Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu

Israeli occupation forces shot and killed three Palestinian ­fighters in the northern West Bank last week. Israeli forces then ­prevented medics with the Palestine Red Crescent Society from accessing them.

The Israeli military is detaining the slain men’s bodies as part of its policy, approved by its highest court, of withholding the remains of Palestinians killed in attacks and alleged attacks. That’s so they may be used as bargaining chips in future negotiations.

The armed wing of Hamas claimed the three men as its fighters. Israeli troops, police and settlers have killed 200 Palestinians so far this year, mostly in the West Bank. 

That figure includes Palestinians who died as a result of injuries ­sustained previously. During the same period, some 30 people in Israel, and Israelis in the West Bank, were killed by Palestinians in the context of the occupation, or died from previous injuries.

Such vile Israeli state brutality is routinely ignored by most of the media as they concentrate solely in the internal battles in the Israeli state. Prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu has now pushed through a law that limits some Supreme Court powers. Tens of thousands of Israelis staged new nationwide protests in response.

The first part of Netanyahu’s anti-democratic assault, which has become known as the ­“reasonableness clause” bill, was ratified by the Knesset—Israel’s ­parliament—last week. One proposed reform would allow the government to appoint more members to a committee that oversees appointees to the Supreme Court.

It gives Netanyahu the power to pack the court with more judges. The prime minister has denied the claims, as well as a series of ­corruption charges against him. Should the government ­succeed in its plans, some former officials such as one-time Interior and Health Minister Aryeh Deri could be reinstated by the prime minister despite criminal convictions.

After his success in the 2022 elections, Netanyahu formed a coalition with several far right parties. These have a long history of using incendiary rhetoric against Palestinians, oppose Palestinian statehood and support extending Israeli control over the occupied West Bank.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since the 1967 Middle East war and has since pursued a programme of expanding illegal, Jewish-only ­settlements in the territory. Justice for Palestinians was nowhere on the agenda during Israeli president Isaac Herzog’s recent visit to Washington. 

The US provides at least £3 billion in ­military aid to Israel each year. Herzog’s speech during a joint meeting of Congress received multiple standing ovations from the packed audience while claiming that Palestinian “terror,” rather than Israeli colonisation, is what destroyed prospects for peace.

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