Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Palestinian Village Faces Army Reign of Terror

The window through which Salam Amira, 16, filmed the moment when an Israeli soldier shot from close range a handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinian detainee has a large hole at its centre with cracks running in every direction.

“Since my video was shown, the soldiers shoot at our house all the time,” she said. The shattered and cracked windows at the front of the building confirm her story. “When we leave the windows open, they fire tear gas inside too.”

Her home looks out over the Israeli road block guarding the only entrance to the village of Nilin, located just inside the West Bank midway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It was here that a bound Ashraf Abu Rahma, 27, was shot in the foot in July with a rubber bullet under orders from an Israeli regiment commander.

The treatment of the family stands in stark contrast to the leniency shown to the soldier and his commander involved in that incident.

B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, has accused the Israeli army of seeking “revenge” for the girl’s role in exposing the actions of its armed forces in the West Bank.

It may also be hoping to dissuade other families from airing similar evidence of army brutality, particularly since B’Tselem began distributing dozens of video cameras to Palestinians across the West Bank.

Scenes captured on film of hooded settlers attacking Palestinian farmers near Hebron came as a shock to many early this summer.

The village of Nilin has been the focus of the Israeli army’s actions since May, when its 4,700 inhabitants began a campaign of mainly non-violent demonstrations to halt the building of Israel’s separation wall across their land.

After the wall is completed, the village will be cut off from 40 per cent of its remaining farmland, effectively annexing it to half a dozen large Jewish settlements that encircle Nilin. The settlements are all illegal under international law.

Several times a week the villagers, joined by small numbers of Israeli and international supporters, congregate in olive fields where bulldozers are tearing up the land to make way for the wall.

The people of Nilin have tried various non-violent forms of protest, including praying in the path of the heavy machinery, using mirrors to reflect sunlight at the construction workers, banging pots and pans, and placing rocks in the way of the bulldozers during the night.

The army has responded with tear gas and stun grenades, as well as on occasion, with rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition. Last month it was reported that Israel was also experimenting with a new crowd dispersal method called “skunk”, which involves firing a foul-smelling liquid at demonstrators.

In the past few weeks, two youngsters have been shot dead by the army, including one, Ahmed Moussa, who was 10. The army claimed he was throwing stones. An autopsy showed he was hit in the head by a bullet from an M-16 rifle.

This week a soldier fired from close range three rubber bullets at Awad Surur, a mentally disabled man, as he tried to prevent his brother from being arrested. Two bullets penetrated his skull, according to B’Tselem, which denounced the army as increasingly “trigger-happy” and “reckless”.

Salam’s family, like many other villagers, bear the injuries from attendance at protests. Most of her five brothers have been hit by rubber bullets, as has her father, Jamal Amira, 53. The army has sealed the village off on several occasions and, according to villagers, beaten and terrorised inhabitants.

Mr Amira is among at least 100 farmers whose livelihoods will be devastated by the wall. He will lose all 14 hectares of his land, fields on which his ancestors have made their living by growing olives, cucumbers, aubergine and tomatoes.

But Salam’s five-minute film of the roadblock incident, taken during a four-day curfew imposed on the village, has only intensified the family’s troubles.

Three days after the video was aired, the army arrested her father during a peaceful protest. He was the only one seized after the army claimed the demonstrators had entered a closed military zone. Mr Amira was also charged with assaulting a soldier.

He was held for three and a half weeks before an Israeli military judge rejected the army’s demand that he be remanded for a further three months until his trial.

In an almost unprecedented rebuke to the prosecution, the judge questioned the army’s case, saying he could see no evidence of an assault. He also asked why Salam’s father was singled out from all of those protesting.

Mr Amira’s lawyer, Gabi Laski, said the decision confirmed “our preliminary claim that the arrest was out of vengeance and punishment for the video filmed by the girl”.

Nonetheless, Mr Amira still faces a military trial. A report last year by Yesh Din, a human rights group, found that in only 0.25 per cent of cases heard by military tribunals was the defendant found innocent. Even if acquitted, Mr Amira is expected to face legal costs amounting to nearly US$10,000 (Dh36,700), a sum the family says it cannot pay.

In contrast, the two soldiers responsible for the shooting of the detainee at the roadblock have been reprimanded with the minor charge of “unbecoming conduct”. Neither will stand criminal trial. B’Tselem has called the decision “shameful”.

According to the legal group the Association of Civil Rights in Israel, the punishment under Israeli law for aggravated abuse of a detainee is seven years imprisonment. ACRI’s lawyers have submitted a petition arguing the lenient charge “transmits to officers and other soldiers an extremely grave message of contempt for human life”.

Lt Col Omri Borberg, the commander who gave the order to shoot Abu Rahma, resigned his post but was immediately moved sideways to a senior post in a different unit. In a show of support, Gabi Ashkenazi, the head of the army, said Lt Col Borberg may be reinstated to a command position.

Meanwhile, the villagers said the army’s behaviour would not dissuade them from protesting or cause them to renounce their commitment to non-violence.

Salah Hawaja, a protest organiser, said: “When we started our demonstrations, maybe 50 soldiers showed up. Now there are hundreds stationed permanently around us. Israel is treating us like a major war zone, even though we are using non-violence.

“The people of Nilin have accepted that the best strategy to stop Israel’s plans to steal our land and leave us inside a ghetto is non-violence,” said Mr Hawaja.

“We need to show the world who is the occupier and who the occupied. Israel understands how threatening this is, which is why it is using so much force against us.”

A fund has been established to help the Amira family. Donations can be sent to: Amira Legal Defense Fund, PO Box 1335, Kfar Saba, Israel 44113, made out to “Matte Hacoalitsia”. Alternatively, you can donate through PayPal: http://tinyurl.com/6fekjc

JONATHAN COOK is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.

This article originally appeared in The National (www.thenational.ae), published in Abu Dhabi.

 

Your Ad Here
 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is http://www.jonathan-cook.net/

May 22, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Broken Dreams and Lost Lives: Israel, Gaza and the Hamas Card
Kathy Kelly
Scourging Yemen
Andrew Levine
November’s “Revolution” Will Not Be Televised
Ted Rall
#MeToo is a Cultural Workaround to a Legal Failure
Gary Leupp
Question for Discussion: Is Russia an Adversary Nation?
Binoy Kampmark
Unsettling the Summits: John Bolton’s Libya Solution
Doug Johnson
As Andrea Horwath Surges, Undecided Voters Threaten to Upend Doug Ford’s Hopes in Canada’s Most Populated Province
Kenneth Surin
Malaysia’s Surprising Election Results
Dana Cook
Canada’s ‘Superwoman’: Margot Kidder
Dean Baker
The Trade Deficit With China: Up Sharply, for Those Who Care
John Feffer
Playing Trump for Peace How the Korean Peninsula Could Become a Bright Spot in a World Gone Mad
Peter Gelderloos
Decades in Prison for Protesting Trump?
Thomas Knapp
Yes, Virginia, There is a Deep State
Andrew Stewart
What the Providence Teachers’ Union Needs for a Win
Jimmy Centeno
Mexico’s First Presidential Debate: All against One
May 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Gina Haspell: She’s Certainly Qualified for the Job
Uri Avnery
The Day of Shame
Amitai Ben-Abba
Israel’s New Ideology of Genocide
Patrick Cockburn
Israel is at the Height of Its Power, But the Palestinians are Still There
Frank Stricker
Can We Finally Stop Worrying About Unemployment?
Binoy Kampmark
Royal Wedding Madness
Roy Morrison
Middle East War Clouds Gather
Edward Curtin
Gina Haspel and Pinocchio From Rome
Juana Carrasco Martin
The United States is a Country Addicted to Violence
Dean Baker
Wealth Inequality: It’s Not Clear What It Means
Robert Dodge
At the Brink of Nuclear War, Who Will Lead?
Vern Loomis
If I’m Lying, I’m Dying
Valerie Reynoso
How LBJ initiated the Military Coup in the Dominican Republic
Weekend Edition
May 18, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Donald, Vlad, and Bibi
Robert Fisk
How Long Will We Pretend Palestinians Aren’t People?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Wild at Heart: Keeping Up With Margie Kidder
Roger Harris
Venezuela on the Eve of Presidential Elections: The US Empire Isn’t Sitting by Idly
Michael Slager
Criminalizing Victims: the Fate of Honduran Refugees 
John Laforge
Don’t Call It an Explosion: Gaseous Ignition Events with Radioactive Waste
Carlo Filice
The First “Fake News” Story (or, What the Serpent Would Have Said)
Dave Lindorff
Israel Crosses a Line as IDF Snipers Murder Unarmed Protesters in the Ghetto of Gaza
Gary Leupp
The McCain Cult
Robert Fantina
What’s Wrong With the United States?
Jill Richardson
The Lesson I Learned Growing Up Jewish
David Orenstein
A Call to Secular Humanist Resistance
W. T. Whitney
The U.S. Role in Removing a Revolutionary and in Restoring War to Colombia
Rev. William Alberts
The Danger of Praying Truth to Power
Alan Macleod
A Primer on the Venezuelan Elections
John W. Whitehead
The Age of Petty Tyrannies
Franklin Lamb
Have Recent Events Sounded the Death Knell for Iran’s Regional Project?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail