[News] Palestinians have a legal right to armed struggle

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jul 24 11:13:31 EDT 2017


http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2017/07/palestinians-legal-armed-struggle-170719114812058.html 



  Palestinians have a legal right to armed struggle

Stanley L Cohen - July 20, 2017
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Long ago, it was settled that resistance and even armed struggle against 
a colonial occupation force is not just recognised under international 
law but specifically endorsed.

In accordance with international humanitarian law, wars of national 
liberation have been expressly embraced, through the adoption of 
Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 (pdf 
<https://treaties.un.org/doc/publication/unts/volume%201125/volume-1125-i-17512-english.pdf>), 
as a protected and essential right of occupied people everywhere.

Finding evolving vitality in humanitarian law, for decades the General 
Assembly of the United Nations (UNGA) - once described as the collective 
conscience of the world - has noted the right of peoples to 
self-determination, independence and human rights.

Indeed, as early as 1974, resolution 3314 of the UNGAprohibited 
<http://hrlibrary.umn.edu/instree/GAres3314.html> states from "any 
military occupation, however temporary".

In relevant part, the resolution not only went on to affirm the right 
"to self-determination, freedom and independence [...] of peoples 
forcibly deprived of that right,[...] particularly peoples under 
colonial and racist regimes or other forms of alien domination" but 
noted the right of the occupied to "struggle ... and to seek and receive 
support" in that effort.

The term "armed struggle" was implied without precise definition in that 
resolution and many other early ones that upheld the right of indigenous 
persons to evict an occupier.

This imprecision was to change on December 3, 1982. At that time UNGA 
resolution 37/43 
<http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/37/a37r043.htm>removed any doubt or 
debate over the lawful entitlement of occupied people to resist 
occupying forces by any and all lawful means. The resolution reaffirmed 
"the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial 
integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial and foreign 
domination and foreign occupation by all available means, including 
armed struggle".


    *A palpable illusion*

Though Israel has tried, time and time again, to recast the unambiguous 
intent of this precise resolution - and thus place its now 
half-century-long occupation in the West Bank 
<http://www.aljazeera.com/topics/subjects/occupied-west-bank.html> and 
Gaza beyond its application - it is an effort worn thin to the point of 
palpable illusion by the exacting language of the declaration itself. In 
relevant part, section 21 of the resolution strongly condemned "the 
expansionist activities of Israel in the Middle East and the continual 
bombing of Palestinian civilians, which constitute a serious obstacle to 
the realization of the self-determination and independence of the 
Palestinian people".

Never ones to hesitate in rewriting history, long before the 
establishment of the United Nations 
<http://www.aljazeera.com/topics/organisations/un.html>, European 
Zionistsdeemed themselves to be an occupied people as they emigrated to 
Palestine - a land to which any historical connection they had had long 
since passed through a largely voluntary transit.

Indeed, a full 50 years before the UN spoke of the right of armed 
struggle as a vehicle of indigenous liberation, European Zionists 
illegally co-opted the concept as the Irgun, Lehiand other terrorist 
groups undertook a decade's long reign of deadly mayhem.

During this time, they slaughtered not only thousands of indigenous 
Palestinians but targeted British police and military personnel that had 
long maintained a colonial presence there.


    A history of Zionist attacks

Perhaps, as Israelis sit down to mourn the loss of two 
<http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/07/palestinians-killed-shooting-jerusalem-city-170714045419071.html> 
of their soldiers 
<http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/07/palestinians-killed-shooting-jerusalem-city-170714045419071.html> who 
were shot dead this past week in Jerusalem - in what many consider to be 
a lawful act of resistance -  a visit down memory lane might just place 
the events in their proper historical context.

Self-determination is a difficult, costly march for the occupied. In 
Palestine, no matter what the weapon of choice - whether voice, pen or 
gun - there is a steep price to be paid for its use.

Long ago, describing the British as an occupation force in "their 
homeland", Zionists targeted British police and military units 
<http://www.prc.org.uk/portal/index.php/english-media/latest-news/3200-israeli-massacres-against-pales> 
with ruthless abandon throughout Palestine 
<http://www.aljazeera.com/topics/country/palestine.html> and elsewhere.

On April 12, 1938, the Irgun murdered two British police officers in a 
train bombing in Haifa. On August 26, 1939,two British officers were 
killed by an Irgun landmine in Jerusalem 
<http://www.aljazeera.com/topics/city/jerusalem.html>. On February 14, 
1944,two British constables were shot dead when they attempted to arrest 
people for pasting up wall posters in Haifa. On September 27, 1944,more 
than 100 members of the Irgun attacked four British police stations, 
injuring hundreds of officers. Two days latera senior British police 
officer of the Criminal Intelligence Department was assassinated in 
Jerusalem.

On November 1, 1945,another police officer was killed as five trains 
were bombed. On December 27, 1945,seven British officers lost their 
lives in a bombing on police headquarters in Jerusalem. Between November 
9 and 13, 1946,Jewish "underground" members launched a series of 
landmine and suitcase bomb attacks in railway stations, trains, and 
streetcars, killing 11 British soldiers and policemen and eight Arab 
constables.

Four more officers were murdered in another attack on a police 
headquarters on January 12, 1947. Nine months later,four British police 
were murdered in an Irgun bank robbery and, but three days later, on 
September 26, 1947, an additional 13 officers were  killed in yet 
another terrorist attack on a British police station.

These are but a few of many attacks directed by Zionist terrorists at 
British police who were seen, by mostly European Jews, as legitimate 
targets of a campaign they described as one of liberation against an 
occupation force.

Throughout this period, Jewish terrorists also undertook countless 
attacks that spared no part of the British and Palestinian 
infrastructure. They assaulted British military and police 
installations, government offices, and ships, often with bombs. They 
also sabotaged railways, bridges, and oil installations. Dozens of 
economic targets were attacked, including 20 trains that were damaged or 
derailed, and five train stations. Numerous attacks were carried out 
against the oil industry including one, in March 1947, on a Shell oil 
refinery in Haifa which destroyed some 16,000 tonnes of petroleum.

Zionist terrorists killed British soldiers throughout Palestine, using 
booby traps, ambushes, snipers, and vehicle blasts.

One attack, in particular, sums up the terrorism of those who, without 
any force of international law at the time, saw no limitation to their 
efforts to "liberate" a land that they had, largely, only recently 
emigrated to.

In 1947, the Irgun kidnapped two British Army Intelligence Corps 
non-commissioned officers and threathened to hang them if death 
sentences of three of their own members were carried out. When these 
three Irgun members were executed by hanging, the two British sergeants 
were hanged in retaliation and their booby-trapped bodies were left in 
an eucalyptus grove.

In announcing their execution, the Irgun said that the two British 
soldiers were hanged following their conviction for "criminal 
anti-Hebrew activities" which included: illegal entry into the Hebrew 
homeland and membership in a British criminal terrorist organisation - 
known as the Army of Occupation - which was "responsible for the 
torture, murder, deportation, and denying the Hebrew people the right to 
live". The soldiers were also charged with illegal possession of arms, 
anti-Jewish spying in civilian clothes, and premeditated hostile designs 
against the underground (pdf 
<http://users.ox.ac.uk/%7Emetheses/Bagon.pdf>).

Well beyond the territorial confines of Palestine, in late 1946-47 a 
continuing campaign of terrorism was directed at the British. Acts of 
sabotage were carried out on British military transportation routes in 
Germany <http://www.aljazeera.com/topics/country/germany.html>.  The 
Lehi also tried, unsuccessfully, to drop a bomb on the House of 
Commonsfrom a chartered plane flown from France 
<http://www.aljazeera.com/topics/country/france.html> and, in October 
1946, bombed the British Embassy in Rome. A number of other explosive 
devices were detonated in and around strategic targets in London. Some 
21 letter bombs were addressed, at various times, to senior British 
political figures. Many were intercepted, while others reached their 
targets but were discovered before they could go off.


    *The steep price of self-determination*

Self-determination is a difficult, costly march for the occupied. In 
Palestine, no matter what the weapon of choice - whether voice, pen or 
gun - there is a steep price to be paid for its use.

Today, "speaking truth to power" has become very much a popular mantra 
of resistance in neoliberalcircles and societies. In Palestine, however, 
for the occupied and oppressed, it is an all-but-certain path to prison 
or death. Yet, for generations of Palestinians stripped of the very 
breath that resonates with the feeling of freedom, history teaches there 
is simply no other choice.

Silence is surrender. To be silent is to betray all those who have come 
before and all those yet to follow.

For those who have never felt the constant yoke of oppression, or seen 
it up close, it is a vision beyond comprehension. Occupation sits heavy 
on the occupied, every day in every way, limiting who you are and what 
you may dare to become.

The constant rub of barricades, guns, orders, prison and death are 
fellow travellers for the occupied, whether infants, teens in the spring 
of life, the elderly, or those trapped by the artificial confines of 
borders over which they have no control.

*/The three young men, cousins, who willingly sacrificed their lives in 
the attack on the two Israeli officers in Jerusalem, did so not as an 
empty gesture born of desperation, but rather a personal statement of 
national pride that follows a long line of others who well understood 
that the price of freedom can, at times, mean all./*

To the families of the two Israeli Druzepolicemen who lost their lives 
while trying to control a place that was not theirs to command, I extend 
my condolences. These young men were, however, not lost to the ring of 
resistance, but willingly sacrificed by an evil occupation that bears no 
legitimacy whatsoever.

Ultimately, if there is grieving to be done, it must be for the 11 
million occupied, whether in Palestine or outside, as so much stateless 
refugees, stripped of a meaningful voice and opportunity, as the world 
makes excuses built largely of a political and economic gift box that 
bears the Star of David.

Not a day goes by now without the chilling wail of a nation watching 
over a Palestinian infant wrapped in a burial shroud, stripped of life 
because electricity or transit have become a perverse privilege which 
holds millions hostage to the political whims of the few. Be they 
Israeli, Egyptian or those who claim to carry the mantle of Palestinian 
political leadership, the responsibility of infanticide in Gaza is 
theirs and theirs alone.


    'If there is no struggle, there is no progress'

The three young men, cousins, who willingly sacrificed their lives in 
the attack on the two Israeli officers in Jerusalem, did so not as an 
empty gesture born of desperation, but rather a personal statement of 
national pride that follows a long line of others who well understood 
that the price of freedom can, at times, mean all.

For 70 years, not a day has passed without the loss of young Palestinian 
women and men who, tragically, found greater dignity and freedom in 
martyrdom than they did in obedient, passive living controlled by those 
who dared to dictate the parameters of their lives.

Millions of us worldwide dream of a better time and place for 
Palestinians ... free to spread their wings, to soar, to discover who 
they are and what they wish to become. Until then, I mourn not for the 
loss of those who stop their flight. Instead, I applaud those who dare 
to struggle, dare to win - by any means necessary.

There is no magic to resistance and struggle. They transcend time and 
place and derive their very meaning and ardour in the natural 
inclination, indeed, drive, of us all to be free - to be free to 
determine the role of our own lives.

In Palestine, no such freedom exists. In Palestine, international law 
recognises the fundamental rights to self-determination, freedom and 
independence for the occupied. In Palestine, that includes the right to 
armed struggle, if necessary.

Long ago, the famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass, himself a former 
slave, wrote of struggle. These words resonate no less so today, in 
Palestine, than they did some one 150 years ago in the heart of the 
Antebellum Southin the United States:

"If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to 
favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops 
without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and 
lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many 
waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; 
or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power 
concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."

/*Stanley L Cohen is a lawyer and human rights activist who has done 
extensive work in the Middle East and Africa.*/

*/The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not 
necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy./*

<http://www.aljazeera.com/topics/regions/middleeast.html>
-- 
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