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Israeli Crimes Go Unpunished

by Stephen Lendman Saturday, Mar. 29, 2014 at 7:53 AM


Israeli Crimes Go Unpunished

by Stephen Lendman

They're longstanding. They continue daily. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) highlights them. It did so in its 2013 annual report.

PCHR Director Raji Sourani called 2013 "the worst year ever due to the Israeli crimes which went unpunished…"

"(T)he world's silence towards Israel's closure of any door to justice in the face of the Palestinian victims (includes) pressure exerted on countries which adopt universal jurisdiction…"

Israeli war criminals want immunity. They want unrestricted freedom to brutalize Palestinians unaccountably. They want slow-motion genocide continued against besieged Gazans.

They want thousands of Palestinian political prisoners to suffer unjustly. Cruel and unusual treatment is official Israeli policy. Mercy is verboten

World leaders able to make a difference turn a blind eye. Doing so lets Israel get away with murder. It lets Palestinian suffering continue. It lets conditions go from bad to worse.

A previous article discussed Amnesty International's recent report. It's titled "Trigger-Happy: Israel's Use of Excessive Force in the West Bank."

It discusses crimes too grave to ignore. Palestinian children posing no threat are murdered in cold blood. Soldiers and responsible superiors remain unaccountable.

They're promoted. They're decorated. They're honored for committing high crimes. Dozens are killed. Some are shot in the back.

Thousands of Palestinians are wounded annually. Thousands more are lawlessly arrested and detained. Many get long prison terms.

Persecution, deaths and injuries are part of daily Palestinian life.  World leaders turn a blind eye. Media scoundrels report virtually nothing.

Lawlessness continues unabated. On March 26, B'Tselem highlighted another Israeli murder. It headlined "Responsibility for killing 14-year-old Palestinian lies primarily with commanders who ordered armed ambush."

More on its report below. On March 28, Haaretz editors called what happened "Nothing short of a war crime."

Israeli soldiers ambushed Yusef a-Shawamreh. He was shot in the hip. He lay on the ground. He bled to death.

Soldiers lied saying "they noticed three suspicious Palestinians who were vandalizing the separation fence, and opened fire at them according to the procedure for arresting a suspect."

"When the Palestinians refused to respond to the soldiers’ calls, the force opened fire, wounding one of the Palestinians."

No vandalism occurred. Shots were fired without warning. Haaretz editors called what happened "extremely grave. There is no other way to describe the circumstances of (Yusef's) death."

"The IDF cannot make do with its spokesman's attempt to whitewash the incident. It must hold a vigorous investigation and then put on trial the soldiers responsible and the commanders who sent them on the mission."

B'Tselem discussed Yusef's killing. It did so in detail. He died on March 19. Three Palestinian youths crossed through a breach in Israel's Apartheid Wall.

They did so to pick gundelia. They're edible thistle-like flowering plants. They commonly found in semi-desert areas. They provide income for local residents.

Yusef's family owns farmland "separated from them by the barrier," said B'Tselem. "(T)hat land is where the three youths were heading to gather plants."

Two surviving ones said they heard three or four shots. They were fired without warning. Yusef was hit. One of his friends helped him get back to the road.

Soldiers emerged. Their base is a short two kilometers away. A military ambulance arrived too late to help. It could have been there in five minutes. It took 30 to show up.

Yusef was pronounced dead at Beersheba's Soroka Hospital. He was taken to Hebron's 'Aliyah Hospital. Examination found a single bullet wound in his left thigh.

As explained above, an IDF spokesperson lied about what happened. It's standard Israeli practice. Victims are systematically blamed. Perpetrators go unpunished.

B'Tselem was blunt saying "(b)y (wrongfully) justifying the use of lethal fire in broad daylight at youths who posed no danger to any other persons," the IDF "conveys a cynical lack of concern for the life of a Palestinian teenager."

"Israel's security forces in the area are well aware that, for the past two years, Palestinians have been crossing the Separation Barrier at the breach at that particular point at this very season to pick gundelia on their own farmland."

They have every right to do so. Yusef's friend al-Muntaser Beallah a-Dardun said Israeli police detained him and three youths with him days earlier. They did so at the same location.

Before letting them go, they beat them. They confiscated their plants. They were lucky not to be shot.

Ambushing and killing a Palestinian youth posing no threat to anyone constitutes a high crime. Israel commits them repeatedly.

Palestinian life is considered cheap. Security forces are trained to kill. Children are used for target practice.

Israel's Open-Fire Regulation Booklet provides instructions on confronting Palestinians. It disgracefully calls those attempting to cross through the Apartheid Wall without permit permission a "suspect in a dangerous crime."

"(S)uspect apprehension procedure" is authorized. Live fire may be used except when individuals are "identified as harmless…posing no threat to our forces."

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Palestinians posing no threat cross through Apartheid Wall breaches daily. Police don't consider them dangerous.

They pose no security threat. Procedure calls for Palestinians arrested for the first time for "illegal presence" in Israel to be cautioned.

No penalties are imposed. They're returned to the West Bank without incident. Regulations are clear. Shooting Palestinians posing no threat is prohibited.

Israel forbids doing so as an "exception." B'Tselem called for giving it "front stage." Permitting soldier discretion to decide doesn't work. Palestinians die needlessly.

Policy remains fixed. It's lawless. It condones cold-blooded murder. It goes without saying. Civilians aren't "automatically" terrorists.

Live fire is disproportionately used. Culpable parties go unpunished. Israel's Military Police Investigations Unit (MPIU) began investigating Yusef's killing. Whitewashing these type crimes nearly always follows.

B'Tselem director Jessica Montell said "primary responsibility for (Yusef's death) lies with the commanders who sent the soldiers out on armed ambush."

"The MPIU must examine whether the commanders bear personal criminal responsibility in this case and if they must be held accountable for the death of a youth."

It bears repeating. Israeli crimes nearly always go unpunished. Rare exceptions prove the rule. Occasional low-level soldier hand-slap penalties follow. Higher-ups are virtually always absolved.

A Final Comment

Last summer, Netanyahu got cabinet approval to release 104 Palestinian prisoners. Freeing them is coincidental with so-called peace talks.

They're an empty gesture. Implementation is in four stages. In mid-August, 26 were freed. On October 29, an equal number followed.

On January 7, 26 more were released. Thousands remain lawlessly imprisoned. New arrests occur regularly.

March 28 was the final agreed on prisoner release day. Israeli law requires revealing their names 48 workday hours in advance.

It's done to permit High Court appeals. On Friday, Netanyahu's committee in charge of releases didn't convene. Tzipi Livni is chief Israeli peace negotiator.

She said no "automatic commitment to release prisoners unrelated to making progress in negotiations" exists.

Sham talks began last July. They continue one-way. They offer Palestinians virtually nothing.

Israel so far freed 78 prisoners. Another 26 were to be released on Saturday. An April 29 deadline looms.

Israel demands Palestinians extend it. According to Fatah official Jibril Rajoub:

"The Israeli government has informed us through the American mediator that it will not abide by its commitment to release the fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners scheduled for…Saturday March 29."

"Israel has refused to commit to the names that were agreed upon of prisoners held by Israel since before the 1993 Oslo agreement."

Israeli officials had no immediate comment. Earlier they said releases were conditional on progress.

Virtually none was made. Nor will there be ahead short of unconditional Palestinian surrender.

Rajoub said "(n)ot releasing the prisoners will mark the beginning of the efforts in the international community to challenge the legality of the occupation."

Talks teeter on collapse. Israel doesn't negotiate. It demands. It's all take and no give. Peaceful conflict resolution remains elusive.

Major issues remain unresolved. They include ending Israel's occupation, controlling Palestinian resources, the right of return, settlements, borders, air and water rights, as well as East Jerusalem as Palestinian territory and future capital.

In 1993, Palestinians got nothing in return renouncing armed struggle, recognizing Israel's right to exist, and agreeing to leave major unresolved issues for later final status talks.

They're still waiting. Expect nothing from current negotiations. They exclude ending Gaza's lawless siege entirely.

It remains the world's largest open-air prison. Frequent Israeli air, ground and sea attacks kill nonthreatening civilians.

West Bank neighborhood incursions and other incidents kill more. Yusef's murder highlights a danger all Palestinians share. They're prisoners on their own land.

They're denied all fundamental rights. They're vulnerable to ongoing Israeli lawlessness. Muslims are considered terrorists. Praying to the wrong God is criminalized. No end of conflict looms.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

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