Displaying items by tag: Palestine struggle


Just minutes after the war between Israel and Hamas broke out, a 5-year-old boy named Baraa al-Gharabli was killed in Jabaliya, Gaza.

A 16-year-old, Mustafa Obaid, was killed in the same strike, on the evening of May 10.

Around the same time, four cousins — Yazan al-Masri, 2, Marwan al-Masri, 6, Rahaf al-Masri, 10, and Ibrahim al-Masri, 11 — were killed in Beit Hanoun, Gaza.

“It was devastating,” said Mukhlis al-Masri, a cousin. “The pain for our family is indescribable.”

Hussein Hamad, 11

Ibrahim Hassanain, 16

Muhammad Suleiman, 15

Hamza Ali, 12

Mina Sharir, 2, and Lina Sharir, 15, sisters

Nearly all of the children killed were Palestinian.

Gaza is crowded and its population skews young, with about half under age 18. So when Israeli warplanes hit homes and residential neighborhoods, the number of children at risk is extraordinary. Sometimes nearly entire households disappear with a single blast.

Israel blames Hamas for the high civilian death toll in Gaza because the group fires rockets and conducts military operations from civilian areas. Israel’s critics cite the death toll as evidence that Israel’s strikes were indiscriminate and disproportionate.

Beit Hanoun, in northern Gaza Strip, on May 15.Samar Abu Elouf for The New York Times

Children are the most vulnerable.

In Gaza, they grow up amid widespread poverty and high unemployment, and cannot freely travel in or out of the territory because of the blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt. They also live under the constant threat of war. An average 15-year-old would have lived through four major Israeli offensives. Nearly everyone in Gaza knows someone who has been killed in the fighting.

“When I think about the children who died,” said Ola Abu Hasaballah, a child psychologist in Gaza, “I also think about the ones who survive, those who were pulled out of the rubble and lost a limb, or those who will go to school and see their friend is missing.”

In the Arab village of Dahmash in central Israel, when the sirens wailed around 3 a.m. on May 12, Nadine Awad, 16, and her father ran outside for cover, said her uncle, Ismail Arafat. But a rocket fired by militants in Gaza slammed into the ground next to their home, killing both of them.

Nadine was a top student, her academic adviser, Sirin Slameh, said. She spoke English proficiently, taught herself how to play the piano and participated in Jewish-Arab coexistence programs, Ms. Slameh said. The week before, she had scored a 97 on a math exam, a subject she had struggled with.

She was very close to her father, Mr. Arafat said, and would follow him everywhere.

“The sad part is she followed him outside when the sirens blared,” he said, “and now she has followed him to the grave.”

Zaid Talbani, 4, and Miriam Talbani, 2, siblings

Hala Rifi, 13

Bashar Samour, 17

The funeral of Mina Sharir, 2.Samar Abu Elouf for The New York Times

While most of the children were Palestinians killed by Israeli airstrikes, there are exceptions.

At least two of the children killed in Gaza — Baraa al-Gharabli and Mustafa Obaid — may have been killed when Palestinian militants fired a rocket at Israel that fell short, according to an initial investigation by Defense for Children International-Palestine.

And one of the children killed in Israel, Nadine Awad, was Palestinian.

“The rockets don’t differentiate between Arabs and Jews,” said Ismail Arafat, her uncle.

Once the war started, Ido Avigal, 5, was so anxious that he did not want to sleep, shower or eat alone, said Shani Avigal, his mother.

When sirens started blaring in Sderot, Israel, he huddled with his family in a fortified safe room at his aunt’s home. But when a rocket hit a nearby building, shrapnel punctured the thick glass of the safe room, tearing into his stomach and killing him.

Ms. Avigal said her son was caring and loving, and had recently told his classmates that “not all Arabs are bad.”

“I said they all don’t want to kill us,” he told his mother. “I eventually convinced them.”

The same day, May 12, Hamada al-Emour, 13, went with his cousin, Ammar al-Emour, 10, to get haircuts at a barber shop — a tradition among many Palestinians before the festival that follows the end of Ramadan.

They were nearly back home in Khan Younis when an Israeli airstrike killed them both, said Atiya al-Emour, Hamada’s father, who said he witnessed his son’s death.

“I wish I didn’t see what happened to him,” said Mr. al-Emour. “It was awful.”

Mahmoud Tolbeh, 12, was an excellent student, his father, Hamed Tolbeh, said. He liked the sciences and dreamed of becoming a mechanical engineer. He was helpful around the house, making eggs and sandwiches for his siblings, tea and coffee for guests, cleaning the house and picking up groceries.

“He was the backbone of our family,” Mr. Tolbeh said. “We could rely on him for anything.”

On the last night of Ramadan, he went to help a cousin at his barber shop. Mahmoud was steps from the shop’s entrance, his father said, when shrapnel from an Israeli airstrike hit his head and neck. He died two days later.

His sister Nagham cradled his body.

“He had a bright future,” Mr. Tolbeh said. “But it was buried with him in the grave.”

Nagham Tolbeh mourned over the body of her brother, Mahmoud.Samar Abu Elouf for The New York Times

Yahya Khalifa, 13, enjoyed riding his bike, had memorized several chapters of the Quran and hoped to one day visit the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

“He was an innocent and sweet boy,” his father, Mazen Khalifa, said.

He went out to run a quick errand, promising to pick up yogurt and ice cream for the family, his father said, and was killed in an Israeli airstrike.

Four brothers: Amir Tanani, 6, Ahmad Tanani, 2, Ismail Tanani, 7, and Adham Tanani, 4 (not pictured).

The identities of the children killed, their photographs and the circumstances of their deaths came from their parents and other relatives, teachers and schools in Gaza and Israel, international rights organizations, Palestinian officials, social media, and news organizations in Gaza and Israel. Most of the details were corroborated by multiple sources.

Khaled Qanou, 17

Ahmad al-Hawajri, 14

The Israeli military says that it takes rigorous precautions to prevent civilian deaths. It says a major part of its bombing campaign was aimed at Hamas’s underground tunnel network, a military facility that runs underneath civilian neighborhoods.

Many people in Gaza, however, say that the number of civilians killed proves that whatever precautions Israel may be taking are tragically insufficient.

“People think there has to be some rationale,” said Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza, “but the bottom line is they want to inflict pain and suffering.”

The mother and brother of Yahya Khalifa, 13.Samar Abu Elouf for The New York Times

The low toll on the Israeli side also reflected an imbalance in defensive capabilities.

Hamas and other militant groups fired more than 4,000 rockets at Israeli towns and cities, also indiscriminately. But most were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system, which Israeli officials said stopped about 90 percent of the rockets. And many Israelis have safe rooms in their homes.

In Gaza, most people have no access to safe rooms or shelters. Many people seek refuge in the United Nations schools, but they too have been bombed, reinforcing a feeling that anyone could be killed anywhere.

Even in Israel, Arab citizens don’t always have equal access to bomb shelters. Ms. Awad, who was killed by a rocket from Gaza, lived in an Arab village with no bomb shelter.

Lina Issa, 13

Fawziya Abu Faris, 17, woke up early every morning in Umm al-Nasr, a Bedouin community in northern Gaza, to milk her family’s sheep and make fresh cheese and yogurt, said her father, Nasser Abu Faris.

Muhammad Abu Dayyeh, 9 months

Hoor al-Zamli, 2

Ibrahim al-Rantisi, 6 months

It was shortly after midnight in Beit Lahia, Gaza, and the three terrified children were huddled in their mother’s arms. Muhammad-Zain al-Attar, 9 months, sat in the middle, his sister, Amira al-Attar, 6, and brother, Islam al-Attar, 8, on either side.

The first strike hit the entrance of their ground floor apartment, trapping the family and making it impossible to flee, the father, Muhammad al-Attar, said. The second, moments later, brought the three story building down.

Mr. al-Attar dug himself out of the rubble and survived. His wife and children were crushed under a concrete pillar, their bodies found still together.

Abdullah Jouda, 12

Mental health experts and independent organizations who work with children in Gaza say they commonly suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic fear and anxiety. Those feelings can produce debilitating nightmares and self-destructive or aggressive behavior.

A Palestinian boy next to the remains of his home in Gaza City.Samar Abu Elouf for The New York Times

“Gaza is already a very violent and terrorizing experience for children because they are under constant military rule,” said Karl Schembri, a spokesman for the Norweigian Refugee Council, which runs a psychotherapy and education program for children in Gaza. Eleven of the children the group works with were killed this month, all of them in their homes.

“They were getting assistance and care to try and put behind them their nightmares and their trauma,” Mr. Schembri said. “Now they are buried with their dreams and their nightmares.”

Butheina Obaid, 6

Suheib al-Hadidi, 12, lived with his parents and four brothers in the crowded Shati refugee camp in Gaza City. He was fascinated by birds, which had a freedom he could only imagine. He owned a cockatiel, trained it to sit on his shoulder and envisioned a future as a breeder, his cousin, Abdullah al-Hadidi, said.

His brother, Yahya al-Hadidi, 10, was a shy boy who liked riding his bike and playing with cats, Mr. al-Hadidi said.

Osama al-Hadidi, 5, was considered one of the most stylish members of his family. He changed clothes frequently and took pains to perfect his looks, Mr. al-Hadidi said. “He would shower and change his clothes every two hours.”

Abdurrahman al-Hadidi, 7, studied English, dreamed of traveling to Turkey and liked playing with remote-control cars, his father, Muhammad al-Hadidi, said.

The four brothers were asleep at their uncle and aunt’s home, Muhammad al-Hadidi said, when an Israeli bomb ripped through the ceiling, killing them, their mother, their aunt and four cousins.

Yamen Abu Hatab, 5, Bilal Abu Hatab, 9, Miriam Abu Hatab, 7, and Yousef Abu Hatab, 10

Palestinians carrying the bodies of children from the Abu Hatab family who were killed in an Israeli airstrike.Samar Abu Elouf for The New York Times

Mohammad Bhar, 17

The al-Qawlaq family owned two adjacent apartment buildings on Al Wahda Street, a main thoroughfare in Gaza City. At around 1 a.m. on May 16, Israeli strikes reduced both buildings to rubble, killing more than 20 members of the extended family, including eight children: Yara al-Qawlaq, 9, Hala al-Qawlaq, 12, Rula al-Qawlaq, 5, Zaid al-Qawlaq, 8, Qusai al-Qawlaq, 6 months, Adam al-Qawlaq, 3, Ahmad al-Qawlaq, 15, and Hana al-Qawlaq,14 (not pictured).

“It’s unimaginable,” said Waseem al-Qawlaq, who survived. “It’s beyond torture.”

Searching for victims from the al-Qawlaq family.Samar Abu Elouf for The New York Times

Dima al-Ifranji, 15, far left, was the oldest child and the apple of her father’s eye. She was one of the top students in her class, spoke English and French, and dreamed of studying medicine, her father, Rami al-Ifranji, said. “She was brilliant,” he said. “She was a master of foreign languages.”

Her brother, Yazan al-Ifranji, 13, was a bright child, often the first to answer questions in class, Mr. al-Ifranji said. He liked playing soccer and listening to music, and hoped to become a computer engineer.

Mira al-Ifranji, 11, imagined a future as a dentist. And Amir al-Ifranji, 9, was a polite child with a vibrant smile who loved playing soccer and video games on his phone.

An Israeli airstrike on May 16 killed all four children and their mother.

It was late at night and even though the feast celebrating the end of Ramadan was over, Dana Ishkontana, 9, and Lana Ishkontana, 5, wanted to dress up in their new holiday outfits. Their uncle, Raed Ishkontana, snapped pictures on his phone while their two brothers, Yahya Ishkontana, 4, and Zain Ishkontana, 2, watched, Mr. Ishkontana recalled.

Then he stepped out to get snacks for the family, chocolate candy bars and potato chips.

The four children and their mother were killed in an Israeli airstrike, he said.

“I wish I never left,” he said.

Riad Ishkontana, who survived an airstrike, mourning the loss of his wife and four children.Hosam Salem for The New York Times

Her father called her “Galaxy.” Tala Abu Alouf, 13, he thought, had skin the color of a Galaxy chocolate bar. She was quick with a joke and her father, Dr. Ayman Abu Elouf, adored her, said Alaa Abu Elouf, her cousin.

Her brother, Tawfiq Abu Alouf, 17, was a serious student, intensely prepping for the standardized tests Palestinians take in their senior year of high school, Alaa said.

Brother, sister and father were killed in Israeli airstrikes on Al Wahda Street in Gaza City on May 16.

Yousef Al-Baz, 13

Rafeef Abu Dayer, 10, liked to draw. She had sketched one of the high-rise buildings that an Israeli airstrike destroyed in Gaza City two days earlier and had started to color in her drawing when her mother called her for lunch.

“You can go back to drawing after you eat,” her mother said.

The girl sat down for lunch with 13 relatives in a private residential garden. Minutes later, Israel attacked a building nearby. Shrapnel and rubble struck Rafeef, killing her and her uncle.

The drawing Rafeef Abu Dayer, 10, was working on before she was killed.Samar Abu Elouf for The New York Times

Nagham Salha, 2

On May 19, the day before Israel and Hamas agreed to a cease-fire, Dima Asaliya, 10, was walking home from her older sister’s house carrying an electric pizza oven. It was a small one, her father, Saad Asaliyah, said, the size of a soccer ball, that the family used to bake bread.

An Israeli surveillance drone had been hovering overhead, and Mr. Asaliyah now wonders if Israeli soldiers mistook it for a weapon.

“Maybe their alarms went off because of the stove,” he said. “But did they not see how small she was?”

There was an explosion, and his youngest child was gone.

“Do you see her picture?” he asked. “She’s worthy of our grief.”


BANGSA Yahudi pernah diberi tanah percuma untuk mereka bina negara sendiri. Tanah atau wilayah yang dimaksudkan ini umurnya 14 tahun lebih tua daripada negara haram Israel, bahkan ia masih wujud. Justeru apa sebab Zionis masih mahu renggut tanah Palestin?

Wilayah yang dimaksudkan ini adalah ‘Israel’ yang tidak ditubuhkan dengan merampas tanah sesiapa, dan memang ditubuhkan untuk menempatkan kaum Yahudi seramai mungkin dalam sebuah wilayah. Ia dikenali sebagai ‘Jewish Autonomous Oblast’ (Wilayah Autonomi Yahudi) di wilayah Birobidzhan, Rusia. Letaknya di bahagian paling timur (Russian Far East) bersempadan dengan Republik Rakyat China (PRC). Oblast bermaksud ‘wilayah, zon atau provinsi’ dalam bahasa Rusia. Keluasan tanah yang indah dan aman ini adalah 36,000 km persegi, hampir seluas negeri Pahang Darul Makmur dan 14,000 km persegi lebih besar dari Israel.

Ditubuhkan secara rasmi pada 6 Mei 1934, JOA masih satu-satunya wilayah autonomi di Rusia sejak zaman Kesatuan Soviet lagi. Bandar Birobidzhan (sebut Birobijan) menjadi bandar pentadbiran JOA sehingga ke hari ini.

Individu yang mencetuskan idea penubuhan JAO ini adalah Vladimir Lenin, pemimpin parti Bolshevik yang memperkenalkan polisi ateisme. Idea Lenin mahu beri ‘homeland’ untuk bangsa Yahudi kedengaran agak ganjil. Tujuan utamanya adalah untuk menunjukkan kerajaan Bolshevik pimpinannya mengamalkan sikap toleransi. Lenin sebenarnya mahu meraih sokongan kaum Yahudi dan mengekang pengembangan ideologi Zionis Sosialis dalam kalangan Yahudi haluan kiri, yang dilihat mampu menyaingi Marxisme di Rusia.

Lenin juga dikatakan berimpian memajukan wilayah paling timur Rusia itu dengan mengumpulkan kaum Yahudi (dan lain-lain etnik Rusia). Beliau mahu mewujudkan sebuah penempatan Yahudi yang menurutnya ‘berjiwa sosialis dalam tubuh nasionalis’. Setelah kematiannya pada 1924, idea penubuhan wilayah Yahudi di Rusia diteruskan pemimpin baharu Bolshevik, iaitu Joseph Stalin.

Mungkin juga niat asal penubuhan JAO ini tidak lain hanya bertujuan untuk menyingkirkan kaum Yahudi nun jauh di hujung timur Rusia. Wilayah tersebut sering dicerobohi tentera China dan pemberontak anti-Bolshevik. Sekurang-kurangnya bila ada sejumlah kaum Yahudi di situ, bolehlah mereka ‘menampan’ pencerobohan di perbatasan Soviet ketika itu. Ringkas kata, ini kerja serampang dua mata.

Tiada negara yang mengalu-alukan bangsa Yahudi di Eropah ketika itu. Kaum Yahudi Rusia terkenal dengan kekayaan hasil daripada menjalankan pelbagai jenis perniagaan. Selepas kejatuhan Tsar, Rusia dipaksa menganut Marxisme dan sektor perniagaan milikan peribadi diharamkan. Kaum Yahudi yang dahulunya kaya-raya, tiba-tiba jatuh miskin. Pada 1924, kadar pengangguran dalam masyarakat Yahudi Rusia adalah 30%. Antara penyebabnya adalah tindakan ‘pogrom’ (pembersihan etnik) yang menyasarkan kaum Yahudi dalam Empayar Rusia. Zaman sebelum Bolshevik pun, Tsar Rusia memang tidak suka dengan kaum Yahudi.

Justeru, bagi memastikan kaum Yahudi kembali menyumbang kepada ekonomi Soviet, kerajaan menubuhkan ‘Komzet’, jawatankuasa untuk penempatan pertanian kaum Yahudi.

Untuk mendapat kepastian sama ada wilayah JAO itu sesuai untuk didiami, Stalin telah menghantar kumpulan jawatankuasa pengkaji untuk menilai keadaan cuaca dan tanah di wilayah tersebut. Jawatankuasa itu mendapati tanah di wilayah sekitar Birobidzhan agak berbatu, hutan oak, cedar dan painnya agak tebal, banyak juga kawasan berpaya dan pada musim panas, serangan serangga perosak agak teruk, justeru tidak sesuai untuk tanaman mahu pun ternakan. Pun begitu, bagi Kesatuan Soviet, tiada apa yang tidak boleh dibuat atau dicipta. Idea JAO tetap dilaksanakan.

Sebenarnya semasa kajian tersebut dibuat, wilayah Birobidzhan sudah dihuni 30,000 masyarakat etnik Cossak, Korea, Kazakh dan beberapa etnik lain, termasuk golongan bekas pengikut Tsar Rusia.

Dipendekkan cerita, kumpulan pertama Yahudi Rusia yang berpindah ke JAO adalah seramai 654 orang pada 1928. Untuk menggalakkan lebih ramai kaum Yahudi memulakan hidup di JAO, kerajaan Soviet menghadiahkan tanah ladang, haiwan ternakan dan alatan pertanian. Idea berpindah ke JAO disambut baik dengan penuh kesyukuran oleh Yahudi Rusia, kerana Yahudi adalah satu-satunya bangsa di dunia yang tak punya tanah mahu pun negara.

Sekitar tahun 1930an, tauke-tauke besar Yahudi dari USA dan Brazil pun turut berpindah ke JAO. Pada 1932, keluarga perisik terkenal Rusia di kemudian hari, George Koval tiba di Birobidzhan. 1,200 Yahudi non-Soviet memilih untuk memulakan hidup baharu di situ.

Kaum Yahudi di JAO bertambah kepada 20,000 orang pada tahun 1937. Idea penubuhan JAO itu nampaknya menjadi dan berjalan lancar. Kedai-kedai dan perusahaan milik Yahudi tumbuh, kuil Yahudi didirikan, akhbar berbahasa Yiddish juga diterbitkan, manakala sekolah Yiddish juga dibuka untuk anak-anak kaum Yahudi.

Namun populasi Yahudi di JAO ada kalanya menaik dan menurun. Disebabkan cuaca dan faktor bumi JAO yang begitu ekstrem, penduduk Yahudi dan etnik-etnik lain mula menurun. Kerajaan Soviet juga tidak sepenuhnya menepati janji untuk membantu golongan Yahudi membina hidup baharu di JAO. Bagi yang berkemampuan, mereka angkat kaki keluar ke negara baharu. Yang tak mampu, terpaksalah teruskan hidup di situ. Faktor lain yang menyebabkan penurunan jumlah masyarakat Yahudi JAO adalah dasar ‘Red Terror’ Joseph Stalin antara 1936-1938 yang ironinya turut menjadikan kaum Yahudi sebagai sasaran.

Selepas Perang Dunia Kedua tamat pada 1945, idea untuk menempatkan pelarian Yahudi Eropah di JAO mula dilaksanakan. Pada 1948, populasi Yahudi meningkat kepada 46,000 ke 50,000 orang, yakni 25% daripada populasi keseluruhan JAO ketika itu.

Pada 1958, lebih kurang 50% masyarakat Yahudi meninggalkan JAO. Ada yang berpindah semula ke USA dan juga ke Israel. Hari ini, jumlah kaum Yahudi yang menetap di JAO hanyalah 1% daripada lebih kurang 162,000 keseluruhan penduduk JOA. Majoriti penduduk JAO adalah penganut Kristian pelbagai aliran, diikuti penganut ateisme, manakala terdapat juga 1% masyarakat Muslim di JAO.

Ada ura-ura di Moscow untuk menutup JAO dan diserap ke dalam wilayah lain sekitarnya, namun idea itu mendapat tentangan dari masyakat JAO, terutama kaum Yahudinya. Sungguh pun jumlah penganut Yahudinya kecil, terbukti JAO tetap menjadi ‘safe heaven’ kepada mereka berbanding jika mereka tinggal di Israel, atau mana-mana negara lain.

Di JAO mereka bebas mengamalkan Judaisme dan mengekalkan budaya tradisi Yiddish. KeYahudian wilayah JAO bagi mereka harus terus dikekalkan dan dipertahankan. Bandar Birobidzhan kini indah dengan binaan-binaan asal dan baharu, arca-arca artistik dan sekiranya Moscow menyokong pembangunan di situ, JAO mungkin akan terus berkembang pesat. Dengan penggunaan teknologi, sektor perindustrian dan pertanian juga semakin berkembang di JOA.

Hari ini, semakin ramai penduduk Yahudi yang pernah berpindah ke Israel pulang semula ke JAO. Jelas sekali hidup mereka lebih aman di JAO berbanding di Israel.

Presiden Vladimir Putin juga amat mengalu-alukan kaum Yahudi untuk kembali ke Rusia. Pada Januari 2016, Putin berkata di hadapan Kongres Yahudi Eropah: “Mereka (Yahudi) meninggalkan Rusia pada zaman Soviet, tapi kini mereka boleh kembali”.

Jadi bolehlah Yahudi sama ada Ortodoks mahu pun Zionis Sekular pergi menetap dan bina negara sendiri di JAO. Wilayah ini bersempadan dengan China, ada harapan tempias kemakmuran ekonomi di China akan turut masuk ke JAO. Potensi JAO lebih besar dari Israel di Palestin. Jiran-jiran JAO pun ‘mesra Yahudi’ belaka, tak macam negara-negara Arab. Tanahnya kini subur. Cuaca yang tidak menentu bukan lagi faktor penghalang untuk memajukan sesebuah negara. Teknologi canggih memungkinkan padang pasir pun menghijau dengan pelbagai pokok dan tanaman dalam abad moden ini. Tiada yang mustahil.

Di JAO, hidup masyarakat Yahudi lebih aman sentosa. Keindahan seni bina dan alam semula jadi di Birobidzhan dan daerah-daerah dalam JAO kini sekali lagi menjadi magnet kepada keluarga dan masyarakat Yahudi yang mahukan hidup dan masa hadapan yang lebih terjamin berbanding jika terus tinggal di Israel.

Jadi apa yang menghalang bangsa Yahudi Zionis dari memakmurkan JAO dan memilih untuk merampas tanah Palestin? Zionis ini majoritinya bukan dari keturunan asal penduduk Yahudi Palestin, tapi pendatang Yahudi dari Eropah, India, China, Afrika, Amerika Selatan dan lain-lain. Mereka itu bukan Bani Israel asal dan hanya menunggang agama Yahudi. ‘The Law of Return’ yang mereka laungkan itu hanyalah berdasarkan khayalan semata-mata.

Nur Iman ialah Conference Executive, International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia.

– BebasNews


Thursday, 20 May 2021 15:46

UNSC should issue fresh resolution

POST-ARAB Israeli wars, Israeli Zionists have been emboldened to expel Palestinians through evictions and land grab, in defiance of international laws.

One can refer to United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2334, Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 8(2)(b)(viii) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the two-state solution. UNSCRs are binding for member states under Article 25 of the United Nations Charter.

The latest Sheikh Jarrah incident is part of the ongoing, systematic and concerted campaign of ethnic cleansing and apartheid in Jerusalem since 1967.

Zionist provocations in response to peaceful protests against illegal and criminal evictions in Sheikh Jarrah by storming and violating the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque on the last Friday night prayers of
Ramadan on May 7 resulted in Hamas, the elected and, hence, legitimate authority in Gaza, to react by firing rockets into Israel.

One doesn't need to be a supporter of Hamas to recognise the fact that this organisation cannot be equated to the Islamic State (Daesh) or Al-Qaeda. It's not a

terrorist outfit, but a resistance movement. Its founder, the late Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, was  assassinated by Israel in 2004.

The firing of rockets, therefore, can't and shouldn't be construed as acts of terror. Rather it's in self-defence and a moral duty against Zionist intrusion and aggression in a territory under its occupation.

The UN Security Council (UNSC) should convene to issue a fresh resolution to compel Israel to allow UN officials and ICC investigators to enter Gaza to probe war crimes, with priority given to the state of Israel in what's an asymmetric and disproportionate conflict.

In fact, ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has expressed intention to press ahead with an inquiry.

Non-compliance and non-cooperation by Israel would result in the enforcement of sanctions.

This would be reminiscent of UNSCR 687 of 1991 (and by extension, UNSCR 1441 of 2002) with specific reference to the demand that Iraq, under Saddam Hussein then, allow UN inspectors to monitor and verify claims of disarmament of the "weapons of mass destruction" arsenals.

In the resolution on Israel, the UNSC should call for Jerusalem to be placed under an international body and call on countries, including the United States, that have moved their embassies to the city to reverse the decision. At the same time, a UN peacekeeping force should be stationed to preserve and maintain the status quo.

In addition, the UNSC must demand for an end to the land, air and sea blockade of the Gaza Strip by Israel and Egypt. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and Arab League should take the lead, too, as the blockade, which is stifling life for Gazans, should be part of the agenda of de-escalation and holding Israel to account.

Furthermore, the UNSC has the opportunity to recall UNSCR 497 of 1981 in which the annexation of Golan Heights from Syria in 1973 was declared "null and void and without international legal effect".

With the backing of like-minded countries, Turkey could send its navy to the limits of the exclusive economic zone of Gaza to contain and pressure Israel in the eastern Mediterranean and send a strong signal of its determination to end the blockade, sooner or later.

Now more than ever, Israel is showing the world that it's on the wrong side of history.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn't care as his focus is only on saving his skin from corruption charges.

Netanyahu is also bent on annexing the West Bank — pursuing ethnic cleansing and apartheid to its fullest possible — putting the lie to the two-state solution.

Reactions the world over against Israel's atrocities are rising as he drags the nation down to serve his personal and political interests. This may prove to be the beginning of Netanyahu's undoing.

The writer is head of social, law and human rights at EMIR Research, an independent think tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based on rigorous research

Published in New Straits Times on Wednesday, 19 May 2021.
10 December (Thursday) 10:00am - 11:30am (Malaysian Standard Time)
Published in Past Events
Monday, 07 September 2020 13:01

How much do we care about Palestine?

If we did a survey today and asked if Malaysians care about the plight of the Palestinians, we may be surprised to discover that there may not be as enormous support as we would have thought.

For one, we were never made aware of the Israeli-Palestinian issue other than from what we read, watch or hear.

We have no diplomatic relations with Israel and most Malaysians have no contact with an Israeli Jew. The only connection Muslims here have of them is found in the verses of the Quran, where the behaviour of the "children of Israel" is mentioned in several chapters.

Malaysia has an official policy of not recognising the state of Israel for as long as it continues to grab, occupy and settle in Palestinian land. This is also the policy of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for which our first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, was lauded when he was appointed its first secretary-general in 1969.

After the 1967 Six-Day War, in which Israel occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank, Gaza, and some of the land belonging to Jordan, Syria and Egypt, the Arab states acted in unison to fight back the Israelis.

The Peace Treaty of 1979, brokered by the United States, saw the return of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt, but not the territories belonging to the Palestinians. Even worse, the Palestinians who took refuge outside during the war were not allowed to return to their homeland.

The Arab League, a coalition of 22 Arab countries, made it their national duty and issued the Khartoum Resolution, often remembered for its three "nos": no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it.

Unfortunately, today, the Arab League is little more than "a talk shop" with half of the OIC members abandoning their pledge, recognising and establishing diplomatic relations with Israel. These countries include Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, several African states, including Nigeria, the Gambia and Senegal, and some Central Asian states such as Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

The latest Arab country to have diplomatic relations with Israel is the United Arab Emirates and there are intensive efforts made by the US to persuade Sudan, Bahrain and Oman to do likewise. The shift in policy of these OIC members relate to their own national interests — some did it for economic benefits, some were carolled and dangled with carrots, some did it for security reasons and many because of their fear of the rise of Iran.

Iran, which used to be a monarchy like most of the Arab states, became a populous Islamic state under Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 and there is fear that its ideology would spread in the Middle East. The Arab Spring of 2011 signalled that ordinary people are wary of the autocratic system of their monarchs.

To keep the status quo, many of these Arab leaders would not mind seeking alliances with Israel, which does not see eye to eye with Iran. This is why Saudi's recent move to allow Israeli planes to fly in their airspace is seen as a tactical political move in the interests of the monarchy, but not necessarily the people. However, within the OIC, there remains some strong-willed countries that would not tolerate Israel and its policies.

Malaysia is one of them. The few others include Indonesia and Pakistan — and these are not Arab states. Today, the Israel military has maintained a tight cordon along the Gaza Strip, making it impossible for the Palestinians living there to receive food and medical supplies from outside. A 708km wall constructed in 2002 borders the West Bank, making it difficult for its inhabitants to move at ease.

Thousands of Israeli settlements were built within the wall to saturate the Palestinian population. The biggest insult came in May 2018 when the US, under Donald Trump's administration, decided to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognising it as Israel's new capital.

It is not for Islamic solidarity that hardcore supporters like Malaysia must hold firmly to the Palestinian cause. It has to do with humanitarian rights of the people who are slowly being forced to abandon their own land to give way to the colonisers.

After all, if 400 million Arabs who worship the same God and write the same alphabet and recite the same poetry cannot unite for the Palestinian cause, the international community should. This is not an Arab issue. It has to do with the sufferings of people who are oppressed and in the midst of being thrown out of their land.

The writer is Malaysia's former ambassador to the Netherlands and the Fiji Islands

Published in: New Straits Times, Monday, 07 September 2020

Source: https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2020/09/622432/how-much-do-we-care-about-palestine

Tagged under
Tuesday, 01 September 2020 16:52

Two-state solution will satisfy Palestinians

When the United Arab Emirates recognised Israel as a full state, the most basic condition attached to the process that Israel cease and desist from any settlement activities in the West Bank.

However, there was no effort to specify when Israel should do that, merely an aspiration, which the UAE would like to see on the ground.

Another important point, there are more then 650,000 settlers in Israel, staying in the occupied land of Palestine wrested from King Hussein of Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War.

If the settlers had already considered these occupied land as their homes, which are against the Geneva Convention, the action of the UAE has amounted to rewarding the action of the Likud government, especially the coalition lead by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The fact is that since the Madrid Dialogue in 1990, as approved by the late United States president George Bush, with the consent of then Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, a two-state solution has always been in the offing.

To the degree the Spanish peace process could not make any head ways, Professor Herbert Kelman at Harvard University helped it along.

Kelman invited scholars and government officials from both sides to speak in their private albeit semi official capacity, in what is otherwise known as a "Track 2 Dialogue", a field explored in great detail by Phar Kim Beng, a former Harvard teaching fellow from 1998 to 2001.

When the confidence was gained by both sides, the Norwegian government took over to sponsor the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks leading to the 1994 Oslo Peace Accord signed between the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, who was representing the People's Liberation Organisation.

Regrettably, since then, Netanyahu, who has won five elections, has never taken this Oslo Accord seriously.

If the UAE does not understand the peril of the peace process, especially how brittle it can be, the Gulf country should not unilaterally recognise Israel.

There are three dire strategic implications.

First, the ultra-conservative elements in Iran have considered UAE a "legitimate target", potentially to be attacked. This is not healthy for regional dynamics.

Secondly, with Turkey against the plan too, it will lobby the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) to challenge the leadership of the United States and Israel to hamper any progress.

This will create a split in Nato at a point when the organisation is already very weak due to the absence of American leadership.

Finally, if UAE works with the US and Israel, the much sought-after Muslim unity will fray, not that it hasn't, because the Muslim world will begin to question
the legitimacy of the global order.

A two-state solution is the only gold standard that can satisfy the Palestinians, and all those who have had the misfortune to witness their displacement for decades.

The writer is president and chief executive officer of Emir Research, an independent think tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based on rigorous research

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times

Published in: New Straits Times on Tuesday, 01 September 2020

Source NST: https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2020/09/620924/two-state-solution-will-satisfy-palestinians

KUALA LUMPUR: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today lambasted “powerful nations” for their silence over the prolonged Israeli war crimes on Palestinian land.

In expressing his anger towards such atrocities, the interim prime minister said sufferings of the Palestinian people persist despite demands for justice against the oppression.

“I am also angry that powerful nations and self-proclaimed defenders of justice, freedom and democracy are keeping silent or worse, a party to the perpetrations of injustices and cruelties inflicted on the Palestinians, wantonly by the Tel Aviv regime.

“Most hurtful is at times when despair creeps in, and the sense of helplessness overwhelms us. Everyone speaks of justice and freedom but turns a blind eye when friends and allies commit all these wrong deeds. But I hope that such feelings are fleeting.

“While Malaysia wants to be friends with all countries and respect their sovereignty regardless of their ideological beliefs, we must continue to speak against injustices and in defending the rights of the oppressed,” he said in his keynote address at the opening session of the International Conference on the Question of Palestine, themed ‘Southeast Asian Support for the Rights of the Palestinian People’ at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre here today.

He said Malaysia reaffirmed its commitment to the cause until the Palestinians were provided with the justice, freedom, peace and security they deserve.

Dr Mahathir also urged Asean member states to continue the pursuit of justice and peace for the oppressed.

“Our collective voice regionally should espouse more than just economic development. We should also extend a united front in supporting the rights of the Palestinians. This is the primary purpose of this peace conference.

“This conference today is a congregation of global representatives – individually and collectively we can utilise all the platforms available, both Asean and non-Asean, for us to continue voicing our concerns and register our outrage over the inhumane and barbaric acts that the Tel Aviv regime has inflicted on the Palestinians.

“We are duty-bound and this responsibility is further amplified when powerful nations that had styled themselves as defenders of justice and freedom choose to be silent while the atrocities are being committed.

“And we cannot afford to practise double standards where gross injustice is concerned.”

Dr Mahathir reiterated Malaysia’s stand against the United States President Donald Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan, dubbed by proponents as “the deal of the century”, which was announced on Jan 28.

Malaysia, he said, stands by its position for the creation of an independent State of Palestine through a two-State solution based on the pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.

“The unilateral announcement endorsed and instigated by the Israelis without any attempts for dialogue or negotiation with Palestinian representatives from the West Bank or Gaza is a mockery of international efforts to find a solution to the Palestinian – Israeli ongoing crisis.

“Furthermore, to call it the Deal of the Century bespeaks of the ultimate in dishonest brokerage.

“The deal foregoes key issues at stake for a just solution. The plan would abolish the right of return for Palestinian refugees displaced by the 1948 war and their descendants, a key Palestinian stand.”

The deal, he said, is contrary to Security Council resolutions and the principle of a permanent two-State solution based on the 1967 borders, the realisation of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and the right of all States in the region to live in peace and security.

It does not respect previously signed agreements and commitments, he said.

“To suggest East Jerusalem as Israel’s national capital would grant Palestine limited autonomy in parts of the West Bank, if at all. At the same time, it would allow Israel to annex all its settlements there and keep nearly all of East Jerusalem. Thankfully, this has been deemed illegal by the international community.

“Israel will get Washington’s permission to annex all of its illegal settlements, now littered across the West Bank, as well as the vast agricultural basin of the Jordan Valley. I believe that under international law, the annexation of an occupied territory is considered a War Crime!

“Israel will continue to have military control over the entire West Bank. In the proposed agreement, Palestine would not be allowed an army, whereas Israel will control its security, borders, coastal waters and airspace. The occupied state would be forced to accept the plan within four years. Otherwise, Israel will have a free hand to start plundering yet more Palestinian territory.

“Malaysia finds the proposal utterly unacceptable and grossly unjust.

“Let us not forget that the international community back then was responsible for the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 and drowning the existing state of Palestine into anonymity and oblivion.”

He said it was on May 14, 1948, that Israel came into being through a bloody forcible seizure of villages and land from the Palestinians who had lived there from historical times.

The declaration of independence by Israel, he said, contrasts with the fate of Palestinians so much that the latter deems the date as the day of catastrophe.

“The Holocaust lasted six years and the Nakba (catastrophe) has been going on for more than 70 years! The pro-Israel nations were quick to hold a tribunal at Nuremberg to try Nazi war criminals but have any tribunal been established for the Palestinian victims?

“Palestinians have always been advised to forget the past and start anew wherever they may be. The paradox is that they live out the consequences of the past every day as oppressed people under a violent military occupation; as a powerless minority in Israel, or as marginalised exiles in refugee camps in neighbouring countries.

“Yet the Israelis will not allow the world to forget the Holocaust and ironically it is the Palestinians who have been made to pay a heavy price.

“Some of you may recall that in November 2013 the Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War held a tribunal against the state of Israel for war crimes and crimes of genocide.

“Along with other civil society initiatives across the world, we hope that the International Criminal Court will take note of this blatant case of the injustice of the century and institute proceedings against Israel.”


Published in: The New Straits Times, Satruday 29 February 2020

Source: https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2020/02/570128/dr-m-slams-powerful-nations-being-silent-over-palestine

At the coffee house of a hotel here, people were moving about oblivious to the presence of a renowned Israeli historian.

“I only arrived just hours ago, but I am impressed with what I have seen and heard so far.

“I envy all of you for the peace and harmony that you enjoy here. Hopefully, we can have this one day back home.”

Professor Ilan Pappe, 65, is a professor at the College of Social Sciences and International Studies at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom.

He was on his first visit to Malaysia. Pappe has for many years fought against the Zionist regime’s oppressive policies towards the Palestinians.

Because of his views, he has not only come under fire and criticism from fellow Jews, but has also suffered in many ways.

“As an Israeli with such a stand in support of the Palestinians and for peace as well, I have paid a heavy price. I was kicked out of the University of Haifa in 2007.

“Since then, I am unable to teach in any academic capacity in Israel, so this is why I moved partly to England because I needed an academic position.

“The effect of this is that you lose contact with your society, and in a way in their eyes (Jews), you are seen and labelled as a traitor, so it has been anything but easy.

“But I’m not the only one, as there are several of us. When I talk to colleagues or compatriots who underwent a similar journey or trajectory, there is an interesting point.

“Despite the fact that we cannot go back any more to where and what we once were, we are at total peace with ourselves, because we know we are doing the right thing and it’s much stronger than tribal affiliations.

“Despite losing some of our reference points in society, I should also make it clear that I am very strongly supported by the Palestinians which gives me a lot of strength.

“My suffering is nothing compared to what they have and are still going through,” said Pappe.

He also revealed that when more of the Jewish public began to know of his efforts in defending the human and civil rights of the Palestinians, things began to get out of hand. The safety of his family came under threat.

“The main problem were the death threats. This is the main reason why I left for England.

“Such threats started when my children were very young. But then a few years ago, the situation got better so my wife and children went back because I wanted them to know and see first-hand the struggles on both sides of the divide.

“With Israel being such an indoctrinated society, the Israeli government does not have to deal directly with people like me.

“It is society, as in the university, the neighbours from who we bore the brunt of most of the dissent and dissatisfaction. Even some of our family members and relatives shunned us.”

Being an accomplished academician, for years Pappe has been trying to change the mindset of fellow Israeli Jews towards their Palestinian neighbours through education and subtle social engagement.

“I do what I can with other people. I am not just working for the Palestinians, which is the most important thing for me.

“I am also of the opinion that I am doing a good service for my fellow Jews despite the fact that they think otherwise.”

Growing up in Israel, at the age of 18, Pappe was drafted into the Israeli Defence Force.

He saw action in the Golan Heights during the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, and the experience was just part of what shaped his outlook and stand against Zionism.

“For me, it’s very difficult to talk about an epiphany or the big event that started or changed it all. As a soldier during the war, I never thought philosophically, all I wanted was to survive the war and get home.

“The big moment was getting out of Israel for the first time, going to study abroad in England

“While I was at Oxford University in the early 80s pursuing my tertiary education, I chose an Arab supervisor and then suddenly I began to see things from a different perspective.

“I do not think that I would be who I am today if I had stayed back in Israel and completed my education there,” stressed Pappe.

From a young age, he already had a different outlook from his peers and he was not afraid to speak up or question what he thought was incorrect or a fabrication of the truth.

“I was born and grew up in Haifa, and there is a big piazza called the Liberation Piazza. And once, during a school field trip there, I remember asking my teacher how and why did such a place get its name.

“My teacher replied that it was to commemorate liberation from the Palestinians.

“Then I retorted that the Palestinians did not occupy us and in fact it was the other way around.

“For me it should have been called the Piazza of Occupation,” he recalled.

At present, Pappe is the director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies and a fellow of the Institute of the Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter.

He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and 1978 and after he received a doctorate in history from Oxford University in 1984, he taught at the University of Haifa until 2007.

During those years, he was also the chair of the Emil Touma Institute for Palestinian Studies in Haifa.

Pappe is also the author of 20 books and many articles on the history of the Middle East in general and Palestine in particular.

Among his works are A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples (2003); The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2007) and On Palestine (with Noam Chomsky 2014).

His most recent book is The Biggest Prison on Earth: A History of the Israeli Occupation (2018).

Pappe delivered his lecture entitled ‘Palestine is still the issue’ at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation on Saturday, organised by the International Movement for a Just World (in cooperation with the institute)

Published in: New Straits Times, Monday 20 January 2020

Source : https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2020/01/558096/my-suffering-nothing-compared-palestinians

Tagged under
Thursday, 17 October 2019 17:02

Speak about oppression, Muslims urged

Kuala Lumpur: Ascertaining the cause is one thing but finding the solution is quite another for panellists and participants at The Palestine-Kashmir Forum: The Struggle for Freedom & Self Determination, as the question that hit hardest and most lingered on was ‘What more can we do?’

It was posed during a question-and-answer session by a participant who acknowledged all the points raised and debated by the panellists but was unconvinced on the plan forward in terms of protecting the rights of Palestinians and Kashmiris for self-determination in the face of hostile forces.

In her keynote address at the forum held at the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) on Monday, Pakistan High Commissioner to Malaysia, Amna Baloch, described the Indian government’s action on Kashmir as crossing all lines of cruelty after sending thousands of troops there upon withdrawing Kashmir’s special status.

“Kashmir is burning,” she said, referring to a communication shutdown that brought daily life to a standstill and contributed to a shortage of commodities. Soldiers targeted Kashmiri youths, sending those arrested to distant locations outside the territory despite protests from some of India’s well-known opposition leaders and non-governmental organisations.

To recap, the government of India revoked the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir on Aug 5 this year. Article 370 conferred power on Jammu and Kashmir to have a separate constitution, a state flag and autonomy over the internal administration of the state.

Now no longer bound by the article, Kashmir is ruled directly from New Delhi. However, some including Amna’s deputy, Atif Sharif Mian, believe that India was planning to annex the territory by revoking Kashmir’s special status.

However, revoking the special status would permit outsiders to reside in the territory which could reduce and replace the Muslims as the majority populace there. With such a demographic change, Kashmir would no longer be a majority Muslim state which may be the intent.

As for Palestine, Director for Palestine Cultural Organisation Malaysia, Muslim Imran, said that US President Donald Trump’s adminisration has only worsened the situation for Palestinians by declaring Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel while the Jewish nation continued to usurp Palestinian land.

Trump also became the first US president to stop funding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.

Other developments that hamper the Palestinian cause come from Arab countries themselves attempting to normalise relations with Israel and the failure among Palestinian factions to establish a unified platform.

Despite that, Palestinian resistance endures because the Palestinians themselves are fighting Israel’s subjugation and oppression while the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement has so far been more and more successful.

Talking among the panellists, the president of the Malaysian Consultative Council For Islamic Organisation, Azmi Abdul Hamid, made a stark observation — that 1.8 billion Muslims can make a difference but are hesitant due to the narrative that Muslims can’t do much.

“Muslims have the will to not go down (easily). They must speak about oppression like we are doing through this forum. Don’t wait for government to act,” he said

Back to the question of “what more can we do?” Being united as an ummah is one, continuing to support BDS and trying to seek ways to reconcile one another’s interest despite differing opinions and methods is another.

To that is another question — do Muslims have the will to do so?

Published in: The New Straits Times, Wednesday 16 October 2019

Source : https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2019/10/530446/speak-about-oppression-muslims-urged

The event was held at IAIS Malaysia on 14 October 2019, click here for more information about the event.

14 October 2019 (Monday) 09:00am - 1:00pm
Venue: IAIS Malaysia, Jalan Elmu, Off Jalan Universiti, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Published in Past Events
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