From Jerusalem to Gaza: Europe’s inaction means consent

EuroMed Rights is appalled at the thousands of Palestinian victims of Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip over the last seven days.

At least 192 Palestinians, including 58 children, have been killed; over 1,200, including 366 children, have been injured; hundreds of families have lost their houses and more than 38,000 people are internally displaced. After a week of Israel’s intense bombing of residential buildings and essential infrastructure, including the roads to the main hospitals according to our Gaza-based member Al Mezan, the civilian population at large is absolutely terrorised.

EuroMed Rights member organisation B’Tselem also informs that Israeli security forces killed 14 Palestinians in the West Bank between 11 and 14 May 2021, including one minor, while another Palestinian was killed either by Israeli security forces or by a settler. Nearly 1,000 Palestinians were injured by Israeli security forces in East Jerusalem during those same days in the context of attempts to forcibly evict Palestinian families living in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.

Disproportionate violence amounts to war crime

Israel’s excessive, disproportionate and inhumane violence against the Palestinian civilian population amounts to war crimes according to our member organisation the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, based in Gaza. In one of the most densely-populated and impoverished areas of the world, the Israeli bombing and shelling of civilian population centres in the Gaza Strip follow 14 years of illegal closure, three Israeli military offensives and over half a century of occupation, with a health system on the constant brink of collapse and in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to rage in the absence of vaccines.

EuroMed Rights member organisation Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, has reported organised far-right Jewish mob violence targeting Palestinian citizens of Israel, and Israeli police brutality and inaction. Adalah also wrote to Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency, demanding that they act to halt the agency’s reported practice of sending threatening text messages to Palestinian citizens who allegedly participated in demonstrations at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Where is Europe?

Meanwhile, the EU and European governments seem indifferent, looking away from the images, stories and testimonies of hundreds of Palestinian victims. It is not as if they were discovering the situation… By ignoring or rejecting continued Palestinian demands for international accountability (from the International Criminal Court to countless UN reports, resolutions and special procedures), systematically subordinating justice to the relentless advance of EU’s bilateral relations with Israel, and favouring a non-existent peace process, European indifference has over time become complicity.

Decades of systematic impunity have led to dispossession and dehumanisation of Palestinian lives and the continued repetition of massive human rights abuses in Israel/Palestine. Only the most complete and undisguised dehumanisation makes possible Israel’s slaughter of 200 human beings, including 58 children, without a single European country lifting a finger.

Over tomorrow’s extraordinary meeting of EU Foreign Ministers, the European Union and its member states must take immediate and concrete measures to stop this horror, unequivocally condemn Israel’s attacks against Palestinians and commit to break the cycle of impunity by actively supporting accountability mechanisms, including the ongoing International Criminal Court investigation in Palestine.