[News] Palestine - This uprising is about more than knives
news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jan 28 11:48:58 EST 2016
This uprising is about more than knives
Budour Youssef Hassan
<https://electronicintifada.net/people/budour-youssef-hassan> 27 January
When the “intifada of the knives” set off in October last year, Western
reporters flooded in to Jerusalem
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/jerusalem> to cover the new
“escalation,” interview people from “both sides of the conflict” and
raise several variations of the old question: “Is this the beginning of
a third intifada?”
Inevitably, the journalists left once a massive crackdown significantly
reduced the number of deadly attacks against Israelis in the city. It is
an all too familiar pattern for Palestinians, who know by now that it’s
only “escalation” when there are dead or wounded Israelis. Deaths,
injuries, arrests and home demolitions
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/home-demolitions> inflicted on
Palestinians by Israel are deemed business as usual, not worthy of
The daily acts of collective punishment
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/collective-punishment> suffered by
Palestinians in Jerusalem and their slow ethnic cleansing
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/ethnic-cleansing> are too routine
to be considered newsworthy.
The temporary checkpoints
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/checkpoints>, closures and concrete
blocks imposed during the crackdown may have gone and the numbers of
Israeli troops on the streets may have been reduced. Yet the Israeli
repression — and Palestinian resistance — remains.
Holding the dead hostage
One of Israel’s most troubling tactics is its withholding the bodies of
In mid-October the Israeli security cabinet endorsed
several measures to quell the unrest. One involved reviving a
decades-long policy of withholding the bodies of Palestinians accused of
carrying out attacks.
Since then, more than 80 bodies
have been withheld. Israel began gradually releasing
the bodies in late December after weeks of mass protests, most notably
in Hebron <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/hebron>, but the bodies
of 10 Palestinian Jerusalemites remain in Israeli morgues.
The families of Bahaa Alayan
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/bahaa-alayan>, Thaer Abu Ghazaleh,
Hassan Manasra, Alaa Abu Jamal
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/alaa-abu-jamal>, Ahmad Abu Shaaban,
Mutaz Uweisat <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/mutaz-uweisat>, Omar
Iskafi <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/omar-iskafi>, Abd al-Mohsen
Hassouna, Musab al-Ghazali
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/musab-al-ghazali> and Muhammad
Nimer are still battling
<http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=769980> for the right to lay
their children to rest.
Exploiting the geographic and political isolation of Palestinians in
Jerusalem, Israel has attached repressive conditions to the release of
the bodies. Their families must bury them on the opposite side of the
wall Israel has built around the city, limit the number of mourners
present at burial, bury the dead only at certain late hours and pay a
surety in lieu of those conditions.
Bahaa Alayan’s father Muhammad has led the popular campaign in Jerusalem
protesting these measures.
“We are being deprived of our right to mourn and Israel is using the
dead bodies of our children to break us,” Alayan told The Electronic
Intifada. “Yet the issue is not receiving a fraction of the coverage and
attention it deserves.”
The 60-year-old lawyer believes that the families of Jerusalem’s martyrs
have been completely abandoned by the Palestinian Authority
struggles to understand the apathy of the Western media.
None of the Western journalists who had approached him following his
son’s killing to ask why such a bright young man should carry out a
knife attack have bothered to come back and ask about Bahaa’s body,
Had they done so, they would have found the Alayans sleeping in a
makeshift tent next to the rubble of their house. The Alayan home is one
of several demolished by Israel in retaliation for individual attacks.
The policy of punitive home demolitions
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/punitive-home-demolitions> was also
in the package of measures approved by Israel’s security cabinet in
October and has been endorsed by Israel’s high court
Pushed to mobilize
The policies to withhold bodies of alleged attackers and demolish their
families’ homes constitute some of the most egregious human rights
violations against Palestinians in Jerusalem. But they have also pushed
the community to mobilize.
On 1 December, youth held a concert at the Palestinian National Theatre
— also known as El-Hakawati — in support of parents with children in
prison and those waiting for the release of their children’s bodies. The
theater’s largest hall was filled to capacity; revenues were allocated
to home reconstruction.
The communal solidarity
organized by residents in Jerusalem’s Shuafat refugee camp
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/shuafat-refugee-camp> following the
destruction of Ibrahim Akari’s home was replicated throughout the West
Bank, notably in Ramallah
and Nablus <https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=769330>.
There has been direct action, too. Inspired by Bahaa Alayan’s idea of
forming a reading human chain
<http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=682006> back in March 2014,
Palestinians did just that on 26 December. The chain encircled the walls
of Jerusalem’s Old City, with participants demanding the return of
martyrs’ bodies before the peaceful protest was violently dispersed by
Mobilizing mass protests in the face of Israel’s extreme repression has
become even harder for Palestinians in Jerusalem since October. Israel
has deliberately targeted
leading activists in the city by jailing them, putting them under house
arrest, threatening arrest, or handing down orders to expel them from
These measures did not stop Hijazi Abu Sbeih and Samer Abu Eisheh from
setting up a protest tent
<https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=769679> in the yard of the
International Committee of the Red Cross
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/icrc> building in Jerusalem’s
Sheikh Jarrah <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/sheikh-jarrah>
neighborhood. While the tent was initially erected to provide the two
with shelter when they rejected Israel’s order to banish them from
Jerusalem, it was soon transformed into a vibrant space of civil
Moment of freedom
For nearly two weeks, the tent brimmed with energy and revolutionary
spirit free of factional divisions. Concerts were held there along with
public lectures and discussions.
More than providing support for the two protesters, those who attended
were imbued with a rare sense of genuine, if short-lived, freedom. Here
they were able to sing, raise their voices against Israeli oppression,
chant “I am not leaving,” immerse themselves in debate and organize.
Palestinians are often asked about the alternative to their corrupt and
failed leadership. Those who visited the tent could get a glimpse of
what that could like.
On 6 January, both Abu Eisheh and Abu Sbeih were arrested
<http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=769679> by special Israeli
police units on the Red Cross premises. The two have been charged with
defying military orders and inciting violence via Facebook, Abu Eisheh’s
lawyer, Mahmoud Hassan, told The Electronic Intifada.
The protest tent, and Israel’s arrest raid there, did not capture the
attention of international journalists, even though these nonviolent
forms of resistance and Israel’s crackdown on them are at the heart of
One cannot yet speak of an organized mass movement among Palestinians,
but this current uprising has much more to it than knife attacks waged
by individuals. And Israel’s repression goes far beyond bullets and
/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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