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In saying 'I didn't know,' Israelis enable army's killing of Palestinians

The killing of Jawahar Abu Rahmah would have been harder to carry out, without the silent cooperation of most Israelis.

During an unusually large demonstration in Bil’in yesterday, IDF gunmen fired unusually large amounts of tear gas at the demonstrators, according to them. Bloggers Lisa Goldman and Joseph Dana reported that the tear gas was fired at the non-violent demonstrators, even at people who weren’t even close to the fence. As a result, Jawaher Abu Rahmah, age 36, died this morning of gas inhalation. The IDF claims it did not use unusual amounts of gas; then again, they used to claim they didn’t use cluster bombs in Lebanon or phosphorous munitions in Gaza. Though the IDF Spokesman refrained from a formal response – presumably he knows why – senior gunmen speculated (Hebrew) that Abu Rahma “died as a complication of the asthma from which she suffered, which may have been caused by the inhalation of tear gas”. Whaddaya know: senior officers in the Central Command have apparently finished crash medical studies.

Jawaher Abu Rahmah is sister to Bassam Abu Rahma, shot to death by IDF gunmen on 29 April 2009; contrary to orders, they shot a gas canister at him directly at 30 meters. The gunman who shot Bassam Abu Rahmah was not prosecuted. Recently, according to reports, the gunmen started firing live ammo at the demonstrators.

A Palestinian demonstrator tries to avoid the tear gas, Bil'in, 2009 (Yossi Gurvitz)

A Palestinian demonstrator tries to avoid the tear gas, Bil'in, 2009 (Yossi Gurvitz)

As is to be expected in such cases, the PIJs (Proud, Inarticulate Jews) crawled from under rocks, wailing that people who break the law should know they take a risk, that the demonstration was illegal, that the army has declared the place to a “closed area”, and the rest of the bullshit Israel feeds itself. The people who are committing an illegal act in Bil’in are the gunmen; the Supreme Court of Justice has declared, more than three years ago, that the path of the fence there, intended to defend the settlement Matityahu Mizrah, is illegal, and ordered the IDF to change it.

Three years have passed, but the army – and the SCJ – take their own sweet time. The two Abu Rahmah fallen were killed after the SCJ decision, after the village started appealing for senior IDF and Defense Ministry officials to be prosecuted for contempt of court. The laws of the West Bank – dubbed by Menahem Begin as worse than the Nazi legislation – is the 1945 Emergency Ordinances, which explicitly outlaw the freedom of expression “on any political issue, or on any issue which may be construed as political”. By definition, any demonstration attempting to make any change is illegal. Tragically, this has recently been highlighted by the trial, or rather legalese persecution, of Abdullah Abu Rahmah, one of the organizers of the demonstration. The very notion of law in the Occupied Territories is a farce: laws receive their legitimacy from the consent of the people ruled by them.

Israelis who don’t know that are ignorant, unless they willfully prefer not to know, which makes them malicious. Most Israelis, afraid of knowing what the gunmen are doing – these are the neighbours’ kids, after all – prefer to build a wall of denial between them and reality. This denial forces them to become the collaborators of the gunmen; forces them to accept their nonsensical arguments; forces them to become as monsters, even if they did not want to. This denial is the most effective weapon of the IDF, particularly of the IDF Spokesman; it makes certain that the killing may go on without fear, at least not of the home population. The IDF fears only the response of international organizations and courts, which may a further reason – aside from its proven inability to judge itself – to arraign its gunmen there.

That’s how it goes, under Israeli rule: unarmed demonstrators are shot to death, and the fevered mob screams they had it coming. Let us just hope that Jawahar Abu Rahmah’s death may be one of the last, and that her sacrifice will help somewhat to bring down Israel’s rule in the Occupied Territories.

Related stories:
Female protester killed by IDF tear gas in Bil’in
Images: Funeral of Bil’in protester Jawaher Abu Rahmah
Ynet reporter slurs non-violent movement

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    1. Louis

      In response to a question on FB, why use Kill and not murder when referring to this?: I agree that it is murder…According to the Occupation, it is not “murder” because murder is an illegal killing. The Occupation, was, according to the killers, being lawfully protected, therefore according to the killers and the entire chain of the Occupation/Occpression a Palestinian cannot be murdered because they are essentially “Homo Sacer” (see Agamben- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo_sacer) and not within law. especially the distorted law of Israeli Occupression.

      It was then pointed out, “Why use the language of the Occupation?”

      In response: It is not so much the language of the Occupation per se, but to understand that the Occupation distorts language… it is the failure of language. for the Occupation has its own language. It decides what is legal, who is legal and …what is allowed… demonstrations that are moral and legal in our democratic sense of the word become illegal in the lexicon and consciousness of the Occupation. If they are illegal, well then the Occupation must be defended. And, in the language/discourse of the Occupation killing demonstrators is ok… it is an inversion of what we understand as moral. The Occupation is a counter-morality, a reversal of values, if there ever were any, and a breakdown of the democratic… so, for the Occupation there is no murder of Palestinians because in the eye of the Occupation there were no people, just objects interfering with the Occupation that needed to be cleared away, in this case by “demonstration dispersion methods” Other times the Occupation uses other means to clear away obstacles to the Occupation. We need to understand this, I think, to fight it…

      Reply to Comment
    2. rbmeritt

      Where are those of the House of David? Did David kill the man who cursed at him and threw rocks and mourned for Saul, his enemy? Where are the sons of men that hold David as their Prince?

      Reply to Comment
    3. David

      Sorry. but this wan NO peaceful demonstration, rocks were hurled on Israeli solders, one got a rock in the face. u can see some nice pics of Bil’in sling-shooters here – http://goo.gl/ezPJc

      Reply to Comment
    4. Michael T

      Blindness is cooperation, silence is murder, than what is an outright defense of an atrocity?
      Israeli tradition.

      Signed, an Israeli citizen.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Ishmael


      The Israelis are the occupiers. Under the Geneva Conventions, the occupied are entitled to resist the occupiers. The troops of the Israel Occupation Force wear body armour which protects them against most projectiles. If they are afraid of stones, perhaps the brave occupation force should stick to cowering in their Merkavas.

      Reply to Comment
    6. The Palestinians are like rats in a cage. Israel experiments on them, free of any legal restraints (since military law is so flexible and broad as to be meaningless) and tries to use what they learn to even further oppress and dis-empower them. Imagine what would be going on if there were no witnesses, internationals, or videos.

      We in America are as much accomplices as any Israeli who looks the other way, as I endlessly remind my Representative in Congress. A frustrating experience for me is to talk to fellow Americans and have them give the old line: “both sides are equally to blame”. This ignorance and unwillingness to find out the truth is a gift to AIPAC that keeps on giving.

      Reply to Comment