Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Ugly Occupation: the new rules of engagement and the Israeli "Mista'arvim"

Over the past two weeks, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is once again taking center stage. Increasing tension over Jewish visits to the Temple Mount, which for Palestinian Muslims is the Holy Haram al-Sharif, has spilled over with many claiming that we could be witnessing the beginnings of the "Third Intifada." 

Tragically both sides have suffered dead. Over the last few days, Palestinians have embarked on a wave of stabbings and shootings against Israelis, and the Israeli army and police have continued to react with excessive force--often live ammunition--against protesters hurling rocks at any Israeli military presence within the Occupied Palestinian lands. 

Making it worse, recently, the Israeli Cabinet changed the rules of engagement, allowing the army to use live ammunition even in cases when its soldiers' lives are not in danger. While the decision on paper might makes sense, allowing live gun fire also when a third party is in danger, clearly the army has taken it as a green light to use live ammunition to deter stone throwing Palestinians resisting Israel's ongoing 48 years of occupation.


Funeral of child killed by Israeli army gunfire.
photo credit:MUSA AL-SHAER / AFP
As a result, just two days ago, a 13-year old, Abdel Rahman Abdullah, was killed at a demonstration, when clearly Israeli soldiers were not in a not in a life-or-death situation. The Israeli army claims now that it was an accident and that it "had intended to shoot a protester who was leading the riot." However, any way you look at it, there was no "third party in danger" and to claim their own lives were in danger is ludicrous as they were armed with full riot gear.  



Israeli army claims that this unarmed protester proved a threat and as a result
was shot point-blank in the leg
Even more damning is the video that surfaced yesterday of Israeli undercover security personnel, dressed as Arabs (a unit within the army known as the "mista'arvim"),  inciting Palestinians to attack the army with stones and then turning on the protesters with pistols, as the army stormed them. In the video, posted by the Agence France Presse on YouTube, one protester is caught by the undercover agents and soldiers, and then brutally beaten with one undercover man coming and actually shooting him directly in the leg.



This disgraceful video shows us once again how ugly the occupation is, highlighting the abuse of force by the Israeli army--making it easy to understand why with each bullet more people will come out to challenge its presence. 

With years of relative silence on behalf of the West Bank Palestinians, it seems the time has come that once again they are saying "enough" to the occupation--especially since this silence has been met with the continued building of Israeli settlements, not to mention the decades of oppressive measures they live with on a daily basis.  

Will this turn into the "Third Intifada"? Only time will tell, however, what is clear is that Israeli attempts to use live ammunition as a preventive measure will only increase the circle of violence bringing more death to both sides, as was feared by the Israeli human rights organization, B'Tselem.  




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