+972 Magazine » Mairav Zonszein http://972mag.com Independent commentary and news from Israel & Palestine Mon, 01 Sep 2014 21:13:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8 ‘Suspects in brutal beating of two Palestinians tied to anti-miscegenation group’ http://972mag.com/suspects-in-brutal-beating-of-two-palestinians-tied-to-anti-miscegenation-group/96209/ http://972mag.com/suspects-in-brutal-beating-of-two-palestinians-tied-to-anti-miscegenation-group/96209/#comments Mon, 01 Sep 2014 16:39:37 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=96209 Ten Jewish Israelis are suspected of severely beating two Palestinian men from Jerusalem in a wartime hate crime. Police believe some of the suspects are tied to right-wing anti-Arab group Lehava, Walla reports.

Several Jewish Israeli suspects in the brutal attack of two Palestinians from East Jerusalem on July 25th are connected to anti-miscegenation, anti-Arab group Lehava, according to a report by Walla! News on Monday.

In what Walla! describes as a “near lynch,” a group of about 10 Jewish Israelis from the East Jerusalem settlement of Neve Yaakov assaulted Amir Shwiki and Samer Mahfouz of Beit Hanina with bats and iron rods on a Friday evening during the height of the summer’s Gaza war (known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge). Both men were beaten unconscious and hospitalized in critical condition, only only recently improving to stable condition.

According to the report, the suspects had just left a shiva (Jewish ritual of seven days of mourning) for fallen IDF soldier Staff-Sgt. Moshe Malko, who was killed during an operation in Shujaiyeh in Gaza a few days earlier. From the investigation, it appears they set out looking to take revenge for Malko’s death. One of the suspects admitted in his interrogation that the motive for the assault was hatred of Arabs, according to Walla!. He added that he hates Arabs “just because. They are the enemy.” The investigation also allegedly revealed that several Jewish women who witnessed the beating did not call police, instead encouraging the attackers by screaming “death to Arabs.”

Neve Yaakov is a settlement in East Jerusalem adjacent to Beit Hanina, and the two communities have had violent confrontations in the past, especially since the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir on July 2 and the subsequent Gaza war.

Nine of the 10 suspects are not cooperating with police but one of them, a 14 year old, did talk. He reportedly told police that his brother, who was also allegedly involved in the attack, is an active member of anti-miscegenation group “Lehava.” According to the Walla! report, police believe many of those involved in the attack are active members of Lehava, an organization whose stated mission is to combat Jewish intermarriage but in practice engages in rampant and blatant anti-Arab incitement and racism.

Police also reportedly found that two of the suspects had been arrested in the past (more than once) for assaulting Palestinians (neither of them ever served time in jail) and several of the suspects were caught trying to hide evidence and coordinate their stories and alibis. For those who read Hebrew, the Walla! report publishes excerpts from the police’s surveillance and wiretaps of the suspects’ WhatsApp messages and phone conversations.

Severe beatings of Palestinians by Jewish youth, called by some Israeli media outlets as “near lynches,” are unfortunately not a new occurrence. In August 2012, 17-year old Jamal Julani was beaten unconscious in the middle of Zion Square by a group of Jewish youth while dozens of onlookers screamed “death to Arabs.”

Lehava leader Benzi Gupstein – a former Kach member and sworn Kahanist – told Walla! in a comment that Lehava “follows the law.” Police told the news outlet that they are aware of dozens of the organization’s members who are involved in “serious incitement.”

Last month Lehava organized a large protest against the marriage of a Palestinian Muslim from Jaffa to a Jewish convert to Islam. Several years ago, an expose in Haaretz revealed that Lehava was indirectly funded by the government.

Related:
Palestinian-Jewish couple hires wedding security for fear of anti-miscegenation group
Why Palestinian citizens of Israel are no longer safe

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Court to allow anti-Arab protest outside Jewish-Palestinian wedding http://972mag.com/palestinian-jewish-couple-to-court-thwart-protest-at-our-wedding/95607/ http://972mag.com/palestinian-jewish-couple-to-court-thwart-protest-at-our-wedding/95607/#comments Sun, 17 Aug 2014 11:24:17 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=95607 A Palestinian citizen of Israel and his fiance, a Jewish Israeli who converted to Islam, have turned to the courts to try and prevent a protest planned at their wedding Sunday night, Haaretz reported.

As I reported here Thursday, the anti-miscegenation, anti-Arab group Lehava publicized the couple’s wedding invitation on social media in full with date and location and called on  supporters to show up and protest the union. It doesn’t interest them that the bride has converted and no longer considers herself a Jew, or that they are two consenting adults who wish to spend their lives together. As far as they are concerned, she is an apostate who must be saved from this Muslim man.

The couple requested that the court not only issue an injunction against the protest but also against the group for the harassment they have been subjected to. Along with some of their family members, the two have reportedly received death threats over the phone. As a result, before turning to the court, they were required by the police to hire 33 security guards at a cost of NIS 15,000, of which the wedding hall will pay half.

According to a report in Channel 2 (Hebrew), the judge decided to let the protest go ahead, but ordered it take place 200 meters  from the wedding hall so as to prevent any friction between the wedding goers and the protesters. The judge also said that if in fact it is proven that the couple has been harassed and threatened, it will be considered a crime.

The groom, Mahmoud Mansour, told Haaretz: “We’ve been together for five years, but we’ve never encountered such racism. I always knew there were racists, but as long as you’re not affected by it, until you feel it in your own body, you don’t know what it is.”

Related:
Palestinian-Jewish couple hires wedding security for fear of anti-miscegenation group
Jewish anti-miscegenation groups distribute racist, sexist flyers
‘Don’t you even dare think about a Jewess’: An assault on tolerance education

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Palestinian-Jewish couple hires wedding security for fear of anti-miscegenation group http://972mag.com/palestinian-jewish-couple-hires-wedding-security-for-fear-of-anti-miscegenation-group/95449/ http://972mag.com/palestinian-jewish-couple-hires-wedding-security-for-fear-of-anti-miscegenation-group/95449/#comments Thu, 14 Aug 2014 13:02:46 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=95449 An Israeli anti-miscegenation group is threatening a Palestinian-Jewish couple, calling for protests at the venue on the day of their wedding.

Palestinian resident of Jaffa, Mahmoud Mansour, has reportedly hired 14 security guards to be present at his wedding next week to Morel Malka, a Jewish Israeli, for fear he may be harmed by members/supporters of the radical anti-miscegenation group Lehava.*

According to a report in NRG (Hebrew), Lehava – whose mission is to prevent marriage between Jews and non-Jews, and thus “save the daughters of Israel” – got hold of a copy of the wedding invitation on social media and reportedly published it in full, providing the date and location of the wedding, and called on people to come out in full force and protest.

A sticker from the anti-miscegenation group Lahava is seen on an electrical post in Jerusalem. The sticker reads 'Don’t you even dare to think about a Jewess,' in Hebrew and Arabic (photo: Michael Omer-Man)

A sticker from the anti-miscegenation group Lahava is seen on an electrical post in Jerusalem. The sticker reads: ‘Don’t you even dare to think about a Jewess,’ in Hebrew and Arabic (photo: Michael Omer-Man)

Lehava’s website is currently under construction and its Facebook page was removed two weeks ago (Hebrew) due to user complaints of incitement. The article quotes Lehava head Benzi Gupstein as saying that “We are still at war and she is marrying a member of the enemy,” adding that the wedding is especially infuriating because it is taking place in the center of the country and not in “one of their villages.”

A similar organization, Yad L’Achim, whose motto is “We don’t give up on even a single Jew,” also called attention to the wedding, however it did not publish the information. A status was published on its Facebook page showing a blurred photo of the bride-to-be and urges users to encourage her to call off the wedding. It has over 2,000 likes and 600 shares.

*I refer to the group as anti-miscegenation because they oppose relations between Arabs and Jews – technically that is an ethnic matter and not a racial one, but nonetheless I think it applies in this context.

Related:
Jewish anti-miscegenation groups distribute racist, sexist flyers
‘Don’t you even dare think about a Jewess’: An assault on tolerance education
Jewish women can’t volunteer at night – to avoid contact with Arabs

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The battle over numbers: Gaza conflict is about quality not quantity http://972mag.com/the-battle-over-numbers-gaza-conflict-is-about-quality-not-quantity/95348/ http://972mag.com/the-battle-over-numbers-gaza-conflict-is-about-quality-not-quantity/95348/#comments Mon, 11 Aug 2014 17:29:36 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=95348 While it may be tempting for those of us who are against Operation Protective Edge to stress the lopsided casualty statistics as a way to promote our criticism, this war should not focus on the numbers.

One of the most painfully obvious aspects of the current warfare between Israel and Gaza (and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on a whole) is the stark disparity in the number of casualties: 1,928 Palestinians killed compared with 67 Israelis, based on the latest figures recorded by each side. Both the Hamas-run Ministry of Health in Gaza and the UN claim the majority are civilians, whereas Israel claims that around half are militants and thus legitimate targets. Regardless of what numbers one subscribes to, no one can deny Palestinians are the winners (read: losers) when it comes to numbers. Yet they nonetheless remain the subject of intense debate.

Recent articles in both the BBC and the New York Times call attention to the accuracy the death toll. Both articles question the credibility of the numbers provided by Hamas and human rights groups on the ground, which many (myself included) often quote, as they are the only official numbers publicized. No official Israeli government body has provided final numbers on the outcome of its strikes in real time, and there is no other body doing so. The BBC report specifically cites over-representation of adult male civilian casualties as evidence that challenges the notion that Israeli strikes in Gaza have been indiscriminate.

Palestinian youth living in Israel hold dolls wrapped in a white cloth, during a demonstration against the Israeli attack on Gaza and in support of the Palestinian people, in the northern village Tamra on August 2, 2014. (Faiz Abu-Rmeleh/Activestills.org)

Palestinian youth living in Israel hold dolls wrapped in a white cloth, during a demonstration against the Israeli attack on Gaza, in the northern village of Tamra on August 2, 2014. (Faiz Abu-Rmeleh/Activestills.org)

The growing death toll and its composition (civilian vs. militant, child vs. adult, male vs. female) are a prominent feature of the media coverage, seemingly to provide the bare facts about the war. Twitter has been full of photos of dead Palestinian children and regular updates on the alarming number of casualties in Gaza, alongside those who tweet the number of rockets launched in a given day into Israel, or the number of Israeli citizens under sirens and forced into bomb shelters.

While accurate tallying of casualties and documentation of means of warfare is a critical and integral part of reporting in any war, it is not the main story of this Gaza conflict. While it may be tempting for those of us who are against “Operation Protective Edge” in particular and Israeli policy in general to stress the lopsided casualty statistics as a way to promote our criticism, this war should not be analyzed in quantity but rather in quality. Hamas clearly has an interest in showing a high number of civilian casualties, while Israel has an interest in showing that it goes to great lengths to avoid civilian deaths (and that when they do happen, they are Hamas’s fault). Each has its narrative and the average news consumer can easily find numbers that best suit their views while denying the credibility of those that don’t. Besides, speaking about the conflict in numbers inevitably cheapens the value of each and every human life.

The story of the current warfare, like all other confrontations between Israelis and Palestinians in recent decades, is the context of the quality of life here. As Noam Sheizaf wrote in his recent piece, there is a perennial status quo in which Jews have full rights between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean while Palestinians are divided into sub groups with differing sets of rights depending on where they live. “It is an inherently unjust order, and it will continue to create instability and to cast serious doubts over the legitimacy of the entire system,” Sheizaf writes. In such a situation, ”violence is a by-product” that will continue its vicious cycle, and considering Israel’s military positioning and ability to act with impunity, the losses will continue to be greater on the Palestinian side.

In such a miserable cycle, does it really matter at the end of the day what the precise breakdown of the casualties are in a given confrontation? If there is in fact a significant number of Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives among the dead, will that bring an end to the threat of rocket fire from Gaza? If in fact two-thirds of those killed are innocent civilians, will that bring Gaza closer to freedom and dignity?

A seasoned IDF officer was recently asked on Israeli news how this conflict is different from previous ones. His response says it all: “The date.”

Related:
The world is letting Israel get away with it again
This is what life in Gaza sounds like
Gaza war: It’s about keeping the Palestinians under control

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Anticipating sirens and contractions: Bringing a baby into this reality http://972mag.com/anticipating-sirens-and-contractions-bringing-a-baby-into-this-reality/93290/ http://972mag.com/anticipating-sirens-and-contractions-bringing-a-baby-into-this-reality/93290/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 13:05:55 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=93290 Nothing about life here is ‘normal.’ How could it be? And neither will my birthing experience – and maybe that’s for the best, so that things have a chance to actually change.

Thursday was my “due date.” I began my 40th week of pregnancy yesterday and am due to go into labor any day now. I’ve been mentally and physically preparing myself for this exciting and unpredictable moment for months, planning to have as natural, active and positive an experience as I can without any unnecessary interventions.

Then came the huge intervention of reality this week as rockets began being fired at Jaffa-Tel Aviv. No longer simply anticipating contractions, but anticipating sirens. No longer just being attentive to my body ahead of labor, but also ahead of rockets. I’ve been coming to terms with the fact that I’ll be bringing my first child into this world amid the harrowing sounds of sirens followed by booms of rockets exploding in the skies above me that shake the whole house — and waking up every morning to news that the Israeli military is in-distinctively killing dozens of Palestinians, including women and children in an operation that I do not feel protects me, or serves the interests of my soon-to-be-born child’s future.

At first I couldn’t see past my upset and resentment that the holistic, wholesome and calm labor experience I had been hoping for is being taken away from me, just like that, because of the inopportune timing, and there’s little I can do about it. And I’m angry over the fact that my child’s first days of existence will be shrouded in unnerving sounds and an atmosphere of fear, violence, death and destruction.

And this, on the already grim backdrop of weeks of heightened violence in which so many young people — the three murdered Israeli teens and significantly more Palestinian teens — have been killed, beaten and detained. (Remember Nadim Nuwara and Mohammed Salameh, who were shot by Israeli forces in Beitunia on May 15 while posing no direct threat, and still no condemnation or legal action has been taken.) And all this, on top of the ongoing daily reality of the evergreen occupation and general violence of life here in Israel and Palestine.

But while it is still of course difficult and stressful for me as far as my personal experience as a pregnant woman, relatively speaking, I’m fine. My life here in Jaffa goes on. And I can’t help but think about all the pregnant women in the south of Israel, not to mention those in Gaza, who are going into labor these days. What about them? They don’t have sirens to warn them or well-equipped hospitals or anywhere else to go. Where do they find comfort? How can they possibly give birth in such a  situation? Their daily lives, already trying on many levels, cannot simply go on when tons of explosives are being dropped from the sky all day and all night. It is well known that a woman’s body cannot go into labor when she is feeling extreme anxiety or fear – whether from the labor itself – and certainly  all the more so during a state of armed conflict.

But here in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, the routine doesn’t seem to have been affected much, thanks entirely to the fact that not a single rocket has actually made landfall. As Uri Misgav writes in Haaretz (Hebrew), the Iron Dome , which has thus far intercepted all the rockets over the greater Tel Aviv area and reportedly has a 90 percent success rate, allows Israelis the dangerous duality of what he describes as a maximum sense of victimhood with minimum obstruction of their daily comforts. “They can be glued like drug addicts to the radio and TV while absolving themselves of any self-examination or criticism of the endless cycle of hate and violence.” (My rough translation)

Indeed, it is quite astonishing that somehow life does simply go on here, despite the emotional distress.  Israelis continue to act as if they are shocked that we are being attacked, and that they are the only victims – or at least the only righteous ones. The fact is, as awful and difficult as it is to live under the threat of rockets, nothing seems to be able to shake up Israelis and shift their perception of the reality here and how to better the future for all those who live in this region. The nearly half-century long occupation hasn’t done it. The killing, arresting and beating of Palestinians with impunity has not done it. The constancy of settler violence hasn’t done it. The burning alive of a child and brutal beating of his cousin hasn’t done it. The killing of so many Palestinian civilians at a time when rockets are being fired at us is certainly not going to do it either. It is somehow legitimate collateral damage. So what will?

As a soon-to-be-mother, the sense is even more acute for me now that as upset as I am that I will be bringing a child into such a harsh reality, I am even more disturbed by the fact that Israelis think they can continue with these policies and actions and complacency, and think they won’t have have to pay a price for it, that our children won’t all pay a price for it as some point – if we are not able to see past our own isolated situation and farther than just tomorrow.

Regardless of what the other side does and how awful the Hamas regime is, I don’t see how killing nearly 100 people in four days will serve me and my family’s interests. As if all the rockets can be wiped out? As if wiping out all the Hamas people will bring quiet? As if military might can ever really bring about a long-term solution?

Nothing about life here is “normal.” How could it be? And neither will my birthing experience – and maybe that’s for the best, so that things have a chance to actually change. But I refuse to be driven by fear – whether it is sirens or contractions.

Read this post in Hebrew on Local Call.

Related:
Why are there are no white flags in Gaza?
WATCH: A voice of peace on the Gaza border
‘They left us no choice’: On military escalation and its Israeli rationale

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‘Jewish extremists’ arrested in murder of Palestinian teen in Jerusalem http://972mag.com/jewish-extremists-arrested-in-murder-of-palestinian-teen-in-jerusalem/93049/ http://972mag.com/jewish-extremists-arrested-in-murder-of-palestinian-teen-in-jerusalem/93049/#comments Sun, 06 Jul 2014 11:56:10 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=93049 Details of the police investigation into the kidnapping and murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir have been held under gag order.

Palestinians carry the body of Muhammed Abu Khdeir through the streets of Shuafat. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinians carry the body of Muhammed Abu Khdeir through the streets of Shuafat. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Six suspects identified as “Jewish extremists” were arrested in connection to the heinous murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, police revealed as details began emerging about the investigation Sunday morning. All details about the investigation have been kept under gag order since the 16 year old was kidnapped and burned alive, an incident that sparked clashes and riots in Shuafat that spread to other parts of Israel in recent days.

It is important to point out that following the kidnapping/murder of the three Israeli teenagers on June 12, headlines in Israeli media and statements from the government quickly deemed it a “terror” attack perpetrated by  ”terrorists” backed by the “terrorist” organization Hamas - before any evidence was shown or any suspects arrested.  However, in the case of Abu Khdeir’s murder, the suspects are, at worst, “Jewish extremists” or from the “far-right.”

While the Abu Khdeir family claimed from the very beginning  that this was an act committed by Jewish Israelis because their son was Palestinian, rumors spread (many believe by the Israel Police itself) that this was an inter-family honor killing, possibly because the victim was gay. However, that baseless claim was completely ruled out Sunday.
Read +972′s full coverage of the kidnappings and their aftermath

According to a preliminary autopsy report released Friday, Abu Khdeir was burnt alive; soot was found in his respiratory system and he had burns over 90 percent of his body, in addition to a head injury.

Police were expected to hold a press conference Sunday afternoon.

Meanwhile, a Jerusalem court on Sunday ordered the release of Muhammad Abu Khdeir’s cousin Tarek, an American citizen from Tampa, Florida who was  brutally beaten by Border Police officers while  in custody on Thursday. Tarek has not been charged with a crime. His bail was set at NIS 3,000 and he was placed under house arrest and barred from entering Shuafat, where he has been on vacation visiting his family. The investigation against him is ongoing. There were various reports in Israeli media as to police claims ranging from: that he was involved in rioting, was carrying a slingshot, was carrying a knife, attacked policemen and the latest was that he hurled rocks and /or Molotov cocktails at police.

Tarek spoke to the media after being released from custody Sunday afternoon. He says he was watching and not participating in the clashes when he was beaten and then lost consciousness. (Video from Addameer)

Related:
Police are exacerbating the violence with gag orders
Kidnappings leave a wake of ‘revenge,’ racist violence
A premier failure: Where is Israel’s leadership?

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WATCH: Disturbing footage of police beating Palestinian in Shuafat http://972mag.com/watch-disturbing-footage-of-police-beating-palestinian-in-shuafat/92959/ http://972mag.com/watch-disturbing-footage-of-police-beating-palestinian-in-shuafat/92959/#comments Fri, 04 Jul 2014 10:56:26 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=92959 A disturbing video emerged Thursday night that shows what appears to be Israeli policemen brutally beating a Palestinian in the East Jerusalem neighborhood Shuafat. Clashes broke out in the neighborhood Wednesday morning following the discovery of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir’s body in a suspected revenge killing by Israeli Jews.

The video, first aired by Palestine Today and also appearing in a report in Electronic Intifada, shows what appear to be two undercover Israeli border policemen kicking and beating a Palestinian, whose face is also covered, while he appears handcuffed, pinned down and barely moving. After the two finish beating him they drag him over to a group of other Israeli police forces, including both undercover and uniformed riot police.

A second video appears to show parts of the same scene from a different angle.

Asked for comment by +972, Israel Police Foreign Press Spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld gave a very brief comment after the video was described to him on the phone: “This may be part of the ongoing police operations in the area [Shuafat] amid heavy rioting. Six people whose faces were covered were arrested yesterday. That’s all I have to say about it.”

The clashes in Shuafat came just one day after hundreds of far-right Israeli Jews rioted in West Jerusalem, following the discovery of the bodies of the three kidnapped Israeli teenagers. The rioters searched businesses for Arabs and accosted Arab-looking people on the street. A total of 50 people were arrested.

Read more about the kidnappings and clashes:
Photos of the week: A chronology of two kidnappings
Why this isn’t a ‘new’ intifada
East Jerusalem hospitals cope with clashes

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The kidnapping and the Israeli military operation – in numbers http://972mag.com/the-kidnapping-and-the-israeli-military-operation-in-numbers/92332/ http://972mag.com/the-kidnapping-and-the-israeli-military-operation-in-numbers/92332/#comments Fri, 20 Jun 2014 19:06:03 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=92332 Since the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers from a hitchhiking stop in the West Bank on June 12, 2014, the Israel Defense Forces has been operating all over the Palestinian territories, in Areas A, B and C. The following list attempts to provide some basic statistics on the toll it has been exacting. While Israeli media is portraying the operation as highly restrained, these numbers show the deep effect it has on the Palestinian population as of June 20, 2014. *Some numbers provided are estimates due to the difficulty in confirming exact numbers.

Number of kidnapped Israeli teenagers: 3

Number of days since operation began: 7

Number of Palestinians arrested: 388

Of them, number associated with Hamas: 240

Of them, the number released in 2011 Gilad Shalit exchange: 55

Number of indictments filed against them thus far: 0

Number of Palestinians killed: 2

Number of Palestinians wounded: Dozens

In critical condition: 1

Number of Israeli soldiers wounded: 1

Number of troops deployed to Hebron: At least 2,000

Number of residents of the city of Hebron under total lockdown:  200,000

Number of Israelis living in Hebron: 800

Number of houses raided throughout West Bank: Thousands

Number of locations/institutions raided: 1,150

Number of rockets fired from Gaza: 16

Number of Israelis wounded: 0

Structures damaged: 1

Number of Israeli air strikes on Gaza: At least 15

Number of Palestinians wounded: At least 7

Sources: IDF Spokesperson, Palestinian Prisoners Club, Haaretz, Walla, Ma’an News Agency, Associated Press, New York Times, International Middle East Media Center

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The kidnapping: Israelis aren’t the only ones facing national tragedy http://972mag.com/the-kidnapping-israelis-arent-the-only-ones-facing-national-tragedy/92078/ http://972mag.com/the-kidnapping-israelis-arent-the-only-ones-facing-national-tragedy/92078/#comments Sun, 15 Jun 2014 11:39:08 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=92078 Providing context may be taboo at a time when the entire country is focused on the fate of three kidnapped Israeli teens, but it is part and parcel of the story.

Since news broke Friday of the alleged kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers who study in a West Bank yeshiva north of Hebron the night before, media outlets and social media users have been gripping at straws to publicize new information on what has quickly become a national tragedy dominating Israel’s public discourse. The kidnapping and reactions to it, however, cannot be viewed in a vacuum.

The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday named the operation to locate the three, “Shuvu Achim” (Return, Brothers), and the IDF Spokesperson launched a social media campaign with the hashtag #BringBackOurBoys. Netanyahu asserted Sunday morning that Hamas is responsible for the kidnapping – although he provided no other information. Hamas thus far has not claimed responsibility and a Gaza-based spokesperson for the group called Netanyahu’s statement “stupid.”

Israeli soldiers shut down the entrance to the West Bank city of Hebron, seen on June 15, 2014. A complete closure was put on the city after three Israeli teenagers went missing near a West Bank settlement. The three, all students at a Jewish seminary, went missing late on June 12 as they were hitchhiking between Bethlehem and Hebron and are believed to have been kidnapped. (Photo by Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Israeli soldiers shut down the entrance to the West Bank city of Hebron, seen on June 15, 2014. A complete closure was put on the city after three Israeli teenagers went missing near a West Bank settlement. The three, all students at a Jewish seminary, went missing late on June 12 as they were hitchhiking between Bethlehem and Hebron and are believed to have been kidnapped. (Photo by Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Netanyahu also repeatedly declared that he also holds the Palestinian Authority and President Mahmoud Abbas directly responsible, even though the incident took place in areas under total Israeli control. He quickly used the incident to justify his position that peace cannot be negotiated with a Palestinian leadership affiliated with Hamas, for which he was attacked by the Israeli opposition. Netanyahu did not mention Israel’s long-standing security coordination with Palestinian security forces, unlike several other Israeli officials, who have come out saying they are pleased with the coordination over the last few days.

Hebron, a city of 160,000 Palestinians already under occupation, and which normally has about 600 IDF troops stationed in it, has been under complete lockdown for days now. An additional 2,000 or so troops have been deployed as part of the massive operation. Around 80 Palestinians, almost all Hamas members, some of them senior officials, were arrested overnight by the IDF in a massive raid. According to Haaretz military correspondent Gili Cohen, in addition to the 2,000 extra troops already deployed in Hebron area, the IDF on Sunday ordered a limited call-up of reserve forces to assist in the search operation.

But all of that has been widely reported.

Israeli soldiers stationed at the entrance to the West Bank city of Hebron, seen on June 15, 2014. A complete closure was put on the city after three Israeli teenagers went missing near a West Bank settlement. The three, all students at a Jewish seminary, went missing late on June 12 as they were hitchhiking between Bethlehem and Hebron and are believed to have been kidnapped. (Photo by Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Israeli soldiers stationed at the entrance to the West Bank city of Hebron, seen on June 15, 2014. A complete closure was put on the city after three Israeli teenagers went missing near a West Bank settlement. The three, all students at a Jewish seminary, went missing late on June 12 as they were hitchhiking between Bethlehem and Hebron and are believed to have been kidnapped. (Photo by Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Incidents that received less or no coverage in Israeli media are reports that settlers threw barrages of stones at Palestinian cars over the weekend, damaging 15 cars and injuring three people. In the south Hebron hills, some 30 settlers reportedly invaded the Palestinian village of Susya, threw stones at homes and attempted to attack a 13 year old.

Many in the twittersphere have responded to the IDF campaign by hijacking the hashtag #BringBackOurBoys with statistics and photos of Palestinian children detained or killed by Israel, including a Palestinian child killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza this week and the hundreds (191) administrative detainees currently in Israeli prisons without charge or trial, all of whom the online activists are adamant to “bring back” as well. Since April, some 120 of them have been on hunger strike (that’s 53 days now) and there have been solidarity protests throughout the West Bank and Israel on a regular basis.

Palestinians living in Israel and Israeli activists protest outside Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, June 5, 2014. At least 6 Palestinian prisoners are currently hospitalized at Ichilov after hunger striking for more than 35 days, and dozens of Palestinian prisoners are in other hospitals in Israel. Most of those on hunger strike are protesting against their administrative detention by Israel. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinians living in Israel and Israeli activists protest outside Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, June 5, 2014. At least 6 Palestinian prisoners are currently hospitalized at Ichilov after hunger striking for more than 35 days, and dozens of Palestinian prisoners are in other hospitals in Israel. Most of those on hunger strike are protesting against their administrative detention by Israel. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

For Palestinians, this is a national tragedy and a major component of the macro national tragedy that comprises daily life under Israeli military rule and occupation, now 47 years old. It is no secret that holding Israelis hostage is a proven tactic Palestinians — and others — have used to secure the release of prisoners held by Israel, just like what took place recently in the deal to free captured soldier Gilad Schalit.

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Providing this context may be taboo at a time when the entire country is focused on the fate of three kidnapped Israeli teens, but it is part and parcel of the story here. It is an important reminder to Israelis that we are in a constant state of war and Palestinians under constant occupation – no matter how much they  are largely immune to it due to the imbalance of power that protects them on a day-to-day basis.

That is why for example, when the IDF uses another hashtag in its campaign, such as #LifeUnderTerror, I cannot help but think how easily this could just as well apply to Palestinians (Palestinian activists also quickly hijacked this hashtag). Think of the 80,000 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem who have been living without regular running water for months now. Or remember that exactly one month ago, on Nakba Day, two Palestinian teens were killed by IDF fire during protests in Beitunia while presenting no immediate threat to anyone. Although no conclusive results have been formally published, an autopsy on one of the teens, Nadim Syam Nuwara, confirmed live ammunition killed him, casting serious doubt on IDF claims that no live bullets were fired. No one can bring those boys back home to their parents and it is doubtful whether justice will ever be brought to their families.

I, of course, want the three Israelis, Eyal Yifrah (19(, Gilad Shaer (16) and Naftali Frenkel (16) to return home safe and sound. But it is important to remember that Israelis are not the only ones suffering a national tragedy, and that incidents like this do not happen in a vacuum.

Related:
West Bank kidnapping: The Palestinian unity government’s first real test
Three Israeli teens feared kidnapped in the West Bank

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PHOTO: Soldier punches Palestinian activist in the face http://972mag.com/photo-soldier-punches-palestinian-activist-in-the-face/91813/ http://972mag.com/photo-soldier-punches-palestinian-activist-in-the-face/91813/#comments Sun, 08 Jun 2014 15:01:17 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=91813 Israeli soldiers have been harassing Palestinian activist Issa Amro since he released a video of a soldier cocking his weapon at two youths. ‘They know I am a moving camera,’ he says.

Palestinian non-violent activist Issa Amro is seen in the following photo, taken on May 28, being punched by an IDF soldier (the soldier’s identity is unknown and this specific moment does not capture the punch that achieved contact). Amro, who lives in Hebron, is the founder and director of Youth Against Settlements and one of the most prolific and effective documentarians of Israeli occupation in the city.

IDF soldier punching Issa Amro in Hebron (photo: Awni Abu Shamsieh)

IDF soldier punching Issa Amro in Hebron (photo: Awni Abu Shamsieh)

Amro, who has been detained and arrested more times than he can count despite not a single indictment ever being filed against him, told +972 he has been harassed by this specific soldier over the last few weeks. He suspects the reason is that last month he released a video (which went viral) of an Israeli soldier cocking his rifle at a Palestinian teenager in Hebron, and later threatening to “put a bullet in the head” of another Palestinian filming the incident.

David Adamov (a.k.a. David Nahlawi), a soldier in the Nahal Brigade who has since been dismissed (for assaulting his commander, not for this incident), became a  Facebook sensation among Israeli soldiers who lined up to defend him and proclaim, “we are all David Nahlawi.

Amro said the soldier in the photo has been following him around and detaining him while he films clashes between soldiers and Palestinians in Hebron recently. “They know I am a moving camera,” Amro told +972. He said he was detained several times last week, sometimes several times in one day.

“Last Monday, he detained me twice, once at 6 a.m. and once in the afternoon. He forced me to go in and out of the checkpoint more than 10 times,” Amro said. He said he was detained again on Tuesday, while being cursed at and verbally abused.

“I filled up with anger inside. The soldiers are using the power of occupation to humiliate me and to take revenge on me for doing something legal. I have no protection at all, no one to complain to, no one to give [me] the feeling of protection,” Amro said.

Amira Hass reported in Haaretz on another incident last month in which Amro insisted it is the army’s job to protect him from settlers. The soldier replied that he only protects Jews, adding: ”Who protects you? You fucker – the next chance I get I’ll shoot you.”

Related:
Palestinian non-violent protest leader arrested en route abroad
A city of devastation: Hebron 20 years after the massacre
WATCH: IDF detains 5-year-old Palestnian in Hebron

 

 

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