Israel takes acting with impunity to the next level; the world watches

  • Post last modified:March 7, 2024
  • Reading time:6 mins read

Israel has been acting with impunity for around 75 years – not least during its ongoing, current genocide in Gaza. However, the far-right state dragged has itself to another disgraceful low. Meanwhile, the West and its allies in the global north looked on – albeit it with some weasel words from a former UK prime minister – while China blasted the situation as a “disgrace to civilisation”.

Israel: yet more illegal settlements

The Israeli government said on Wednesday 6 March it has pushed forward construction plans for 3,500 settler homes in the occupied West Bank. The move comes after far-right finance minister Bezalel Smotrich vowed in February to expand settlements. This was in response to Palestinian gunmen killing an Israeli civilian and wounding several others in the Occupied West Bank.

Israeli minister Orit Strook wrote on X that:

Nearly 3,500 settlement units… We promised – we are delivering… Together we will continue to advance the settlements

Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now said there were 3,426 homes advanced through a planning committee, across Ma’ale Adumim and Kedar, east of Jerusalem, and Efrat, south of the city.

After three Palestinian gunmen shot dead an Israeli and injured several near the illegal Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim on February 22, Smotrich said:

Our enemies must know that any harm done to us would result in more construction, more development and even more control over the entire country.

Moreover, far-right Israeli minister of national security Itamar Ben-Gvir said:

Our right to life overrides the Palestinians’ freedom of movement… I will fight for barriers around the villages that will limit the freedom of movement of the residents of the Palestinian Authority.

Ben-Gvir’s comments should be viewed as colonialism in action.

Context, context

Greenlighting the next step for the pre-planned homes comes less than two weeks after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said any Israeli settlement expansion would be “counterproductive to reaching enduring peace” with the Palestinians.

Meanwhile, on Thursday 7 March Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi slammed Israel and its allies in a press conference, saying:

It is a tragedy for humankind and a disgrace for civilisation that today, in the 21st century, this humanitarian disaster cannot be stopped… The international community must act urgently, making an immediate ceasefire and the cessation of hostilities an overriding priority, and ensuring humanitarian relief an urgent moral responsibility.

Of course, context is everything – not least when Palestinians attack Israelis, and then Israel retaliates.

Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Settlements in the Palestinian territories are illegal international law – like the one in Ma’ale Adumim.

Despite opposition abroad, Israel has in recent decades build dozens of settlements across the West Bank – often violently. They are now home to more than 490,000 Israelis, who live alongside – but often act aggressively and violently towards – around three million Palestinians in the territory.

South Africa appealing to the ICJ to stop Israel’s genocide

All this comes as South Africa petitioned the International Court of Justice on 6 March to impose fresh emergency measures on Israel over what it described as the “widespread starvation” resulting from its Gaza offensive.

It is the second time Pretoria has asked the court for additional measures – its first request in February was denied.

South Africa said it was “compelled to return to the Court in light of the new facts and changes in the situation in Gaza – particularly the situation of widespread starvation” during the offensive.

Pretoria said its application may be “the last opportunity that this Court shall have to save the Palestinian people in Gaza already dying of starvation, and now ‘one step’ from famine,” citing the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The UN has warned famine is looming. Yet Israel has repeatedly killed Palestinians queuing for food in Gaza; a potential war crime if ever there was one.

If Israel is an ‘occupying power’ then Palestinians can resist… no?

Even ex-PM and now UK foreign secretary David Cameron appeared to toughen his words, saying on 6 March:

The UK supports Israel’s right to self-defence. But as the occupying power in Gaza, Israel has a legal responsibility to ensure aid is available for civilians.

That responsibility has consequences, including when we as the UK assess whether Israel is compliant with international humanitarian law.

Of course, Cameron’s tough words are also weasel ones – given he personally refused to stop arms sales to Israel.

However, they’re also interesting. He noted Israel is the “occupying power in Gaza” – as it is in the illegally-occupied West Bank. So, on that basis under international law Palestinians in both territories surely have the right to resist an occupying power – or, as the UN general assembly puts it:

legitimacy of the people’s struggle for liberation from colonial and foreign domination… by all available means.

Israel might like to bear that in mind as it starts bulldozing Palestinian’s homes for its 3,500 new illegal settlements, as it massacres Gazans queuing for bread, and as its ministers display open and rampant colonialism.

Additional reporting via Agence France-Presse

Featured image via the Israeli PM – YouTube

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