident in November, Arafat Jaradat appeared hunched, sick, and fragile.

“He told me that he had serious pains in his back and other parts of his body because he was being beaten up and hanged for many long hours while he was being investigated.”

The Judge postponed the hearing for 12 days, and Sabbagh said, “When Jaradat heard that the judge postponed his hearing he seemed extremely afraid and asked me if he was going to spend the time left in the cell.”

Because of his concern for his client’s serious psychological state, Sabbagh said he informed the judge his client had been tortured. The judge ordered that Jaradat should be examined by the prison doctor but “this didn’t happen.”

One cannot but recall South African anti-apartheid martyr Steve Biko, who died alone and naked on the floor of a Pretoria Central Prison cell on 12 September 1977, following an “untreated head injury sustained during interrogation” by South African Security Police on 07 September, some 17 days after his detention.

Despite the police physician recommending Biko’s transfer to hospital after he fell into a continual, semi-conscious state, Biko was transported lying naked and shackled in the back of a Land Rover on a 12-hour 1,200 km journey to Pretoria, where he died a few hours after arrival.

The parallels don’t end there – the Biko killers’ first excuse was that Biko died of a hunger strike – one the Israeli’s clearly couldn’t try for fear of drawing even more attention to the critical health conditions of hunger-striking Palestinian detainees Ayman Sharawna, Samer Issawi, Jafar Azzidine, Yousef Yassin and Tarek Qa’adan – so they went for the ‘heart attack’ line. Now that the autopsy has exposed that for the shameless lie it was, we can probably expect the Israeli equivalent of the South African second fall-back position, an Israeli version of the “hit his head against a wall in a scuffle” number.

Another question that must be asked in common, as it was in the Biko case – who encouraged the Israeli forces to act in the manner that they did?

It has been widely reported that when the soldiers arrested Jaradat, they told him “say goodbye to your wife and your babies, you won’t be seeing them again,” strong evidence that they intended to kill him from the moment of his arrest.

In Biko’s case it was the threat of impending unity between the previously-antagonistic black consciousness activists of whom Biko was a leading figure, and the African National Congress (ANC), that struck fear into the hearts of South African apartheid security police.

The threat of impending unity between Palestinian factions is not only a fear, but fast becoming a painful reality for Israeli security forces.

It remains to be seen whether the PA can be bought for $1 million – according to Channel 10 in Israel today, Netanyahu instructed Israeli authorities to transfer the PA its tax revenues for January, “so that they won’t have an excuse not to enforce calm on the ground.”

So far at least, the PA remains unmoved, with Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior Abbas aide, responding that it is Israel’s treatment of prisoners and anti-Palestinian violence by Jewish settlers that is the cause of the unrest.

Netanyahu’s callous, calculated and cynical disregard for the death of Jaradat echoes that of Jimmy Kruger, then South African Minister of Justice, who sent waves of outrage through the world with his comment “Biko’s death leaves me cold.”

The brutal circumstances of Steve Biko’s death saw such an international outcry that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) finally responded by imposing an arms embargo against South Africa.

So too should the death of Arafat Shahin Jaradat finally wake the western world from its torpor, to rein in the rogue state of Israel from its relentless riding roughshod over the rights – and lives – of Palestinians.

So too should the death of Arafat Shahin Jaradat finally wake the UNSC from its torpor, to impose an arms embargo against Israel.

The five policemen who murdered Steve Biko finally admitted their guilt 20 years later, when seeking amnesty from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1997.

Among its findings were the following:

“The Commission finds that the death in detention of Mr Stephen Bantu Biko on 12 September 1977 was a gross human rights violation. Magistrate Marthinus Prins found that the members of the SAP were not implicated in his death. The magistrate’s finding contributed to the creation of a culture of impunity in the SAP. Despite the inquest finding no person responsible for his death, the Commission finds that, in view of the fact that Biko died in the custody of law enforcement officials, the probabilities are that he died as a result of injuries sustained during his detention.”

Palestinians are not prepared to wait 20 years for an official finding of what the whole world knows today, following the autopsy – the death in Israeli detention of Arafat Shahin Jaradat on 23 February 2013 was a gross human rights violation. It was the 79th such gross human rights violation since 2000.

Palestinians are not prepared to wait 20 years for an official finding regarding the culture of impunity for Israeli prison authorities. There are at least 4,500 examples of them today, right under our noses in prisons throughout Israel, four of whom are at death’s door.

Palestinian are not prepared to wait 20 years to decide that the probabilities are that Arafat Shahin Jaradat died as a result of injuries sustained during his detention.

They know that, already.

Biko’s death was not in vain – nor will be that of Jaradat.

Israel – and the international community – ignore that at their peril.


Israeli settlements symbolise the acute lack of justice experienced by the Palestinian people

OHCHR PRESS RELEASE

GENEVA, 31 JANUARY 2013 – The International Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory today published its findings on the implications Israeli settlements have upon the human rights of the Palestinian people.

The report states that a multitude of the human rights of the Palestinians are violated in various forms and ways due to the existence of the settlements.

These violations are all interrelated, forming part of an overall pattern of breaches that are characterised principally by the denial of the right to self-determination and systemic discrimination against the Palestinian people which occur on a daily basis.

Since 1967, Israeli governments have openly led, directly participated in, and had full control of the planning, construction, development, consolidation and encouragement of settlements, the report states.

“In compliance with Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention Israel must cease all settlement activities without preconditions,” said Ms. Christine Chanet, chair of the Mission from France.

The report states that settlements are established and developed for the exclusive benefit of Israeli Jews. The settlements are maintained and advanced through a system of total segregation between the settlers and the rest of the population living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. This system of segregation is supported and facilitated by strict military and law enforcement control to the detriment of the rights of the Palestinian population.

“We are today calling on the government of Israel to ensure full accountability for all violations, put an end to the policy of impunity and to ensure justice for all victims,” said Ms. Asma Jahangir, member of the Mission from Pakistan.

The report states that Israel is committing serious breaches of its obligations under the right to self-determination and under humanitarian law. The report also concludes that the Rome Statute establishes the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction over the transfer of populations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

“The magnitude of violations relating to Israel’s policies of dispossessions, evictions, demolitions and displacements from land shows the widespread nature of these breaches of human rights. The motivation behind violence and intimidation against the Palestinians and their properties is to drive the local populations away from their lands, allowing the settlements to expand,” said Ms. Unity Dow, member of the Mission from Botswana.

The report states that private entities have also enabled, facilitated and profited from the construction of the settlements – both directly and indirectly.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

· The full report is available at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session19/Pages/IsraeliSettlementsInTheOPT.aspx

· The press release is available in Hebrew, Arabic, French and English at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session19/Pages/IsraeliSettlementsInTheOPT.aspx

· All media enquiries and requests for interviews should be emailed to: ffmsettlements@ohchr.org or telephone: + 41 79 752 0481.

· Full title of the report: “Report of the independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem”.

· The report will be formally presented to the Human Rights Council (HRC) on 18 March 2013.

· The International Fact-Finding Mission: Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory was established by Human Rights Council Resolution 19/17.

· On 22 March 2012, at its 19th session, the Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted resolution 19/17 entitled “Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan” by which the HRC decided to “dispatch an independent international fact-finding mission, to be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council, to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.”

· For the full 19/17 Resolution text:
http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/RESOLUTION/GEN/G12/130/13/PDF/G1213013.pdf?OpenElement

· For further information: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session19/Pages/IsraeliSettlementsInTheOPT.aspx

ENDS


Israeli Extra-Judicial Assassination Provokes to Justify All-Out Offensive

The premeditated murder of Al Qassam Commander Ahmad Al Jaabari and his bodyguard Mohammad Al-Hams should be abhorred by anyone with any pretension to the Rule of Law, self-determination, and human rights.

This criminal act against individuals who have done nothing but exercise their and their country’s legitimate right to resist its illegal occupation by a rogue state should be condemned by every nation and organisation with any interest in upholding human rights and international law.

Today’s extra-judicial assassinations are not only a travesty of justice, but also a blatant attempt to provoke Gaza into a response to justify a full-out Israeli military offensive against the Gaza Strip, and Hamas in particular.

Israel has gone too far. They have exceeded even their own lowest depths of depravity, and will undoubtedly pay a heavy price.

History will be the judge, and the evidence is there for all to see – Israel, and Israel alone, is the intellectual and material author of whatever carnage follows this latest butchery, and bears total responsibility.

Every country that stands by and enables it to continue, will stand equally condemned.