Israel’s shoot-first-ask-questions-later policy is just one layer of the daily violence Palestinians experience, this week has been no exception.
The week is not yet over but already Palestinians multiple Palestinian families are making funeral arrangements and planning hospital visits. The following are three stories – one death and two injuries. Each story raises many questions, more than there is space to fully answer, but there remains a benefit in asking.
A sixty-year-old disabled man is shot
On Monday, a sixty-year-old Palestinian man approached an Israeli checkpoint on foot, not in the pedestrian section, but in the area of the checkpoint designated for vehicles. Israeli guards shouted at him to stop, but he kept walking “suspiciously.” He was then shot in the leg.
The guards would later discover that the elderly man was unarmed, deaf, and mute. He was taken to a hospital and the guard that shot him questioned and released, his punishment, five days of house arrest.
Why was there a checkpoint in the first place? Why would guards use live ammunition against an elderly man for simply walking “suspiciously?” Why was the shooter released?
The stated purpose of Israeli checkpoints is to enhance security for Israelis and to protect them against Palestinians wishing to do them harm. There are currently around 140 permanent checkpoints administered by Israel on Palestinian territory and thousands of “flying” (temporary) checkpoints in use.
These checkpoints severely hinder the dignity and freedom of movement of Palestinians; they are made to accommodate Israelis who live illegally in Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land and effectively undermine Israeli security as Palestinians view settlements and the infrastructure that sustains them as an ongoing provocation.
As one Washington Post article put it, a checkpoint is:
a stark symbol of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and a constant source of humiliation for ordinary Palestinians. It also serves as a daily reminder of how deeply Israel controls their lives.”
Shot in the chest, stalked in the ICU
On Tuesday, Israeli soldiers entered a town near East Jerusalem with army jeeps, police vehicles, and three bulldozers, and demolished a six-story building that was under construction. When a group of Palestinians gathered to protest the demolition; dozens of them were targeted by Israeli soldiers with live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and concussion grenades.
One of the protesters, a young man in his twenties, was shot in the chest with a live round. Palestinian medics rushed him to the hospital, where he immediately went into surgery and intensive care. He remains in critical condition.
Israeli soldiers surrounded the hospital, attempting to “abduct” the wounded man. As of this writing, the situation is uncertain.
Why was a six-story building still under construction demolished in the first place – and why did protesters gather? Why were Israeli soldiers present and why did they shoot at the protesters – and why in the chest? Why would Israeli soldiers attempt to abduct a man in intensive care?
Palestinians, and activists from around the world, routinely protest against these demolitions in hopes of attracting international attention – attention Israel would rather avoid.
Young man shot, denied medical assistance, dies
Another incident on Monday near the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem saw Israeli soldiers fire at least three live rounds into the chest of a Palestinian man who attempted to attack them with a knife. Palestinian medics nearby heard the shots and offered to help the injured man. The soldiers assaulted the medics and forcibly removed them from the vicinity.
The injured man was left on the ground to bleed to death; meanwhile, Israeli medics tended to the moderately wounded soldier, then transferred him to a nearby hospital.
Why were Israeli soldiers standing guard near the al-Aqsa Mosque? Why would a Palestinian man want to stab them? Why was he shot multiple times in the chest? Why was he left to bleed to death?
At first glance, one might say the Israeli soldiers were on duty – in full riot gear – to keep the peace in the Old City of Jerusalem; in reality, however, they, like the invasive checkpoints scattered across Palestine, remind Palestinians of their own powerlessness under occupation.
Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz offers an answer to the bleeding-to-death query: “Palestinian life is cheap.”
Daily questions unanswered
According to the Electronic Intifada, Israeli forces have killed 28 Palestinians so far in 2020.
Troubling details and unanswered questions like the ones above plague each incident. Last week, for example, a 23-year-old woman was fatally shot in her home when Israeli soldiers invaded her neighborhood and shot tear gas canisters in the street. As she was closing her window to protect her children from gas, she was shot in the chest. The ambulance that arrived to take her to the hospital was also shot at with live ammunition. The woman later died at the hospital.
In May, a Palestinian man with severe autism was shot and killed, even as his caregiver screamed, “he’s disabled!”
In fact, eight disabled Palestinians were among more than 200 killed by Israeli snipers during in 2018 and 2019 while protesting in Gaza for the end of a thirteen-year Israeli blockade. Among the dead were also women and children, medics and journalists, and men.
One Israeli has been killed in 2020.
Feature photo | Israeli forces point weapons at Palestinians protesting against Israel’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank and U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mideast initiative and the United Arab Emirates’ deal with Israel, in the West Bank village of Turmusaya near Ramallah, Aug. 19, 2020. Majdi Mohammed | AP
Kathryn Shihadah writes for MintPress News and If Americans Knew. She speaks regularly about the injustice and demonization Palestinians face at the hands of Israel with complicity from the United States, especially to Christian audiences. Kathryn has lived in the Middle East for ten years and has traveled extensively. She blogs at PalestineHome.org.