Israel has been officially accused, by the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, of being shielded from scrutiny, due to the International Community’s adoption of “double standards” when dealing with countries in conflict. This has caused Israel to behave in a more emboldened fashion against Palestinians, with the war in Ukraine acting as a smoke shield, according to the Ministry.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) Foreign Ministry’s statement came this Monday, following an upsurge in violence across the occupied Palestinian territories, stating that “in the most horrific way” Israel is using the Ukraine conflict “in a bid to abolish the Palestinian presence in al-Quds and all areas classified as ‘Area C’ [60% of West Bank] in the West Bank.”
On the first day of March, Israeli occupation forces shot and killed two Palestinians in Jenin, the two had taken up arms to defend their village which had been raided and were killed in the process. Later that same day, Israeli occupation forces shot a 21 year old Palestinian in the head, confiscating his body. Ammar Abu Afifa, from Al-Arroub camp, was killed at the entrance to Beit Fajjar, near Bethlehem and according to all witnesses he was not posing any threat to the Israeli forces.
The week prior to this, Israeli occupation forces also shot dead a 14 year old Palestinian child, which Israel’s military initially claimed was carrying a molotov cocktail. This accusation was later outed as false, as originally claimed by bystanders. On February 28, Palestinians also suffered violent attacks by Israeli occupation police forces in Jerusalem, the worst cases were recorded in the Damascus Gate area. Included among the injured were two teenage girls, one who suffered a broken jaw and was punched in the face by male Israeli forces and the other who was fired upon with stun grenades, one of which exploded in a small girls face and caused her to bleed profusely. In addition to this, a 6 month old baby was also admitted to the hospital following what was described as an attack by Israeli forces.
Over the past weeks, hundreds of demonstrators have been injured in the West Bank as a result of Israeli settler extremism and Israeli military attacks against peaceful demonstrators. On Sunday Israeli occupation forces in Jerusalem shot dead a 19 year old Palestinian, who stabbed two Israeli soldiers, this was then followed by the killing of Yamen Nafez Jafal, a 16 year old Palestinian civilian, near Abu Dis (East of Jerusalem). On Monday, Israeli forces shot dead a 22yr old Palestinian, Abd al-Rahman Jamal Qassem, who also attacked Israeli forces in Jerusalem.
Israel has also announced, this week, the approval for the construction of nearly 3,400 new settler units in East Jerusalem, in open violation of international law. This comes as no shock for local Palestinians in East Jerusalem, thousands of which face the possibility of expulsion from their homes at any moment.
Israel is considered by the top international human rights groups, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International, as being guilty of committing the crime of apartheid, a position also held by Israel’s top rights group B’Tselem. Despite such widespread condemnation among leading NGO’s as well as from the United Nations, little action is ever taken against Israel for the war crimes it is accused of committing.
Israel, unlike Russia, is a Western ally. As soon as Moscow made the decision to invade Ukraine, the Western countries, which make up the bulk of the power of the international community, instantly mobilized to sanction, boycott, and divest from Russia. The isolation of Russia by the West has been unprecedented, which clearly indicates the ability of the international community to take action when needed against a State they feel violates international law. Yet in the case of Israel, it is consistently shielded from any sort of punishment by the West, which gives it carte blanche to commit whatever crimes it sees fit. This has aggravated Palestinian human rights advocates, who are seeing the clear double standards as pushing Israel to commit even more atrocities and crack down on non-violent activism in the occupied territories, the same way it does to violent resistance.
Israel’s aggressive stance during the Ukraine-Russia war has also resulted in further Palestinian desperation, which is why we have seen an uptick in knife attacks in Jerusalem. The very same lack of accountability for Israel has led to Palestinians in the West Bank, specifically in areas that are less controlled by the Palestinian Authority, to take up arms in order to protect their camps and to unleash waves of attacks on Israeli occupation forces.