Weak EU move too late for family burned alive by Israeli settlers

Palestinians pray over the body of Riham Dawabsha during her funeral in the West Bank village of Duma, 7 September. Dawabsha, who died of her injuries the night before, was the mother of Ali Dawabsha, the Palestinian toddler killed in the July firebombing of their family home. The boy’s father, Saad, died of his injuries in August.

Nedal Eshtayah APA images

The death of the mother of a Palestinian baby killed in a firebomb attack underscores that Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are a threat to the life of every Palestinian.

European Union foot dragging and indulgence of the settlers is generating criticism from Palestinians who are dismissing a move to label settlement products as a totally inadequate response to decades of violent Israeli colonization.

Riham Dawabsha, a 27-year-old schoolteacher, died late Sunday night in an Israeli hospital after struggling for more than a month to survive burns over 90 percent of her body, Ma’an News Agency reported.

Her 18-month-old son Ali Dawabsha was burned alive in the settler firebomb attack on the family home in the village of Duma on 31 July.

Suspects were observed fleeing toward an Israeli settlement after the attack.

Ali’s father Saad Dawabsha died of his injures on 8 August, leaving Ahmad, Ali’s severely injured 4-year-old brother, as the lone survivor.

Settler attacks on Palestinians have only been getting worse in recent years as the number of settlers on Palestinian land, installed and supported by the Israeli government, hits new record highs.

Yet despite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s vows that the killers would be caught, Israel has made no arrests.

In contrast to June 2014, when Israeli occupation forces ransacked Palestinian towns and villages in a brutal campaign of collective punishment after the abduction of three Israeli youths, Israeli settlements have been left alone.

Even the UN envoy to the region Nickolay Mladenov has expressed concern that no arrests have been made.

“Political hypocrisy”

Given the systematic impunity Israeli soldiers and settlers enjoy for attacks on Palestinians, it would seem all the more urgent that international actors hold Israel accountable.

But the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the broad Palestinian civil society coalition that leads the global BDS movement, criticized the EU’s move toward labeling Israeli settlement products as “insufficient for fulfilling European states’ legal obligations under international law.”

At a Saturday press briefing in Luxembourg, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced that the 28-country bloc would soon decide on whether or not to require special labels telling consumers if products come from West Bank settlements.

“The work is close to being finished but it is still ongoing,” Mogherini said of the long-debated move.

BDS pressure must continue

“The growing European consensus around labeling Israel’s settlement products reflected mounting public pressure in Europe on policymakers to end the profound European complicity in Israel’s violations of international law and Palestinian human rights,” the BNC said in a statement today.

But it is far from enough. “If the EU is serious in implementing its own policy of non-recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the occupied Arab territories of 1967, why doesn’t it implement a ban on the import of products of Israeli companies that illegally operate in the occupied territories?” asked Rafeef Ziadeh, a member of the BNC Secretariat. “Merely labeling, rather than banning, illegal settlement goods indicates political hypocrisy par excellence.”

Ziadah called for ongoing grassroots pressure from the BDS movement “to compel decisionmakers to comprehensively fulfil European states’ obligations under international law.”

BNC general goordinator Mahmoud Nawajaa added: “One year after Israel’s 2014 massacre in Gaza, the least the EU should do is not to reward and sustain relations with entities that profit from serious Israeli violations of international law.”

The BNC also called once again for an arms embargo and banking sanctions on Israel as well as a suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, a trade deal that supposedly conditions Israel’s privileges on its respect for human rights.

More than 300 trade unions, organizations and dozens of European Parliament members from across Europe have called on the EU to end its support for Israel’s crimes, including by suspending the agreement.

Ongoing complicity

In 2013, the EU itself introduced a policy barring funding or allowing Israeli participation in EU projects if such participation amounted to recognition of Israeli sovereignty over occupied territories.

But the EU continues to flout these rules, providing funding to numerous Israeli institutions directly complicit in the occupation, including arms makers Elbit Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries, and also to the Hebrew University, which is partially based in occupied East Jerusalem.

Were the situation not so grave, it would be laughable that almost 50 years after Israel’s illegal colonization of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Syria’s Golan Heights began, the mighty EU is still debating whether or not to put stickers on the fruit of Israel’s crimes.

Whatever the EU ends up doing, however, it will be too late for the Dawabsha family whose members were killed not just by the hands that set fire to their house but by decades of international support and complicity.

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The EU isn't the enemy, israel acts because of US suppott. Pick the right enemy. EU are likely the only force to reckon with israel.

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De facto annexation of the entirety of Palestine has already occurred. The Occupied Territories are now integrated into the political, military and economic rule of the Zionists, and the distinction between the West Bank and pre-1967 Israel has long since been reduced to an academic abstraction. All products and services emanating from this racist nation and its captured lands should be banned everywhere. Offering them a false distinction is reprehensible on the part of the EU. They will simply register their looted goods as Israeli and carry on as before. The goal must be total isolation and definitive regime change. One country for all its people.

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Since the initiative to label products from the Occupied Territories first started, the earth has rotated several times. The EU can't even decide how to handle the tidal wave of Syrian refugees, people whose homes and country the EU has brazenly helped demolish through terrorist proxies. Comfortably brain dead for years, it has been hiding ineffectually behind one "new resolve" after another and well-wishing the Palestinians they dispossessed for a Jewish-only Zionist race colony.

One Israeli politician recently claimed he wasn't yet worried about the possible labeling measures, despite a recent panic by Israeli banks, because EU officials have assured Netanyahu that no action was being contemplated "yet." But he said that this was still like someone placing a revolver on the table and saying, Don't worry, I won't use it.

True, that would be about the size of the damage if the EU ever worked up the courage to enforce its own laws. So, in a sense, the message to Israel has got clearer. But not clear enough for the enormity of the consequences just around the corner if events in the Middle East remain on the present trajectory. The truth is, with life-sustaining American assistance not yet threatened, Israel doesn't really give a damn. It has 200+ nuclear weapons--aimed, not just at neighboring countries, but at the heart of Western Europe.

Incidentally, there are growing doubts about the actual effectiveness of Israel's nuclear weapons system. But what the EU and the US dread most is the probable scenario of having to accept 6 million Jews from Israel, should its pretend-economy collapse. That number alone would understandably be a public relations nightmare.

But what indeed if the Zionist house of cards collapses, as it will sooner or later, and Israel is on its knees through boycott or war? This is now a distinct possibility. If I were in Europe, I should want to make sure Palestinians find justice soon and reparations are paid to Lebanon and Syria.

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".... They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit."

Slavery may not be the issue, but the foul stench of racism and indignity are every present...still.

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.