‘Israel’s attacks on Palestinians qualify as state terrorism’

‘Israel’s attacks on Palestinians qualify as state terrorism’

President of COPLAC says colonization of Palestinian territories is a war crime

By Daniel Salgar Antolinez

BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) - The Palestinian cause is a trickling genocide, slow but relentless, the president of the Confederation of Palestinian Communities in Latin America and the Caribbean (COPLAC) said Wednesday.

In an interview with Anadolu Agency, Rafael Araya Masry said “there are grounds to talk about state terrorism carried out by Israel” in the ongoing airstrikes in Gaza which have left at least 67 people dead, including 17 children, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

“It’s not for nothing that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has launched an investigation against Israel for war crimes committed in the Gaza Strip with its bombings but adding a factor that is not minor: the colonization of the Palestinian territories. Colonization is a war crime,” Masry said.

Tensions have been running high since last week after an Israeli court ordered the eviction of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem.

“This process of dispossession, basically in the holy city of Jerusalem, which Israel has declared its unique and indivisible capital, means what we say: the erasure of all human, graphic, written and cultural traces of a community who has lived there for many centuries. So this is the violent continuation through state terrorism of a process that seeks the expulsion of the Palestinians from the eastern part of Jerusalem, which is destined to be the future capital of the Palestinian state,” he said.

According to Masry, the Israeli government sends civilians -- settlers -- to bait and insult Palestinians before sending in the army to evict them from their homes.

“It is fascist to use the civilian population as a tool of a state policy to expel inhabitants. That is the tragic part of the story: the state succeeds in getting the civilian population to enter into a fascistized project.”

Besides the evictions in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Israeli authorities have harassed and attacked worshippers in the midst of prayers inside Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, something that has escalated the violence.

Regarding a possible Intifada, Masry said "Palestinian deaths in Israeli bombings in Gaza are normal. It always happens. It seems like a conflict without a solution. How do people in the Gaza Strip, which is the world’s largest open-air prison, compete against the fourth or fifth strongest military power on the planet? Furthermore, with a state that has made military oppression the reason for invoking what they call ‘the right to defend themselves' and crush any protest or dissent, not only against Palestinians but also against Israeli citizens and organizations who denounce what is going on with the Palestinian people.”

On the other side of the world, all but two Latin American countries recognize Palestine -- Mexico and Panama. So as a Palestinian representative in the region, Masry said the work of COPLAC is to raise awareness and gather the greatest possible support for Palestine to achieve its independence.

“For example, I asked Mercosur to issue a statement and to suspend the prerogatives it has granted to Israel by signing a free trade agreement, to put it on hold as a measure of pressure to stop the repression and bombings in the Palestinian territories.”​​​​​​​

*Maria Paula Triviño contributed to this story

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