On June 30th, 2014, the bodies of three teenagers – Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Fraenkel and Gilad Shaar – belonging to an illegal settler community in the occupied Palestinian lands, who had gone missing since mid-June, were found murdered. As soon as their bodies were found, the Israeli state and its mouthpiece media and propaganda apparatus expressed their outrage and condemnation. Politicians and journalists alike were quick to blame the Hamas resistance/terrorist group for the act without a shred of proof, and vowed to engage in quick and heavy retribution against the besieged Gaza strip which the group controls. Unfortunately, this narrative has been heavily manipulated to justify, once again, a heavy handed and aggressive attack against the innocent Palestinian people.
Despite this event having attracted enormous attention by both the Israeli and International media, the information surrounding it that has been widely circulated is largely erroneous, manipulative, and constitutes a lie of omission. There has been almost no mention of the murderous campaign of occupation against the Palestinian people that Israel has been engaged in for over 60 years, the indiscriminate killing of over 1,400 Palestinian children in the past fourteen years by Israel’s military forces and illegal settlers, or the 500-700 Palestinian children tortured and placed in military detention by Israel every year. In the face of such double standards, the question of greater concern at this point should be that of the voiceless and unseen Palestinian casualties rather than the most recent victims on the Israeli side. Such double standards indeed beg the question: Where is the outrage for the murdered and tortured Palestinian children?
Even more disturbing is the fact that the Israeli occupation forces have gone on a rampage targeting the general Palestinian population – arbitrarily destroying Palestinian homes, burning down two farms and destroying a Mosque; abducting over 600 Palestinians including over 50 children; bombing the people of Gaza – 34 air strikes in one night. While the majority of the media focuses on the three Israeli children, there has been almost no mention of the collective punishment that has been unleashed upon the overwhelmingly innocent civilian Palestinian population.
Israeli settler mobs, living on stolen Palestinian land, are openly hunting down Palestinian children to kill. On Tuesday, July 1st, the 16 year old Palestinian youth Yousef Abu Zagh was shot dead near his home in Jenin refugee camp, known for the infamous massacre unleashed upon the Palestinian refugees in 2002. A 9 year old Palestinian girl, Sanabel Mohammed Tus, was hunted down in a car and run over by settlers in the village of Jaba. On July 2nd, a 16 year old Palestinian boy, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, was abducted from outside his home in a car and tortured, then murdered – after being burnt alive, his body was dumped in a forest near the site of the massacred village of Deir Yassin.
While Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has jumped at the chance to demonize Hamas and declare it culpable of the murders as avidly as a rabid dog on the loose, there is absolutely no proof that the group has been responsible for the action. On the contrary! Another group has claimed responsibility for the act, and some even claim (albeit with as much inexistent evidence as Netanyahu’s claims) that the Mossad may have set this incident up as a false flag. Whether this is true or not, I suspect, we will never know.
However this cynicism can be seen as largely justified as every time that there seems to be a rapprochement between the Palestinian Authority, which controls the West Bank, and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, Israel finds a convenient pretext to engage in a massive military operation against besieged Gaza. It seems less politically convenient for Netanyahu to blame the people who may actually be responsible (including the settlers encroaching on illegally occupied land). Instead, he has manipulated the information being disseminated about the event to morally justify brutal attacks on the Gaza strip – one of the most densely populated areas on the entire planet – which would result in massive civilian casualties (as it did in the 2008/9 Operation Cast Lead and the 2012 Operation Pillar of Defence).
Although the murder of any child should be condemned, it should also be pointed out that the teens in question were members of an internationally criticized attempt by the state of Israel to dispossess and dislocate Palestinians from their land in order to then occupy it for the benefit of their colonial Zionist plan and the establishment of a Jewish ethno-theocracy. The colonial expansion of Israel beyond the internationally recognized 1967 borders has been condemned by a myriad of nations, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, as well as the United Nations. Israel has been less than receptive to these criticisms. In fact, it has been argued by numerous ant-Zionist Jewish intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky and Shlomo Sand that the continuation of this aggressive colonial and expansionist policy is essential to the reinforcement of the ethno-nationalist sentiment that the Zionist Israeli state requires to ensure its continued survival and domestic support. Without a pretext of continuous expansion based on divine entitlement, they argue, the entire narrative supporting the Zionist agenda would collapse.
The Palestinian people, on the other hand, are engaged in a war of vital resistance against such encroachment upon their land, self-determination, dignity, and livelihood. Should the illegal Israeli settlements not be seen as a provocative act of aggression to be stopped? Despite Hamas’ arguably questionable sporadic tactics against the Israeli civilian population, it should be pointed out that their scope and effect pale in comparison to the relentless destruction of Palestinian homes, murder of Palestinian civilians, and the widespread arrest and military detention of Palestinian children as young as 7 years old under the often false pretext of “throwing stones”. While many Palestinians would be willing to forfeit much of their occupied land to Israel as agreed by the 1967 borders, Israel seems never to be content with its continuous theft of Palestinian land and antagonizing of the Palestinian people, intentionally feeding a perpetual cycle of conflict.
The Israeli propensity for gratuitous abuse and violence of anyone who does not adhere to its Zionist political philosophy is baffling at first, but can be given a rational explanation. The works of Lundy Bancroft have analyzed, in depth, the social dynamics between the abused and abusers. They explain that while there is an assumption that abusers simply explode in outbursts of rage and lose control, the real explanation is not so plain. Abusers are very sensitive to the hierarchy of whom they can assault, and they will never engage in abuse of an entity which is placed above them in that hierarchy. Abuse is not about losing control, but is instead a very calculated action based on the perceived entitlement to exploit based on what they can get away with, or what tangible benefits they can gain. The Israeli Zionist culture of abuse towards Palestinians is a perfect example of this often unarticulated hierarchy of violence. When abusive violence flows down the hierarchy, it is often unnoticed and invisible. When it is noticed, it is most often rationalized. On the opposite end, when violence flows up the hierarchy it is met with shock, and condemned with the fetishization of the victims.
If Israel is looking for the guilty party chiefly responsible for the murder of these teenagers, it only need look into a mirror.
Ruben Rosenberg Colorni