The Marble Slab of the Occupation

Israeli soldiers walk away after they demolished Abu Hmaid's family home in al-Amari refugee camp near Ramallah, West Bank, December 15, 2018.
Majdi Mohammed,AP

Islam Abu Hamid is neither a “murderer” nor a “terrorist.” He is a violent adversary of the occupation, a member of a family whose sons fight the occupation by force, four of whom have been sentenced to life in prison. In May 2018 he threw a heavy marble slab at the soldiers of the Duvdevan unit who had invaded his home. The slab struck the soldier Ronen Lubarsky in the head and killed him.

If he were Israeli, Abu Hamid would be considered a daring hero who fought the enemy courageously. In schools and in the Israel Defense Forces his heroism would be taught; David against Goliath, with a marble slab in his hand instead of a slingshot. But Abu Hamid is a Palestinian and he is a “terrorist” who has been sentenced to life in prison. The military judge, Lt. Col. Eti Adar, who is a clear authority on morality in a “proper society,” waxed poetic: “Taking the life of a person intentionally constitutes the greatest harm to the sanctity of life, one of the fundamental values of any proper society.” It’s a pity that the judge’s high-sounding words aren’t memorized by IDF soldiers who shoot the Gaza protesters to death and the Border Police who kill almost every knife wielder.

But the thirst for vengeance against Abu Amid had no end, and so the IDF decided to demolish his family’s home. Lubarsky’s bereaved father, Vladimir, urged the government to carry out the demolition quickly and thoroughly – it was a four-story home to a number of families – and also to execute Abu Hamid. Then-Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who has meanwhile become the hero of the peace camp in Israel, called Abu Hamid, in delicate terms “the disgusting terrorist, may his name be blotted out.”

Destruction of the house of Islam Abu Hamid, December 2018

The PR people of the IDF spokesman’s unit described the demolition of the house as a daring operation. In a propaganda clip four red circles are shown in an aerial photograph: “Disturbers of the peace barricading themselves on the rooftops” and a pathos-filled voiceover says: “The house will be destroyed and demolished in 10 minutes. To all the fighters, well done.” The Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth splashed the headline all over its front page: “Duvdevan settles accounts” (December 16, 2018) after Lubarsky’s comrades were given the honor of demolishing the house as a consolation prize over the killing of their comrade.

That was then the third time the house in the al-Amari camp was demolished. On Thursday was the fourth demolition, after the family tried to rebuild. Justices Yael Willner and Dafna Barak-Erez of the Supreme Court, also known for its enlightenment, approved at the time the third demolition and banned the rebuilding of the house to the end of time. The house, we note, is in Area A, which is under Palestinian sovereignty, but who remembers that. Mahmoud Abbas already announced that the Palestinian Authority will rebuild the house and the bereaved father pledged: “We’ll see to it that the house is destroyed again and again.”

As noted, three days ago the forces once again raided the place and the army spokesman’s video clip is already in the works. Once again there was resistance, once again Palestinians were arrested and injured, once again, “order” was maintained, the order that allows the IDF to raid and destroy and prohibit Palestinians from resisting. And all of this, Israel claims, is to achieve deterrence. There is no greater lie than this: The IDF knows that no deterrence will be achieved. Four sons in prison for life – and deterrence was not achieved. Four times the house was demolished – and deterrence was not achieved. And it will never be achieved when it comes to those who are willing to sacrifice everything.

The IDF will destroy this house over and over because the bereaved family and the Duvdevan unit are vociferous and influential enough to exert pressure to avenge the killing of a soldier and to show the Palestinians who is greater. Not only is Israel’s foreign policy its domestic policy, sometimes its security policy is intended to relieve pressure and satisfy urges.

Lubarsky shouldn’t have been there. The IDF shouldn’t have been there. Israel shouldn’t be in al-Amari. As long as it is there, more and more marble slabs will fall on soldiers’ heads. There is no demolition and no deterrence that will prevent it. That should be etched on the marble slab of the occupation.