I apologize to all readers of this blog for I have no posted anything in some days. I was shot in the head by the Israeli Army or Border Police at a peaceful protest in the West Bank village of Al-Nabi Saleh with a metal tear gas canister at close range. If you are interested in the story, currently it is on Mondoweiss and is being pushed for publication in the United States press. I will not waste space here describing what happened trying to garner sympathy or whatever else. Today I am here to talk about peaceful resistance and Nakba Day protests. On Friday like most Fridays in the West Bank there were protests against the wall and land confiscation by the Israeli state and settlers. I was in Al Nabi Saleh which if you have read Chris’ past article on the issue or many others written it is a typical example of protest movements against illegal Israeli policies. The Israelis station almost as many troops as there were people in the village, close off the village at every spot possible, and ruthlessly break up the demonstration. This Friday was not much different than usual but had some unique aspects to it. On the issue of stones being thrown it is usually cited by Israeli apologists as being the reason for the Israeli reaction. I am not going to argue here about the issue of stones being thrown as a tactic or anything else. Just for the record, the first 3 hours (since I was taken by ambulance to the hospital afterwards hence I can not speak to after) of the protest involved not a single stone thrown by the Palestinians. The vast majority of the first three hours involved children between the ages of 8-14 singing nationalist songs, waving flags, dancing, and walking among the land of their village. This resulted in various shooting of tear gas, sound bombs, and baton beating of older children (15-18) and adults mostly over 50 years old. Eventually this led to children and adults to simply sit in the street singing. The police went after the children with sound bombs, and then when older participants when to help the children move away they were sprayed in the face with strong yellow colored mace by the Border Police. They arrested 1 Israeli before I was hit, and at least one Palestinian I could see.
This story is not unique, nor is it surprising that the Israelis reacted this way as they were more than preparing for a large crackdown on peaceful demonstrations on Nakba weekend. I do not feel I need to educate the readers of this blog on the issue of the Nakba as most have a good background in the Middle East. To me it seems the Israelis are trying a similar tactic they did in September 2000 when the Second Intifada was beginning. In the first month of the Second Intifada there were almost 80 Palestinians killed as opposed to under 5 Israelis killed as the Palestinians were partaking in peaceful demonstrations. The violence became too much for the Palestinians and they started reacting back in violence. There seems to be a strong possibility for the same thing happening in light of a Third Intifada which was supposed to begin today. As Army officials stated in light of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions, if a similar situation happened in the West Bank the IDF would not be able to contain it.
So unfortunately it seems that the Israelis might take a similar road to that taken in September 2000 of massive attacks on Palestinians to invoke violence from the Palestinians to have them lose a public relations war. Palestinians need to take the moral high ground beyond Israel and not respond to the massive loss of life that may ensue these upcoming weeks. As was reported in the news on Friday a Palestinian Silwan resident was killed during a demonstration, possibly by a settler. Today there were at least 9 killed in mostly peaceful demonstrations. Hundreds marched to the Qalandiya checkpoint and almost 100 have been injured so far as reported by Joseph Dana.
This sort of overreaction will hold as Israel seems to have no desire to settle the issue politically or diplomatically according to international law so it will revert to what it can win, a military campaign against a civilian population under occupation. For articles on Al-Nabi Saleh click here and here.