Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more embarrassing or distorted, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit has managed to top itself. On Sunday, the unit published a new video on its YouTube channel, showing scenes of Palestinian demonstrators throwing rocks and Israeli soldiers firing rounds of tear gas “in self-defense” in the West Bank village of Qaddum.
Every Friday for the past two years, the villagers of Qaddum (along with Israeli and international activists) have marched toward the nearby settlement of Kedumim to protest the continuing expropriation of their land. As in every un-armed protest across the West Bank, the IDF is ready for them. With its state-of-the-art crowd dispersal weapons – tear gas, rubber and live bullets, sound grenades and skunk water – the villagers don’t stand a chance. As anyone who has been to these protests can attest, the tear gas often starts well before Palestinians even have the chance to throw a stone, let alone march.
So what does the video teach us?
According to the good folks at the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, Palestinians are “free to demonstrate non-violently, as IDF officers explain to them every week.”
You don’t say.
The order regulating demonstrations in the West Bank is Order No. 101 — “Order Regarding Prohibition of Incitement and Hostile Propaganda Actions,” which was set after Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967. According to the order, any assembly, vigil, or procession of 10 or more people requires a permit from the local IDF commander and imposes 10 years’ imprisonment on violators. Of course, as with all Israeli military orders, it applies only to the Palestinians who live in Areas B and C (both under full Israeli military control), whereas Israeli settlers (who live in Area C) are subject to Israeli civil law.
Back to the video. We see an IDF soldier’s view of a Qaddum protest that took on place on February 7 of this year. “We ask you today not to choose violence,” a megaphone-wielding IDF officer announces to the protesters in English. “It is okay to demonstrate, but it is not okay to use violence — we ask you to stop throwing rocks,” the officer shouts. I wonder how many of the people he was speaking to understood him.
According to the video’s subtitled narration, the Palestinians “consistently ignore the officer’s request and start attacking the soldiers.” The video states that...Read More