Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Finkelstein, #BDS and the destruction of Israel

By Ali Abunimah
Originally posted by Al Jazeera English at http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/02/2012227111759385177.html 

Norman Finkelstein's views on the Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement may be somewhat

Contrary to Finkelstein's claim that the BDS movement would lead to the 'destruction' of Israel, one can
simply look to Ireland as an example of a lasting two-state solution [GALLO/GETTY]
Chicago, IL - In a recent and highly controversial interview, Norman Finkelstein, long a scourge of Israel,
turned his guns on Palestinians and their supporters. He accused the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement of being a "cult", and claimed that its achievements were mostly exaggerated.

But what exercised Finkelstein most was his conclusion that if implemented, the demands of the 2005 
Palestinian civil society call for BDS, would amount to "the destruction of Israel".

Finkelstein lay into the three "tiers" of the BDS call: that Israel end its occupation of Arab lands conquered in
1967; that it end all forms of discrimination and guarantee equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel; and that it respect and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees, including the right of return.
"They don't want Israel," Finkelstein declared, "They think they're being very clever. They call it their three tiers... We want the end of the occupation, we want the right of return, and we want equal rights for Arabs in Israel. And they think they are very clever, because they know the result of implementing all three is what? What's the result? You know and I know what's the result: there's no Israel."

 US activists urge boycott
of Israeli companies
Finkelstein demanded that Palestinians drop this programme, "Because, if we end the occupation and 
bring back six million Palestinians and we have equal rights for Arabs and Jews, there's no Israel." 
He also insisted that a "two-state solution" was the only outcome supported by international law.

Putting the BDS call to the test
For the sake of argument, let's put Finkelstein's thesis to the test. But before I do that, let me make clear 
where I stand. As is well known, I support, and believe, that the eventual outcome in historic Palestine 
will be a single state. Many supporters of the BDS movement, including some of its founders 
are on record calling for the same. But the BDS call itself is agnostic, focusing on the rights of 
Palestinians, not on state arrangements - something Finkelstein insisted was mere deception.

Here, I am going to do what I normally never do. Argue the case for a two-state solution that meets all the
demands of the BDS call. Moreover, it should meet fully with Finkelstein's approval as well, because it will
be based on a solution that he himself endorsed.

"I just came back from Northern Ireland," Finkelstein said in his interview, "They found a settlement. You talk
to Protestants, you talk to Catholics. Most people are willing to live with it. You know there are some people
who find it unacceptable. But [for] most people, it's ok, we can live with it. I think you can find a settlement to Israel/Palestine that virtually everybody, particularly Palestinians, can live with."

The question then will be whether Finkelstein and his new Zionist champions (his interview was widely and
gleefully distributed by anti-Palestinian websites and commentators) could accept a solution that applies the
very same principles in historic Palestine as were endorsed on the island of Ireland.

A quick history: Settler colonialism and partition
Conflicts in Ireland and Palestine are the legacies of settler-colonialism facilitated by Britain. In each case,
the settler-colonial intervention created two mutually exclusive claims to sovereignty, legitimacy and self-determination underpinned by two diametrically opposed narratives, and a material reality of one community
long monopolising state power, resources and symbols to dominate and denigrate the other. In both cases,
the British imposed or facilitated partitions, which rather than resolve the underlying problem, simply converted
the conflict into new forms of antagonism.

Every historical situation, including those in Palestine and Ireland, is distinct, yet comparisons are possible
and useful, and in these two cases the similarities are more important than the differences.

 Riz Khan: Racism in 
Northern Ireland
Irish nationalists point to an 800-year history of British colonialism, but the modern conflict can be traced to the colonisation of the northeast part of the island, beginning in early 1600s.

As British authorities granted land to Protestant settlers from England and Scotland, native Catholics were forcibly displaced in large numbers, a process very similar to how Zionist settlers displaced, and continue to displace, Palestinians.

Although Britain annexed Ireland in 1801, repeated Irish nationalist rebellions made the question of granting Irish "home rule" the central controversy in British politics through much of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Unionists, generally comprised of the ascendant and long-settled Protestant population, were adamantly
opposed to home rule, fearing it would threaten their privileged
status. In 1912, Unionist militancy, military preparations and threats of violence succeeded in forestalling
British attempts to implement home rule.

Meanwhile, Irish nationalists, predominantly Catholic, gained increasing support for independence - especially
after the British executed the leaders of the failed 1916 Easter Rising in which an "Irish Republic" was
proclaimed. In the 1918 election to the British parliament, the republican party Sinn Fein won a landslide of
Irish seats on a platform of total independence from Britain.

Following a guerilla war between British and republican forces that ended in stalemate, the sides signed the
1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty establishing the Irish Free State, an autonomous "dominion" of the British Empire,
that eventually became the Republic of Ireland.

But its territory covered only 26 of Ireland's 32 counties. To appease unionists, the British simultaneously
partitioned the island, forming Northern Ireland, an autonomous self-governing state linked to Britain,
gerrymandered to have a two-thirds Protestant majority. 

A Protestant state for a Protestant people
Northern Ireland became a unionist-run, one-party state. Nationalist resistance to partition was violently
suppressed by British forces and unionist militia. Within a year of partition, hundreds of Catholics were
killed in Belfast, 11,000 were forced from their jobs, and 22,000 - a quarter of the city's Catholic population
- were driven from their homes.

In the widely quoted formula attributed to Northern Ireland's first prime minister, Lord Craigavon, the state's
seat of government at Stormont Castle was a "Protestant parliament for a Protestant people".

Catholics experienced severe discrimination in employment, housing, and all aspects of political and cultural
life. They viewed Northern Ireland as an illegitimate imposition, and its security forces as Protestant
sectarian militia guaranteeing unionist dominance.

Unionism viewed any effort to create a united Ireland as a mortal threat. In 1990, for example, James
Molyneaux, leader of the then dominant Ulster Unionist Party, described the Republic of Ireland's
constitutional claim to the north as "a demand for the destruction of Northern Ireland" that was "equivalent
to Hitler's claim over Czechoslovakia".

This language resembles that used by Zionists and Norman Finkelstein to describe any fundamental reform
of the Israeli state to end its systematic discrimination against non-Jews, let alone a one-state solution, as tantamount to Israel's "destruction".

Obsession with demography
At partition, Catholics were a third of the population in Northern Ireland. By 2001 they were 44 per cent.
Just as Israelis are obsessed with the "demographic threat" from the births of Palestinians, fear of a
relatively high Catholic birthrate - which could provide the Catholic majority in the north needed to reunify
Ireland - was a recurrent theme in unionist discourse. "The basic fear of Protestants in Northern Ireland,"
a former prime minister said, "is that they will be out-bred by the Roman Catholics. It is simple as that." 

Equality for all or the 'destruction of Israel'?
In the mid-1960s, after almost 50 years of unionist rule, nationalists mobilised a civil rights movement
modelled on the one in the United States - demanding equal citizenship and an end to systematic
discrimination against Catholics.

This departed from traditional republicanism, which had focused on ending partition, but the unionist state
perceived even demands for equal rights within Northern Ireland as an attack on Protestant "identity" and
the very existence of the state. Unionists responded to calls for equality and reform with violence, and, as
in the 1920s, Catholics were once again subjected to pogroms.

During Israel's December 2008 to January 2009 invasion of the Gaza Strip, which killed more than 1,400 Palestinians, the vast majority of which were civilians, veteran Irish journalist Patrick Cockburn wrote in
The Independent that Israeli society reminded him "more than ever of the unionists in Northern Ireland in the
late 1960s". Like Israelis, he wrote, unionists were a community "with a highly developed siege mentality
which led them always to see themselves as victims even when they were killing other people. There were
no regrets or even knowledge of what they inflicted on others and therefore any retaliation by the other side
appeared as unprovoked aggression inspired by unreasoning hate".

This is why Palestinian citizens of Israel and their representatives in the Knesset such as Hanin Zoabi, face
ever more hostile rhetoric and discriminatory bills and laws - from loyalty oaths, to bans on commemorating
the Nakba, to provisions reserving jobs and land for army veterans (effectively favouring Jews) to the
Citizenship Law that makes it impossible for Israeli citizens to bring Palestinian or other Arab spouses to 
live in the country (Ben White's new book Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy 
is an excellent primer).Indeed, Israel's reaction to Palestinian demands for equal citizenship mimics the
unionist response to the nationalist campaign for equality in Northern Ireland almost precisely. Israel also characterises these demands as an existential threat, a tacit acknowledgment that inequality and discrimination
are foundational elements of the Israeli state. As Finkelstein succinctly put it, "equal rights means the end of

In short, Israel has responded to calls for equal citizenship with the insistence that it must be recognised
as a "Jewish and democratic state". Just as Northern Ireland unionists insisted on a Protestant state for a
Protestant people at the expense of Catholics and their human rights, 21st century Zionists demand a Jewish
state for a Jewish people at the expense of Palestinians.

'The Troubles'
Unionists' violent rejection of nationalist demands for equality in the late 1960s inaugurated the three-decade
low-level civil war known as "The Troubles" in which more than 3,500 people were killed and 50,000 injured
- nearly two per cent of the Northern Ireland population.

As violence escalated, the British abolished the unionist government in 1972, imposed direct rule from
London, and sent in the British army. The unionist state had collapsed, but the unionist-dominated status
quo was preserved, as the army, initially sent in to protect Catholics, quickly began to act and be seen by
Catholics as an occupying force.

A reconstituted Irish Republican Army (IRA) resumed armed struggle, initially in defence of Catholic
communities, but later went on the offensive against the police, army and unionist militia (known as "loyalists").
The IRA and other republican armed groups also carried out bomb attacks and political assassinations which
killed noncombatants, including in Britain.

British tactics included curfews, internment (imprisonment without charge or trial similar to Israel's
"administrative detention", also a legacy of British colonial rule in Palestine), assassinations and extrajudicial executions, and there was extensive and now well-documented collusion between state forces and the loyalist
militia that killed hundreds of noncombatant Catholics in brutal sectarian attacks.

A two-state solution in Ireland
In 1998, Unionists and Nationalists signed the Belfast Agreement. It established, in effect, a bi-national
state in Northern Ireland where Irish nationalists share power with pro-British unionists.

It did not abolish Northern Ireland, but it did banish, once and for all, the "Protestant state" and enshrined
equality as a fundamental principle.

The agreement notably does not resolve whether the six counties that form Northern Ireland should remain
part of the United Kingdom or rejoin a united Ireland, but it establishes principles and mechanisms for
determining where sovereignty should lie and what would happen if it changes.

Crucially, it the agreement states whether Northern Ireland remains part of the UK, or becomes part of a
united Ireland,
"the power of the sovereign government with jurisdiction there shall be exercised with rigorous impartiality on behalf of all the people in the diversity of their identities and traditions and shall be founded on the principles of full respect for, and equality of, civil, political, social and cultural rights, of freedom from discrimination for all citizens, and of parity of esteem and of just and equal treatment for the identity, ethos, and aspirations of both communities."
Northern Ireland has no 'right to exist'
This was made possible because the British effectively abandoned any claim that Northern Ireland as an
entity had a "right" to exist. A breakthrough moment came in 1992 when the UK Secretary of State for
Northern Ireland conceded that "provided it is advocated constitutionally, there can be no proper reason for
excluding any political objective from discussion. Certainly not the objective of a united Ireland..."

As part of the agreement, nationalists conceded that the reunification of Ireland could only come about by
the consent of a majority in Northern Ireland.

Consequently, the Belfast Agreement did not recognise any separate right to self-determination for unionists
as unionists or Protestants as Protestants that would be analogous to a specifically Jewish right to
self-determination within historic Palestine.

Unionists enjoy the right to participate in self-determination, along with nationalists, as legitimate residents
of the territory. No more, no less. 

Freedom of movement and citizenship
There is complete freedom of movement, residency and cross-border employment (something guaranteed
in any case under European Union rules) between the two jurisdictions on the island of Ireland and the right
to full citizenship in either or both states. Moreover, such citizenship cannot be revoked from any person
even if the status of Northern Ireland changes. There is nothing to stop Catholics moving north or Protestants
moving south.

In order to reverse the long history of discrimination, public bodies and officials in Northern Ireland are under
a statutory obligation to promote equality among individuals and communities, and safeguards enacted in
British and Irish law are designed to ensure that practices conform to European and international human
rights standards. Employment anti-discrimination measures in Northern Ireland are strictly enforced, and
although Catholics are still, on average, poorer than Protestants, the gap has narrowed.

A form of 1980s solidarity activism in the United States - somewhat analogous to BDS - demanded that US
firms doing business in Northern Ireland adhere to the MacBride Principles, which forbid any form of
sectarian discrimination.

A model for historic Palestine?
The Belfast Agreement preserves an existing "two-state solution" in Ireland unless and until people in both jurisdictions choose any other arrangement. But in the meantime, it required one of the states - Northern
Ireland - to transform into an inclusive democracy from an oppressive ethnocracy. The agreement also
required the Republic of Ireland to strengthen its own human rights and equality guarantees.

So if Northern Ireland is the model, how would it transpose to Palestine? Clearly, Israel would have to
become, like Northern Ireland, a bi-national state with strict equality and full representation for all citizens.
All laws privileging Jews would have to be abolished and strong measures taken to redress historic and
present injustices and prevent future discrimination. A Palestinian state would have to be no less
committed to equality.

There would be complete freedom of movement and residency between Israel and the Palestinian state,
and because ethnic and racial privileges would have to be abolished, Palestinian refugees could exercise
their right to return to the state of their choice and gain citizenship in either.

The Republic of Ireland grants citizenship to any person from abroad with one grandparent born in Ireland,
regardless of religion or ethnic background. A similar law could replace Israel's racist "Law of Return" that
grants citizenship only to Jews while discriminating against Palestinians.

Jews would have no separate right of self-determination, but like Protestants in Northern Ireland, would
enjoy full democratic rights to participate in self-determination as residents of the territory.

All these principles underpin the Belfast Agreement and yet they did not mean the "destruction of Northern
Ireland". What they rightly did away with is ethno-religious privileges for Protestants at the expense of

So the question then for Norman Finkelstein and Zionists who are horrified by the idea of a one-state solution,
is: could they accept two states on such terms? If the answer is yes, then it is clear that the BDS call is
completely compatible with a two-state solution, and Finkelstein should withdraw his claim that this is
mere deception.

If Finkelstein and Zionists cannot accept a two-state solution on these terms, then we know it is not the
number of states that concerns them. Rather, their priority is to preserve racial and colonial privileges
for Jews at the expense of fundamental Palestinian rights.

That is something Palestinians and their allies, as with nationalists in Northern Ireland, can never - and
must never - accept, no matter how many states exist in their respective homelands.

Ali Abunimah is author of One Country, A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse
He is a co-founder of the online publication The Electronic Intifada and a policy adviser with 

Follow on Twitter him at: @AliAbunimah

~ reposted by Sofia Smith 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Three videos you should have a look at! #Palestine #BDS #IsraeliApartheid

Mbuyiseni Ndlozi - Israeli Apartheid Week, London. 22.2.12

Originally posted by sternchenproductions at http://youtu.be/iNbZjTlpM6w

Joseph Dana talks about the Anti-Boycott Law in Israel - 17.11.11 17.11.11

Originally posted by sternchenproductions at http://youtu.be/fgGV9jgw3no

Ben White book launch - 'Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy'

Originally posted by sternchenproductions at http://youtu.be/bzhD32yqg18

~ Sofia Smith

Students Physically Attacked for Interrupting Israel Talk in New Mexico

A short note before you read this article and look at the videos...I have seen the videos and I have read a number of articles on this incident. But why have I not heard of any arrests and charges of assault being laid against the people who assaulted the dissenting students (as proven by the videos you can view below)? Because I can bet you anything that if it had been Palestinians or Arabs who decided to beat on the dissenters (which incidentally would not happen), every one of them would be in jail! 

Someone please explain this to me! Or on second thought, please don't. This is a rhetorical question.

~ Sofia Smith
Written by Alexander Abad-Santos
A group of University of New Mexico students "mic checked" an Israel Alliance talk on their campus Thursday night, when audience members got up out of their seats and physically attacked the protesting students.
"Mic check! Nonie Darwish speaks for Israeli apartheid!," yell the students at around 15 seconds into the video.  "And genocide at the hands of the IDF [Israeli army]!” From there, older male audience members begin to slowly walk their way up to the students (some of them young women), and start physically pushing and attacking them. At 55 seconds in, you can see one of the students goes flying over a row of seats.
We're still trying to gather the facts on this story, but according to the promotional flyer (right),  the title of the talk was "Why the Arab Spring Is Failing" and was being lead by speaker Nonie Darwish.  
According to uploader of the video, the students eventually filed a police report.  (Un)Occupy Albuquerque has this statement on the video:
A group of people, who were acting in solidarity with the Palestinian people, questioned Darwish's fear-mongering and her unqualified support for Israel. They were shouted down by pro-Israel members in the audience, who assaulted a woman, pulled her hair, and forcibly pushed another person over a row of seats. A third person was punched in the face. Pro-Israel members also destroyed a phone that was used to record the assault.
And here's one more angle of the protest and scuffle:
We'll keep up with this story and add updates as they come in. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Israeli Forces Storm Al Aqsa Plaza in Violent Clashes with Worshippers

Tens of thousands in Palestine and around the world abhor the actions by the extremists.

al-Aqsa Mosque
Photos from video (see story). Many thanks to the bloggers that bring us up-to-the minute reports.

(JERUSALEM / SALEM) - Violent clashes took place Friday between Palestinian worshippers, Jewish settlers and Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) troops who stormed the ancient al Aqsa Mosque plazas just after the noon prayers.

The ongoing threat by extremist Jewish groups to "take" the al Aqsa Mosque has caused a reverberation around the globe. The mosque in question has been in place for over a thousand years, and there is no explanation for the lack of reverence by those looking for an unnecessary fight.

Eyewitnesses said that the IOF troops fired teargas canisters and stun grenades, and Palestinian worshippers responded with stones.

Hebrew radio quoted police sources that the IOF arrested more than 40 Palestinians from Jerusalem and 1948-occupied Palestinian areas, allegedly for throwing stones at IOF troops at the Maghareba gate, one of the main gates of the Aqsa Mosque.

The IOF had restricted entry to the Aqsa Mosque barring young Palestinians from attending the prayers.

The first life claimed in this ongoing dispute was a 25-year old Palestinian man, Tala’t Ramieh, from the village of Ram. He was killed by the Israeli occupation forces at the Qalandia roadblock.

Eyewitnesses said he was shot with a live bullet in the chest. Palestinian medical sources said that Ramieh arrived at the hospital in critical condition and he underwent a number of surgeries, but doctors failed to save him and he died on Friday evening.

Tala’t Ramieh was killed by IOF on Friday.
The IOF troops also wounded six others, including a photojournalist and two children; the injury to one of the children is serious. Dozens suffered breathing difficulties as a result of inhaling teargas.

The funeral for Tala’t Ramieh will be held Saturday at 10:00 am from the Palestinian Medical Center to Al Raam city, and he will be buried after the afternoon prayer at 12:30.

There were fifteen more demonstrators injured Friday afternoon by IOF troops in the southern West Bank city of al-Khalil. They were marking the 18th anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre.

Those commemorating the tragic event also demanded the re-opening of Shuhada Road. Shuhada Road is a major thoroughfare through the city linking east to west, and has been closed to Palestinians since the massacre in 1994.
On 25 February 1994, Baruch Goldstein, an American Jew who immigrated to Palestine and chose to live in Keryat Arba', a Jewish settlement built on land confiscated from Palestinians, walked into the Ibrahimi Mosque during dawn prayers and threw grenades and opened fire at worshippers killing 29 and wounding 125. By closing the road to Palestinians, they effectively punished the victims, and have for nearly twenty years.

Meanwhile in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, an enormous statement was made when tens of thousands of Palestinians participated in the demonstration which Hamas called for in support of the Aqsa Mosque.

People poured in from six mosques in the city towards the Grand mosque at the centre of Khan Younis where they merged with worshippers from the Grand Mosque. Then they marched the streets of the city chanting support for the Aqsa Mosque and called on Palestinians to prepare to make sacrifices in defence of the first Muslim Qibla (direction of prayer) and the third holiest Shrine in Islam in the face of Zionist aggression against the many Muslim and Christian holy places in the holy city. Jerusalem, the city of peace.

Parade participants raised green and Palestinian flags. The Ahrar movement and other Palestinian factions took part in the demonstration to stress Palestinian unity in face of aggression against their holy places.

Dr. Slah al-Bardaweel, speaking on behalf of Hamas, told participants that Palestinians should be preparing to sacrifice everything precious for Jerusalem and the Aqsa Mosque which are facing "vicious Judaization schemes with Zionists trying to impose facts on the ground which Palestinians and Muslims the world over cannot accept".

Representatives from many other religions around the world join their quest to keep the holy places in tact, and protected, and peaceful.

Watch the videos below to see what happened at Al Aqsa mosque today:
When it first began:

IOF Storming the mosque:
Cell phone footage from Al Aqsa mosque:
Tour the Al Aqsa mosque:
Sources: http://www.palestine-info.co.uk; twitter; various individuals.

The IDF Abuse of #Palestinian Children

Originally posted by The Red Phoenix at http://theredphoenixapl.org/2011/11/27/the-idf-abuse-of-palestinian-children/
Israel’s system of military law for Palestinian children has become a major issue, as our Middle East correspondent John Lyons reported in The Weekend Australian Magazine. Here he continues his investigation of the military court system, looking at the effect detention can have.
Fadia Saleh runs eleven rehabilitation centres in the Palestinian territories, or West Bank, on behalf of the YMCA which deal with the effects of detention on children.
“Usually the children isolate themselves, they become very angry for the simplest reasons, they have nightmares,” she says.
“They have usually lost trust in others. Usually they don’t have friends any more because they think their friends will betray them.
“There is also a stigma about them other children and parents say ‘Be careful being seen with him, because the Israeli soldiers will target you.”‘
The brutality of some recent cases has surprised even professionals.
Fadia Saleh said: “Last week one boy described to me how dogs were present in the army jeep. In those jeeps you have chairs on each side and an empty space in the middle the children are put there, on the floor. Sometimes soldiers step on them.
“Every time the child moved, one of the dogs would bite him. When he arrived at the interrogation centre, his arm was bleeding. It was a short trip but he felt like (it was) a year.”
Human rights group Defence of Children International (DCI) has documented three cases where children being interrogated by Israeli officers were given electric shocks by hand-held devices to force them to confess.
The head of DCI Palestine, Australian lawyer Gerard Horton, has claimed there is one interrogator in the Jewish settlement of Gush Etzion “who specialises in threatening children with rape.”
The Weekend Australian Magazine reported that there are many other allegations: a boy being kept in solitary confinement for 65 days; other boys being kept in solitary confinement with the lights on 24 hours a day; a seven-year-old boy taken for interrogation in Jerusalem who says he was hit during questioning.
The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) told The Weekend Australian Magazine that there had been 2766 incidents of rock throwing in the West Bank, which is under Israeli military occupation, in the first 11 months of 2011 against either IDF soldiers or passing cars.
Israeli police also say a crash in September which killed a man and his infant son may have been caused by a rock hitting their car.
Israel’s international spokesman Yigal Palmor said: “There are many things that need to be improved. This is a general problem which derives from the fact that the West Bank is under military jurisdiction and military law and there is obviously a discrepancy between the civil code in Israel and the military law in the West Bank.
“That’s the root of the problem. But extending fully Israeli law to the West Bank would be tantamount to annexation.”
Fadia Saleh, from the YMCA’s rehabilitation program, says both physical and psychological torture are used.
The trauma, she says, is caused by the arrest and because children realize that their parents are powerless to do anything.
Solitary confinement complicates the child’s problems.
Fadia Saleh says occasionally in her line of work something makes her smile.
“One child was being interrogated and was asked for names of other children who had thrown stones and he gave some names,” she says.
“The soldiers kept saying ‘That’s not enough, give us more.’ The child began inventing names. The soldiers went around Silwan (East Jerusalem) looking for the children and couldn’t find them. Then they began looking for the boy to ask where all these children lived.
“So the boy had to go from house to house so the soldiers would not find him.”
A recent British delegation which visited the West Bank asked the children about a legal right to remain silent.
“The children asked ‘What do you mean?”‘ says Fadia Saleh.
“I tried to explain and their view was ‘Come on, what are you talking about? They (the Israeli soldiers) didn’t have the time, they were hitting us”‘.
Head counsellor at the YMCA rehabilitation centres, Mona Zaghrout Hodali, says on some days in Jerusalem up to 20 children are detained.
“Many children in the Jerusalem area are under house arrest,” she says.
One 13- year-old child would not talk to his parents because his father and mother had told him ‘You are safe, they cannot get you in the house’ but they did come into the house and took him. He said to his parents ‘you cannot protect me’. The boy began defecating without warning, from the trauma.
“I remember the case of a child from Jerusalem,” says Ms Hodali.
“To torture him they put him behind a door and then people would come into the room and hit him on purpose.
“Another boy, 15 from Hebron, was with his mother picking olives in a field. Soldiers came and pushed him to the ground and started beating him.
“They kept him for one week without a claim (charge.) When he came out his mother said ‘I don’t know him he doesn’t want to go to school, he can’t sleep, he walks around the house at nights.’
“We have children who have spent two years or three years, in prison. The Israeli army have things called administrative detention orders and they can keep rolling these over.
“I still deal with one case in Jenin where the boy was shot in the spinal cord. They ( the soldiers) took him to the hospital where he was in a coma for five days . He woke up in hospital, cuffed and paralysed.
“They knew he was paralysed because he’d been shot in the spinal cord. They took him straight from hospital to jail in a wheelchair.
“He spent more than six years in jail. He went in when he was 19 and came out when he was 25.”
Ms Hodali said when he got out of jail he said he wanted to go to a doctor and the doctor said he had came too late if he had come earlier he could have helped him walk, at least on crutches.
Ten-year-old Mahmoud A is a case study of the treatment of some Palestinian children by the Israeli military. He lives on the frontline of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
His home is in the Palestinian village Beit Ummar, in the West bank. On February 18, Mahmoud, then nine, was playing with other children in front of his house.
Suddenly, according to his family, Israeli soldiers began chasing the children they grabbed Mahmoud but several of the other children ran away.
One soldier told Mahmoud’s parents that a boy in a blue shirt had thrown stones at an army jeep and they believed he had been with the group.
The soldiers began taking Mahmoud away when his father grabbed his arm. The father says a soldier got him in a headlock which made him let go of his son. The soldier then put the boy onto his back and took him away.
Mahmoud’s mother, Rana, said one of the soldiers told her : “We are capturing him until you bring us the other boy (in the blue shirt)”.
One of Mahmoud’s relatives drove by and saw him in the vehicle. He stopped to argue for his release.
Rana says the four soldiers made the relative get out of his car before beating him with sticks. The boy was blindfolded and driven away. “I was crying and saying in Arabic that I want to go home but I don’t know if he knew what I was saying,” Mahmoud said.
Mahmoud says he was made to sit in the sun, blindfolded, and a soldier told him: “You threw stones and you know people who threw stones give us their names.”
Mahmoud says when he said this was not true the soldier hit him in the face “four or five times”.
The interrogation lasted for hours.
We saw the boy’s situation first hand. The day The Australian visited his village recently the army had closed off the entrance which meant we could not drive in.
So Mahmoud walked to meet us but as we were walking past the checkpoint one soldier shouted “Mahmoud!” He moved towards, Mahmoud who broke into tears. The locals told the soldiers he has been doing nothing wrong.
“He threw stones,” one of the soldiers replied. In the rough justice of these parts, it appears Mahmoud has been tried and convicted for something he did not do.
It appears that between locals arguing with the soldiers and our presence the soldiers decided to let him go.
His mother says that since he was taken away Mahmoud will not go outside the house after dark. She says his younger brother, Nour, is worried the soldiers will take him away too.
As we sat talking on the family’s balcony, Nour frequently looked towards the soldiers in the guard tower which looks down over the village.
It is not uncommon for Israeli soldiers to fire tear gas into the village in response to stone throwing.
Rana says she closes her windows to try and prevent gas coming in.
But the women in the village told us that after years of tear gas they fear it maybe affecting some women in the village who are finding it difficult to become pregnant.
The village is also a flashpoint between Palestinians and Jewish settlers. Villagers say the settlers recently went to a Palestinian shop and smashed the pots being displayed outside.
The horror of this small village is being replicated across the West Bank.