In saying ‘I didn’t know,’ Israelis enable army’s killing of Palestinians

The killing of Jawahar Abu Rahmah would have been harder to carry out, without the silent cooperation of most Israelis.

During an unusually large demonstration in Bil’in yesterday, IDF gunmen fired unusually large amounts of tear gas at the demonstrators, according to them. Bloggers Lisa Goldman and Joseph Dana reported that the tear gas was fired at the non-violent demonstrators, even at people who weren’t even close to the fence. As a result, Jawaher Abu Rahmah, age 36, died this morning of gas inhalation. The IDF claims it did not use unusual amounts of gas; then again, they used to claim they didn’t use cluster bombs in Lebanon or phosphorous munitions in Gaza. Though the IDF Spokesman refrained from a formal response – presumably he knows why – senior gunmen speculated (Hebrew) that Abu Rahma “died as a complication of the asthma from which she suffered, which may have been caused by the inhalation of tear gas”. Whaddaya know: senior officers in the Central Command have apparently finished crash medical studies.

Jawaher Abu Rahmah is sister to Bassam Abu Rahma, shot to death by IDF gunmen on 29 April 2009; contrary to orders, they shot a gas canister at him directly at 30 meters. The gunman who shot Bassam Abu Rahmah was not prosecuted. Recently, according to reports, the gunmen started firing live ammo at the demonstrators.

A Palestinian demonstrator tries to avoid the tear gas, Bil'in, 2009 (Yossi Gurvitz)
A Palestinian demonstrator tries to avoid the tear gas, Bil'in, 2009 (Yossi Gurvitz)

As is to be expected in such cases, the PIJs (Proud, Inarticulate Jews) crawled from under rocks, wailing that people who break the law should know they take a risk, that the demonstration was illegal, that the army has declared the place to a “closed area”, and the rest of the bullshit Israel feeds itself. The people who are committing an illegal act in Bil’in are the gunmen; the Supreme Court of Justice has declared, more than three years ago, that the path of the fence there, intended to defend the settlement Matityahu Mizrah, is illegal, and ordered the IDF to change it.

Three years have passed, but the army – and the SCJ – take their own sweet time. The two Abu Rahmah fallen were killed after the SCJ decision, after the village started appealing for senior IDF and Defense Ministry officials to be prosecuted for contempt of court. The laws of the West Bank – dubbed by Menahem Begin as worse than the Nazi legislation – is the 1945 Emergency Ordinances, which explicitly outlaw the freedom of expression “on any political issue, or on any issue which may be construed as political”. By definition, any demonstration attempting to make any change is illegal. Tragically, this has recently been highlighted by the trial, or rather legalese persecution, of Abdullah Abu Rahmah, one of the organizers of the demonstration. The very notion of law in the Occupied Territories is a farce: laws receive their legitimacy from the consent of the people ruled by them.

Israelis who don’t know that are ignorant, unless they willfully prefer not to know, which makes them malicious. Most Israelis, afraid of knowing what the gunmen are doing – these are the neighbours’ kids, after all – prefer to build a wall of denial between them and reality. This denial forces them to become the collaborators of the gunmen; forces them to accept their nonsensical arguments; forces them to become as monsters, even if they did not want to. This denial is the most effective weapon of the IDF, particularly of the IDF Spokesman; it makes certain that the killing may go on without fear, at least not of the home population. The IDF fears only the response of international organizations and courts, which may a further reason – aside from its proven inability to judge itself – to arraign its gunmen there.

That’s how it goes, under Israeli rule: unarmed demonstrators are shot to death, and the fevered mob screams they had it coming. Let us just hope that Jawahar Abu Rahmah’s death may be one of the last, and that her sacrifice will help somewhat to bring down Israel’s rule in the Occupied Territories.

Related stories:
Female protester killed by IDF tear gas in Bil’in
Images: Funeral of Bil’in protester Jawaher Abu Rahmah
Ynet reporter slurs non-violent movement