Aug 22 2013

Punishing Killers of Protesters should be applied to all

Published by at 1:00 pm under Articles,Palestinian politics,US-Middle East


By Daoud Kuttab

I believe it is a good idea for the US and other world countries to immediately stop aid to any country that shoots civilian demonstrators.

This principle should be applied without exception.

Double standards should not be tolerated when dealing with soldiers causing fatalities when confronting civilian demonstrators.

While this principle is being discussed in regard to the use of force by the Egyptian security forces, there has never been any discussion about using the same punishment against Israel, which has killed many unarmed Palestinian demonstrators.

UN resolutions allow for resistance, including armed resistance, to a foreign military occupation.

Comparing the actions of the Egyptian security forces to the Israelis is unfair to the Egyptians. The Egyptians were accused of using excessive force in breaking up the Rabaa and Nahda sit-ins. But what about the Israelis?

Amnesty International said the Israeli army used excessive force. In its report about the year 2012, a relatively quiet year in terms of Palestinian victims, this is what Amnesty International said: “Israeli forces used live fire and other excessive force against Palestinian demonstrators in the West Bank and protesters at the Lebanese and Syrian borders, and to enforce the ‘exclusion zone’ within Gaza and along its coast. They killed 55 Palestinian civilians in the OPT, including 11 children. Among them were 22 civilians, including nine children, killed by Israeli fire in Gaza’s land and sea restricted areas. The army initiated internal investigations into some of these incidents, but these were not independent or transparent.”

The interim Egyptian government was chastised for ordering one-month emergency regulations while Palestinians have been living under occupation and emergency regulations for over 60 years.

The new Egyptian government was attacked for its denial of freedom of expression by closing down pro-Muslim Brotherhood satellite TV stations accused by the Egyptians of inciting to violence.

Amnesty International says the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, passed laws restricting freedom of expression and association, including one which made it an offense to advocate a boycott of Israeli individuals or institutions in Israel or Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Another penalizes commemoration by institutions or municipalities of the Nakbeh (catastrophe), a term used by Palestinians to describe their dispossession in 1948.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists reported that a record 232 Palestinian journalists were arrested in 2013 and that 12 were killed since 1992, and one murdered with impunity.

A report by the Vienna-based International Press Institute stated that Palestinian journalists from Gaza and the West Bank are not allowed freedom of movement b
y the Israeli authorities who do not officially recognise the existence of the Palestinian media and only recognise Palestinian journalists working for foreign media.

The concept that media is used to incite violence has been a major Israeli and pro Israeli crusade against Palestinians, while the latter’s media and textbooks even after independent reports showed, clearly that Palestinian media and text books lacked any blatant Palestinian incitement to violence.

The same cannot be said of some of the pro-Islamist Egyptian TV stations and speakers who were inciting to violence; public buildings, religious institutions and private property were attacked indiscriminately.

The Israeli and Egyptian situations are totally different and must not be compared in any form.

Nevertheless, it is possible to look at the attitude of the defenders of human rights and freedoms when it comes to excessive use of force, media restrictions and use of emergency regulations.

When the US, Europe and other countries apply the same standards to Israel and Egypt consistently, people will take that position much more seriously.

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