Four Palestinians and one female German demonstrator shot with live ammunition at “Open Shuhada Street” protest
Israeli military sniper aiming up the road towards the Open Shuhada Street demonstrators
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – On February 27 in occupied Al-Khalil (Hebron), Israeli forces fired live ammunition towards nonviolent protesters participating in the annual Open Shuhada Street demonstration, injuring five including four Palestinian activists, one of them 17 years old, and one German citizen. More were also injured by rubber-coated steel bullets and stun grenades as soldiers and Border Police blocked the roads leading towards Shuhada Street and attacked the protesters.
Close to a thousand Palestinians, accompanied by Israeli and international supporters, marched towards one of the closed entrances to Shuhada Street carrying flags and signs and chanting. They called for the opening of Shuhada Street, whose closure to Palestinians has become a symbol of Israel’s Apartheid system, and for an end to the occupation. The march was turned back by stun grenades, rubber coated steel bullets and live ammunition fired by the Israeli military. Around twenty demonstrators were injured in total; Hebron Hospital reported that at least six were admitted and two required surgery. One Palestinian activist, Hijazi Ebedo, 25, was arrested at the demonstration; all he had been doing was chanting and holding a sign.
Issa Amro, coordinator and co-founder of Youth Against Settlements (YAS) stated: “The protest, which was joined by groups from all over Palestine, marked the twenty-first anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre. Israeli occupying forces shot live ammunition towards peaceful protesters, which is against international law. The Israeli military should be held accountable in international court for their actions.”
“Julia was standing and filming next to me when suddenly she fell to the ground,” stated Leigh, a Canadian activist who was standing next to Julia when she was shot.
Julia, the injured 22-year-old German activist from Berlin, was evacuated to Hebron Hospital where she is being treated for a live gunshot wound which entered and exited her leg. “The brutality of Israeli forces is unbelievable, it seems like they don’t have a limit,” she stated. “In Palestine I have seen Israeli forces shooting tear gas, stun grenades, rubber and live ammunition at any kind of demonstration that is against the occupation. It doesn’t matter for them if it is peaceful or if there are kids attending. Yesterday I saw the army attack children who had been dancing in the street. Two people were shot with live ammunition in Bil’in. They shot me as I was standing and filming. It seems the soldiers just shoot at any one.”
The Open Shuhada Street demonstration marks the anniversary of the 1994 Ibrahimi Mosque massacre, when right wing extremist settler Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 Palestinians while they worshipped in the mosque. Following the massacre, Israeli forces shut down Palestinian businesses on Shuhada Street–once a commercial center–and began to implement the policies which would lead to what is now a total closure of the vast majority of the street to Palestinians. Twenty one years after the massacre, settlers from illegal Israeli settlements use the street freely while Palestinians are assaulted, shot and arrested when they attempt to reach it en masse during the Open Shuhada Street demonstration every year.
The Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and all Palestine, Theophilos III, denounced on Thursday what he called “repeated” attacks on Christian and Muslim places of worship in the Palestinian territories by extremist Jewish settlers.
“The targeting of churches and mosques is caused by pervasive racism and hatred,” he said in a statement.
Earlier Thursday, Jewish Settlers set fire to part of a religious school affiliated with Jerusalem’s Greek Orthodox Church, Which they sprayed with anti-Christian graffiti. On Wednesday, settlers torched and sprayed graffiti on a West Bank mosque.
Theophilos III said Christians represented an “integral part” of the Holy Land, its history and its future, going on to assert that the Greek Orthodox Church was one of the world’s most important churches.
“Criminals will not intimidate this church or its flock,” he declared.
He called on government agencies to address repeated settler attacks on places of worship.
Earlier Thursday, The Palestinian Foreign Ministry called on both the Vatican and the international community to protect Islamic and Christian places of worship from what it described as “Jewish extremism.”
“We strongly condemn these acts,” the ministry said in a statement. “Yesterday a mosque near Bethlehem was torched and today a church in Jerusalem [was attacked].”
Extremist Jews, the ministry asserted, continued to attack Muslim and Christian places of worship while the Israeli government did nothing to stop them.
The ministry went on to blame the Israeli government for the trend, calling on the Vatican, the international community and the UN to help protect local religious sites.
On Wednesday, Jewish Settlers set fire to a mosque near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem, Which Also they covered with anti-Arab and anti-Muslim graffiti.
Several instances of settler attacks on Muslim places of worship have been reported recently, both in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and in the self-proclaimed Jewish state itself.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – On the 24th of February in occupied Al-Khalil (Hebron), Israeli forces opened fire on dancing Palestinian youth, firing tear gas and throwing stun grenades at group of young children performing a traditional Palestinian dance as a form of protest in front of Shuhada checkpoint.
The fifteen young dancers, Palestinian girls and boys between the ages of six and twelve, gathered to perform dabke, a traditional Palestinian dance. They staged their dance in the open street in Bab Al-Zawiye (in the H1 – officially Palestinian Authority-controlled – part of Hebron) near Shuhada checkpoint, as part of a week of actions planned by Palestinian organizers around the annual Open Shuhada Street campaign. The children began performing under heavy military surveillance, as at least thirteen soldiers occupied roofs surrounding the entrance to the checkpoint.
Even before the demonstration had begun, Israeli forces closed Shuhada checkpoint to Palestinian men, only allowing a few women through. Shuhada checkpoint controls the main access between Bab Al-Zawiye and the the H2 (fully Israeli-controlled) neighborhood of Tel Rumeida. On the H2 side, the checkpoint faces Shuhada street, and soldiers restrict Palestinian access onto the short portion of Shuhada street where they are still allowed to walk.
“As soon as the dancing kids moved closer to the checkpoint, soldiers immediately attacked with two tear gas grenades and two stun grenades,” reported an ISM volunteer who witnessed the incident. “Israeli soldiers fired tear gas even though the children were not throwing stones.”
Jewish State forces prepare to fire on dancing children
After first fleeing the assault, the Palestinian children managed to continue dancing even as around twenty soldiers and eight border police advanced from the checkpoint into Bab Al-Zawiye. Israeli forces threw a dozen stun grenades after a few youth began throwing stones at the checkpoint.
Clashes continued for about an hour and a half, as Israeli soldiers and border police fired even more rounds of tear gas, several additional stun grenades, and eventually rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinian youth. Advancing further and further into the commercial center of Bab Al-Zawiye, they ended up shooting into the crowded streets of the city’s market area. Local activists reported that two Palestinians suffered injuries from rubber-coated steel bullets.
February 25 marks the 21-year anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre; in 1994 US-born extremist settler Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 Palestinian worshipers inside the Al-Khalil mosque and injured dozens more. In the time following the attack, Israeli authorities initiated a crackdown, not on those occupying the city’s illegal settlements, but on Palestinians. Israel put in place policies, including the closure of Shuhada street, which would eventually lead to Al-Khalil becoming the divided city it is today.
Children in H2, which includes Al-Khalil’s historic Old City and once-thriving market, constantly endure the violence and daily humiliations of Israeli military occupation. Children living in the neighborhoods of H2 are routinely tear gassed on their way to school and face arrest, attack and daily harassment at checkpoints. The Open Shuhada Street actions are a yearly expression of resistance to Israel’s Apartheid system, as Palestinians young and old demand and end to the occupation.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – During the night of the February 22nd, Israeli occupation forces raided two homes belonging to the Edies family, in the Al-Khalil (Hebron) neighbourhood of Tel Rumeida. At least thirty soldiers invaded the homes of Yahya Edies and Saleh Edies at around 2:30 am on Sunday morning. Mhammad Edies, one of Yahya’s sons, reported to ISM volunteers that soldiers threatened his family, telling them “if you don’t open the door in 5 minutes, we will blow it up”.
Israeli soldiers ordered the family of twelve, including five children between 5 months and 12 years old, to gather in one room. One of the family’s sons was unable to follow the soldiers’ orders, since he is disabled and cannot move by himself; only after some discussion was he finally allowed to stay in the room he was in. The family was forced to stay inside that room for about an hour as the soldiers ransacked the house, upending furniture, strewing things all over the floor destroying the family’s belongings.
The soldiers upended furniture and destroyed belongings while the Palestinian family was trapped in one room – photo by Mhammad Edies
Israeli forces prevented ISM volunteers from documenting what was happening, pointing their guns and aiming lasers at them, yelling at and detaining those who attempted to leave their house to photograph the raid.
The following morning, a local a human rights activist reported that Israeli occupation forces had raided around 20 houses in Al-Khalil on that same night of the 21st to the 22nd of February alone.
Medical sources said the slain young man has been identified as Jihad Shehada al-Ja’fary, 19 years of age.
The sources added that al-Ja’fary was shot by a live round that penetrated his left shoulder, and lodged in his chest causing a severe bleeding.
The soldiers prevented Palestinian medics from reaching the seriously wounded man, and he bled to death before the medics managed to move him to the al-Yamama hospital, in Bethlehem.
His body was then moved to the Beit Jala governmental hospital, and will later be moved to a forensic center.
The slain Palestinian was standing on his home’s rooftop, overlooking the main road, when he was shot.
Eyewitnesses said scores of soldiers invaded the camp in an attempt to kidnap a Palestinian, an issue that led to clashes between the soldiers and local youths who hurled stones and empty bottles on them.
The army fired gas bombs, rubber-coated metal bullets and rounds of live ammunition, causing several injuries.
New testimonies from Palestinian minors have made their way out of Israeli prisons, speaking of the brutal beating and torture of youngsters conducted by Israeli soldiers and investigators.
Hiba Masalha, lawyer of the Palestinian Detainees Committee, who visited a number of children in HaSharon Israeli prison, said that the prisoners suffered incredibly savage treatment and brutality.
According to the PNN, 16-year-old prisoner Mohammed Zidani, from Silwan village, who was detained on the 10th of November, last year, and sentenced to 16 months of prison on January 19 of this year, said that he underwent electric shocks during his detention, for “confessions”.
Ziadni told Masalha that he was driven away from his home at 2 AM by private units and soldiers after they overwhelmingly raided his home, then dragged him to the Mascoubiya detention center, “room number 4″. The child said that, before they reached their destination, they stopped the military jeep bearing them, took him down to the street and started beating him so hard he suffered bruises and contusions all over his body.
In Mascoubiya room number 4, Mohammed said that he was forced to kneel and put his head between the legs, with his hands cuffed to his back and his eyes blindfolded. He was kept in this position for 4 hours. The investigation carried on for about 12 hours. He was given no food and was not allowed to go to bathroom.
Zidani said that during the investigation sessions that used to carry on until after midnight, the investigators beat him on his face and stomach.
During one of the sessions, Mohammed said, the investigator had “a stick shaped machine,” put it on his foot and pressed a button. Mohammed then felt the electric shock invading his body, and had unbearable pain in his foot. The investigator repeated the process three times in a row to “pull confessions out of him.” He started shouting of pain.
The testimony of another child prisoner, Kathem Annous (15) further demonstrates the torture children receive in Israeli jails.
Kathem, from Ras Al-Amoud, in occupied East Jerusalem, has been detained since November 3 of last year, in Hasharom prison. Similar to Mohammed Zidani’s case, he was driven from his home by Israeli soldiers and intelligence, and driven to a nearby settlement handcuffed and blindfolded, and kept for hours in the cold.
One soldier, using his iron-soled shoe, slammed Kathem’s foot, causing him contusions. He was then driven to Mascoubiya detention center.
During the investigation, Kathem was forced to kneel and point his head towards the wall, handcuffed. The investigation took 3 hours, in which Kathem was constantly beaten on his stomach and slapped on the face. He was kept in Mascoubiya for 12 days.
Annous said that he was also beaten by the Nahshon forces on his way to the court, and his handcuffs were very tightened. He mentioned that one time,a Nahshon member attacked him in the waiting room, and started violently knocking his head against the wall, for no reason whatsoever.
Anemic 14-year-old prisoner, Khaled Al-Sheikh, has been imprisoned for 55 days now, and hasnt been allowed to see his parents since then.
Child abuse in Israeli prisons is on the increase. According to Ahrar Center, there are about 300 children detained in Israeli prisons.
The Israeli military court in the ‘Ofer prison, in the occupied West Bank, sentenced on Monday, a Palestinian journalism student who is also a Folk Dancer and activist, Lina Khattab, to six months imprisonment and a 6,000 Shekel fine.
The court also instated a three-year suspended sentence on Khattab, 17 years of age, for what it called “participating in a protest in solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners,” in front of the Ofer prison.
Lina Khattab, who is a Journalism student at Birzeit University, was kidnapped by Israeli soldiers on December 13, 2014, during a nonviolent protest organized by students marking the 47th anniversary of the establishment of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
This past December, an Al-Quds News broadcast report about Lina featured an interview with her mother who spoke of the kidnapping of her daughter by the soldiers, who deliberately targeted her for her nonviolent political activities.
In the interview, Lina’s mother said that when she managed to see her for the first time, she noticed that her daughter has lost a lot of weight, and also told reporters that despite harsh living conditions and interrogation methods, her daughter remained steadfast to her principles of justice and liberation.
She added that her daughter told her about the extreme beating she was subjected to when the soldiers kidnapped her, before placing her in their jeep, and that the soldiers were angered that despite the beating, she was not crying, and even asked her why she wasn’t crying, but she remained strong and steadfast without showing any signs of weakness.
The soldiers claimed she hurled stones at them, but she continuously told them she was visiting her friend, and that the soldiers were just trying to frame her by making different allegations and fabrication.
Following her arrest, Dina was moved to the ‘Ofer Israeli prison, were she was forced to stand against a wall in the rain and cold, and the next day, she was moved to the HaSharon prison.
Whenever she was moved to HaSharon to the Ofer military court, the soldiers would wake her up nearly at 2 am, and deprive her from sleeping, before moving her to Ofer in a military vehicle while deliberately running cold air through the area of the vehicles were she was held, and once arriving in Ofer, she would also be placed in a cold room with a cooling system on despite the cold weather.
Bil’in, Occupied Palestine – On Friday 13th February, Israeli forces assaulted the demonstration in Bil’in with hundreds of tear gas rounds, dozens of stun grenades and pepper spray, injuring eleven Palestinian, Israeli and international demonstrators. Member of the Bil’in popular committee Mohammed Khatib and a UK citizen and solidarity volunteer Michael “Mick” Bowman were both violently arrested. At the demonstration, Palestinian activists carried posters honoring Kayla Mueller and condemning the murders of the three students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
“As people were protesting a soldier suddenly came running, wielding pepper spray, spraying it at journalists and activists indiscriminately,” reported Karam Saleem, a Palestinian activist present documenting the demonstration. Those who had been pepper sprayed, including Mohammed Khatib, were taken down to an ambulance to treat their burns. Saleem continued, “Mohammed was about twenty meters away from the main part of the protest, still suffering from pepper spray, when suddenly a soldier ran after him and grabbed him. Another five soldiers quickly surrounded him and shoved him violently to the ground.”
He was handcuffed and blindfolded before being loaded into a military jeep.
Israeli forces targeted journalists and those attempting to document the protest; many were shoved and threatened while attempting to photograph or film. Those present reported that the Israeli military also fired tear gas directly at people holding cameras.
Journalist being assaulted by Israeli forces – only one of many that Friday in Bil’in (photo by ISM)
Israeli forces pepper sprayed demonstrators who were doing nothing more that trying to photograph the army’s brutality, and also pepper sprayed those holding posters of Kayla Mueller and the three US students from Chapel Hill. Jameel Al-Barghouthi, head of the Palestinian Authority Committee Against the Apartheid Wall and Settlements, Munthir Amira, head of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC), Mohammed Khatib, a member of Bil’in’s Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, Issam Rimawi, a Palestinian photojournalist, two Palestinian activists Abdallah Elian and Kafah Mansour, British citizen and activist Mick Bowman, two female Israeli activists, and one Danish and one Dutch female international volunteer were all injured.
“The army was extremely brutal yesterday in their use of tear gas, beatings, and pepper spray,” recalled Tali Shapiro, an Israeli activist who was severely pepper sprayed in Friday’s demonstration, suffering from first degree burns on her hands, ears, and most of her throat and neck. “We saw they were beating and arresting someone (Mohammed Khatib), so I ran towards them. By the time I got up the hill Mohammed had been taken away and another man [Mick] was on the ground with many soldiers on top of him, twisting his limbs and head. I immediately took out my phone to take pictures. The soldiers started pushing away journalists. They formed a line in front of several of us, and before I could assess the situation another soldier sprayed my face with pepper spray.”
Activist Tali Shapiro after being severely pepper sprayed (photo by ISM)
Fifty-six-year-old Mick Bowman, a social worker and resident of Newcastle upon Tyne, England, recalled that in the time before his arrest, “the Israeli forces behaved with particular aggression towards protesters who were carrying the posters of Kayla and of the students from Chapel Hill North Carolina.” Border police threw stun grenades directly towards demonstrators, scattering those holding posters near the front of the protest.
“Next thing I knew,” Mick recalled, “three or four soldiers jumped on me from behind and forced me to the ground. I was lying face downwards, with a couple of them kneeling on my back.
Mick Bowman, knelt on, assaulted and pepper sprayed by Israeli border police arresting him (photo by ISM)
As they were handcuffing me, one of them stood on my hand, rubbing his boot back and forth and crushing my thumb. One of them grabbed my nostrils, and another was pressing down on my face, causing abrasions and bruising around my right eye. After they had handcuffed me, a border policeman also pepper sprayed the left side of my face from the distance of a few inches.”
After their arrest, Mohammed and Mick were transported to the Binyamin settlement police station. Mohammed Khatib was taken to Ofer military prison and Michael Bowman was taken to Muskubiya (the Russian Compound) prison in Jerusalem. Both were charged with ‘assaulting a soldier.’
“When police officers use violence they always claim that violence was used against them. It’s standard procedure” explained Mohammed Khatib. Mick was released on the evening of February 14th, and Mohammed was eventually released on the evening of February 15th, on a bail of 4,000 shekels (1,030 USD).
Abdullah Abu Rahma, head of the Bil’in popular committee, described the purpose of demonstration in Bil’in: “On Friday we protested against the theft of our land by Israel’s illegal wall and settlements and to express our resistance to terrorism everywhere. We carried the images of Kayla Mueller who was killed while being held captive by Da’esh and who had marched with us in Bil’in. We also carried the images of Deah Barakat, Yusor Mohammad, and Razan Abu-Salha, who were murdered in their home in North Carolina. We made it clear that we will oppose terrorism and the killing of innocent people whether it is committed by organizations like Da’esh, by states like Israel or by individuals like the murderer from Chapel Hill.” This Friday will mark the tenth anniversary of Bil’in’s popular resistance demonstrations – against the Apartheid Wall, against the Israeli occupation, and against oppression and violence everywhere.
Israeli Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water, Silvan Shalom, banned water connection to the new West Bank Palestinian city of Rawabi, which is to house around 40,000 Palestinian families, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported yesterday.
Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon and the Coordinator of the Israeli Government Activities in the Palestinian Territories Major General Yoav Mordechai had ordered the Israeli Water Authority to provide water to the city.
However, Shalom refused Ya’alon’s instruction saying that water and sewage projects in the West Bank require the Israeli-Palestinian Joint Water Committee’s (JWC) approval.
Shalom blamed the Palestinians, claiming they have been refusing to convene the committee since 2010. The response from Shalom’s office stated that according to an agreement with the Palestinians signed in 1995, the committee is the principal party which decides on such issues in West Bank communities.
Haaretz reported the Palestinian side confirming that the committee had not convened since 2010, but they insisted this does not justify the ban to connect water to the city.
The head of project department in the Palestinian Water Authority, Ihab Al-Barghouti, said: “The reason that the committee has not convened was the Israeli condition that the committee must approve an Israeli settlement project in return for any approval of any Palestinian project.”
Al-Barghouti insisted that the Palestinians refused this condition, thus, they do not attend the committee’s meetings.
Mick Bowman being arrested by Israeli soldiers in Bil’in / Haitham Khatib
Human rights activist and English political candidate, Mick Bowman, alleges he was beaten and arrested at a peaceful demonstration in Palestine on Friday.
The human rights activist from Tyneside, in North East England, claims he was beaten and abused after being arrested while taking part in a peaceful demonstration in Palestine on Friday.
Mick Bowman, aged 57, from the United Kingdom, said he was pepper sprayed in the face from less than six inches away during his arrest Friday afternoon. He was then detained without charge by Israeli soldiers for 24 hours and then released.
The case of Mr. Bowman’s violent arrest is being investigated by Israeli authorities who claim that his alleged treatment was “unacceptable” and “inappropriate,” according to a statement received by IMEMC.
Mr. Bowman is a member of the Newcastle Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (NPSC) located in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in England. He is also actively involved with his local branch of Amnesty International. Bowman was taking part in a peaceful demonstration along with other international solidarity volunteers protesting Israel’s continuous violations of Palestinian human rights in the village of Bil’in, located in the West Bank just north of Ramallah.
Witnesses at the Bil’in protest tell IMEMC that Mr. Bowman did not commit any violent acts and that he was arrested for no apparent reason.
Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists gather in the village of Bil’in each Friday to protest the construction of the illegal Israeli separation wall which has divided the village. Previously, President Jimmy Carter has joined the Bil’in protests, as has Richard Branson. In April 2009, a Palestinian man, Bassem Abu Rahmeh was killed when an Israeli soldier fired a teargas canister into his chest. The death of Bassem Abu Rahmeh was depicted in the 2011 film, ‘5 Broken Cameras.’ The following year, Jawaher Abu Rahmah, a 36 year old woman, was also killed following protests at the village. The conditions of Ms. Abu Rahmah’s death were contested and most likely she died from suffocation following teargas being hurled at her face.
In a message Mr. Bowman sent to coordinators at NPSC, he says he was told he was arrested for allegedly assaulting an Israeli soldier.
He wrote in the message: “That was why they had detained and restrained me with ‘appropriate force’ (standing on my hands and thumping me etc to get the plastic cuffs on and then pepper-spraying my eyes from a distance of six inches after I had been cuffed but refused to stand up).
“The military were extremely aggressive from the outset in how they responded to what was a peaceful demonstration.
“I gave up counting the number of tear gas grenades fired after I counted 50 or so – the eventual number will have been in the hundreds – and stun grenades and rubber coated steel bullets were fired at us all.”
Mick Bowman is a mental health social worker in his native UK. He was held for 24 hours by Israeli soldiers during which time he was processed by the military, interviewed by Israeli civil police, and taken to a military court. He was released on Saturday night with stipulations that he never return to the West Bank.
Mr. Bowman is now in Jerusalem and due to return to the UK on Thursday.
Six weeks after being abducted on her way home from school in the occupied West Bank, 14-year-old Malak al-Khatib was released from the Israeli jail where she had been imprisoned on Friday. She was the youngest Palestinian girl ever to be incarcerated, and is one of hundreds of children to be prosecuted through the Israeli military court system each year. As of the December 2014, there were 156 child prisoners, 17 of which were under 16 years old, according to the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association. As the patron benefactor of the illegal Israeli occupation, the United States government is complicit in Israeli’s disgraceful persecution and abuse of Palestinian children. While American officials refrain from condemning human rights violations against Palestinian children, they vocally condemn any resistance against the violent Israeli occupation.
During Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in August, the Obama administration expressed its strongest indignation regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during President Obama’s six years in office. After the apparent capture of Israeli Occupation soldier Hadar Goldin by the Palestinian resistance, administration officials said the action was “barbaric” and “outrageous.”
That morning a cease-fire was set to take effect after nearly two weeks of fighting in which hundreds of Palestinian civilians had already been slaughtered. A few hours before the designated cease-fire time, Israeli occupation troops continued operations trying to destroy tunnels inside Gaza used to smuggle food and goods that were denied to the Palestinian territory as part of the eight-year-long blockade imposed by Israel for voting the wrong way. When the IOF forces reached a tunnel they encountered resistance from Palestinian fighters in the Qassam Brigades. Several Israeli troops were killed. It appeared that Goldin had been captured and led away into the tunnel.
The Occupation Forces then reportedly employed the savage Hannibal Directive, a repulsive military procedure developed nearly 30 years ago in which the Israeli army uses massive amounts of firepower in an attempt to kill their own soldier rather than allow him to be captured. Journalist Max Blumenthal says that Israeli troops employed an “indiscriminate assault on the entire circumference of the area where … Goldin was allegedly taken.” According to Blumenthal, this was one of three possible instance of the Hannibal Directive during Israel’s murderous summer rampage in Gaza.
So during a military operation inside Palestinian territory shortly before or at the time Israel had agreed to a cease-fire the Palestinian militants defending themselves from the savage onslaught against homes, hospitals, mosques, parks, sports clubs, cafés, high-rises, ambulances, disability centers, power plants, and UN schools, captured an enemy combatant consistent with the laws of war. Israel then orders indiscriminate fire to kill him rather then let him be taken alive. This is the situation American officials found to be barbaric – by the Palestinians, not the Israelis.
A month later, when Israel finally agreed to a cease-fire (which it has continued to violate nearly every day with impunity) more than 2,100 Palestinians had been killed, including 578 children. Among the children whose lives had been snuffed out was four-year-old Sahir Abu Namous, whose head was blown open by shrapnel; five-month-old Faris Juma al-Mahmoum, killed along with his mother and 18 other family members in shelling; five-day-old Shayma Sheikh Khalil, born prematurely after her mother was killed by an Israeli airstrike; and four cousins playing soccer on a beach, at least one of whom was killed in a second explosion after the Israeli gunner who had failed to kill him with an original shell re-aimed and fired again.
In his strongest language against the Israeli operation, Obama told Netanyahu that he was “deeply concerned” about further escalation. Yet he did not call any Israeli actions – which numerous human rights groups have since decried as war crimes that must be referred to the International Criminal Court – “barbaric” or “outrageous.” And he was apparently not concerned enough to stop the delivery of weapons to resupply Israeli so they could be used to massacre more Palestinian civilians. Neither was he concerned enough to direct his administration to join 29 other nations on the UN Human Rights Council in voting just to investigate potential war crimes.
The US government even fails to oppose child abuse by Israel against its own citizen. Several weeks before the bloodbath in Gaza, 15-year-old Tarek Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian-American from Tampa, was savagely beaten by Israeli police. The teen from Tampa was visiting Jerusalem with his family shortly after a cousin had been abducted, doused with gasoline and burned alive by Israeli settlers. Tarek and his family claimed he was ambushed while on his family’s property. After the assault that left the teenager with head wounds, he was jailed. This was deemed by the US administration to be “profoundly troubling,” but again not “barbaric” or even “outrageous.”
For teenagers who do not hold American citizenship, their mistreatment by the US-funded occupation does not elicit as much as a shrug from American officials. As the Electronic Intifada reported, Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem have demanded that the Israeli forces stop harassing schoolchildren and provoking confrontations with them.
As was the case with Malak al-Khatib, many Palestinian children are accused of throwing stones. Malak was also accused of having a knife, which would not be a problem if she were an Israeli settler, many of whom carry and use guns.
Human rights groups have claimed that Palestinian children are often accused of stone-throwing. When they are arrested and thrown into the Israeli military justice system, they are often detained arbitrarily and questioned without an adult present.
Malak was convicted after an alleged confession, which was obtained after hours of questioning by Israeli soldiers while she was unaccompanied. Her father dismissed the veracity of her alleged confession, telling the Israeli paper Haaretz “How can you question her without her parents and without a lawyer? Interrogate a little girl like this and she’ll admit to being in possession of an M16 rifle, too.”
Regardless, throwing stones is a legitimate act of resistance according to international law. A 1987 UN General Assembly resolution differentiates terrorism from the “struggle of peoples for national liberation.” The resolution grants “peoples under colonial and racist regimes and foreign occupation … the right to these peoples to struggle to this end.” The measure was approved with 153 votes in favor. Only the United States and Israel voted against it.
Even militant resistance against occupying troops is clearly protected as part of a struggle against occupation. Clearly, stone-throwing falls within the protections explicitly stated by the UN resolution. In fact, some people have even said that Palestinians have a “duty to throw stones.”
“Throwing stones is the birthright and duty of anyone subject to foreign rule,” wrote Israeli journalist Amira Hass. “Throwing stones is an action as well as a metaphor of resistance. Persecution of stone-throwers, including 8-year-old children, is an inseparable part – though it’s not always spelled out – of the job requirements of the foreign ruler, no less than shooting, torture, land theft, restrictions on movement, and the unequal distribution of water sources.”
Yet like Malak, the Israeli occupation uses stone-throwing to punish and abuse children whose land they have illegally occupied for 47 years.
The human rights group Defence for Children International Palestine found that “Palestinian children detained by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank last year fell victim to a pattern of abuse designed to coerce confessions.”
They reported that Israeli occupiers ordered solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, and torture against the children they abduct. “Impunity for violations was a significant obstacle in 2014 as DCIP filed nine complaints with Israeli authorities concerning the ill-treatment and torture of five children while in Israeli military detention. Not a single indictment has been issued against a perpetrator,” the group wrote.
Another human rights group reported that 240 children detained in Jerusalem by Israeli authorities suffered sexual abuse.
Yet the only thing that the United States government will declare as “barbaric” is the capture of an adult Israeli combatant in a defensive military operation. To American officials, Palestinian life – even for children – does not matter. When Israelis teens are killed, President Obama and American officials express their condolences and lament the “terror against innocent youth.” This is never reciprocated for Palestinian children, who are killed by Israelis at nearly more than 15 times the rate of Israeli children being killed by Palestinians – with 2,060 Palestinian children killed since September 2000.
The United States government has long held as its policy that it values its strategic relationship with Israel above any concerns for democracy and human rights. Regardless of how serious Israel’s offenses of its oppression against Palestinians – including and especially children – government officials will refuse to allow actions to change this predetermined policy.
Not even the lives of Palestinian children matter enough to force American officials to show any semblance of humanity for the tragedy that they aid and abet in Palestine. The only outrage the US government is capable of showing is when Palestinians dare to resist the violence and colonial domination that Israel subjects them to, under approving American sponsorship.
JERUSALEM – A right-wing Jewish organization called the Western Wall Heritage Foundation has circulated an invitation for bids to conduct excavations in tunnels under the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, a top Palestinian official said Sunday.
Ahmad Qurei, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said the work would start on Feb. 20.
In a statement, Qurei, who chairs a PLO department for Jerusalem affairs, described the move as dangerous. He said that Israeli engineers and contractors had toured the al-Aqsa mosque compound secretly a few days ago to explore the location before they submit their bids.
The Israeli occupation government, added the statement, through these “aggressive excavations,” plans to create new paths and chambers under the Western Wall of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in order to enhance its grab on the Old City of Jerusalem and eventually transform it into a Jewish city both physically and demographically.
Israel has already excavated dozens of tunnels under the Old City as part of its efforts to displace the indigenous Palestinian residents and replace them with Jewish settlers, according to Qurei.
One of the tunnels, he said, runs from Ein Silwan to the western wall of the al-Aqsa mosque. Another major tunnel runs from the wall to the Omari school in the Muslim quarter. A third tunnel runs from the Muslim Quarter to the Western Wall of the al-Aqsa mosque.
In addition, added Qurei, there are ongoing excavations in attempts to connect between illegal settlement outposts in the Old City.