Occupation Hell in Palestine
Occupation Hell in Palestine
by Stephen Lendman
Forty-five years and counting. In 1977, John Pilger titled his documentary film “Palestine Is Still The Issue.” It’s no different today than then. In many respects, it’s worse.
He said his film “was about a nation of people - the Palestinians - forced off their land and later subjected to a military occupation by Israel. An occupation condemned by the United Nations and almost every country in the world except Britain” and America.
Add a couple of small Pacific islands that go along with everything Washington demands.
For its part, Israel has a powerful ally in America. US media scoundrels never broadcast Pilger’s film. In August 2003, he said:
“So in 25 years, if we’re to speak of the great injustice here, nothing changed. What has changed is that the Palestinians have fought back.”
His comments came during the second Intifada. About a year later, it ended. A third far greater one than the others is needed. Expect it one day. People tolerate abuse only so long before exploding. One heard round the world is long overdue.
Palestinians will again have their say. Occupation harshness assures it. Corrupt PA officials selling out their people for benefits they derive may hasten it sooner than otherwise.
Palestinians have been “(s)tateless and humiliated for so long.” Twice before, they challenged Israel’s might. They acted on their own with few or no arms, “no tanks, no American planes and gun ships or missiles.”
State terror oppresses them. It continues daily ruthlessly. Virtually all aspects of their lives are affected. Pilger’s film “is about the Palestinians and a group of courageous Israelis united in the oldest human struggle - to be free.”
Palestine remains the issue. Israel is the problem. It’s a rogue terror state. Everyone not Jewish is considered inferior. Muslims are treated like subhumans. All rights are denied.
Resistance is called terrorism. Freedom isn’t tolerated. It never was in Occupied Palestine and isn’t now. Israel’s gulag is filled with thousands of non-believers. Their crime is wanting to live free on their own land in their own country.
Among them are 23 democratically elected Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) members. Their crime is belonging to the wrong party.
Over 200 children are wrongfully imprisoned. Perhaps their crime is being too young. Another 66 have been incarcerated over 20 years. None committed crimes. No matter. They may remain in gulag hell for life. Israel calls it justice.
Human rights groups and people who care understand decades of Israeli crimes against humanity too abusive to tolerate. Edward Said called failure to widely expose and condemn them “America’s Last Taboo.”
He blamed Zionist power for unspeakable abuses against an entire people. It’s gone on far too long. In his book “Freedom Next Time: Resisting the Empire,” Pilger referred to a “five and a half decade cover-up of Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians.” It’s now nearly six and a half decades.
Jonathan Scott wrote about “The Niggerization of Palestine.” He quoted Malcolm X asking “What do you call a Black man with a PhD? Nigger.”
Things haven’t improved because Washington blocks all efforts to do it. Conditions in America today are worse than Malcolm contested.
On September 19, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) headlined Occupied Lives: Nothing left to hope for.” It discusses thirty-eight year old Youssef Abu Mghasib. He owns 10 dunums of Deir el Balah farmland.
It’s in central Gaza. It’s just beyond Israel’s unilaterally imposed 300 meter buffer zone. He grows olives and vegetables. At least he did but not now. He’s married with nine children. They live in his home with his mother and sister. It’s about 500 meters from his farm.
On June 12, 2012, Israel lawlessly bulldozed his land. Who knows why. Israel won’t say. It reflected decades of institutionalized racism.
Youssef recalled the horror, saying:
“I was watering plants on my farm when I heard the sound of the bulldozers and tanks. I could also hear heavy shooting. I was really scared that something would happen to me, so I ran home.”
“The bulldozers came and destroyed all of my olive trees and crushed my vegetables. My irrigation system was completely destroyed.”
“Nothing could be salvaged from the land. Then, just 4 days later, they came back with their tanks and leveled the land until all of it was finally flat.”
Doing so caused irreparable financial turmoil and emotional trauma. “I felt completely destroyed when they bulldozed my farm,” he explained. “I had been cultivating that land since 2001, when my father died and left it to me.”
“It was destroyed in the Second Intifada, but I had worked very hard to plant new olive trees and put in an irrigation system. My mother had a nervous breakdown when they were bulldozing the land. She was shouting and crying and we had to rush her to hospital. My wife was also hysterical.”
His out-of-pocket loss was about $20,000. “My land is not even within the 300 meters considered to be the buffer zone, yet it was destroyed,” he added. “My irrigation pipes are now useless.”
“I used to feed my family from that land and sell the extra produce in the market. I currently have no other source of income and no other occupation. When the opportunity arises, I work on other people’s farms to make a few shekels.”
“Life has just been hard since 12 June. I had taken out a loan before the land was destroyed to rebuild the farm. Now, I have no way of paying back this loan.”
“My neighbors gave me a bale of wheat because we have nothing to eat, but it will not feed us forever. It pains me that I could not even afford to buy my children school bags.”
Youssef said he’s resigned to abject poverty. He sees no hope for himself or his family. “My children are well aware of our situation and the troubles we are facing. They told me that they just want to live a normal life. I also want that, but I have lost all hope now.”
“I am struggling to find food and to clothe my family. It is a lot of pressure, and I have a lot of anger and sadness inside me. I just think about providing for my family all day.”
“Don’t my children deserve sweets like other children? They don’t even ask for anything anymore, because they know we have nothing.”
“I have nowhere else to go and I know that, even if I plant again, Israel will come and take it away. Every day is worse than the one before. What is there left to hope for?”
What kind of country commits crimes like this? For what reason other than gratuitously, out of maliciousness, or because offenders know they can get away with it.
Youssef is like many thousands of other Palestinians. They’re ruthlessly targeted for not being Jewish. They’re victims of monstrous state terror. It’s happening mostly out of sight and mind.
Under Article 8(2)(b)(ii) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, targeting civilians like Youssef constitutes a war crime.
Fourth Geneva’s Article 53 states:
“Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.”
Under Article 11(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights:
“The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions.”
Israel scoffs. It spurns all international law and its own because who’ll hold it accountable? Destruction of Palestinian property has nothing to do with military necessity. Israel does what it wants with impunity because world leaders who matter literally let it get away with murder.
On September 20, Al Haq headlined “Palestinian Man Assaulted while Unconscious by Israeli Soldiers in al-Nabi Saleh,” saying:
For nearly three years, al-Nabi Saleh residents demonstrated peacefully on Fridays. At issue is expropriation of their land and water.
In response, Israel repeats what it always does. It used excessive and disproportionate force. It conducted numerous night raids and arrests.
Last week, several homes were raided. Three arrests were made. Ziad Abd-alRazq al-Tamimi, Muhammad Atiyya-al-Tamimi, and Omar Saleh Dar-Ayoub were targeted.
Rubber bullets fired at point blank range injured Omar. He lost consciousness. He was detained and assaulted while unconscious. Palestinian Red Crescent Society paramedics were prevented from providing medical aid.
On September 11 at 2:30AM, Israeli soldiers raided al-Nabi Saleh. They attacked unarmed civilians with live fire, rubber bullets, tear gas and sound bombs.
Resident were following soldiers when they arrived at the al-Khawaja petrol station. It’s located at the village’s entrance. They discovered soldiers hiding behind the station.
They opened fire at point blank range. Omar was struck several times in his abdomen and legs. He was bleeding. He tried getting away but collapsed.
About 30 minutes later, a Palestinian Red Crescent Society ambulance arrived. Omar was examined. Without hospital treatment, the full extent of his injuries couldn’t be determined.
Soldiers prevented the ambulance from leaving the village. They ordered the driver to remove Omar. They began punching him on the head and insulting him. He was unconscious, but they beat him anyway.
Paramedics refused to desert him. Soldiers forced them to a nearby military base. The driver, lyyas, was asked if he knew Omar. He called him his cousin. In response, he was beaten, choked, kicked, and handcuffed hands behind his back.
He was arrested for being related to the wrong man. On arrival at the military base, a doctor examined Omar briefly. He told the soldiers go ahead and arrest him.
Iyyas was dragged out of the car, blindfolded, and beaten. He was detained until 5AM, then released. He wasn’t told what happened to Omar.
On September 12, he learned he was detained in Ofar Prison. He was charged with stone-throwing. Israel uses this ploy repeatedly against innocent Palestinians. Imagine being imprisoned for throwing a few stones, true or false.
Omar had three hearings. Legal help was minimal and inadequate. Information on his medical condition wasn’t released. Al Haq reports often on these type incidents and others. It condemns them unequivocally.
It expressed outrage at how Omar and Iyyas were treated. Civilized societies don’t treat people this way, no matter the circumstances. Who said Israel is civilized? It acts like a savage out-of-control beast.
Nonviolent protesters are killed, injured, arrested, imprisoned and tortured. Their crime is being Palestinian, not Jewish. Automatically they become enemies of the state and called terrorists.
Imagine living in a country like this and putting up with it. Imagine being Jewish, unaware of what’s happening, or knowing and not caring.
Imagine being Palestinian and enduring this for 45 years and counting. Imagine West Bank PA leaders acting more like enemies than allies.
They’re stooges for Israel’s occupation. They derive generous benefits for services provided. They make Benedict Arnold types look respectable by comparison.
They’re collaborationists on the same level with Quisling. He ended up paying for his crimes. He was tried and found guilty of murder, high treason and embezzlement. He was executed by firing squad.
The term quisling became synonymous with traitor. Back-stabbing your own people is bad enough. Doing it while claiming to represent them constitutes a high crime against humanity.
On September 19, Electronic Intifada contributor Charlotte Silver provided one of many examples. Her article headlined “Leaked documents show PA outsourced Palestinian land and rights to Turkish firm,” saying:
One Palestinian family contested what’s going on. It’s “tak(ing) on the (PA’s) intention to build an industrial zone on their farmland in Jalameh, a village just outside Jenin.”
Attorney Daoud Darawi represents them. The case involves many more families. Perhaps areas across the West Bank and East Jerusalem are affected.
If built, the Jenin-area project will be foreign owned. A dangerous precedent will be set. Palestinians have no say about land they own. PA leaders spurn them.
“The land in question lies in the Marj Ibn Amer Valley.” It’s valued for two conflicting reasons. It’s “strategically position(ed) for export trade….” At the same time, it arable quality is excellent.
If commercially developed, it’ll be lost forever. Palestinians will be prohibited from entering their own land. Blame the Abbas/Fayyad government if this happens. They’re traitors selling out their own people.
Jenin was targeted for development years earlier. Industrial zones were a component of Oslo. Some families sold their land willingly. Others refused.
It’s their land and their choice. At least, that’s how it should be. “In response, in 2000, the PA expropriated all” contested land. It comprised about 933 dunums. It said doing so was for “public use.”
It transferred it to a newly created Palestinian Industrial Estate and Free Zone Authority (PIEFZA). At issue is free for whom? What about owners having their properly taken against their will?
Since the 1980s, Israel adopted Western-style exploitive neoliberal practices. The PA “enthusiastically adopted” similar ones. It promotes profiteering at the expense of individual rights.
Elite interests only matter. Ordinary Palestinians are marginalized, deprived, hung out to dry, and driven from their own land. PA-enforced profiting at their expense is policy.
Foreign investors are prioritized. Abbas, Fayyad, and like-minded scoundrels do Israel’s dirty work. In return they promise jobs never created. Existing ones pay sub-poverty wages. Policies are enforced at the point of a gun.
The land in question today remains undisturbed. For how long? It’s “bright green and water-rich.” It’s too valuable to be lost. PA leaders plan it anyway.
For now, a legal battle will play out in court. Affected Palestinian families face stiff headwinds. Its them against Israel, PA scoundrels, and a Turkish development company.
Most disturbing is that their own leaders betrayed them. They sold them out for their own self-interest. They make garden variety traitors look good by comparison.
Rebel! There’s no other way!
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected]
His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.