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Lie to us, but do not ignore us - by Faud Al-Lahham
Lie to us, but do not ignore us - by Faud Al-Lahham
Images from the Israeli press
[Ma'anImages]
Bethlehem – Ma’an - A video of an Israeli settler shooting two Palestinians at close range was made public by the Israeli human rights group B'tselem on Thursday.

The sounds and images of a machine-gun waving settler were transmitted to international, local and Israeli TV stations.

The footage showed a middle-aged Israeli from one of the illegal settlements inside the Palestinian city of Hebron firing at 40-year-old Husni Matariyah at point blank range. The bullet hit the left side of Matariah’s chest. The settler then shot Matariah’s 65-year-old father Abed Al-Hai in the hand.

The injured men were moved to Hebron’s A’lia Hospital in poor and critical condition. The man who shot them, despite being caught on video, is free and preparing himself for a new crime.

Although his crime was cruel and brutal, it is not out of the ordinary in Palestine for settler mobs to decide that they will exact some sort of punishment against Palestinians. Indeed, such acts have been going on for decades. Ever since settlers took over the first Palestinian home in the center of the city, ever since the first trailer home was dropped in the center of Palestinian gardens, these acts of the settlers have continued under the sponsorship of the Israeli army.

The hate and violence exhibited by the Israeli man in the video is what is raging as the army turns a blind eye; they do not arrest or even investigate settler crimes against Palestinians, not even for show to dissuade future attacks.

With these images of an Israeli pointing his weapon directly at a Palestinian man defending his home, Israeli papers preferred to publish photos of soldiers dragging settlers out of the “House of Contention.” Other papers like the well-known Yedioth Ahronoth did not publish any picture at all. Where it was published, the image of the brutal and angry settler was hidden in the final pages of news reports.

If the image was reversed and the assailant was a Palestinian carrying even a stick or a rock, let alone an automatic weapon, and attacking a settler simply defending his home from arson--not only would Israeli security not stop until the perpetrator was caught. His image would be splashed on the front page of every news source in the country.

Examples proving this point are almost innumerable. But when the tables are turned, the attacker is spoiled, nurtured and raised up in the state’s warm arms. He is made into a symbol of the land and his ancestors and of Jews waging a war against Palestinian invaders. If there are calls for this man’s arrest we are not hearing them, and no one has dared to label this man a "terrorist" yet.

As for his arrest, well, someone in the Israeli security department would say that it’s too difficult to identify the perpetrator just by relying on home video and besides, you cannot depend on the testimony of Palestinians since they are rivals. This of course would ignore the fact that Israeli security used a home video that documented the lynching of two Israeli soldiers at the beginning of the first Intifadah, inside a police station in Ramallah, to arrest those men’s assailants.

Those "vicious Palestinians" were brought to the Israeli military court and sentenced to a lifetime in prison each; their acts were denounced by all sides. And people on the streets of Ramallah were angry with the brutal violence enacted by their fellows. The shock and denunciation of the youth who did not participate in the Ramallah incident was never mentioned in the Israeli press.

As the news broadcasts and paper reports flooded in today I was waiting for an Israeli police commander, one of the ones who praised the skills of the forces in evacuating the house with the fairly small number injured, to denounce this crime and utter an untrue promise to arrest the attacker.

I then started waiting for at least a statement denouncing the behavior of the Palestinian who made the settler angry by defending his house, explaining why the settler was thus "forced to act" and shoot him. Even that statement did not come.

So I am angry that the press has totally ignored the incident. It feels like there was nothing fired upon that deserves comment; it was not two human beings that were injured under the watch of the "brave police commander." It must have been something else.

Whoever said that everyone bleeds the same blood should reassess his statement; at the very least it should be suspended when entering Hebron.

Because in Hebron, blood runs in two colors, two colors that will remain separate. According to Israeli forces one of the colors of blood is red, and it comes from the veins of God’s chosen people, living in the city of their forefathers, near the Tomb of the Patriarchs. The other blood, the Palestinian blood, seems to be colorless, invisible, without the holiness ascribed to their Jewish neighbors.

When a Palestinian is killed, nothing holy runs in the streets. When a Palestinian is killed, no one cries for justice. There is perhaps a small news story, but the case will never see the inside of a courtroom as collecting evidence and making an arrest in Palestinian areas is "too difficult."

That said, I would like to ask the police commander in Hebron to announce his intention to arrest the attacker and to bring him to court for shedding invisible blood, even if it is a lie and he has no intention of following up on his pledge. I want him to make that statement so I can sense a bit of humanity, so we can feel like human beings.


***Fouad Al-Lahham is a journalist and Hebrew translator at Ma'an News Agency in Bethlehem. His article was originally written in Arabic and translated into English by Ma'an's English Department.
Dec 10, 2008 5:19 AM
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