I think many of you are unaware that Baroness Jenny Tonge tables six written questions for the House of Lords each week: partly to hold the government to account but also to create a written record of the continuing International Humanitarian Law (IHL) violations perpetrated by Israel in Palestine. Questions have to follow a fairly precise formula and are hedged about with rules. Inevitably the same questions, differently formatted recur, since the crimes recur. Following the below article on child casualties Jenny asked a question concerning investigations into the shooting of 15 year old Wajih al Ramahi.
The reply, quite soon after the incident was that the IDF had not yet concluded their investigation. She asked a second question some weeks later to be informed by the Minister:
”Officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv have informed us that the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) has launched an investigation into the incident but cannot confirm whether the minor died as a result of IDF live fire.”
This was how Haaretz described the incident:
Ramahi, who in January 2014 would have been 16, may have taken part in stone-throwing on Saturday afternoon, or he may have been watching. The stone-throwing children were at least 150 meters from a military lookout and firing position and from soldiers on foot, and maybe 200 meters from the nearest houses in Beit-El. The soldiers were in no danger at that distance, and neither were the settlers. The deadly bullet fired by an IDF soldier hit Wajih in the back….. The soldier fired when the child (labeled in Israel a “youth” because he’s Palestinian) was running away, because the soldiers had already started shooting.
As to the difficulty of diagnosing death from a live bullet…..extraordinary…..
Questions on Wajih are continuing, now in a correspondence with the Foreign Office.
In the Commons, Alan Duncan, has warned that Gaza could very soon become an unlivable place:
The Christian Science Monitor reports also on the appalling conditions, and that Hamas, now sufficiently pressed by Egypt, Israel and deep unpopularity at home, is making reconciliation overtures to Fatah.
But anyone who read yesterday’s Observer will have seen the superb valedictory piece on Gaza by Harriet Sherwood which says it all.
Peace negotiations? Our website carries the Economist piece, optimistic as to Kerry’s chances of success, ( which I now think was an editorial mistake – mine!) the below extract from Haaretz seems diplomatic speak for ‘‘hopeless’’
The U.S. secretary of state on Thursday told Al Arabiya that, at this stage, the sides were unable to bridge the differences and agree on a draft agreement.
“We’re still negotiating,” he said. “We’re working in good faith with both of the parties. The leaders have been very, very committed to this process. My hope is we can achieve the framework for final status negotiations. But it’s very, very difficult and we have a lot of work to do.
But by far and away the most realistic opinion or ‘leak’ has been from the Times of Israel, which says that the Palestinians will reject the Kerry deal on three fronts: Israel’s ongoing military presence in the Jordan Valley, the demand to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and no Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem. (They are being offered an outlying area such as Al Assawiya or Shuafat.) The good news on the other hand is that the Palestinians are determined to fight Israel by means of such weapons as the boycott and international courts, believing that public opinion will be on their side.
And as to public opinion, this paragraph by an Israeli journalist, prefaced a review on Ari Shavit’s new book The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel
Despite appearances to suggest otherwise, a major shift in the discourse about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is well under way. Specifically, Israel is watching traditional allies in the West dry up due to a profound recasting of the country’s behaviour toward the Palestinians. Years of status quo, ongoing Israeli occupation, a stalemate in the peace process and threats of a regional war with Iran have opened new avenues in the debate over Israel’s merits. The democratisation of information via social media platforms and daily blogs is aiding this process. For decades, the conflict has been draped in purely security-related terms. A rights-based discourse now informs perspectives on all those under Israeli control from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.
Worth noticing is that the Jewish Chronicle carries the below piece, fiercely critical of how the Israeli military system deals with child detainees. This has to be a coup for Yachad, the Jewish organization which took the lawyers on a West Bank tour.
Meanwhile, according to Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s latest press release: over 2000 viewers and listeners have written to the BBC’s Director General Lord Tony Hall to insist that he does not award a security contract worth £80 million, to G4S, the security firm which services Israeli prisons to which Palestinians, including children are transferred, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and and the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child. More information from their website:
Both houses regularly ask questions on child prisoners:
Written Answers – House of Lords: Israel and Palestine (24 Jan 2014)
Baroness Tonge: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress they have
made in persuading the government of Israel to implement recommendations
in the Children in Military Custody report.
Back to Yachad: visit their website if you do not know the organization: by their own definition they are ‘‘Jews who love Israel’’ and they do: to the extent that they are doing their best to educate other diaspora Jews, as to the real nature of the Occupation, and the urgency, for Israel’s sake, and for the sake of peace, to end it.
Secretary. Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine