Dead Children and Arrested Babies: Palestinian Life under Israeli Colonialism

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Informed Comment

Dead Children and Arrested Babies: Palestinian Life under Israeli Colonialism

The Palestinian West Bank has been illegally de facto annexed by Israel. This territory was not awarded to Israel even in the UN General Assembly partition plan of 1947, and indeed Israel’s possession of it is not recognized even by the US, much less the rest of the world. It was conquered by main force in 1967 and has been settled by hundreds of thousands of Israeli colonists, who have encroached on Palestinian orchards and farms, and have diverted Palestinian water. The Palestinians there have been kept stateless and without the rights of citizenship. They are sentenced in Israeli military courts. Israel controls their land, water and air space, and simply takes what land of theirs it wants, at will. Palestinians have been divided by Israeli Apartheid highways, checkpoints and the Apartheid Wall, so that often getting to hospital in an emergency is impossible and a one-hour journey now takes 8 hours. Israel controls the contours of their lives, but they have no vote in Israel. Here are some recent news items about the West Bank Palestinians. It is like this all the time, but Western media almost never report from the West Bank.

Since 2000, roughly 6700 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis. About 1100 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians in the same period. Although Israelis have been steadily encroaching on Palestinian territory, Western media almost never categorize Palestinian responses as resistance, using the Israeli propaganda term ‘terrorism’ instead. Israeli aggression is almost always portrayed as ‘retaliation,’ even when Israelis initiated the violence. Israelis are depicted as the ones in danger, even though Palestinians are in 7 times more danger.

Israeli soldiers shot Saleh al-Amareen, 16, in the head on Friday Jan. 17 during an altercation at a refugee camp in Bethlehem (Palestinian territory). He died last Wednesday of his wounds. Why is there a refugee camp in Bethlehem? Because Israelis ethnically cleansed hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes in Palestine in 1948. Why are there Israeli troops in the Palestinian West Bank? Because Israel took it by main force in 1967, refuses to relinquish it, and is assiduously stealing the Palestinians’ land and settling Israelis on it (illegal under the Geneva Accords of 1949). Why is Saleh al-Amaraeen dead? Apparently Israel can’t be bothered to use non-lethal methods or rubber bullets for crowd control.

Wednesday January 23; Israeli soldiers fired at the entrance to the al-Arroub Agricultural College near al-Khalil (Hebron) on Wednesday, killing a young woman studying there– Lobna Hannash, 21, of Bethlehem.

Israeli authorities made the implausible charge that the troops, in an unmarked car, had had molotov cocktails thrown at them from the direction of the college gate. Even if it were true, there is no reason to think Lobna was involved. Will any old dead Palestinian do?

Israeli troops shot and killed Samir Awad, an unarmed 17-year-old Palestinian protester at Budrus who attempted to protest the Apartheid Wall that has damaged the economy of his village. He was accused by Israel of “breaching” the wall, but Palestinian sources say he was just protesting it. The wall often bifurcates Palestinian villages and puts agricultural land on the Israeli side, stealing it from them.

Israeli troops last Wednesday abruptly arrested Palestinian human rights worker Hassan Karajeh, from Saffa village in Ramallah. He is a youth coordinator for Stop the Wall.

Israeli authorities announced an intention to steal Palestinian land near Beit Iksa. Palestinians flocked there to try to stop it, and 100 set up a tent village on the Palestinian-owned property. On Friday morning, Israeli troops razed the tent village.

The protest city erected by Palestinian rights activists on a private Palestinian plot of land in the E-1 area of the Palestinian West Bank to forestall its settlement by Israel was razed by Israeli authorities last week.

Israel treats its Palestinian prisoners very differently than it does Israeli criminals with regard to family visits and interaction. It also does things like add 15 years to a 15-year sentence for making defiant statements to the court.

Palestinian protesters demanding the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons briefly raised Palestinian flags over the old Palestinian village of al-Khader, which is now the Israeli settlement of Eliezar. The Palestinians were chased away by the Israeli military.

Israeli border police are being investigated for a 2009 incident, videoed by one of the police, in which they humiliated and brow-beat a mentally disabled Palestinian man who could not remember his i.d. number.

When Palestinians went out to protest the Israeli annexation of their lands in the South Hebron Hills, the Israeli army abruptly declared the area a closed military zone and arrested them, including a woman with a baby in her arms. It is not clear if the baby was charged.

Juan Cole

Juan Cole teaches Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan. His new book, The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation Is Changing the Middle East (Simon and Schuster), will officially be published July 1st. He is also the author of Engaging the Muslim World and Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East (both Palgrave Macmillan). He has appeared widely on television, radio and on op-ed pages as a commentator on Middle East affairs, and has a regular column at Salon.com. He has written, edited, or translated 14 books and has authored 60 journal articles. His weblog on the contemporary Middle East is Informed Comment.

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