"Do you construct on every elevation a sign, amusing yourselves, And
take for yourselves palaces and fortresses that you might abide
eternally? And when you strike, you strike as tyrants."
Twenty years ago, during the morning prayers of the holy month of Ramadan, my own nephews were praying in the Ibrahmi Mosque when Baruch Goldstein stormed the Mosque and started to shoot at Palestinians while kneeling in prayer. Their classmates fell dead on top of them. This was in the town of Hebron, known to Palestianians as Al Khaleel. It is named after a title given to Prophet Abraham, which means, the Friend of God. I will refer to this town later.
This is a town where mainly Palestinian Arabs live, but Israel has placed the most extremist of armed settlers in their midst, making life unbearable for them so a few hundred settlers can reside.
Over a decade ago, Muhammad al-Durra, a Palestinian child was killed by Israeli soldiers. His death was recorded and the recording went viral.
Before Al-Durra’s death, Israel had enjoyed the anonymity of the Palestinians and the invisibility of their suffering for decades - and felt embarrassed at the exposure of its policies before the world.
The blame game began by pointing fingers at Palestinian “gun men.” Then, al-Durra was “caught in the crossfire.” Then al-Durra was depicted as a “trouble-maker” or a “mischievous” child who deserved this punishment for his “mischievous” behavior. When the projection games to protect the Israeli image failed, the question fell like a bombshell upon the world.
Israeli propagandists asked the world, “What was he doing there?” What was al-Durra, a Palestinian child doing in his hometown traveling with his father shopping together during the day?
Israel likes to present itself as a helpless state and its armed “Israeli civilians” surrounded by “hostile” Palestinians or Arabs. Yet, behind this false PR image, Israel is engaged in Arab home demolitions, cruel torture, imprisonment of Arabs without charge or trial, land grabbing and illegal Jewish-only settlements connected to Israel with Jewish-only bypass roads slicing Arab land into Bantustans.
Palestinians are resisting Israel not out of hatred for Jews. The resistance is because Israel was built on massacres, ruins, graves and ethnic cleansing of Arabs which continue to this day. It was built by terrorists and war criminals whom Israelis freely choose as prime ministers. Yesterday, Yasser Arafat was the scapegoat when things went wrong. Today it is Hamas.
However, Israel deliberately implants the most radical of settlers in the midst of Arab towns as part of an ethnic cleansing campaign. These Jewish-only settlements which are connected to each other and Israel proper are growing and illegal under international law. Their growth results in continuous demolition of Arab homes and theft of Arab land, which result in the disconnection of Arab villages from each other.
The presence of the armed settlers has resulted in the deaths of many children over the years. Palestinians were robbed of their humanity and accused of “sending [their] children out to die” to “score media points.”
The world did not call out this blatant racism. They looked the other way, until the violence which Palestinians endure daily touched the lives of the occupier. Then the world paid attention.
Recently, three Israeli teens: Gil-Ad Shaer, 16, Naftali Fraenkel, 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19 – were found dead in the West Bank village of Halhul. They were missing since June 12 as they were visiting family in Hebron. This is the town I mentioned in the beginning, where Israeli settlers annually pay celebratory pilgrimages to Goldstein's shrine.
My relatives in Al Khaleel, or Hebron cannot visit our family in East Jerusalem, but these Israeli teens are able to freely visit their relatives in Hebron.
In a revenge attacks, three Palestinians: 7-year-old Ali al-Awoor,15-year-old Mohammed Dodeen, and 17-year-old Mohammed Abu Khudair were killed.
Abu Khudair was standing next to the masjid waiting for dawn-break prayer. He was abducted by Israeli settlers, beaten and stabbed to death, after which they set his body on fire and threw his charred remains to the side of the road. He was the 10th Palestinian killed by the Israeli soldiers or right-wing extremists since the Israeli teens were missing.
I mourn their death as well as the Israeli teens as we should mourn all lost lives. Yet, we must demand the world change the conditions that nurture the violence in the region for our mourning to have meaning.
Let us not forget to also mourn the lives of 1,384 Palestinian children killed by the Israeli soldiers since 2000, according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. That’s 1 Palestinian child killed every 3 to 4 days.
Striking without mercy
Every life is sacred.
Recently, after the 3 Israeli teens were found dead, the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu says that Hamas “will pay” for these latest deaths. As usual, the entire city of Gaza is under heavy bombardment. Over the years, striking Hamas has become a cover for striking like tyrants at Palestinians' civilian towns, killing hundreds of civilians, without a strong leadership from the world community.
Currently, across the West Bank the Israeli army has sealed off entire towns, arrested more than 400 people, and raided over 100 homes and over 34 bombing raids hit Gaza.
In the past, Israel used events such as violence by Palestinians against Israelis, to strike with a lack of mercy. We heard “put the fear of death into the Arabs,” “mow them down,” and by Israeli Deputy Defense Minister, Matan Vilnai, who once threatened Palestinians with a “shoah,” which means holocaust.
Israel has played well the projection game and keeps hiding behind a Palestinian scapegoat to justify the occupation and the systematic ethnic cleansing campaign. However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not Nelson Mandela. He is not a man of peace.
In 1989, in a speech at Bar-Ilan University, stated:
"Israel should have exploited the repression of the demonstrations in China, when world attention focused on that country, to carry out mass expulsions among the Arabs of the territories."
Since then, Netanyahu has not renounced his extremism or his love of violence. Several years ago, in 2006, Netanyahu commemorated the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, the headquarters of British rule, which killed 92 people. According to Netanyahu, terrorism is bad if you are the underdog and okay if you are not.
The projection games that Israeli government has been playing on the world stage need to come to an end.
We cannot fight terrorism by turning a blind eye to the occupier as they oppress and violate every human and international law. And we cannot fight terrorism by justifying cruel measures against the weak collectively for wrongly resorting to violence to resist the occupation and the oppression of the occupier. The world has to end this culture of impunity, and Israel has to abide by rules of law.
To monitor the situation follow the below:
“All lives are precious.
We refuse to mourn only the deaths of Palestinians, or only the deaths of Israelis. But that does not mean we can ignore the enormous power difference between Israelis and Palestinians, or pretend it is just a ‘cycle of violence’ with no root cause or context. Each of these horrific incidents that harms both peoples happen in the context of an ongoing occupation, itself inherently a system of daily violence. And it is a system that by its very nature puts the lives, dignity, and human rights of all in jeopardy.”