Issues Home About Contact Us Issue 30 - July 2024 عربى
Regional Developments

Coveting Land, Targeting Homes, Shelters and Shelter Seekers

The Zionist Movement’s call to rid the land of Palestine of its people by removal and replacement is essential to the State of Israel’s genesis and raison d’état. On this year’s Palestinian national Day of the Land, we witnessed that doctrine in its full expression through Israel’s ongoing genocide in the Gaza Strip and militarized settler assaults in the West Bank. Palestinians have commemorated Land Day since the 1976 general strike against Israel’s land confiscations in the Naqab and Galilee, in which Israeli forces assassinated six protesting Palestinian youth in the villages of Sakhnin and Arrabah BiTawf.

The Zionist Movement promoted “transfer” of the Palestinian people as the intended euphemism, attributing a title of a supposed lesser evil to acts of expulsion, forced exodus, or any of the other more-violent references to describe the same act of removing the Indigenous People from its land. However, by the time of the Zionists’ proclaimed the State of Israel in 1948, “population transfer” had already been codified as a war crime and crime against humanity in the statutes of the post-World War II International Military Tribunals at Nuremberg and Tokyo. Its settler-colonial push and pull factors were well known to jurists at the time, and both were understood as complementary sides of the composite crime for which Nazi commanders, the likes of Alfred Jodl and Alfred Rosenberg, were eventually executed.

That judicious outcome did not deter the Zionist militias then or now. For population transfer remains the modus operandi for acquiring and maintaining Palestinian land under the settler-colonial State of Israel throughout the ensuing decades. Israel’s targeting of homes, shelters and shelter seekers has characterized its ongoing genocide against the Indigenous Palestinian people in Gaza. Notably, this also features in the West Bank, as indeed across historic Palestine and throughout the history of Zionism, Israel’s state ideology.

To commemorate Palestine’s Day of the Land 2024, HIC-HLRN reported on how the world has arrived at the current situation by tracing one consistent feature of Israel’s practice. Coveting Land, Targeting Homes, Shelters and Shelter Seekers: Israel’s raison d’état, military doctrine and consistent practice explores Israel’s application of its military doctrine of targeting of homes, shelters and shelter seekers.

This new publication also has a background. It updates an earlier HIC-HLRN submission to the 2009 United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (Goldstone Commission), which Report noted “the extent of the destruction of residential housing caused by air strikes, mortar and artillery shelling, missile strikes, the operation of bulldozers and demolition charges…in the absence of any link to combat engagements with Palestinian armed groups or any other effective contribution to military action” [53].

That behavior also has a longer history. The Goldstone Commission was the first UN investigative mechanism whose methodology allowed for consideration of antecedents forming such a pattern of the occupying power’s actions in a recent period under consideration. The HIC-HLRN’s inquiry and report to Goldstone concluded that Israel commonly attacks homes of Palestinians (and inhabitants of neighboring countries) to create displacement that forms columns and clusters of shelter seekers, whom Israeli forces, including warplanes, then routinely target.

This catalog of gross violations and atrocity crimes, updated to the present, compiles at least four forms of direct evidence: (1) official Israeli military doctrine in the form of Plan Dalet, dating back to 1948; (2) official statements of commanders; (3) statements and social media posts of Israeli military personnel and political representatives; and (4) the pattern of actions. It concludes that the institutionalized nature of this behavior in the organs of the state makes the case for considering Israel’s targeting homes, shelters and shelter seekers as crimes of state. The report recommends actions by states in the international community that are rooted in both state obligations and required to meet public expectations.


Photo: Cover of the new HIC-HLRN publication Coveting Land, Targeting Homes, Shelters and Shelter Seekers: Israel’s raison d’état, military doctrine and consistent practice. Source: HIC-HLRN.


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