By Bouthaina Shabaan
The investigative report written by Swedish journalist Donald Boström and published in Sweden’s largest newspaper Aftonbladet about Israeli occupation forces killing Palestinians with the objective of stealing their organs has raised a political and media storm in Israel, disclosing up a horrible crime perpetrated for years under the full gaze of the ‘free’ world. These criminal acts began in 1992 when Palestinians started to witness a sharp rise in the number of young Palestinians disappearing and of bodies of Palestinians killed by occupation forces being returned with organs such as hearts, kidneys, livers and eyes missing.
“I was in the area at the time, working on a book”, Boström writes. “On several occasions I was approached by UN staff concerned about the developments. The persons contacting me said that organ theft definitely occurred but that they were prevented from doing anything about it…. I travelled around interviewing a great number of Palestinian families in the West Bank and Gaza – meeting parents who told of how their sons had been deprived of organs before being killed. One example that I encountered on this eerie trip was the young stone-thrower Bilal Ahmed Ghanam”.
Bilal, 19, was one of 133 Palestinians killed in various ways that year; 69 of them went through postmortem examination. Boström describes in detail how Israeli occupation soldiers targeted Bilal, a leader of the stone-throwing children, at midnight on May 13, 1992, shot him first in the chest and he was subsequently shot with one bullet in each leg. Two soldiers then shot Bilal in the stomach. Finally, they grabbed him by his feet, dragged him, then loaded him in a jeep and drove him to the outskirts of the village, where a military helicopter waited. He was flown to an unknown destination. Five days later he came back, dead and wrapped in green hospital fabric. It was clear that Bilal’s body was slit from his abdomen up to his chin. The families and relatives of Khaled from Nablus, the mother of Raed from Jenin and the uncles of Mahmood and Nafez from Gaza, all talked to Boström about their children who had all disappeared for a number of days only to return at night, dead and autopsied.
Investigations in New Jersey, have proved that Rabbi Levy-Izhak (Isaac Rosenbaum) from Brooklyn and other rabbis have run for years networks to sell the kidneys of Palestinian martyrs in the US black market. Patients in the United States paid up to US$ 160,000 per kidney. In 2003, a medical conference showed that Israel is the only country in the world in which the medical profession does not condemn stealing human organs and does not act against those involved in such a crime. On the contrary, and as was revealed by a Dagens Nyheter report on December 5, 2003 and the Aftonbladet report of August 17, 2009, prominent doctors in major Israeli hospitals steal and transplant organs routinely. When asked about the number of bodies sold by rabbi Rosenbaum, he answers proudly, “we are talking about a very large number,” and that his company has worked in this field “for a long period of time”.
Francis Delmonici, professor of transplant surgery at Harvard University confirms that organ trafficking is widespread in Israel and believes that there is sufficient evidence to ask the International Criminal Court to investigate Israeli crimes. Israeli media have turned the results shown by Aftonbladet’s investigative report into a diplomatic crisis between Sweden and Israel instead of demanding an end to this atrocious crime and bringing those corrupt criminals to justice.
Headlines highlighted that the Swedish prime minister refused to apologize and that Donald Boström refused to withdraw the report despite the fact that he received death threats. What should the Swedish prime minister apologize for? Israel, not Sweden, is accused of killing young people, stealing and trafficking in their organs; and it is Israel which should be put on trial. They behaved in the same way with Mary Robinson and others who defended the rights of the Palestinians. They raised a media storm about president Obama awarding her the Medal of Freedom because she took a courageous stand in support of justice in Palestine. They behaved in the same way towards the author of this article because she wrote a column in Assharq al-Awsat newspaper in which she lauded Robinson’s courage in defense of human rights.
The Jerusalem Post published an article against me on August 17, 2009 which is full of incitement and accusations which aim at creating negative preconceived ideas about the author. The question here is why the Jerusalem Post article ignored mentioning the Swedish foreign minister Anna Maria Lindh who I mentioned along with Mary Robinson in my article, and who also took honourable stances in support of justice in Palestine, was arrested several times by Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank and was then assassinated in ambiguous circumstances.
This means that official circles in Israel divert attention from an atrocious crime committed against unarmed civilian Palestinians for over sixty years to a mere article which causes a diplomatic standoff. The same circles instruct the Jerusalem Post to attack my article which calls for honoring honest leaders of the world, like Mary Robinson, for defending justice. Has the world read about how Israel interrogates Palestinian women prisoners after stripping them naked in order to humiliate them? Is writing about them and defending their dignity a form of anti-Semitism and hostility towards Israel and the United States? And why do Israeli media implicate the United States in such crimes?
Despite the ferocious official Israeli campaign to silent free and honest individuals, the circle of those who believe in justice and freedom is getting wider. These are not only politicians, academics and journalists who are targeted by Israeli death or defamation squads who assassinate or muzzle them; they are the vanguard of a global movement to liberate the Palestinian people from this ugly barbarianism. The great thing is that they come from all religions and nationalities; and they will be remembered by history as the first to dare carry the torch of supporting freedom and justice for Palestinians. And surely, no one will remember those who fabricate charges and wage cheap propaganda against human beings, human rights, human dignity and freedom.
Bouthaina Shaaban is Political and Media Advisor at the Syrian Presidency, and former Minister of Expatriates. She was the spokesperson for Syria and nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. She can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org
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