Wednesday, August 8, 2007

It's good to be a settler

No one can hold you accountable.

Besieged On All Sides: Israeli Settlers & Troops Violate Palestinians with Impunity

Whilst the mainstream Western press feeds its obsession with Hamas versus Fatah politics, Jewish settlers and the Israeli military are continuing business as usual in occupied Palestine.

Today marks another tragedy for another Palestinian family now grieving a sudden and avoidable death. If 75 year old Kamila Ibrahin Aqbaha had been allowed through the checkpoint at Barta’a ash Sharqiya village this morning, she may well still be alive. But Israeli troops refused to allow her to cross the checkpoint on foot and climb into the ambulance waiting for her on the other side. They also prevented the ambulance from crossing over to her side of the checkpoint and taking her to a local hospital. Mrs. Ibrahin Aqbaha died at the checkpoint this morning.

Her son, Tawfiq, says he holds the Israeli military personally responsible for her death.

The official Israeli response to her death - that there was no prior coordination with the military to allow the ambulance through the checkpoint - is preposterous. There was never any suggestion that Kamila Abrahin Aqbaha was a criminal, a political liability, or any kind of ‘security threat.’ There was no rationale or benefit in preventing her from reaching a local hospital. But Kamila Ibrahin Aqbaha is, or rather was, a Palestinian. To the Israeli soldiers who stood in front of her, deciding whether she could go to hospital, she was a subject who could be detainable at will. Her life was not important enough for them to allow her immediate access to hospital.

This official Israeli response to the death of yet another Palestinian also illustrates how systematic military callousness is directly supported by the Government of Israel. Palestinians die across the Occupied Territories almost daily because Israeli troops act with state sponsored impunity.

This military impunity also goes some way to explain the many acts of violence committed by Jewish settlers against Palestinians. Lately, a string of ‘hit and run’ attacks on Palestinians have taken place across the West Bank suggesting a new trend of violence, one that is met with the usual impunity.

Settlers travel freely across the West Bank, driving on their completely separate road system or straight through the hundreds of permanent and ‘flying’ checkpoints that confine Palestinians. They fleetingly witness Palestinians being detained, humiliated and searched. Their violence towards Palestinians reflects the same state supported disregard for Palestinian life.

On Sunday evening an Israeli settler in Hebron drove a car into Noman Fawwaz Nazzir, a twenty-two-year-old Palestinian. Fawwaz Nazzir was hospitalized. The attack on him happened whilst a gang of settlers were setting two Palestinian homes ablaze in Hebron’s old city. It is the latest in a whole violent spate of hit and runs by settlers, who rarely face penalties.

Sixteen year old Mu’tasim Al-Jamal was selling sweets at the side of the road in Hebron on July 24th when a car driven by a settler drove straight into him. The car drove off, and Mu’tasim was also hospitalized. And so it goes on. Settler hatred of Palestinians is driven by ideology and fuelled by impunity. The State of Israel already has blood on its hands – and now the world stands silent as Palestinians are fatally detained at checkpoints and targeted by Zionist hit and run vigilantes.

The Israeli military are also guilty of hit and run crimes. Thirteen- year-old Alu Abu Bakr was hit by a military jeep in the village of Yabud, near Jenin on July 27th. He was standing in front of his own home when the jeep struck him and then continued driving. He survived after hospital treatment.

If the media averted its gaze from inter-Palestinian politics for a moment and looked instead at how Palestinians are surviving under siege, they would realize the Israeli occupation of Palestine is as brutal as ever.

Whilst Olmert talks smugly about resuming peace, Palestinians are enduring arson attacks, hit and run attacks, deaths at checkpoints, and the impunity of troops and settlers.

Like the Israeli military, settlers have been given a free reign to vent their hatred, racism and the power of their illegal occupation. How many more Palestinians have to be killed or injured before Israel is held to account for its crimes?

It makes it difficult to lay down the case for one state for all its citizens.

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