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Justifying Occupation

Understanding Israel’s Actions

by MAHMOUD ABU RAHMA

It is essential that US citizens understand that this conflict should not continue to be viewed as a symmetrical one anymore. When they do not hear about it, there are vicious violations of international law against Palestinians every day; including closures/blockades, settlement activities (population transfer on account of our land and natural resources), displacement, killings, detention and torture.

We were all occupied by the developments in the past few days, and shocked to find out about killings. The Israeli government kept from us all that the three settler teenagers were killed from the first day because they wanted to carry out a large military operation in the occupied Palestinian territory. This operation saw hundreds of Palestinians arrested, tortured, killed and injured. Dozens of attacks were also directed at the besieged Gaza Strip. Incitement to violence and hatred went very high.

Since 12 June 2014, the day the teenage settlers went missing, Israel declared that its operation had two aims: find them and put pressure on Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to abandon a recent unity agreement and return to full separation between Gaza and the West Bank. Now we know that the Israeli government knew they were killed from the first day; however, the operation to destroy Palestinian unity and reinstate separation is ongoing. Separation and isolation, if successful, will allow Israel to annex large areas in the West Bank and divide Palestinians to keep them under control by military force; as opposed to a peace agreement that would end the occupation of the territory captured by Israel in 1967. This is a typical case of using violence to achieve political; not security, gains. In doing so, Israel has violated the human rights of Palestinian civilians in many ways, and has created an environment that allowed for kidnapping, murdering, and running over of Palestinian children by Jewish settlers in the West Bank.

Americans need to understand this situation. This conflict has not started on 12 June this year, but decades ago. The occupation of oPt [occupied Palestinian territories] in the manner Israel is doing it has been, and will continue to be, the reason behind such tragedies. They should expect to hear about more serious violations of human rights and international law, and they will hear all the security justifications for them. I hope they understand that buying such justifications will only help such violations to continue as Israel pursues fragmenting and destroying the Palestinian people for political reasons.

Mahmoud AbuRahma is communications and international relations director for the Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights in Gaza.