The epitome of all evil

The epitome of all evil

Syria, Iran and N. Korea are often thought of when the term the axis of evil comes up. The brutality or the nefarious designs of their regimes command headlines. But when another evil in our neighborhood does its dirty work in full view of the public, it barely draws a line or two on the back pages of media outlets. The silence is deafening.

Since the Palestinian march against apartheid and oppression began just over a year ago, 215 Palestinian protestors have been callously murdered by Israeli forces, 43 of them children. More than 18,000 have been shot and maimed by Israeli soldiers and snipers and the numbers are rising. The Palestinians have been marching en masse in a peaceful protest to decry Israeli brutality against the lawful residents of the land. An additional 3,000 or more Gaza residents have been treated for tear gas inhalation or injuries by rubber-coated steel pellets.

In typical fashion, the Israeli military has disputed the Gaza count of the dead and wounded, saying that at most dozens were struck by Israeli fire. But it has not offered any evidence to refute the charges. This indiscriminate targeted shooting of unarmed civilians has drawn the ire of many rights groups who charge that the Israeli military’s open-fire orders against unarmed Palestinians approaching the border fence are unlawful.

The protests by Palestinians have been fueled by the widespread hopelessness and despair of the territory’s two million people. For the past 25 years, Israel has tightened restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from the Gaza Strip in ways that far exceed any conceivable requirement of Israeli security. These restrictions affect nearly every aspect of everyday life, separating families, restricting access to medical care and educational and economic opportunities, and perpetuating unemployment and poverty. Israel has occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip for more than 50 years. These are Palestinian lands that Israelis control through repression, institutionalized discrimination and systematic abuses of the Palestinian population’s rights.

Human rights organizations have periodically highlighted major violations of international human rights laws and humanitarian laws that illustrate the occupation: unlawful killings, forced displacement, abusive detention, the closure of the Gaza Strip and other unjustified restrictions on movement and the development of settlements, along with the accompanying discriminatory policies that disadvantage Palestinians.

Israel always explains away its abusive practices in the name of security. “Whether it’s a child imprisoned by a military court or shot unjustifiably, or a house demolished for lack of an elusive permit, or checkpoints where only settlers are allowed to pass, few Palestinians have escaped serious rights abuses during this 50-year occupation,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director of Human Rights Watch.

The Israelis have killed almost 3,000 Palestinian civilians in the last three Gaza conflicts (2008-09, 2012, 2014) alone. Mind you, these were civilians whose only crime was living peacefully on their land. In the West Bank, the Israelis routinely use excessive force in policing situations, killing or grievously wounding thousands of demonstrators, rock-throwers, suspected assailants, and others with live ammunition when lesser means could have averted a threat or maintained order.

Since 1967, the Israeli government has been sanctioning the illegal settlements that have sprouted on Palestinian lands in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Israel has also arbitrarily restricted hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in their ability to live in and travel from the West Bank and Gaza. Israel has also revoked the residency of over 130,000 Palestinians in the West Bank and 14,565 in East Jerusalem since 1967, largely on the basis that they had been away too long.

Israeli authorities have imprisoned hundreds of thousands of Palestinians since 1967, the majority after trials in military courts, where the verdict is known before the trial begins, and conviction is the order of the day.

In recent times, Palestinian children, some not more than 10 years old, have become the tragic target on a daily basis of armed Israeli settlers who have shown no remorse in killing children in cold blood. It is said that this philosophy of targeting defenseless Palestinian women and children is to break the will of the resistance to their occupation.

Israel today is following the principles laid out by an ex-prime minister Ariel Sharon, who once said in a recorded interview: “I don’t know something called International Principles. I vow that I’ll burn every Palestinian child that will be born in this area. The Palestinian woman and child are more dangerous than the man because the Palestinian child’s existence infers that generations will go on, but the man causes limited danger. I vow that if I was just an Israeli civilian and I met a Palestinian I would burn him and I would make him suffer before killing him. With one hit I’ve killed 750 Palestinians in Rafah in 1956.”

That seems to be the doctrine his protégé Benjamin Netanyahu is religiously following.

This is the Israeli charter. This apartheid nation in its current form is indeed the epitome of all evil.

The author can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena