Last modified: Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Daily news comes of the death of a Palestinian teenager at the hands of the Israeli security services. The list lengthens — Abdullah Nasasra (15), Mustafa Fanoun (15), Lama al-Bakri (16), Ibrahim Dawoud (16), Ayman Abassi (17), Samah Abdul-Mo’men (18).

Over 150 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli state security over the past two months – most of them children.

Most of these Palestinian children were killed in cold blood. An eyewitness to the death of Abdullah Nasasra told me that he watched the boy stand beside the road with his hands in the air. Abdullah had been walking along the road when he was stopped by the Israeli military. A second later, for no reason, the boy was shot dead.

Samah Abdul-Mo’men was shot in crossfire near a checkpoint. She was sitting in the passenger seat as her father drove their family car. Both children died instantly. There has been no word of an investigation of these deaths.

Some of these children have been killed while they attempted “knife attacks” in Jerusalem. Such attacks took place in October, killing about 20 Israelis. Why have these children taken to such desperate measures?

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that these children — a minority of those killed in the past eight weeks — have been “bred from nearly five decades of Israeli occupation.” Their drastic actions, he said, are “the result of fear, humiliation, frustration and mistrust.

It has been fed by the wounds of decades of bloody conflict, which will take a long time to heal. Palestinian youth in particular are tired of broken promises and they see no light at the end of the tunnel.”

Frustration is the order of the day. I meet some young men from a camp near Ramallah. They see no outlet for their anger. Every day they see their families and friends humiliated by the Occupation. This situation drives them to desperation – “we have to do something,” says one young man. His eyes are tired. He looks older than his teenage years. He has lost his friends to Israeli violence.

“We marched to Qalandiya last year,” he says, “in a peaceful protest. They fired on us. My friend died.”

Colonial violence bears down on his spirit. Around him young children are eliminated by the Israeli military. His body twitches with anxiety and fear.

Inside Jerusalem’s Old City I meet some settlers. One – Josh from Pennsylvania – tells me that he is happy to be in his “homeland.” He never felt comfortable in America, he says. Another settler won’t use the term Palestinian. “The Arabs,” she says, “are vermin. They should not be here. This is our holy city.”

George, a well-respected Armenian businessman, tells me that the settlers periodically march through the city chanting, “Death to the Arabs.” The security forces try to push them along, afraid that this provocation would create a riot. “This is the normal situation,” says George. It sets the clock to confrontation.

It helps little that the Israeli political establishment eggs on the settlers and brings their ideology to the mainstream. In 2014, Israel’s Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked declared that the “entire Palestinian people is the enemy.” She called Palestinian children “little snakes.”

Such language is echoed by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef who said of the Palestinians – “You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable.” Much the same kind of objectionable language has come from Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu and Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburg, as well as most of the cabinet of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Highly charged rhetoric leads to dangerous outcomes. No exit from the Israeli occupation suggests perilous times ahead. The two-state solution has been largely invalidated by the Israeli settlement policy. Israeli settlers have seized most of the best land in the Jordan Valley – given to Palestine under the Oslo agreement.

U.S. charitable money (namely tax free) goes to underwrite these illegal settlements. The one-state solution is anathema to the Israeli political consensus, which would like to move towards the open declaration of the country as a Jewish State. A sizable Palestinian population would dilute this ethno-nationalist claim.

What remains is endless occupation and frustration.

It is the cause of the silent murder of Palestinian children.

Vijay Prashad, who teaches at Trinity College, is at work on his next book The Lotus and the Settler: India-Palestine-Israel.


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