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OP-ED: The occupation courts of Israel: Where is the justice?

  • Published at 12:02 pm June 14th, 2021
Israel Gaza Palestine
Israeli soldiers work in an artillery unit near the border between Israel and the Gaza strip, on the Israeli side May 19, 2021 Reuters

Israel has a justice system that protects injustice and aids the apartheid in Palestine

Renowned American science fiction author Pierce Brown propounded “Man cannot be freed by the same injustice that enslaved it.” Israeli occupational courts have become an instrument of suppressing Palestinians.

Every illegal eviction of Palestinians from their own houses made by Israeli forces to let Jewish settlers from Europe and other parts of the world settle in is a textbook example of ethnic cleansing, and also falls under war crimes.

Complaints made by the Palestinians to any Israeli court with regard to the evictions are rejected most of the time, or verdicts are given in favour of the settlers. Arrests and detentions made by Israeli forces are validated by these occupational courts even if they are illegal, and hence the rights of Palestinians are being breached every day. 

The ongoing conflict between Palestinians and Israelis revolves around many factors; one of the primary factors is Sheikh Jarrah, a neighbourhood in east Jerusalem. Individuals who live in Sheikh Jarrah are now exiles who were displaced from the area they used to live in after it came under Israeli rule in 1948.

During that conflict, Israel coercively evicted 80% of the Palestinian population to make a Jewish dominant part in their infant state. In 1956, the Jordanian government and the United Nations made a concession to erect 28 houses in Sheik Jarrah to house a portion of these families. They have been living in these houses as inhabitants since 1956.

In any case, time passed, and the proprietorship was not moved to the families. The inhabitants kept on living in these houses, and in 1967, East Jerusalem was occupied by Israel. During this period, these houses began to be claimed by Jewish settlers arriving from different parts of the world. They started to behest the government of Israel to remove the families that had been living in these houses, in particular the Palestinians.

Various settler associations in Israel are utilizing the Israeli courts’ legal framework, which has become an essential instrument for the occupation, and to move lands from the hands of Palestinians to the newly arrived settlers’.

It is evident from international law that a population is not transferable from this region forcibly. Yet, these settlers’ associations aimed at helping Jewish settlers in Israel are negligent towards international law, and the Israeli courts do not pay any heed to them.

The eviction orders and implementations are violating Israel’s obligations under international law. The eviction proceedings in many cases in East Jerusalem are based on the application of two Israeli laws, the Absentee Property Law and the Legal and Administrative Matters Law of 1970.

But these forced evictions are a vital factor in establishing a coercive climate that may initiate the forcible transfer of population, which is forbidden by the Fourth Geneva Convention and is a grave break of the Convention.

The military judicial system prevalent in Israel portrays segregation of treatment between Palestinians and Israeli settlers. This discriminatory system breaches international laws. In addition, torture and other cruel methods have been used for years to produce confessions from Palestinians during interrogations, and these forcibly extracted confessions are being used as primary evidence in these occupational courts to confer verdicts.

Another misdemeanor committed using Israeli laws as instruments is the way that most Palestinian detainees are held in jails inside Israel, notwithstanding the fourth Geneva Convention that shows disallowance of the exchange of detainees from the occupied territories into the occupied state.

International laws such as the Apartheid Convention and the Rome statute both incorporate hegemony of one racial group over another by using oppression systematically on a wide-scale within its definition of “inhuman acts.” The forcible transfer also falls within the dominion of these two acts since it shows the dominance of Israelis over the Palestinians. 

After considering all this, it is evident that the Israeli courts and justice system act in contravention of international law, and the naming of Israeli courts as occupational courts by the oppressed Palestinians is befitting, since it has become a justice system that protects injustice and aids the apartheid.

Aqib Tahmid is a student of law.

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