Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015. (Gali Tibbon/Pool Photo via AP) (AP)

"Die, son of a whore!" "Give him one in the head." This is what it sounds like when Israeli security kills Palestinian kids

Israel has killed 1,952 Palestinian kids since 2000. Start there to understand current events


Josh Ruebner
October 19, 2015 1:58PM (UTC)

In West Jerusalem, a Palestinian man deliberately rammed his car into Israelis standing at a bus stop and emerged from the vehicle with a meat cleaver to hack at his victims.

In the Aida refugee camp near Bethlehem, Israeli forces killed 13-year-old Abdel-Rahman Obeidallah with a Ruger rifle as he stood more than 200 feet from clashes between troops and protestors. He was the 1,952nd Palestinian child killed by Israel since 2000, according to Defense for Children International Palestine.

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In Gaza City, an Israeli air strike ostensibly targeting a Hamas weapons factory buckled a nearby home, killing Nour Rasmi Hassan and her toddler daughter Rahaf. The distraught father, Yahya, cradled his daughter in his arms, pleading with her to wake up.

In East Jerusalem, Israeli police in a Jeep ran over and injured Ahmad Salih Manasra, aged 13, and killed his cousin, alleging they stabbed two Israelis. As the child copiously bled and gasped for air in a video uploaded to social media, an Israeli bystander taunted him: “Die, son of a whore!” Another urged the police to “Give him one in the head.” “What’s hard to watch about that?” asked Nir Jarad on Facebook. “Tell me next time, I’ll bring beer and pistachios.”

In Kiryat Arba, an Israeli settlement near the Palestinian city of Hebron, Israel Border Police killed 19-year-old Muhammad Faris Abdullah al-Jabari, who allegedly attacked them with a knife. As al-Jabari’s corpse lay on a stretcher, an Israeli threw pig meat on his face and exclaimed to a camera, “Here, see this? This is pig meat. Friends, just in case you don’t know it, they really love pig meat … He should enjoy with his virgins, with the pig meat.”

Relations between Israelis and Palestinians have devolved this month into a primordial hellhole. The ubiquity of cell phone and security cameras and the pervasiveness of social media have brought a visceral immediacy to these gross acts of violence and raw displays of hatred to a worldwide audience.

At least 30 Palestinians and eight Israelis have been killed so far this month. The intensive media coverage of the quotidian violence and the political voyeurism of many who consume it have prompted one overriding question: does the violence signify the start of a new Palestinian intifada?

The very premise of this question, however, is fundamentally flawed. At best, it reflects a decontextualized understanding of the relationship between Israel and the Palestinian people; at worst, it is either a veiled or outright dehumanization of Palestinians.

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Intifada is an Arabic word which literally means a “shaking off” and connotes a political uprising. The word itself is neutral: it presupposes neither violence nor non-violence as a tactic. The first and second Palestinian intifadas in the 1980s and 2000s both employed a mixture of non-violence and violence in varying degrees: the first was characterized more by non-violence, the second was marked more by violence.

The question of whether a third intifada has newly erupted at the outbreak of Palestinian violence wrongly takes for granted that resistance to Israeli oppression is only violent in nature and obfuscates the determined and long-standing nonviolent communal resistance of Palestinians in West Bank villages such as a Bil’in and Nabi Saleh.

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The question is also problematic because it frames the issue in an inverted fashion which presents the Palestinians as the initiators and inciters of violence and Israel as the hapless victim, struggling for its existence against an irrational foe who displays baseless hatred for it.

This analysis exculpates Israel of responsibility in the “cycle of violence” and whitewashes its record of systematic brutality and oppression toward the indigenous people of the land, which has been the unfortunate lot of the Palestinian people ever since the state was founded upon the ruins of Palestinian society in 1948 through a campaign of premeditated ethnic cleansing.

It ignores the separate-and-unequal apartheid policies Israel has extended throughout the length and breadth of historic Palestine since it occupied the remainder of it in 1967.

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It glosses over Israel’s daily injuring and killing of civilians, its demolition of houses, its uprooting of agriculture, its expropriation of land, its jailing and torturing of political activists and its daily humiliations of Palestinians at checkpoints — a vast, institutionalized machine of systemic violence inflicted on Palestinians under military occupation infinitely more vicious than anything Palestinians can perpetrate against Israelis.

No example exists in the historical record of a colonized, brutalized people accepting their fate without meting out in small measure a taste of the overwhelming violence inflicted upon them by the colonizer. To demand that Palestinians eschew violence while Israel continues to trample over them is to exceptionalize Palestinians, to illegitimately concede on their behalf their right to freedom, to acquiesce in and buttress Israel’s drive to permanently control all of historic Palestine and do everything conceivable to erase the Palestinians’ irrefutable existence and resiliency.

Media commentators safely ensconced in their television studios and at their newsroom desks should stop asking the wrong question and start asking the more salient one: when will Israel end its systematic brutality and oppression of the Palestinian people?

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Josh Ruebner

Josh Ruebner is Policy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and author of Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace.

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Israel Middle East Palestine

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