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A 'wave of violence' that never actually ends

When the Israeli media talks about the latest ‘wave of violence,’ it leaves out the five unarmed Palestinians who were shot to death by soldiers and police officers in the past few months.

Israeli security forces at the scene of a stabbing attack at Herod's Gate in Jerusalem, September 19, 2016. A Palestinian stabbed two Police officers before being shot by police. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli security forces at the scene of a stabbing attack at Herod’s Gate in Jerusalem, September 19, 2016. A Palestinian stabbed two Police officers before being shot by police. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The newspaper headlines over the past few days leave no room for doubt regarding what has been happening here lately. “Terror returns,” read Yedioth Ahronoth‘s headline on Sunday, while Haaretz and Ma’ariv ran similar headlines on Tuesday morning.

Indeed the last few days have been full of stabbing and vehicle-ramming attacks by Palestinians in Jerusalem and Hebron, the vast majority of them directed at soldiers and police officers, rather than citizens. The recent wave of violence has not claimed any Israeli lives, but it has left six of the attackers dead. Five police officers and soldiers were wounded, one of them severely.

If we put aside the recent attacks on Israelis, it is clear that this “wave” never actually ended. Only two weeks ago did Israeli police officers shoot and kill Mustafa Nimr, a Palestinian who was traveling by car in Jerusalem’s Shuafat refugee camp. At first the police claimed Nimr and his cousin, who was driving, had attempted to run them over. Very quickly, however, it became clear that this was patently false, and that the officers continued to shoot at the car even after it had come to a complete stop. A little over a week later soldier shot Iyad Hamed near the West Bank village of Silwad. Here, too, soldiers alleged Hamed had shot at them, although it later became clear that he was unarmed and posed no threat, and was possibly shot in the back.

In mid-July Border Police officers shot and killed Anwar a-Salaime in the village A-Ram, as he sat in his car. The police argued that he had attempted to run them over, although video footage clearly shows that the police shot at the car from behind after he drove past them, and that a-Salaime was shot in the back.

The final photo. Mahmoud Badran (first on the right) and his friends, who went for an evening swim at the pool and finished off the night riddled with bullets. (Photo courtesy of B'Tselem)

The final photo. Mahmoud Badran (first on the right) and his friends, who went for an evening swim at the pool and finished off the night riddled with bullets. (Photo courtesy of B’Tselem)

Or go back to June 22, when soldiers riddled a taxi on Route 443 with bullets, killing 15-year-old Muhammad Badran and wounding four others. Once again the army released an initial statement that they had killed a terrorist who threw Molotov cocktails. And again it became clear that Badran and his friends had no connection to the Molotov cocktails that were indeed thrown at the highway. Following the shooting, the Shin Bet revoked the driver and his brothers’ work and entry permits.

In the beginning of June soldiers shot and killed Ansar Harasha, a mother of two. The IDF Spokesperson claimed she had attempted an attack on soldiers, although several stills captured by a security camera (for some reason the army refuses to release the full video) show the soldiers approaching Harasha and shooting her from what seems like a safe distance and likely used excessive force.

A dangerous place to be

These are only five examples, five people killed, from the past three months. In every case the media initially treated the dead as terrorists who attacked soldiers and police. In every case, however, it turned out that those claims were baseless, or that at the very least excessive, disproportionate (not to mention criminal) force was used. In some of the cases the army or the police have video footage that they refuse to release, as opposed to videos clearly showing attacks by Palestinians.

But the initial story is the one that stays with us, and even when there are no follow-up stories, the vast majority of us do not think about the fact that Palestinians experience these killings as terrorism. We will often adopt the story of the soldiers who felt “their lives were in danger” and acted innocently — and even if all these things are correct, we will forget about the lethal results.

Israeli soldiers detain a Palestinian man following a house raid in the West Bank city of Hebron September 20, 2016. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

Israeli soldiers detain a Palestinian man following a house raid in the West Bank city of Hebron September 20, 2016. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

The Palestinians killed over the past few months are only a small part of the picture that does not even get into the daily life of the military regime in the occupied territories, in which there are two separate, discriminatory legal systems — one for Jews and another Arabs. The same regime that steals water and natural resources from Palestinians, where the majority of the ruling party are trying to move mountains in order to justify the theft of private Palestinian land. The same regime that destroys entire communities and holds hundreds in administrative detention without trial. The same regime that shuts down media outlets and shoots at journalists, blocks roads and places entire villages under collective punishment. And this is before we even talk about Gaza.

All these make up just a part of the wave of violence and nearly 50 years of military occupation. When we only talk about violence against Israelis, we play into the hands of those who believe the Palestinian lives do not matter. This is a dangerous place to be, especially if we want to understand where we are living, what is happening, why there is no military solution, and how we can one day end the occupation and the violence and live in peace.

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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    COMMENTS

    1. i_like_ike52

      As long as Jews insist on living in Eretz Israel, there will be Arab violence directed at it. It began long, long ago, long before the state of Israel was created in 1948, even long before the Balfour Declaration of 1917. True, in the 19th century, there wasn’t the political motive that began with official declaration of Zionist aspirations in 1917, but Muslim intolerance of minorities actually began with the appearance of Islam on the world scene.
      For heaven’s sake, one can ask when the “Muslim wave of violence” directed at their fellow Muslims in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Algeria, Yemen, Libya and other places will end. Seeing this fratricidal slaughter of their “brother Muslims who they love” resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of refugees, doesn’t leave much room to wonder about Muslim violence against non-Muslims, whom they don’t love to the same extent.
      Asking if Israelis “care about Muslim lives” really comes after the more urgent question “do Muslims care about Muslim lives”? Do we see Muslims in Paris, London or New York care about the slaughter of their co-religionists?

      Reply to Comment
    2. Ben

      Nonsense, Ike. As long as extremist nationalist Jews insist on occupying the West Bank and East Jerusalem they will be directing massive brutality, relentless violence, at Arab Palestinians, as they have for fifty relentless years. Look at the photo above. You can’t whitewash the occupation. The occupation began long before Iraq and Syria destabilized and it was sustained by Israel for decades before these places destabilized and it was sustained by Israel in the face of the Arab Peace Initiative that Israel basically sneered at. Syria is just the latest excuse in a long line of them. If it weren’t that it would be something else. Nobody is fooled. No matter how many times you repeat this propaganda.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Lewis from Afula

      Re: “As long as extremist nationalist Jews insist on occupying the West Bank and East Jerusalem they will be directing massive brutality, relentless violence, at Arab Palestinians, as they have for fifty relentless years.”

      So how do you explain the Arab terrorism BEFORE the 6 day war?

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        The same way I explain the Jewish terrorism before the six day war.

        Reply to Comment
        • i_like_ike52

          Okay, Ben,
          If Israel and the Jews are as evil as you claim, why should the Palestinians make peace with Israel? If, as Obama, Tzippi Livni and many others say “it will be very bad for Israel if it doesn’t allow the creation of an independent Palestinian state”, why should the Palestinian make peace with Israel? You think they want to help Israel? Or maybe they think what is bad for Israel is good for them and so all they have to do is wait (as they and you see it) and Israel will disappear on its own?

          Reply to Comment
        • Lewis from Afula

          Except there was NO Jewish terrorism just before the 6 day war.
          Please try to keep up, Ben!!

          Reply to Comment
          • truth be told

            HELLO Lewis and Ike, study your history (not white washed history). The Zionists invented car bombs, they bombed the King David Hotel, They killed many Jews in countries where Jews lived and prospered to terrorize them into migrating to Palestine. Ever hear of the Stern Gang?? Israel’s prime ministers were former terrorists. The Palestinians have been, and are, reacting as any other occupied people would.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Straw man: Ben says “the Jews” are evil. Straw man: Ben says Israel is evil. As opposed to its current behavior being evil. Straw man: Ben says that that behavior is more evil than other colonialist states that did not give up domination of another nation voluntarily.

            Israel and Jews are intrinsically or categorically no more or less evil than any other people or states are or are capable of being. It is you that claims some special spiritual/ethnic dispensation that absolves Israel and “the Jews” of the evil of which all men are capable. Israelis and Israeli Jews are intrinsically no better or worse or less special or more special than others or subject to special rules or judgments or dispensations others on this earth are not subject to. You are the ones who tacitly assert otherwise.

            The Palestinians should make peace with Israel for the same reasons Israel should make peace with the Palestinians. You think the Israelis want to help the Palestinians? Or maybe the Israelis think what is bad for the Palestinians is good for them and so all they have to do is wait (as they and you see it) and the Palestinians will disappear (see: slow ethnic cleansing, West Bank and East Jerusalem, today).

            Lewis, your “just” modifier is meaningless.

            Reply to Comment