Opinion |

17 Palestinians Have Been Killed in the Past Two Weeks. That's Not Terrorism?

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Israeli soldiers in the Palestinian village of Yabad on Saturday.
Israeli soldiers in the Palestinian village of Yabad on Friday.Credit: AFP
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Abdul Karim Saadi was waiting for us at our usual meeting place, in the yard of a leather factory outside Tul Karm, a place always reeking of carcasses. Saadi entered his car all agitated, his voice choking and his chin trembling, trying in vain to stifle his tears. Saadi was riled up by what he had witnessed at the refugee camp in Jenin. “You’re pushing the entire camp into the arms of the terrorists,” said the restrained veteran B’Tselem investigator in a broken voice. He works in this area, and has seen it all.

It happened last week, a few days after the terror attack on Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street, in the midst of the extensive and foolish manhunt for the father of the assailant, Raad Hazem. The bereaved father, Fathi, annoyed security forces with his boasts regarding the approaching Palestinian victory, leading them to hunt him down along with his still-living sons.

“In your generation you will witness victory,” said the father to his son’s young and excited friends, who had gathered under the balcony of his house. The Shin Bet and IDF don’t like Palestinians who talk that way. Palestinians are only allowed to bow their heads and grovel or to remain silent. Only we are allowed to threaten and boast.

Our bereaved parents, of course, are allowed to say anything that’s on their mind in their sorrow, to lash out and incite, but their bereaved parents can’t even be called that, lest some hint of humanity attaches to their image. Obviously, they can’t speak with the pathos and fury of grief. In response, soldiers fired at a car they suspected was carrying the attacker’s brother. “There were hits, and the chase continues,” the army spokesman encouraged Israelis who were waiting for the death of the man’s father. The manhunt only served to further stoke the flames in the Jenin refugee camp. The bereaved father has not been apprehended yet, a true security failure, but one can rely on the Shin Bet and the IDF not to leave him to his grief, using as much power as they can muster until he’s arrested for incitement, or possibly eliminated.

The first two weeks of April saw 20 deaths, three Israelis on Dizengoff and 17 Palestinians across the West Bank and in Ashkelon. All this followed the wave of attacks last month, in which 11 Israelis and 11 Palestinians were killed.

In an atmosphere of terror attacks, the last restraints holding the army back are cast off. Who didn’t they kill? The toll included a 17-year-old boy in Kafr Dan; a 34-year-old lawyer at the entrance to Tul Karm University; a 14-year-old boy in Husan, two days after they killed a half-blind widow with six children in the same village. Seventeen dead Palestinians in two weeks, all of them said to be terrorists but most of whom were not deserving of death.

The media reported only briefly, if at all, and always with the trappings of the propaganda-style information dictated by the security services, at least some of which consists of lies, convenient lies for every Israeli’s ears. The blind widow was trying to stab someone, and, damn it, when no knife was found on her, not even a sling, the explanation was that she may have been trying to commit suicide. The lawyer bringing his nephew to school had participated in clashes; the dead boy had thrown a Molotov cocktail; even the crippled and cancer-stricken youth who can hardly stand was arrested by soldiers, after allegedly throwing lethal stones with his emaciated arms, which can barely lift a shoe. Israelis bought all of this blindly, perhaps enthusiastically, since anything is permitted when it comes to Palestinian lives.

Every such death means bereavement for a family, and in many cases the termination of its last source of livelihood as well. Their beloved was killed, regardless of the circumstances? Work permits in Israel are revoked for many years, to fend off possible revenge. One disaster is not enough, two are preferable.

Like in Chinese water torture, all the people killed in vain drip slowly, until the next attack, where again it will be proven that the Palestinians are the murderous ones. Every day or two, one or two new deaths, until Israelis are again the victims, the only ones, with the eyes of the world turned to them. Seventeen deaths in 15 days. A mini-Bucha without a war. A mega-attack that isn’t labeled terror.

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