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Friday, 6 March 2009

did you know? bulldozers, 66 year old farmers and fishermen

Yes, a Palestinian (or is it Israeli Arab? Let's get it right. ) has just driven a bulldozer through East Jerusalem and injured two people and paid with his life. And yes, this is the third time it has happened over the last eight months. No, it is not to be condoned. It is being called a terror attack, and it has got some Australian newspace.

I wonder what the Israeli attacks on Gazan fishermen at the moment are called? And the attacks on the farmers trying to pick parsley? And the attacks on the tunnels which bring the food, such as baby food, into Gaza, which the Israelis will not allow. Seems those kinds of attacks would be pretty terrifying to me too. All of them have caused injury or death. I wonder what the war on Gaza could be termed as? I wonder why the attacks on the fishermen and the ever decreasing fishing area (three nautical miles at present, down from six, which contravenes the 20 nautical miles stipulated in the Oslo Accord) are not reported in the way the bulldozer driver's actions are? I wonder why the shooting (and killing) of farmers is not reported in the way that the bulldozer driver's actions are. Who is hellbent on destroying whom?

Below is part of a testimony of a 66 year old farmer who was beaten by Israeli forces while tending his sheep in the West Bank. The report is from the Israeli human rights watch group, B'Tselem. This type of beating is common in the region, whether the attacks be from Israeli settlers or Israeli forces. You might also want to take a look at the figures on the B'Tselem site of how many Palestinian deaths there have been across the years in comparison to Israeli, and how many civilian deaths there have been, in comparison to Israeli, and how many Palestinians are imprisoned (including children who are kept in adult jails) in comparison to Israeli (I think the Palestinians have one Israeli prisoner), how many homes have been destroyed, land confiscated, walls built, and so on, compared to Israeli.
Testimony: Soldiers beat and severely abuse shepherd Sharif Abu Hayah, 66, in Khirbet Abu Falah, 28 January 2009

Sharif Abu Hayah, farmer

Last Wednesday [28 January], around 9:30 A.M., I was grazing my flock of twelve sheep in the area of Dhaher Jubara, about two kilometers west of our village.

Suddenly, I saw six soldiers. They must have been hiding between the boulders. They looked young and their faces were painted black. They spoke Hebrew among themselves, and I didn't understand what they were saying. They came over to me, and the sheep ran away. I tried to gather the sheep, to show the soldiers I wasn’t afraid of them.

The soldiers attacked me all at once. Some of them grabbed my hands and others grabbed my legs. They knocked me down. I thought they were going to kill me, so I tried to resist. There was no one else around. They hit and kicked me. They tied my hands behind my back with plastic cuffs and laid me on the ground, on my back. Then they blindfolded me with a piece of cloth. I couldn’t see a thing. I shouted at them, “What do you want from me? What did I do to you? Leave me alone!” They punched and kicked me even harder than before.

One of them sat on my legs and others punched me in the face. I shouted, again and again, “What did I do to you? Why are you beating me?” One of the said to me, in poor Arabic, “Shut up, shut up.”

After a few minutes, they dragged me about thirty meters away. I got injured by rocks and cut by thorns as they dragged me. The cuffs got tighter and hurt a lot.
Read more.
I am assuming that the East Jerusalem resident's actions will be used to justify the war on Gaza, the siege on Gaza (even though it did not occur in Gaza), the bulldozing of houses (which the Palestinians have to pay for), the apartheid wall, the checkpoints and so on; the banning of harmful lentils, pasta, paper, books and other supplies (such as construction material) into Gaza.

The opening article referred to in this blog states this:
All of the attackers were from east Jerusalem, where Palestinian residents hold Israeli ID cards and can move freely about Israel.

If you want to take that at face value, you can, or you can read part of a report below about what people in the west do not know about the occupation.
Moving on to Jerusalem, the heart of the conflict, almost everyone knows that the Palestinians in the eastern sector must endure excruciating procedures in order to prove their residency in the city lest they lose their status as permanent residents. How many people, however, know that if Israel has even the slightest doubt that the family in question is not living within the Israeli municipality borders, one spouse can be denied residency or the children denied registration as Jerusalemites? How many people know that recently, when Israel actually grants birth certificates or registration for children of these families, it is only on a two-year basis, which is up for review after the aforementioned period has lapsed? If the family cannot prove they live the Jerusalem's borders (self-proclaimed by the Israeli municipality to accommodate the ever growing settlements), residency rights are duly revoked.

On that same note, how many people know that parents of children with a different ID card must produce birth certificates at Israeli checkpoints to prove their blood relation? I can speak from personal experience on this, so as not to be branded as an exaggerating Palestinian propagandist. With my West Bank ID (and Israeli-issued permit to enter Israel), I must produce my children's birth certificates at the Qalandiya crossing to prove they really are mine and be allowed to cross into Israeli territory. Never mind that my children are only nine and six years old. If the birth certificates are not with me, they can only cross Qalandiya with their father, the original Jerusalemite. Never mind that we have been trying for 10 years to get approval from Israel's interior ministry for family reunification, attempts which have been repeatedly shot down under the pretext of "Israeli security." This uncomfortable life in limbo means I am essentially "illegal" in my own home. My children, however, are not. Never mind that should I be kicked out of Jerusalem, they would only be able to follow at the risk of losing their own residency status.
Remember, the Palestinian people are the indigenous people of this land. Until the sixties Western Australia, and Australia as a whole, did not allow Aboriginal people to vote, and they needed papers to travel freely, and yes, they had a curfew. It wasn't until Whitlam that full rights were given (1970), and even then, Howard has taken a lot of those away, and Rudd has not restored them yet, though this current impingement on civil rights is still not to the extent of the policies and practices in Israel and the Occupied territories. Policies similar to Israeli policies towards the Palestinians officially petered out in Australia in the late sixties, and there are very few politicians and Australian people now who look back on them and view them as just.

The Clintons, Rudds, Smiths and Obamas of the world with their lip service towards any form of fair peace process whilst giving the green light to continued settlement expansion in the West Bank, not recognising elected governments, dealing with corrupt governments (Fatah), and not protesting over human rights abuse, in fact, endorsing it through their complete support of all Israeli actions must sleep well at night with their self-erasing consciences (or is that self-serving?), which seem to pay attention to views of ethnic cleansing such as this from a Likud advisor, but which never seem to be able to, or actually want to, absorb for a moment the facts before them.

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this cutie was taken by Crazyegg95 in 2005 and is from flickr