The month leading up to Ramadan this year has been a dire one for the people of Palestine.
As Israel becomes increasingly complacent in their position as a legitimate state (while Palestinian territory steadily decreases) they seem to be continually flouting international laws, now more than ever.
The occupied West Bank is seeing increasing violence at checkpoints. At the end of April Israeli soldiers shot and killed a pregnant Palestinian woman, who was on her way to a hospital check-up, with Israeli approval. Her brother was also killed in the incident, when the pair accidentally crossed into a vehicle only lane at the checkpoint north of Jerusalem. Witnesses say when they were told to move out of the lane, they complied instantly, only to have Israeli guards open fire. The woman was shot 15 times and her brother 8. Man, woman and baby all died.
This week a Palestinian School Girl was shot and killed at another West Bank checkpoint, an eyewitness says “Soldiers left her to bleed for hours before she died”. IDF claim in both instances the women were ‘terrorists’ trying to stab them (the penalty for a Palestinian having a weapon at a checkpoint is an instant death sentence, no questions, no trial) but witnesses claim the victims did not have weapons, nor did they attack guards.
Gaza is also seeing an increase in violence, with Israeli marking their independence day with tank and airstrikes on Gaza. They claim a Hamas member was stopped at a checkpoint with a knife and he told them of secret tunnels into Israel. This intelligence was used to justify the military attacks on innocent civilians. One woman was killed and many civilians injured.
In another direct violation of agreements and ceasefire deals between Israel and Palestine, on May 19th Israeli Soldiers are said to have opened fire on farmers, chasing them from their land near Khan Younis, in the southern part of Gaza Strip. It is unclear whether Israel has taken the land for themselves or not at this stage. The same morning, the Israeli Navy fired at Palestinian fishing boats in Palestinian waters, just 6kms from the Gaza shore and as I wrote this article on the 26th of May, we received pictures of Israel bombing Rafah, in southern Gaza.
This is just a short account of what is happening in Palestine, as their territory shrinks and Israel’s expands, more and more Palestinian people are being displaced and winding up in refugee camps, their homes either stolen or destroyed.
These atrocities are not new; they have been going on for decades while the world stays silent.
While Politicians go on tours with Netanyahu through Israel, never through Palestinian proper, they send aid to Israel, a rich country where citizens get free education and medical, and ignore the plight of Palestinians. International laws are broken time and time again, with absolutely no repercussion.
One of our own politicians Western Australian Labor MP Melissa Parke spoke about her experiences as a U.N lawyer in Palestine, at an APAN and iCare charity dinner few weeks ago.
She spoke of seeing a 13 year old girl murdered by an IDF solider. The child had entered an out of bounds area while playing. An IDF soldier promptly shot the young girl in the head killing her instantly. In a sickening display of the disdain Israeli’s feel for Palestinians, the soldier then proceeded to empty his cartridge into the tiny body. The soldier got a bonus and a promotion.
In other examples of the atrocities, Ms Parke told us about Israeli’s trying to prevent an ambulance getting through after the U.N had given clearance for the paramedics to go in and help people. IDF shot at the ambulance claiming that HAMAS were hiding inside.
A man on the phone to the IDF trying to get let through was shot in the back. Israeli forces claimed his phone was a gun.
A Swiss ambassador’s car was shot at by Israeli defence forces, directly after being outside of his car, talking to IDF officials, identifying himself and receiving clearance.
Reports from people in Bureij refugee camp in Gaza say Israel are still blockading building material, so Palestinians in Gaza cannot repair damage to their homes. Medication is hard to come by and food and drink is in short supply. Children play amongst the rubble that was once their home. Sick people risk their lives regularly by having to cross through security checkpoints. These checkpoints are not even leading between Palestine and Israel; most of them are slapped in the middle of Palestinian territory, purposely making it difficult for Palestinians to travel to schools or hospitals.