While the Israeli media prefers to report on the new “World Forum of Russian Jewry”–launched at a UN event and formed to garner support in the fight against Iran–Maxwell Gaylard, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, has called for “immediate end” to Israel’s demolitions of Palestinian homes in the West Bank.
According to the UN statement, which was issued today:
During a visit on 26 January to Anata village on the outskirts of Jerusalem, Mr Gaylard saw the ruins of seven Palestinian homes demolished earlier in the week and met with representatives of the displaced families. He was informed that bulldozers and troops had arrived in the middle of the night of 23 January and that 52 people, including 29 children, had been forced from their homes and the homes then completely destroyed.
For the year 2011, some 622 homes and livelihood structures belonging to Palestinian families were similarly destroyed, forcibly displacing almost 1,100 people, over half of them children, and compromising the livelihoods of several thousand more. Mr Gaylard noted that these figures represent a dramatic increase compared with previous years, and that a much greater number, in the tens of thousands, remain under threat of dispossession, demolition and displacement.
Mr Gaylard added: “Israel as the Occupying Power has a fundamental responsibility to protect the Palestinian civilian population under its control and to ensure their dignity and well‐being. The wholesale destruction of their homes and livelihoods is not consistent with that responsibility and humanitarian ideals. The current policy and practice of demolitions cause extensive human suffering and should end. Palestinians urgently require ready access to a fair and non‐discriminatory planning and zoning system that meets their needs for growth and development.”
Not only has this condemnation gone unreported in Israel, the Haaretz piece about the new World Forum of Russian Jewry mentions, predictably, that the forum “will primarily work to influence their governments to join the world’s fight against Iran.”
For some time, I’ve wondered if all this saber-rattling–or an attack on Iran, if it does occur–isn’t Israel’s way of turning the spotlight away from the daily tragedies taking place in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israel’s fear-mongering vis a vis Iran provides the perfect cover to deepen the occupation as the Israeli media– prone to self-censorship and rattled by the shrill, hysterical voice of its government–dutifully reports every bit of news it can about Iran, the more convenient, more comfortable story, while ignoring the uncomfortable truths in its own backyard.