Analysis News
Visit our Hebrew site, "Local Call" , in partnership with Just Vision.

Palestinians are reviving their agency in Jerusalem

After years of oppression and fragmentation, Palestinians in the occupied city are remobilizing around a common political goal.

After days of deliberations, the Israeli government finally removed metal detectors from the entrances of the Aqsa compound on Monday evening. Reports say the decision may have been linked to an agreement reached with Jordan’s King Abdullah, as part of a deal to resolve a brief diplomatic crisis that followed Sunday’s attack at the Israeli embassy in Amman.

Israeli authorities are now seeking to install “smart” cameras that can identify visitors to Al-Aqsa using facial recognition software. Palestinians argue that this technology, which can easily be abused by Israeli security services, is even worse than the metal detectors. The Islamic Waqf declared its opposition to the new plan yesterday and insisted that the status quo be restored to the situation that existed prior to a deadly shooting two weeks ago. Local worshipers continued to protest outside the Aqsa compound, and police continued to respond with stun grenades and arrests.

Despite this development, it seems that the Palestinians’ campaign of civil disobedience – largely ignored by the media’s focus on violence during the past week – is working.

The mass boycott of the metal detectors was a remarkable sight. Young headscarved women appealed (and at times shouted) to Muslim visitors not to pass through the gates. Men prayed outside or in the narrow alleys of the Old City, with some live-streaming the scenes on Facebook. Four families living inside the compound, not wanting to violate the boycott, refused to leave the premises until a special arrangement was agreed upon with the Waqf.

This united activism surprised many. Dispossessed and disenfranchised for decades, Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem have been leaderless since the brutal suppression of the Second Intifada and further crippled by the wave of violence that erupted in September 2015. With Jewish settlements expanding and collective punishment increasing, the city’s Palestinian neighborhoods seemed to be verging toward social and economic collapse.

Now, after years of fragmentation, the community is remobilizing en masse around a common political goal. Thousands of Palestinians, under the glare of Israeli riot police, thronged the streets on July 21 in one of the largest protests the city has seen in some time. Hundreds of fellow worshippers, activists, and representatives traveled from Arab towns and cities across Israel to join them....

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

The redundancy of Israel's 'Jewish Nation-State Law'

The Israeli government is pushing a law that would force judges to prioritize Israel’s Jewish character over democratic principles. But that has always been the case.

The “Jewish Nation-State Law,” which is currently making its way through the Knesset as a proposed Basic Law – the closest thing Israel has to a constitutional amendment – would require the High Court to prioritize Israel’s Jewish nature over democratic principles in its rulings, according to Haaretz.

The bill asserts that the justices of the highest court in the land must interpret Israeli law with the understanding that the right to self-determination in Israel is “unique to the Jewish people,” and with the aim of “protecting Israel’s status as the nation-state of the Jewish people.” Similar versions of the same bill have stalled in the legislative process in recent years.

The Netanyahu government seems to have a fondness for redundant laws. Contrary to popular belief, the High Court of Justice has hardly been a guarantor of democratic rights in Israel — particularly for its non-Jewish citizens and subjects. From legitimizing countless aspects of the occupation to limiting citizens’ freedoms, the court has acquiesced to most of the government’s discriminatory positions for decades, serving as a rubber stamp to preserve Jewish supremacy and state power.

When insisting on sidelining fundamental democratic values, perhaps the government forgot how the court has repeatedly upheld an order that bans Palestinian family unification. In his 2012 judgment on the inherently discriminatory law, then-court president Asher Grunis wrote: “Human rights are not a prescription for national suicide.”

Or perhaps the government dozed off in court in 2015, when in his decision upholding the Anti-Boycott Law – a direct assault on the principle of free political expression – Justice Elyakim Rubinstein cited the Passover Haggadah and endorsed the Knesset’s effort to “ensure the survival of the Jewish people” by combating BDS.

Maybe the Knesset members missed the news in January 2016, when High Court President Miriam Naor refused to reconsider the planned demolition of Umm al-Hiran, a Bedouin village in the Naqab (Negev), in order to build a Jewish town over its ruins; she didn’t think the case was “exceptionally exceptional, the rarest of rare, to warrant another hearing.”

They most certainly didn’t read the court’s decision last week refusing to demolish the homes of Mohammad Abu Khdeir’s murderers, as Israel does to the family homes...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

The occupation is a symptom, not source, of Israel's racist system

It was the state’s policies within its 1948 borders that inspired the 1967 occupation, not the other way around.

During a Knesset debate in May 2011, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chastised opposition parties for criticizing his government’s lack of progress in achieving a two-state solution. Referring to Palestinian demonstrations held the day before in commemoration of the Nakba, Netanyahu pointed out that the protests “did not take place on June 5, the day the Six Day War erupted,” but on “May 15, the day the State of Israel was established.” He continued: “This is not a conflict about 1967. This is a conflict about 1948, about the State of Israel’s very existence.”

Although not in the way he conceived, Netanyahu was right. In the flurry of activity this week marking the fiftieth year of the occupation, many have forgotten that the basis of its regime existed well before 1967. The Emergency Regulations, a product of Britain’s colonial mandate, were first exercised on the 150,000 Palestinians who remained inside Israel’s borders after the 1948 war. The state honed its discriminatory policies of land grabs, checkpoints, and brutal violence against its minority citizens for two decades, before transferring them to the Palestinian territories.

The shadow of military rule has never left Palestinian life in Israel. Dozens of civil laws, most of which were written in neutral terminology or bestowed extensive powers to the state, continue to ensure Jewish privilege at the expense of Palestinian citizens’ rights. Over twenty of these laws were enacted by Netanyahu’s governments in the last eight years, with some of the most egregious ones being condoned by the Supreme Court itself. The result was a nuanced system that maintained the appearance of a democracy, but in fact cemented racial hierarchy among Israel’s citizens.

This system is what allows for the ongoing displacement of Naqab (Negev) Bedouins into impoverished townships under the guise of “modernization,” while confiscating their lands to build rural Jewish communities. It enshrines free speech as a legal right yet empowers authorities to stifle Palestinian expression in schools and theaters. It invites Jews from around the world to immigrate and naturalize in Israel, but bans Palestinian citizens from bringing their spouses into the country if the latter are from Gaza or the West Bank.

Liberal Zionists like to claim that these racist policies are the result of the occupation’s corrupting influence. But...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

How the hunger strike could bring Palestinian prisoners back to the fore

The fixation on Barghouti’s op-ed bio distracts from the strike’s impact on Palestinians, which is as much about restoring political direction as it is about attaining prisoners’ rights.

In 2015, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) created the “Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.” Nicknamed after the renowned South African leader who spent 27 years behind bars, the “Nelson Mandela Rules” form an international blueprint for the basic rights of all prisoners regardless of the charges against them, including telephone calls, medical examinations and educational programs, among many others.

The demands of the 1,200 Palestinian prisoners who launched a hunger strike on Monday echo the provisions of the Mandela Rules. For decades, Palestinians in Israeli prisons have had their rights systematically denied or restricted under the guise of “security,”  with few questioning the legality or practical necessity of the state’s measures. The government has even been open many times about its purely political motives in holding prisoners’ rights hostage, as it did during the Gilad Shalit ordeal.

Ironically, Israel demonstrated its disregard for the Mandela Rules once again when Marwan Barghouti, a popular Palestinian leader serving five life sentences, was thrown into solitary confinement as punishment for his New York Times op-ed this week – proving exactly the kind of punitive policies Barghouti had written about.

The insistence on focusing on the violent pasts of Palestinian leaders like Barghouti not only distracts from the prisoners’ human rights demands, but is also heavily distorted by people’s selective knowledge of history.

Despite many Israelis lamenting for a “Palestinian Mandela,” few seem to remember that Mandela himself, who was head of the armed wing of the African National Congress, did not immediately renounce violence upon his release from prison. Other anti-apartheid figures, including the Jewish communist Denis Goldberg (who was convicted alongside Mandela), were also key members of the armed struggle. Given this context, it is rather perverse for Israelis to set mythologized moral criteria of what a Palestinian leader should espouse – even if they acknowledge the violent pasts of Israeli leaders as well.

Although the hunger strike will have to prove its durability in the coming weeks, there are reasons to believe that something different is beginning to stir. For the past few years, the prisoner issue has slipped from the Palestinian public’s priorities as they...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

Assault on Palestinian man shows violent effects of police impunity

Even when brutality is documented, Palestinians must live with the knowledge that they are unlikely to receive truth, justice, or respect from the authorities that claim to serve them.

In the wake of a video released last Thursday showing an Israeli police officer assaulting a Palestinian truck driver in East Jerusalem, Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh stated that it was “difficult to find any justification whatsoever” for the policeman’s behavior, and assured the public that the officer would be dismissed. “This is an irregular incident that has no place in the Israel Police,” he insisted.

Alsheikh’s attempt to portray the event as essentially a problem of “a few bad apples” is disingenuous. According to Ynet, the policeman from the video was investigated over another violent incident four years ago, but the file was closed by the Police Investigation Unit (“Mahash”). His case appears to be one of the 10,492 complaints of police brutality and misconduct filed from 2011 to 2014 — 93 percent of all complaints filed during those years — which were dismissed without punishment. If the officer was indeed a “bad apple” as Alsheikh suggests, the authorities clearly had no problem with throwing him back into the barrel.

It was fortunate that the incident in Jerusalem was captured on camera, but that is not always enough to secure justice for brutality by the police or the army. In November 2014, despite a security camera showing that policemen fired unjustifiably at Kheir Hamdan in Kufr Kanna, the officers were never brought to trial.

In the case of Elor Azaria, who was recorded executing a wounded Palestinian attacker while he was lying on the ground in Hebron, the court played down his conviction as manslaughter and sentenced him to only eighteen months in prison. Despite extensive documentation of excessive force during protests, almost no police officer is ever charged. The list goes on.

This backdrop of impunity is probably one of the reasons why, despite the officer’s maniacal outburst, none of the Palestinian men in the video dared to hit him back in the same manner. Every one of them is mindful that the officer could easily arrest them, or worse, pull out and fire his gun. The officer might claim that the men ganged up on him and that he acted in self-defense — and the...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

How Israeli photography creates a world without Palestinians

The myth of the land of Mandate Palestine as an untapped oasis waiting for Jewish habitation is still thriving on both sides of the Green Line. Photographs are a key tool for perpetuating — and challenging — that myth.

David Rubinger, Israel’s most famous photographer, died on 1 March at the age of 92. His photograph of three Israeli paratroopers gazing at the Western Wall, taken minutes after Israeli forces seized Jerusalem’s Old City during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, was widely revered as a symbol of Zionism’s triumphant destiny. Rubinger, however, was not particularly fond of the picture: “Part of the face is cut off on the right side,” he said, “in the middle the nose protrudes, and on the left there’s only half a face … photographically speaking, this isn’t a good photo.”

The soldiers’ faces were not the only things cut out of the shot. Behind Rubinger were the buildings of the Mughrabi Quarter of the Old City, home to about 650 Palestinians. Three days after the picture was taken, the Israeli army evicted the residents and demolished their houses and mosques. An open plaza now welcomes worshipers and visitors to the Western Wall, with no trace of the area’s former life. “There are those who write the pages of history,” President Rivlin said after Rubinger’s death, “and there are those who create them with their lens.”

Israeli visual history has always required the erasure of Palestinians. The National Library recently released forty aerial photos, taken by Zoltan Kluger in 1937, of what it described as “pre-state Israel” rather than Mandate Palestine. The images, which include views of the Nahalal moshav and Tel Aviv, bolster the Zionist myth of the land as an untapped oasis waiting for Jewish labor and habitation.

The myth is still thriving eighty years later, on both sides of the Green Line. Kluger’s photo of the fertile banks of the River Jordan could easily be used today to advertise the ongoing expansion of Israeli settlements and industries in the occupied Jordan Valley, which have displaced thousands of Palestinians. In the Negev, the Palestinian village of Umm al-Hiran is slated to be destroyed and a Jewish town built on its ruins. A video made by the incoming Jewish residents, who currently live in a temporary encampment in a nearby forest, shows two men searching the desert for...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

U.S. abstention is a message to Europe: End Israel’s impunity

The U.S. essentially admitted that its unyielding defense of Israel in the diplomatic arena was a disastrous strategy. With Obama bowing out, Europe will need to act on this lesson.

Shortly after the UN Security Council passed its resolution criticizing Israeli settlements on Friday, the U.S. State Department issued a press statement by John Kerry explaining Washington’s decision to abstain from the vote. Kerry said that their goal was to “preserve the possibility of the two state solution,” adding that “We cannot in good conscience stand in the way of a resolution at the United Nations that makes clear that both sides must act now to preserve the possibility of peace.”

Had they made that decision a year ago, Kerry and Obama might have left a meaningful legacy on the conflict; but this is not the case. Palestinians and Israelis have watched previous American presidents launch dramatic peace moves in the twilight of their administrations: Clinton with Camp David in 2000, and Bush with Annapolis in 2007. The late timing of these initiatives proved to be ineffective and even detrimental: they heightened the tensions and the stakes for the parties to agree on a rushed solution, and cast heavy doubt that any major decisions would survive under the next presidency (or under a new Israeli premiership).

This is why, contrary to what my colleague Dahlia Scheindlin argues, the Left has every reason to remain critical of the U.S.’s abstention. It is a failure of policy to be eight years late to a diplomatic move that could have had a significant impact on the conflict’s developments. It is a failure of principle to wait 36 years before allowing the Security Council to re-echo the U.S.’s own position that settlements violate international law. And it is a failure of political will to do all this just a month before the curtain closes on Obama’s presidency.

That being said, the abstention may still mark an important moment for the conflict. By withholding the veto, the Obama administration essentially admitted – intentionally or not – that its unyielding defense of Israel in the diplomatic arena was a disastrous strategy. Not only did the Israeli government personally disrespect Obama on a regular basis, it openly undermined U.S. policy by continuing to expand settlements and disparaging the very idea of a two-state solution. Now, with the incoming inauguration of Donald Trump, Obama...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

The end of American exceptionalism

Trump has shown that the U.S.’s democracy is just as flawed and illusory as the many countries that it has preached to for decades. And that’s a good thing to admit.

In a Daily Show segment covering the U.S. presidential race last year, Trevor Noah told his audience that, “as an African, there’s just something familiar about Trump.” Noah compared some of Trump’s statements with those of leaders from his home continent – Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, Uganda’s Idi Amin, South Africa’s Jacob Zuma, and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi – concluding that Trump is actually “the perfect African president.” It was a joke that pointed to a sobering reality: American politicians were not so different from the “crazy” personalities seen in other parts of the world.

In recent years the American entertainment industry has been fascinated by the fallacies of the country’s political culture. If the most popular political drama a decade ago was The West Wing – a revering insight into the daily workings of the White House – today it is House of Cards – a sinister story of the vicious lengths politicians will go to in the pursuit of power.

After Trump’s victory this week, however, the disturbing rise of Frank Underwood in House of Cards no longer seems so fictional. A megalomaniacal businessman, who himself gained fame through a television show, was just made the most powerful leader in the world. Many people’s attitudes toward voting this year felt more like personality contests over American Idol singers than serious considerations over policy issues. The U.S. political system now mirrors the eccentric plot lines and characters we watch on the screen – and we have yet to absorb the fact that they have spilled into our real lives.

For many people outside the U.S., including in the Middle East, there is a bit of schadenfreude in watching Trump tear down what’s left of the country’s image of political integrity. Even those who have long despised and criticized the American political system often believed that there was still a democratic culture that made the U.S. somewhat unique. Now, with his increasingly outlandish policies, conduct, and rhetoric becoming mainstream (and ballot-winning) political discourse, Trump has proven that America’s democracy is in fact just as flawed and illusory as the many countries that the U.S. government has preached to for decades.

The decline of America’s “exceptional” image in the eyes of the world did not start...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

Force-feeding law seeks to oppress Palestinian lives, not save them

Israeli security authorities view hunger striking Palestinian prisoners as political time-bombs that can undermine the occupation’s control. The High Court agrees.

In a unanimous decision by a three-justice panel, the Israeli High Court on Sunday approved the legality of the force-feeding law, which was enacted by the Knesset in July 2015.

The law allows Israeli authorities to forcibly feed hunger striking prisoners against their will if their health condition is deemed to be life-threatening, and if the measure is approved by the attorney general and a District Court judge. The procedure involves transmitting food into the patient’s body, either through the vein, through an open cut to the stomach, or more commonly through a rubber or plastic tube inserted up the patient’s nose or down the throat.

Aside from its physical and medical dangers, the practice of force-feeding poses legitimate legal and ethical dilemmas. On the one hand there is the need to respect the hunger striker’s right to protest, their personal dignity, and control over their body. On the other hand there is a need to protect the striker’s most fundamental right of all: his or her life.

But these questions are not what concern the Israeli security authorities, despite their arguments ostensibly favoring the right to life. In their eyes, a hunger striking Palestinian is a political time-bomb: the death of a prisoner might spark demonstrations, encourage other prisoners to strike, spur demands for investigations, and increase international pressure against Israel’s detention policies. The court acknowledged these worries when it wrote that hunger strikes have “implications that go beyond the personal matter of the hunger striker,” further concluding that a person who willingly endangers their own life through a strike cannot be regarded as an “ordinary patient.”

The court’s ruling went against the combined positions of human rights groups, UN experts, and both the Israel and World Medical Associations, all of which regard force-feeding as a serious breach of medical ethics, a violation of national and international laws, and a practice that amounts to torture and ill-treatment. Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, one of the petitioners in the case, stated that the court’s ruling dismissed their arguments and “relied on a minority position of Israeli ethicists and physicians that support [the law].” The Israel Medical Association also declared that it would continue to instruct doctors to disobey the law and any orders to implement it.

...Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

Who’s sending death threats to Palestinian advocates in The Hague?

In an interview with +972, the Hague representative of Al-Haq, a Palestinian human rights group, talks about the slew of threats she and her organization have received for months, and why she believes the Israeli government is behind them.

In a small ceremony in The Hague on April 1, 2015, the Palestinian Authority officially signed the Rome Statute, the legal covenant enabling the prosecution of individuals at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Saeb Erekat, the PA’s chief negotiator, called it “a historic day in the struggle for justice, freedom and peace for our people and all those seeking justice worldwide.”

A few months later, four Palestinian human rights organizations – Al-Haq, Al Mezan, Aldameer, and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights – submitted communiqués to the ICC detailing numerous counts of suspected war crimes committed during the 2014 Gaza War, codenamed “Operation Protective Edge” by the Israeli military. Raji Sourani, Director of PCHR, stated that “Israel is unwilling and Palestine is unable to domestically hold to account Israeli perpetrators of international crimes. We need the ICC to break the cycle of impunity.”

The four organizations anticipated a backlash from Israel, which made no secret of its hostility towards the Palestinians’ attempt to pursue an international legal track to seek accountability. What they didn’t anticipate was how severe that backlash would be.

Since September 2015, several of the organizations have faced ruthless smear and intimidation campaigns seeking to discredit them and stoke insecurity among their staff. The harassment culminated in death threats made against two individuals: A senior Palestinian advocate in Al Mezan, whose identity has been kept confidential but who will be discussed in Part II of this series; and Nada Kiswanson, 31, a Palestinian-Swedish lawyer who is Al-Haq’s representative in The Hague.

Although the death threats began in February 2016, Kiswanson initially kept a low profile, concerned first and foremost for the safety of her family including her husband and two-year-old daughter, and in the hope that the Dutch authorities would find the culprits immediately. But the authorities still haven’t tracked them down, and the attacks only escalated. Kiswanson finally went public about her case last week.

The Dutch newspapers that first covered the story highlighted a few examples of the threats. In late February, Kiswanson received obscure phone calls from people calling...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

Black Lives platform is a victory for transnational struggles

Black American activists have delivered a powerful message to Palestinians and other oppressed communities around the world: you are not alone in your causes.

Of all the discussions I ever had about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, undoubtedly the most engaging ones were with delegations of black Americans who visited the region to learn firsthand about Palestinians in the occupied territories, inside Israel, and in refugee camps. These groups – made up of community organizers, students, journalists, judges, and others – not only found commonalities with the experiences of Palestinians, but shared their own lessons of struggle against racism, state violence, and inequality.

The “Invest-Divest” chapter of the platform of the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) is an outcome of that growing exchange between black Americans and Palestinians. The chapter, which partly addresses foreign policy concerns in various countries, outlines clear and practical ways for Americans to help in ending the Israeli occupation. These include engaging the Leahy Law to withdraw military aid for human rights violations; campaigning against private security companies like G4S; and fighting state legislation aimed at silencing BDS activism in the U.S.

The platform’s alliance with the Palestinian struggle – including its support for BDS, which was founded by a Palestinian civil society coalition much like the M4BL – has raised the public profile of the Palestinian cause at a very critical time. The political leaderships in Palestine, Israel, and the U.S. have shown little will or legitimacy to make progress in the conflict, leaving grassroots and civil society movements as the only agents actively challenging the worsening status quo. Thus by including their cause among their international priorities, black activists have delivered a powerful message to the Palestinian people: you are not alone in your struggle.

At the same time, the M4BL arguably overstepped its position when it used the word ‘genocide’ to describe Israel’s oppressive policies toward Palestinians. The problem here is not mere semantics and arguments over definitions. Many people like myself have lived and learned alongside survivors and descendants of survivors of genocides in Sudan, Rwanda, Armenia, and the Holocaust, to name a few. For all the crimes that Palestinians are subjected to, placing our situation on the same pedestal as history’s most egregious and murderous atrocities gives us an unwarranted exceptionalism which, in my view, undermines the transnational consciousness that we are trying to promote. The M4BL is certainly right to...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

Black-Palestine activists should highlight police brutality in Israel

Police violence in Israel is nowhere near the scale and severity of that in the United States or the occupied territories – but they do share key elements that achieve the same purpose.

By Amjad Iraqi

The transnational solidarity movement between Palestinians and Black, indigenous, and other minority Americans has made significant strides in promoting the struggle of Palestinians living under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. But in its focus on challenging Israel’s military regime as an institution of oppression, the movement – like many other outsiders – has sometimes overlooked another oppressive institution that operates inside Israel itself: the national police force.

In fact, when American activists of color tour the region, many find that their experiences in the United States are even more accurately mirrored by those of Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up a fifth of the population within the state’s 1948 borders. The conditions of many Arab towns in Israel remind the activists of impoverished ghettos in American cities; segregationist laws in land and housing echo those of the Jim Crow south; and in particular, the stories of police brutality sound starkly like those in the U.S.

Like minorities in America, the Palestinian citizens’ experience with Israeli security authorities is embedded in a history of violence, distrust, and impunity. In October 1956, when Arab communities in Israel were still under military rule, soldiers shot and killed forty-nine Palestinian citizens in Kufr Kassem as they were returning home from their farms. In March 1976, police killed six Palestinian citizens during the first Land Day protests, which have been commemorated every year since. During the mass demonstrations of October 2000, police killed twelve Palestinian citizens and one resident of Gaza, and wounded hundreds more, using rubber-coated bullets and live ammunition, including sniper fire.

These acts of state-sanctioned violence, among many over the years, are coupled with both negligence and harassment by police in Arab communities. Policemen rarely arrive to investigate scenes of local Arab gun violence and, if they do come, are never heard from again. Plainclothes officers have been known to storm into local stores in broad daylight in search of undocumented Palestinian workers from the West Bank. Residents even remember how, years ago, newly-inducted Israeli soldiers stopped and searched vehicles at the entrances of Arab towns in Israel as training for managing checkpoints in the occupied territories.

Police practices...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

Why Israel can’t kick its addiction to collective punishment

Israel’s revocation of permits and closure of Yatta this week reflect its need to keep the Palestinian issue at bay by controlling and threatening their people for every action of a few.

A Palestinian family from Nablus was supposed to visit their relatives in an Arab town in Israel for Ramadan later this month. They were especially excited that they would get to see the beach in Jaffa for the first time, which despite being only an hour’s drive away was normally inaccessible to them as residents of the West Bank. But on Thursday morning they were informed that they couldn’t go anymore: their permits to enter Israel had been revoked because of a shooting in Tel Aviv by two Palestinian gunmen on Wednesday evening.

The family had nothing to do with the attack in Tel Aviv. But the Israeli government seemed to think otherwise when, just a few hours after the incident, it suspended the permits of 83,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza who had hoped to see distant family members, vacation in cities in Israel, and pray in Jerusalem during Ramadan. On the same day, the Israeli army sealed off the shooters’ hometown of Yatta near Hebron, trapping its 64,000 residents while soldiers raided homes in search of the attackers’ accomplices.

For many Israelis, these heavy responses are logical security measures: they can increase the chances of achieving operational goals, and deter others from committing similar attacks by demonstrating the severe consequences for such actions.

This approach, however, is abhorrently illegal and immoral – and simply doesn’t work. Collective punishment has been Israel’s main response to Palestinian altercations of any kind for decades, from demolishing the homes of Palestinian attackers’ families to imposing a blockade on 1.7 million people in the Gaza Strip. Yet all these policies have failed to dissuade Palestinians from resenting the occupation or from resisting it violently or nonviolently. If anything, they only refuel Palestinians’ antagonism, feed the cycle of violence, and make future attacks all the more likely.

The damaging effects of collective punishment are well known to many Israeli decision-makers. But in their unwillingness to address the conditions that fuel Palestinian violence (the occupation being a principal source of them, as Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai stated this week), they have stuck to the same oppressive policies of the past in order to contain...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article