Last year, 54 Palestinians died waiting for Israeli permits to leave the occupied Gaza Strip for medical treatment.
Most of them were cancer patients.
Arguably, the one person most responsible for this horrifying toll is Israeli general Yoav Mordechai, the head of COGAT, the bureaucratic arm of Israel’s military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
That makes him in effect the military ruler of millions of Palestinians.
It is COGAT that decides whether or not Palestinian patients are allowed out of Gaza – and therefore whether dozens of them live or die.
In 2017, COGAT, headed by Mordechai, approved just 54 percent of applications for permits to leave Gaza for medical appointments, the lowest rate since the World Health Organization began collecting data in 2008.
Women seeking lifesaving treatment for cancer have been particularly hard hit by Mordechai’s restrictions.
COGAT has also denied permission for Palestinians wounded in Israel’s ongoing massacres of unarmed civilians in Gaza to travel for medical care, resulting in the loss of their limbs.
Now, the European Union is congratulating Mordechai for his deadly work.
“Mabruk, on the last day in office for Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai,” the EU embassy in Tel Aviv tweeted from its official account on Tuesday.For the EU to use the Arabic word mabruk suggests that on top of callous and depraved disregard for Palestinians, the EU chooses to mock Mordechai’s victims by congratulating him in the language of the people he has killed. One of Mordechai’s main responsibilities has been enforcing the lethal siege of Gaza, which is illegal under international law, and which the EU claims to oppose.
Under Mordechai’s command, COGAT has blackmailed Gaza’s two million residents that they will continue to suffer from life-threatening electricity shortages unless Palestinian leaders submit to Israeli demands.
For an occupying power to blackmail a civilian population using life-sustaining needs such as food, public health, hygiene and medical care – the provision of which rely on electricity – is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention’s prohibition on collective punishment and siege warfare.
Yet COGAT consistently puts out propaganda trying to spin its enforcement of these brutal restrictions as “humanitarian” work.But this only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Mordechai’s involvement in Israel’s systematic violence against Palestinians.
Mordechai was a battalion commander with the Israeli army’s Golani Brigade during Operation Cast Lead, the three-week bombardment of Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009, that killed more than 1,400 Palestinians.
There are indications that forces under his command were involved in war crimes during an attack on Gaza City’s Tel al-Hawa neighborhood on 15 January 2009.
More recently, Mordechai was involved in the abduction and torture of 15-year-old Muhammad Fadel Tamimi in order to force him to falsely confess that the severe injury he suffered when an Israeli soldier shot him in the head last December was actually caused by a fall from his bicycle.
Hypocritically, the EU has expressed its “deep concern” over Israel’s treatment of children like Muhammad Tamimi and his cousin Ahed Tamimi who has been jailed by occupation authorities for shoving and slapping heavily armed occupation soldiers shortly after Muhammad was shot.
But this alleged concern does not stop EU officials from honoring the perpetrators of such violence.
Despite its open for support for war criminals like Mordechai and its ongoing deep complicity with Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people, the European Union still wants us to believe it is a champion of human rights.