Palestine ‘15 points of rioting every weekday’

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Palestine has once again exploded in protest and popular resistance against racism, settlement-building and violent incursions by Israeli occupation forces. While the rumblings of a new intifada (uprising) have not yet developed to directly challenge the EU- and US-backed Palestinian Authority (PA), the movement has underlined the economic and political crisis facing the Zionist regime. Disputes between the Israeli military and Prime Minister Netanyahu over how to handle the regular attacks by Palestinian youths have become particularly intense.

Over the summer, demonstrations and street mobilisations had gathered pace as Israel stepped up its racist colony building in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Zionist forces responded with steel and rubber bullets, heavy weaponry, tear gas, beatings and arrests. On 4 October, Netanyahu threatened a ‘major’ crackdown on the West Bank. The day before, 19-year-old Muhannad Halabi knifed four Israeli settlers in Jerusalem, killing two before being shot dead. A few hours later, another Palestinian was shot dead after he stabbed an Israeli teenager: Faid Alloun was gunned down after soldiers were egged on by Israeli youths yelling abuse at a policeman who was using pepper spray to subdue the Palestinian. This has set a pattern where Palestinian youths armed with knives engage in desperate attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians only to be summarily executed. More and more frequently, however, there has been no evidence of any intended attacks, and Palestinian youths are being executed just because they are Palestinian:

  • On 25 October, soldiers executed 17-year-old Dania Irsheid as she passed through a checkpoint. She was shot numerous times at point-blank range as she held her hands up; a knife was then planted by her body.
  • The same day, soldiers shot dead 16-year-old Ahmad Muhammad Said Kamil at the Al Jalama military checkpoint in the northern occupied West Bank.
  • The next day, 19-year-old Saad Muhammad Yousif Al Atrash was also shot at point blank range when he tried to produce an ID card. He was then left for 40 minutes to bleed to death.
  • On 23 November, two young female cousins, one 14 years old, the other 16, were shot holding scissors which they had used to attack a Palestinian man. The elder girl was killed.

In October five family homes were demolished by Israeli forces in Jerusalem as ‘punishment’ for having family members thought to be resistance fighters. At least 22 more have been scheduled for destruction under emergency laws first introduced by the British occupiers of Palestine in 1945. During the first in this wave of demolitions in the Jabel Mubaker area of East Jerusalem, members of the Abu Jamal family were beaten with rifle butts, including Alaa, who was shot dead a week later after reportedly stabbing several Zionists.

On 12 November in Hebron, undercover Israeli forces raided a hospital to arrest the wounded Azzam Shalaldah who had been shot by a Zionist settler. The officers shot and killed his cousin Abdullah Shalaldah in the middle of the hospital ward and handcuffed another cousin, Bilal. The headline to a BBC website report on the incident was changed within hours under Israeli pressure from ‘Israelis shoot dead Palestinian in Hebron hospital raid’ to ‘Israelis in disguise raid Hebron hospital, seizing suspect’.

In Gaza, protests continue as Israel launches airstrikes on ‘terrorist’ targets; on 12 October a two-year-old girl and her pregnant mother were killed as Israel bombed their home. The next day, 20,000 Palestinian citizens of Israel marched in the northern city of Sakhnin, calling for an end to violence against Palestinians and an end to restrictions at Al-Aqsa Mosque. None of the horrors of the Israeli occupation or the shoot-to-kill policy have received the slightest criticism from imperialist leaders Obama, Cameron or Hollande, while Obama has condemned what he has called ‘Palestinian violence against innocent Israeli citizens’.

According to a survey by the Peace Index, 80% of Israelis support ‘punitive demolitions’ and 53% believe Palestinian ‘terrorists’ should be killed ‘on the spot.’ There has been an orchestrated campaign by Zionist politicians to justify summary executions. Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid said in an interview: ‘Don’t hesitate. Even at the start of an attack, shooting to kill is correct. If someone is brandishing a knife, shoot him.’ He was supported by Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan. Netanyahu himself has used equally vitriolic invective: quite apart from claiming that Palestinians were to blame for the Holocaust (see box) he described Muslims as ‘dangerous animals’ following the Paris attack.

The virulent racism that is being whipped up has resulted in vigilante Israelis attacking other Jews. On 13 October, supermarket worker Uri Rezken was stabbed by another Jew who shouted ‘You deserve it, you deserve it. You are bastard Arabs.’ A 13-year-old Palestinian, Ahmed Mansara, who was shot by soldiers on the same day after stabbing two settlers was surrounded by other settlers screaming ‘Die!’. Soldiers killed his 15-year-old cousin who also participated in the attack. On 21 October soldiers shot an Israeli Jew; they claimed that he had attempted to seize one of their guns and that he shouted that he was an ISIS member. On 18 October a 29-year-old refugee from Eritrea named Haftom Zarhum was shot and then lynched by a Zionist mob. A video shows a wounded Zarhum curled on the floor as men enter the frame to kick him in the head; the crowd can be heard shouting ‘Death to Arabs!’ On 22 November a prominent Israeli settlement leader ran over a Palestinian girl and then shot her dead.

Between 1 October and 24 November, 94 Palestinians were killed and over 10,000 injured including 1,458 wounded by gunfire. Over the same period, 16 Israelis have been killed. According to the prisoner support group Addameer, 1,195 Palestinians were arrested in October, the latest month for which it has figures, including 128 children. Between 1 October and 8 November, 1,248 Palestinians were shot with live fire in the West Bank and Gaza, and 1,808 hit by rubber-coated bullets. The inability of the Zionists to contain the attacks has led to growing political frustration within the military who say the uprising will continue for many months and might escalate into a wider conflict. An army spokesperson said that 95% of the attacks were carried out by individuals who were not part of any organisation, that they were mainly ‘despondent young people, some of them unemployed’, contradicting Netanyahu’s claim that the attacks were being orchestrated by the Palestinian leadership. The spokesperson added: ‘We are currently seeing an average of 15 points of rioting every weekday and 40 on weekends, each of them involving from dozens to hundreds of demonstrators. But this could become 20,000 or 200,000 demonstrators.’ (The Guardian, 26 November 2015)

40% of Palestinians are under 14 years old, and a further 35% are between 15 and 30 years old. They have lived all or most of their lives under an occupation whose brutality has intensified over the years: through the second Intifada and then successive onslaughts on Gaza. The prospect they face is one of ever more brutal repression and remorseless ethnic cleansing – from Jerusalem and from the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority serves as an auxiliary force for the Zionists: it has given the youth nothing. Resistance remains the only option, and the pessimism of the Israeli military is a recognition that it cannot be controlled.

Louis Brehony and Robert Clough


Netanyahu gets more weapons

On 9 November, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu visited US President Obama for the first time in over a year, having had to accept the US-Iran nuclear deal which he had tried to sabotage. With a renewed US military aid package, tipped to rise from $3bn to $4.5bn a year on the table, Netanyahu was not going to bite the hand that feeds him. A recent congressional report revealed that the US has provided $124.3bn in military assistance to Israel since 1948. Despite his unease over Netanyahu, Obama was at pains to point out his legacy:

‘We have closer military and intelligence cooperation than any two administrations in history... The military assistance that we provide we consider not only an important part of our obligation to the state of Israel, but also an important part of US security infrastructure in the region.’

For now Israel, like Saudi Arabia, will continue to receive US backing. For now, the row over Iran is over. US and EU tactics for tackling ISIS mean that Iran is a necessary ally. Israel has been put in its place – as a mouthy but loyal servant of its imperialist sponsors.

Boris Johnson boycotted

The Tory London mayor and wannabe prime minister Boris Johnson attacked supporters of the boycott Israel movement as ‘completely crazy’ while visiting Tel Aviv in November. Defining himself as a ‘passionate Zionist’, Johnson met with Palestinian Authority prime minister Rami Hamallah. However, other Palestinians organisations decided to organise their own boycott movement, and cancelled all their pre-arranged meetings with Johnson. Among them was the Sharek Youth Forum charity, which issued a statement: ‘Following Johnson’s inaccurate, misinformed and disrespectful statement regarding the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement on 9 November, stating that he “cannot think of anything more foolish”, it is our conclusion, supported by the Palestinian youth whom we represent, that he consciously denies the reality of the occupation that continues to oppress them and all Palestinians.’

Blaming the Palestinians for Hitler

On 20 October, Netanyahu sparked outrage after telling the World Zionist Congress that Palestinian Mufti (Muslim leader) Haj Amin Al Husseini had persuaded Adolf Hitler to exterminate Europe’s Jews in 1941. Netanyahu claimed ‘Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews and Haj Amin Husseini went up to him and said if you expel them, they’ll all come here [Palestine]...“So what shall I do with them?” he [Hitler] asked, “burn them” [Husseini responded].’ There is no record of any such conversation and by the time Hitler and the Mufti met on 28 November 1941 the death camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Janowska and other locations had been in operation for several months. This falsification of history serves to portray Palestinian resistance not as struggle against occupation but as an anti-Semitic project.

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 248 December 2015/January 2016