Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The murder of Rushdi Tamimi and beating and jailing of Bassem Tamimi

Two days ago, Rushdi Tamimi was murdered for nonviolent protest against the Occupation of Gaza in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. He was shot by armed young men sicced by the government of Israel, which also occupies the West Bank, on nonviolent protestors. The villagers protest against the Wall, dividing and stealing their land, and the settlers who seize or burn the olive trees on which these farmers depend.

Here is a youtube video of the killing, filmed by Boshra Tamimi. Do not watch it unless you are prepared to take in horror.

I was watching from a rooftop a nonviolent demonstration at this place in Nabi Saleh four weeks ago.


After the initial tear gas canisters, after the rubber coated bullets hard as rocks, after their demonstration was attacked, teenagers throw rocks far away from the tanks, David against Goliath.

And the soldiers come with their guns and shoot live ammunition. Rushdi was shot once, was surrounded by soldiers shot again and kicked in the head. The film shows his relatives in Nabi Saleh surrounding him, pleading with the soldiers to let them take him to a hospital in Ramallah.

He survives to the hospital, his parents kiss him, he kisses them before being taken to the operating room.


Everyone should see this video - suppressed in the America "news" media.(h/t Itziar). Though such videos are easily available, they are beyond the Wall of silence of the American corporate media for whom Israeli lives are valuable, Palestinian lives are not.


Rushdi was murdered by crazed young men - "soldiers" - who are part of an illegal occupation and "transfer" (ethnic cleansing), part of creating Greater Israel.


Who does such things and can show his or her face to the world?


This is part of an increasing cycle of violence and murder.

See my discussion of the Israeli aggression in Gaza here.


Mercifully, there is a cease-fire just now. But none of this affects the ongoing story of murders in the West Bank, just part of the ordinary operating procedure of the army of occupation.


Last week, Donnie Betts interviewed Vincent Harding, Brian Walt and Carolyn McKinstry from our civil rights delegation to Palestine. Listen here. Vincent emphasizes his friendship - they became cousins - with Bassem Tamimi who has led nonviolent resistance to the Wall - already and often at great cost, font instance, the murder by a tear gas canister of Mustafa Tamimi here and here. Two weeks ago, Bassem took part in a nonviolent protest for freedom at a supermarket in one of the illegal settlements. He had been in jail for 16 months and was just seized and beaten by Israeli soldiers as he left the super market. He was then sentenced in a military "court" to prison for 4 months.

Nonviolent protest is met by aggressive and paranoid violence - that is what Israel is.


The words that proclaim Israel's Declaration of Independence uphold the rights of every citizen, regardless of ethnicity. That is a still a hope for the people of Israel who are forfeiting through murderousness, day by day, the chance of establishing a decent footing in the Middle East.

For in the Occupied Territories, people are systematically thrown away. A settler's son throws feces on the old market in Hebron. The IDF does not arrest him because it is in Hebron only to protect the illegal settlements.

The IDF and every member of it who does not resist - we met Natan, an heroic member of Breaking the Silence who showed us around the violently and illegally established "Jews-only" settlement in the center of Hebron - is an agent of apartheid.


A Palestinian teenager who perhaps has thrown a rock at a tank or who, in any case, is breathing while Palestinian, is arrested at 2AM by the IDF. He is taken to a prison, often tortured, eventually subject to a military "court". He has habeas corpus - a day in court - in 8 days. He is often held for months and tortured.

The settler's son, were he to be arrested, would be brought before a judge in a civilian court within 24 hours...


The crime of apartheid is defined by the 2002 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court as inhumane acts of a character similar to other crimes against humanity "committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime."

The apartheid policies extend into Israel. Palestinians often do not have power to buy a house or are restricted as to where they can be, what they can do. But a Jew from America can settle anywhere or be funded in the settlements, say as David Wilder, the New Jersey Jew with his vision of Judea and Samaria, his Glock at his side along with tzitzis (prayer strings), living in violence and fear...See here.


As Rabbi Walt points out, it is Israel's occupation of which Wilder's violence is an aspect which makes his being in Hebron illegal and illegitimate. Every person has a right - should have a right - to settle peacefully anywhere, Jews as well as Arabs. But no occupier and no representative has a right to force other people off their land, destroy a bustling market, enforce racist discrimination (apartheid) in order to impose, by force, external rule. And one power, the state of Israel, alone does this to the people who lived on the land in 1948 and again, after 1967.


The facts on the ground are those of calculating racism, reinforced by the current slaughters in Gaza and the West Bank. Israel allows Palestinians to be alive but without dignity, subject to constant violence and abuse. That is why an Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Metan Vilnai calls for a shoah against Palestinians on army radio - here.


Vilnai's word shoah - the Hebrew name for the Holocaust - needs to be taken in. The murders and jailings of the Tamimis are part of something which has this basic character, strains toward massacre. The Army Minister reveals the current "European" fantasies of Israel - as the tsars and Hitler toward Jews, so the state of Israel toward Palestinians - to the world...


As Vincent emphasizes, Jews have long fought for the rights of others in the American civil rights movement and elsewhere. Stemming from Amos and Isaiah, Jews have a long tradition of standing up to murderous and corrupt powers. We should join with the Palestinians - as Anarchists against the Wall do - and others in fighting this.

But time not spent fighting this, time spent just living in Israel or America, sadly cooperates in racist oppression, just as much as living in the segregated South or in apartheid South Africa cooperated in it.

The state of Israel is powerful; ordinary people are not. Those who want change cannot hope to obtain it quickly. But it is necessary to act.


There is a dance of oppression in Israel and in America which provides the weapons that arm the IDF. There is an American imprint on the soldiers in the video showing the murder of Rushdi Tamami, in the guns they carry, the tear gas canisters made in Pennsylvania...

The state of Israel has also notably corrupted America, the ideas of the Bush-Cheney regime being little more than the warmed-over racism toward "Arabs" and Palestinians and a consequent "license" to "preempt" - commit aggression - and torture characteristic of Israel.


The drones of the Obama administration in Pakistan belie Netanyahu's and Obama's rhetoric that "no country would tolerate missiles." Why then is the Obama administration - as the aggressor in Pakistan and Yemen and Somalia - firing missiles into each and murdering civilians?


The truth is: the Pakistanis, under international law and ordinary moral standards of decency, have every right to resist the missiles being fired by America into their territory. Even more do the occupied Palestinians though the Hamas firing of missiles, a response to Israel's murder of a teenager last week, is still counterproductive and also murders innocents.

Nonviolence is the way against the oppressor's violence, but with a Wall of silence in the American media and even the BBC surrounding the Palestinians even more than the physical Wall through the Occupied Territories, this will take time to breach.


Both Jews and Palestinians need places to live in dignity. A two state settlement or a democracy with equal rights could achieve this. But continuing occupation and ever-new red "settlements," like fancy American suburbs up on a hill, will not.


Each of us must act against the occupation which underlies the current "elections war" in Gaza.

We must pray for those murdered, for those who feel the heart-break and rage - myself among us - and need to find the spiritual balance and power to act against these atrocities nonviolently.

If Bassem Tamimi can find that strength, so can we in solidarity.

None of us can be silent.


First West Bank Martyr in Demonstrations Against the Assault on Gaza

Rushdi Tamimi (31) was injured by a live ammunition bullet shot at his back, two days ago in Nabi Saleh. He passed away today in Ramallah Hospital

On Saturday, November 17th, clashes erupted in the village of Nabi Saleh north west of Ramallah, after Israeli soldiers entered the village following a protest residents held a demonstration in against the assault on Gaza. During the clashes soldiers used extensive live ammunition bullets, rubber coated steel bullets, and tear gas.

According to eyewitnesses, Rushdi Tamimi (31) was shot first with a rubber coated steel bullet that hit him in the back, he fell on the ground. Afterward soldiers shot him again, this time with a live ammunition bullet which entered through his hip and into his gut.

When soldiers came closer to Rushdi, they gave him a blow to the head with the butt of one of their rifles, even though he told them he was injured, and then shot him with another rubber coated steel bullet in the stomach. Soldiers then attempted to drag him through the rocky terrain instead of providing him with medical treatment.

They continued to shoot live ammunition towards residents and prevented them, including Rushdi’s sister, from approaching him and bringing him to an ambulance meanwhile while saying, “I don’t care” and “it’s not my problem.” See here.

Rushdi was finally transferred to Ramallah Hospital where he underwent surgery. He suffered from ruptured intestines and two arteries. Today, Monday, he passed away in the hospital.

Rushdi Tamimi is the first martyr of the West Bank demonstrations which have erupted as a protest again the war on Gaza. He is also the second martyr from the village of Nabi Saleh in the past three years since the village began holding weekly Friday popular struggle demonstrations.

His funeral will begin tomorrow, Tuesday, at the Ramallah Hospital and will be brought to burial in Nabi Saleh at 2pm.

Over the past few days the Israeli army has used live ammunition in multiple locations against Palestinian unarmed demonstrations against the war on Gaza. In addition to Rushdi Tamimi, at least five more people have been injured from live ammunition today, two during clashes in Attara, one in Takua near Bethlehem, and two in Hebron.


By +972blog |Published November 6, 2012
Bassem Tamimi sentenced to 4 months in Israeli military jail
In a plea bargain, Bassem Tamimi was sentenced to four months in prison, ordered to pay a fine of NIS 5,000, and given an additional three-year suspended sentence. Just recently having completed a 13-month prison stint, he was arrested last month while taking part in a protest at a settlement supermarket.

By Alon Aviram

[the program would not reproduce the photograph]
Bassem Tamimi arrested at the Rami Levy supermarket protest (credit: ActiveStils)

Ofer Military Prison — A series of military courts operate inside a row of cramped and dilapidated cabins. An Israeli flag hung from the ceiling overlooking a line of seated and shackled defendants. Courtroom staff and defendants looked equally bored, both by the tedious bureaucratic processes at hand, and with 99.74 percent of all trials in Israeli military courts ending with a conviction, they were probably aware of the outcome. People wandered in and out, disrupting any fleeting sense of an orderly courtroom environment. The translator slouched on an office chair, every so often forgetting to translate the judge and lawyers from Hebrew in to Arabic for the defendants. Bassem Tamimi, 45, father of four, a school teacher and a grassroots protest organizer from the village of Nabi Saleh, was ordered to stand before the military clad judge.

Arrested on October 24 during a protest action at a branch of Rami Levy, a Jewish-owned supermarket chain, Tamimi stood accused of illegal assembly, interfering with police work and breaching a suspended sentence. Rather than risk being remanded during what would likely become a lengthy trial, Tamimi’s defense lawyer, Neri Ramati, reached a plea bargain on his behalf with the prosecution. The judge approved the agreement, and sentenced Tamimi to a total of four months in prison, ordered him to pay a fine of NIS 5,000, and imposed on him an additional three year suspended sentence. Despite the verdict, Tamimi occasionally turned to smile at activists who attended the hearing, and when it ended, he raised his hand in a V sign for victory.

Bassem Tamimi has been detained by Israeli authorities 13 times, at one point spending more than three years in administrative detention without trial. In 1993, as a result of an interrogation by the Israeli Shin Bet, Tamimi was left unconscious for eight days and required surgery for a brain injury. Following a demonstration on March 24, 2011, against the expropriation of land belonging to his village of Nabi Saleh by a neighboring Jewish settlement, he spent 13 months in prison.

Tamimi is recognized internationally for his work in organizing peaceful protests against the encroachment onto Palestinian lands by Israeli settlers. The European Union has described him as a “human rights defender,” and Amnesty International has demanded his release as a “prisoner of conscience.”

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