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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

Israel is plumbing new lows of brutality

Its persecution of the defenceless will not stop while its backers kowtow to its power

A Palestinian protester throws back an Israeli tear-gas canister during near the border with Israel in the northern Gaza Strip. Mohammed Saber / EPA
A Palestinian protester throws back an Israeli tear-gas canister during near the border with Israel in the northern Gaza Strip. Mohammed Saber / EPA

Yaser Murtaja was a young, enthusiastic photojournalist dedicated to shedding truth and light in the toughest of circumstances. Despite wearing a flak jacket clearly marked "press", he was shot down while trying to do his job, reporting on protests near the Gaza border. The coldblooded killing of Murtaja, with a bullet aimed at a part of his body not covered by his protection gear, was just one of 29 murders of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers in a week of escalating violence and brutality.

If any further evidence was needed of the oppressive force with which Israeli forces are attempting to stamp out any opposition, it was the disturbing footage last week of a Palestinian teenager being shot in the back by an Israeli sniper while running away from the Gaza buffer zone. More than 400 Palestinians were taken to hospital on Friday and a 16-year-old was killed.

The Israeli army is murdering Palestinian fighting for their rights while the world panders to the architects of a US-backed illegal occupation. With a seven-year war in Syria and a three-year war engulfing Yemen, it is all too easy to forget that for the past 70 years, Israel has been a relentless aggressor and brutalising force, determined to eradicate Palestinians' right to a homeland. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is just one in a long line of Israeli leaders buoyed by the impunity afforded them by an international community which fails to hold them accountable. So lacking is his moral compass that when, in a rare glimpse of something resembling humanitarianism, he offered to relocate about 37,000 African migrants trapped in Israel, he almost immediately bowed to pressure from the far right and scrapped the deal with the UN Refugee Agency because it would involve some of them being rehomed within Israel. So toxic and entitled has the Israeli political system become that a rare hint of any humanity sparks a public outcry. In this skewed version of morality, those in power instead heap praise on Israeli snipers who shoot at the innocent and vulnerable. Stone-throwing protesters are met with searing tear gas and live ammunition. Yet despite a week of relentless violence, world powers have failed to act. Expressing shock and revulsion at the deaths of the likes of Murtaja is not enough. Actions speak louder than mere words posted on social media. There are currently 350 Palestinian children in detention, according to Amnesty International, as Israel plummets to new lows to degrade Palestinians and punish the defenceless.

The latest murderous escalation comes a month before the anniversary of Al Nakba, when Israel’s creation in 1948 forced more than 700,000 Palestinians from their homes. That anniversary will be marked by US President Donald Trump acting on his vow to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Last week the same Trump administration blocked a call by Kuwait for an independent investigation into the Gaza murders at the UN Security Council. As long as Israel has those who kowtow to its mercenary behaviour, its persecution of innocents will never stop.