The IDF’s Policy of Intimidation

by

During the Nabka Day protests last May 15, two Palestinian youths, Muhammad Abu Thahr, 15, and Nadim Nuwara, 17, were shot in the chest in the town of Beitunia near Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank. Both adolescents died as a result of the injuries they suffered. Although the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) claim that only rubber bullets had been used against those protesting, observers claim that live ammunition was used against the youths.

Nabka is how Palestinians call the “catastrophe” they suffered upon Israel’s creation on May 14, 1948. The event led to the displacement of around 750,000 Palestinians, which today number five million refugees according to United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) figures.

Although the IDF has promised to launch an investigation, these investigations never result in the actual punishment of those guilty. As stated by Haaretz, “The awful moral failure underlying this incident requires the IDF to take a thorough account of itself, not only regarding the moral norms it inculcates in its soldiers, but also regarding military discipline.”

This last incident is just one more of many similar ones where the Israel military fired and killed unarmed Palestinians. B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights has described in the past the use of Palestinian civilians as human shields by forcing them to carry-out life-threatening military tasks, in violation of an Israeli High Court of Justice injunction against this procedure.

In a report entitled Trigger happy: Israel’s use of excessive force in the West Bank published in February 2014, Amnesty International describes increasing bloodshed and widespread abuses in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) as a result of the Israeli forces use of unnecessary, arbitrary and brutal force against Palestinians.

Amnesty international states that in all cases it investigated, Palestinians killed by the Israeli soldiers didn’t appear to have been posing a direct and immediate threat to the life of the soldiers. Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa Director for Human Rights Watch said, “The willful killing of civilians by Israel security forces as part of the occupation is a war crime.”

As stated by Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International, “The frequency and persistence of arbitrary and abusive force against peaceful protesters in the West Bank by Israeli soldiers and police officers –and the impunity enjoyed by perpetrators- suggest that it is carried out as a matter of policy.”

Investigations carried out by the IDF against perpetrators are ineffective. “The current Israeli system has proved woefully inadequate. It is neither independent nor impartial and completely lacks transparency. The authorities must conduct prompt, thorough and independent investigations into all suspected instances of arbitrary and abusive use of force, especially when resulting in loss of life or serious injury,” said Philip Luther.

Although the IDF claims that its troops fired rubber bullets during the incident involving the two Palestinian youths, they were apparently killed when they were relatively far away from the troops, which could be one more evidence that live ammunition was used. The belated release of footage taken by CNN shows one member of a group of Israeli border policemen firing at the Palestinians.

The Palestinians interpret Israel’s actions as an attempt to destroy any possibility of lasting Palestinian unity, and as further hindrance to the peace process. “The shot fired at the youths represented the mercy killing of the peace process,” said General Adnan Admiri, spokesman for the Palestinian security forces.

The actions of the Israeli security forces against the Palestinian youths have also been sharply criticized by Haaretz, which in an editorial stated, “The moral deterioration falls under the responsibility of all Israel’s governments since 1967, and especially the current pro-settlement, anti-peace government. The story of the Beitunia shooting sums up the crime of occupation, which has turned the IDF from the people’s army, whose task is to protect the state’s citizens, into a hothouse of violence, where soldiers and policemen shoot Palestinians as though they were ducks at a shooting range.”

Dr. Cesar Chelala is an international public health consultant and a co-winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award. 

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
August 03, 2015
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Atomic Era Turns 70, as Nuclear Hazards Endure
Nelson Valdes
An Internet Legend: the Pope, Fidel and the Black President
Robert Hunziker
The Perfectly Nasty Ocean Storm
Jack Dresser
The Case of Alison Weir: Two Palestinian Solidarity Organizations Borrow from Joe McCarthy’s Playbook
Ahmad Moussa
Incinerating Palestinian Children
Greg Fulton
Greece Succumbs to Imperialist Banksterism
Binoy Kampmark
Stalling the Trans-Pacific Partnership: the Failure of the Hawai’i Talks
Mark Weisbrot
New Greek Bailout Increases the Possibility of Grexit
Jose Martinez
Black/Hispanic/Women: a Leadership Crisis
Victor Grossman
German Know-Nothings Today
Patrick Walker
We’re Not Sandernistas: Reinventing the Wheels of Bernie’s Bandwagon
Norman Pollack
Moral Consequences of War: America’s Hegemonic Thirst
Ralph Nader
Republicans Support Massive Tax Evasion by Starving IRS Budget
Alexander Reid Ross
Colonial Pride and the Killing of Cecil the Lion
Suhayb Ahmed
What’s Happening in Britain: Jeremy Corbyn and the Future of the Labour Party
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas: Into the Void
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington
Mary Lou Singleton
Gender, Patriarchy, and All That Jazz
Robert Fantina
Israeli Missteps Take a Toll
Pete Dolack
Speculators Circling Puerto Rico Latest Mode of Colonialism
Ron Jacobs
Spying on Black Writers: the FB Eye Blues
Paul Buhle
The Leftwing Seventies?
Binoy Kampmark
The TPP Trade Deal: of Sovereignty and Secrecy
David Swanson
Vietnam, Fifty Years After Defeating the US
Robert Hunziker
Human-Made Evolution
Shamus Cooke
Why Obama’s “Safe Zone” in Syria Will Inflame the War Zone
David Rosen
Hillary Clinton: Learn From Your Sisters
Sam Husseini
How #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter Can Devalue Life
Shepherd Bliss
Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President
Howard Lisnoff
The Wrong Argument
Louis Proyect
Manufacturing Denial
Tracey Harris
Living Tiny: a Richer and More Sustainable Future
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
A Day of Tears: Report from the “sHell No!” Action in Portland