By : Asa Winstanley/Middle East Monitor – June 29, 2019
Spare a thought for the human rights groups in Palestine committed to documenting, holding to account, and otherwise having to deal with Israelâs racist regime.
Groups such as Al Haq, BâTselem, Adalah and Al-Mezan are just some of the many groups which create an array of valuable reports, papers, videos, press campaigns and other publications. They also help represent and defend Palestinians facing Israelâs racist military âcourtsâ system.
They do valuable work, and it is a thankless task. Dealing with the system of âmilitary justiceâ â which has aÂ 99.7 per cent conviction rateÂ â must be like butting so many heads up against multiple walls. Expecting âjusticeâ from a regime of military occupation is pointless.
And indeed, BâTselem in 2016 made the decision that they would cease issuing formal complaints to Israelâs military occupation authorities in the West Bank. Accurately calling the process âthe occupationâs fig leaf,â BâTselem said there was âno longer any point in pursuing justice and defending human rights by working with a system whose real function is measured by its ability to continue to successfully cover upâ.
The report the group released upon making this announcementÂ documents how these cover-ups work. Since late 2000, when theÂ Second IntifadaÂ began, BâTselem had lodged 739 complaints within the occupation authoritiesâ internal system.
These were instances in which Israeli soldiers murdered, injured or physically abused Palestinians, or damaged their property â including cases of Palestinians forcibly used by Israeli soldiers as human shields. In the vast majority (three-quarters) of these 739 cases either the âinvestigationâ was closed with no further action taken or had never even been launched in the first place.
BâTselem states that âonly in very rare instancesâ were any charges made against the soldiers concerned.
This is very obviously a system designed to whitewash the Israeli armyâs image. The true function of this fig leaf is as a kind of international public relations. Journalists reporting on the latest Israeli crime quite regularly report â almost without fail â that Israel has âlaunched an investigationâ into the murder or abuse of Palestinians by its soldiers â as if it were some abnormality.
Of course, a short while later, when the mildly critical attention of said journalists has waned, the investigation is quietly dropped, or concluded with some token rap on the knuckles.
As the group candidly admitted, âBâTselemâs cooperation with the military investigation and enforcement system has not achieved justice, instead lending legitimacy to the occupation regime and aiding to whitewash it.â
It seems to me it was the right decision to withdraw from cooperating with this sham process.
There is an argument to be made that there should be a total boycott of the entire fabricated system of military âjusticeâ in theÂ occupiedÂ West Bank. This is a step some Palestinian political prisoners have actually taken.
Samidoun â the political support network for Palestinian prisoners â reports that Ghassan Zawahreh just this monthÂ declared a boycottÂ of Israelâs military courts. Zawahreh is a prominent left-wing activist in Dheisheh refugee camp, near the West Bank city of Bethlehem. He has spent years in and out of Israeli dungeons and is currently interned by Israeli occupiers without charge or trial â their system of so-called âadministrative detentionâ.
Zawahreh sent a letter to the court through his lawyer stating that, âadministrative detention is a heinous crime for the ages. What is even more criminal is the occupationâs attempts to mislead through mock courts and charades where the executioner and the ruler, dressed up in military suits, represent the occupation and its crimes.
âI will not be a part of this charade until administrative detention is ended once and for all. I reject this court and refuse to be represented by anyone in itâ.
There are currently about 500 Palestinians held in âadministrative detentionâ. Palestinians have been jailed for years at a time without charge or trial under these repeated orders. There are currently more than 5,200 total Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
Zawahrehâs stance is a brave move that could lead to further dire consequences for him. Yet until the Israeli occupation is forced to end, such consequences for Palestinians are an inevitability; he may feel he has nothing to lose.
Israelâs occupation will not end until ordinary voters, like you and I, force our governments to end political and military aid to Israel. A good first step in the right direction would be the immediate and total end to all arms sales to Israel. Jeremy Corbyn and other leading figures in the Labour Party have rightly called for an end to all arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
Letâs push them to do the same for Israel.
Original article – Middle East Monitor – June 29, 2019