Wednesday 5 August 2015

A Month in Abu Dis: Thoughts on the Duma Arson Attack

Friday morning news of an arson attack on the home of Palestinian family, taking the life of an 18 months old child, reached us. The suspected killers are Israelis from a nearby settlement. This form of violence even has its own name, “price tag attacks". Another two Palestinians have died in clashes with the Israeli army and the tension has increased throughout the West Bank and Jerusalem. This follows a long list of attacks and casualties from settlers and the Israeli army throughout the West Bank and also recently, stabbings by an ultra-orthodox Jew at the Jerusalem Gay Pride.

Here in Abu Dis, there were no big violent clashes with the Israeli military on Friday (at least nothing worse than the usual happenings). The people, however, are angry and frustrated. Netanyahu’s condemnation is met with a cynical laugh. The people I talked to believe that nothing will happen to the attackers, that the so-called Jewish extremists will be declared crazy, maybe even avoid prison. There will be no justice for this child and his family, no justice for the Palestinians. A volunteer’s father tells me: “This is our life. Every day. This is occupation.” There is no hope in his voice, just sadness.

As we walk along the street, a man stops his car and asks the local volunteers if they have told us about the attack, if we know what life is like here. That is the message the Palestinians here leave me with. They just want us to understand the reality of their daily life. They want to make sure the world knows, and put a halt to what is felt as a very efficient Israeli propaganda machine in global media. To be honest, I understand their feelings. Going through my BBC app newsfeed, it seems like Cecil the lion is getting more attention than the deadly violence in the West Bank.  

One of the volunteers here showed us the reactions of different politicians, Palestinian, Israeli, and around the world, images of the erupting clashes around the West Bank and explained his frustrations. Abu Dis is in Area B, so there is no police here, only the Israeli army. Even in Ramallah, in Area A, under the control of the Palestinian Authority and police, a simple phone call from Israel and the police desert the streets and leave way to the Israeli army. The settlements on the other hand, considered illegal under international law, benefit from state support and have beautiful tree lined streets and mansions. Settlements have security checkpoints at their entrance. Where is safe for the Palestinians?

Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank are also not subjected to the same criminal laws, often resulting in more lenient convictions for Israelis and access to simple privileges like visitors in prison, which are extremely difficult/impossible for Palestinians to obtain. There is a generalized feeling here that reactions would be very different had the family been Israeli.

If you would like to read more about this, here are a few links (thanks Sybil for some of these!):

No comments:

Post a Comment