Tuesday, September 04, 2012

4-Sep-12: Palestinian Arab with bag full of bombs is stopped at a racist, hateful security checkpoint; many lives are saved. Is this worth reporting?

[Archive Image from a different checkpoint and
unrelated to what happened yesterday]
You hear and read a lot about how cruel and oppressive Israel's system of barriers and security checkpoints is. The far-left activist women of Machsom Watch generate a good deal of the negative reporting on this theme, and to their credit they explain in a direct and clear way why they do it:
We regularly document what we see and hear. The reports of these observations are published on the Machsom Watch site, and sent to public officials and elected representatives. Through the documentation which discloses the nature of everyday reality, we are attempting to influence public opinion in the country and in the world, and thus to bring to an end the destructive occupation, which causes damage to Israeli society as well as to Palestinian society. 
The word machsom is Hebrew for "barrier". A barrier manned by armed service personnel is never going to be a happy scene. But most of us who live here and have experienced terrorism first-hand understand why they are there and what they achieve each day, and look forward to when they will no longer be needed. At Machsom Watch, they don't agree with us. Then again, we have the impression they pay more attention to the influence-public-opinion part of their mission than to the cognitive challenge of grappling with what brings those barriers to be there and what they aim to do.

So here is a reminder from yesterday of why the Machsom phenomenon exists and what it does. There's not much ideological in the sentences that follow. But for those of us who relate to barriers in their common, non-ideological sense, what happened yesterday has considerable significance.

As Ynet tells it ["Man hurls bag containing four pipe bombs at security forces after being denied entrance to Israel; none injured"], a Palestinian Arab approached the IDF's Hashmona'im checkpoint yesterday around 2 pm. If you're not familiar with Israel's very compact geography, we're speaking of a controlled crossing that is next to the Haredi community of Kiryat Sefer/Modi'in Elit. It's a short way from the second most important of the highways that run from Tel-Aviv and the airport up to the national capital, Jerusalem and no more than 20 minutes drive from our Jerusalem home.

The man evidently lacked the necessary documentation for crossing to the other side. The young soldiers and Border Police officers did what they are trained to do, and sent him away. Ynet's report says he then left the scene but he returned shortly afterwards carrying a bag. He dropped or threw the bag at the security personnel at the checkpoint and fled. Turns out it was filled with explosives. Four live pipe bombs were safely detonated by an IDF sapper. A large manhunt for the bag-man was launched.

The terrorist knew he was approaching an IDF checkpoint, and yet he brought with him a bag of explosives. Perhaps he thought the Machsom Watch women would be there to run interference with the soldiers. We don't know. But we know that in taking the risk of bringing explosives to a security checkpoint, he was either interested in executing an attack then and there, or was on his way to kill someone somewhere else. Someone Jewish and/or Israeli. It is not reasonable to assume there are alternative interpretations.

From NGO-Monitor's Machsom Watch page:
  • Machsom Watch is funded by, and accepts donations via, the New Israel Fund (NIF). The NIF made grants to it in 200620072008 and 2009 worth more than $200,000.
  • Also funded by the EU, including a €77,632 grant for 2010-11, by Diakonia (Sweden), Norway, and the UK government (£30,000 for its project “No Legal Frontiers”). Note that the Netherlands did not renew funding after 2009.
  • A Machsom Watch exhibition of photos taken at Israeli checkpoints refers to the “policy of suppression and dehumanization that pervades the nature of control over another nation,” “collective punishment,” and “apartheid roads.” Machsom Watch also claims that the delay in checking documents at checkpoints is aimed at imposing “an illegal means of ‘educational punishment’.”
  • In March 2011, five members of a Jewish family living in the community of Itamar were murdered in their beds. The victims were the father and mother, two small children and a baby (see our blog posting: "19-Apr-11: What happened that awful Sabbath night in Itamar?"). Immediately after the massacre, Machsom Watch activists including its spokesperson Raya Yaron visited the nearby Palestinian town of Awarta to comfort the relatives of those who had been arrested for the murders - and whose sons subsequently confessed and proudly took 'credit'. Ms Yaron was photographed hugging the mother of one of the murderers.
If you visit the Machsom Watch site now to see what the the strongly-public-opinion-minded women of that group say about yesterday's lucky intercept of a killer on his way to destiny, you are likely to be disappointed. Search for the story on Reuters, AFP, AP, Xinhua and you are likely to turn up empty-handed.

What is it about events that result in Israeli lives being saved that makes them so... unworthy of being reported?

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