Untie Their Hands: #FreeGaza

חנין מג׳אדלי - צרובה
Hanin Majadli
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A Palestinian demonstrator raises a national flag during a protest along the border fence, last week.
חנין מג׳אדלי - צרובה
Hanin Majadli

It’s impossible not to admire the IDF soldiers’ abilities. Despite having their hands tied, the hands they so want released these days that they even thought up a viral campaign to attain freedom (#freeourhands), they still manage to carry out their missions.

For example, on September 11, 2019, at about 2 P.M., Amal al-Taramsi, 44, of Gaza City came to a demonstration near the border fence. As was her custom, Taramsi helped demonstrators injured from inhaling tear gas by splashing saline solution into their faces. Two hours later, standing some 200 meters from the fence, she was fatally wounded in the neck from live fire.

And the soldiers did that with their hands tied, get it?

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Two days later, on Friday, Abd al-Rauf Salahah,13, of the Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, joined another demonstration, which took place east of the camp. At about 3 P.M. Salahah and other youths approached the fence, hung a flag on it and retreated about 150 meters. A paramedic who witnessed the incident said: “A few minutes later Abd al-Rauf tried to flee to the west, with his back to the wall. I was about 50 meters from him, and saw a gas grenade hit him in the back of the head.”

Yes, he died from a grenade that was also fired at him with hands tied.

A year earlier, on Friday, September 28, 2018, at about 4 P.M., three members of the Musbah family of Khan Yunis came to a demonstration north of the town of Huza’ah in the Strip. The three were the sisters Islam, 19 and Do’ah, 17, who were volunteer paramedics, and their brother Nasser, 11, also a volunteer for the Red Crescent. The sisters moved toward the fence to administer first aid to the demonstrators, leaving their little brother in the tent area, some 300 meters from the fence. Two hours later Nasser was shot in the head and died, 100 meters away from the fence.

So yes, against tied, bound, chained – whichever way you want it – hands, more than 223 Gazans, including women and children, were killed by the live fire of Israeli soldiers, since Gazan residents began moving to the border fence in August 2018 to protest the siege Israel imposes on them.

Most were unarmed civilians who had taken part in a demonstration or were assisting demonstrators. Apparently, the excessive use of lethal weapons and live fire on Gazan demonstrators exists in a parallel world to the one Israelis live in. In the Israelis’ world, the rules of engagement are too restrictive and the hands too restrained. One can only imagine with horror what they’re thinking when they ask for greater “freedom of action.”

In any case, in the Israelis’ imagination, combatants aren’t supposed to die at all. The deaths of hundreds of Palestinian civilians on the other side is irrelevant to them. In their view, they’re not even at war, merely the occupiers of a civilian population. After all, military rule is supposed to be a walk in the park: We patrol and threaten, you sit quietly at home. So the minute an “incident” occurs that disrupts the occupation’s routine – like the one that happened to Border Policeman Barel Hadaria Shmueli – everyone raises a hue and cry. How is it possible that he was killed? It must be a malfunction. Now we must “untie the hands” – that is, kill more, wound more, oppress more.

That’s a pity, because instead of another bloodthirsty, vengeful campaign, it would be better to think in the exact opposite direction. For example, the “we refuse to send our children to rule another nation” campaign, or the “I refuse to look at an 11-year-old through the crosshairs” campaign; or simply the “free Gaza” campaign.

I realize these campaigns may not go viral, but how about giving them a fair try every once in a while?

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