Generator Terrorism

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An image of the incident in which Abu Aram was shot in the village of al-Rakiz in the southern Hebron Hills, January 1, 2021.

Harun Abu Aram, 24, of the West Bank village of al-Rakiz, in the South Hebron Hills, of the, was shot in the neck at close range Friday after confronting soldiers who had seized a generator from a neighbor’s home that had been razed. He was admitted in critical condition to the hospital in Yatta before being transferred to Hebron’s Ahli Hospital.

The Israel Defense Forces said soldiers had been sent to the scene to stop illegal construction and that “a violent disturbance developed involving about 150 Palestinians that included stone-throwing on a massive scale,” to which soldiers responded by “using crowd-dispersal methods and firing into the air.”

But a video of the incident shows neither 150 people nor firing into the air or even at limbs. It shows Abu Aram trying to wrest the generator – the size of a medium carton – from the soldiers’ hands. In the course of the struggle Abu Aram was shot suddenly – a direct shot at his head – from point-blank range.

This has the hallmark of a typical incident in the territories from the school of the occupation: A Palestinian loses his life much too easily in the kind of confrontation that would have ended differently had it taken place within the borders of the state. As is usual for incidents in which there is an incriminating video, the IDF will investigate. If culprits are found, they are nearly certain to get off cheaply, since in Israel nothing is cheaper than Palestinian lives. But the details of this incident are particularly disturbing: How does a home demolition end with the point-blank shooting of a Palestinian man, who remains in critical condition?

This wasn’t the first time the IDF razed homes and seized property in al-Rakiz, whose residents are awaiting a ruling in the High Court of Justice. This year there was a sharp rise in the demolition of Palestinian homes and infrastructure in the territories. Hagar Shezaf reported on a plan by the Settlement Affairs Ministry to establish patrols to monitor illegal Palestinian construction in Area C of the West Bank.

It’s important to note that the construction is illegal because in the vast majority of cases Palestinians do not and never will receive building permits, for political reasons. The patrols’ findings are to be given to the Civil Administration, which oversees operations of the type that ended in Abu Haram’s critical wounding.

These demolitions are not the way that local zoning law is enforced in a properly run state. This is a bloody war for control of land whose purpose is to preclude the establishment of a Palestinian state. Israel is willing to go great lengths to prevent Palestinians from living on this land, as per settlers’ demands – as far as to shoot a man who tried to prevent the confiscation of a generator in the neck.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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