Gaza has had enough
Following the intensive violence Israel is using against Palestinians, many civilians including children have been died. More than 67 Palestinians, including 16 children, have died since the start of the conflict on Monday, Palestinian health officials said. Israeli mobs attacked people, cars, shops, offices and hotels. One of the most horrifying incidents was in Bat Yam where dozens of Jewish extremists took turns beating and kicking a man presumed to be an Arab, even as his body lay motionless on the ground.
Although the Israeli authorities systematically violate Palestinians’ human rights and Palestinians are evicted from their homes and lands every single day, international community, especially western countries, refuse to condemn these brutal acts.
A German government spokesman refused on Wednesday to condemn the killing of Palestinian children by the Israeli military in Gaza amid a mounting Palestinian death toll. “On a day like today, our stance is very clear. The terrorist attacks on Israel must stop so that more people do not die,” Steffen Seibert responded when asked at a news conference in Berlin whether he would condemn the killing of Palestinian children in Gaza by the Israeli air force. When pressed as to why it was so hard to simply condemn the murder of Palestinian children, Seibert replied: “I have nothing to add to what I said.” “I do not think this is the right occasion for a fundamental discussion of international law. In international law, the right of self-defense applies to a state that is the victim of an armed attack,” he added. Right of self-defense in international law does not apply to Palestinians, according to German Foreign Ministry.
Israel’s twelve-year closure of Gaza, exacerbated by Egyptian restrictions on its border with Gaza, limits access to educational, economic and other opportunities, medical care, clean water and electricity for the nearly 2 million Palestinians who live there. Eighty percent of Gaza’s population depend on humanitarian aid.
According to a recent report by Human Rights Watch, Israel’s deprivations of Palestinians from their rights are so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution. Israeli authorities methodically privilege Jewish Israelis and discriminate against Palestinians. Laws, policies, and statements by leading Israeli officials make plain that the objective of maintaining Jewish Israeli control over demographics, political power, and land has long guided government policy. For the past 54 years, Israeli authorities have facilitated the transfer of Jewish Israelis to the OPT and granted them a superior status under the law as compared to Palestinians living in the same territory when it comes to civil rights, access to land, and freedom to move, build, and confer residency rights to close relatives.
The State of Palestine is a state party to both the Rome Statute and the Apartheid Convention. In February 2021, the ICC ruled that it has jurisdiction over serious international crimes committed in the entirety of the OPT, including East Jerusalem, which would include the crimes against humanity of apartheid or persecution committed in that territory. In March 2021, the ICC Office of Prosecutor announced the opening of a formal investigation into the situation in Palestine.
The Israeli government institutionally discriminates against Palestinians to implement the goal of domination. In the OPT, which Israel has recognized as a single territory encompassing the West Bank and Gaza, Israeli authorities treat Palestinians separately and unequally as compared to Jewish Israeli settlers.
Pursuant to these policies, Israeli authorities have carried out a range of inhumane acts in the OPT. Those include sweeping restrictions on the movement of 4.7 million Palestinians there; the confiscation of much of their land; the imposition of harsh conditions, including categorical denial of building permits in large parts of the West Bank, which has led thousands of Palestinians to leave their homes under conditions that amount to forcible transfer; the denial of residency rights to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and their relatives, largely for being abroad when the occupation began in 1967, or for long periods during the first few decades of the occupation, or as a result of the effective freeze on family reunification over the last two decades; and the suspension of basic civil rights, such as freedom of assembly and association, depriving Palestinians of the opportunity to have a voice in a wide range of affairs that most affect their daily lives and futures. These abuses have no legitimate security justifications.
Human Rights Watch concludes that the Israeli government has demonstrated an intent to maintain the domination of Jewish Israelis over Palestinians across Israel and the OPT. In the OPT, including East Jerusalem, that intent has been coupled with systematic oppression of Palestinians and inhumane acts committed against them. When these three elements occur together, they amount to the crime of apartheid. Israeli officials have also committed the crime against humanity of persecution.
The finding of crimes against humanity should prompt the international community to reevaluate its approach to Israel and Palestine. The US, which for decades has largely failed to press the Israeli government to end its systematic repression of Palestinians, has in some instances in recent years signaled its support for serious abuses such as the building of settlements in the occupied West Bank.
In light of the decades-long failure by Israeli authorities to rein in serious abuses, the International Criminal Court’s Office of the Prosecutor should investigate and prosecute individuals credibly implicated in the crimes against humanity of apartheid or persecution.