Amid rising violence and tensions in recent weeks, Palestinian rights groups on Thursday condemned all “forms of attacks on civilians” and declared that the current situation cannot be “explained, addressed, or remedied” without a clear-eyed look at its root causes, which remain Israel’s violations of international law and brutal control of the Occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC) and the Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem (CCPRJ) called on the international community to withdraw support from the bloodshed by halting military aid, political backing, and “institutionalized impunity” for Israel.
“There is a root cause for this violence,” the groups declared. “Israel’s continued violations of international law, including its brutal and illegal military occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory that has lasted 48 years and its racist policies against Palestinian citizens of Israel.”
This month alone, Israeli armed forces have killed at least 46 Palestinians and wounded over 5,000, the groups report. According to Defense for Children International-Palestine, at least ten children are among those killed over the past three weeks. Eight Jewish Israelis have been killed over the same time period—at least one because he was mistaken for a Palestinian by an Israeli soldier. Eritrean asylum seeker Haftom Zarhum was beaten and killed at the Be’er Sheva bus station last week by an Israeli crowd that falsely suspected him of carrying out an attack.
The pair of coalitions—which includes well-known rights groups such as Addameer, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, and the Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counselling—say the only way to curb the rise in violence is to end the occupation.
“The upsurge in violence is the result of the growing frustration of generations of Palestinians who have lived under military occupation with no promise of change in the future,” they wrote. “Instead of hope, Palestinians have grown accustomed to Israel’s continued confiscation of their land and the displacement of its inhabitants; the demolition of their homes; the aggressive expansion of Israeli settler colonies (settlements); settler violence against Palestinians and their property facilitated by the state; torture and ill-treatment; and increasing numbers of arbitrary arrests and administrative detentions, amongst other manifestations of Israel’s violent occupation.”
But in fact, the occupation appears to be intensifying, with Israeli forces sealing off neighborhoods of East Jerusalem; imposing more severe sentencing guidelines for people accused of stone-throwing; and using excessive force—including live fire—against peaceful crowds of protesters. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was accused of inciting further violence when he falsely asserted this week that Haj Amin al-Husseini, the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, persuaded Hitler to exterminate the Jews.
The statement warns: “Israel has accelerated measures that further entrench the occupation and suppress Palestinian resistance. These measure include the use of excessive, and often lethal, force against Palestinian protesters in both the OPT and Israel, the use of punitive home demolitions, and an increase in the number of arrests and detentions.”
Josh Ruebner, policy director for the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, told Common Dreams, “This Palestinian civil society call for the international community to take steps to halt Israel’s systemic violence toward Palestinians needs to be heeded in the United States especially.”
Ruebner explained: “It is our weapons and our diplomatic support which enable Israel to carry out its illegal policies of extrajudicial assassination, collective punishment, and colonization of Palestinian land, to name a few.”
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