Report documents Israeli brutality against children in Gaza

Report documents Israeli brutality against children in Gaza

Report documents Israeli brutality against children in Gaza
Palestinian children raise placards as they take part in a demonstration in the occupied West Bank town of Salfit. (AFP)
Short Url

Israel’s relentless assault on the citizens of the Gaza Strip began on the very day that it was captured by Israel in June, 1967.

But the brutality has risen sharply ever since Israel withdrew its 21 illegal settlements in August, 2005 and relocated its occupation forces to encircle Gaza.

Most often, the public only hears about the Gaza Strip when Palestinians initiate violence in response to Israel’s constant attacks and strangling embargo.

Gaza is an open-air prison controlled by Israel’s government, and often serves as a shooting gallery for Israeli soldiers whenever Palestinians attempt to protest at their confinement.

During the past 15 years, according to a new report released by the Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, based in the Gaza Strip, Israeli military assaults and policies that oppress the civilian population have increased dramatically, resulting in rising death tolls, including many women and children.

Since 2007, Israel’s government has launched four full-scale military assaults, killing 4,041 Palestinians, including 1,005 children and 461 women. Killing of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers during incursions or border flare-ups has increased the toll to 5,418, the report said.

Many of those who remain are forced to live in abandonment, as the assaults have destroyed tens of thousands of homes, industrial and commercial facilities, and infrastructure, such as electricity, water, sanitation and roads.

The brutality rarely gets media coverage unless Palestinians respond with violent acts, such as flying untargeted kites carrying petrol bombs over Gaza’s borders toward Israel.

The desperation of the oppressed and brutalized Palestinians has only increased as the population has grown by more than 25 percent from 1.5 million in 2006 to more than 2 million today.

The Al-Mezan report received no coverage from the mainstream Western news media, which operates with a censorship mandate, only awakening when violence there benefits Israel’s self-serving and exaggerated narrative.

The Israeli government’s assault on Gaza extends to every possible level of contact, according to the report.

Israel’s navy, the one responsible for the attack on the USS Liberty in which 34 US servicemen were killed by Israeli air and water assault teams on June 8, 1967, has targeted Gaza’s fishing industry, disrupting its ability to fish and provide food to its citizens.

Even when Palestinians attempt to leave Gaza for foreign destinations, such as students seeking to attend schools in Europe or the Middle East, Israel’s government can incarcerate them without charge, as they do to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians each year in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The brutality rarely gets media coverage unless Palestinians respond with violent acts, such as flying untargeted kites carrying petrol bombs over Gaza’s borders toward Israel.

Ray Hanania

In the past 15 years, 204 Palestinians, including 48 higher education students, have been arrested and imprisoned without formal charge.

The Israeli government’s system of racist apartheid embraces policies that distinguish between Jews and non-Jews. Jews who are arrested must first be charged and given the right to defend themselves before any punishment is meted out.

Non-Jews, on the other hand, are arrested and punished first without habeas corpus, a Western law that requires a person who is arrested to be brought before a judge into a public courtroom to petition for release unless lawful evidence and grounds are presented to justify their detention.

In many cases, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are imprisoned under the old British mandate system used by Israel’s government without ever being charged or allowed to address a judge, individually or with a lawyer.

The denial of that right is a fundamental cornerstone of apartheid racism, which this week was showcased by a representative of South Africa, where the West first defined the term.

On July 26, Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s minister of international relations and cooperation, said: “The Palestinian narrative evokes experiences of South Africa’s own history of racial segregation and oppression. As oppressed South Africans, we experienced first-hand the effects of racial inequality, discrimination and denial, and we cannot stand by while another generation of Palestinians are left behind.”

Pandor called on the UN General Assembly to investigate and formally verify that Israel should be classified as an apartheid state.

No Western media covered Pandor’s speech. The West led the fight against apartheid South Africa until the system collapsed in the 1990s. Ironically, the apartheid system in South Africa began in parallel with the creation of Israel in 1948, and while apartheid racism was fundamental in the creation of Israel, it was never acknowledged until recently.

The Al-Mezan report should be formally introduced to the UN and read by every nation. Its conclusions should be codified internationally as an indictment of Israeli government’s racist and discriminatory policies, which violate the fundamentals of international law.

• Ray Hanania is an award-winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist. He can be reached on his personal website at Twitter: @RayHanania

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point of view