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Hold the perpetrator to account, not the victim!

Hold the perpetrator to account, not the victim!

by Leslie Bravery
6 July 2014

In a 4 July 2014 statement to Scoop Independent News, on the violent deaths of four young people in the Israeli Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully made the following comments:

"The recent killing of four young people in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is deplorable. Those responsible need to be held to account.

"These acts should not distract each country’s political leadership: we want to see progress in the peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”

Since 2001, Israeli military forces and Israeli settlers have killed 1407 Palestinian children as a consequence of an illegal military occupation. According to the United Nations, the incidence of Israeli military use of live fire against the Palestinian civilian population is increasing. So when New Zealand's Foreign Minister says that these killingsshould not distract each country’s political leadership he ignores the fact that only one of the two political leaderships involved has any real power. The belligerently-occupied Palestinian people live out their lives under themenacing shadow of Israeli weaponry. McCully says "New Zealand urges both sides to show restraint in the aftermath of these incidents” as if Palestine had any military forces, which of course it does not. The Palestinian people's daily experiences of life under decades of belligerent military occupation demand not only recognition but also action by the world community.

Israel's conduct in Palestine is in flagrant violation of international law and the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The daily suffering of the Palestinian people and the alternative to that, enjoyed by the Occupying power's own privileged society, are in stark contrast to one another. This difference is maintained through implacable, ideologically-driven, military force. Before making any further statements on this subject, Mr McCully might, therefore, like to consider the following questions:

• How often are Israeli Jews subjected to home invasions by foreign troops?
• How many Jewish Israeli children are dragged from their homes, forced to sign confessions in a language that is foreign to them and then made to face the terror of military courts?
• How many Jewish Israeli refugee camps are there?
• How often are Israeli wells, irrigation networks and water storage facilities destroyed by foreign troops?
• How often is Israeli farmland flooded with sewage from illegal colonial settlements?
• How many Israeli olive trees are subjected to arson and other forms of damage?
• How often do Israeli crops get bulldozed by a foreign army?
• How many Jewish Israeli homes are demolished by an army of occupation?
• How many Israelis are forced to begin their working day in the middle of the night in order to allow for humiliating delays at military checkpoints?
• How many Jewish Israelis are beaten up in their own homes and at checkpoints by an occupying army?
• How many Jewish Israelis are prevented from driving on main highways because of their ethnicity?
• How often are Israeli fishing boats shot at and/or hijacked by a foreign navy?
• How often is Israel hit by air strikes from jet fighters and drones?
• How often do Israeli children have to endure sonic booms from foreign war planes and the menacing noise of cruising drones?

Israel justifies its constant violence in the Gaza Strip by claiming that it is simply responding to Palestinian missile attacks. But the evidence suggests that Israel does its best to provoke them. The following report, compiled from the PHRC's daily newsletters In Occupied Palestine, summarises the violence in the Gaza Strip over the whole of the past month of June. Although that month saw one of the greatest number of Palestinian missile firings towards the Gaza Strip, Israel still managed to maintain its lead in the balance of violence over the blockaded territory.

There were:
Palestinian missile attacks on 15 days in June. One attack injured 4 Israelis and set fire to a paint factory.
• As at 10 June, approximately 140 missiles from the Gaza Strip had hit southern Israel since the beginning of 2014, according to the Israeli military.
Israeli attacks on 23 days in June killed 3 Palestinians and wounded 33, including 11 youngsters aged from 18 months to 17 years.
• 1 Palestinian fisherman died (of wounds sustained in an Israeli Navy attack on 27 May 2014.)
• There were 102 Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip in June and the Israeli Navy enforced a crippling no-fishing zone on Palestinian fishing boats every day of the month – as it does year in, year out. The 102 attacks comprised:
• 61 Israeli air strikes.
• 23 Israeli Army attacks.
• 18 Israeli Navy attacks on Palestinian fishing boats.

As Murray McCully says, those responsible “need to be held to account.” There is a world of difference between the culpability – and responsibility – of the armed Israeli occupier (equipped with superpower weaponry) and thepowerlessness imposed by the occupier on the local representatives of a defenceless people. Israel calls the shots – literally. While world leaders and spokesmen such as McCully wilfully continue to turn a blind eye to this, the requirements and provisions of international law that provide the only true course towards peace languish untried and ignored.

The Israeli perpetrator that describes belligerently-occupied territory as 'disputed' and Jerusalem as its “eternal and undivided capital” reveals, by its own statements, utter contempt for both its victims and the rule of law. The so-called peace process is a fraud because it is predicated upon the assumption that victim and assailant are on equal terms. The world community has a moral duty and the capacity, if not yet the will, to bring sufficient pressure to bear upon Israel's leaders to require them to abide by the norms of human decency and end this appalling injustice. Acts of violent resistance such as the missiles being launched from the Gaza Strip by a minority of Israel's victims will inevitably occur so long as the Zionist state's destabilising inhumanities continue. It is Israel therefore that needs to be, in McCully's words “held to account”. Yet Murray McCully believes in rewarding Israel both diplomatically and economically – he supported Israel's application to join the OECD on the grounds that what he called 'dialogue' was the best way to encourage Israel to meet its international obligations. That policy has been a dismal failure.

If Mr McCully truly wants to see peace in the region he should stop pretending that any party other than Israel hasthe power to influence the future of all who live in Israel/Palestine. The non-governmental world-wide Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) leads the way in positive action towards ending Israel's present impunity. It is time for world governments to get on board. McCully should have the courage to step up and let New Zealand set an example to the rest of the world by advocating and supporting sanctions against Israel. To quote Mr McCully again, “Those responsible need to be held to account.”


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