“Until the boys are back, every hour we shoot a [Palestinian] terrorist.” This is the name of a Facebook page that has garnered over 20,000 likes, as reported by the Electronic Intifada — this bold call for the extrajudicial assassination of so-called Palestinian ‘terrorists’ comes after the disappearance of three Israeli teens from Israel’s illegal Gush Etzion settlement. In response to their disappearance the Israeli occupation forces have launched a massive manhunt, conducting widespread operations, in order to find the teens who went missing Thursday evening. By simply perusing the official Facebook page of the “Israeli Defense Forces” you will find Israel’s staunchest supporters leaving prayers and death threats directed at the Palestinian people, one after the other, from calling for the Israeli army to “just wipe Gaza off the map” and “flatten the West Bank” to demanding Israel make an announcement that “if [the teens] are not turned over safe and sound within 24 hours, every Palestinian city will be burned to the ground. Then carry it out if they do not comply.” “That's the only thing these savages understand,” writes one user in response. “The Arabs will never become civilized. Only through violence can [we] create a better tomorrow for our people.”
The occupation forces’ response to the disappearance of the three Israeli settler teens has been draconian — cutting off telecommunicationservices in parts of Hebron, detaining Palestinians, raiding homes inRamallah, and so far shooting and killing a 21-year-old Palestinianduring one house search. Israeli soldiers have even been captured occupying a home in Hebron and setting up an automatic rifle on the roof. Haaretz reports that at least 200 Palestinians have been arrestedsince operations began, and that a "counterterrorism" operation is being executed against Hamas' civilian foundation in the West Bank and Jerusalem.” The photographs being posted on Twitter by Palestinians are alarming, documenting an aggressive settler colonial state — preserved by way of ethnic cleansing and occupation — bolstered by a military industrial complex that is brutal, implacable and impartial in its cruelty against the Palestinians; not even children are safe from Israel’s security apparatus. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights has condemned Israel’s collective punishment of Palestinians, including the injury of an 8-year-old Palestinian boy after the Israeli military blew up the entrance of a home in Hebron.
The story of three Israeli settler teens has dominated social media andmainstream news, but what of Palestine’s children? There was no outrage and media hysteria when Israel killed two Palestinian childrenmost recently, both shot with live ammunition — intentionally in the chest — while demonstrating in the West Bank. These killings were documented on film and yet Israel faced absolutely no repercussions, while Hamas leaders are now being threatened with possible exile due to an unsubstantiated indictment by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of having kidnapped the Israeli settlers. The targeting of Palestinians and their representatives is part and parcel of the success of Israel’s colonial project — in order for Israel’s military occupation to thrive the state must provide settlers with a powerful and endless supply of privilege while forcing the indigenous populace to endure colonial policies meant to eliminate all traces of the land’s identities. It is often said that ‘without the land there is no life’ and so we find that displacement often takes its place amongst the horrors of occupation. Leila Farsakh, PhD Department Chair of Political Science Associate Professor of Political Science College of Liberal Arts at University of Massachusetts - Boston and author of Palestinian Labor Migration to Israel: Labor, land and occupation, writes the following in The Political Economy of Israeli Occupation: What is Colonial about It?:
As in other colonial processes, the Israeli military relied on settlements as a means to establish a territorial claim over an indigenously populated area. As Moshe Dayan put it in 1971, Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are essential “not because they can ensure security better than the army, but because without them...the IDF [sic] would be a foreign army ruling a foreign population.” While illegal under the 4th Geneva Convention and numerous UN resolutions, Israel built over 178 settlements between 1972 and 2003, and allowed the transfer of 400,000 Israeli citizens into the occupied territories, half of which were transferred during the Oslo peace process years...settlers remain a central pillar of Israeli colonial structure. They provide a means to create a claim over Palestinian land, as well as allowed the institutionalization of a legal system of segregation, which is a common feature of most colonial projects. The Israeli military instituted two different legal systems in the WBGS: one for the settlers and the other for the Palestinians.
“Israel faces a demographic threat to the Jewish state from its fast-growing Arab population,” wrote Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus in an opinion piece published in 2012, in which she also went on to bemoan the so-called “flood of African refugees.” This is the racist discourse of colonialism which Israeli politicians such as Avi Dichter, former director of Israel's General Security Services, and Israel’s current Finance Minister Yair Lapid continue to employ. According to the “detention bulletin” updated by Defense for Children International - Palestine (DCI), “a total of 196 Palestinian children were imprisoned and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system.” Twenty-seven of these children are between the ages of 12 and 15. All of these children face the horrifying prospect of suffering abuse at the hands of Israeli soldiers. Testimonies given by over 30 Israeli soldiers collected and published by the organization Breaking The Silence in their 2012 report Children and Youth - Soldiers’ Testimonies shows the extent of abuse Palestinian children face at the hands of the occupation’s guardians:
We had to take over a school, which is already a big problem – taking over a school and turning it into a detention facility when it’s actually an educational facility. We took over a school and had to arrest anyone in the village who was between the ages of 17 and 50, something like that. It lasted from morning until noon the next day. Anyway, all sorts of people arrived, shackled and blindfolded. What happened was that when these detainees asked to go to the bathroom, and the soldiers took them there, they beat them to a pulp and cursed them for no reason, and there was nothing that would legitimize hitting them. Really terrible things. An Arab was taken to the bathroom to piss, and a soldier slapped him, took him down to the ground while he was shackled and blindfolded. The guy wasn't rude and did nothing to provoke any hatred or nerves. Just like that, because he is an Arab. He was about 15 years old, hadn’t done a thing.
While the Obama administration has already condemned the reported kidnapping of the three Israeli settlers and called for their immediate release there is no massive international campaign by politicians, US or otherwise, calling on Israel to immediately release and end military tribunals for, and abuse of Palestinian children. As media outlets continue to feed their audiences stories of the Israeli teens and their grieving mothers we find that Palestinian mothers made to give birth at checkpoints, losing their children to the occupation’s armed barriers, do not generate even an atom’s worth of compassion, not a word of denunciation. Israel’s abuse of Palestinians is well-documented and the violence committed by Israeli soldiers against Palestinian children is an important component in the preservation of the state — Palestinians, at a young age, are humiliated, persecuted and forcibly introduced to institutionalized power structures which provide Israeli settlers with immeasurable influence and authority. So long as the narrative surrounding Israel’s occupation does not change there will be no turnaround and Palestinian children will continue to suffer in the solitary darkness of abuse and the shadows of a large-scale media blackout.
Roqayah Chamseddine who wrote the above post is a Sydney based Lebanese-American journalist and commentator. She tweets @roqchams and writes 'Letters From the Underground.'