FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Occupier Defines Justice

by AMIRA HASS

On Jerusalem’s Jabotinsky Street, opposite the President’s Residence, a medium-sized plaque is fixed on a locked gate, enclosing a broad building and a lovely garden: “This building was the location of the British Mandate Government’s High Military Court, which held the trials of the Hebrew resistance fighters from the Haganah, Etzel and Lehi.” The sign bears the emblems of the Jerusalem municipality and the three resistance organizations. It further notes: “The resistance fighters refused to acknowledge the authority of the court to judge them, and asked to be recognized as prisoners of war.”

The speaker of the Palestinian Authority’s parliament, who was arrested two weeks ago by the Israel Defense Forces, also refused to acknowledge the authority of the Military Court to judge him. Obviously the two latest detainees, whose arrest was deemed by Israel to be the appropriate solution to its shortcomings in releasing kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, will make the same declaration. Nasser A-Shaer, the Palestinian education minister and deputy prime minister, and Mahmoud Ramahi, chief whip of the Palestinian Legislative Council, were arrested on Saturday and Sunday. Incidentally, the Palestinians have lately ceased using the verb “arrested” in regards to the arrests of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers. Instead they use the verb “abducted.”

These three detainees/abducted join about 10,000 other Palestinian prisoners and detainees. As with the prisoners of the Hebrew resistance, who saw themselves as POWs regardless of their actions (killing British soldiers or Arab civilians), some Palestinians request that their prisoners be declared POWs. Others prefer the definition of political prisoners. Let’s let the definitions rest. In any case, from the offense to the jailing, Israel, as an occupying force, plays around with the definitions as it sees fit.

On Sunday, at 4:30 A.M., IDF soldiers shot and killed a worker, Jalal Uda, 26, and injured three other Palestinian civilians. This happened not far from the Hawara checkpoint, south of Nablus. Palestinian newspapers referred to it as the “crime scene.” The young men rode a taxi in a road bypassing the checkpoints. For the last several weeks the army has again forbidden young men under age 32 from leaving Nablus. But people have to make a living, and thousands are looking for hidden routes. An offense punishable by death, so it seems. The soldiers acted as prosecutor, judge and executioner. According to the rules of occupation, when soldiers kill Palestinian civilians, they and those who sent them are never criminals, suspects, accused or convicts. The brigadier general who limits the age of those who exit the Nablus compound, by virtue of his belonging to the “Defense Army” can also not be considered a criminal, suspect or convict.

When a Palestinian kills an Israeli–soldier or civilian–his name, picture and details of his indictment will be published. He will automatically be condemned to life in jail, and his prime minister or the leader of his organization will be considered responsible and hence a target for arrest or assassination. The soldiers who kill Palestinian civilians are sheltering under the wide apron of the occupation army. Their names will not be known in public, and their prime minister and commanders will not be deemed accountable.

The Palestinian detainees are led to a military court: The same military establishment that occupies and destroys and suppresses the civilian population is the one that determines that to resist occupation–even by popular demonstrations and waving flags, not only by killing and bearing arms–is a crime. It is the one to prosecute, and it is the one to judge. Its judges are loyal to the interest of defending the occupier and the settler.

Allegedly every Palestinian is tried, convicted and jailed as a private person who committed a criminal offense. But a sharp discrimination in the conditions of imprisonment proves that the Palestinian security prisoner is punished not as an individual, but as a representative of a group, as part of its overall suppression. Contrary to international law, the majority of Palestinian prisoners and detainees are not held in the occupied territory, but rather inside Israel. Contrary to popular myth, Israel does not respect the right to regular family visits.

The army does its best to disrupt the visitation schedule, using various security and technical excuses. Only relations of the first degree (parents, siblings and children) are allowed to visit the prisoners, but hundreds of them have not had the privilege of any visits for several years. The right to make daily use of a telephone is given to the most dangerous of criminal prisoners, and is denied from Palestinian security prisoners, among them citizens and residents of Israel. This is done via a weak and unconvincing excuse of a security establishment that has advanced and effective surveillance devices. The path of sentence reduction and clemency is open to the Jew (especially when he is a settler) and is almost hermetically shut to the Palestinian.

It is no wonder that the Palestinians support every action–such as kidnapping soldiers–that tries to break the rules of this discrimination game. Every Palestinian prisoner’s personal history is an expression of the freedom Israel allows itself in the implanting of an extreme subculture of double standard, discriminating blood from blood, human being from human being, nation from nation.

AMIRA HASS writes for Ha’aretz. She is the author of Drinking the Sea at Gaza.

 

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
Stratos Ramoglou
Why the Greek Economic Crisis Won’t be Ending Anytime Soon
David Price
The 2016 Tour of California: Notes on a Big Pharma Bike Race
Dmitry Mickiewicz
Barbarous Deforestation in Western Ukraine
Rev. William Alberts
The United Methodist Church Up to Its Old Trick: Kicking the Can of Real Inclusion Down the Road
Patrick Bond
Imperialism’s Junior Partners
Mark Hand
The Trouble with Fracking Fiction
Priti Gulati Cox
Broken Green: Two Years of Modi
Marc Levy
Sitrep: Hometown Unwelcomes Vietnam Vets
Lorenzo Raymond
Why Nonviolent Civil Resistance Doesn’t Work (Unless You Have Lots of Bombs)
Ed Kemmick
New Book Full of Amazing Montana Women
Michael Dickinson
Bye Bye Legal High in Backwards Britain
Missy Comley Beattie
Wanted: Daddy or Mommy in Chief
Ed Meek
The Republic of Fear
Charles R. Larson
Russian Women, Then and Now
David Yearsley
Elgar’s Hegemony: the Pomp of Empire
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail