The reality in the occupied territories is conveyed to the citizens of Israel almost exclusively via the Israeli army spokesman. But photographs and video clips of confrontations between the Israeli army and Palestinians make it possible to demonstrate the horrifying discrepancy between the statements that the army feeds Israelis in shaping their consciousness of the situation, and the actual reality.
The source of the discrepancy is not necessarily the result of lies disseminated by the army, but rather the paucity of the vocabulary used to describe the ongoing friction between the army and the civilian population under occupation. The Israeli ear is already inured to reports about what is happening in the territories, and apparently the aim of the army spokesman’s descriptions is to perpetuate that apathy.
Take, for example, this statement from the spokesman: “Last Thursday, there was a violent disturbance of the peace in the area of the village of Tuqu, which included massive stone-throwing at Israeli army forces and at Israeli vehicles on the road, which endangered the lives of the civilians and the [army] forces. The soldiers responded using means to disperse demonstrations, and at the same time, arrested one of those disturbing the peace, who tried to flee following his arrest. The arrested individual had been detained at a nearby point, and a short time later began fleeing from the forces. The soldiers carried out pursuit, in the course of which they fired at the lower portion of his body. The forces provided the Palestinian with immediate medical treatment. The incident will be investigated.”
Not a single word of the army spokesman’s description manages to attract the reader’s attention. From the standpoint of Israelis, it’s just another routine day in the occupied territories. But the photographs of this incident cannot be met with apathy. In one of the pictures, a masked and armed soldier is seen standing over the Palestinian, who is sitting on the ground, blindfolded, with his hands tied behind his back. In another photo, the bound and blindfolded Palestinian is running away from four armed soldiers who are surrounding him. The Palestinian is 15 and a half years old. His name is Osama Hajajeh. He was shot in the groin. After he was shot, the soldiers tried to hold him at the scene, but following a confrontation with a group of Palestinians, the soldiers permitted them to take the wounded boy away.
Seeing the photos, it is clear that there was no real reason to shoot him. He was one individual facing a number of soldiers. His hands were tied. He was blindfolded and completely surrounded by armed soldiers. Yet the photos not only document violent action on the army’s part. These are also X-rays of 52 years of occupation, images of a chronic absence of Israeli initiative to solve the conflict. They are images of Israeli haplessness that generates injustice and cruelty.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has just been elected to a fifth term, must take a good look at these photos and come to the realization that it’s not ties with President Trump, not sanctions on Iran and not the strength of the shekel. Instead it is this that will be the real legacy of a man who is proudly steering a policy of maintaining the status quo, which could ultimately lead to the destruction of the Zionist project.
The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.