Amnesty Says ICC Israel Probe Should Include ‘Crime Against Humanity of Apartheid’

“Israel’s apartheid remains the root cause of Palestinians’ suffering,” said the group.


Palestinians inspect the ruins of a collapsed building destroyed by an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on August 6, 2022. (Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

JULIA CONLEY, Common Dreams, October 25, 2022

Calling for the International Criminal Court to open a new investigation into possible war crimes by Israeli military forces in Gaza in August, Amnesty International on Tuesday said the court must also include Israel’s illegal apartheid policies against the Occupied Palestinian Territories in its probe.

“As well as investigating war crimes committed in Gaza, the ICC should consider the crime against humanity of apartheid within its current investigation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

The organization’s call centered on the three-day offensive launched by Israel between August 5-8 in the Gaza Strip, with advocates saying its research suggests three specific attacks could amount to war crimes.

Seventeen civilians were among the 49 Palestinian people who were killed by Israeli forces during the offensive, while seven were determined to have been killed by Palestinian rockets that were likely misfired. The group could not determine which side was responsible for the deaths of seven other civilians.

Amnesty noted that Israel, which claimed the attacks were “preemptive” and targeted the Palestinian Islamic Jihad organization, has set the stage for such deadly assaults on civilians for years by imposing a blockade and other apartheid policies on Gaza.

“These violations were perpetrated in the context of Israel’s ongoing illegal blockade on Gaza, which is a key tool of its apartheid regime,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s secretary general, in a statement. “Palestinians in Gaza are dominated, oppressed, and segregated, trapped in a 15-year nightmare where recurrent unlawful attacks punctuate a worsening humanitarian crisis.”

“As well as investigating war crimes committed in Gaza, the ICC should consider the crime against humanity of apartheid within its current investigation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” Callamard added.

The group said Israel’s policies—including military control of Palestine, restrictions on the movement of millions of people in the West Bank, and denial of essential services—are the “root cause of Palestinians’ suffering.”

The call comes eight months after Amnesty outlined Israel’s apartheid system in a report, saying “the international community and the ICC should all investigate the commission of the crime of apartheid under international law.”

In its report released Tuesday regarding the three-day offensive that took place in August, the group said it had interviewed 42 people including attack survivors, family members of those killed, eyewitnesses, and medical professionals. A fieldworker, the organization’s evidence lab, and a weapons expert determined that at least three of the 17 attacks Amnesty documented should be investigated by the ICC as possible war crimes.

An Israeli tank fired a projectile on August 5, hitting the home of 22-year-old art student Duniana al-Amour and her family in the southern Gaza Strip. Al-Amour was killed and her mother was wounded. Amnesty concluded in its analysis that the family’s home had been “deliberately targeted,” even though there is “no evidence that any members of the al-Amour family could reasonably be believed to be involved in armed combat.”

Five children were killed on August 7 when a missile struck Al-Falluja cemetery, near the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza. The children ranged in age from four to 16.

Continue reading

“You Can Be the Last Leaf” by Maya Abu Al-Hayyat

Maya Abu Al-Hayyat directs the Palestine Writing Workshop on the West Bank. She’ll read poems & be in conversation with poet Deema Shehabi.

    A Virtual Book Celebration!
    October 29, 2022, 1 PM CT
    Benefit for the Palestine Writing Workshop, Tickets $10
    RSVP and share!

Maya Abu Al-Hayyat is a Palestinian writer, storyteller, and mother based in occupied East Jerusalem. Each day she passes through Israeli checkpoints, like the infamous Qalandia checkpoint, to direct the Palestine Writing Workshop, one of MECA’s partner organizations. Maya and her team at the Palestine Writing Workshop have published award-winning Arabic children’s books and led hundreds of interactive workshops from Nablus to Silwan to Gaza for children, youth, librarians and parents on reading aloud, creative writing, and storytelling. Her work is grounded in the belief that art and literature can change lives and aims to improve Palestinian children’s literacy and also encourage their imaginations. She is a gifted storyteller who captures the attention of children of all ages (and adults too!). Maya also runs writing courses for former prisoners, helping them transform trauma into art.

She has published four collections of poems, four novels, and numerous children’s stories, including The Blue Pool of Questions. She contributed to and wrote a foreword for A Bird Is Not a Stone: An Anthology of Contemporary Palestinian Poetry, and she is an editor of The Book of Ramallah. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Cordite Poetry Review, The Guardian, and Literary Hub. Please join us to learn more about Maya’s work and life in Palestine!

Deema K. Shehabi is the author of Thirteen Departures From the Moon and co-editor with Beau Beausoleil of Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here, for which she received the Northern California Book Award’s NCBR Recognition Award. She co-authored Diaspo/Renga with Marilyn Hacker and won the 2018 Nazim Hikmet poetry competition. Her work has also appeared in Literary Imagination, the Kenyon Review, Literary Hub, Poetry London, and Crab Orchard, and has been translated into French, Farsi, and Arabic; she has been nominated for the Pushcart prize several times.

Cosponsored by Middle East Children’s Alliance and Sacramento Bethlehem Sister City. Info: meca@mecaforpeace.org, 510-548-0542.

PRAISE FOR “You Can Be The Last Leaf”

“The Palestinian poet’s U.S. debut gathers two decades of her intimate testimony about private life in a public war zone, where ‘those who win by killing fewer children / are losers.’”—New York Times

“Al-Hayyat’s latest devastating and courageous collection captures the precarious everyday lives of Palestinians with enormous empathy and glistening clarity . . . The vivid translations by Fady Joudah will jostle readers into discomfort and pin Al-Hayyat’s stunning voice into their ears.”—Booklist

“Abu Al-Hayyat explores the broader political and geographic aspects of Palestinian life under colonial rule while at the same time interweaving the quotidian aspects of life and loss in such settings. Within these frictions of exterior trauma and private contemplations, large constraints and small freedoms, these poems soar.”—Chicago Review of Books

No Government Has the Right to Pass Such Laws

Dr. James J. Zogby, Arab American Institute, October 17, 2022

During the past month Israel has held 800 Palestinians under administrative detention orders, expelled several Palestinians from East Jerusalem, seized more Arab-owned land from areas around Hebron and in the Jordan Valley turning much of it over to settlers, and instituted a lockdown of many Palestinian areas during Jewish religious days. All of this passed without notice in the US press because Israel policies, such as these, have long been routine features of the 55 year-long occupation.

What’s important to note, however, is that all of these practices are in violation of international law, and all have a disturbing history in Israel/Palestine.

Many of them were initially put in place by the British as part of their effort to squash the Great Palestinian Revolt of 1936-1939. Back then, as Palestinian rebels at the peak of their uprising had gained control of significant areas of the country, the British put in place what they termed the “Emergency Military Administration in Palestine.” Under the provisions of this new regime, thousands of Palestinian rebels were arrested and detained without charges, hundreds were expelled, villages were subjected to collective punishment, and Palestinian properties were confiscated and/or destroyed—all in an effort to end the Revolt.

While these repressive measures did play a role, what finally ended the Revolt was a combination of false promises by the British that they would consider Palestinian demands for independence and the naïveté of some Arab leaders who accepted these British pledges and, therefore, urged the Palestinian fighters to disarm.

After World War II, when faced with a new threat from a Zionist armed insurgency, Britain reinstated the Emergency Administration — this time directed against the Jewish militias. In response, Jewish leaders rose up in outrage. One noted attorney, Ya’acov Shimshon Shapiro (who later served as Israel’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice) criticized these British laws as “unparalleled in any civilized country.”

There were, he said, “no such laws even in Nazi Germany. . . There is only one form of government which resembles the system in force here now — the case of an occupied country. . . It is our duty to tell the whole world that the Defense Laws passed by the British Mandatory Government of Palestine destroy the very foundation of justice in this land.”

He concluded by noting that “no government has the right to pass such laws.” Given this outrage and condemnation, it might be seen as ironic that immediately upon assuming state power in 1948, the State of Israel would adopt these very same laws, applying them to the Palestinian population that remained after the Nakbah & mdash; without any protest from Jewish jurists.

From 1948 until 1965 the Emergency Defense Laws (EDL) & mdash; as they were now called & mdash; were in place in order to control the captive Palestinian community in Israel. Collectively, these laws functioned to: establish a military administration over the Arab sector, give the state the power to institute collective punishment, intern Palestinian citizens of Israel without judicial process, expel Palestinian citizens without recourse, confiscate Arab-owned land, and impose curfews and lockdowns over entire regions.

While the EDL were formally lifted in 1965, they were resurrected and rehabilitated in 1967 & mdash; this time to be applied, even more harshly, to the areas of Palestine that had been occupied in the 1967 war. Collective punishment of entire villages was widespread, as was the use of administrative detention. No political parties or expressions of Palestinian national identity were allowed. Well over 1,200 Palestinian leaders & mdash; mayors, college presidents, labor leaders, and clergy & mdash; were expelled. Substantial areas of Arab-owned land were confiscated, placed under Israeli control and declared either “green spaces” or “security zones” & mdash; off limits to Palestinians, later given over to Israeli settlement construction. And since any Palestinian construction required Israeli permission, which was rarely forthcoming, homes and community buildings were routinely demolished.

Even after the Oslo Accords, which Palestinians hoped would lead to an independent state, provisions of the EDL remained in place as accepted legal practice by the Israeli occupation authorities.

Given that these Israeli “laws” have been in place for more than seven decades, it might not be surprising that Western media and political leaders have become inured to these Israeli repressive measures. This, however, only adds insult to injury.

Palestinians are not “children of a lesser god.” They are human beings, deserving of the rights guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Conventions. Israel’s “security concerns” (like those of the British in the 1930s and 1940s) do not excuse their wholesale trashing of international law and conventions. And they do not absolve the silence of the West in the face of this total disregard for Palestinian rights. To repeat the quote from Israel’s first Attorney General, these laws “destroy the very foundation of justice in this land. . . no government has the right to pass such laws.”


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Arab American Institute. The Arab American Institute is a non-profit, nonpartisan national leadership organization that does not endorse candidates.

Note: To discuss this column with me, please register here for my next ‘Coffee And A Column’ event Wednesday via Zoom.

Arab American Institute Foundation1600 K Street, NW, Suite 601Washington, DC 20006United States

Continue reading

Eyewitness Palestine October Delegation Arrived in Jerusalem!

Eyewitness Palestine, October 2022

We are excited to announce that our 73rd Delegation is underway! This delegation was three years in the making, and it has finally arrived. Focusing on the Olive Harvest and Environmental Justice, 28 participants will learn from our Palestinian and Israeli partners over the next several days.

Delegates Arrive in Palestine

Unfortunately, one delegate, a Cypriot national with Arab roots, was denied entry upon arrival and two rounds of intense questioning. Israel’s racist targeting of Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims for questioning and denial of entry at the airport is not new. As Israel tries to join the Visa Waiver Program in the US, we are appalled at how this racist and undemocratic practice is allowed to continue. 

The annual Environmental Justice and the Olive Harvest delegation offers a unique cultural and environmental angle on Palestine. Delegates are in Palestine during the olive harvest season — a culturally rich and important time. They hear from farmers and learn of the importance of agriculture to the economy and culture, learn about threats to the environment, the exploitation of natural resources, and the struggle of Palestinian communities to maintain access to land and water.

Follow the delegation to read their Eyewitness Accounts from their time in Palestine/Israel, reports from meetings, and experiences with our Palestinian partners and Israelis partners working in solidarity. This and more exclusive content is available on our websiteFacebookInstagram, and Twitter under the hashtag #eyewitness73.

FOLLOW THE DELEGATION!

Petition on U.S. Visa Waiver Program

Dear Supporter,

On October 20 the Israeli government will implement new procedures for those seeking to enter the West Bank. First published by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) in February, and revised in September, these new procedures discriminate severely against those seeking to visit Palestinians, and will have a profoundly negative impact, separating Palestinian families, undermining Palestinian education, and subjecting Palestinians and their visitors to intrusive data collection.

Call on Congress to press Israel to scrap these new regulations.

U.S. passport holders seeking to visit Palestinians will not be immune from this discriminatory treatment. These harmful and discriminatory rules should make Israel ineligible for participation in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, which would allow Israelis to enjoy visa-free short-term visits to the U.S., but would require Israel to ensure “reciprocal privileges to citizens and nationals of the United States.” Certainly Palestinian-Americans, and others of Arab descent, will continue to be treated less favorably than other Americans or than Israelis visiting the U.S.

Under the new COGAT rules, only immediate family members, journalists, and investors will be able to apply for short-term visas to visit Palestinians in the West Bank, and they will be required to undergo a lengthy and intrusive pre-approval process, requiring the personal details of friends, family, and hosts. 

These rules do not apply to those seeking to visit Israeli residents of the West Bank, essentially punishing travellers with Palestinian ties or heritage, and enabling Israeli collection of data that can be used for mass surveillance of Palestinians.

Urge your member of Congress to insist that the Biden Administration respect the rights of Palestinian travellers by acting to stop the COGAT rules from going into effect.

In peace,Brian Evans
Mobilization Manager
Churches for Middle East Peace

Israeli Apartheid: A Breakdown

Israel applies an oppressive, separate, and unequal regime on Palestinians. There is only one word for this: Apartheid.

Omar Baddar, Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU), Oct 14, 2020

Omar Baddar is Director of Communications for the Institute for Middle East Understanding, and past Deputy Director of the Arab American Institute.

Israeli occupation soldiers close the main gate of Qortoba school in Hebron

The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project has helped build playgrounds for both Qortuba Elementary School and the Al Samud Shuhada Street Kindergarten

Human Rights Defenders, 30th of August 2022

Hebron, Palestine 🇵🇸

The Israeli occupation soldiers close the main gate to the students of CorToba School and Shuhada Street Kindergarten in the center of Hebron, and they are being detained for a while without any reason.

And the Israeli settlers make fun of Palestinian children during their detention.

This is a violation of the right to education, the right to freedom and the right of childhood according to international laws.

جنود الإحتلال الإسرائيلي يقوموا بإغلاق البوابة الرئيسية لطلاب مدرسة قرطبة وروضة شارع الشهداء في وسط مدينة الخليل ،و يتم احتجازهم لفترة من الوقت دون سبب يذكر.

والمستوطنين الإسرائيليين يقوموا بالسخرية من الأطفال الفلسطينين خلال فترة احتجازهم.

وهذا انتهاك الحق في التعليم ،والحق في الحرية وحق الطفولة حسب القوانين الدولية.

تصوير المتطوع : زيدان الشرباتي

Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) are people who, individually or collectively, work peacefully on behalf of others to promote and defend internationally recognized human rights. They are defined by their actions rather than their profession, job title or organization.

Let’s Build A Playground in the Bordertown of Sásabe

MRSCP is passing along an unusual opportunity to help build a playground for migrant children in the Mexico-US border town of Sásabe. We have installed similar playgrounds in Rafah and Hebron in Palestine, and we know firsthand how much these simple facilities mean to the children who use them.

Infrastructure For the Youth, For the Future. No More Walls.

School of the Americas Watch, August 27, 2022

Sásabe is a small rural border town in Sonora, Mexico only a short distance from the border. Since the implementation of Title 42 in March 2020, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) has been dropping hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers at the doorsteps of the citizens of Sásabe every week. Even though the town had nothing in place to help support these vulnerable people, they helped as much as they could with very limited resources. The town reached out to Dora Rodriguez (Salvavision) and Gail Kocourek (Tucson Samaritans) and asked for their help. Dora was already involved with providing aid to Nogales, Sonora.

In response to the request, in 2021 Dora and Gail opened a Resource Center (Casa de la Esperanza) in Sásabe. Only walking distance from the port of entry, it is a space for migrants who need aid and refuge. “Our mission is to restore some of their dignity with a hot meal and a little hope” says Dora.

Dora and the Mayor of Sásabe asked Mike Tork, a Veterans For Peace (VFP) national board member, who also works with the School of Americas Watch (SOAW), if it would be possible to build a playground for the children, those living in Sásabe and those dropped off by CBP.

Mike has assembled a team to build the playground. “This is about reclaiming space and filling it with kindness and compassion. It’s a way to resist hatred, racism and to be in solidarity with vulnerable people and communities” he said.

We will follow the guidance of Dora, Gail and the community. Construction is planned to begin in the fall (Sept/Oct) once the weather is cooler.

Please donate generously. Funds will go towards the playground and to help support Casa de la Esperanza.

    To make a tax-deductible donation via check or money order, please include “Playground” in the memo line, make payable to “SOA Watch,” and mail to our address:

      SOA Watch
      225 E 26th St, Suite 7
      Tucson, AZ 85713

      or Donate Online


Daniel Levy: Apartheid Label Must Be a Wakeup Call

Daniel Levy, President of the U.S./Middle East Project

Meeting of the United Nations Security Council, Thursday, August 25, 2022
“The Situation in the Middle East Including the Palestinian Question”

I would like to thank the Council and the Chinese presidency in particular for allowing me to share some thoughts with you today. The events of earlier this month covered in detail by Special Envoy Wennesland are as concerning as they are predictable. To be very clear, Israelis deserve security; Palestinians deserve security.

Mr President, month in and month out the Council meets to repeat its familiar condemnations, formulas and slogans. I want to use this opportunity to rethink and re-appraise some assumptions and beliefs that may inadvertently contribute to the intractability in Israel-Palestine—to consider afresh, reasons why this conflict remains so prone to stalemate and human suffering.

I suggest to do this through 5 concepts that may assist us in such an endeavour:

First, Justice: The permanent dispossession and denial of the most basic rights and freedoms to the Palestinian people will never be a recipe for achieving sustainable security: this, the illegal blockade of Gaza and the unlawful occupation, represents forms of structural violence and collective punishment that we cannot ignore.

While the need for a political horizon is acknowledged, the dimensions of that horizon shrink and shrivel, becoming ever less ambitious.

There can be no effective or prolonged approach to Gaza in isolation—it is part of broader Israeli-Palestinian realities—in terms of security, the separation policy and closure. And crucially, there is a need to respect international law across the board—whether in state responses to armed threats or partisan resistance against state occupation.

Also in this context, there is a need for Palestinian political renewal, internal reconciliation and overcoming of divisions as well as an international need to engage all relevant actors without applying unrealistic and selective preconditions.

Second, Equilibrium: Any attempt to resume negotiations between the parties without addressing power asymmetries is a hollow and redundant exercise. As Comfort Ero, president of Crisis Group—with whom my organization the U.S./Middle East Project cooperates extensively—noted to this Council recently— “the structural power imbalance between an occupying state and an occupied people must be acknowledged.” A focus on relations of power rather than both sides-ism offers a path to clarity of thinking and policy.

As an example, attempts at economic confidence building measures are consistently too little, too late, and too ephemeral when attempted under conditions of a permanent, relentless and expanding matrix of occupation. This defies principles of harmony and reciprocity.

Especially with global resources stretched thin, the Palestinian economic predicament must be understood primarily as a function of politically imposed obstacles—on movement, borders, access to land, confiscations, demolitions and ever-expanding settlements—rather than an absence of charity. Economic palliatives under occupation deepen dependence and enmity.

We have heard the briefing of UNRWA Commissioner General Lazzarini. There must be an
economic commitment to a predictably resourced UNRWA capable of delivering services, not only a security necessity but also a political commitment to the Palestinian refugees who continue to be denied a solution.

Third, Accountability: I have previously highlighted to this Council two core problems; a legitimacy deficit in Palestinian politics and an accountability deficit viz Israel’s policies. It is Israel’s actions as the powerful occupying party that pre-eminently determine the direction of travel of this conflict.

Profound shifts are occurring as a result of the unwillingness to hold Israel to account not least on settlements.

Recent months have witnessed a disturbing intensification of that trend as Israel has targeted those least able to protect themselves and those most in the frontline bearing witness to violations of international law.

Following the shock expressed by Secretary General Guterres over the number of Palestinian children killed and maimed by Israeli forces last year, we have continued to see the same trend and suffering among the very young in Gaza this month.

We have witnessed the killing of those who report on and expose these crimes, Shireen Abu Akleh, being the latest journalist to pay with her life. And now the assault on those who document abuses and defend human rights, as well as community service providers, with Israel’s actions against six prominent Palestinian civil society organizations.

Following a terror designation having been made against the six NGOs by the Israeli authorities, a number of countries went on record that compelling evidence had not been forthcoming. Now in the past week, the offices of these organizations have been raided and shuttered and their workers interrogated.

Continue reading