- On December 9, al-Nabi Saleh village residents protested
peacefully against settlers stealing their land. At point blank range,
an Israeli soldier fired a tear-gas canister directly at Mustafa Tamimi's
head, killing him.
- On December 10, thousands of Palestinians protested against
his cold-blooded murder. Tamimi was the 20th Palestinian killed this way
in the past eight years, besides many more by other means, especially in
- On December 12, a Haaretz editorial headlined, "In
Israel, the life of a Palestinian is cheap," saying:
- "The pictures from....Nabi Saleh are hard to swallow:
An Israel Defense Forces soldier opens the back door of an armored military
jeep and, from a distance of just a few meters, fires a tear-gas canister
directly at a young man who is throwing stones. After the canister is fired,
the jeep continues on its way without stopping."
- Al-Nabi Saleh residents, like other West Bank ones, hold
weekly nonviolent anti-land theft/Separation Wall demonstrations. It's
their country and property. Under international law, they have every right
to defend it. Not according to Israel.
- Since 1967, under Military Order No 101: "Order
Regarding Prohibition of Incitement and Hostile Propaganda Action,"
It's "forbidden to conduct a protest or march or meeting (involving
10 or more participants for political reasons) without permission of the
- The same order forbids distributing political articles,
pictures, or other materials.
- In other words, an illegal occupier prohibits Palestinians
from exercising their free expression and assembly rights on their own
land, in their own country, under threat of intimidation, attacks, arrests,
imprisonments, torture, and at times death.
- In response to Tamimi's murder, an IDF spokesman said,
"the army is looking into the incident." "Looking into"
means whitewash. Arrests, prosecutions, justice, or even apologies rarely
ever follow military, police or settler violence.
- Haaretz cited a new Yesh Din-Volunteers for Human Rights
report discussing 192 Palestinian complaints and 67 Military Police "investigations"
involving harm to Palestinians and their property. It showed that "95.5
percent of the total number of complaints are closed without indictments."
- Moreover, nearly always when they occur, penalties at
most are minor and inconsequential. The "conclusion is obvious,"
said Haaretz. "When it comes to shooting a Palestinian, pulling the
trigger does not come with a real fear of having to answer to the law."
- Soldiers, police and even settlers can kill or otherwise
harm with impunity. Tamimi's death and many others show that Palestinian
life is "cheap."
- Nonetheless, Israel's military called his killing "exceptional,"
saying the offending soldier's gas mask blocked his vision, despite aiming
directly at Tamimi's head from about 9 feet away.
- According to journalist/editor Noam Sheizaf:
- "(A)s we have reported here in the past, firing
tear gas canisters at protesters from close range (in violation of army
orders) is a common practice in the West Bank."
- "I have seen tear gas canisters shot directly at
protesters (including myself) in several demonstrations in Bil'in, in Hebron,
and in Nabi Saleh."
- "When you viciously fire tear gas canisters like
the IDF does, someone is bound to die. The IDF is lying when it implies
that incidents like these don't happen often."
- According to French photographer Anne Paq, "I am
wearing a gas mask all the time to take pics. I can tell you, you can see
if somebody is 5 meters in front of you!" Israel lied claiming otherwise.
- Moreover, IDF rules of engagement prohibit firing tear
gas grenades or other projectiles from rifles pointed directly at demonstrators
or from a distance within 40 meters. In addition, soldiers must use rifle
sights and verify that no one's in their line of fire.
- In practice, however, rules of engagement, as well as
Israeli and international laws don't matter. Soldiers, police and settlers
attack Palestinians with impunity. The practice is longstanding and lawless.
Nonetheless, it persists virtually daily throughout the Territories.
- Al-Haq Report on Repression of Nonviolent Protests
- On December 10, Al-Haq published a report titled, "Repression
of Non-Violent Protest in the Occupied Palestinian Territory: Case Study
on the village of al-Nabi Saleh," saying:
- Since Israel began constructing its Separation/Annexation
Wall in 2002, West Bank Palestinians protested against theft of their land.
Villagers usually do it weekly on Fridays.
- In response, Israel retaliates "with an intense
campaign of violence, intimidation and arrests..." In the past two
years especially, escalated viciousness has been common, including increased
violence and brutality against peaceful Palestinian protesters. Al Haq
knows of at least 13 deaths since 2004, as well as many other injuries
- Al-Nabi Saleh residents repeatedly lodged complaints
in vain, despite Israel's High Court 1978 ruling that land confiscation
was illegal and had to be returned to their rightful Palestinian owners.
Israeli authorities refused to comply. As a result, West Bank villagers
lose more land, and know no other recourse than to protest.
- In Al-Nabi Saleh and other villages, Israeli forces "deliberately
creat(e) a hostile atmosphere" during protests. Military commanders
give soldiers "vast powers to suppress (them) and imprison participants
for extended periods of up to ten years."
- Residents on their own land are accused of "incitement."
As a result, they face long prison terms and large fines.
- As soon as protests begin, soldier attack them with tear
gas canisters, stun grenades, rubber bullets, "skunk" foul-smelling
chemicals, and beatings. In response, some Palestinians throw stones. Doing
so escalates retaliatory violence.
- Paramedics are prevented from treating and evacuating
injured residents. Instead, occupying forces arrest them. Commanders lie
saying soldiers only respond to stone-throwers.
- Documented testimonies say "force is not directly
related to stone-throwing or any other alleged physical threat to the soldiers'
safety, and seems instead to be targeted against the protest as a movement."
- In other words, soldiers are ordered to use force indiscriminately
against nonviolent protesters. When they respond defensively, intense retaliatory
violence follows. So do deaths and severe injuries.
- Moreover, Palestinian bystanders and in homes are affected.
Documented cases show "Israeli soldiers have fired teargas or rubber-coated
metal bullets (at) people standing on rooftops, passing by the area, or
watching events by their windows."
- Residents estimate soldiers fire up to 500 tear-gas canisters
during weekly protest demonstrations alone. They're launched from mortars
atop militarized jeeps in batches of 20 or more at a time.
- Thick clouds of gas then spread over targeted areas.
Panic and fear ensue. So does psychological trauma. Women, children, the
elderly and infirm are affected. Windows are shattered firing canisters
through them. Gas inhalation harms residents inside. Property damage also
- Moreover, "intimidation, arbitrary arrests, beatings,
and night raids" occur regularly. Children as young as 10 are affected.
Some are seized at home in middle-of-the-night raids and sent to repressive
detention centers for intimidating interrogations and threats of torture
for not cooperating.
- Outrageously, Israel says it abides by Fourth Geneva
provisions. At the same time, it doesn't specify what it considers humanitarian.
In addition, it claims international law doesn't apply to Occupied Palestine.
"The actions of (its soldiers) in repressing Palestinian protests
reflect this position."
- Nonetheless, international law is clear and unequivocal.
Civilians under occupation are protected persons. Violence is absolutely
prohibited. Fundamental human rights remain in force. Violations are forbidden.
- "Law enforcement activities must always be subject
to the international human rights standards applicable to civilian police
operations, which may never be conducted like hostilities against combatants."
- Israel repeatedly and willfully breaches this and virtually
all other international law standards - including the right to life, the
most fundamental one of all.
- Instead, wanton, excessive, undisciplined force is disproportionately
unleashed against peaceful protesters on their own land defending it heroically
against hostile soldiers.
- Israeli rules of engagement are also violated. Section
8 of the "Permanent commands from the operation department" states:
- "As a rule, it is prohibited to shoot live fire
in the direction of a stone thrower."
- "It is allowed to execute the procedure for a suspect's
arrest only when the attack is massive in a manner that endangers the life
of the soldier or another person...."
- "In unique danger circumstances, when an imminent
and real threat to life is perceived....it is necessary to shoot directly
with a purpose of hitting the body of the attacker and remove the threat."
- Police must also observe these provisions, and take all
precautions to avoid gratuitous violence. Nonetheless, civilian and military
security forces violate these rules with impunity.
- They have no respect for international law or their own.
They repeatedly violate basic human and civil rights, including expression,
assembly, security, liberty, health, and life.
- As a result, Palestinians face daily cruel and unusual
punishment. While no precise definition exists, common law refers to disproportionate
fines, penalties, confinement or treatment.
- America's Eighth Amendment prohibits the federal government
from imposing cruel and unusual punishments. Specifically it states:
- "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive
fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted."
- America's Fourteenth Amendment due process clause bars
states from imposing such punishments. In addition, most state constitutions
prohibit cruel and unusual punishment of any kind.
- Despite precise definitions, it's like pornography/obscenity.
In Jacobellis v. Ohio (1964), Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said
"I know it when I see it."
- It became one of the High Court's most remembered comments,
despite lacking legal precision.
- In contrast, no ambiguity whatever exists when peaceful
protesters are violently attacked defending their rights.
- It especially holds when children, the elderly, infirm
and innocent bystanders are affected. In Occupied Palestine, they are repeatedly.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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