|Nablus, yesterday [Image Source]|
Palestinians shot dead by Israeli fire in West Bank | Two Palestinian teenagers have been shot and killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Tulkarm after clashes between soldiers and youths. One teenager was confirmed dead on Wednesday while the body of a second youth was found on Thursday. [more]The actual facts - as distinct from the BBC's characteristic way of telling such narratives (in particular: the Palestinian Arabs are always having things done to them, never actually act) - involve one specific location, two fatalities and a background of much rioting, violence, growing danger and cynical manipulation.
Last night (Wednesday), a group of Palestinian Arab men and boys launched a hail of Molotov cocktails (firebombs) and rocks at an IDF security checkpoint located close to the Israeli community of Einav, and quite near to a Palestinian town, Anabta, 9 km east of Tulkarem.
The soldiers returned fire, and Times of Israel, quoting a spokesman for the Palestinian Red Crescent, says Amer Ibrahim Nassar, 17, took a bullet in the chest and died. A later search of the area turned up another dead Palestinian Arab youth, as yet un-named. Times of Israel says a third Palestinian Arab man was sent to hospital in Tulkarem, and more may have been hit as well. On the Israeli side, a soldier was injured from the onslaught of rocks and explosive material.
The background is that throughout the day on Wednesday, there were dozens of attacks by Palestinian Arab mobs on IDF security emplacements and soldiers in towns and villages, as well as the public roads, throughout the West Bank. Molotov cocktails and burning tyres have been the preferred modes of attack until now, along with rock/cement block hurlings at Israeli civilian vehicles traveling the West Bank's roads. (This includes attacks on ambulances. Why are we not surprised?) In this connection, please see "2-Apr-13: Justice and rocks" to give those cowardly and only-too-lethal assaults some essential context.
The whipping up of furies and frenzies attracted the attention of a veteran commentator, Amos Harel, in Haaretz: "Palestinian Authority using prisoner's death to keep up populist struggle against Israel". He makes some important, and mostly little noticed, points about the death of a terminally-ill, heavy-smoking convicted terrorist prisoner and the rioting staged in its wake:
- "The Palestinian Authority knows full well that the prisoner Maysara Abu Hamdiya, a resident of Hebron, who died of cancer Tuesday morning, did not become ill because of Israeli abuse. It is reasonable to believe that the PA leadership in the West Bank assumes that the last prisoner who died in jail at the end of February, Arafat Jaradat, did not die as a result of being tortured. And yet, in both cases, PA President Mahmoud Abbas publicly accused Israel of playing a part in the prisoners' deaths. In the Jaradat case, Israel was explicitly accused of torture. On Tuesday the PA said Israel should have released Abu Hamdiya because of his illness, though the Israel Prison Service says the release procedure had indeed begun before Abu Hamdiya's death.
- "The PA does not wish to ignite a third intifada in the territories, but its leadership has an interest in making public accusations against Israel. One reason is to keep the prisoner issue high on the political agenda. Even after the deal to release captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was completed, there are still thousands of Palestinians serving lengthy prison terms in Israel. (Even worse, Fatah has not succeeded in securing the release of any of them, while Hamas got Israel to release more than 1,000 prisoners in exchange for Shalit.)
- "In criticizing Israel after Abu Hamdiya's death, Abbas met the expectations of his domestic audience.
- "Continued pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government, in conjunction with prolonged hunger strikes by some inmates, are likely to lead to Israel's eventual release of Palestinian prisoners. If this takes place, it would likely be seen as one of the gestures to the PA the U.S. government expects Israel to implement in the near future, as discussed during U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Israel last month.
- "Another consideration of the PA leadership is its need to maintain the popular struggle in the West Bank. The strikes, prisoner riots in Israeli jails and protest rallies across the West Bank, especially those accompanied by clashes with IDF forces and the Border Police, are all seen as serving the Palestinian cause, as long as the fight does not spiral out of control and drag both sides into a wide-scale armed conflict.
- "The PA also has a certain interest in diverting the public's anger in the West Bank towards Israel, away from its criticism of the deteriorating economic situation."
- "As expected, members of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip called Tuesday upon residents of the West Bank to start a third intifada in response to al-Hamdiya. At least two mortar shells were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel on Tuesday. All the same, it seems that for the moment the Gazan interest is best served by creating friction within the West Bank rather than Gaza.
- "From the Israeli perspective, a more substantive danger now lies in the West Bank, not the Strip. It is true that a third intifada doesn't seem to be on the horizon, despite hopes from Gaza, but it is impossible to ignore the continuous increase in the number of "populist" incidents (the throwing of rocks and petrol bombs, demonstrations) over the last six months. Ultimately, the gradually accumulating incidence of events means that the West Bank is more turbulent and tense than it has been in recent years.
Some of that is likely to have been induced by the overt call to 'bigger and better' terrorism made by one of Amos Harel's Haaretz colleagues who authored an outrageous polemic that was granted maximum prominence by Haaretz editors yesterday. It is entitled "The inner syntax of Palestinian stone-throwing". We have only the slightest hesitation in expressing the hope that it leads to the criminal prosecution of its author, and quickly.
We will not excerpt her hateful, irresponsible and agenda-driven incitement-posing-as-journalism here. We mention it only because of the high likelihood that, in these already inflamed circumstances, there will be more violence, more injuries, more deaths and tragedies. For those of us living in the midst of this, who suffer the consequences, who perceive the intertwining of cause and effect, it's important to be able to see through the cold manipulation and understand where and how the conflagrations emanate. It's almost never accidental.
"Palestinians rioted in the West Bank city of Hebron as thousands of mourners attended the funeral of prisoner Maysara Abuhamdia, who died of cancer while in Israeli custody this week. Dozens of rioters pelted IDF troops with rocks, while Israeli vehicles were stoned along roads in the area. Security forces responded with crowd-control methods, including tear gas... On Thursday, the Palestinian minister of prisoners’ affairs announced that an autopsy conducted on Abuhamdia’s body had revealed that prisoner’s death had been caused by deliberate medical negligence on Israel’s part... A previous autopsy conducted in Israel determined that the cause of death was Abuhamdia’s cancer. The conclusions did not make mention of negligence on Israel’s part." [Times of Israel]