On the Eve of Christmas as we see scenes of celebrations in Manger Square with pilgrims and locals sharing the message of peace and hope, the Israeli Occupying Forces continue to make the lives of many Palestinians living under the 46 year Occupation, living hell.
The Aida refugee camp[i], located just 10 minutes from Bethlehem’s city centre, was subject to a brutal and continuous overnight military action by the Israeli Occupation Forces just over 10 days ago, on Wednesday Dec 11.
The army invaded every house in the Aida camp which houses some 6,000 Palestinians and ‘profiled’ and registered the entire population. As part of this attack, they specifically ‘acquainted’ themselves with all the children and youth who make up 66% of the population.
“The army broke into closed houses like my parent’s house, where the door was smashed and opened by force and left open all the night and after they had left. It was a night of terror,” said Abdelfattah Abusrour, General Director of the Alrowwad Cultural Theatre Centre for Children at Aida Camp.
Attacks such as these occur regularly in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and are used by the Occupying Forces to intimidate and harass Palestinians. The profiling of children and youth is done continually and they are regularly interrogated and jailed for demonstrating against the Occupation. There are presently 179 children imprisoned in Israeli jails. The newly amended Military Order 1726, allows any child to be arrested and detained for interrogation for a period of 40 days without charge[ii]
The Coalition for Justice and Peace condemns these practices and the recent attack on the Aida camp and asks that the Australian Government via its Seat in the UN Security Council, demand an investigation into this military action in the Aida Camp and similar attacks throughout the West Bank. We ask also that the Australian government condemn the ongoing human rights violations by the Israeli Occupying Forces in the Occupied Palestinian Territories which are in direct contravention of international law and human rights treaties[iii]
[i] The Aida camp is located at the south of Jerusalem (about 10 km) and 1 km to the north of Bethlehem city centre (about 15-20 minutes walk to the Nativity Church). The Aida Refugee Camp is inhabited by about 6 000 people, 66% of whom are under 18 years old and the population is mainly Muslim.
The economic situation has dramatically worsened since the beginning of the second
Intifada, in 2000. The unemployment rate is above 70% and most inhabitants of the camp
live below the poverty line. Over the last years, the situation has also deteriorated
following the construction of the Wall which now surrounds the camp on two sides.
[ii] Defence of Children International http://www.dci-palestine.org/documents/detention-bulletin-issue-45-september-2013
iii] The world’s highest authority on international law, the International Court of Justice, ruled in July 2004 that Israel is occupying Palestinian territory in violation of international law and international human rights treaties.
These violations include articles of the Fourth Geneva Convention; the Fourth Hague Convention 1907; UN Security Council Resolutions 446, 452 & 465; and articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. (Paul Duffill – http://theconversation.com/establishing-the-facts-about-the-boycott-of-israeli-academic-institutions-11565)
Israel is a member of the International Court of Justice and has fully ratified all of these international standards, with the sole exception of the Fourth Hague Convention. This means Israel has committed to fully respect these international laws and treaties.
The Israeli government denies these violations of international law. Journalists should not take this denial as reason to avoid reporting the legal issues of occupation under the misguided idea that the facts appear “muddy” and they fear producing “unbalanced” journalism.