Palestine s killing fields
I WOKE up to the noise of helicopters, police cars and ambulances as clashes erupted in our previously peaceful neighbourhood of Shufat, East Jerusalem, with Israeli security forces shooting at young Palestinians protesting against the killing of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khudair.
Mohammed had been kidnapped from our neighbourhood while on his way to Ramadan prayers at dawn; witnesses who saw him being forced into a vehicle had informed the police.
A few hours later, Israeli police discovered his body in the forests of Jerusalem at the site of the massacred village of Deir Yasin – a moment of déjà vu or a traumatic flashback of the village itself.
His body had been stabbed, disfigured and charred.
These events took place the night after an attempt by Israelis to kidnap a 10-year-old boy, Mousa Zalloum, who was saved by his mother ’ s courageous resistance. This child and his mother, Deema, survive to tell their story.
Immediately after the kidnapping of the three settlers on June 12, Israel ’ s prime minister announced: “Hamas is responsible and Hamas will pay.”
The Israeli army launched violent raids, imposed curfews and effected closures throughout the occupied West Bank, killing a dozen young people, rearresting without cause members of the Palestinian parliament and prisoners who had been previously freed and demolishing the homes of suspects before any evidence for charges against them had been provided to the court or to the public.
The military escalation since June 12 was not just about finding the three missing Israeli youths.
It was a moment in which the Israeli government seized the advantage to recruit international sympathy to reverse the recent global criticism of Israel ’ s role in paralysing negotiations.
It has been a moment of collective punishment of the Palestinian people.
Whoever is perceived as posing an obstacle is arrested or killed.
These actions have succeeded in disempowering the recently formed Palestinian unity government and inducing repolarisation among Palestinians, especially after President Mahmoud Abbas ’ s speech describing the sacred quality of cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
The Israeli leadership and propa- ganda have stirred up a toxic antiPalestinian climate and dehumanising image of Palestinians – including children – in official and social media.
For example, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated, when the bodies of the settlers were discovered: “They were abducted and murdered in cold blood by human animals.”
The mayor of the Ma ’ ale Adumim settlement, Benny Kashriel, called upon the Israeli authorities to construct new settlement units in the area in response to the killing of the three Israeli settlers.
At the same time, international diplomats and global leaders are deploring in the strongest terms the killing of the settlers, identifying them by name.
The story of Yousef Shawamreh (14), who was killed in March while harvesting the wild thorny vegetable gundelia in Deir Al Asal, south of Hebron, or the story of Ahmad Sabarin (20), who was watching a World Cup soccer match when the Israelis came to arrest people in the Al Jalazoun refugee camp and was shot as he went out to see what was going on – these stories are not known to the diplomats.
Saker Daraghmeh (16), who was killed in the Tayaseer village near the Jordan Valley while shepherding his cattle, or Muhammad Abu Daher and Nadim Nawwara, two teenagers killed while commemorating the Nakba – the deaths of these young people did not earn international
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visibility equal to the killing of the settlers.
These are just a few of the names of the dead, now held in the memory of Palestinians, but they demonstrate the inconsistency of the preaching by Israel and its supporters regarding the value of life and the innocence of children and adolescents.
The killing of Palestinians is not seen as as horrific as the killing of Israelis.
Our pain is not perceived as as acute as theirs if our pain even enters consciousness at all.
The supreme violence and aggression that Israel has initiated and continues to inflict on the Palestinian people, from its unlawful occupation of our land to the settler s presence at our doorsteps, lies in total oblivion.
The equation of Palestinian responsibility for the alleged acts of a few individuals with the formal responsibility of a democratically elected Israeli government for the actions of its army is illogical and unjust.
But this equation is often made by the supporters of Israel, although it is an insult to reason.
Price Tag is the name of a group of settlers committing anti-Palestinian vandalism whose graffiti urges Price tag blood vengeance
Israeli intelligence, so effective in hunting down a Palestinian kid who throws a stone, remains so inept in setting any limits on such actions by Israelis.
Throughout its history, Israel has never imposed meaningful consequences on anyone for killing a Palestinian.
After the death of Mohammed Abu Khudair, the police are invading Shufat not the neighbourhood of his killers.
Israel has kidnapped our freedom, our lives and our futures since it took occupation of our land.
Israel has established a discrepancy in human worth, since the killing of a non-Jew seems far from equivalent to the killing of a Jew.
There is also discrepancy in the validation of human experience, since Israel remains the sole author of the narrative of this land and the sole power determining its political reality.
But in reaction to these violations, there will always be individuals who rise up to oppose them.
In this way, Israel will kidnap all of our opportunities in life, and bring nothing but death and nihilism to Israelis and Palestinians alike.
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