It is difficult to come to terms with the mentality of those who would willingly destroy the dwellings of poor people struggling to make a living in a cruel harsh world. In this day and age when we, the human race, are supposed to be at a peak of civilisation, it is appalling that there are people who are prepared and willing to drive a bulldozer through the home of a fellow human thereby rendering an entire family destitute. It is disturbing (to put it mildly) to realise that this sort of barbaric behaviour illustrates the policy and posture of an intensely religious and supposedly democratic country.
The state of Israel encourages persecution of Palestinians by undertaking or condoning obliteration of homes and agricultural facilities. It is recorded that so far this year 689 Palestinian structures, properties and animal shelters have been bulldozed and destroyed by Israelis, and on November 5 the European Union issued a statement noting that in the previous week Israeli forces demolished more than 70 structures, including residential, livelihood and sanitation facilities, belonging to 11 Palestinian families. The EU is concerned that 52 Palestinian schools are also under threat of demolition, including one in the central West Bank co-funded by the EU and “calls for protection of children, including ensuring their right to education in a safe and secure school environment.”
There is no chance that Israel will ever approve of education for Palestinian children. The Israeli state wants to eradicate all traces of Palestinians from the lands seized by Israel over many years, and if this includes demolishing schools, then so be it. The EU rightly declares that “Education is a basic human right that should be protected and maintained” and “reiterates its call on Israel to halt all such demolitions, including of EU-funded structures, in particular in light of the humanitarian impact of the current coronavirus pandemic.”
But so far as eradicating Palestinians is concerned, the coronavirus pandemic is indeed a boon and a blessing for Israel, because it has created a dreadful crisis. The UN Children’s Fund warns that “The protracted protection crisis in the State of Palestine, which has been exacerbated by the coronavirus disease pandemic, has continued to impact children. More than 2.2 million people need humanitarian aid and over 1 million children living in the Gaza Strip have difficulty accessing essential services.”
But Israel’s reaction to the Palestinians’ humanitarian crisis is to carry on destroying their fields, their farms, their fruit trees, their animals, their living-shacks and their schools.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is a dedicated agency that does as much as it can to alleviate suffering around this horrible world, but it can’t do anything about the misery of the Palestinian people other than record the facts about their persecution. All that its Coordinator for occupied Palestinian territory, Yvonne Helle, could do in November after “Israeli authorities demolished homes and other structures and destroyed belongings in the Palestinian community of Humsa Al Bqai’a” was to issue a statement to “remind all parties that the extensive destruction of property and the forcible transfer of protected people in an occupied territory are grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention. While assuring that the humanitarian community stands ready to support all those who have been displaced or otherwise affected, I strongly reiterate our call to Israel to immediately halt unlawful demolitions.” And Israel, as usual, paid not the slightest attention, but revved up the bulldozers for the next round of destruction of Palestinian homes.
And Israel paid no attention to the five (non-binding) UN General Assembly Resolutions of 2 December, “one of which cited the illegality of annexing any part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” Further, the Assembly approved the resolution on “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine” and “called for the full respect for international law. It also called for the promotion of human security, the de-escalation of the situation [in Palestine], the exercise of restraint and the establishment of a stable environment conducive to the pursuit of peace.”
Global support was overwhelming, with 145 nations favouring “peaceful settlement” of the situation in occupied Palestine. The seven countries voting against this call for peace were the United States, Israel, Australia and Canada plus the nonentities of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia and Nauru which have to jump to Washington’s bidding lest they lose financial support. It is most regrettable that Australia and Canada have joined the pro-Israel, anti-Palestine lobby whose leader is the U.S. which under Trump has spent the past four years fostering Israel’s campaign to eradicate the Palestinians.
The New York Times summed up Washington’s attitude by headlining that “For Netanyahu and Israel, Trump’s Gifts Kept on Coming”, and this was no exaggeration. First of all it was pointed out that on November 20 the Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard became free to go to Israel after serving his well-deserved prison term for betraying some of America’s deepest secrets. He wasn’t even spying for principle; he spied for money. As Encyclopaedia Britannica records, “Pollard claimed to have been motivated by ‘sectarianism’, though Israeli agents had agreed to pay him $30,000 each year for a period of 10 years and had already paid him more than $45,000.” He is loathsome and contemptible, and his release was warmly welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu who declared “We are waiting for you, even during the time of the coronavirus, with open arms, and you will receive the genuine embrace of the Israeli people . . . I truly want to congratulate you that your nightmare is over and you can return home, to Israel. It will truly be a big moment, a big moment for us all.”
The spy-welcoming Netanyahu is the prime minister who is so energetically supported by Washington, to the extent that “the Trump administration cut all funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which provides aid to Palestinian refugees across the Middle East.” Trump also stopped the U.S. Agency for International Development providing $200 million to support other efforts to help the Palestinian people. The financial punishment he imposed included cancellation of $25 million for Palestinian hospitals and $10 million for Israeli-Palestinian coexistence efforts.
The message is clear, in that Israel could get away with anything, so far as Trump Washington was concerned. He and his adherents have been unfailingly anti-Palestinian, and Israel could therefore persecute Palestinians without the slightest fear of international justice being applied. Secretary of State Pompeo paid a valedictory visit to Israel at the end of November and, as reported in the NYT, “announced that the United States would henceforth view the international boycott-Israel movement as anti-Semitic. He stopped on the occupied West Bank, becoming the most senior American official to visit one of Israel’s settlements, which much of the world considers a violation of international law.”
So what will the Biden administration do? Will he continue Trump’s support of Israel’s determination to eradicate the Palestinian people?
Although he may not be as vicious and pitiless as Trump, he is no friend of the Palestinians, and it is significant that Biden’s victory was greeted with a Netanyahu tweet saying “Joe, we’ve had a long & warm personal relationship for nearly 40 years, and I know you as a great friend of Israel. I look forward to working with both of you to further strengthen the special alliance between the U.S. and Israel.”
There is no hope ahead for Palestinians.