As the UN General Assembly begins its meeting today in New York City, Amnesty International is delivering 187,563 signatures to the White House in a global call to cut off weapons that fuel abuses in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
A prior version of this piece appeared in The Huffington Post.
At the time of writing, the latest ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is set to expire at 5 p.m. EST today. Against the backdrop of Gaza’s destruction, no one can fully predict what is next for Israeli and Palestinian combatants.
In its coverage of the conflict in Gaza and Israel, the New York Times has used a daily chart that risks misleading readers about the firepower involved. The chart in question improperly compares the total Israeli “targets” struck in Gaza to the number of “rockets” launched at Israel by Hamas and Palestinian armed groups.
By Saleh Hijazi, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Across the city of Ramallah in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) hang billboards and banners showing images of bloodshed and destruction alongside the words: “Here now, we are all Gaza.”
This past week, Israel has been carrying out air strikes and other military operations that have resulted in scores of deaths and injuries, most of them civilians not directly participating in hostilities.
The U.S., as the largest foreign supplier of weapons, munitions, police equipment and devices, as well as training and techniques to Israel, bears a particular responsibility for the deployment of the weapons it provides.
Amnesty International is calling for a U.N.-mandated international investigation into violations committed on all sides amidst ongoing Israeli air strikes on Gaza and continuing volleys of indiscriminate rocket fire from Palestinian armed groups into Israel. Amnesty is also calling for a UN-imposed comprehensive arms embargo on Israel, Hamas and Palestinian armed groups.
- ALL Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) are illegal.
- Israel’s long-running policy of settling civilians in occupied territory amounts to a war crime.
This needs to be clearly said now, without ambiguity. The United States government, as sponsor of the current ‘peace talks’ between Israel and Palestinians, must uphold rule of law and human rights. Despite the fact that the U.S. has historically taken the same position as the international community that Israeli settlements within the OPT are illegal, they have chosen to prevaricate in recent years, using words like ‘unhelpful’ or ‘illegitimate’ to describe settlement building by Israel.
Our last blog on Natan Blanc’s case asked, “What Will it Take for the Israeli Military to Stop Imprisoning Natan Blanc?” We believed it would take Amnesty International members and other activists making their concerns known and taking action – and because you did – Natan Blanc is now FREE after being forced to serve 10 consecutive prison sentences for his refusal to serve in the Israeli military based on his conscientiously held beliefs.
Natan Blanc’s father received a call on May 30th from his son telling him that he had been informed that he would be released at the end of his current prison term. The decision follows a ruling by the Unsuitability (or Compatibility) Committee which – according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) – is designed to deal with people with behavioral problems who are deemed unsuitable for army service. It is not a committee which explores whether someone is a genuine conscientious objector or not.
By Nehal Amer, Social Media Specialist, Middle East Coordination Group
5/30/2013 UPDATE: Success! What does it take for the Israeli military to stop imprisoning Natan Blanc? It takes Amnesty International and other activists making their concerns known and taking action.
Natan Blanc’s father received a call from his son telling him that he had been informed that he would be released at the end of his current prison term. The decision apparently follows a decision by the Unsuitability (or Compatibility) Committee which – according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) – is designed to deal with people with behavioral problems who are deemed unsuitable for army service. It is not a committee which explores whether someone is a genuine conscientious objector or not. In practice, it seems to work as a mechanism for the IDF to rid itself of the problem of conscientious objectors who have been repeatedly imprisoned by declaring their ‘unsuitability’ based on poor mental health or discipline problems.
Natan is expected to be set free June 6th. Thank you for taking action. No further action is required at this time.
By Nehal Amer, Social Media Specialist, Middle East Coordination Group
They did it again. Israeli authorities have put 19 year-old Natan Blanc in prison for the ninth time for courageously putting into practice his conscientiously held beliefs and refusing to serve in the Israeli military.
We have followed Natan’s on-going struggle through Urgent Actions and a blog posted on April 8, 2013.
Amnesty International considers those imprisoned for total or selective objection to military service for reasons of conscience to be prisoners of conscience who should be immediately and unconditionally released.
Natan has served some 130 days in jail already since refusing the military call-up for the first time last November. Every few weeks he is released, then tried and imprisoned again after repeating his refusal to serve in the army.
By Lamri Chirouf, Amnesty International’s Delegate in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
Last month, we drove northwest from Ramallah to visit the small village of Budrus, which gained international attention a decade ago when residents started protesting against the fence/wall erected by Israel.
Regular protests there against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank continue, and clashes between village youths and members of the Israeli army have become a weekly, if not daily, occurrence. The main reason behind the protests is still the wall, described by the Israeli government as a security fence and by Budrus residents, and Palestinians throughout the West Bank, as an ‘apartheid wall’ and a way for the Israeli government to annex more Palestinian lands. The majority of the wall is located inside the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). In Budrus, it consists of rolls of barbed wire, multiple fences and sensors, and a road on the other side patrolled by Israeli military jeeps, all of which work to separate villagers from their farming lands.
There are no Israeli settlements or towns nearby, but Israeli troops regularly enter the village. The encounters between them and Budrus residents can be fatal.
Written by Nehal Amer, Social Media Specialist, Middle East Coordination Group
Each year, a handful of courageous Israeli teenagers are imprisoned for refusing to serve in the military on grounds of conscience. Natan Blanc, 19, from Haifa has been imprisoned eight times in four months for his refusal to serve in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). Amnesty International considers those imprisoned for total or selective objection to military service for reasons of conscience to be prisoners of conscience. Blanc spoke to Amnesty International about his motivation for objecting to military service in February 2013. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST