Israeli repression of Palestinians & Jewish activists continues

Below is an article I wrote for the January 2011 issue of Socialist Voice.

Funeral of martyr Jawaher Abu Rahmah, Jan 2011

Funeral of martyr Jawaher Abu Rahmah, Jan 2011

Israeli repression of Palestinians & Jewish activists continues
Socialist Voice, January 2011

At the time of writing we are less than a week into the new year, and already the Israeli military has killed two Palestinian civilians in the West Bank. Jawaher Abu Rahmah, a woman in her thirties, died on 1 January from tear-gas inhalation. She was tear-gassed while attending a non-violent protest against the Wall in Bil‘in the previous day.

She began vomiting and foaming at the mouth and later suffered a fatal heart attack in hospital. The Israeli disinformation campaign began immediately, the state’s official Twitter claiming she died of cancer! Multiple eyewitness and medical accounts refute this nonsense.

Tragically, Jawaher’s brother Bassem was also murdered by the military, in April 2009, when he was shot in the chest with a high-velocity tear-gas canister. Her cousin Abdullah languishes in an Israeli prison on a charge of “possession of arms,” which relates in fact to an artistic display he created using spent tear-gas canisters.

The second victim, a young man in his twenties, was shot in the chest at the Al-Hamra roadblock near Nablus on 2 January. A medical eyewitness reported that the man had his arms raised and posed no threat, yet he was shot multiple times from close range. According to the Israeli military, the soldiers “felt their lives were in danger,” as he was holding a glass bottle. In the previous week two shepherds and two resistance fighters were also killed in Gaza.

Of course the “routine” oppression also continues. Gaza continues to suffer under the siege. According to a coalition of rights groups, including Amnesty and Oxfam, there has been “little improvement” since the alleged easing of the siege six months ago. Israeli air strikes continue to hit Gaza, while inside Israel a “new war” is openly talked of.

People in the West Bank are denied freedom of movement, detention swoops and beatings by settlers and the military are almost daily occurrences, houses continue to be demolished, and illegal colonial settlements continue to expand.

Meanwhile, inside the Israeli state the crackdown on democratic expression continues apace as both Palestinian citizens of Israel and Jewish-Israeli human rights activists are targeted. The Israeli parliament has just passed a law establishing a Committee of Inquiry to investigate rights groups that monitor the Israeli military. Protesters were charged for returning American-made tear-gas canisters to the US ambassador, the homes of Israeli leftists have been raided, and activists have received intimidating phone calls from the secret police.

On average, the secret police arrest an anti-occupation Israeli or international every thirty-six hours [this appeared as “thirty-six days” in the original, my fault]. A raft of proposed new laws aims to equate anti-occupation activities with “terrorism.”

The Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace has just produced a report on the development of anti-democratic measures over the past two years. Entitled All-Out War: Israel Against Democracy, it makes chilling reading and also exposes the oft-repeated lie that Israel is “the only democracy in the Middle East.” The report is available from www.bit.ly/hlo9xm.

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