[News] Muhannad Halabi: A terrorist to Israel, a hero to his family

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jan 21 12:03:21 EST 2016

  Muhannad Halabi: A terrorist to Israel, a hero to his family

Budour Youssef Hassan 
<https://electronicintifada.net/people/budour-youssef-hassan> 20 January 

When Muhannad Halabi 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/muhannad-halabi> stabbed two 
Israeli men to death and injured a woman and a baby in Jerusalem’s 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/jerusalem> Old City, he started 
what many Palestinians have called the “intifada of the knives.”

Halabi was shot and killed by Israeli police during the attack in early 
October last year and the 19-year-old law student was branded 
a “terrorist” by the media. His parents, however, have a sharply 
different view: they regard Muhannad as a hero.

“I will always be proud that my son sacrificed his life for the 
liberation of his homeland,” said his mother Suhair.

In his final posting 
on Facebook, Muhannad expressed deep anger <http://> about the 
incursions of Israeli settlers into the compound around al-Aqsa mosque 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/al-aqsa-mosque>, one of Islam’s 
holiest sites. He had just watched a video of a Palestinian woman being 
arrested by Israeli police at al-Aqsa.

Urging a “revolution,” Muhannad compared Palestine to a battered and 
tormented orphan who had been forsaken by fellow Arabs.

Muhannad showed his message to his parents before putting it on the 
Internet. “I was surprised to read it and felt that he meant every 
word,” said Suhair. The post was written one day before Muhannad carried 
out his attack.

    Wake-up call

His father, Shafiq, said: “Muhannad has led the way and I feel that all 
those young people rising up are joining him. His attack was the wake-up 
call that Palestinians needed to act and break the current deadlock.”

Even Israeli military officials have acknowledged 
that the spate of attacks is spurred by a desire among some young 
Palestinians to strike at symbols of the occupation and hit back for the 
killings of Palestinians.

Muhannad was acutely aware of the injustices inflicted on his people.

He grew up in Surda, a village north of Ramallah 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/ramallah> in the occupied West 
Bank. Yet whenever Muhannad was asked where he came from, he replied 
that he was a native of the Ajami neighborhood in Jaffa 

His family was driven from Jaffa by Zionist forces during the Nakba 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/nakba>, the 1948 ethnic cleansing 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/ethnic-cleansing> of Palestine.

“Muhannad always felt a sense of belonging to Jaffa without ever 
visiting it,” said Suhair. “He was conscious of his roots. And no power 
can take that consciousness away.”

One of the main targets of Muhannad’s anger was the Palestinian 
Authority <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/palestinian-authority>. 
He felt that the PA had betrayed Palestinians by cooperating with the 
Israeli occupation.

The PA’s betrayal was illustrated just after Muhannad was killed. 
According to his father, members of the PA’s intelligence services could 
be seen in Surda as Israeli forces raided the village.

The PA’s agents “were not here to protect us or prevent the demolition,” 
said Shafiq. “They came to collect information about Muhannad and about 
the family.”

Similarly, the Halabis received no help from the PA when Israeli forces 
demolished their home earlier this month. Rather, local youths rallied 
to the family’s defense.

The villagers were determined to try to resist the demolition. But in 
the end, their rocks and burning tires proved no match to the 
militarized bulldozers and other weapons in Israel’s arsenal.

    PA reinforces occupation

“We do not expect the PA to protect us,” said Suhair Halabi a few days 
before the demolition. “This authority reinforces the occupation.”

Once they learned that Muhannad had been slain, Suhair and Shafiq 
suspected it would only be a matter of time before their elegant 
two-story home in Surda would be destroyed. The Israeli government has 
been eager to see many revenge demolitions carried out in recent months.

The Halabis tried to prevent the demolition by going to the Israeli high 
court <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/israeli-high-court>, also 
known as the supreme court. But all three judges handling their case 
ruled against them towards the end of December.

They were given 10 days to evacuate their home in Surda. Its demolition 
took place on 8 January.

Revenge or punitive 
demolitions were introduced 
<http://www.hamoked.org/Topic.aspx?tID=main_3> by Britain, when it ruled 
Palestine under a League of Nations mandate between 1923 and 1948. 
Constituting collective punishment 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/collective-punishment>, the 
practice violates international law.

Yet Israel still makes use 
of these British regulations, with the rubber-stamp approval of its 
highest court. This is despite acknowledgement that these demolitions do 
not deter Palestinians from resisting the occupation.

“At the end of the day, the supreme court is an arm of the Israeli 
occupation,” said Labib Habib 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/labib-habib>, a Palestinian 
attorney who represents the Halabis. “The legal lexicon it uses is 
nothing but a cloak to rationalize and legitimize the arbitrary 
practices of this occupation.”

Israel carries out revenge demolitions on Palestinian homes only. The 
relatives of Israeli Jews suspected of violent attacks on Palestinians 
or others need never fear being made homeless by Israel’s bulldozers.


The Halabis struck a defiant note after the demolition. “They demolished 
our home but did not destroy our morale,” said Suhair. “In fact, our 
morale could not be higher.”

Activists in Ramallah have launched 
a fundraising campaign to help the Halabi family rebuild their home.

The Halabis very much appreciate such acts of solidarity. But Shafiq 
said that “all the money in the world” could not compensate them for the 
loss of Muhannad.

A similar message <http://www.alquds.com/articles/1452319941936889000/> 
was conveyed to the Halabis by Muhammad Alayan 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/muhammad-alayan>, whose own son 
Bahaa <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/bahaa-alayan> was slain by 
Israel in October during an alleged stabbing attack in occupied East 
Jerusalem <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/east-jerusalem>. The 
Alayan home has also been demolished in recent months.

“You and I will remain strong like Muhannad and Bahaa,” Muhammad Alayan 
stated. “Be well, for the stone [of our houses] is not more precious 
than their lives.”

“I put my blood and sweat into building this home,” said Shafiq, 
standing amid its rubble. “It is where we have lived for the last 10 
years. But what stings more than the physical destruction of the home is 
the destruction of the memories. Every corner of this house reminded us 
of Muhannad.”

Surda is located in Area A of the West Bank. As part of a zoning scheme 
brought in by the 1993 Oslo accords 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/oslo-accords>, Area A is supposed 
to be under full control of the Palestinian Authority for both 
administrative and security purposes.

However, by invoking the 1945 “emergency regulations” dating from the 
British Mandate <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/british-mandate> 
era, Israel can circumvent these accords.

“When the military commander decides to implement them [the 
regulations], this whole distinction between Areas A, B and C is 
erased,” Habib added.

Muhannad Halabi knew how the Oslo agreements helped prolong the occupation.

“Just like me, he was outspoken against the Palestinian Authority and 
the peace process,” his father said. “We both believed that for the last 
20 years, this process has only resulted in increasing colonization and 
home demolitions. The status quo cannot be maintained.”

Muhannad was a law student at Al-Quds University 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/al-quds-university-0> in East 

“He knew the ins and outs of the Oslo accords by heart,” his mother 
said. “He often said to me, do you want me to read to you the agreement 
and show you how it has stripped us of our rights and facilitated the 
theft of our land?”

    Political family

The Halabis are a political family. Shafiq was once involved with the 
Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine but he is no longer 
affiliated to the group. He was imprisoned briefly during the first 
intifada in the 1980s.

Muhannad, meanwhile, was a member of Islamic Jihad’s 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/islamic-jihad> student chapter and 
was well-known to Palestinians as an activist.

Like Shafiq, Muhannad believed that the PA’s negotiations with Israel 
are futile and that armed resistance is necessary. Muhannad had outlined 
his arguments in a letter addressed to Mahmoud Abbas 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/mahmoud-abbas>, the PA’s leader, 
and posted on Facebook shortly before the attack.

“He was extremely passionate yet always polite in criticism, which made 
his critique even more trenchant,” Suhair said.

Shafiq, a plumber, had promised to help Muhannad open a joint office 
with his younger sister — and fellow law student — Fatimah after they 

In the end, Muhannad was buried wrapped in a lawyer’s robe. The 
Palestinian Bar Association posthumously awarded him with an honorary 
permit to practice as an attorney. A placard on his grave reads: “The 
martyred lawyer Muhannad Halabi, igniter of the Jerusalem uprising.”

/Budour Youssef Hassan is a Palestinian writer and law graduate based in 
occupied Jerusalem. Blog: budourhassan.wordpress.com 
<https://budourhassan.wordpress.com/>. Twitter: @Budour48 

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
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