Israel/Palestine: “It Is Very Heavy Here Right Now”

Posted on Oct 7, 2015

(MaanImages:Abed al-Rahman Younis)

(MaanImage by Abed al-Rahman Younis)

Wherever you are, there are institutions, religious and secular, that are silent, media that is biased, and politicians who are indifferent to the suffering.

by James M. Wall

( October 7, 2015 – A personal friend of mine, a mother of three children, wrote from Jerusalem today:

“As I’m sure you are aware, the situation here is not good. I’ve wanted to write to all of you for two days now but have found myself very emotional and unable to properly express what is occurring here. Every morning we wake up to pictures and news of new deaths of young people. Innocent people.

“In the case of Fadi Aloon, murdered for being Palestinian and asking for help. Abed al-Rahman Shadi Obeidallah (above) was murdered at the age of 13. He was from the Aida refugee camp, where we just were, filming an uplifting video. Everywhere you drive there are remnants of the demonstrations from the night before, burned tires, stones, and communities in mourning.

“It is very heavy here right now. Everyone is waiting to see if this will turn into something even larger. The kids and I were caught in the middle of clashes with soldiers this week while returning home from school. It was a bit scary, with shooting and tear gas.”

Another friend from Chicago, AFSC [American Friends Service Committee] peace activist Jennifer Bing, reports on a recent visit to the Israeli Ofer prison. Her report: “Inside Israel’s Kangaroo Courts, Where Children are Held and Sentenced”.

She writes:

“Israel’s Ofer military court provides a singular vantage point from which to observe the human impact of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories. . .

“I knew the military court was not going to resemble a Law and Order courtroom or be like one of my visits to Chicago’s Cook County courtrooms, but as I saw Ofer’s barbed wire and concrete walls I knew I was stepping into the heart of the occupation.

This was where the state of Israel put children on trial after they were detained by heavily armed soldiers, and it was where Israeli military law allows potential maximum sentences up to 20 years for a charge of stone throwing. A new law enacted recently inside Israeli targets Palestinian youth in East Jerusalem and allows for similarly harsh penalties.”

Bing coordinates the advocacy campaign, Israeli Military Detention: No Way to Treat a Child. 

Jonathan Cook writes from Nazareth:

“Since a boy named David slew the giant Goliath with a slingshot, the stone has served as an enduring symbol of how the weak can defeat an oppressor.

“For the past month Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has tried to rewrite the Bible story by declaring war on what he terms Palestinian “terrorism by stones”.

“There are echoes of Yitzhak Rabin’s response nearly 30 years ago when, as defence minister, he ordered soldiers to “break bones” to stop a Palestinian uprising, often referred to as the “intifada of stones”, against the Israeli occupation.

“Terrified by the symbolism of women and children throwing stones at one of the world’s strongest armies, Rabin hoped broken arms would deprive Palestinians of the power to wield their lowly weapon.

“Now the West Bank and Jerusalem are on fire again, as Palestinian youths clash with the same oppressors. Reports suggest soldiers killed one Palestinian youth and injured more than 100 others on Sunday alone.”

The Palestinian news agency Ma’an, reports on injuries and deaths:

At least 39 Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli forces in the Ramallah area Tuesday, as tensions remained high across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem following a spate of killings by Israeli forces and Palestinians.

“The Red Crescent said 25 Palestinians were injured in clashes at Qalandiya military checkpoint, including five with live fire and 10 with rubber-coated steel bullets.

“A 17-year-old Palestinian was shot in the stomach, reportedly with a 0.22 caliber bullet, and underwent surgery to remove a bullet from near his spine, medics said. A Palestinian woman was also critically injured in her neck.

“An Israeli border guard was reportedly injured when a stone was thrown at him.

“A large march had set off from the entrance of Qalandiya refugee camp towards the checkpoint, with youths throwing rocks, empty bottles, and Molotov cocktails at soldiers.

“Clashes also broke out near the Beit El settlement, with dozens of Palestinians injured by rubber-coated steel bullets and excessive tear gas inhalation. Israeli forces reportedly detained a child in a supermarket in northern el-Bireh during the clashes and searched an ambulance carrying the injured to hospitals.

“Earlier, Israeli forces shot and injured three Palestinians as fierce clashes broke out in Bethlehem following the funeral of a 13-year-old boy who was shot dead by Israeli forces the day before.”

An earlier story from Ma’an reported the 13-year-old boy’s death:

A 13-year-old Palestinian boy was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers during clashes in Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem on Monday, Palestinian medics told Ma’an. Abed al-Rahman Shadi Obeidallah, was shot near the heart by Israeli forces during clashes in the refugee camp.He was taken in a civilian car to Beit Jala hospital where he immediately underwent surgery. However, doctors later pronounced him dead. The child was initially reported to be 12 years old, although medics later confirmed he was 13.

Like many Israelis, Ha’aretz columnist Gideon Levy knew a third Intifada was inevitable:

“Intifada: The writing was on the wall. The writing has been on the wall because Israel’s conduct, in all its insufferable arrogance and imperviousness, cannot fail to lead to another terrible explosion.

“The West Bank has been quiescent for nearly 10 years, during which time Israel has consistently proven to the Palestinians that quiet will be met only with an intensification of the occupation, settlement expansion, more home demolitions and more mass arrests – including thousands of so-called administrative detainees who are incarcerated without trial, continuing confiscation of land, wholly useless incursions and arrests, and an itchy finger on the trigger resulting in dozens of needless human deaths and countless provocations inflaming Muslim sensibilities regarding al-Aqsa and the Temple Mount. Are Palestinians to assent to all of this in silence?

“To show restraint when the Dawabsheh family is burnt alive in Duma and no one is arrested or brought to trial by Israel, while Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon boasts that Israel knows who perpetrated that shocking crime but, to safeguard its intelligence network, will not arrest them?

“What people could maintain restraint in the face of such a sequence of events, with the entire might of the occupation in the background, without hope, without prospects, with no end in sight. No negotiations are underway, even in secret, the two-state solution is apparently permanently dead and Israel has no alternative to offer – and the Palestinians are to accept all of that and sit still? Nothing like that has ever happened anywhere, nor will it ever.

“While quiet has been sustained on the other side of the Wall for nearly 10 years, Israel has proven that there is no chance it will act as a partner for serious negotiations about the status of the West Bank, and that it has no intention of ending the occupation, with or without terrorism.

“A government that has the president of the United States wound around its little finger, incurring no punishment in return, has become drunk with power toward the Palestinians too. That’s what happens when the world permits Israel to run rampant in Gaza and the West Bank, inflating Israel’s arrogance and intoxication of power beyond all boundaries.”

What will stop this madness?

For an answer, start by looking in the mirror. Wherever you are, there are institutions, religious and secular, that are silent, media that is biased, and politicians who are indifferent to the suffering.

Wake them up before this “intoxication of power beyond all boundaries” dooms us all to permanent grief and sorrow.