Palestinians ask ICC to investigate alleged crimes by Israel

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki speaks during a press conference at the International Criminal Court on May 22, 2018. (photo: Mike Corder / Associated Press)

The Palestinian foreign minister asked the International Criminal Court to open an immediate investigation into alleged Israeli crimes committed against the Palestinian people.

By Mike Corder | The Washington Post | May 22, 2018

Although Israel is not an ICC member, its citizens can be charged by the court if they are suspected of committing grave crimes on the territory or against a national of a country that is a member. The ICC has recognized Palestine as a member.

Accusing Israel of systematic crimes, including apartheid in the occupied territories, Palestinians on Tuesday urged the International Criminal Court to open an investigation that could ultimately lead to charges against Israeli leaders.

Israel immediately slammed the Palestinian move as “legally invalid.”

The referral seeks an investigation into Israeli policies in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip since Palestine accepted the ICC’s jurisdiction in 2014, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki told reporters in The Hague.

This includes Israeli settlement policies in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, as well as bloodshed in the Gaza Strip. Israel and Gaza’s ruling Hamas militant group fought a 50-day war in 2014, and in recent weeks, Israeli fire has killed over 100 Palestinians during mass protests along the Gaza border since March.

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Israel cannot fulfill its promise perpetuating apartheid

A Palestinian man falls to the ground after being shot by Israeli troops during a deadly protest at the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel on Monday. (photo: Khalil Hamra / The Associated Press)

As an American Jew, I feel compelled to speak the unspeakable: It is in Jewish best interests, morally and pragmatically, to rethink the notion of Israel as a Jewish state.

By Lauren Goldman Marshall | The Seattle Times | May 18, 2018

Imagine what a new Israel could be, an Israel for all peoples. If all the young lives, Jewish and Arab, cut short by this violence could instead be harnessed to irrigate the desert, desalinate the sea, create music and translate love poems into each other’s (very similar) languages! Now that would be an Israel to inspire the world.

Nineteen years ago, I rehearsed a play with Israeli and Palestinian teenagers at Seeds of Peace International Camp in Maine. Forging a script both sides could stand behind took perseverance. But at our cast party, Arabs and Jews leaned on each other and sang songs. It gave me a glimpse of what could be.

I contrast that hopeful moment with the appalling news coming out of Israel and Gaza. While Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and Benjamin Netanyahu celebrated the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, Israeli forces were firing on (mostly unarmed) Palestinian protesters gathered along the fence between Gaza and Israel, killing at least 60, and injuring more than 2,000.

Israel defends its response, claiming that the demonstrators were trying to breach the border. But the absence of any casualties on the Israeli side proves the response was grossly disproportionate. This is not an isolated incident, but an ongoing saga since 2007, when Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza following Hamas’ election victory. Nearly 2 million Gazans are squeezed into a virtual prison one-ninth the size of Rhode Island. Israel and Egypt control the borders and access to water, fuel, medical supplies and electricity. It doesn’t take a leap of logic to see that Gaza has become a concentration camp, and the demonstrations at the border are a desperate response to a humanitarian crisis.

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Under Trump, the US has abandoned the last shred of balance on Israel

Ivanka Trump gestures as she stands next to the dedication plaque at the US embassy in Jerusalem, May 14, 2018.  (photo: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)

The policy of our government may be unstated, but it is crystal clear: The United States will no longer seek peace.

By Paul Waldman | The Washington Post | May 14, 2018

Whether you agree or not, under President Trump, the United States is not pretending anything. We have declared unambiguously that we care only about Israel’s interests — or, to be more accurate, Israel’s interests as understood by the conservative Likud party — and that we no longer have any concern for Palestinian rights, Palestinian lives or the eventual creation of a Palestinian state.

Monday marked the moment when the policy of the United States government toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict lost all complexity, all ambiguity and all nuance.

On Monday, we were confronted with two sets of pictures. On one side, thousands of Palestinians gathering at the Gaza border to protest are being shot down by Israeli snipers. As I write, at least 43 people have been killed and more than 2,000 wounded, according to the Gaza Health Ministry; those numbers will undoubtedly rise.

On the other side, representatives of the Trump administration, including Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, some Republican donors and a couple of evangelical megachurch pastors who have said vile, bigoted things about Islam and Muslims, are celebrating the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.

Here’s how President Trump marked the occasion:

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Netanyahu serves Japan’s Abe dessert in a shoe

Celebrity Israeli chef Segev Moshe leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth with his culinary creativity run amok.

By Ruth Eglash | The Washington Post | May 7, 2018

“There’s no culture in the world in which you put shoes on the table. What was the distinguished chef thinking? If it was humor, we don’t think it is funny; we were offended on behalf of our prime minister.”
— Anonymous Japanese diplomat

There aren’t that many cultures where putting a shoe on the dining room table is acceptable behavior, but for the Japanese there is clear etiquette against allowing outdoor shoes inside.

That might explain the furor following a visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife, Akie Abe, to Israel last week.

After a day of high-level meetings on May 2, the Japanese leader was treated to a festive meal at the official residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara Netanyahu. It was their second time in Israel, and the visiting couple were served a top-notch meal by celebrity Israeli chef Segev Moshe.

But then came dessert. A selection of delectable chocolate pralines — artistically arranged inside a shiny leather shoe.

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Israel reportedly testing new weapons in Gaza — “exploding” bullets

An example of an “exploding” bullet that expands on impact, creating a massive exit wound. (photo: Black Butterfly Ammunition / Clark Armory)

Demonstrators suffer wounds of “unusual severity” as Israeli forces introduce deadlier weapons in Gaza protests.

By Mersiha Gadzo | Al Jazeera | May 3, 2018

“Normally, a regular bullet breaks the leg [upon impact]. But these bullets create massive wounds, indicating that an explosion happened inside the body. It’s an expanding bullet. It pulverizes the leg, and the leg gets cut off [as a result].”
— Ashraf al-Qedra, Gaza Health Ministry spokesman

“Half of the more than 500 patients we have admitted in our clinics have injuries where the bullet has literally destroyed tissue after having pulverized the bone.”
— Marie-Elisabeth Ingres, Head of Mission of MSF in Palestine

When he was hit by a bullet fired by Israeli forces during demonstrations in Gaza on April 6, Mohammed al-Zaieem lost so much blood, and his left leg was so deformed, he feared he wouldn’t survive. His arteries, veins and a large piece of bone were destroyed. His right leg wasn’t spared either as the round created a massive exit wound and then hit it as well.

By the time he was transferred to Istishari Arab Hospital in Ramallah after undergoing seven surgeries in Gaza, there was nothing doctors could do to save his left leg. It had to be amputated, unbeknown to al-Zaieem, 22, who was unconscious at the time.

“No one dared to tell him [when he woke up from the surgery]. I couldn’t,” said his cousin of the same name, who lives in the occupied West Bank.

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Despite outrage, Jerusalem museum vows to keep censoring evolution exhibit

An exhibit on evolution at the Natural History Museum in Jerusalem, blocked from view with a pink sheet, in April 2018. (photo: Michael Bachner / Times of Israel)

Natural History Museum justifies covering up displays during visits by ultra-Orthodox groups, as many in Israel and abroad slam institution as betraying science.

By Michael Bachner | The Times of Israel | May 2, 2018

“Science and knowledge are not a joke. The museum should decide whether it is a scientific museum presenting the truth or an institution with self-censorship that seeks to tell its visitors half-truths and complete lies.”
— Uri Keidar, Executive Director of Be Free Israel, a non-profit which promotes religious pluralism

The Natural History Museum in Jerusalem has vowed to continue its policy of hiding an evolution exhibit from view, along with other displays on dinosaurs and the human body, during visits by ultra-Orthodox groups in order to avoid offending their religious beliefs. The announcement came despite an outrage caused in Israel and abroad by its decision to self-censor displays on evolution, dinosaurs and the human body.

“Of course,” the museum’s educational director, Dr. Evgeny Reznitsky, told The Times of Israel on Tuesday when asked whether he will carry on with the practice, citing the institution’s dire financial situation and saying it was better to have ultra-Orthodox schoolkids visit on their terms than have them not come at all.

As people protested outside the building with a megaphone and demanded that the museum reject the demands set by Haredi schools, Reznitsky said he would only reconsider his position if ordered to stop by municipal authorities.

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Columbia University law professor denied entry into Israel


Katherine Franke,  Sulzbacher Professor of Law, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Columbia University. (photo: Columbia Law School)

Professor Franke and another human rights worker were detained and interrogated for 14 hours before being deported.

By Press Release | Center for Constitutional Rights | May 1, 2018

“My interrogation in Tel Aviv made it clear that I was banned from entering Israel because of my work in the U.S. on behalf of Palestinian rights. No government is immune from criticism for its human rights record. The abusive treatment Vince Warren and I received at Ben Gurion airport ironically illustrates how the state of Israel refuses to respect the political and civil rights of its own citizens, of Palestinians, and of human rights defenders globally.”
— Professor Franke

Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), and Katherine Franke, chair of CCR’s board and Sulzbacher Professor of Law, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Columbia University, were detained Sunday, April 29, for 14 hours and interrogated at Ben Gurion International Airport, then denied entry into Israel and deported, arriving back in New York early Monday morning. Warren and Franke were questioned about their political association with human rights groups that have been critical of Israel’s human rights record.

“The Israeli government denied us entry, apparently because it feared letting in people who might challenge its policies. This is something that we should neither accept nor condone from a country that calls itself a democracy,” Warren said. “Our trip sought to explore the intersection of Black and Brown people’s experiences in the U.S. with the situation of Palestinians, and Israel could not have made that connection clearer.”

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