Days of Palestine

Wednesday, May 31

“The (Israeli) occupation wants to silence the truth,” Says a Human Rights lawyer.


B’TSelem, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International all have labeled the Israeli occupation of Palestinians as apartheid. Palestinians have grown frustrated about the constant inaction of the international community as it is quick-or isn’t so quick- to condemn the Israeli violations practiced against the Palestinian people.

Right Livelihood sat down in an interview published yesterday, June 28th with 68-year-old Palestinian Civil rights lawyer Raji Sourani– who currently lives in Gaza Strip.

a Situation Worse Than Ever 

When the Gaza-situated lawyer was asked, why Gaza doesn’t make it to headlines as it used to and what is going on these days he answered by stating the unprecedented terrible humanitarian condition of the area,

“I have lived all my life in Gaza and can’t recall more difficult times. Gaza is subject to unprecedented persecution against more than 2 million people living on 365 square kilometers.”

He followed, ” The people of Gaza have lived through four wars since the blockade began more than 15 years ago. While the residents are well-educated, about 65 percent are unemployed. But no one talks about the occupation of Palestinian independence in the media anymore. No one!”

Same Old Oppression 

When asked about his take on the assassination of veteran Aljazeera journalist, Shireen Abu Akela, He responded by affirming that this comes only as one example of a persistent and indiscriminative inhuman treatment practiced by the occupation on Palestinians of all shapes and sizes.

“Since the second intifada broke out, about 50 journalists have been killed. One year ago, the offices of Al Jazeera and the Associated Press were targeted by Israel in Gaza.

He implied that the motive of high-ranked-officials ordered the assassination of Shireen Abu Akleh who “was well-known also to the Israeli army.” was because  “She presented an alternative story which the Israeli media don’t tell.”

He added, “The occupation wants to silence the truth.” Our mission is to hold those responsible for these crimes accountable. We won’t forgive, or forget, the killing of Shirin Abu Akleh or other innocent people.”

Using the Israeli legal system and the International Criminal Court to seek justice Raji and his colleagues represent and document victim cases. Yet, as he describes, “we and many other prominent Palestinian human rights defenders are called “terrorists in suits”. For many years now, we are subject to Israeli-led smear campaigns around the world.”

He added that the reason of which is all of this Israel-driven hostility is that these organizations “speak truth to power…We fight for dignity and justice for those who suffered war crimes.”

so angry and so frustrated

When asked about the International Criminal Court (ICC) announcement that it has jurisdiction over Palestine and can investigate alleged war crimes committed by both Israelis and Palestinians in the Palestinian territories, He declared that no real actions have been done towards that object in spite of his organization’s offer to assess in linking the ICC with victims

Raji has stated the apparent irony of how things were handled when the issue was in relation to Ukraine.

“It is shocking to compare the situation with how the ICC prosecutor investigating war crimes in Ukraine is operating. As there was no budget, the ICC prosecutor, in person, asked for contributions from states, resulting in tens of millions being donated by more than 40 countries. He opened a portal to receive testimonies, evidence, and similar from journalists, victims, and others. The prosecutor has visited what he called the “theatre or the crime” twice, and more than 40 investigators are working on the case now.”

“My simple question, as representatives of hundreds of victims, including entire families that have been erased, is: why does this happen in Ukraine and not in Palestine? I’m so angry and so frustrated with the selectivity of the international community. What message are they conveying to the region: should we believe in the rule of the jungle or the rule of law?” he concluded

Isreal: special brand of apartheid

He states it took a little too long– 20 years to be exact– for human rights organizations to identify the Israeli occupation as it is, an apartheid state.

To call the apartheid by its real name isn’t enough as Sourani cleared, “We do not want to see an intellectual practice. If there’s an apartheid regime, states should take responsibility.”

The human rights defender followed by describing the comic duel treatment of the international community saying,” It was Kafka-esque to see the unprecedented sanctions, legitimate sanctions, against Russia after the invasion of Ukraine. The Western states in Europe talked about the right of Ukrainians to resist the invasion and decided to send arms to support the resistance.”

“You cannot be selective. You have no right to be selective. You are sending the message: don’t believe in the rule of law! It is a very dangerous message. Is it because we do not have blue eyes and white skin? Because we aren’t Europeans?” he added

When asked, what drives him to keep going in spite of all odds, he said, “we believe in justice and dignity and in achieving justice for the victims we represent. We have no right to forget or forgive criminals. Victims only have that right. “