Palestine: 'Israel must be held accountable for collective punishment'

Saturday, July 12, 2014
'We, residents of Gaza, have been unable to fathom how it is that official bodies of the international community tolerate blatant war crimes committed against the people of Gaza.' Image via Visualising Palestine/Facebook.

Days of Israeli bombings had killed more than 100 people in the Gaza Strip by July 11, said that day. The dead included many children. It comes after large-scale raids and many arrests in the occupied West Bank.

In response to this drastic escalation in “collective punishment” of the Palestinian people, the Palestinian Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) national committee issued the statement below.

The global BDS campaign targeting Israel was launched in 2005 with the endorsement of more than 170 Palestinian groups. Visit for more information.

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Palestinian BDS activists are urging governments and international civil society to take action to hold Israel to account for its continued collective punishment of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza after the disappearance and killing of three Israeli settlers.

Zaid Shuaibi, a spokesperson for the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the civil society coalition that leads and supports the BDS movement, said: “Israel’s on-going actions are designed to terrorise Palestinians and constitute collective punishment.

“Military violence, collective punishment and the deliberate targeting of civilians are endemic to Israel’s decades old system of occupation, colonisation and apartheid.

“Israel is able to act with utter impunity because of the military, economic and political support it receives from governments around the world. We call on international governments to impose a two-way arms embargo immediately and to suspend bilateral agreements until Israel fully complies with international law.

“At a time when mainstream bodies such as the Bill Gates Foundation, the Presbyterian Church USA and the US United Methodist Church are divesting from companies profiting from Israel’s occupation, including G4S and Hewlett Packard, we call on people of conscience to intensify BDS pressure.”

Shuaibi also called on people of conscience and supporters of BDS to consider joining the Month Against the Apartheid Wall that marks the 10th anniversary of the International Court of Justice ruling that Israel’s apartheid Wall is illegal.

Hundreds of military raids have been launched across the occupied West Bank since June 12, with more than 1000 private home, refugee camps and the offices of civil society organisations ransacked.

At least 10 Palestinians have been killed and many more have been injured. More than 500 Palestinians have been detained and initial reports suggest that many of those arrested are held under administrative detention, a form of detention without charge or trial on secret evidence.

The number of children held in Israeli jails has risen to 250. Israel has also imposed severe restrictions of movement.

On July 2, Israeli settlers kidnapped and killed a 16-year-old from the Shuafat area of Palestinian East Jerusalem and Israeli soldiers attacked Palestinians in Jerusalem.

Palestinian groups have detailed how Israel’s recent actions constitute collective punishment, a crime prohibited by the Fourth Geneva Convention as well as customary international humanitarian law.

Israeli occupation forces have also targeted the campuses of Birzeit University near Ramallah and the Arab American University in Jenin. This led to the detention and arrest of students and staff and greatly infringes the Palestinian right to education.

Samia Botmeh, a professor at Birzeit University and a steering committee member with the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, said: “Israel’s latest violations against Palestinian universities are part of its long history of oppression aimed at Palestinian education.

“Closure of universities for periods stretching to years, murder and detention of students and professors, destruction of universities’ properties and labs as well as the banning of lists of books have been Israel’s systematic policies targeting Palestinian education.

“It must be emphasised that throughout the decades of oppression, no Israeli university or association of Israeli academics has ever protested the sustained assaults on Palestinian universities.

“It is essential to intensify all forms of BDS, including the academic and cultural boycott, until Israel ends its violations of Palestinian rights.”

Israel has conducted large-scale air strikes and shellings of Gaza in recent days, further worsening the situation for Palestinians in Gaza, which has been under a brutal military siege for more than seven years.

Haidar Eid, associate professor at Al-Aqsa University in Gaza and a PACBI steering committee member, said: “We, residents of Gaza, have been unable to fathom how it is that official bodies of the international community tolerate blatant war crimes committed against the people of Gaza, in spite of thousands of reports by mainstream human rights organisations!

“Is it far-fetched to expect people of conscience to heed our call to boycott this intransigent, racist and militarised Israeli regime and the institutions that keep it thriving, the same way apartheid South Africa was boycotted until it crumbled?”

Ayah Abubasheer, a youth and BDS activist in Gaza, added: “During the past few weeks, Israel has been violently and intensely launching a series of air strikes against the Gaza Strip.

“The population of the Gaza Strip continues to pay the price and bear the blaze of Israel’s polices.

“Because collective punishment is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions, we urge the international community to pressure Israel to end its all-out military assault aimed against the total population of Gaza, open Rafah crossing permanently and heed our call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions.”

From GLW issue 1016