Last week, the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced it had sufficient evidence to investigate alleged Israeli and Palestinian war crimes, with the court’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, stating she is “satisfied that war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.”
Although the launched probe promises to investigate crimes committed by both the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and Hamas militants, the manner in which Israel’s government has responded to the announcement of the investigation could not stand in starker contrast to that of both the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza, with the respective Palestinian governments welcoming the probe, and Israeli Prime Minister smearing it as “scandalous” and “anti-Semitic.”
Israel has plenty to hide from the ICC and the global community, while the Palestinian people do not.
These competing responses make clear that it’s Israel that has plenty to hide from the ICC and the global community, while the Palestinian people do not.
“After nearly five years of preliminary examination, the Palestinian people who seek redress in this court expect actions congruent with the urgency and gravity of the situation in Palestine and they rightly demand that these steps are taken without delay,” declared the Palestinian Authority in an official statement.
For decades, the Palestinian people have pleaded with the ICC, United Nations, International Court of Justice, and pretty much every other international body that has the capability to carry out an independent and impartial investigation into Israel’s violations of human rights and international law, particularly because these crimes are carried out in broad daylight and have been documented extensively by human rights organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
These crimes are made even more obvious by the nature and scale of the conflict. Israel is the illegal occupier. Palestinians are the occupied. Israel boasts the most powerful military in the Middle East, one that’s backed by the United States, the world’s sole superpower, whereas the Palestinians have no standing army, no warplanes, no naval vessels, and no air defense system, and have long been abandoned by their allies in the region.
Moreover, Israel is not only an occupier, but also a merciless military regime that has essentially caged 2 million Palestinians in what is the world’s largest concentration camp, otherwise known as Gaza, while pretty much setting up the same measures of control in the West Bank, which is now fenced in by a 400 mile long “security” wall.
There are literally too many war crimes and international law violations to count. Human Rights Watch has documented five categories that characterize Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.
There are literally too many war crimes and international law violations to count. However, Human Rights Watch has documented five categories of major violations that characterize Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, including “unlawful killings, forced displacement; abusive detention; the closure of the Gaza Strip and other unjustified restrictions of movement; and the development of settlements, along with the accompanying discriminatory policies that disadvantage Palestinians.”
These crimes and violations have been exacerbated and made materially worse as a result of the Trump Administration’s willingness to fulfill each and every item on Netanyahu and the settler movement’s wish list, including reversing long standing official US policy in declaring Israel’s occupation of the West Bank no longer a violation of international law. A declaration, which effectively gives the self-proclaimed “Jewish state” the green light to annex the Palestinian territory, and thus complete its now five decades long effort to ethnically cleansing the West Bank of its indigenous Palestinian inhabitants.
Settlers are protected by Israeli soldiers and permitted to carry out attacks on Palestinians with impunity, with the right-wing Israeli government hoping such violence will ultimately eradicate Palestinian presence from the city.
Nowhere is the US sanctification of Israeli war crimes felt more acutely than in the occupied city of Hebron, home to 200,000 Palestinians, and roughly 1,000 illegal Israeli settlers, and long regarded as a “microcosm” of the conflict. Any visitor to the city can witness firsthand apartheid and ethnic cleansing in real time, with Palestinians subjected to a different set of laws, Israeli military checkpoints, curfews and denial of access to significant parts of the city. Settlers, on the other hand, are protected by Israeli soldiers and permitted to carry out attacks on Palestinians with impunity, with the right-wing Israeli government hoping such violence will ultimately eradicate Palestinian presence from the city.
The goal is to make life as unbearable as possible for the nearly quarter million Palestinians in Hebron in hope such repressive measures will invite more Israelis to the West Bank city, and thus ultimately changing the demography in favor of Jewish settlers.
The Israeli government plans to bulldoze the historic and once bustling Shuhada Street market in Hebron to build a new Jewish settler neighborhood atop of its rubble.
Earlier this month, Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett announced plans to bulldoze the historic and once bustling Shuhada Street market in Hebron, which has been closed off to Palestinians, to build a new Jewish settler neighborhood atop of its rubble. Bennett earned praise from far-right and militant settler movement organizations, particularly because the market leads to a holy site where the biblical figures Abraham and his wife Sarah are believed to be buried.
Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat placed blame directly at the feet of the United States government for Bennett’s plan to construct a Jewish-only neighborhood atop of the planned destruction of the Shuhada Street market, labeling it as “the first tangible result of the US decision to legitimize colonization.”
The Trump administration’s legitimizing of Israeli war crimes and violations of international law has made life measurably worse for the Palestinian people, which can not only be quantified in terms of land and property loss, but also in the number of violent attacks carried out by settlers against Palestinians, with such incidences increasing by 50 percent in 2019.
If ICC investigators are genuinely seeking evidence of Israeli war crimes, then they should visit the occupied Palestinian city of Hebron, where they can witness human rights and international law violations in real time.