In the age of phone cameras, we have become increasingly used to photos and videos of Palestinians in the West Bank being shot by soldiers in unjustifiable circumstances.
Think of 18-year-old Hadeel Hashlamon, who was killed late last month at a checkpoint in Hebron. A series of photos of her suggest, in the words of Amnesty International, that she was “executed” by the soldiers there. She was shot multiple times and left to bleed to death.
The army claimed she had a knife, which they photographed on the ground nearby. But whether she was carrying the knife or it was planted there, still an issue that has not been resolved, the more important point is this: she posed no threat, let alone a lethal one, to anyone when she was killed.
Now we have a disturbing video of a similar shooting but this time not in the occupied territories. This occurs inside Israel and the victim is an Israeli citizen — a member of the country’s Palestinian minority, which comprises a fifth of Israel’s population.
Israa Abed, a 30-year-old mother of three from Nazareth, was shot today at the central bus station in Afula, close to Nazareth. She was surrounded by many soldiers, police and what appear to be armed Israeli civilians. The soldiers there are probably passengers on the many buses that pass through Afula.
The Israeli media initially reported that she was shot while trying to stab a security guard. The video (below) shows that to be definitively not the case. She is shot after long moments of standing apparently terrified in the bus station, in what looks like a state of all-consuming panic, as more and more people point their guns at her.
From the quality of this video it is near-impossible to know whether she is holding a knife. But it is possible to see that, like Hashlamon, she poses no threat to any of the soldiers when she is shot. That point is underlined by the fact that several soldiers and policemen move closer to her, not away from her, in the final moments before she is shot. She does little more than sway throughout the video, appearing to turn when a policeman runs directly towards her as several gun shots ring out on the sound track.
Fortunately, she appears to have survived the shooting and is reported to be in a stable condition in hospital.
But this video is troubling for several reasons.
First, and most obviously, this woman was shot when she posed no immediate threat. The person or people who opened fire did so with no possible justification, apart from their own fears. One cannot help wondering whether the ease with which Israeli Jews shoot Palestinians, whether fellow citizens of Israel or victims of the occupation, reflects long-dominant discourses in the Israeli education system, media and politics that dehumanise “Arabs”.
Second, the shooting seems to occur not because the armed people around her fear they are in danger, but because the group push themselves into a collective frenzy about the alleged knife. In this kind of atmosphere, someone is going to pull the trigger sooner or later.
This is very similar to another recent video, in which a group of religious (and unarmed) Jews chase after Fadi Alloun in a large open area in Jerusalem calling for him to be shot. When security forces turn up, the video shows police opening fire, apparently on the orders of the crowd, killing him. Again, Alloun does not appear to be posing a threat to anyone at the time he is shot.
Third, Israeli politicians, including the mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, have called on Israeli Jewish civilians to carry their weapons at all times and be ready to use them. This video shows where this policy is likely to lead: summary justice carried out by the most unhinged link in the security chain.
Fourth, it is a deeply worrying new trend inside Israel that Jewish civilians are starting to mimick the settlers in the occupied territories in believing they should be carrying out revenge attacks themselves. Today, a Jewish man in Dimona stabbed four Palestinians, two of them Israeli citizens. This video offers a vivid illustration of the mood of victimhood that is sweeping Israel, one that makes Israelis fast on the trigger and ready to play the role of avenging angel.
It is bad enough that Palestinians in Israel have to face security forces that treat them like an enemy. But things will get much, much worse when even the highly prejudicial rule of law in Israel is replaced by the lynch mob.
Settlers march through occupied al-Khalil attacking, insulting and threatening Palestinians and internationals
Al-Khalil/Hebron, occupied Palestine – Yesterday night, October 7th 2015, a large group of settlers harassed, insulted and physically assaulted Palestinian residents and internationals in the Tel Rumeida neighbourhood of occupied al-Khalil (Hebron), injuring several.
Around 08:00 pm, more than 50 settlers from the illegal settlements within al-Khalil, most of them children and teenagers, accompanied by a few adults, marched around the Palestinian neighbourhood of Tel Rumeida, chanting insults and hate-speech, calling for the death of Arabs. The group was not only chanting racist abuse, but also demonstrated a high level of violence and aggression towards the Palestinian residents of the neighbourhood.
After marching through the streets loudly chanting, they attacked Palestinians right outside a shop, running towards them and beating them, and hurling rocks at Palestinian youth and internationals documenting these violent assaults. Instead of intervening, Israeli forces watched these attacks happen at first just to point their loaded guns at Palestinians that just a few seconds before were standing in a hail of stones, threatening to shoot. Two persons were injured with stones thrown by the settlers, a Palestinian youth in his hand and an international in his chest. In the meantime, the settlers openly picked up more stones and rocks from the ground, attacking families that opened their main gates to find out what the shouting was about. Again, instead of preventing or stopping attacks by the settlers, the army violently pushed Palestinians to move back into their homes, yelling at them. All complaints made by Palestinians against the attacks by the settlers were ignored by the soldiers. But not only the settlers, also the Israeli soldiers violently attacked several Palestinians and beat them.
Many families rushed into their homes upon hearing the yelling, locked their doors and then had to watch the settlers chanting abuse at them from behind their windows – protected only by the metal grids installed in the past due to frequent settler attacks. Soldiers, in the best case, are standing idly by. Last night, they were pointing their guns at children and women watching in fear from the roof of their houses – the one place farthest away from the settlers down on the street; and soldiers were banging on the door of Palestinian family homes, while the group of settlers are aggressively chanting and threatening the families while standing right behind the soldiers.
Settler woman photographing internationals getting attacked
When the march proceeded down the hill towards Shuhada checkpoint, where over two weeks ago the Israeli army ruthlessly gunned down and killed the Palestinian student Hadeel al-Hashlamoun, more than two dozen activists from Youth Against Settlement arrived to document the racist abuse and attacks against Palestinians. Israeli forces that by then finally arrived, immediately stopped the Palestinians and isolated them in an alley, preventing them from going anywhere. The group of settlers on the other hand was allowed to keep on chanting racist abuse and burned Palestinian flags, cheering and clapping. Israeli soldiers were getting their guns ready, facing the Palestinians that were clearly upset when their flags were being burned, but did not do anything to stop the flag-burning.
In order to allow for the greatest possible space for the settlers to move around and keep on chanting, Israeli forces pushed back the Palestinians, with one soldier threatening an international that he would ‘break his face’ if he didn’t move right away. Settler children and women also attempted to break cameras of internationals, blocking them from documenting the events and spit at them.
Infamous, aggressive settler Anat Cohen repeatedly attacked an international observer while she was standing right in front of a police car with two policemen inside, that did not even bother to get out of the car and instead just kept watching from inside. Soldiers did at no point try to prevent Anat Cohen’s attacks and instead ordered the internationals to go back up the hill, which at that point was not safe with settlers still roaming the streets. The settler woman both tried to grab the international observer’s camera and attempt to punch her in the face without soldiers intervening. When the international observer was ordered by soldiers to move towards the Palestinians detained on the other side of the road, Anat Cohen pushed her as she was passing in front of the police car, and her daughter kicked the her in the stomach. Soldiers still did not intervene and refused to take a complaint about this attack, forcing her and another international to leave.
This incident again illustrates the power settlers hold over the Israeli army. Even when attacking Palestinians – or internationals that enjoy a greater protection than any Palestinian – settlers enjoy the protection of the Israeli army.
Last evening, most Palestinian families, did not go to sleep, staying up late scared of what might happen during the night. Unfortunately, this incident in al-Khalil is only a case in point in a long record of settler attacks, that recently have been escalating not only in al-Khalil, but throughout the occupied West Bank.
This two-minute video, taken on October 7 in the West Bank near Ramallah, is worth studying carefully to understand how Israel has become so adept at managing the Palestinian population under occupation and at foiling their efforts at resistance.
We can see about 20 men, faces concealed, who look like they are Palestinian protesters throwing stones at the army. In fact, they are what are called “mistaravim”: Israeli security forces in disguise as Palestinian youths.
According to those who witnessed this incident (see update below), the mistaravim began throwing stones at the army in a piece of theatre to lure other Palestinians to the protest.
Then, as we can see in the video, when a few Palestinian protesters separate themselves from the main body of the crowd they are picked off by the mistaravim, like lions going after a gazelle.
Notice, once they have grabbed the main Palestinian in this video, they shoot him in the knee and take turns kicking him.
We can’t see what happens next, but the routine is well known.
He will be taken off to a Shin Bet interrogation (torture) cell, where he will be made to give up the names of anyone he can think off who was there (and very possibly those who weren’t).
Then the Israeli army will make night raids to grab those who were named, or arrest them when they try to cross one of the many checkpoints and roadblocks Israel operates in the occupied territories.
At some point later he will be released. The Shin Bet will use his “confession” as blackmail to get him to serve as an informer.
This has been going on for nearly five decades in the occupied territories. It has created an awful lot of Palestinians trapped in a vicious cycle of collaboration, and a very effective system of control for Israel.
Sam Bahour makes the point that the drama playing out here illustrates the way young Palestinians are being drawn not into an organised intifada but into futile bursts of anger against Israel.
He says it more eloquently than I can:
Here is another video of the same incident, showing what happens earlier when the mistaravim are throwing stones and then switch sides.
NATO does not rule out the possibility that a hospital of Doctors Without Borders in Afghan city of Kunduz was bombed by US air forces.
A Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF) hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz was bombed early on Saturday, leading to the death of at least three people, with dozens missing, the international aid agency said in a statement.
There were around 200 people in the hospital building when it was bombed, according to MSF.
NATO said in a statement that US forces conducted an airstrike in Kunduz at around the same time — just after 02:00 am on Saturday (after 22:00 GMT Sunday).
The medical team is working around the clock to do everything possible for the safety of patients and hospital staff.
‘We are deeply shocked by the attack, the killing of our staff and patients and the heavy toll it has inflicted on healthcare in Kunduz,” Bart Janssens, MSF Director of Operations commented on the bombing.
“We do not yet have the final casualty figures, but our medical team are providing first aid and treating the injured patients and MSF personnel and accounting for the deceased. We urge all parties to respect the safety of health facilities and staff.”
According to MSF, at the time of the aerial attack 105 patients and their caretakers were in the hospital and over 80 MSF international and national staff.
MSF’s hospital is the only facility of its kind in the Northeast of Afghanistan, providing free life- and limb-saving trauma care.
Kunduz, a city of 300,000 in northern Afghanistan, was recaptured by Afghan government forces on Thursday.
“Global Goals” Is Lavishly-Funded Public Relations Endeavor “We the People” Never Voted For
This month delegates to the United Nations ratified the so-called “Global Goals For Sustainable Development.” This will involve a radical, far-reaching social and economic transformation of everyday life that has been in the works for decades.
In true Hegelian dialectic style, the program is taking place as various black swans linger on the economic horizon, while some of the very interests involved in the “Global Goals” are likewise putting the finishing touches on the Trans-Pacific trade agreement, designed to (not coincidentally) crush the nation state.
Such an ambitious program will cost, by the UN’s own estimate, as much as $5 trillion annually. A social makeover of this scale requires enlistment of ideologically-motivated shock troops from all walks of life to act as change agents in their own spheres. Thus a portion of such finances will be apportioned to thought and behavioral modification toward ideational acceptance of continued corporate ascendance, wealth and resource redistribution, and the breakdown of traditional borders that for better or worse have defined the human condition since the feudal era–from gender and common morality to the nation state. As the “Global Goals” website declares, “We are not a generation of bystanders. We are global citizens.”
Below is the campaign’s slickly produced promotional video.
Truthstream Media has developed a clever interpretation of the UN’s “Global Goals.” Unfortunately, these are by no means exaggerations but rather illustrate the hypocrisy of this campaign, which in reality involves an accelerated privatization of the commons and even our own bodies combined with elaborate psychological warfare to disguise such endeavors as social activism.
What’s that you say? You’re not on board? See you in the gulag, comrade.
Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
Translation: Centralized banks, IMF, World Bank, Fed to control all finances, digital one world currency in a cashless society
Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Translation: Mass vaccination, Codex Alimentarius
Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Translation: UN propaganda, brainwashing through compulsory education from cradle to grave
Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Translation: Population control through forced “Family Planning”
Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Translation: Privatize all water sources, don’t forget to add fluoride
Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Translation: Smart grid with smart meters on everything, peak pricing
Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Translation: TPP, free trade zones that favor megacorporate interests
Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Translation: Toll roads, push public transit, remove free travel, environmental restrictions
Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries
Translation: Even more regional government bureaucracy like a mutant octopus
Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Translation: Big brother big data surveillance state
Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Translation: Forced austerity
Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts*
Translation: Cap and Trade, carbon taxes/credits, footprint taxes
Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
Translation: Environmental restrictions, control all oceans including mineral rights from ocean floors
Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
Translation: More environmental restrictions, more controlling resources and mineral rights
Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Translation: UN “peacekeeping” missions (ex 1, ex 2), the International Court of (blind) Justice, force people together via fake refugee crises and then mediate with more “UN peacekeeping” when tension breaks out to gain more control over a region, remove 2nd Amendment in USA
Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
Translation: Remove national sovereignty worldwide, promote globalism under the “authority” and bloated, Orwellian bureaucracy of the UN
Akron, OH – After fleeing from government agents who wanted to kidnap her and put her through chemotherapy, an Amish girl who once had cancer is now entirely healthy. Sarah Hershberger, 12, was being treated at Akron Childrens Hospital, a government hospital, when the staff attempted to force her through chemotherapy despite the objections of her and her parents, Andy and Anna Hershberger.
In June of 2013, Sarah was receiving chemotherapy at the hospital and her parents were convinced that it was making her condition worse, and putting her at risk for many other long-term health problems.
“We were pretty sure we were going to lose her if we kept doing the chemo,” Anna Hershberger, Sarah’s mother said.
The parents began to object to the treatment and faced strong resistance from the hospital staff, who even took them to court and attempted to gain guardianship over Sarah. The doctors had testified that without receiving chemotherapy immediately, Sarah would die within six months.
The family stood firm in their denial of the treatment, which prompted an intense legal battle. At one point during the ordeal, the family was forced to flee the country so she was not kidnapped by the hospital. Eventually, the family won in court, and it was decided that they had a legal and constitutional right to treat the cancer as they saw fit.
Now, two years later, Sarah is not only still alive, but she is actually entirely healthy, and cancer-free.
According to court records released this week, Sarah is no longer showing symptoms of lymphoma and she is back to her regular life. This recovery is in spite of the fact that doctors insisted that she would die without chemotherapy, to the extent that they would attempt to take her away from her parents.
The mainstream media has been very pessimistic and cynical about Sarah’s case, and many of the media segments about her suggest that her family is irresponsible and that she is essentially on her deathbed. However, this is not the case, she is now healthy and has beaten cancer because her and her family decided to stand up against the strong-arm tactics of the state.
reason.tv produced a video report during the legal battle in 2013.
A nonprofit legal advocacy organization has documented and responded to nearly 300 incidents of censorship, punishment, and other actions intended to “burden” advocacy for Palestinian human rights. The incidents point to a pervasive problem on American campuses, which is chilling the rights of individuals to engage in free speech.
The incidents are largely a result of pressure from defenders of Israel to the increased success of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israeli military occupation.
Palestine Legal, which was founded in 2012 to support the rights of Americans to speak out for Palestinian freedom, and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) put together a “first of its kind” report focusing on the suppression of speech, expression, and activism over the past two years.
According to the report, the organization “responded to 140 incidents and 33 requests for assistance in anticipation of potential suppression” in the first six months of 2015. In 2014, the organization “responded to 152 incidents” and “68 additional requests for legal assistance in anticipation of such actions.”
“The overwhelming majority of these incidents—89 percent in 2014 and 80 percent in the first half of 2015—targeted students and scholars, a reaction to the increasingly central role universities play in the movement for Palestinian rights,” noted Palestine Legal.
Of incidents from the first six months of 2015, Palestine Legal found more than half involved “false accusations of anti-Semitism” based “solely on speech critical of Israeli policy.” About half of the incidents responded to in 2014 involved accusations of anti-Semitism based solely on criticism of Israeli policy.
Nearly a third of incidents in the first six months of 2015 stemmed from “false accusations of support for terrorism.” This was an increase, as only 13 percent of incidents in 2014 suggested Palestinian advocates supported terrorism.
“The claim that Palestine activists support terrorism frequently relies on anti-Muslim and xenophobic stereotypes about the inherent violence and hateful worldviews of Arab, Muslim, and international students,” the report states.
Most importantly, the accusations are “baseless,” because “no links between terrorism and student activism for Palestinian rights have been substantiated.”
Dima Khalidi, the director for Palestine Legal, noted the organization had interviewed hundreds of students, professors, administrators, and others. Eighty-five percent of the incidents took place on 65 college and university campuses and in 24 different states.
“We’re not just talking about a handful of isolated incidents,” Khalidi declared. “This is really a widespread problem that affects hundreds of people across the country.”
A “primary tool” for pro-Israel groups is vilification
Israel advocacy groups, university administrators, and government officials accuse Palestinian human rights activists of anti-Semitism or “supporting Hamas” to frighten them into abandoning their organizing. Several students informed Palestine Legal false accusations “would hinder their ability to find a job or travel.”
As the report acknowledges, “The speech activities of Palestinian-American, Arab-American, and Muslim students routinely subject them to heightened harassment, intimidation, and discriminatory treatment in the midst of a post-9/11 climate in which their communities already face infringements of their civil liberties.”
Vilification is a “primary tool” for pro-Israel groups. One student falsely accused of associating with terrorists suggested, “The underlying message [is] that if you speak out too loudly or work too hard … anti-Palestinian activist[s] will smear you just like [they] tried to smear me.”
These accusations of anti-Semitism and support for terrorism coerce campus administrators into restricting and punishing students or scholars for their speech.
Fodder for character assassination against Palestinian human rights activists sometimes comes from surveillance of social media. Organizations “identify out-of-context quotations, Facebook posts, and other material.”
In January 2015, as the report highlights, “The Reut Institute reportedly held a ‘hackathon,’ in which Israeli officials and a number of other Israeli advocacy groups participated, aimed at exploring ways to gather intelligence on and target individuals involved in Palestine solidarity work. In its June 2015 strategy document, the Reut Institute highlighted the need to ‘out-name-shame the delegitimizers’ as a strategy to fight BDS, recommending the use of ‘all available firepower—financial, social, legal, etc.’”
A shady outfit called Canary Mission put out a “list of organizations and activists it accused of supporting terrorism, including campus chapters of the Muslim Student Association, which it refers to as a ‘virtual terror factory.”
The list was published for the express McCarthyist purpose of “exposing” individuals and student groups to make it harder for them to obtain positions in school and earn jobs after graduation.
Students have reported being spied upon by Israeli consulate officials. For example, in 2014, students reported members of the Israeli consul general’s entourage “photographed pro-divestment student campaigners as they spoke with other students and leafleted.”
The surveillance was part of acts to disrupt a divestment vote on campus. Students with family and friends in occupied Palestine expressed concern “such surveillance could have serious consequences” as it might allow Israel to block them from entering Israel and the West Bank to visit family.
Additionally, the comprehensive report examines various other tactics used against activists, including: official denunciation, bureaucratic barriers, cancellations and alterations of academic and cultural events, administrative sanctions, threats to academic freedom, lawsuits and legal threats, legislation, and criminal investigations and prosecutions.
“All of these tactics—individually and in the aggregate—threaten the First Amendment rights of people who seek to raise awareness about Palestinian human rights and challenge the dominant perspective in this country, which discounts Israel’s discriminatory and violent government policies,” the report asserts.
Multiple examples of tactics used against activists
The report details several examples of instances when these tactics were wielded to disrupt and stifle actions.
In February 2015, DePaul University’s Students for Justice in Palestine chapter sought to hold a fundraising event for Rasmea Odeh, a Palestinian American organizer who was tortured by Israeli forces into confessing that she played a role in a 1967 bombing. The United States government prosecuted her for lying about her past history in immigration documents.
DePaul administrators imposed security fees on the SJP because of a “planned counter-protest,” which led administrators to determine they might need the protection. Four security guards were detailed, and SJP was billed $480. After being forced to subsidize risk from threatened opposition, SJP could not afford to pay the bill and lost the privilege to reserve space for events on campus.
On October 8, 2014, John Jay College instructed the SJP chapter not to “use sheet covered in red paint (representing blood),” as they did during their “Die In/Vigil from Ferguson to Gaza” action. The instruction was a response to pro-Israeli students, who claimed they “felt uncomfortable with the message.”
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign violated Professor Steven Salaita’s academic freedom when they terminated him in 2014 over tweets he sent reacting to Israel’s assault on Gaza.
At Montclair State University, the student government initially sanctioned the university’s SJP for handing out “offensive” pamphlets. The literature led SGA to “fine the group five percent of its fall semester budget” and an order to cease distribution of all “political propaganda.” The brochure focused on Israeli settlements and the loss of Palestinian land from 1946 to 2000.
In April 2013, Northeastern University placed SJP members on “probation” after they walked out of a campus event featuring a soldier from the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Offficials warned the students before the event not to hold signs or engage in “vocal disruption.”
“Students decided to tape the names of Palestinian children killed by the IDF to their shirts and planned a walkout,” the report notes. “During a pause in the presentation, one SJP student stood up and stated, ‘The IDF are war criminals and they are not welcome on our campus,” then proceeded to walk out with other students, who spontaneously chanted ‘Free Palestine’ as they left the room.”
Students were investigated by university administrators, and the university canceled a lecture the SJP had planned with Dr. Abu Sitta. The students were later charged with violations of school codes, and after a hearing, SJP was found to have violated “demonstration policy.” They were on probation until December 2013 and forced to write a “civility statement.”
In November 2010, Rutgers University administrators refused to allow students, who raised money for the Gaza Flotilla, to disburse those funds after Hillel alleged the fundraising constituted “material support for terrorism.”
Rather stunningly, University of California President Mark Yudof issued a rare public statement in February 2012 after activists disrupted an event, which compared Palestinian rights activism to incidents of racism. He likened the “hecklers” to the “hanging of nooses” on black students’ dorm doors or putting “swastikas on Jewish students’ property. He pledged to get the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance involved to “improve campus climate for all students.”
In the spring semester of 2015, the University of Toledo student government caved to Israeli advocacy groups and blocked the public from attending a divestment hearing, a violation of the Open Meetings Act in Ohio. Attendance by SJP members was restricted, as they were forced to sit in a “separate room” away from Hillel students. Student senators were blocked from voting on the resolution. But outcry eventually led to the resolution coming up for a vote and it passed “overwhelmingly.”
One of the more stunning examples involves eleven University of California-Irvine students, who were criminally prosecuted in 2010 for walking out of a speech by then-Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren. They were charged with misdemeanors for disrupting a public meeting, and the jury found ten of the students guilty.
The numbers do not necessarily tell the full story of how organizing is being suppressed. These are only incidents, which were reported to Palestine Legal so the organization could provide assistance.
“They’re really only the tip of the iceberg with a lot more incidents that go unreported,” Khalidi added.
However, the report clearly demonstrates how heavy-handed tactics are being used to intimidate Palestinian human rights activists and chill their criticism of Israeli policies against Palestinians.
… Filmed by Talal Abu Rahma, a Palestinian cameraman freelancing for France 2, Jamal al-Durrah and his 12-year-old son Muhammad are seen, backs pressed against the wall, Jamal’s arm shielding his young son whose mouth is oval with what must have been a paralyzing fear. And then the shots.
When the cloud of dust cleared, the boy is on his side, draped over his father’s lap.
Throughout an enduing four and a half year widespread Palestinian resistance, with all of its gut wrenching failures, and with the solace and strengths of solidarity en masse coming from both the history before the second intifada and the aftermath in its wake, the slaughter of Muhammad al-Durrah continues to be a defining moment. A young boy viewed guilty through the eyes of the Israeli military due only to the origin of his birth.
In the investigation to follow, an Israeli-initiated tug of war of blame across the grave of and over Muhammad’s murder ensued. Where initially the Israeli government took blame and expressed public relational regret with an apology, that space soon became occupied with denials, accusations and disturbing tales of Palestinian’s faking the boy’s death. If only Palestinians weren’t so busy mourning the actual mass murders of their children in order to be able to spontaneously arrange for the staged murder of one, a second intifada might not have been necessary, nor a third or a fourth for that matter.
Without politicizing the end of a human life, in a 67 year crime drenched in politics; fifteen years ago today a terrified little boy was shot to death while he hid beside his father. And the world should remember his name.
Warning graphic content! Raw footage of Mohammed ad-Durrah’s final moments of his life:
Journalist John Gibler investigates the disappearance of the 43 students at Ayotzinapa.
A year has passed and we still do not know the fate of the 43 rural college students from Ayotzinapa forcibly disappeared on Sept. 26, 2014 in Iguala, Mexico.
We do know now, however, more than we did last year. We know that the police attacks against the students lasted more than three hours, took place at nine different locations in and around Iguala, involved officers from municipal, state and federal police corps, resulted in six people murdered, 40 wounded—one of whom remains in a coma—, and 43 disappeared.
We also know that the government has amassed a case file totaling 115 volumes and accused 82 people, but mostly based their investigation on three mutually contradicting confessions.
A recent report by an independent group of experts appointed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights—the group is known in Mexico as the GIEI for their Spanish initials—debunked the government’s conclusion that gangsters confused the students for members of a rival drug trafficking gang, sent the Iguala police to capture and hand them over, and then drove them out to an isolated trash dump in near-by Cocula, killed them and incinerated their bodies on a trash and wood pyre that burned until 5 pm local time the following day.
The GIEI’s fire expert, José Torero, a Peruvian with a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, concluded that to generate the heat necessary to incinerate 43 human bodies at the Cocula trash dump, the fire would have needed 30,000kg of wood, 60 hours to burn and would have raged so high as to have set the entire dump and surrounding forest aflame creating a plume of smoke 300 meters in the air and radiated such intense heat that anyone who approached close enough to throw more fuel on the fire—as the confessed witnesses claim they did—would themselves have been singed beyond recognition.
I traveled to the Cocula dump several times over the past year. Twice I spoke with Cocula municipal trash workers. The two men who worked on Saturday, Sept. 27 last year both told me that they went to the dump around one in the afternoon—when the killers’ fire would have still been blazing—and deposited the trash there without incident. There was no fire. No one was there, they said, and the area was still wet from the previous night’s rain.
After Marcela Turati published in Proceso magazine in October 2014 that the dump was still in use after Sept. 26, the workers told me that federal agents went to their homes, took them to Mexico City and threatened to send them to maximum security prison if they didn’t “stop telling lies.” One of the workers said that he clearly told the federal agents he is unable to read or write and still was forced to put his thumb print on “countless sheets of paper.”
The GIEI’s conclusion that the 43 students were not incinerated at the Cocula trash dump on Sept. 27, 2014 is thus supported not only by forensic analysis, but by two eyewitnesses (not to mention hundreds of Cocula residents who could not recall seeing high plumes of smoke in late September). Yet the government insists on pushing the Cocula theory, twisting and ignoring evidence, as in Attorney General Arely Gómez’s recent false claim that a second student’s remains had been positively identified.
This insistence on the trash dump scenario has diverted attention from witness testimony and documentary evidence of Guerrero state and Mexican federal police participation in the attacks against the students. Over the past year, I interviewed more than 30 survivors of the attacks in Iguala. Several witnesses identified state and federal police participating in the attacks at four distinct locations over a period of several hours.
The GIEI report confirmed these testimonies, though that confirmation has largely been unreported, overshadowed by the debate over the trash dump.
The GIEI report goes further, citing testimony from the case file by two civilian-dressed military intelligence officers who told state officials that they observed the attacks at the two locations from which the 43 were disappeared. These facts alone—state and federal police participation in and military observation of the attacks—undermine the federal prosecutor’s story of gangsters confusing the students for a rival gang.
The GIEI report also revealed major flaws in the government’s investigation: crime scenes that were never analyzed; suspects that were very likely tortured; essential witnesses never interviewed; security camera footage of one of the sites of the forced disappearance that was retrieved and destroyed by an unidentified official; clothing found at the crimes scenes that was never analyzed; and, perhaps most astoundingly, a missing bus.
For months both the Mexican government and the press reported that police attacked the students aboard four commandeered buses. That is incorrect: the students travelled aboard five commandeered buses that night. This fact is of fundamental importance first, because police took the 43 disappeared students from two buses (not one, as originally reported) at two distinct locations in Iguala.
At one of those locations—beneath an overpass, just in front of the Iguala office of the Guerrero state prosecutors—numerous witnesses identified federal police participating in the disappearances.
The location of the bus from which the police took them is visible from the very security camera from which the footage of that night was mysteriously retrieved and destroyed. It is also important because the GIEI report revealed that the other bus at that location, what they call the fifth bus, about 100 meters away from the overpass, is missing.
When the experts asked to see that bus, they were led to an entirely different one, made up to look like it had been attacked. The problem, though, is that that particular bus was not attacked: federal police aiming their weapons at them confronted the students, who then got off the bus and escaped into the surrounding hills. When the GIEI proved that the other bus was not the one they were looking for, federal officials were unable to produce the now famous “fifth bus.”
This conspicuous absence both in the case file and in real life led the GIEI to propose a possible motive to explain the complexity of the attacks and the overwhelmingly disproportionate use of violence against the students that night: the sandal and t- shirt-clad young men from some of Mexico’s most destitute regions had unwittingly commandeered a bus carrying a major heroin shipment en route to the United States.
If this hypothesis were to be proved true, it would be a searing indictment of both Mexico and the United State’s so-called war on drugs. For here we would have a case showing that when a major drug load is placed at risk, whom do its caretakers call to save it? The State. Not just the local “corrupt” cops, but also the state and federal police all acting in coordination and with military intelligence watching on. This would give new meaning to the Ayotzinapa protesters’ constant chant: Fue el estado, (The State did it).
John Gibler is the author of Mexico: Unconquered: Chronicles of Power and Revolt.
teleSUR report ends
Science Repudiates Mass Cremation Stories
British children should be taught about the violent expansionist excesses of British imperialism, according Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Corbyn told young Labour supporters on Monday that the national curriculum should include lessons on how the British Empire expanded “at the expense of people.”
“Perhaps we could do a little bit more about how history is taught in our schools,” said Corbyn, who is a lifelong anti-imperialist and peace campaigner.
He said that while “the history of European expansion is important” there are “two other things that need to be added to that.”
“One is the expansion of one empire at the expense of people where that empire is expanding. You need to get the story from the people where that empire is expanding into rather than those that came there to take control of it.”
In July, Indian politician Shashi Tharoor made a passionate speech at the University of Oxford claiming his country was entitled to financial compensation after centuries of exploitation and foreign rule.
The video of Tharoor’s speech was viewed more than 1.5 million times on YouTube and reported on in the Indian press.
“Britain’s rise for 200 years was financed by its depredations in India. We paid for our own oppression. It’s a bit rich to oppress, maim, kill, torture and repress and then celebrate democracy at the end of it,” Tharoor said in the debate.
He further said Indians had “paid for [their] own oppression” by buying British goods, arguing that by the turn of the 20th century they were the biggest buyers of British products in the world.
Corbyn also said young people should be taught about the history of trade unions and their contribution to modern Britain.