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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Defence for Children International Palestine

Child Protection 

DCI-Palestine seeks to instill changes in governmental, institutional and community policies and practices towards children at the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) level. To this end, DCI implements the following activities:
Legal representation - One of the key objectives of DCI is to ensure that the P.A.’s justice system conforms to all relevant international juvenile justice standards. The organisation provides legal representation to children in conflict with the law before Palestinian courts, and monitors juvenile detention centres, police stations and prisons where children are held in custody.
Influencing child-related legislation - DCI participates in technical committees responsible for drafting laws related to child rights, such as the draft Juvenile Justice Law.
Capacity-building - DCI provides training to the Palestinian police, lawyers, judges and community based organisations working with children, in accordance with international juvenile justice standards.
Networking - DCI is a member of the Child Protection Network (CPN), comprised of organisations working with child victims of violence, abuse and/or neglect across the West Bank. DCI is also a founding member of the Palestinian Network for Children’s Rights (PNCR), which implements advocacy initiatives to promote child rights in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
Following the Oslo Accords in 1993, agreements were signed between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) establishing the P.A.. These agreements transferred a number of powers and responsibilities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the P.A., whilst Israel remained ultimately responsible as the occupying power under the Fourth Geneva Convention. The agreements divided the West Bank into three zones, referred to as Areas A, B and C. Currently, the P.A. bears full civil and security responsibility in Area A, but shares security responsibilities with Israel in Areas B. In Area C, Israel retains full civil and security authority, including law enforcement.
Legal framework
Laws continue to remain in force in the West Bank and Gaza Strip dating back to the Ottoman Period, the British Mandate and the period when the territories were under the respective administrations of Jordan and Egypt. Overlaid on this legislative mix are over 1,700 Israeli military orders issued since June 1967 which are enforced in Israeli military courts in the West Bank, as well as laws passed by the P.A. since the first Palestinian Legislative Council elections in 1996. Some of these laws apply to both the West Bank and Gaza Strip, whilst others only apply in one of these areas or the other, depending on subsequent legislation and historical circumstances.
Areas of concern
As part of its monitoring programme, DCI collects sworn testimonies from children in conflict with the law to help identify areas of concern within the system. In addition to collecting testimonies, DCI regularly meets with relevant duty bearers and experts in the field of juvenile justice in order to identify weaknesses in the system, and to develop practical solutions. Some key areas of concern identified by DCI include the following:
Juvenile courts: Under the P.A. juvenile justice system, there is an absence of specialised juvenile courts, staffed by appropriately trained professionals.
Statistics: There is an absence of unified statistics relating to children in conflict with the law which hinders the ability to obtain a comprehensive and clear picture of the operation of the juvenile justice system. This in turn makes it difficult to ascertain the scale of some problems.
Legislative reform: The P.A. juvenile justice system is still significantly influenced by legislation dating back to the British Mandate and Jordanian administrations. Efforts have been made to consolidate and modernise the law in line with international norms and standards, but further work is still required.
Ill-treatment: There is evidence that in some cases children encounter some form of ill-treatment following their arrest. Testimonial evidence suggests that law enforcement officials use a combination of physical violence, threats and verbal abuse during questioning, transfer and detention, leading many children to provide confessions. In some cases, this treatment may amount to torture.

Growing up between Israeli settlements and soldiers

Monday, 29 September 2014

Russell Tribunal on Palestine, Brussels, September 2014 Full Findings

Extraordinary Session on Gaza: Summary of findings
Brussels, 25 September 2014
May this tribunal prevent the crime of silence.
Bertrand Russell, London, 13 November 1966
1. When images of the death, destruction and desperation inflicted on Palestinian citizens of Gaza were broadcast in July and August of 2014, people all over the world were struck with a visceral sense of indignation, anger and disgust. For too long, crimes and serious human rights violations have been committed against the Palestinian people by the occupying Israeli authorities with complete impunity. The occupation, blockade and siege imposed on the territory of Gaza amount to a regime of collective punishment, but the most recent conflict represents a clear intensification of the campaign to collectively punish and terrorise the civilian population. Not only was ‘Operation Protective Edge’ the third major military assault on Gaza in six years, but it was marked by a significant escalation in the scale, severity and duration of the attack. It was Israel’s heaviest assault on the Gaza Strip since the beginning of its occupation of the Palestinian territories in 1967. Given this cyclical and devastating pattern of violence and the likelihood of its continuation, the members of the Tribunal were conscious of the need to give a voice to the people of Gaza and to express the overwhelming need for urgent action. The Russell Tribunal on Palestine hopes to act as a voice of conscience and to contribute some measure of accountability for these appalling and inhumane acts.
2. Over the course of the 50-day conflict, some 700 tons of ordinance were deployed by the Israeli military forces in the context of a sustained aerial bombardment and ground offensive. This approximate figure equates to the dropping of two tons of ordinance per square kilometre of the Gaza Strip. These actions resulted in: the deaths of 2,188 Palestinians, at least 1,658 of whom were civilians; 11,231 civilians injured; damage to 18,000 housing units (13% of all available housing stock in Gaza was completely or partially destroyed); the internal displacement of some 110,000 civilians; the complete destruction of eight medical facilities and damage to many others, such that 17 out of 32 hospitals were damaged and six closed down as a result; massive destruction of water facilities leaving some 450,000 civilians unable to access municipal water supplies; the destruction of Gaza’s only power plant facility rendering the entire Gaza Strip without electricity for approximately 20 hours per day, thereby having a profound impact on water treatment, food supply and the capacity of medical facilities to treat the wounded and displaced; numerous attacks on and destruction of UN sponsored and controlled infrastructure, including three UNRWA schools which were being used as temporary centres of refuge; the total destruction of some 128 business and approximately US$550 million worth of damage caused to agricultural land and livestock; attacks on cultural and religious property; and finally, the conflict has left some 373,000 children in need of direct and specialised psychosocial support. The attack was widespread and systematic to the extent that the Palestinian Authority estimates that it will require US$7.8 billion to repair the damage caused to civilian and state infrastructure.
3. The Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RToP) is an international citizen-based Tribunal of conscience, created in response to the demands of civil society (non-governmental organisations, unions, charities, faith-based organisations) to educate public opinion and exert pressure on decision-makers. The RToP is imbued with the same spirit and espouses the same rigorous rules as those inherited from the Tribunal on Vietnam (1966-1967), established by the eminent scholar and philosopher Bertrand Russell. The Tribunal operates as a court of the people, with public international law (including international human rights law, international humanitarian law, and international criminal law) constitutes the frame of reference of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine.
4. Following Israel’s military operations in the Gaza Strip in July-August 2014, a decision was taken to urgently reconvene the RToP for a extraordinary session to examine the nature of potential international crimes committed in Gaza. During the course of this extraordinary session the RToP has received testimony from some sixteen individual witnesses providing eyewitness and expert opinion on a range of issues of direct relevance to the events in Gaza in the summer of 2014. The members of the Tribunal jury were moved and deeply disturbed by the harrowing evidence provided by the witnesses. Following the hearings and the deliberations of the jury on 24 September 2014, the findings of the extraordinary session of Russell Tribunal on Palestine are summarised as follows.
The Use of Force
5. Israel is the occupying power in the Gaza Strip. As the occupier, Israel cannot be considered to be acting in self-defence under the rules of public international law in its resort to the use of force in Gaza. Israel did not respond to an armed attack by the military forces of another state; rather it acted as an occupying power using force to effect its control of the occupied territory and its domination over the occupied population. Under international law, people living under colonial rule or foreign occupation are entitled to resist occupation. Israel’s actions are those of an occupying power using force to maintain its occupation and to suppress resistance, rather than a state resorting to force in lawful self-defence. The ongoing occupation of Palestinian territories and the permanent blockade of Gaza are themselves acts of aggression as defined by the UN General Assembly in Resolution 3314 (1974) (Art. 3, a and c); the Tribunal notes that an aggressor cannot claim self-defence against the resistance to its aggression. Operation Protective Edge was part of the enforcement of the occupation and ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip. This siege amounts to collective punishment in violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
War Crimes
6. The evidence provided by the witnesses who appeared before the RToP covers only a tiny fraction of the incidents that occurred during Operation Protective Edge. Their testimony, however, coupled with the extensive documentation of Israel’s attacks in the public realm, leads inescapably to the conclusion that the Israeli military has committed war crimes in the process. Israel forces have violated the two cardinal principles of international humanitarian law – the need to distinguish clearly between civilian targets and military targets; and the need for the use of military violence to be proportionate to the aims of the operation. It has done so through the scale of its bombardment of Gaza and its shelling of civilian areas, including hospitals, schools and mosques. An estimated 700 tons of munitions were employed by the Israeli military during the operation, in contrast to 50 tons during Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09. Civilians in Gaza have been terrorised by this bombardment, as well as denied the right to flee the territory to seek protection and assistance as refugees from war in breach of the right to leave one’s country pursuant to article 13 (2) of the UN Declaration on Human Rights.
7. Evidence heard by the Tribunal suggests that war crimes committed by Israeli forces include (but are not limited to) the crimes of:
wilful killing (including summary executions by ground troops and killings of civilians by snipers around houses occupied by Israeli forces inside Gaza);
extensive destruction of property, not justified by military necessity (including the destruction of essential services, in particular Gaza’s only functioning power plant and the apparently systematic targeting of the water and sewage infrastructure);
intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population and civilians objects (including extensive and wanton artillery shelling and aerial bombardment of densely populated civilian areas);
intentionally launching attacks in the knowledge that such attacks would cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects or widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment which would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated even when rockets have been launched by Hamas from civilian locations (i.e. the use of disproportionate force, explicitly stated and implemented by the Israeli military in the form of its ‘Dahiya doctrine’, which involves a policy of deliberately using disproportionate force to punish the civilian population collectively for the acts of resistance groups or political leaders);
intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion or education (including repeatedly and knowingly targeting UN schools operating as places of refuge for civilians);
intentionally directing attacks against hospitals, medical units and personnel (including the direct shelling of hospitals resulting in the killing and forced evacuation of wounded civilians, as well as apparent patterns of the targeting of visibly marked medical units and ambulance workers performing their duties);
utilising the presence of a civilian or other protected person to render certain points, areas or military forces immune from military operations (i.e. the use of Palestinian civilians as human shields);
employing weapons, projectiles and material and methods of warfare which are of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering or which are inherently indiscriminate (including flechette shells, DIME weapons, thermobaric munitions (‘carpet’ bombs), and munitions containing depleted uranium);
the use of violence to spread terror among the civilian population in violation of the laws and customs of war (including the employment of a ‘knock on the roof’ policy whereby small bombs are dropped on Palestinian homes as a warning signal in advance of larger bombardments to follow).
8. Allegations of the targeting of civilians and the use of indiscriminate weapons by the Palestinian resistance during Operation Protective Edge have been clearly stated in the public realm by the Israeli authorities. The information available to the Tribunal is that 66 Israeli soldiers and 7 civilians in Israel were killed by Palestinian armed groups during Operation Protective Edge, with 469 soldiers and 837 civilians wounded. There is also, however, contradictory information and unclear statistics from official Israeli sources regarding Palestinian rockets, and Israel’s military censor has a gag order in effect, making it extremely difficult to identify where the rockets fell without cooperation from the authorities. The Israeli authorities did not accept the invitation to appear before the Tribunal to state their case. This notwithstanding, the RToP emphasises as a matter of principle that any armed group that directs its firepower at a civilian population thereby violates the laws of war. Where such firing results in the deaths of civilians, war crimes will have potentially been committed by those responsible. Firing weapons which are incapable of making the distinction between military and civilian target is itself criminal.
Crimes against Humanity
The Contextual Elements of Crimes Against Humanity
9. For an apparently ‘ordinary’ domestic criminal act to reach the threshold of a crime against humanity, there are certain contextual legal elements that must be satisfied. There must be a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population, and the acts of the perpetrator must form part of that attack and be committed with knowledge of the wider context of the attack. Under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, there is an additional legal element to be proven, which is the existence of a State or organisational policy to commit such an attack. Article 7 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court lists several specific crimes against humanity: murder; extermination; enslavement; deportation or forcible transfer of population; imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty; torture; rape and sexual violence; persecution; enforced disappearance; apartheid; and other inhumane acts. While the Tribunal is confident that findings could be reached under each of these respective headings, given the specific focus of this extraordinary session and the resources available, the RToP limits itself to findings with respect to: (i) murder; (ii) extermination; and (iii) persecution.
10. The preponderance of the evidence received by the RToP clearly establishes that an attack against a civilian population has taken place. The sheer scale of civilian deaths, injuries, and the destruction of civilian housing, provide a clear indication that a prima facie case can be established that Operation Protective Edge was overwhelmingly directed at the civilian population of Gaza.
11. In light of the testimony received and summarised above regarding the extent of the loss of life and destruction of property caused by Israel, considered alongside the data compiled by the various offices of the UN and human rights organisations on the ground, the Tribunal finds that there is compelling evidence establishing a strongprima facie case that the attack against the civilian population of Gaza was widespread and systematic.
12. In relation to the policy requirement, the Tribunal has heard testimony pertaining specifically to three policy directives of the Israeli military – namely, the Dahiya Doctrine (which involves the deliberate use of disproportionate force to collectively punish the civilian population for the acts of resistance groups or political leaders), the Hannibal Directive (the destruction of an entire area for the purpose of preventing the capture of Israeli soldiers) and the Red Line policy (which involves the creation of a ‘kill zone’ beyond an arbitrary and invisible ‘red line’ around houses occupied by Israeli forces). Each of these policies deliberately and flagrantly disregard protections afforded to civilians and civilian property under international humanitarian law, and fundamentally involves indiscriminate violence against the civilian population of Gaza. As such their implementation amounts to a prima facie case of a specific policy on the part of the Government of Israel and the Israeli occupying forces to target civilian areas with disregard for civilian life. The Tribunal finds that there is a compelling case to be made that the contextual elements of crimes against humanity, as outlined above, are satisfied for the purposes of Article 7 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court; specifically with respect to the selected crimes of (i) murder; (ii) extermination; and (iii) persecution.
13. The crime against humanity of murder requires that the perpetrator kills (or caused the death) of one or more persons. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has defined murder as the ‘unlawful, intentional killing of a human being’. The RToP finds that a strong prima facie case can be made that a significant proportion of the Palestinian civilian fatalities during Operation Protective Edge were the result of deliberate, unlawful and intentional killings. The RToP has heard testimony relating to a number of individual incidents, such as the deliberate execution of Salem Khalil Shammaly for crossing an imaginary red line while searching for family members in Shuja’iyya and the deeply disturbing circumstances of the killing of 64 year-old Mohammed Tawfiq Qudeh in his own home. The RToP finds that their deaths are prima facie examples of the crime against humanity of murder, in addition to the war crime of wilful killing.
14. Under the Statute of the International Criminal Court, the crime of extermination includes both mass killings and the intentional infliction of conditions of life (including depriving access to food, water or medical treatment) calculated to bring about the destruction of part of a population. There is therefore a degree of common ground between the crime against humanity of extermination and the crime of genocide. However, while the crime of extermination frequently involves a large number of victims, it differs from genocide in that it does not require that the victim(s) be part of a protected group, or that the perpetrator had the specific intent to bring about the destruction of the group in whole or in part.
15. During the course of this extraordinary session, the RToP has received detailed and wide-ranging testimony with respect to attacks on civilian populations and protected civilian property which directly resulted in the mass fatalities. In particular, the Tribunal has received detailed testimony relating to attacks on medical facilities and personnel. The deliberate and indiscriminate targeting of medical infrastructure contributed substantially to the loss of civilian life. Additional deliberate and indiscriminate attacks on civilian infrastructure such as the Gazan power plant also contributed to the increase in the death toll. Coupled with the denial of a humanitarian corridor, the sealing of the Erez and Rafah crossings and the targeting of UNRWA infrastructure, this contributed to the infliction of conditions of life calculated to bring about the destruction of part of the population of Gaza.
16. The crime against humanity of persecution involves the intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental human rights against members of a group or collectivity. The group must be targeted for a discriminatory purpose, such as on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, gender or religious grounds. This element of discriminatory intent makes the crime of persecution somewhat similar to the crime of genocide, although crucially persecution does not require the establishment of a specific intent to destroy the group in whole or in part. The RToP determines that persecutory acts may be considered under the following three categories of conduct:
Discriminatory acts causing physical or mental harm;
Discriminatory infringements on freedom;
Offences against property for discriminatory purposes.
17. In line with the findings adopted in previous sessions of the RToP and the continuing escalation of violence against the Palestinian people, the Tribunal finds that the actions and policies of the Government of Israel and the Israeli military are inherently discriminatory against the Palestinian people. The Tribunal determines that in its actions and policies the Government of Israel and Israeli military discriminate against the Palestinian people, and in this instance specifically the people of Gaza, on the basis of, inter alia, political affiliation, nationality, ethnicity, religion, culture and gender. The Tribunal finds grounds to believe that a host of additional crimes and violations of fundamental human rights have been and continue to be committed on discriminatory grounds against the Palestinian people and the population of Gaza. In this respect the Tribunal notes the following non-exhaustive list of violations: murder; torture (including the case of 16 year old Ahmad Abu Raida, who was abducted by the Israeli military, whipped with a wire and threatened with sexual assault while under interrogation, and forced to act as a human shield for the Israelis); sexual violence (such as Khalil Al-Najjar, the imam in Khuza’a who was forced to strip naked in public); physical violence not constituting torture; cruel and inhumane treatment or subjection to inhumane conditions; constant humiliation and degradation; terrorising the civilian population (including examples of Gazan citizens being instructed by the Israeli military to remain in their homes and then being subjected to bombardment); unlawful arrest and detention; imprisonment or confinement; restrictions on freedom of movement (including the denial of a humanitarian corridor or ability to leave the territory of Gaza); and the confiscation or destruction of private dwellings, businesses, religious buildings, cultural or symbolic buildings or means of subsistence.
18. The international crime of genocide relates to any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
Killing members of the group;
Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
19. Direct and public incitement to genocide is also an international crime, irrespective of whether anyone acts as a result of the incitement.
20. It is clear that the Palestinians constitute a national group under the definition of genocide. It has been established that Israeli military activities considered under the heads of war crimes and crimes against humanity meet the acts set forth in sub-paragraphs (a) to (c) above.
21. The crime of genocide is closely related to crimes against humanity. Where persecution as a crime against humanity aims to protect specific groups from discrimination, the criminalisation of genocide aims to protect such groups (national, racial, ethnic, religious) from elimination. The sometimes fine distinction between the two crimes, characterised by the ‘intent to destroy’ element, was explained by the judges at the Yugoslavia Tribunal: ‘When persecution escalates to the extreme form of wilful and deliberate acts designed to destroy a group or part of a group, it can be held that such persecution amounts to genocide.’
22. Israel’s policies and practices in Palestine have for decades aimed at ensuring that Palestinians submit to Israeli domination. This has been effected through settler colonial policies based on the displacement and dispossession of Palestinians since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. This process continues today through the settlement of the West Bank and imposition of a regime of apartheid and segregation, the siege of Gaza and the prolonged collective punishment of its people, as well as the criminal conduct of repeated military operations and systemic violations of Palestinian human rights designed to ensure that Palestinians forfeit their right to self-determination and continue to leave their country.
23. Throughout that period, Israel’s occupation policies appeared to be aimed at the control and subjugation of the Palestinian people, rather than their physical destruction as such. Recent years have seen an upsurge in vigilante style ‘price tag’ attacks on Palestinian people, homes, and religious sites in the West Bank and Israel. Characterised by racist threats against Palestinians, such rhetoric escalated rapidly and across all forms of media and public discourse in Israel during the summer of 2014. The scale and intensity of Operation Protective Edge indicates an unprecedented escalation of violence against the Palestinian people. For this reason, the RToP is compelled to now, for the first time, give serious examination to Israeli policy in light of the prohibition of genocide in international law.
24. The Tribunal has received evidence demonstrating a vitriolic upswing in racist rhetoric and incitement during the summer of 2014. The evidence shows that such incitement manifested across many levels of Israeli society, on both social and traditional media, from football fans, police officers, media commentators, religious leaders, legislators, and government ministers. This can be understood in varying degrees as incitement to racism, hatred, and violence. The evidence shows that the speech and language used in the summer of 2014 did, on occasion, reach the threshold where it can only be understood as constituting direct and public incitement to genocide.
25. Some of this incitement, in a manner similar to genocidal situations elsewhere, is characterised not only by explicit calls for violence against the target group, but in the employment of sexualised (rape), gendered, and dehumanising memes, motifs, and prejudices. The RToP heard evidence of multiple examples of such incitement. One notable instance being Israeli legislator Ayelet Shaked’s widely reported publication in July 2014 defining ‘the entire Palestinian people [as] the enemy’, arguing for the destruction of ‘its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure’, and stating that the ‘mothers of terrorists’ should be destroyed, ‘as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes.’
26. The RToP notes that the legal definition of genocide demands proof of a specific intent on the part of the perpetrator not simply to target people belonging to a protected group, but to target them with the intention of destroying the group. It would be for a criminal court to determine whether such specific intent is present in a given situation, on the basis of scrutiny of the relevant evidence for the purposes of prosecution of such crimes. The RToP notes that alternative, broader understandings of genocide beyond that defined for the purposes of individual criminal responsibility have also been suggested as applying to the situation in Gaza. The cumulative effect of the long-standing regime of collective punishment in Gaza appears to inflict conditions of life calculated to bring about the incremental destruction of the Palestinians as a group in Gaza. This process has been exacerbated by the scale of the violence in the Operation Protective Edge, the continuation of the siege of Gaza and the denial of the capacity to rebuild. The Tribunal emphasises the potential for a regime of persecution, such as that demonstrated in section III above, to become genocidal in effect, In light of the clear escalation in the physical and rhetorical violence deployed in respect of Gaza in the summer of 2014, the RToP emphasises the obligation of all state parties to the 1948 Genocide Convention ‘to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide.’
27. The prohibition of genocide – and of direct and public incitement to genocide – constitutes a jus cogens (non-derogable) norm of international law. According to the 1948 Genocide Convention, individuals who attempt or who incite to genocide ‘shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals’. It is thus incumbent on all states to take the appropriate action in line with their legal obligations to investigate and prosecute those responsible for such crimes. It is further incumbent on all states to ensure that the state of Israel does not, through the persons of its military and government ‘engage in conspiracy, incitement, attempt and complicity in genocide’.
28. The evidence received by the Tribunal demonstrates that the state of Israel is failing to respect its obligations to prevent and to punish the crime of direct and public incitement to genocide. This is in keeping with the warning issued by the Special Advisers of the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, and on the Responsibility to Protect, in July 2014, in response to Israel’s actions in Palestine: ‘We   are   equally   disturbed   by   the   flagrant   use   of   hate   speech   in   the   social   media,  particularly   against  the  Palestinian  population’. The Special Advisers noted that individual Israelis had disseminated messages that could be dehumanising to the Palestinians and had called for the killing of members of this group. The Advisers reasserted that incitement to commit atrocity crimes is prohibited under international law.
29. Previous sessions of the RToP have established that the Israeli state is implementing an apartheid system based on the dominance of Israeli Jews over Palestinians. Beyond the prolonged siege and collective punishment of the Palestinians of Gaza, the ongoing settlement project in the West Bank, and the now regular massive military assaults on the civilian population of the Gaza Strip, one must add the increase in aggravated racist hate speech. It is recognised that in a situation where patterns of crimes against humanity are perpetrated with impunity, and where direct and public incitement to genocide is manifest throughout society, it is very conceivable that individuals or the state may choose to exploit these conditions in order to perpetrate the crime of genocide. Alert to the increase in anti-Palestinian speech which constitutes the international crime of direct and public incitement to genocide, and the failure of the Israeli state to fulfil its obligations to prevent and punish incitement to genocide, the RToP is at this time compelled to place the international community on notice as to the risk of the crime of genocide being perpetrated. The jury has listened to alarming evidence over the course of this extraordinary session; we have a genuine fear that in an environment of impunity and an absence of sanction for serious and repeated criminality, the lessons from Rwanda and other mass atrocities may once again go unheeded.
V. Consequences & Action
30. In view of the above findings, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine calls on the state of Israel to immediately:
end the occupation and respect the Palestinian right to self-determination;
fully respect its obligations under international law;
provide full reparations to the victims of human rights violations;
release all political prisoners;
genuinely investigate and prosecute any individual suspected of being responsible for international crimes;
act to prevent and punish any acts in violation of the Convention Against Genocide.
31. To Israel and Egypt:
Immediately lift the siege and blockade of Gaza and permit the unhindered reconstruction of the Gaza Strip as well as permitting unhindered access to media, humanitarian, and human rights organisations.
32. To the European Union:
In line with EU policy on restrictive measures, to pursue the objectives of preserving peace, strengthening international security, developing and consolidating democracy and the rule of law, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, to adopt restrictive measures against Israel, and specifically:
to suspend the EU-Israel association agreement;
to suspend the EU-Israel scientific cooperation agreement and to immediately cease cooperation with Israeli military companies;
to impose a comprehensive arms embargo on Israel, including prohibitions on the sale, supply, transfer or export of arms and related materiel of all types; and the prohibition on the provision of financing and technical assistance, brokering services and other services related to military activities;
to suspend the import of all military equipment from Israel;
to actively encourage Israel and Palestine to immediately ratify the Rome Statute in line with EU policy on the International Criminal Court;
to claim reimbursement for damages to EU and/or member state funded infrastructure destroyed by the Israeli military;
All EU member states to recognise the state of Palestine;
To advocate and act for the implementation of the International Court of Justice recommendations in its 2004 Advisory Opinion on the legality of the Wall.
33. To UN member states:
All states to cooperate to bring to an end the illegal situation arising from Israel’s occupation, siege and crimes in the Gaza Strip. In light of the obligation not to render aid or assistance, all states must consider appropriate measures to exert sufficient pressure on Israel, including the imposition of sanctions, the severing of diplomatic relations collectively through international organisations, or in the absence of consensus, individually by breaking bilateral relations with Israel;
The UN General Assembly to call for a full arms embargo against the state of Israel;
All states to fulfil their duty ‘to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide’ and “to ensure respect” of the 4 Geneva Conventions (GC, Common Art. 1);
The United States and member states of the European Union to cease exercising pressuring on the Palestinian authorities to refrain from engaging the mechanisms of international justice;
All parties to cooperate with the UN Human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry and to ensure that the Commission is granted full access to Israel and Gaza for the purposes of its investigations;
UN Human rights mechanisms to investigate the violations of the fundamental freedoms and rights of journalists, media workers, and medical personnel;
Donor states to undertake a full reconfiguration of the international aid regime in Palestine, such that it ceases to underwrite Israeli occupation and destruction;
All States to support full realisation of Palestinian self-determination including full Palestinian membership of the UN;
In light of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, all states to ensure that in light of the continued denial of Palestinian human rights steps are taken to prevent further atrocities.
34. To the Palestine authorities:
The state of Palestine to accede without further delay to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court;
Fully cooperate with the human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry;
Fully engage the mechanisms of international justice.
35. To Global Civil Society:
To fully support, develop, and expand the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement;
To support activism aimed at denying Israeli firms and organisations supporting or profiting from the occupation access to international markets;
To show solidarity with activists taking action to shut down firms aiding and abetting the commission of crimes against Palestinians such as Elbit Systems in the UK;
To actively lobby and pressure governments to take immediate action to ensure they are not contributing to Israeli crimes and to ensure they are acting in line with the edicts and principles of international law.

I wish for you all, each of you, to have your own motive for indignation. This is precious. When something outrages you, then you become militant, strong, and involved.
Stéphane Hessel

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Absolutus, a storyteller



Resisting by existing, by not fogetting, by keeping our memories alive, by telling our stories, by re-living the memories, by writing, by ‘liberating ourselves with metaphors’, as Mahmoud Darwish would say.
Resisting by remembering yesterday, by living today, by hoping for and achieving a better tomorrow.
The love for a land, for an olive tree, for the windy mornings and evenings of a homeland that lives in the hearts of a people who will not surrender.
We’ll listen together to the untold stories of Palestinian life.

Resistere come esistere, come non dimenticare, come tener vivi i ricordi, come raccontare le nostre storie, come rivivere le memorie, come scrivere, come ‘liberarsi attraverso le metafore’, come direbbe Mahmoud Darwish.
Resistere ricordando ieri, vivendo oggi, e sperando e realizzando un migliore domani.
L’amore per una terra, per un ulivo, per le mattine e le serate ventose di una terra che vive nei cuori di un popolo che non si arrenderà.
Ascolteremo assieme le storie non raccontate della vita Palestinese.

BDS Académico por Palestina

El boicot a Israel después de Gaza. ¡Ahora más que nunca!

Desde la campaña BDS Académico por Palestina creemos que, tras la masacre de Gaza perpetrada de forma impune por Israel este verano, es imprescindible intensificar la campaña internacional de Boicot, Desinversiones y Sanciones a Israel impulsada por la sociedad civil. La masacre de Gaza ha vuelto a demostrar que nuestros gobiernos e instituciones no van a mover un dedo para poner fin a tal injusticia y va a tener que ser la ciudadanía quien presione con sus propios instrumentos.
 ¡Nuestra campaña ya ha sido apoyada por más de 1,300 profesores y profesoras y ha sido difundida por diferentes medios de comunicación (ver enlaces al final del texto)! Estos días de inicio del curso os pedimos que:
1. Reenviéis esta información a vuestros contactos académicos sensibilizados con la temática. Es importante que sepan que sí tienen la posibilidad de hacer algo para apoyar a la población palestina. Desde Palestina nos dicen que están impresionados con esta campaña y agradecen la solidaridad del mundo académico. Aquí para firmar:
2. Pidáis a los diferentes sindicatos de vuestra universidad que envíen un mensaje al conjunto de integrantes de la Universidad simplemente dando a conocer la existencia de esta campaña. Algunos sindicatos ya lo han hecho.
A continuación os ofrecemos algunas informaciones que os pueden ser de utilidad de cara a la difusión:
Hemos traducido las directrices que que desde Palestina se han elaborado para dilucidar en qué casos cabe aplicar el boicot y en cuáles no. Son una directrices muy trabajadas y específicas.
Ya son más de 1,300 profesores e investigadores quienes han firmado nuestro manifiesto y por fin 
hemos conseguido la atención de los medios de comunicación y una difusión enorme de los siguientes artículos vía redes sociales.
“1,200 Profesores y científicos piden el cese de las relaciones académicas con Israel”
Durante el ataque a Gaza se han bombardeado universidades palestinas de forma directa:
Las instituciones universitarias israelís han dado un apoyo directo a los ataques del ejército israelí sobre la población civil de gaza:
Tal es así que académicos israelís anteriormente opuestos al boicot han admitido ahora la legitimidad del Boicot com instrumento de acción política:
 Cientos de supervivientes del Holocausto y sus descendientes han presentado una carta pública en que piden expresamente el Boicot económico, académico y deportivo a Israel como única vía para acabar con la actual injusticia.
El formulario para firmar:

Sunday, 14 September 2014

A new world - by Maisoon Bashir

A new world

The desire to detach myself from the world for a long time and to enter a new world, a private one, overcame me.

I switched off my mobile phone that had begun to show signs of its impending slow death and cut off contact with all persons through all mediums of communication. In short, any link that I have with the real world. We all need time to ourselves, free from the unrelenting distractions of this world.

I felt that I needed to get far away from everything, from every voice I did not want to hear, for I will not allow myself to be killed via means to which I have not acquiesced. I wish to die with dignity, with my head held high; does man actually exercise any control over the manner of his death ?

Call me crazy, for it is my best feature, but I hate to feel weak and powerless because it kills me and tears me apart. Sometimes I wish to die a thousand deaths just so that I can escape this feeling; I would do anything, just one thing to rid myself of this cursed poison.

No more the role of ‘loyal friend’, no more the role of ‘caring mother’ as my friends call me; everything has stopped but I have not died!. The person inside me does not die, sickness and pain cannot touch the person inside me. Inside me is a woman borne of the womb of determination.

I agonised from pain in my back and my leg and could not move easily, I had an urge to enter into a deep sleep. I felt pleasure at that moment and wanted to enjoy the taste of sleep, for which I have been thirsty for a long time. My mother came after she was urgently called to give me my medicine, hoping that it would ease my pain for some time so I could sleep. The pain, however, would not go away, for it is stronger than any drug known to modern medicine.

My private world. O’ merciful bullet that has saved my soul and given me a new lease of life, even if it was only for a few minutes or a few days !

I rested my thoughts, my aching body and wandering dreams. So I took to reading and writing, unaware that my fingers were even moving. I am a different person now. So when I came to and tried to read what I had written, I was astonished and wondered who had written this, to whom, when and how ? The answer was I do not know.!

I always thought that reading and writing were my enemies, as I had always said that I did not enjoy either of them. I would complete my academic obligations as requested by my professors, a chore that had to be done, nothing more.

Don’t ask me how because I do not know ,but everything changed; I found myself floating, flying or even swimming in an another world. Moving from one book to another, from literature to poetry to religion, from here and there, travelling around the world like Ibn Battuta. I moved through the pages of a novel like a musician along the strings of his world ! In your realms there is no concept of time, shackles have been broken and borders have been crossed; floating and flying, no matter where, the only important thing is that I fly.

I used to always try to cut all ties between these two worlds as each of them is different; the first, distorted and poisoned with its damned thoughts and ideas; the second, I cannot find the words to describe it, its most beautiful feature is its innocence.
instrument. Imagine me reading a novel in one day ?! How beautiful you are my private

How can I return to this wretched world from which I am running away, looking for another world, where I hope to find what I have been searching for a long time, where I hope to find peace, “peace” my dear friends !

For an unknown reason, I felt the urge to open a narrow passage to this world when I read that someone had written “Weeping is a remedy for women, they weep in order to forget their worries, to cope with a greater burden; while men can erupt before they break into tears. Women are strong because they weep. Men cannot withstand an equal burden to women, who weep to find the strength required to deal with the situation. As such, you must weep men and feel no shame, weep in order to cope, learn from women”.

I was startled by the trail of images surrounding me, women and children crying, but what really struck me were the weeping men and I found the following words coming from me like a burning flame:

“Here, in Gaza, there are real men,
They have wept because the pain has exceeded all limits,
Because the pain has torn the hearts,
Because the voices have become throaty”.!!

I wish I could have caught their magnificent tears with a little handkerchief to make a crown to be placed on the heads of the free !

Here, dear writer, you find what you were wishing for has come true; as here everything is different, here everything exists beyond all limitations, beyond written words.

My regards


you can sontact author here: 

Israeli intelligence veterans refuse to serve in Palestinian territories

Innocent people under military rule exposed to surveillance by Israel, say 43 ex-members of Unit 8200, including reservists

watch video on the page !!!

Three Israeli intelligence veterans talk about their experience in the Palestinian territories
Forty-three veterans of one of Israel’s most secretive military intelligence units – many of them still active reservists – have signed a public letter refusing to serve in operations involving the occupied Palestinian territories because of the widespread surveillance of innocent residents.
The signatories include officers, former instructors and senior NCOs from the country’s equivalent of America’s NSA or Britain’s GCHQ, known as Unit 8200 – or in Hebrew as Yehida Shmoneh-Matayim.
They allege that the “all-encompassing” intelligence the unit gathers on Palestinians – much of it concerning innocent people – is used for “political persecution” and to create divisions in Palestinian society.
The largest intelligence unit in the Israeli military, Unit 8200 intercepts electronic communications including email, phone calls and social media in addition to targeting military and diplomatic traffic.
The signatories say, however, that a large part of their work was unrelated to Israel’s security or defence, but appeared designed to perpetuate the occupation by “infiltrating” and “controlling” all aspects of Palestinian life.
Written in uncompromising language the letter states: “We, veterans of Unit 8200, reserve soldiers both past and present, declare that we refuse to take part in actions against Palestinians and refuse to continue serving as tools in deepening the military control over the Occupied Territories.”
They add: “The Palestinian population under military rule is completely exposed to espionage and surveillance by Israeli intelligence. It is used for political persecution and to create divisions within Palestinian society by recruiting collaborators and driving parts of Palestinian society against itself. In many cases, intelligence prevents defendants from receiving a fair trial in military courts, as the evidence against them is not revealed.”
Accompanying the letter – published in the Israeli media on Friday, and organised several months before the recent Gaza war – are a series of testimonies provided by the signatories to Yedioth Ahronoth and shared with the Guardian.
A common complaint, made in both the testimonies and in interviews given by some of the signatories, including to the Guardian this week, is that some of the activities the soldiers were asked to engage in had more in common with the intelligence services of oppressive regimes than of a democracy.
Among allegations made in the statements are that:
• A significant proportion of the unit’s Palestinian objectives “are innocent people unconnected to any military activity. They interest the unit for other reasons, usually without having the slightest idea that they’re intelligence targets.” According to the testimonies those targets were not treated any differently from terrorists.
• Personnel were instructed to keep any damaging details of Palestinians’ lives they came across, including information on sexual preferences, infidelities, financial problems or family illnesses that could be “used to extort/blackmail the person and turn them into a collaborator”.
• Former members claim some intelligence gathered by the unit was not collected in the service of the Israeli state but in pursuit of the “agendas” of individual Israeli politicians. In one incident, for which no details have been provided, one signatory recalls: “Regarding one project in particular, many of us were shocked as we were exposed to it. Clearly it was not something we as soldiers were supposed to do. The information was almost directly transferred to political players and not to other sections of the security system.”
• Unit members swapped intercepts they gathered involving “sex talk” for their own entertainment.
The letter has been sent to the chief of staff of Israel’s armed forces and also the head of military intelligence.
Unit 8200 is one of the most prestigious in the Israeli public’s mind, with many who serve in it going on to high-flying jobs after their military service, many in Israel’s hi-tech sector.
According to an article this year in Haaretz, former unit members include a supreme court justice, the director general of the finance ministry, an internationally successful author, the chief executive of one of Israel’s largest accountancy firms and the economy ministry’s chief scientist.
Operating a signals interception base, the unit is also at the front of Israel’s cyberwar capabilities. According to some reports – never confirmed – it was involved in developing the Stuxnet virus used to attack Iran’s nuclear programme.
Most of those who signed the letter have served in the unit in the last decade – as recently as three years ago in full-time military service – with the majority still on the active reserve list, meaning they can be called up at any time.
All of those who spoke to the Guardian said they were “highly motivated” to join the unit and had volunteered to serve extra time in it beyond their national service.
Although there have been “refusenik” letters before – most famously more than a decade ago when a group of reserve pilots refused to participate in targeted assassinations – such detailed complaints from within Israel’s intelligence services are highly unusual.
Three of those involved, two sergeants and a captain who gave interviews to the Guardian and a handful of other foreign media before the letter was released this week, were at pains to make clear they were not interested in disclosing state secrets. They had engaged a high-profile lawyer to avoid breaking Israeli law – including by identifying themselves in public. Copies of the letter sent to their unit commander, however, use their full names.
Those involved told the Guardian they were proud of some of the work they had done, which they believed had contributed to Israel’s security.
In their interviews, they described a culture of impunity where soldiers were actively discouraged in training lessons from questioning the legality of orders, and of being deliberately misled by commanders about the circumstances of a case in which one member of their unit refused to cooperate in the bombing of a building with civilians in it in retaliation for an attack in Israel.
They added that there were in effect “no rules” governing which Palestinians could be targeted and that the only restraint on their intelligence gathering in the occupied territories was “resources”.
“In intelligence – in Israel intelligence regarding Palestinians – they don’t really have rights,” said Nadav, 26, a sergeant, who is now a philosophy and literature student in Tel Aviv. “Nobody asks that question. It’s not [like] Israeli citizens, where if you want to gather information about them you need to go to court.”
He said: “The intelligence gathering about Palestinians is not clean. When you rule a population that does not have political rights, laws like we have, [then] the nature of this regime of ruling over people, especially when you do it for many years, [is that] it forces you to take control or infiltrate every aspect of their life.”
“D”, a 29-year-old captain who served for eight years, added: “[That] question is one of the messages that we feel it is very important to get across mostly to the Israeli public.
“That is a very common misconception about intelligence … when we were enlisting in the military [we thought] our job is going to be minimising violence, minimising loss of lives, and that made the moral side of it feel much easier.”
He added: “What the IDF does in the occupied territories is rule another people. One of the things you need to do is defend yourself from them, but you also need to oppress the population.
“You need to weaken the politics. You need to strengthen and deepen your control of Palestinian society so that the [Israeli] state can remain [there] in the long term. We can’t talk about specifics … [but] intelligence is used to apply pressure to people to make them cooperate with Israel.
“It’s important to say, the reason I decided to refuse – and I decided to refuse long before the recent [Gaza] operation. It was when I realised that what I was doing was the same job that the intelligence services of every undemocratic regime are doing.
“This realisation was what made me [realise] personally that I’m part of this large mechanism that is trying to defend or perpetuate its presence in the occupied territories.”
The last major refusenik episode in Israel to grab the public’s attention was in 2002 when 27 reserve pilots published a letter refusing to fly assassination sorties over Gaza after 14 civilians, including children, were killed alongside Salah Shehade, the leader of Hamas’s military wing, in a bombing.
Nadav made a reference to the killing – and the outcry that surrounded it. “When you look at what happened this summer, when building after building were destroyed and the inhabitants and hundreds of innocent people were killed and no one raised an eyebrow, as opposed to just one decade ago when the killing of a family of a commander of Hamas shocked people. It was a huge story in Israel.”
Replying to the refusenik letter and the allegations, a spokesman for the Israel Defence Forces criticised the soldiers for making their complaints public, and attempted to cast doubt on the claims.
“The intelligence corps has no record that the specific violations in the letter ever took place. Immediately turning to the press instead of to their officers or relevant authorities is suspicious and raises doubts as to the seriousness of the claims.
“Regarding claims of harm caused to civilians, the IDF maintains a rigorous process which takes into account civilian presence before authorising strikes against targets.”