Australia must condemn Israel’s brutal attacks on Jenin refugee camp

February 2, 2023
Protesting Israel's crimes in Sydney. Photo: Peter Boyle

I am a Palestinian. We are resilient people and we will not allow the silencing of Palestinian voices to be the status quo anymore.

For more than a month, we have witnessed one of the worst upsurges in violence in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory for many years.

The grave escalation in the Jenin Camp follows days of clashes in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem, including at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount.

The murder of 11 Palestinians in the Jenin Camp, the north of the occupied West Bank, last week brings the toll of those killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank since the beginning of the year to 36.

This violence follows from last year, when more Palestinians were killed than in any year since 2005.

We condemn Israel’s brutal attack on Palestinians in Jenin and in all Palestinian territories.

Thirty six Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank in January, including eight children and an elderly woman.

Last year, there were 230 martyrs: they include 59 children and 16 women and girls: there were 170 martyrs from the West Bank and 54 from the Gaza Strip, in addition to 6 in the Palestinian towns inside Israel.

In many cases, human rights groups deemed that those killed did not pose an explicit threat to the lives of Israeli soldiers when they were killed.

This list includes not only Palestinians shot dead by Israeli soldiers, but also run over by Israeli settlers. It also includes Palestinian political prisoners, who died inside Israeli prisons due to “direct medical negligence” or those who died while resisting Israeli apartheid and colonialism, and are therefore considered “martyrs”.

Zionist Itamar Ben-Gvir has been appointed Minister of Internal Security in the new Israeli government. He immediately announced his plans to worsen conditions for Palestinian prisoners in an attempt to suppress the prisoners’ movement.

Palestinian political prisoner leaders replied: “The coming days will include many measures taken by heroic prisoners in occupation prisons … including hunger strikes, return of meals and dissolution of organizations.”

Ben-Gvir is a far-right firebrand known for his anti-Arab rhetoric. He drew widespread international condemnation for visiting Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site on January 3.

Ben-Gvir has gone too far in ordering police in East Jerusalem to remove Palestinian flags from public spaces, arguing they are identified with terrorism.

The Israeli government is responsible for what is happening today because it is violating signed agreements and undermining the two-state solution.

Israel’s far-right government is making its intentions clear: to intensify attacks on Palestinians and continue to violate international law, knowing that it will be granted impunity internationally by governments such as Australia’s.

We would like to emphasise that as long as the State of Israel remains the occupying power, it has an obligation to ensure the protection, security and welfare of the Palestinian people living under occupation.

However, what we are witnessing is the contrary: dehumanisation, demonisation and the collective punishment of Palestinian is specifically prohibited under international humanitarian law and constitutes a war crime.

[This is the text of a speech Khaled Ghannam gave to an emergency rally in Sydney on February 2.]

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