Israeli impunity is coming to an end

Ahmad Erakat

The days of Israel’s impunity are dwindling as the International Criminal Court inches closer towards opening a full investigation into war crimes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

An Israeli diplomatic offensive and sanctions by the US have so far not bullied the court into submission.

A pre-trial chamber’s determination on court jurisdiction in Palestine is expected soon (the ICC just adjourned for the summer holiday and will reconvene in mid-August), and the Israeli government doesn’t anticipate the judges will rule in its favor.

The Tel Aviv daily Haaretz reported this week that Israel is compiling “a secret list of military and intelligence officials who might be subject to arrest abroad” should an ICC investigation proceed.

The paper said it was told the list “now includes between 200 and 300 officials.”

The document remains secret because the ICC “is likely to view a list of names as an official Israeli admission of these officials’ involvement in the incidents under investigation,” Haaretz added.

Likely suspects include top ministers and military brass who oversaw and carried out Israel’s 2014 offensive on the Gaza Strip. Among the senior-ranking potential suspects named by Haaretz are Benjamin Netanyahu and former army chief Benny Gantz, who jointly head Israel’s coalition government.

The list may also include lower-ranking officials involved in the building of West Bank settlements.

The number of personnel liable for war crimes prosecutions only grows larger with each street execution of a Palestinian by Israeli police and military.

“Unarmed and defenseless”

Dozens of human rights groups told the United Nations this week that the perpetrators of the extrajudicial execution of 26-year-old Ahmad Erakat at a checkpoint last month must be held accountable.

Israel said that Erakat had intentionally rammed the checkpoint with his car, causing minor injuries to a soldier. Video of the incident shows that soldiers shot Erakat when he exited his vehicle with hands in the air.

Erakat was running errands ahead of his sister’s wedding when he was slain. The bride “was already wearing her wedding dress when she learned that her brother had been killed,” the rights groups state in the appeal.

Erakat was due to be married in September after his wedding was postponed in May because of the pandemic.

“Clearly unarmed and defenseless,” Erakat was left to bleed to death for around 90 minutes while occupation forces denied him medical care, the rights groups state.

Israeli soldiers present did not provide Erakat with emergency treatment. Ten minutes after the shooting, an Israeli ambulance arrived at the checkpoint. Those medics treated only the lightly injured soldier and did not provide aid to Erakat.

“In treating a wounded Israeli soldier but leaving [Erakat] without medical assistance despite his critical injury, Israel’s conduct amounts to prohibited racial discrimination,” the rights groups add.

Israeli soldiers prevented Palestinian paramedics from reaching Erakat.

Denial of treatment of Palestinians injured by Israeli forces “must be understood as part and parcel of Israel’s widespread and systematic shoot-to-kill policy targeting Palestinians,” the rights groups say.

The aim of this policy “is to maintain Israel’s regime of systematic racial oppression and domination over the Palestinian people,” the groups add.

Israeli forces failed to provide treatment to injured Palestinians on at least 114 occasions in 2019 alone.

“The denial of medical assistance at the earliest possible moment” amounts to “violations of the rights to health and life,” the groups add in the urgent appeal.

“Climate of fear”

Israel is holding Erakat’s body as part of a policy of withholding the remains of Palestinians killed in what it claims are attacks on soldiers and civilians.

Israel delayed the return of the bodies of more than 250 Palestinians killed by its forces since implementing the policy in 2015.

It continues to withhold 63 of those bodies so that they may be used as bargaining chips in future prisoner swaps.

This practice, approved by Israel’s highest court, is a form of collective punishment that “amounts to torture and ill-treatment of the victims’ families,” the rights groups state.

Israel’s collective punishment practices are “designed to create a climate of fear, repression and intimidation” and “to weaken the capacity of the Palestinian people to effectively challenge the regime,” the appeal adds.

The willful killing of Ahmad Erakat is a grave violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the rights groups say. State parties, including Israel, are obligated to bring persons suspected of carrying out such violations before their courts.

However, the Israeli military’s self-investigation mechanism “has repeatedly been shown to fall abysmally short of international standards for ensuring effective, genuine and credible investigations,” the groups add.

Given the lack of access to justice in Israeli courts, the groups say, “genuine accountability for Palestinian victims may only be attained through the international criminal justice and universal jurisdiction courts.”

“The [International Criminal Court] in this regard represents a court of last resort for Palestinians,” they add. The groups urge UN human rights experts “to call upon the ICC to rule, without delay, in recognition of the court’s territorial jurisdiction” in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Until justice is served, there will be yet another Palestinian family bereaved of a son or daughter week after week, month after month, year after year.

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It's about time Isreal was held to account for these vicious murders.
Isreal have been able to get away with their shoot to kill policies for far too long.

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Enough of the impunity of the Israeli government .The horror that has taken place in Palestine since the state of Israel was formed is beyond belief . The ICC will expose the actions of ruthless ,immoral and criminal actions of this state. There will be no more hiding from it .So many simply just do not know.

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John Bolton, in an interview with Al Jazeera on 19th July, said the ICC is invalid. He has written much in this vein. Needless to say, Trump grants the ICC no credibility: he grants credibility to nothing beyond the limits of his narcissistic ego. Yet, seriously, the Right is waging an unrelenting war on international institutions and law. Bolton expressed the ideology in his interview: on this planet, the supreme authority is the constitution of the US. In other words, 330 million Americans are of greater value than the rest of the human population. Be ready for a vicious assault on the ICC if it finds against Israel. It will be called anti-Semitic and be in no doubt, the media will slavishly back that line. The ICC judges will be assimilated to Nazis. The campaign against it will extend to opposition to international law as such and all supra-national bodies. Consider what is happening over China. The sanctimonious claim that the UK, the EU, the US are concerned about human rights is risible. When George Osborne coined the term "The Golden Era" he was setting human rights and democracy aside.The hope was trade between the UK and China would flourish. In fact, it was greater by far before Osborne's announcement. The fact is the UK is of minimal trade importance to China. That's why we are claiming to be outraged about the Uighurs etc while we line up behind the continued oppression, dehumanisation and murder of Palestinians. The UK is siding with Trump. It is using a false concern for human rights and democracy to attack China because Chinese commu-capitalism threatens US hegemony. Orwell strikes again. The sickening reference to "our values" which include support for Israeli illegality and viciousness exposes the hollowness of the doctrinal system of the so-called "West". Universal equal rights and democracy. That's what we should uphold. Some chance while capitalism sees the world as a profit generator. Get ready for a tough struggle.

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Thanks Frank, but spewing false assertions like a berserk salad shooter doesn't help the Palestinians. Nor does tarring 330 million Americans with bad intent, Fact is the situation in Transjordan or Palestine or Israel or whatever it is called today is a carefully engineered theft and ongoing aggrandizement of illegitimate squatters. That 330 million Americans you blame are too narcissistic to notice the land grab, false Holocaust narrative, continued illegal financial support, and development of a nuclear pariah in the Middle East (and no it is not Iran) without so much as a "wtf?", but it doesn't make them culpable. It just makes them useful idiots. Israel will continue to be aided and abetted in their thievery until the central banks, entrenched bureaucrats, kings, presidents and miscellaneous sociopaths are no longer able to continue to do so. The canard that the West is or ever has been moved to act by human rights abuses is laid bare by adventuristic foreign policies with names like "Enduring Freedom" and "Desert Storm". In name Just Causes, but in reality, grand theft. Be it Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and soon Iran the fortunes to be made and stolen in wars destined to be rationalized and paid for in civilian or conscript blood and treasure will never cease until Israel and her sycophants are buried under the sands of time. The ICC may be maligned by the media and sanctioned by the halls of power, but at least someone will have been giving a voice to the Palestinian dead and families living in squalor at the hands of the occupiers. Never has an apartheid state done so little to cover the stench of its rot. There will be more abuse and death, but the cancer is consuming itself. Like the house of Saud its success will lead to its death by opulence and extravagance. Its fortune spilled on those who service and enable it. Its narcissism will kill it. The world has but to wait. Time will sign its death certificate. Patience.

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The imminent morbidity of our current global economic system becomes more apparent with each passing horror. Continued austerity, oppression, endless wars, racist brutality, and craven U.S. support for a colonial apartheid state like Israel betrays a system that has metastasized to the point of destroying the very organism it depends upon for survival - planetary and human. Of course the U. S. leads the way in this late-stage Capitalist self-cannibalization. But it appears that the sheer, brazen, ugliness of Israel's genocidal policies toward the Palestinians may finally be oxidizing the last bit of sheen left of Hasbara.

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It seems clear that Israeli policy is to execute Palestinians detained as perpetrators whenever there is plausible deniability and the absence of recording devices and witnesses. It is apparently routine as in the matter of the Palestinian perp casually executed while down and barely conscious. The video of the events demonstrate that none of the soldiers at the scene were the least bit concerned, rattled or even interested in the execution, behavior suggesting that such executions are routine. Nobody objected that the young man be treated and arrested and tried. Nobody showed any interest in the murder. This is a state policy of murder and "extrajudicial executions" whenever deniable and the act unrecorded. The official record often reflects invented stories to cover the murder. Unspoken, understood policy, so like the policies of murder of another expanding European state driven by the same sort of "biological determinism" as Israel.

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Someone mentioned the Uighurs earlier.
So, as a supporter of both the Palestinian and the Uighur cause myself, I feel I need to say something.
Just like Palestine, the Uighurs' homeland (the then Islamic Republic of East Turkestan) was illegally invaded and occupied.
Just like Israel did with Palestine, China did with with East Turkestan and Tibet.
Sadly, too many people, either for ideological or for financial considerations, choose to side with China's Nazi-style policy of concentration camps and extermination of Uighurs and Tibetans.
May I remind all readers that Uighurs have the same right to liberate their country from the Chinese oppressors as Palestinians have to free Palestine from Israel's illegal occupation?
May I remind that Israel and China are now best buddies, both economically and politically, and if BDS are loosing effectiveness is also because of China's growing economic partnership with Israel?
May I remind that an Israeli MK, one Oren Hazan, recently praised Chinese Nazi policies in East Turkestan and even talked about Israel importing such policies to apply them on Palestinians?
May I finally remind that the Palestinian Authority recently voted at the UN to support the above mentioned Chinese Nazi policies against Uighurs? (which also includes destruction and desecration of mosques)?
This latter episode has sadly created a lot of ill-will by Uighurs against everything Palestinian, and I am going to great lengths on social media to explain my Uighur brothers and sisters that this despicable action by the PA in no way reflects the attitude of the great and proud Palestinian people!

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Maureen Clare Murphy

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Maureen Clare Murphy is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada and lives in Chicago.