On Nov. 28 the Israeli courts rejected an appeal by Palestinian residents of the Silwan neighborhood in East Jerusalem against the demolition of their homes. The court’s refusal to act means that 58 families will be forcibly displaced. These families are not alone: at least 20,000 Palestinian-owned structures in East Jerusalem are at risk of being demolished. Yet even as these Palestinian homes are threatened, new home construction for Jewish Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem and the West Bank increases.
Thanks to what has been reported as “heavy” U.S. pressure, some of the planned Israeli settlement expansion to the east of Jerusalem was delayed recently
. However, home construction in other areas continues. In a controversial and provocative move, Israeli President Isaac Herzog visited Hebron
, visibly supporting the settlers there. This visit was followed by an Israeli promise of additional funds for “municipal services” that will benefit the settlers in Hebron. Such actions belie the notion
that the current Israeli government will restrain settlement development or expansion.
During the recent olive harvest season, settler violence against Palestinian farmers
and communities spiked, the attacks “unprecedented” in their frequency and severity. In a recent report
, the respected Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem asserted that such settler violence is not “a private initiative” but an “unofficial branch of … state violence” and that Israel “maintain[s] plausible deniability and blame[s] the violence on settlers rather than on the military.” Violence against Palestinian children was especially prevalent in 2021, according to a recently released report by Defense for Children International–Palestine
For further evidence of how Israel seeks to avoid international accountability for state violence, see “Unwilling and Unable
,” a report issued earlier this month by B’Tselem and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. The report analyzes Israel’s investigations into its response to the 2018 Great March of Return
in Gaza. By announcing that the Israeli military’s attorney general would conduct the inquiry into the military’s own actions, Israel effectively prevented the International Criminal Court from investigating and thereby avoided accountability.
Flouting international law and conventions cannot be tolerated. The United States, which annually sends $3.8 billion in military aid to Israel ($10.4 million/day), has great leverage to uphold the principles and enforce the laws of an international system it was instrumental in establishing, and to ensure Israel’s compliance with U.S. law.
Tell your congressional representatives to hold Israel accountable by withholding U.S. military aid until it complies with internationally recognized human rights standards as specified in existing U.S. law.
As the United States imposes financial and diplomatic sanctions on other countries for their abuse of human rights and international law, it must be consistent in holding all violators accountable.
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