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Palestinians deserve more than Mahmoud Abbas

At the Fatah Congress this week, Abbas’s followers seem to have affirmed a choice Oslo’s signatories made more than two decades ago: that livelihoods matter more than liberation. Palestinians deserve an alternative to this status quo.

In Hisham Sharabi’s 1988 book, Neopatriarchy, the late Palestinian intellectual posits “a theory of distorted change in the Arab world,” one in which “the paternal will is the absolute will.” When it comes to politics, this paternalism is easy to miss, Sharabi argued, because it uses “external trappings,” like elections, to give the illusion of consensus—all while relying on familiar patterns of “ritual and coercion.”

Such is the impression left so far by this week’s Fatah Congress. The first in seven years, the gathering in Ramallah was billed as an affirmation of unity—both within the party and among Palestinians at large—as well as an opportunity to re-elect Mahmoud Abbas, who has held the party reins since Yasser Arafat’s passing in 2004.

On their first day in plenary, the “relatively younger” delegates unanimously renewed the 81-year-old’s mandate. But the vote itself has already raised more questions than answers about what that mandate actually entails. Part of the problem, to be sure, is that Abbas’s main Fatah rival, Mohammad Dahlan, was absent from the proceedings. But beyond party lines, there are more urgent reasons to doubt the outcome.

First, there is Trump. His election prompted Israeli officials to almost immediately disavow the two-state solution, upon which Abbas’s authority is predicated. Whether the U.S.-brokered Oslo agreement, which created the Palestinian Authority, will survive a Trump administration remains to be seen, but at the very least, the incoming U.S. president has signaled his willingness to let Israel further expand illegal settlements in the West Bank, including Jerusalem—a policy that has arguably done more to undermine Oslo than any other.

And even as the American president-elect sits in the wings, the Israeli prime minister has been stoking his own brand of Trump-like Islamophobia by supporting the so-called “muezzin bill,” which is widely seen as a move to ban the Muslim call to prayer in Israel. The proposed legislation, which technically “would ban religious institutions from using loudspeakers,” would presumably apply to Jerusalem, including its eastern half, where Abbas continues to insist on a Palestinian capital.

His newly re-conferred title will not get him there, though, and no one at the...

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What Trump's new UN envoy could mean for Israel-Palestine

Whatever disruptions are afoot in the balance of international power will eventually be reflected at the United Nations. And when that happens, even a staunch supporter of Israel like Nikki Haley may have to yield to a new order.

When she signed into law the first state legislation penalizing companies that boycott “based on race, color, religion, gender or national origin,” South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was lauded by the bill’s author, State Representative Alan Clemmons, who made clear its intent.

Citing “tactics employed by the Nazis,” Clemmons called the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement a prime example of “hatred and bigotry” for “its effort to harm our great ally, Israel.”

Haley’s stance on the issue may be the closest thing to foreign policy experience this newly named U.S. ambassador to the United Nations can claim. But as news of her selection made the media rounds, most reports zeroed in on her history of public spats with the incoming U.S. president, who announced Haley’s selection today.

Several outlets recalled a March tweet in which Trump scolded the governor for publicly disavowing his views, including on immigration. “The people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley!” Trump wrote.

And The Jerusalem Post reminded readers that Haley, who signed a 2015 bill removing the Confederate flag from her state’s capitol building, excoriated the then-candidate for “not speaking out more forcefully against white supremacists,” according to the paper.

In the lead up to the Confederate flag legislation, Haley guided her state through the aftermath of a mass shooting by a self-professed white supremacist, who killed nine people at a predominantly African-American church in Charleston.

That experience, combined with her Indian roots — her parents are both immigrants from the subcontinent — presumably pit the incoming ambassador against some of Trump’s most ardent supporters, including attendees at a so-called “alt-right” gathering in Washington, DC last Saturday. At the event, avowed white supremacist Richard Spencer evoked Third Reich terminology in celebrating Trump’s victory, prompting his audience to cheer him on with Nazi salutes.

How a child of South Asian immigrants, whose signature act as Governor was to counter the BDS movement — on grounds that it resembled “Nazi” tactics — will fare in a Trump administration remains to be seen. But if Trump’s other appointments to date are any indication, Haley’s...

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Pro-Israel and racist? Palestinians aren’t surprised in the slightest

Though it may have sparked debate in the Jewish-American community, the idea that Israel can be a cause célèbre for white nationalists is hardly news to Palestinians, whose very existence vies with a state steeped in European, colonial racism.

Since his appointment last week as chief White House strategist, sensationalist media maven Steve Bannon—whose editorial sensibilities have spawned such haute headlines as “Birth control makes women unattractive and crazy”—has become something of a lightning rod in the mainstream Jewish-American community.

The Anti-Defamation League’s Jonathan Greenblatt said his group opposed Bannon on grounds that the alt-right hero is “so hostile to core American values” while Greenblatt’s friend, “America’s rabbi” Shmuley Boteach, defended Bannon by citing the latter’s Jewish employees, who are ever so grateful that their boss lets them “keep the Sabbath.”

At issue is whether Bannon’s white supremacist bone fides point to an alarming strain of anti-Semitism at the highest levels of U.S. government. Given his pedigree, that should be an easy question to answer. But what has people scratching their heads is how Bannon and his former Jewish boss, the late Andrew Breitbart, could have embraced the supremacists among them while, at the same time, singing the praises of “the Jewish state.”

As a Palestinian, I don’t understand the question. Though it may have sparked debate in the Jewish-American community, the idea that Israel can be a cause célèbre for white nationalists is hardly news to millions of Palestinians, whose very existence vies with a state steeped in its founding zeitgeist—European, colonial, and yes, racist.

You don’t need Edward Said to guide you through it. Just spend a single day among the “natives.”

Whether they are refugees who hail from one of the more than 500 villages destroyed by Israel’s founders; whether they are second-class citizens who live in Israeli cities renamed to cover their Arab roots; whether they contend with a network of settler-only roads on their way to work, school, or hospital; Palestinians are no sooner vexed by the state’s whiteness than are Ethiopian Israelis. That they, too, rail against the state’s brutality speaks to a systemic bias, one that—as in Trump’s America—should hardly be surprising.

Ask anyone who has ventured beyond the menacing Hebrew signs warning against entry to the West Bank, as if the latter were some Conradian hinterland—not an identical landscape whose occupiers invade and sequester at will. Ask anyone...

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Al Jazeera video captures horror at Aleppo children's hospital

The attack, scenes of which have been airing all day across the Arab world, comes after a week of relentless bombardment by the Assad regime, during which Aleppo’s battered medical facilities have been forced out of service or underground.

In a devastating video broadcast by Al Jazeera Saturday, two nurses in an Aleppo children’s hospital break down in tears as they rescue emaciated newborns from a neonatal intensive care unit. Moments earlier, the room had filled with dust from a massive explosion, also heard on camera.

The attack, scenes of which have been airing all day across the Arab world, comes after a week of relentless bombardment by the Assad regime, during which Aleppo’s battered medical facilities have been forced out of service or underground, with civilians reportedly too afraid to seek treatment.

The video leaves no doubt why. In it, patients and their families are seen stumbling through dark halls, seeking shelter in case of another attack. The reporter, Amro Halabi, whose frontline reports have made him a household name in the Arab world, can be heard trailing behind, asking between hurried breaths if the people around him are safe.

Warning: Graphic footage.

Toward the end of the footage, Halabi returns to his original story, about a family admitted to the hospital for inhaling “poisonous chlorine gas,” presumably dropped by the regime.

Al Jazeera cites World Health Organization statistics that show 126 attacks on health facilities during Syria’s five-year war.

Aleppo, home to some 2.3 million people, is roughly half the size of the Gaza Strip. During Israel’s 2014 attack on Gaza, dubbed Operation Protective Edge, hundreds of Palestinian families sought shelter in the enclave’s largest hospital.

Israel did not attack the facility, though it did target another hospital in the eastern Gaza Strip.

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The ‘ultimate deal’: Trump’s coming obsession with Palestine

Many fear that a Trump presidency will, by default, favor Netanyahu and his policies. But if Trump’s past statements on Israel are precedent, what will matter more is whether the ‘dealmaker’ gets to broker the ultimate deal.

We’re not even a week in, and the panic is palpable. “Trump Election Already Bad News for Palestinians,” reads one headline. Settlement construction will surely spike. “The era of the Palestinian state is over.”

But for even the most casual observer of the Middle East, these pronouncements are nothing new. And despite the official statements from Jerusalem and Ramallah, the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority know it, too: when it comes to the Middle East’s oldest conflict, Donald Trump, for all his swagger, can do little more than tiptoe around the status quo.

His promise to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem? His advisors have already begun to walk that one back. And even if they didn’t, Palestinians know that the move would do little to change the status quo on the ground in Jerusalem. The Qalandiya checkpoint, with its gun towers and retina scans, would still be there. And East Jerusalem, home to some half a million Palestinians who once generated some 40 percent of the Palestinian economy, would still be walled off from the West Bank.

OK, you say. So Trump isn’t as bold as he thinks, and this conflict has made humbler men of every president since Truman. But couldn’t Trump further embolden the Israeli Right, giving more cover to the Netanyahu government’s expansionist policies?

Sure. But does Netanyahu really need Trump to do that? And anyway, in an era of inexplicable outcomes, why waste our time looking for answers to these questions? Shouldn’t we, like everybody else in the battered mainstream, be asking new questions?

Here’s one: Who could make someone like Chuck Schumer, one of the most vocal backers of Israel’s 2014 attack on Gaza, suddenly link arms with Keith Ellison, one of that attack’s chief critics?

Donald Trump. That’s who.

Uncommon alliances

On Thursday morning, the Washington Post reported that Schumer, a Democrat from New York and the rank and file’s top pick to lead his party in the Senate, had backed the representative from Minnesota to head the Democratic National Committee.

Never mind that Schumer’s support came on the heels of a similar endorsement by Bernie...

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An Arab-American’s final thoughts before the election

The first time I got called a sandnigger I was one semester into an English Lit. degree at the University of Tennessee, where football — the kind that involves hands — was a game more urgent than war.

In August of 1990, I said goodbye to my Palestinian family and set off to attend college in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where 18 years earlier, my mother had given birth to me. That I was born in that unlikely place was an accident of fate. My mother and father had arrived by way of a family friend, who, after the 1967 war, had earned a professorship at the Chattanooga campus of the University of Tennessee.

My parents didn’t stay long, though. Just before my fourth birthday, they moved to the United Arab Emirates for the first time, toggling back and forth throughout my childhood between Abu Dhabi and places like Scranton, Pennsylvania or Springfield, Virginia. They eventually settled in the UAE for the better part of a decade, but in our on-again, off-again experience with America, I gained enough insight into the country to wonder whether we would ever truly fit in there.

Still, I wanted to fit. Newly returned to Chattanooga as a college freshman, I found a job at a pharmacy owned by a Palestinian immigrant from the Galilee. “Abe,” as he was known, had come to the American south in the late 1960s, to study and, later, to marry. His customers adored him, almost as much as his old-fashioned soda fountain, with its homemade tuna melts and root beer floats.

They didn’t seem to know that Abe had one glass eye and cataracts in the other, or that he sometimes relied on me to read the small print on prescriptions. One morning, a woman I had never seen before stepped up to the counter and handed me one such prescription, with its usual doctor’s scrawl.

By that point, a few weeks into the job, I had become adept at making out the names of various drugs and their generic equivalents, even recognizing their uses. This one was a diuretic, and by her complexion, I figured our new customer had some sort of heart problem.

I walked around the counter to hand Abe the slip of paper, but before he could reach for the bottle of Lasix, the woman began to yell at me, demanding I return her prescription. She spoke...

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Palestinians aren't counting on Trump or Clinton for their liberation

Americans will still have a long way to go before they can decide what their country represents. Once they do, Palestinians can begin to care again about what happens in Washington.

As a Palestinian contributor to +972, I have been struggling these past weeks with how to write about the US presidential election. Part of the problem is that this year’s nominees have hardly touched on our part of the world. Beyond the shock-jock antics of the Republican candidate or the very real resurgence of hate among the American electorate, this election has revealed America’s distinct lack of awareness about its role in the world.

The Palestinian question and the conflict that sustains it are no exception. Despite massive U.S. foreign aid deals linked to the conflict — with Israel and with neighboring countries that have inked peace deals at Washington’s urging — Palestine has hardly figured in the rhetoric of either Republicans or Democrats. But if the candidates have had precious little to say about Palestine, the real story may be how little Palestinians seem to care.

Consider a poll released this month by Al Najah University. In it, Palestinians opined on British responsibility for their current predicament (79 percent “considered Britain responsible for the catastrophes that befell” them), on a French initiative to restart Palestinian-Israeli talks (63 percent said it would fail), and on a similar Russian call (49 percent supported it).

There wasn’t a single mention of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. In fact, there was no reference to the United States at all.

That same ambivalence to the United States seems to prevail among the political elite in Ramallah. Although Palestinian officials may be taking the customary tack of sitting out an American election — the better to not distance themselves from a potential winner — I wonder if there may be more to their silence.

The fact is that Palestinian officials’ opinions of American politics have typically relied on what they hear in Washington. But if this U.S. election season has exposed anything, it is how out of touch Washington really is with what the rest of the country wants. If no one in Washington can explain how a demagogue came so close to the White House, perhaps it’s time Palestinians started listening to voices outside the capital’s Beltway.

It’s a lesson Palestinian activists in the United States learned long ago. In the...

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Colombia's Israel connection: Peacemaking and the Peace Prize

If the Nobel committee sought to move the needle on Colombian peace by honoring one of its auteurs, they might do well to remember a similar experiment that is all-too-familiar to observers in the Middle East.

This year’s Nobel Peace Prize, which went to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos “for his resolute efforts to bring [Colombia’s] more than 50-year-long civil war to an end,” is being portrayed by some as a potential counterbalance to the October 2 referendum in which Colombians narrowly voted down a peace deal between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

Reacting to the Nobel decision, Colombian journalist Carlos Arturo Charria, a columnist for El Espectador newspaper, told +972 by email that he hopes the prize pushes half of his country “to come out of its hate and misinformation” and support the peace deal.

It’s a laudable aim for a prize that, in 1973, went to none other than Henry Kissinger. But the Nobel Peace Prize Committee’s decision may instead speak to a fundamental misreading of the dynamics of protracted conflict.

If the Nobel Committee sought to move the needle on Colombian peace by honoring one of its auteurs, they might do well to remember a similar experiment that is all-too-familiar to observers in the Middle East. It was in 1994, after all, that the peace prize went to Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, and Yitzhak Rabin “for their efforts to create peace in the Middle East.”

Like Peres and Rabin, who helped establish Israel’s settlement enterprise, or Yasser Arafat, who could not part with his signature fatigues even at the Nobel ceremony, Santos is part of a group of laureates who could be described as nouveaux pacifists, presiding over historic overtures to peace but lacking the lifelong bona fides of, say, Martin Luther King, Jr., the 1964 peace prize winner.

There can be no question that Santos has more in common with the former group. Reacting to the passing of former Israeli President Peres, a man with whom the Colombian president now shares two accolades, Santos said in a September 28 tweet: “I had the privilege of knowing him and of finding in him a friend of peace.”

Indeed, when Peres was Israel’s president, Santos, speaking to the Israeli press, said he was proud that his country had been called “the Israel of Latin America.” In a report...

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Who speaks for Syria?

We who are Syria’s neighbors, among whom so many of Syria’s victims have sought shelter, owe it to them — and to ourselves — to speak honestly and without shame about this singularly Arab tragedy. In so doing, we must create space for our Syrian sisters and brothers to lift their voices above those of others.

Khalil, the produce vendor, is producing a map, on a cardboard scrap, that tells of cherries. Sourced from points north, they are sweeter, he tells me, because they are darker. But I want to know how: how did Syrian cherries end up, fresh and firm, in a closet-sized stall, in a country that is not Syria? This, after all, is Amman in August—in the fifth summer since—and the borders north of here have long since been sealed.

The cherries’ journey is the subject of said map. But almost as soon as he sketches it, the vendor, scrawling beneath a stare, discards it into a cardboard box teeming with husks and wax paper. When I ask him why, he looks puzzled. If he knew the answer to that question, “they” might not have discarded any of it—the Damascene souks, the tells of Aleppo—like so much bruised fruit.

There is a problem here. In ordinary conversations, the people closest to Syria’s tragedy can seem the ones least able to explain it. Ask for an opinion on what caused this mess, and you’re likely to hear something oblique, even evasive. And that evasiveness, with the body count mounting, is making impossible any talk of solutions. Worse, it is leaving the conversation about what comes next to those least invested in the outcome.

The most invested, to be sure, have the most to lose. In Aleppo, for example, where hospitals have been repeatedly and deliberately targeted and more than a hundred children killed since the last week of September, opinions on whether the United States should intervene may differ significantly from those recently put forth by English-language media outlets in the west. And so what if they do? It should go without saying, but let us be clear: if Syria’s citizens hold a different opinion on how best to liberate their children from fear, they need neither the interest nor the imprimatur of western “analysts” in its pursuit.

If anything, the only responsibility of the victimized is to articulate a common platform—clearly, unapologetically, forcefully—to the world. But that articulation need...

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With no justice on the horizon for Gaza, what comes next?

A new report by B’Tselem concludes that the Israeli military’s investigations into its own alleged crimes are little more than a whitewash. So what comes next?

Sometimes a seemingly dry bit of research can seem to rise to the level of literature, challenging the status quo in ways that, in the long run, only literature can. Take, for example, the first Arab Human Development Report. Penned by researchers from the region, the 2002 report concludes, rather boldly, that “the predominant characteristic of the current Arab reality seems to be the existence of deeply rooted shortcomings in the Arab institutional structure.”

Sure, that conclusion was used in too many reductionist opinion columns following 9/11. See, for example, Thomas Friedman’s 2002 piece, “Arabs at the Crossroads,” in which he declares that to “understand the milieu that produced bin Ladenism,” one need only “read this report.” But for the vast majority of Arabs who grew up in that milieu (myself included) and did not embrace “bin Ladenism,” Friedman’s invitation was neither here nor there. If we studied the report, we did so because it concerned us, because we weren’t afraid to see our notions of ourselves refracted, even reversed.

This mirroring is precisely what good literature can do. But to do so, it must not shy away from its cause. And that, I fear, is what discerning readers might conclude about a new report by the consistently top-notch Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

Earlier this week, I sat down to read “Whitewash Protocol,” the organization’s latest report which offers a review of the Israeli military’s investigation of alleged abuses and crimes during Operation Protective Edge, the 2014 “round of fighting” (the quotation marks are B’Tselem’s) that left 68 Israelis and 2,202 Palestinians—546 of them under the age of 18—dead.

Here’s an excerpt from the introduction:

Fair enough, but the report is bookended by two seemingly contradictory statements: First, that it sets out to test a theory (that “any system is capable of self-correction”); and, second, that the subject at hand far too grave to be looked at as “a theoretical issue.”

Here are the last lines from the report:

So why posit a theory—and spend 13,000 words testing it—only to conclude by warning off theoretical pursuits altogether? The question is even more perplexing when one considers that B’Tselem and others have, since 2014, issued several other reports essentially disproving...

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Bombing homes in Gaza: 'It was supposed to be their shelter'

Human rights group B’Tselem exposes — and protests to the Israeli government — home demolitions, Gaza style.

They fled when the flyers fell from the sky, Israeli military orders dropped like confetti on the masses. Evacuate, they said, or else. Seek shelter now.

One week of sorties, and Ibrahim made the call: We leave now — my wife and I, our seven children, our children’s children.

But the Abu Shuqah family never found shelter. The closest they came was a cardboard factory — somewhere between Bureij and Nusseirat, two refugee camps along Gaza’s coastal flats.

“We stayed in the storeroom about two weeks,” Ibrahim recalled. “There were mattresses, water, gas, and electricity there. Things were good.”

Things were “good” — until the shelling began.

Read ‘Gaza’, +972’s story of the year for 2014

To internalize that familiar refrain about Gaza — that nowhere there is safe — consider the life-or-death moves of a father and his kin. That, in one sense, is the key takeaway of “Black Flag,” the latest in a slew of reports — this one by the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem — about “Operation Protective Edge” and its lethal prosecution.

B’Tselem’s report, released today, explores “the legal and moral implications” of one particularly efficient Israeli tactic during this summer’s assault: targeting residential buildings. The group estimates that just over a quarter of Palestinian fatalities during the “fighting” owe to this tactic, which claimed 606 lives — 70 percent of them “either under 18, over 60, or women.”

B’Tselem investigated 70 such incidents, including the operation’s first. “On the first day of the fighting,” the report recounts, “the military attacked the Kaware’ family home. The house collapsed. Nine people, including five children aged 7 to 14, were killed.”

B’Tselem adds:

“Even if the Israeli cabinet thought this policy would bring an end to attacks on Israeli communities, it should not have implemented it because of its foreseeable, horrifying consequences as well as because of the black flag of illegality flying over it.”

Of course, B’Tselem’s report coincides with the recent Palestinian decision to sign the Rome Statute, a precondition for leveling war crimes charges against Israeli leaders at the International Criminal Court. B’Tselem, though, stops short of naming Israel’s actions “crimes” under international humanitarian law, or IHL. It concludes instead that, “at least in some cases, the military’s actions ran contrary to IHL provisions...

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+972's Story of the Year: Gaza

Most of us have become so accustomed to Gaza’s suffering that we can hardly imagine a world without it. But imagine we must. During the fighting this summer, and in its aftermath, many believed the war would be a game-changer, that something would have to give — it hasn’t. Activists, intellectuals and diplomats continue to advocate, but what about the Gazans themselves? Beyond violence, what is their role in ending the siege and attaining freedom? Samer Badawi tackles the questions — and the answers — left buried in the rubble.

By Samer Badawi

This is the first time that +972 is highlighting a story instead of a person of the year — a story chosen by our bloggers and editors. We asked Samer Badawi, who spent most of the war reporting for +972 from inside the Strip, to write the story of the year: Gaza.

If “Operation Protective Edge” had its battles, their outcome was measured not in ground gained but in Palestinian lives lost. In Jabaliya, Gaza’s largest refugee camp, I met a young man, Alaa Balata, who had lost all 11 members of his immediate family in a single shelling. In Gaza City, the al-Batch family lost 18 in one F-16 strike. And on and on. Just like that.

For those who survived, the trauma this time seemed to defy comparison. A World Bank executive visiting just after the war said she had “come across many war zones, but none compare to this.” A visiting American psychologist dubbed Gaza “a PTSD nation.” And the Columbia Journalism Review said the war had “pushed reporters to their mental and physical limits.”

That much I knew. In a Ramallah café just after I had left Gaza, I met a fellow American journalist who, like me, had spent some of the fiercest days under Israeli bombardment. By then, the adrenaline had subsided and I’d had a few nights of sleep uninterrupted by drones, F-16s, tank fire or battleship shelling.

I was one of the lucky ones. I had gotten out.

My colleague asked how I was doing. I told him how an Israeli film crew had asked me to describe the sounds of war in Gaza. I couldn’t. Instead, I thought of Muhammad, whose charred one-year-old body I had seen a week earlier at Gaza City’s al-Shifa Hospital.

I couldn’t...

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In Gaza, justice delayed is justice denied

Israeli army investigators have not even contacted the teenage victim of one of the few alleged war crimes it says it is probing. More than two months after Israel’s assault on Gaza began, victims of the air, land, and sea invasion continue to have no recourse against their occupiers.

It’s been nearly two months since 17-year-old Ahmad Abu Raida says he was used as a human shield by Israeli forces near the Gaza border town of Khan Younis. Since then, human rights organizations and various media outlets have reported on the case (+972 was among the first), but Abu Raida has yet to face his alleged captors — and, so far, his family sees no hope for justice.

Although Israeli army’s office of the Military Advocate General said it has opened an investigation into the case, Abu Raida’s father said on Monday that neither he nor his son had been contacted by the military. That comes as no surprise to Brad Parker, an attorney with Defence for Children International’s Palestine section, which first documented Abu Raida’s story.

“Impunity is the norm, as investigations are neither transparent nor independent and rarely result in an Israeli soldier being held criminally responsible or accountable,” Parker told +972. “How serious can any investigation be where, as of today, no Israeli investigator has even contacted Ahmad or his family to gather information concerning his use as a human shield?”

Abu Raida’s case is one of only a handful still being “investigated” by the MAG’s office. Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch said last week that Israel had committed war crimes during its 51-day assault on Gaza this summer. Others, including participants in the upcoming Russell Tribunal on Palestine, are asking whether Israel’s actions constituted “genocide.”

The tribunal, slated for September 24-25 in Brussels, will include law professors John Dugard and Richard Falk, both of whom have served as the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Palestine. In a press release announcing the two-day “extraordinary” session, the organizers said: “[t]he Tribunal will examine Israeli war crimes, crimes against humanity, and, for the first time regarding Israel, the crime of genocide.”

Read +972’s full coverage of the Gaza war

The United Nations defines genocide as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members...

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