Israel’s Flagrant Disregard for Palestinians, Dead or Alive

First published by Inside Arabia on 17/11/2021

Israeli Apartheid policies extend from the Palestinians alive to the Palestinians dead and whose remains are being removed to make way for Israeli development projects.

Israeli soldiers demolished a wall at an Islamic cemetery in Jerusalem on December 14, 2020 (Mostafa Alkharouf Anadolu Agency)

In its January report, Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem concluded that Israel “operates a regime of Jewish Supremacy from the river Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea.” The organization did not hesitate to label Israel’s policies as Apartheid. Human Rights Watch followed in April with a report titled “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution.”

These are serious charges that followed extensive research by the two organizations and there are enough leaks from Amnesty International to suggest that in January 2022, the NGO is to publish a report that comes to the same conclusion: Israel is an Apartheid regime.

For years, Palestinians have been telling the world about their experience of living under occupation.

For years, Palestinians have been telling the world about their experience of living under occupation in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, and as second-class citizens in Israel itself. Gaza faces the double whammy of the siege that was supposedly temporary but seems to have become permanent.

Israel controls all that goes in and comes out of Gaza. This includes food, medicine, and building materials. It has been accused of basing the amount of food it allowed into Gaza between 2007 and 2010 on the calorie intake needed for Palestinians to survive and not starve. The UN predicted that Gaza would become unlivable in 2020. Now, in 2021, the Gazan people’s sheer survival is a testament to their resilience and steadfastness.

It is worth remembering that former prime minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin said in 1992, “I wish I could wake up one day and find that Gaza has sunk into the sea.” This was before a single rocket had flown out of Gaza. Rabin himself was assassinated by Jewish terrorist Yigal Amir in 1995.

In Israel, Palestinian citizens of the state, commonly referred to as Arabs, face rampant discrimination. This includes a ban by Israel for those displaced from their homes and villages in 1948 to return to them.

Israel’s legal system allows Jewish “communities” to set up “admissions committees” to scrutinize potential new residents. This ensures that no Palestinian citizens are allowed to move into these communities as the law allows these Committees to reject applicants deemed “unsuitable to the social life of the community… or the social and cultural fabric of the town.”

The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, has created a database of discriminatory laws that now number 65.

This is the tip of the iceberg as Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, has created a database of discriminatory laws that now number 65. A visit to the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights section Adalah’s website quickly demonstrates the discrimination Palestinian citizens of Israel face as non-Jewish citizens. The site confirms that there is a litany of discrimination that resident Palestinians in Israel experience daily, which their fellow Jewish citizens do not face.

The 1967 occupied territories of the West Bank were divided into areas A, B, and C under the Oslo Accords. While Israel’s administrative and security control were supposed to differ in each of the areas, Israel breaches these agreements, particularly in relation to security but also to building planning permission. Its troops enter every one of these areas at will and its bulldozers demolish homes and commercial units on the pretext that building permits were not obtained.

Israel further controls the Palestinians’ freedom of movement between different areas and generally restricts entry into Jerusalem and Israel through permits it issues or withholds. This includes the Palestinians’ access to their holy sites in Jerusalem.

While Israel “annexed” East Jerusalem after capturing it in 1967, all states around the world, except the US, have regarded it as illegally occupied and have refused to recognize it as Israel’s capital.

The Trump administration formally designated Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, without defining its borders. Trump moved the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to West Jerusalem and further muddied the waters by closing the US Consulate in East Jerusalem, which served as the de facto mission to the Palestinians.

Palestinians in East Jerusalem who hold a blue “residency” identity card also face discrimination daily. Their ability to build is restricted with only a few permits ever issued to meet Palestinian needs, while Jewish-only settlements are planted in Palestinian neighborhoods to change the demographic and character of the holy city. This is part of Israel’s attempts to Judaize the city to remove its Palestinian history, culture, and political identity. It regularly arrests the Palestinian governor of East Jerusalem and bans the Palestinian flag from being raised or held.

Palestinians visit the grave of a relative in Al Yousufiya Cemetery near the Lions Gate entrance to the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem Ahmad Gharabli AFP

Palestinians visit the grave of a relative in Al-Yousufiya Cemetery near the Lion’s Gate entrance to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem (Ahmad Gharabli AFP)

Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah face blatant ethnic cleansing that if successful, will see 28 families ejected from their homes to make way for Jewish-only residences. In a recent development, Israeli courts, which have no jurisdiction over illegally occupied East Jerusalem, asked the residents to accept that the land on which their homes were built belongs to a settler organization based in the US, and that they should agree to be “protected tenants” for 15 years, during which the status of ownership would be decided. They have rejected this unjust arrangement and vowed to stay in their homes.

The erasure of the Palestinian history of Jerusalem has even moved into cemeteries. The dead are not spared from the oppression of the state that claims to be “the only democracy in the Middle East.”

In 2011, Israel’s Ministry of Interior gave permission for the construction of the outrageously named “Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance” on the site of the Ma’man Allah (Mamilla) Muslim cemetery. This was the resting place of Muslims going back as far as the 12th century but also to more recent times. Palestinian American Professor Rashid Khalidi questioned the legality of the project, stating that, “It is nauseating, and especially hypocritical, that this desecration is carried out in the name of ‘tolerance’ and ‘human dignity.’”

More recently, the Yusufia cemetery has also been desecrated by Israel to make way for further “development” that will erase the historical presence of Palestinians in Jerusalem. Videos transmitted on social media showed images of a Palestinian mother, Ola Nababta, clinging to her son’s grave which is only months old, while an Israeli security man dragged her away to allow a bulldozer to remove his remains.

Israel maintains the policy of withholding the bodies of Palestinians it has killed in what are called the “Cemetery of Numbers” for years. Palestinians are deprived of the dignity and closure of burying their loved ones while their bodies lie in anonymous graves. While Israel does everything it can to recover the bodies of its soldiers, it deliberately destroys Palestinian cemeteries to build “parks.”

In short, whether alive or dead, Israel practices a regime of Apartheid against the Palestinians which must end. It is time that the world takes notice and identifies Israel as an Apartheid state, to improve the lives of Palestinians and to avoid setting a precedent for other nations to commit such heinous acts. Anything short of that provides Israel with further impunity.

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