ISRAEL/PALESTINE Summed Up in One Moment: A Tale of Olive Tree Saplings, ‘Stolen Mares’ and IDF Brutality…

Posted: December 12, 2014 in (Politics) CURRENT AFFAIRS
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It can’t have escaped too many people’s attention that the footage of Palestinian Cabinet Minister Zaid Abu Ein’s willful manslaughter at the hands of IDF troops bears something of a resemblance to the NYPD’s manslaughter of Eric Garner, albeit with the two crimes having very different (though equally longstanding and unchanging) contexts.
The bitter irony of Zaid Abu Ein’s death occurring on so-called ‘Human Rights Day’ also adds another layer of resonance to the bitterly shameful incident; a death that, it is clear from the footage, was unprovoked and caused by violence that was utterly, utterly unnecessary.

The Israeli soldiers involved, particularly the soldier who is pictured with his hand around the elderly Palestinian’s throat, have essentially provided a perfect image, a perfect encapsulation, to represent the nature of the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians to the world. Literally, that one freeze-frame could sum it up perfectly. I mean who needs clever, watchful photo-journalists looking for that defining image when you’ve got army personnel handing it to us on a plate?

If a child asked me to explain to them what the Israel/Palestine situation is all about, I would simply show them that image.

There are conflicting reports concerning how the leading member of Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement died. Several media sources say he was struck in the chest with a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops, after which he collapsed. Other reports claim Israeli forces beat Zaid Abu Ein with the butts of their rifles and their helmets. But the footage clearly shows him being held by the throat; despite being no physical or immediate threat to the IDF personnel.

It followed overnight clashes near Shilo, an Israeli settlement in the northern West Bank. The clashes are reported to have been sparked after illegal Jewish settlers accused Palestinians of – yes, get thisstealing a mare. If it wasn’t for how tragic this occurrence is and how utterly, utterly hopeless the situation in Palestine seems to be, the idea of the persecuted people ‘stealing a mare’ from the rich, comfortable colonists sounds like something you’d find in a Bible-era satirical newspaper cartoon-strip.

Another member of the Fatah movement told Associated Press that the incident occurred when he and the victim Abu Ein joined dozens of protesters carrying olive tree saplings during a protest against land confiscations near the West Bank village of Turmus Aya. Olive tree saplings! Not guns, not even rocks.


Israeli officials have apologised, calling it an unfortunate incident, while Israeli newspapers, instead of simply admitting it was an entirely unjustified act have tried to highlight whatever unsavory elements of Ziad Abu Ein’s past can be found. But the incident is unlikely to be something the Palestinian authorities, let alone the Palestinian people, forget.

Having already bombed the shit out of the Gaza Strip some months ago (approximate death toll: 1,200), one would’ve thought the Israeli government and army would prefer to see out what little is left of 2014 without any further acts of villainy being attributed to them.

But the images of Zaid Abu Ein being needlessly man-handled and later left unconscious will almost certainly be played and shared again and again in various parts of the Arab world and beyond, doing popular perception of the Israeli army no favors. This is the same IDF, incidentally, that two days ago launched airstrikes against Syrian government targets near Damascus – an operation that should be considered an illegal act given that Israel has neither declared war on Syria nor been provoked by Bashar Assad’s government, but yet which has been almost entirely unreported in mainstream news media.

‘Human Rights Day’ is all well and good as a symbolic gesture, as a marker to shift attention on to human rights issues across the world; but that’s all it is, and then everything rolls on as normal. And ‘as normal’ includes the ongoing and unchanging oppression and persecution of the Palestinian people, whose territory seems to be shrinking more and more every year as Jewish settlers continue to swallow up more territory.

Give it a few more years and all the Palestinian people will have is a small shed in Gaza. And then the IDF will probably bomb the shed  too.


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