SIR – Frank Adam in his latest letter from Manchester denies that Israel commits genocide in Palestine yet prominent scholars of international law and human rights authorities take the position that Israel’s policies toward the Palestinian people do indeed constitute a form of genocide.
Their reasoning is based on the 1948 mass killing and displacement of Palestinians; a half-century of military occupation; the discriminatory legal regime governing Palestinians; repeated military assaults on Gaza, and official Israeli statements expressly favouring the elimination of Palestinians.
Some few months ago a UN investigation found that Israeli Defence Force snipers not only shot at unarmed protesters but at journalists, health workers, children and persons with disabilities, knowing they were clearly recognisable as such.
Thirty-five of those killed were children, three were clearly identifiable paramedics and two were clearly marked journalists, the report said.
Only one Israeli army sniper has been convicted of shooting dead a 14-year-old boy while posing no threat. The court sentenced the sniper to the equivalent of a month’s community service.
In Israel’s warped scales of justice, the cost of a Palestinian child’s life amounts to no more than a month of extra kitchen duties for his killer.
But the overwhelming majority of the 220 Palestinian deaths at the Gaza fence over the past 20 months will never be investigated. Nor will the wounding of tens of thousands more Palestinians, many of them now permanently disabled.
For many years Israel has been denying United Nations monitors – including international law experts like Richard Falk and Michael Lynk – entry to the occupied territories in a blatant bid to stymie their human rights work. Human Rights Watch, based in New York, also felt the backlash when Omar Shakir, their Israel-Palestine director, was deported. Mr Shakir rightly explained that the main reason Israel needs soldiers in the Palestinian West Bank – and has kept them there oppressing Palestinians for more than half a century – is to protect settlers who were sent there in violation of international law.
The collective punishment of Palestinians, such as restrictions on movement and the theft of resources, was inevitable the moment Israel moved the first settlers into the West Bank. That is precisely why it is a war crime for a state to transfer its population into occupied territory.
The Israeli government seeks to hide the truth of such illegality while encouraging their apologist supporters to divert attention away by re-writing history and refusing to condemn the unwarranted killing of civilians. The Israeli tactics of oppression used to gain more Palestinian land for illegal settlements should not be permitted and the bill to make trading of settlement goods illegal should be made law as a matter of urgency.