Wednesday, October 14, 2015

On the Palestinian Popular Uprising and Resistance

Dear friends,
my thoughts on the current situation in Palestine.

in solidarity, Kim 

15 October, 2015

I couldn't stop crying as I watched the video of 13 year old Ahmad Manasra lying on the ground bleeding as he was ignored by the Israeli soldiers who had shot him and killed his 15 year old cousin, Hasan Manasara. I cried as illegal Israeli colonists screamed at this terrified child to "die you fucker, die you son of a whore, die you son of bitch", calling for the soldiers to "shoot him in the head, shoot him in the head".

I cried for both the small boy and the man screaming at him. I cried for the more than 60 years of oppression that Palestinians have had to endure at the hands of the Israeli state. I cried for the cruelty it breeds in those who carry out and benefit from such oppression. I cried for the desperation that such oppression breeds in those it oppresses for decades upon decades. I cried for the loss of humanity.

Israel claims the boys were shot because they allegedly carried out a knife attack, stabbing a man and teenage boy. Over the last two weeks Israel has claimed that more than a dozen stabbing attacks have happened.  However, in many of the cases (but not all) where Israel has claimed they shot and killed Palestinians who had threatened or attacked Israeli citizens, settlers and/or police, they have not produced evidence to back up their claims. Instead, video evidence produced in many of the alleged incidents have shown that the young Palestinians who were shot and injured or killed had not posed a direct threat and was not acting in a threatening manner. 

This was the case with the shooting in Afula of Israa Abed, a 30-year-old mother of three from Nazareth. While Israeli police claimed she attempted to carry out a knife attack, video showed she posed no immediate threat to security forces before she was shot. It also suggests that the item she held in her hand was not a knife but a pair of sunglasses. 

Video which emerged after Israel's killing of 19-year-old Fadi Samir Alloun also calls into question whether he carried out an alleged stabbing attack on October 3. The  video shows Alloun was executed as he was chased by a mob of Israeli Jews calling for him to be shot. It was only after the police shoot him dead, that an officer can be heard asking one of the mob, “Did he stab anyone?

Similarly, according to an Israeli witness, Ahmad Abu-Shaaban (26) who was shot and killed by Israeli Occupation Forces at the Damacus Gate in Occupied East Jerusalem on 14 October, was not carrying a knife as alleged.  In a phone interview published by QPress, the Israeli witness states: “It is absolute mess here. [Ahmad] was liquidated before my eyes. They shot him with ten bullets He did not do anything and did not wield a knife. Everyone shouted “terrorist” and [the police] just shot him.”

While video has called into question the actions of the Israeli police and security, it is also true that four Israelis have been killed in the last week. Two were Israeli colonists killed in a sniper attack in the Occupied West Bank on 1 October, while another two Israeli Jews were killed in a stabbing attack in Occupied East Jerusalem.  There have also been numerous stabbing attacks carried out by Israeli Jews against Palestinian citizens of Israel. In one unfortunate incident, an Israeli Jewish man stabbed another Israeli Jewish man believing he was Palestinian. The attacker was then shot at by Israeli police because they believed him to be an “Arab terrorist”, resulting in another Israeli Jewish man in the vicinity being shot.

Israel's reaction to the rising tensions in Occupied East Jerusalem and across the Occupied Palestinians has to been to inflame the situation more and to carry out illegal summary executions.
Such executions are illegal under both Israeli and international law. However, Israeli politicians have continued to call opening for the extrajudicial killing of Palestinian suspects, with much of the Israeli media encouraging a similar approach.

As a joint statement issued by 10 Israeli human rights groups has noted: “No-one disputes the serious nature of the events of recent days, nor the need to protect the public against stabbing and other attacks. However, it seems that too often, instead of acting in a manner consistent with the nature of each incident, police officers and soldiers are quick to shoot to kill. The political and public support for such actions endorses the killing Palestinians in the Territories and in Israel.”

The statement goes on to say: “Rather than imposing collective punishment on Palestinians in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip, the Israeli government should act to end the reality of ongoing and daily oppression faced by some four million people who live without hope of any change in the situation, without any horizon for the end of occupation, and without prospects for a life of liberty and dignity.”

It is this daily oppression, without the prospects for a life of liberty or dignity which has propelled thousands of young Palestinians onto the streets once again in the last week.  It is the root cause of the escalating violence in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

 20,000 Palestinians citizens of Israel march in Sakhnin in the Galilee calling for an end to Israel's occupation and apartheid regime - 11 October 2015

For 12 days now, young Palestinians across the Occupied Palestinian Territories have continued to clash with Israeli Occupation Forces, while inside Israel more than 20,000 Palestinian citizens of Israel have also taken to the streets to call for an end to Israel's apartheid and occupation polices.

Thirty-three are now dead, including 7 children. Thousands more are injured. Hundreds have been injured by live ammunition, hundreds more by rubber coated steel bullets. Thousands have now suffered tear gas inhalation. As each days passes, more young Palestinians abandon their fear and demand to be treated as human beings, to live free of occupation and oppression and demand justice and the human rights.

 Shufat Refugee camp, Occupied East Jerusalem - 5 October 2015

According to Palestinian historian, Mazin Qumsiyeh, this is not the 3rd intifada, it is the 14th. Palestinian activist Jamal Juma from the Stop the Wall campaign in the Occupied West Bank has called it an intifada against the Bantustans, saying “the current outbreak of protests is not solely directed at Israel. It is also a manifestation of the frustration of the people who face the brunt of Israeli aggression in the West Bank. Their protests express an overall desire to end ineffective and inept representation.”  Similarly, Palestinian author Ramzy Baroud argues that the Palestinian youth on the streets are protesting because “they experience daily humiliation and have to endure the unrelenting violence of occupation” and because “they feel a total sense of betrayal by their leadership”.

The truth of their assertion can be found in the comments expressed by the Palestinians on the frontlines of the clashes, with one young woman telling reporters "[the] intifada continues because we stopped listening to the president a long time ago”, while another saying “"It should be up to the people to decide”, pointing out that she no longer believe in the failed peace negotiations. Yet another young Palestinian man explained to reporters that despite most Palestinians being affiliated with one party or another: "Right now we are going to the streets against the Israeli occupation in demand of our rights, we don’t need our parties for that, no one is talking about parties, this is an intifada from the people alone.”

 Young Palestinian women join the front line in the October clashes

Once more Palestinians have sought to take control of their lives and shake of the oppression that Israel imposes on them daily. We can of course quibble if it is or isn't an intifada at all, but the reality is that the Palestinian people are fighting for their freedom and to end the oppression that impacts on every single aspect of their life and which impacts on their lives every single day.

The Palestinian teenagers and youth, both male and female, who are on the front lines throwing stones at the fourth strongest military in the world have never know one single day of not living under occupation. 

They have never known one single day where they could move freely

They have never known one single day of being able to attend school, without fear that the Israeli military will fire teargas in their classroom or will invade their school yard.

They have never known one single day, where they did not experience the terror of night raidsor the Israeli military invading their villages and their homes or the homes of their family, friends and loved ones.

They have never know one single day of not having a family member, a friend or a loved one locked up in an Israeli prison.

They have never known a single day of not knowing a child under the age of 18 being kidnapped from their homes, tortured and jailed under Israel's apartheid occupation system. 

They have never know a single day of not witnessing a friend, a neighbor, a teacher, a parent, a brother, a sister, an aunt, uncle or cousin injured, maimed and/or killed by Israel’s military.

They will find it hard to remember a day when Gaza was not under blockade and siege by Israel.

These children, along with the young men and women on the front lines, have all witness three major attacked on Gaza in six years. They have watched as more than 4100 of their people were massacred, trapped in the largest open air prison in the world. Over these six years, in these 3 major assaults, they watched as 800 children and youngpeople their own age or younger in Gaza, were killed by Israeli warplanes andbombs

These teenagers, these young men and women, have taken to the streets after weeks of Israel storming al-Aqsa mosque as part of their ongoing campaign to ethnicallycleanse Occupied East Jerusalem

They have taken to the streets after they cried tears of despair and anger in July for 18 month old Ali Dawabsheh, the tiny baby burnt to death in Duma after illegal Israeli colonists firebombed his home

They are on the streets because they know the murders who killed baby Ali and this parents, Saad and Reham who succumbed to the horrific burns they suffered as a result of the fire, will never be brought to justice. They know this because Israel has made it clear that Palestinian lives are worth nothing, with Israel’s DefenseMinister Moshe Ya'alon announcing "We know who is responsible, but we will not expose those findings in order to protect our intelligence sources."

But the Palestinian youth who have taken to the streets already knew this; they have experienced it every day of their young lives. They know that the state that oppresses them do not value the lives of Palestinians. They know that the imperialist states of the USA, UK and Australia, all countries who continue to support Israel’s settler colonialism, war crimes and human rights abuses, also see them as “unpeople” whose lives are worth little. 

The Palestine youth who have taken to the street are sick of the years of useless “peace negotiations”, which have only deepened the occupation and their oppression. They have taken to the streets because Israel is the occupier, the apartheid state, the ethnic cleanser and the oppressor. They have taken to the streets because there is no equal playing field, there is only an oppressor and oppressed. 

As veteran Israeli journalist Amira Hass so eloquently put it last week: 
The war did not start last Thursday, it does not start with the Jewish victims and does not end when no Jews are murdered. The Palestinians are fighting for their life, in the full sense of the word. We Israeli Jews are fighting for our privilege as a nation of masters, in the full ugliness of the term.
That we notice there’s a war on only when Jews are murdered does not cancel out the fact that Palestinians are being killed all the time, and that all the time we are doing everything in our power to make their lives unbearable. Most of the time it is a unilateral war, waged by us, to get them to say “yes” to the master, thank you very much for keeping us alive in our reservations. When something in the war’s one-sidedness is disturbed, and Jews are murdered, then we pay attention.
Young Palestinians do not go out to murder Jews because they are Jews, but because we are their occupiers, their torturers, their jailers, the thieves of their land and water, their exilers, the demolishers of their homes, the blockers of their horizon.”

As Hass correctly notes, the goal of Israel’s unilateral war is to force Palestinians to give up all of their national demands in their homeland. The aim is to ensure that the Palestinian people will never know real statehood or real freedom from Israel repression, oppression and apartheid regime. The aim is to entrench Israeli privilege forever; at the expense of the Palestinians. 

And it is for these reasons that the children and youth of Palestine are once more on the streets. 

For more than 100 years, Palestinians have remained sumoud (steadfast) and they have never given up their dream of independence, nor have the given up on their homeland. They have show time and time again that they will not buckle, no matter how strong their occupier is or weak their own leadership is. And they will always, always find the strength to resist; to demand dignity and human rights; to assert that their lives are important and to continue their just struggle for justice, freedom and national liberation.

And for the rest of us: it is our job to stand in solidarity with them. Now more than ever, it is our job to demand our governments stop supporting the apartheid state of Israel and to cut ties with Israel.

And now more than ever, it is time to support the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel until it abides by international law.

No comments: