Just another day

n any given day, just read a few releases from Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. You see what the occupation is like, just through a few fragments.

For example, it has a release on Israel’s response to the soldiers testimony on Gaza. They note that the soldier’s claims corroborate the testimony they compiled of Palestinians in Gaza – yet Israel didn’t investigate a single case.

In its response, the IDF Spokesperson criticized the anonymity of the soldiers whose testimonies were published by “Breaking the Silence”, yet when B’Tselem sent the army detailed letters including the names of the Palestinian victims, the exact dates and the precise locations of the events, no investigation was opened.

Since the end of Operation Cast Lead, B’Tselem has sent law enforcement authorities 19 separate demands to open investigations into events whose circumstances raise suspicions that the military acted unlawfully during the operation. These demands are based on field research and testimonies given to B’Tselem by Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip. In total, the letters sent by B’Tselem related to events in which 70 Palestinian civilians were killed, more than half of them minors. Among them were two letters that detailed grave suspicions that the military had used Palestinian civilians as human shields in ‘Ezbet ‘Abd Rabo in north-eastern Gaza, in violation of international humanitarian law and of an explicit ruling by the Israeli High Court of Justice. To date, the only response B’Tselem has received is confirmation that some of the letters have been received.

B’Tselem also called on the Israeli government to stop shooting demonstrators with .22 bullets, which have killed at least 2 unarmed Palestinians, one of them 14 years old. Israeli officials responded that this was not official policy.

Also – and this is striking – Israeli police severely beat a Palestinian whilst he was at Tel Aviv.

A police officer came over to me. He was of average height, was heavyset, and had thin hair and dark-brown skin. “Moshe” was written on his name tag. He told me to give him my identity card. Then he went to speak with another officer, and I gave my ID to an officer who was standing next to me. He was tall, pale-skinned, and had brown eyes. His hair was combed back.

A few seconds later, Moshe came over again and asked about my ID card. I told him I had given it to his friend. He shouted, in Hebrew, “Do you think I’m playing with you?” I told him I wasn’t lying and that he should ask his friend. He kneed me in the stomach and punched me hard in the chest. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I fell onto the car and my head and back hit it. I told him, “Calm down and don’t hit me. You [plural] have the ID.” I asked the other police officers to help me. A few of them tried to stand between me and Moshe, to get him to leave me alone. Moshe hit me hard on the head with a black club, and I started to bleed. I felt dazed. I tried to defend myself. In the meantime, other police officers beat me with clubs and kicked me. They were beating me from all directions. This lasted for less than a minute. I lay on the ground, with police officers around me. They kicked me all over my body, mostly in my head. It hurt a lot. My head was bleeding badly. Moshe kicked me in the face and said, “I warned you I’d screw you.”

These stories happen all the time.


In other news

The struggle against the Haredim in Jerusalem is intensifying. But Haaretz reports on dubious methods. “But his announcement that he is halting municipal services to the neighborhoods of Geula and Mea She’arim in response to violent rioting by some of these neighborhoods’ residents constitutes collective punishment, which will merely further inflame already stormy tempers.” This is pretty horrible, but I think what is striking is that it reflects what Yeshayahu Leibowitz predicted – the corrupting effects of the occupation. Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians are becoming directed against Jews. I think there is a real threat of degeneration within Israeli society. For Jews, Israel has long been more or less  a liberal democracy. The erosion of liberal values, I suppose, was inevitable. The belief that it is okay to punish a community for the actions of individuals, obviously, has no place in liberalism, and if it can be applied to Palestinians, it was only a matter of time until it was applied to another minority. In my view, there are lots of grave problems with the haredim, some of whom do their best to mimic the Taliban. And the pronunciations of Shas can be stomach turning. But religious people too deserve human rights, so long as they do not infringe on others.

Also, I don’t have time to write further on this, but Israel’s West Bank puppets banning al Jazeera is incredible. Abbas and Dahlan have warped Fatah into a group more corrupt, autocratic and criminal than it was under Arafat. They are becoming increasingly dependent on their ties with the US and Israel, though Netanyahu’s open contempt for Fatah means Abbas and Fayyad have no tenable position at all. Without wishing to minimise Israeli culpability and crimes for the current Palestinian plight, the Palestinian leaders have failed the Palestinians consistently, abominably, and unbelievably, at least since the 1930s, and arguably earlier.

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