Netanyahu Uncensored is the name of a video that everyone should watch. The two-minute film begins with the Israeli Prime Minister speaking to camera about how much he cares for the Palestinian people. What you see is the face of a man who has surrendered his reason to Israel’s founding ideology. The film goes on to present visual evidence of the inhumanity and militarised fanaticism that the Zionist enterprise relies upon. It’s not just the blitzed streets of Gaza or the scene reminiscent of the original Planet of the Apes film, with Israeli soldiers on horseback corralling Palestinian citizens. There is also the personalised menace with the sight of soldiers kicking and stomping on victims trapped by Israeli Army patrols. One scene in the video shows the deliberate wholesale destruction of Palestinian rooftop water storage tanks. The very existence of these tanks is, to the Zionist mind, an intolerable expression of the Palestinian will to resist and survive. (For a more comprehensive review of Israel’s criminal theft and control of Palestine’s water, see the article Plundered water boosts Israel’s surplus.)
Thanks to digital technology, the manner in which the Israeli Army goes about its population control activities is now often captured on video devices and widely distributed. Netanyahu Uncensored is not alone in providing evidence of assaults upon Palestinian children by heavily-armed Israeli soldiers. While the corporate news media, including most TV channels, still largely ignore the mounting proof of Israeli inhumanity, the Internet enables us to see and share news that most government leaders and politicians would rather not have aired.
Israeli Army child abuse
This year has seen an intensification of Israeli Army brutality against Palestinian minors. UN refugee camps are no refuge for Palestinian youngsters whose homes are invaded, mostly at dead of night. In July and August, the Israeli Army raided the Dheisheh UN refugee camp on three occasions, firing live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets and stun and tear gas canisters. Israeli troops aimed their guns at youngsters’ legs, kneecapping eight of them and inflicting leg wounds on another 27. Four other youths in the surrounding area were similarly targeted. According to a Jews for Justice report: “Since the beginning of 2016, 30 people in the Dheisheh refugee camp have now been shot with live ammunition, most of them in the legs and knees. Medical sources report that many of these injuries cause permanent disability. In the Bethlehem area alone at least 83 people have been shot with live ammunition by the Israeli Army.” The Israeli commander responsible for these barbarities has expressly boasted that he would maim and cripple the youngsters as part of Occupation terror. Such threats have also been reported in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Grossly inhumane, the Israeli Army has even prevented medics from treating wounded youngsters.
At dawn on 16 August, the Israeli Army attacked the al-Fawar UN refugee camp in South Hebron for 24 hours. During the invasion, a 17-year-old youth was shot dead and 45 other people were wounded. Zionist forces also ransacked homes and set up sniper posts on the roofs of houses. Any attempt at self-defence or resistance was met with more live ammunition, tear gas grenades and rubber-coated bullets. Attacks on UN refugee camps in Palestine are seldom, if ever, reported in the mainstream news media. The purpose behind all of the Israeli Army violence is population control and the imposition of illegal settler mastery over colonised territory. The provisions of Article 32 of the Fourth Geneva Convention consider the Occupied Palestinian population to be ‘protected persons’. All of the above violations are prohibited and must be of concern to the international community. They are certainly serious enough to promote investigation by the International Criminal Court.
Israel’s racist, banal population control
The Israeli Occupation requires every non-Jewish person to carry proof of identity at all times. Failure to comply with this order can see an individual seized and taken prisoner. The International Solidarity Movement describes the various bureaucratic divisions of ID that Israel imposes:
“The green ID is for people who live in the West Bank. People who have this ID are not allowed to go to Gaza or Jerusalem. Then there is the green ID for people who live in Gaza, who are not allowed to be in the West Bank or in Jerusalem. And the last one is the Blue ID which is for Palestinians who live in Jerusalem, and they are not allowed to be in Gaza, a permit is needed.”
Now think what it must be like to have to live under such crushing restrictions while an invader’s favoured colonists move freely and independently around you. Imagine having to rise in the middle of the night in order to allow enough time to negotiate permanent checkpoints, as well as surprise flying checkpoints, on your way to work. Foreign soldiers can, and do, stop you in the street and demand to see your ID. They stop you and ask what you are doing and where you are going – in the country of your birth! Imagine living with that every day of your life. Imagine the frustration of having your ID ‘checked’ by a checkpoint soldier who doesn’t even look at it. He may leave it on the desk or go away and come back later, maybe to return it to you. You can wait minutes or hours to have your ID returned, often while having to bear the humiliating, insulting language that soldiers, having been given this power, use simply to intimidate.
There is a dreadful atmosphere that Palestinian children grow up with and experience every day of their lives. This July, an Israeli soldier was filmed assaulting a Palestinian girl and seizing her bicycle, simply because she was playing on a Palestinian street that Israel had decreed should now be for the exclusive use of Jews. Imagine the impression that this sort of behaviour has on the minds of young victims, their families and those who witness such racist contempt.
Getting to school
Towards the end of August, the new school year in Occupied Palestine began. In Hebron, the children are faced every school day with negotiating a maze of Israeli checkpoints. Vulnerable to attacks from settlers, the children must wait until they are let into the inspection cage, one at a time. Inside the cage they are interrogated and searched. Other children continue to wait until the soldiers decide to let them in. Israeli Occupation troops occasionally fire tear gas canisters at the schools, with clouds of gas drifting around them and up the surrounding streets. On 27 August, Israeli soldiers fired ten tear gas canisters at children making their way home from school through the Salaymeh checkpoint, accusing them of stone-throwing. Many youngsters, overcome by the gas, were found choking. On 31 August, four tear gas canisters were fired directly at children near the Queitun checkpoint. This practice occasionally causes severe injuries and even death. On one day during this first school week, students and teachers found themselves denied access to their schools. The Israeli Occupation Army and illegal settler colonists see the Palestinian pursuit of education as defiant resistance, which it is. For Israel that is intolerable – for Palestinians it is a matter of survival.
Israel is the only country in the world that routinely prosecutes ethnically-selected children in military courts. This has been going on since 1967 and if a stop isn’t put to it now, a third generation of children will also continue to suffer the same fate. Since 2000, at least 8,000 children have been seized, taken prisoner and held in an Israeli military detention system notorious for its systematic ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children. The whole process lacks the basic and fundamental requirements to guarantee a fair trial. In the Occupied Palestinian West Bank, Israel runs two separate legal systems. For Jewish settlers, living in the same territory as Palestinians, there are the normal civil and criminal legal systems. Palestinians, on the other hand, are subject to Israeli military law. This military system processes around 500-700 Palestinian children each year, with three out of four experiencing physical violence during arrest, transfer or interrogation. In some centres, up to 11 of them have been packed into cells as small as five square metres. Children are also kept in centres with adults, all in contravention of The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Most of the captive Palestinian children are charged with stone-throwing. Settlers and their children habitually harass and assault Palestinians, very often with Israeli Army protection. If Palestinian children throw stones, or even if they are falsely accused of throwing them, they almost always face being taken prisoner, blindfolded, handcuffed and brought before military courts in Israel. Their guilt is presumed and the court procedure is merely a façade.
Palestinian children are usually taken prisoner in their homes in the middle of the night, or by day at military checkpoints. The soldiers blindfold the captured youngsters and bind their wrists. They usually end up in one of the main interrogation centres in Israel. This transfer to Israel is a breach of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which specifically forbids an Occupying power from transferring prisoners to its own territory. In a recently-published report – No Way to Treat a Child, Defence for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) presented affidavits from 429 West Bank children revealing that three-quarters of them suffered forms of physical violence while being held prisoner. In 97% of the cases, children had no parent present while under interrogation and access to legal counsel was extremely difficult to obtain. Also, in 84% of the cases, the youngsters were not properly informed of their rights. The affidavits covered a period from 2012 to 2015.
“I want to go home”
A 12-year-old girl, Dima al-Wawi, was taken prisoner in February. Accused of having a knife about her person, she was transported to the HaSharon Prison in Israel. After five days in captivity, and having been forced to sign a ‘confession’, the disoriented child was told she would be imprisoned for four-and-a-half months. Her parents had been prevented from being present at the interrogation and her lawyer, Tariq Barghouth, had been denied the right to advise her. The ‘confession’ written in Hebrew, a language she does not speak or understand, was virtually worthless. Dima’s mother said her daughter was beaten and suffering an injury from being kicked in the back, both before and during interrogation. Several soldiers had pointed their guns at her. Dima was terrified by the Israeli military and was in a critical psychological state. All she could say, repeatedly, while she was being held was “I want to go home.” The Daily Mail, published the story: Haunted face of a 12-year-old girl broken by jail. Suffering and cruel injustice such as this is commonplace under Israeli military Occupation.
Home invasions – day and night
On 10 August, an international volunteer managed to video Israeli Occupation soldiers raiding a Palestinian home in Hebron. The householder’s name is Karam Maswadeh and the armed men demanded to know the whereabouts of one of his sons, aged eight, who was accused of fighting with Israeli settler children. Annoyed that they had not found the child they were seeking, they seized two other sons – aged 11 and 12. According to B’Tselem, Occupation forces later picked up three other Palestinian children, aged 8, 11 and 13.
The one time, above all, that children should feel safe is when they are at home in bed at night. Not so for Palestinian children living under Israeli military Occupation. Determined to capture Karam Maswadeh’s eight-year-old son, the Israeli soldiers, still fully armed of course, returned to the house at 2am. The child was seized by the soldiers and driven, with his father, to the nearby Occupation settlement of Kiryat Arba for interrogation. Palestinian children go to bed knowing that before morning they could be rudely awakened and seized by Israeli soldiers. If it has not already happened to them, they will have relatives and friends who have suffered this fate. Some more videos exemplify the frequent night terror that Palestinian children face. Their bedrooms are suddenly filled with Israeli soldiers and bright light. Children, of all ages, are forced out of their beds and often photographed, while the soldiers carry their guns pointing forward almost the whole time. The house is searched – there is no privacy or respect. After the soldiers have gone, the children who are left behind ask their parents why the soldiers came. They are frightened and although their parents try to calm them, they are unable to go back to sleep. What you do not see on video is the armed assaults and vandalism that also often occur in night home invasions by the Israeli military.
Some decent Israeli soldiers have resisted Zionist brainwashing, held on to their humanity and given video testimony of this that has been published by the group Breaking the Silence.
Palestinian child witnesses
A book was published last month entitled Dreaming of Freedom: Palestinian Child Prisoners Speak, edited by Norma Hashim and translated by Yousef M. Aljamal, with a foreword by Richard Falk. The book provided the opportunity for 24 children to give testimony concerning the despicable inhumanities they were forced to endure while being held captive by the Israeli Occupation. As the book review says, “the torture and abuse that takes place in these cells carries consequences far beyond the hours and days it takes place.” The question is asked – do the perpetrators of these inhumanities “actually have kids who they kiss and tell beautiful stories to before going to sleep?” Israel’s founding ideology, buried subconsciously deep, seems to enable a division of the soul for its believers that enables them to coldly dehumanise ‘the other’. Imagine if it were our families that were suffering so at the hands of foreign military Occupiers. Would our politicians and news media tell us, as they do the Palestinians, that the only way to peace is for us to ‘negotiate’ and speak politely to the invader in the hope that the racist violence will stop?