[News] Palestine - This uprising is about more than knives

Anti-Imperialist News 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 
further inquiry.

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 
slain Palestinians.

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.

    International apathy

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 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/palestinian-authority>. He 
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, 
Muhammad said.

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 
Israeli forces.

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 
the city.

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 
Jerusalem’s story.

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 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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