Stephen Lendman, Contributor
State terror is official Israeli policy. Community incursions, assaults, and other violent incidents occur daily. Palestinian suffering follows.
They have no rights. Peaceful demonstrators are attacked. In August 1967, Israel issued Military Order No. 101 (“Order Regarding Prohibition of Incitement and Hostile Propaganda Actions,” as later amended).
Public or private political gatherings, assemblies, processions, or vigils of more than 10 Palestinians without permission are prohibited. Any attempt to “influence public opinion . . . in a manner liable to harm public safety or public order” is considered lawless.
Publications “contain(ing) material with political significance” are banned. They include printed, photographed, recorded, filmed, online, or other materials.
Displaying national symbols is prohibited. Military commanders have full authority. They “may empower any soldier or police officer….to exercise his powers in accordance with this order.”
“(A)ny soldier shall have the authority to use the force necessary” for enforcement.
Violators face up to 10 years imprisonment, a heavy fine, or both. Palestinians have no legal right to demonstrate, express views freely, or engage in nonviolent peaceful protests.
Police state terror confronts those who try.
They prohibited Bil’in and Ni’lin demonstrations. With or without other orders, they apply throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem. They called peaceful gatherings illegal.
B’Tselem addressed the issue. Its new report is titled “Crowd Control: Israel’s Use of Crowd Control Weapons in the West Bank.”
Background information was provided. Palestinians, supportive Israelis, and foreign activists regularly protest. They oppose Israel’s Annexation Wall and other occupation abuses.
Israel responds violently. Private Palestinian land becomes closed military areas. It’s declared off limits. Anyone entering is attacked.
According to B’Tselem, “Israeli security forces make extensive use of crowd control means, even when demonstrations have been restricted to a populated area and are not permitted to leave its boundaries.”
“Crowd control weapons are supposed to be non-lethal,” says B’Tselem. Endangering human life is prohibited. Israel willfully uses dangerous terror weapons. Severe injuries, deaths, and property damage follow.
Tear gas is Israel’s main weapon of choice. It’s a chemical irritant. Grenades are used to disperse it. Eyes and respiratory systems are affected.
Several types are labeled “Made in USA.” A rubber tear gas grenade (called “400” or “skittering grenade”) can be hand thrown or fired from rifle launchers. They also fire 40mm aluminum canisters (called “gas rockets”).
Splitting tear gas grenades are used. Some are 40mm-caliber canisters. Several types of launchers fire them. They can be used one at a time or in multiples up to six in quick succession.
Security forces also use jeep-mounted systems. They enable salvos of grenades. They cover large areas.
Stun grenades are diversionary. Their explosions emit bright light and loud noise. Use is designed to cause panic. Doing so lets security forces overpower demonstrators more easily.
Two types of rubber-coated bullets are used. Core metal is either rubber or plastic coated. Launchers mounted on rifles fire them.
Israel’s Military Industries Ltd. manufactures them. Israel’s Orr Commission investigated excessive force in October 2000. It was the beginning of the second Intifada.
It largely blamed Israeli security forces. It said Israel should “act to erase the stain of discrimination against Arab citizens in all its various forms and expression.”
It prohibited rubber-coated bullets use inside Israel. Military commanders use them inside its borders and throughout the Territories with impunity.
Skunk is a foul-smelling liquid. It’s sprayed from truck-mounted water cannons. The odor is offensive enough to get demonstrators to back off.
It doesn’t wash off easily. It stays on clothes for years. Experts disagree on whether Chemical Weapons Convention provisions imply prohibition. CWC bans toxic riot control agents in warfare.
Civilian riot control use raises disturbing questions. Toxicity isn’t limited to lethality. Skunk water is physiologically harmful. It enters homes and stays. Elderly and ill civilians are most vulnerable.
B’Tselem criticized Israel’s crowd control methods, saying:
First, the wording of the open-fire and safety regulations is ambiguous, and in some cases the regulations cannot be properly followed.
Second, when security forces in the field violate the regulations, even systematically, practically no action is taken to put an end to this wrongful conduct.
Investigations rarely address illegal actions. When conducted they’re whitewashed. Unaccountability is policy. B’Tselem’s report said the following:
Soldiers and border police “systematically violate standing orders.”
Tear gas grenades, rubber-coated bullets, and other weapons are fired “directly at demonstrators with the aim of hitting them.” Other times they’re used “carelessly.” Doing so contravenes regulations.
Security forces fire weapons “at a closer range than” permitted. Doing so makes them potentially lethal.
Young children are targeted. Passersby are indiscriminately hit. Everyone nearby is endangered.
Live fire is used. B’Tselem documented its use “in circumstances that were not life-threatening.”
Hardened assembly and free expression prohibitions follow crowd control measures. Demonstrators are arrested. Organizers are most vulnerable. Foreign nationals involved are deported. Israeli participants are treated harshly.
Disproportionate force is policy. So is unaccountability. Security forces operate with impunity. Nothing too harsh is off limits. Rules, regulations, and international laws are systematically violated.
Police states operate that way. Palestinians suffer most.
A Final Comment
On December 10, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) headlined “Palestine to the ICC.” It did so on Human Rights Day.
It commemorates the day General Assembly members adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948.
It “aims to encourage the relevant stakeholders, namely the State of Palestine, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and the international community, to fulfill their responsibilities in ensuring justice and redress for Palestinian victims on violations of international law.”
Ten years after the ICC’s creation, PCHR “demand(s) accountability for the countless Palestinian victims who have been denied access to justice for so long.”
Rome Statute drafters recognized that “all people are united by common bonds, their cultures pieced together in a shared heritage.”
Rights this important are universal. Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.”
Sixty-four years later, countless millions await justice, “simply because of the political status of the land into which they are born.”
Palestinian discrimination is longstanding. Their rights are systematically denied. Conditions worsen annually. Expanding settlements steal their land. Police state ruthlessness targets resisters.
Besieged Gazans are collectively punished. They’re isolated and “forced into de-development.” Relentless attacks target them. Civilians suffer most.
Crimes of war, against humanity, and slow-motion genocide continue. International leaders turn a blind eye. Israeli criminals go unpunished.
PCHR wants them held accountable. The ICC is a permanent tribunal. It was established to prosecute individuals for crimes too important to ignore.
“Palestine to the ICC….aims to encourage the relevant actors to fulfill their responsibility in ensuring that Palestine gains access to the ICC.”
It should sign and ratify the Rome Treaty. It should “lodge a declaration with the Court’s Registrar under Article 11(2) and 12(3) of the Statute.”
Investigating Israeli crimes and accountability should follow. Justice has been denied far too long.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His new book is titled How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening. http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/