© UnknownDr. Mustafa Barghouti
Mustafa Barghouti has accused Israel of using the Gaza Strip as a testing ground for new weapons. Speaking during a review of 2014 in Ramallah, the Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative reminded listeners that Israel is now the third largest arms exporter in the world. "There is conclusive evidence that it used the Gaza Strip as a test bed for its deadly weaponry," he claimed.

The Israelis, he added, fired around 21,000 tons of high explosives at the besieged territory during its war against Palestinian civilians in July-August 2014. That's the equivalent of two nuclear bombs, noted Barghouti. "Israel has launched four devastating wars against Gaza," he added, "during which it has used internationally-prohibited weapons, including white phosphorus, as well as barrel bombs."

According to the Palestinian politician, 2014 was the bloodiest year in the history of Israeli "criminality". Israel's "aggression" stretched from the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, in which it targeted Al-Aqsa Mosque, through to the Gaza Strip. Ongoing illegal settlements and the blockade of Gaza remain major issues. "The UN reports that Israel has destroyed 92,000 buildings and killed almost 2,300 people, 85 per cent of them within their own homes," said Barghouti. "Another 11,711 Palestinians have been injured by Israeli aggression." He warned that Gaza is set to "explode" unless reconstruction materials are allowed into the enclave and the blockade is lifted.

Israel used live ammunition to suppress peaceful demonstrations in the West Bank, he revealed, which led to the killing of 52 civilians there in 2014. "What we are witnessing in the West Bank and Jerusalem is the appearance of a new uprising, albeit in scattered waves."

Barghouti referred to the escalation of violations of the sanctity of holy sites in Jerusalem along with a significant increase in the number of attacks by armed Jewish settlers across the West Bank. Illegal settlement activity rose by 140 per cent over the figures for 2012, he said. In closing, he reminded the audience that 2014 also saw an increase in the number of Palestinians held in Israeli jails, rising from 4,763 to 6,500.