Annapolis Hypocrisy Hides Occupied Palestine Reality

Annapolis Hypocrisy Hides Occupied Palestine Reality

by Stephen Lendman

Against the sham backdrop of Annapolis, life in
occupied Palestine is a daily struggle to endure and
survive what Edward Said once referred to as Israel’s
“refined viciousness.” This article addresses one week
of it no different than most others. It shows the road
to peace isn’t through Annapolis nor can it be
achieved without a willing partner or with the
legitimate Palestinian government excluded. Talks are
futile as long Israel spurns peace, violates
international law, attacks Palestinian civilians,
seizes their land, destroys their homes, restricts
their movements, conducts targeted assassinations,
denies them essential services, and holds Gaza under a
medieval siege in the world’s largest open-air prison
while blaming the victims.

Unreported is that the West Bank is also under siege
that’s been tightened in recent weeks on targeted
communities. Palestinian civilians are severely
impeded especially in their movement in and out of
Jerusalem. Other communities affected include Nablus,
Tulkarm, Bethlehem, Jenin, Hebron and Ramallah. None
of this is reported in the mainstream.

Each week, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
reports on conditions on the ground by documenting
Israeli human rights violations in the Territories.
They’re systematic, unending and savagely brutal by a
nation pretending to want peace in the latest
theatrics going nowhere. Against a backdrop of talks,
photo-ops and high-sounding rhetoric, here’s the
reality on the ground from November 22 to 28. It’s
much like most previous weeks and those yet to come.
It’s why talk of peace is pretense, and the struggle
continues. Here’s an unreported snapshot of life in
occupied Palestine amidst all the Annapolis hoopla:

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF):

—killed 11 Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank;
one victim was extra-judicially assassinated; two
others were killed by banned flechette shells that
propel metal fragments on detonation for maximum
destructive effect against human targets; an Israeli
Air Force raid killed another five Palestinians in
Gaza early Saturday and wounded eight others as part
of its regular terror-inflicting operations the IDF
complements with savagery on the ground;

—wounded 28 Palestinians, including four children
and an Israeli human rights defender; prevented
ambulances from reaching victims to provide medical
aid and transport to hospitals; one or more victims
bled to death as a result;

—conducted 12 incursions into the West Bank and two
into Gaza; targeted in the West Bank were al-Bireh and
the neighboring al-Am’ari refugee camp; Ramallah;
Jenin town and refugee camp; Azzoun village, east of
Qalqilya; and Nablus and neighboring Balata and Ein
Beit al-Maa refugee camps; Gaza targets included
al-Shouka village, east of Rafah; in all cases,
civilians were victimized;

—conducted air strikes at locations in Gaza
including against the Palestinian naval police in Khan
Yunis and Hamas’ Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades military
wing;

—arrested 30 Palestinian civilians in the West Bank
plus 12 in Gaza making the total number of arrests
this year 2476 in the West Bank; year to date Gaza
arrests weren’t reported but may be comparable in
number to the West Bank; as many as 12,000
Palestinians are in Israeli prisons under deplorable
conditions, most are uncharged under administrative
detention, and Israeli human rights organization
B’Tselem estimates 85% of them are subjected to
torture or abuse; Israel continues making more
unreported illegal arrests than the number of
prisoners theatrically released; most are near the end
of their unjustified sentences;

—destroyed one house and razed 7 donums (about 2
acres) of agricultural land in Beit Hanoun in northern
Gaza;

—destroyed buildings and factories in the Gaza Erez
industrial zone that remained after others there were
destroyed earlier;

—allowed one patient to die because she was denied
access to treatment outside Gaza;

—continued construction of the illegal annexation
wall in the West Bank on seized Palestinian land;

—used force to disperse peaceful demonstrations
protesting the wall’s construction in Bal’eom village,
west of Ramallah, and al-Ma’sara, south of Bethlehem;

—continued illegal West Bank settlement activities;

—allowed Israeli settlers to continue attacking
Palestinian civilians and their property; attacks also
injured 13 Palestinian civilians traveling in a
minibus;

—continued to violently beat Palestinians attempting
to bypass checkpoints to enter Jerusalem; this happens
mostly on Fridays when they wish to pray at the
al-Aqsa Mosque;

—seized the homes of three Palestinian families for
use as military sites; and

—Israeli settlers attacked a Hebron school causing
damage; they broke windows, uprooted trees, demolished
walls and tried to burn down the building; Settlers
also attacked a private home; they set fires, broke
windows and damaged a car and barnyard; in both
instances, IDF forces were nearby but didn’t intervene
as they almost never do in situations like this so
settlers can freely terrorize Palestinian civilians.

In addition, the IDF has kept all Gaza border
crossings closed for almost 17 months as part of a
total siege on the Territory. Rafah International
Crossing bordering Egypt is Gaza’s only connection to
the outside world, and it’s been closed since June 25,
2006. Currently, around 6000 Palestinians are trapped
on the Egyptian side unable to return home. Most have
depleted their funds and rely on spotty assistance.
Deaths have resulted, now at least 19 in number.

The result is a humanitarian and economic disaster.
The flow of essential food, medical supplies and fuel
as well as construction and other materials have been
severely impeded or stopped altogether. Conditions
became especially severe after the Israeli government
declared Gaza a “hostile entity” on September 19, 2007
and escalated further collective punishment measures.
Fuel supplies, already low, were cut again and are at
critical levels. In addition, plans were to scale back
electricity December 2 until Israel’s Supreme Court
ruled November 30 the action must be postponed for at
least a week pending a full presentation of the
proposed operation.

The Court’s directive stopped short of an injunction
halting the measure. Instead the justices said they
“assumed that until the required additional
information and necessary clarifications are received,
the plan to limit electricity to (Gaza) will not begin
to be implemented.”

Now a delay of at least three weeks is likely because
authorities have 12 days to provide the requested
information after which groups opposed have a week to
file briefs with their positions. At the same time,
the Court approved the government’s plan for further
fuel supplies cuts that attorney Hassan Jabarin,
representing the Adalah center for Arab minority
rights in Israel, said “constitutes serious harm to
the basic principle of international humanitarian
law.” He added that international law prohibits
collective punishment for any reason or using a
civilian population for political purposes. Gaza fuel
supplies were already low, and further cuts threaten
all aspects of civilian life - health services, sewage
disposal, drinking water wells, transportation,
commerce, industrial production, agriculture and
education.

Other collective punishment measures include allowing
only nine basic materials into Gaza. The result is
severe shortages of everything including vital
supplies. Local markets ran out of many goods and
can’t get banned ones. In addition, prices have risen
sharply and in some cases fivefold making them
unaffordable. People report being unable to get razors
and shaving material, coffee, diapers, printing paper
or even shoes, socks, underwear, wool clothes or
jackets. Medical supplies are also exhausted so
critical items like life-saving drugs and oxygen
aren’t available.

Other banned items include furniture, electrical
appliances, headstone materials for graves and
cigarettes. Restricted also are fruits, milk and other
dairy products. In addition, severe restrictions have
been imposed on fishing. This affects 35,000 people in

coastal communities, including 2500 fishermen as well
as 2500 support staff and their families. In addition,
Palestinians in Gaza aren’t able to enter Israel or
the West Bank for any purpose including essential
medical care unavailable in the Strip. The result is
predictable - needless deaths and great human
suffering.

UNRWA Gaza field office director, John Ging, expressed
great concern about Israel’s actions with comments
about “crushing sanctions, significantly adding to the
human misery and suffering of 1.5 million civilians in
Gaza (that) are in fact counterproductive to their
stated purpose….You must be on the ground for days
and weeks to begin to appreciate the full horror of
the situation….living conditions continue their
relentless downward spiral, to what can now only be
described as truly appalling.”

Ging continued saying: “The impact on the medical
situation for those affected is quite simply atrocious
(with) essential drugs….in chronically short supply
or have run out altogether (and) 800 patients needing
treatment abroad (can’t) leave Gaza (and are enduring
great) physical suffering and mental anguish. The food
situation is equally bad (for 80% of Gazans).” UN
“handouts” can only provide 61% of their daily caloric
intake to sustain life.

After two years of UN service in Gaza, Ging added that
the occupation caused the education system to collapse
with a 90% literacy and numeracy failure rate the
evidence. He also felt “compelled to discard the usual
niceties of diplomatic speak” for blunt talk about the
appalling Israeli policy of collective punishment and
inhumane illegal sanctions against defenseless
civilians suffering hugely.

None of this was on the table at Annapolis, and Ging’s
boss, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, didn’t raise
them. Nor was the following discussed: the refugees’
right of return, ending the occupation, the rights of
Palestinian Israeli citizens, the annexation wall,
dismantling West Bank settlements, Jerusalem as the
Palestinian capital or a legitimate integrated
Palestinian state and not one cantonized in the West
Bank and separated from Gaza. The so-called “peace
process” instead demands that Palestinians recognize
Israel as a Jewish state; give up their right of
self-defense against the world’s fourth largest
military power; legitimize an ideology of racism,
ethnic cleansing and colonization; and have a
Palestinian security force be Israeli enforcers
against the legal rights of their own people.

Fatah Palestinian Authority (PA) Security Force
Repression Ordered by Quisling President Mahmoud Abbas
to Please Israel and Washington

Many thousands of Palestinians in communities
throughout Gaza and the West Bank took to the streets
on November 27 in peaceful protests against the sham
peace offensive they denounce. Demonstrations were
organized by several political parties and civil
society organizations and were held in the West Bank
cities of Ramallah, Hebron, Tulkarem, Bethlehem and
Nablus in defiance of a Fatah-imposed ban on them. As
a result, they were repressively met by hundreds of
Fatah security personnel. Fist fights broke out,
dozens were arrested, and police beat demonstrators
with batons to disperse them. They also used tear gas
and fired indiscriminately in the air and into crowds
that responded by throwing rocks. One civilian died
from a gunshot to the chest. Thirty others were
injured, some seriously.

Journalists covering the event were also attacked,
beaten, detained and prevented from doing their jobs.
In addition, the evening before (November 26) and
throughout November 27, demonstration organizers were
arrested. Some were later released. Others remain in
custody. Similar protests also took place around the
region as Palestinian refugees and their supporters in
other Arab countries publicly demanded their right to
return be honored according to UN Resolution 194
Israel won’t even acknowledge, let alone observe.

The scene in Gaza was another story. Huge crowds of
well over 100,000 (some estimates were 250,000)
assembled to protest and were addressed by the
legitimate Hamas Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh. He
denounced the Annapolis talks saying they “don’t
represent the Palestinian people.” The sentiment in
the streets was powerful with chants of “No
recognition of Israel, America is the head of the
snake,” and cries calling Abbas a traitor by tens of
thousands of outraged and unrepresented people.

One woman summed up the prevailing sentiment saying:
“We don’t want more alleged peace conferences, which
bring us more suffering. We prefer poverty to
accepting shameful peace.” Others expressed similar
views preferring to suffer than to give up their
legitimate rights long denied and won’t be resolved at
Annapolis or what follows next. And their allies
extend beyond Hamas. They include Islamic Jihad, the
Islamic Liberation Party, Palestinian Liberation
Organization-linked parties and responsible
intellectuals who believe real peace won’t come
through Annapolis or other sham processes like it.

Life in the Occupied Territories goes on where
Palestinians won’t accept surrender for peace. Their
struggle for freedom and justice continues. Israel
remains defiant so expect many more weeks on the
ground like the last one. It’s so future generations
can be free because past ones endured so much for
them.

Ramallah Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
(BDS) Summit

Palestinians have allies everywhere outside seats of
power, and 300 of them gathered on November 22 in
Ramallah. Activists, union members and NGO
representatives came to plan a global civil resistance
campaign against Israel’s repressive occupation and
rule. Their aim: an action plan for boycott,
divestment and sanctions that proved successful
liberating India from Britain and South Africa from
white supremacist apartheid. Where negotiation fails,
pressure may succeed and conference participants see
it as a priority in the current environment.

The Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO) convened the
conference along with the OPGAI Coalition (Occupied
Palestine and Syrian Golan Heights Advocacy
Initiative), PACBI (The Palestinian Campaign for the
Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel) and Stop the
Wall (The Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign). Dr. Allam
Jarrar of PNGO called the conference an historic event
60 years after the Palestinian Nakba. Now “we are
beginning to revise the strategy of our struggle for
the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people,
foremost among them our rights to self-determination,
independence and (right of) return. The boycott
campaign will re-vitalize popular resistance and
restore dignity” as well as dispel the myth that
Palestinians can only engage in negotiations that have
never worked and won’t now.

The balance of power can only shift through sustained
and effective pressure, and Stop the Wall
representative Jamal Jum’a believes that the BDS
movement today is so diverse and widespread the
Zionist Lobby can’t destroy it. Neither can Annapolis
obscure it. Only ineffective resistance can do it that
must be avoided. To prevent it, consensus was reached
that building a civil resistance campaign is crucial,
and recommendations were made as follows:

They involve forming a Steering Committee for the
Campaign and more:

(1) The local Palestinian BDS Campaign:

—consumer boycott of Israeli products by
Palestinians; use of local alternatives instead;
dialogue with Palestinian companies to support them
and expand employment of the Palestinian work force;

—educate by reviewing the Palestinian curriculum to
ensure its historic accuracy; enlist students in the
BDS campaign; urge the Ministry of Education to urge
private schools stop selling Israeli products and
refrain from normalization projects with Israeli
organizations;

—media awareness pressure to stop advertising
Israeli products; public awareness measures to support
the boycott; and

—mechanisms for campaign building and promotion by
forming popular boycott committees to raise public
awareness, initiate action and build a popular culture
supporting boycott instead of normalization that’s
futile; pressure PA officials to support the effort
and express solidarity with other Global South popular
struggles to gain theirs in return.

(2) An Arab World Campaign

—cooperate and coordinate with other Arab world
anti-normalization committees; lobby for reactivating
the Arab League boycott committee; inject BDS into the
mainstream Arab media; urge Arab investors to support
the Palestinian economy; promote Palestinian products
in Arab countries.

(3) An International/Global Campaign

—an overall strategy to challenge Israel’s
legitimacy as a Jewish state and a colonial apartheid
one; the boycott to include targeting Israel’s
economy, academia, culture and sports.

Success depends on building alliances with unions,
faith-based organizations and other potential allies
in the Arab world, throughout the Global South, and
with marginalized Global North communities. In
addition an emphasis must be placed on coordinating
global activities and campaigns to build a worldwide
BDS effort.

On its web site, the Palestine BDS Campaign targets
Israel with punitive non-violent measures “until it
complies with international law and universal
principles of human rights.” As representatives of
Palestinian civil society, it “call(s) upon
international civil society organizations and people
of conscience (everywhere) to impose broad boycotts
and implement divestment initiatives against Israel
(like) those applied (against apartheid) South
Africa….for the sake of justice and genuine peace.”
It must include an end to occupation and colonization,
granting Arab Israeli citizens equal rights to Jews,
and letting Palestinian refugees return to their
homeland as stipulated under UN Resolution 194.

These are fundamental principles of international law
applying to all nations. They’re not negotiable, and
no nation gets a pass. Peace isn’t possible until
Israel goes along and becomes a member in good
standing in the world community. Up to now, it’s never
been one. It’s about time that changed, and it’s hoped
an effective BDS campaign is the way to do it because
other ways for 60 years haven’t worked.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
listen to The Steve Lendman News and Information Hour
on TheMicroEffect.com Mondays at noon US Central time.

 

 


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