Pales­tine s killing fields

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Sunday World - - Opinion -

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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