By Stuart Littlewood,
….and still no sign of sanctions from the international community

The Guardian reports an increase in the number of young Palestinian demonstrators in hospital with gunshot wounds.

Their protests are in response to the Jewish invasions of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in East Jerusalem and raids by the Israeli Occupation Forces into Gaza, as well as the continuing misery and hopelessness caused by Israel’s illegal and brutal blockade of Gaza since 2006.

Several have been admitted with bullet wounds to the ankle which is a notoriously difficult part of the leg to treat successfully, especially when Palestinian doctors lack the microscopic equipment to carry out such intricate operations. One young man had been shot through both ankles with the same bullet and it is not clear if he will ever walk again.

The latest violence, says The Guardian, echoes the “Great March of Return” protests that began in 2018 and lasted nearly two years, in which 227 Palestinians were killed during weekly demonstrations at the separation fences. The protests were triggered by Donald Trump’s decision to recognise the “disputed” city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

But Israel’s ‘shoot-to-cripple’ policy isn’t new. Back in 2018, I told how retired trauma surgeon David Halpin, who had often worked as a volunteer in Gaza hospitals, drew attention to it in January 2011: “The deliberate injury of the limbs of 23 boys by high-velocity weapons has been logged and described by Defence for Children International Palestine Branch (DCI-P) since March 2010.”

Extreme poverty among Gazans had forced men and boys to scavenge for broken concrete (gravel) among the rubble of the evacuated Eli Sinai settlement and the industrial zone by the Erez border control post where factories had been demolished by Israeli shelling. This material could be used to make blocks and poured concrete with cement imported mostly through the tunnels. They did this reclamation work – with donkey and cart, picks and shovels – for precious shekels in the shadow of Israel’s manned watch towers and under the drones constantly above.

The leg was the target in most cases, said Halpin. And where it wasn’t, the sniper would likely “aim up” so the flank, elbow etc. was hit instead. “No weapons were carried by the gravel workers, so they posed no threat to Israeli occupation force personnel. Instead, they were bending their backs to their menial work within their internment camp.” In many cases, those hit would be disabled for life. And that, it seems, continues to be the Israeli regime’s sickening aim to this day.

‘Exit wounds the size of a fist

In 2018 Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), who operate in Gaza, reported “devastating gunshot wounds among hundreds of people injured during the protests…. The huge majority of patients – mainly young men, but also some women and children – have unusually severe wounds to the lower extremities. MSF medical teams note the injuries include an extreme level of destruction to bones and soft tissue and large exit wounds that can be the size of a fist.

“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. These patients will need to have very complex surgical operations and most of them will have disabilities for life.” Such high-energy compound tibial fractures from Israeli live fire may require between five and seven surgical procedures, each operation taking three to six hours. The wounds appeared to be caused by ammunition with an expanding “butterfly” effect. “Mass lifelong disability is now the prospect for young Gazans who merely gathered in unarmed protest.”

Meanwhile, the sniveling international community does nothing to stop these horrendous crimes by the self-styled “most moral army in the world”.

About 60% of the thousands of injured were hit in the legs by sniper fire, according to the local health ministry – admissions that overwhelmed an already crumbling medical sector. Since then, amputees using crutches have become a common sight on Gaza’s streets. In response, MSF has funded a new prosthetics clinic for Gaza residents, and a limb reconstruction centre at al-Awda Hospital.

“It is sad to say we have become experts in this work. We have much better facilities and equipment now than we did in 2018 and we can do most orthopedic and plastic procedures,” said Rami Abu Jasser, one of the centre’s supervisors. “But we still cannot treat more than a handful of people a day.”

As I mentioned at that time, the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva adopted a resolution to set up an independent, international Commission of Inquiry to investigate all violations of humanitarian and international human rights law in the occupied Palestinian territory, with a particular focus on recent events in Gaza.

The resolution passed with only two states opposing (the USA and another of Israel’s poodles, Australia), 29 in favour, and 14 abstentions. The UK was one of those abstaining, along with Croatia, Germany, Hungary, and Slovakia.

‘Systematic failure by Israel to carry out genuine investigations’

The preamble to the UNHRC resolution stated the reasons for action brilliantly and is worth repeating here:

Convinced that the lack of accountability for violations of international law reinforces a culture of impunity, leading to a recurrence of violations and seriously endangering international peace,

Noting the systematic failure by Israel to carry out genuine investigations in an impartial, independent, prompt, and effective way, as required by international law, into the violence and offences against Palestinians by the occupying forces, and to establish judicial accountability for its actions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem,

Emphasizes the obligations of Israel as the occupying power to ensure the safety, well-being and protection of the Palestinian civilian population under its occupation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem,

Emphasizing also that the intentional targeting of civilians and other protected persons in situations of armed conflict, including foreign occupation, constitutes a grave breach of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, and poses a threat to international peace and security,

Recognizing the importance of the right to life and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association to the full enjoyment of all human rights…

The wording evidently stung avid Israel admirers Theresa May, barmy Boris Johnson and the gutless spivs populating the Foreign Office to such a degree that they couldn’t bring themselves to support the resolution.

‘Gazans did all the dying and the Israeli soldiers did all the killing’

In a pathetic attempt to explain why they abstained, the UK mission in Geneva called the resolution “partial and unhelpfully unbalanced” for not “explicitly call[ing] for an investigation into the action of non-state actors such as Hamas”. The UK government then issued a statement saying it called on Israel to carry out a transparent inquiry into its Occupation Force’s conduct at the border fence and to demonstrate how this would achieve a sufficient level of independence. The investigation should include international members.

The death toll alone warranted such a comprehensive inquiry, they said. “We urge that the findings of such an investigation be made public, and if wrongdoing is found, that those responsible be held to account.”

Of course, that was never going to happen. And the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem called the internal Israeli military probe “part of the whitewashing toolkit”.

The British government was sharply criticised in Parliament for its limp-wristed performance and reminded of Israel’s self-exoneration over the killing of four boys playing on a beach during the 2014 military offensive on Gaza. Conservative MP Crispin Blunt, former Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, asked: “Given that Gazans did all the dying and the Israeli soldiers did all the killing, how does the minister expect an internal Israeli inquiry… to be less partial and less unhelpfully unbalanced than the inquiry mandated by the UN Human Rights Council?”



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