So I am still at my friend’s house in Ramallah waiting to travel to Nablus tomorrow morning. I walked down to the market around the corner from his house in Ramallah tahat to get some labneh, hummus, and Arabic bread. What a wake up call it is to walk into a market in Palestine. I have gotten so used to Lebanon that I forgot what it means to buy food here. All of the Hebrew on the packaging is jarring. I haven’t really shopped for groceries since I lived in Al Quds in 2005 because when I lived in Beit Lahem I just ate at Ibdaa and savored the denial about where the food came from. But now that I’m living here I don’t have that luxury. I managed to find two brands of products that were actually “made in Palestine,” though one of them, unfortunately still has Hebrew writing on it; but it is made in Khalil by Palestinians.
Ramallah tahat seems so quiet, almost like a suburb, though it’s only a two-minute walk to the Manara Square from here. The weather is amazing–a constant, lovely breeze, and the sun is shining. I would expect that there should be gray clouds and rain because the city, this country is still grieving the loss of Mahmoud Darwish. I had hoped that the funeral would be today so that I could attend, but it seems as if there is something in Amman today and in Ramallah tomorrow. But I think I prefer the intimacy of the candlelight vigil the other night to a large funeral here. I keep waiting for and expecting to hear sounds of a helicopter flying overhead delivering his body to the Palestinian Authority, which is not too far away from where I am staying (see view from the balcony at my friend’s house).
It’s amazing that it is so quiet here, too, because certainly that doesn’t mean that nothing is going on. As is usual Israeli Aggressive Forces (IAF) invaded various areas of Palestine today, including a village in Ramallah, Petunia, to kidnap Palestinians.
Today, August 12th, is also the 59th anniversary of the Fourth Geneva Convention in which the rights of civilians living under occupation to resist and to be treated as war prisoners was asserted. It’s a good document even if it reads as a laundry list of all the international law violations that the state of Israel commits on a daily basis. In particular, on this day, it is worth recalling the text of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights text from 2002, a text that reaffirms the Geneva Convention as well as many previous UN Resolutions ignored by the Zionist state:
Recalling all its previous resolutions on the subject,
1. Affirms the legitimate right of the Palestinian people to resist the Israeli occupation in order to free its land and be able to exercise its right of self-determination and that, by so doing, the Palestinian people is fulfilling its mission, one of the goals and purposes of the United Nations;
2. Strongly condemns the violations by the Israeli occupation authorities of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem;
3. Also strongly condemns the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory as it constitutes an aggression and an offence against humanity and a flagrant violation of human rights;
4. Further strongly condemns the war launched by the Israeli army against Palestinian towns and camps, which has resulted so far in the death of hundreds of Palestinian civilians, including women and children;
5. Strongly condemns the practice of “liquidation” or “extrajudicial executions” carried out by the Israeli army against Palestinians, a practice which not only constitutes a violation of human rights norms, a flagrant violation of article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and of the rule of law, but which is also damaging for the relationship between the parties and therefore constitutes an obstacle to peace, and urges the Government of Israel to respect international law and to cease this practice immediately;
6. Also strongly condemns the establishment of Israeli settlements and other related activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, such as the construction of new settlements and the expansion of already existing ones, the expropriation of lands, the biased administration of water resources and the construction of bypass roads, all of which are not only violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law, especially article 49 of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (the Fourth Geneva Convention) and Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions which categorized such violations as war crimes, but are also major obstacles to peace, urges the Government of Israel to implement the relevant United Nations resolutions as well as the resolutions of the Commission on Human Rights relative to the Israeli settlements, and affirms that the dismantling of the Israeli settlements constitutes an essential factor for achieving a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region;
7. Condemns the expropriation of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem, the revocation of identity cards of the citizens of East Jerusalem, the imposition of fabricated and exorbitant taxes with the aim of forcing the Palestinian citizens of Jerusalem, who cannot afford to pay these high taxes, out of their homes and out of their city, preparing in this way the path for the Judaization of Jerusalem, and calls upon the Government of Israel to put an end immediately to these practices;
8. Also condemns the use of torture against Palestinians during interrogation, as it constitutes a grave violation of the principles of international humanitarian law, and of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and is also a violation of article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and calls upon the Government of Israel to put an end immediately to such practices and to bring the perpetrators of these violations to trial;
9. Strongly condemns the setting on fire of the church of the Nativity and the Omar Ibn Al-Khattab mosque in Bethlehem and the shelling with artillery fire of the Al-Baik and Al-Kabir mosques in Nablus;
10. Also strongly condemns the offensives of the Israeli army of occupation against hospitals and sick persons and the use of Palestinian citizens as human shields during Israeli incursions into Palestinian areas;
11. Further strongly condemns opening of fire by the Israeli army of occupation on ambulances and paramedical personnel and its preventing ambulances and cars of the International Committee of the Red Cross from reaching the wounded and the dead in order to transport them to hospital, thus leaving the wounded bleeding to death in the streets;
12. Strongly condemns the refusal by the Israeli army of occupation to allow the burial of dead Palestinians, thus obliging their families to bury the bodies of their loved ones in the available space around their homes and in hospitals;
13. Expresses its grave concern at the deterioration of the human rights and humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, and particularly at acts of mass killing perpetrated by the Israeli occupying authorities against the Palestinian people;
14. Expresses its deep concern at the military siege imposed on the Palestinian territory and the isolation of Palestinian towns and villages from each other through the establishment of military roadblocks that are used as a trap to kill Palestinians, which contribute, together with other factors, to the acts of violence that have been prevailing in the region for over a year and a half, calls upon the Government of Israel to immediately put an end to this practice and immediately lift its military siege of Palestinian towns and villages, and reaffirms that these collective punishments are prohibited under international law and constitute a grave violation of the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention and Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions;
15. Expresses its grave concern at the restriction of movement imposed on Chairman Yasser Arafat by the Israeli occupying authorities, in violation of articles 9 and 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
16. Expresses its deep concern at the massive arrests conducted by the Israeli occupying authorities against a large number of Palestinians and also at the continued detention of thousands of Palestinians without any criminal charges having been brought against them, in violation of article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention in this respect;
17. Affirms anew that the demolition by the Israeli occupying forces of over 1,200 houses owned by Palestinian families is a grave violation of articles 33 and 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and that levelling farmlands, uprooting trees and destroying the infrastructure of Palestinian society constitute grave violations of the provisions of international humanitarian law and a form of collective punishment against the Palestinian people;
18. Reaffirms that the Fourth Geneva Convention is applicable to the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967, including East Jerusalem, and considers any change in the geographical, demographic and institutional status of the city of East Jerusalem from its status prior to the June 1967 war to be illegal and void;
19. Welcomes the Geneva Declaration adopted by the Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which was held in Geneva on 5 December 2001, and calls upon the High Contracting Parties to follow up on the implementation of the Declaration;
20. Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to desist from all forms of violation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and other occupied Arab territories and to respect the principles of international law and international humanitarian law, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, its international commitments and the agreements it signed with the Palestine Liberation Organization;
21. Also calls upon Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, occupied since 1967, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations and the Commission on Human Rights, as a basic condition for achieving a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East;
22. Calls upon the relevant United Nations organs urgently to consider the best ways to provide the necessary international protection for the Palestinian people until the cessation of the Israeli occupation of its territory;
23. Welcomes anew the recommendations contained in the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and those contained in the report of the Human Rights Inquiry Commission, urges the Government of Israel to implement them and requests the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967, acting as a monitoring mechanism, to follow up on the implementation of these recommendations and to submit reports thereon to the General Assembly at its fifty-seventh session and to the Commission on human rights at its fifty-ninth session;
24. Requests the Secretary-General to bring the present resolution to the attention of the Government of Israel and all other Governments, the competent United Nations organs, the specialized agencies, regional intergovernmental organizations and international humanitarian organizations, to disseminate it on the widest possible scale and to report on its implementation by the Government of Israel to the Commission on Human Rights at its fifty-ninth session;
25. Also requests the Secretary-General to provide the Commission on Human Rights with all United Nations reports issued between the sessions of the Commission that deal with the conditions in which the citizens of the Palestinian and other occupied Arab territories are living under the Israeli occupation;
26. Decides to consider this question at its fifty-ninth session under the same agenda
item, as a matter of high priority.
Of course, resistance to the brutality of the IAF can take many forms, including, but not limited to armed resistance. Mahmoud Darwish is one of those people who was subjected to the brutality of the IAF in various forms, as noted in one English obituary:
His first poetry symbolised the Palestinian resistance to Israeli rule. His first volumes, Leaves of the Olive Tree (1964), A Lover from Palestine (1966) and End of the Night (1967), were published in Israel. During this time Darwish was a member of the Israeli Communist party, Rakah, and edited the Arabic edition of the party’s newspaper, Al-Ittihad. Israeli Palestinians were restricted in any expression of nationalist feeling. Darwish went to prison several times and was frequently under house arrest.