Wednesday,20 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1395, (24 - 30 May 2018)
Wednesday,20 February, 2019
Issue 1395, (24 - 30 May 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Gaza’s ‘toxic slum”

A special session of the UN Human Rights Council on Friday ended with a resolution calling for an independent investigation into weeks of violence on the Israeli border with Occupied Gaza, which has claimed the lives of more than 100 people in the heavily populated and besieged enclave, with thousands wounded.

The UN body called for the council to “investigate all alleged violations and abuses of international humanitarian law and international human rights law” in the Occupied Palestinian territories, and particularly the Occupied Gaza Strip, since 30 March; the date when demonstrations along the border with Israel began, dubbed the “Great March of Return.”

The resolution was adopted by 29 votes in favour, while two states only — the United States and Australia — voted against it. Another 14 countries in the 47-state UN forum, including Britain, Germany and Japan, abstained.

Trigger-happy Israeli soldiers did not only kill young, unarmed Palestinian men who certainly posed no danger or threat to them, but they even went as far as mercilessly murdering children, and even the disabled. Fadi Abu Salah, 30, lost both legs in Israel’s aggression against Gaza in 2008. Hardly eight years later, Abu Salah lost his life as he joined hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who gathered along the heavily fortified fence with Israel to mark 70 years of his forced expulsion from his homeland in Jaffa, known to Palestinians and Arabs as the Nakba, or Catastrophe.

The number of Palestinians killed on 14 May marked the highest one-day death toll in the territory since the 2014 Israeli war against Gaza. According to UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Raad Al-Hussein, Israeli forces had killed 106 Palestinians, including 15 children, since 30 March. More than 12,000 were injured, at least 3,500 by live ammunition.

Responding to Israeli lies that it no longer controlled Gaza, and that it unilaterally pulled out its troops from the Strip in 2005, Raad Al-Hussein confirmed that Israel remained an occupying power under international law, obliged to protect the people of Gaza and ensure their welfare.

“Palestinians have exactly the same human rights as Israelis do. They have the same rights to live safely in their homes, in freedom, with adequate and essential services and opportunities,” said the UN high commissioner for human rights.

“And of this essential core of entitlements due to every human being, [Palestinians] are systematically deprived,” he said, adding: “They are, in essence, caged in a toxic slum from birth to death; deprived of dignity; de-humanised by the Israeli authorities to such a point it appears officials do not even consider that these men and women have a right, as well as every reason, to protest.”

While repeating clichés about its withdrawal from Gaza, Israel continues to deny facts that the whole world can see: that it remains in practical control over the lives of nearly two million people jailed in a narrow strip of no more than 40 square kilometres.

Even during the years when the Palestinian Authority headed by President Mahmoud Abbas controlled the borders in Gaza, Israeli occupation forces were placed there, along with European observers, to screen every single Palestinian who wanted to leave the Strip. The first thing Israel bombed after Hamas’s takeover of Gaza in 2006 was its airport and ports. Palestinian fishermen who dare to sail a few hundred yards away from Gaza’s shores are immediately shot at and arrested by Israel’s navy.

But it was only the United States and President Donald Trump, who seemed to be buying into Israeli claims and lies, ignoring the death of dozens of innocent Palestinians, treating Molotov cocktails which some Palestinians threw at its soldiers, together with stones, as if they were ballistic missiles or weapons of mass destruction.

While Trump’s decision in December to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem only inflamed tensions in Palestine and around the Arab and Muslim world, the US president insisted on adding insult to injury by carrying out the move on the same day Palestinians were being murdered in cold blood in Gaza by Israeli occupation troops.

The US decision to move its embassy to Occupied Jerusalem, and the massacre committed by Israeli troops in Gaza on 14 May, has ended once for all any chance that Trump could offer proposals to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Probably that’s the real essence of the so-called “deal of the century” that Trump has been promising: a free-hand for Israel to kill Palestinians in order to force them to accept far less than the basic rights they are entitled to, including an independent State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital. However, as long as martyrs like the disabled Abu Salah remain steadfast in Palestine, neither Trump nor the Israelis will be able to achieve their goals.

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