by Ayman Ahmed (Main Stories, Crescent International Vol. 52, No. 11, Jumada' al-Akhirah, 1444)
The Palestinians face three major challenges in their quest for freedom and justice: the heavily-armed Israeli occupation army; the equally heavily-armed zionist squatters (erroneously called settlers) and an indifferent world that pumps more weapons into the settler colonial entity to continue killing the Palestinians. The collective west led by the US also shovels billions of dollars into the coffers of the parasitical state.
There is a fourth challenge the Palestinians face. The Palestinian Authority (PA) led by Mahmoud Abbas comprises a bunch of collaborators that do the zionists’ dirty work against their own people. The PA operatives spy on resistance fighters and even carry out raids to arrest them and hand them over to the occupiers.
Collectively, these are formidable challenges but to their great credit the Palestinians have not been cowed down. With their bare hands they confront, on a daily basis, the most ruthless military machine in the region. The zionists feel no compunction in killing innocent Palestinians, many of them children.
While killing innocent Palestinians is part of Israel’s strategy to crush the spirit of resistance, in recent weeks, they have intensified their murderous campaign. The number of Palestinians murdered by the occupation army and squatters over the last few weeks has risen alarmingly. Many more are injured, among them infants, such as 18-month-old baby from Osarin village south of Nablus on December 23.
Let us consider the cases of Palestinians murdered by the zionists and the circumstances in which they were killed.
1: Ahmad Atef Daraghmeh, 23, was shot dead by the Israeli occupation army during a raid on the city of Nablus on December 22, the official Palestinian news agency, Wafa, reported. He was from the nearby town of Tubas and was a football player for the town’s local team. He was escorting a group of Jewish worshippers to a site known as the biblical Joseph’s Tomb, according to medics.
2: Two Palestinian brothers, Mohammad and Muhannad Yousef Muteir, from the Qalandia refugee camp in Jerusalem, were killed on December 17 just south of Nablus. A car driven by a 50-year-old Israeli squatter deliberately rammed it into the vehicle belonging to the two brothers, which they had parked on the side of the road. They were fixing a punctured tire, the Wafa news agency reported. The two brothers had been with their family in Nablus, preparing for their sister’s wedding on December 23 in what was to have been a joyous occasion but was turned into mourning.
3: Jana Majdi Zakarneh, a 15-year-old Palestinian girl, went to the rooftop to collect her cat on the evening of December 11, when an Israeli sniper shot her multiple times, twice in the face, once in the neck and once in the body. Both of Jana’s parents have disabilities and require full-time care and support. She was the only one looking after them, according to her aunt Hanan, who asked what was her [Jana’s] crime to be murdered in such a brutal manner?
4: Three Palestinians were murdered on December 8 during what are now Israeli army’s routine deadly raids on Jenin refugee camp. The Palestinian ministry of health identified the three as Siqdi Zakarneh, 29, Atta Shalabi, 46, and Tareq al-Damaj, 29.
According to local journalist Mujahed al-Saadi, Sidqi Zakarneh was affiliated with Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, while Shalabi and al-Damaj were civilians. Atta Shalabi was shot and killed by the Israeli army when he attempted to help Zakarneh.
At least two other Palestinians were injured by Israeli fire during the raid, one seriously. “Eyewitnesses said Zakarneh was shot in his car. The people who took him out of the car said they did not find any weapons on him,” Al Jazeera’s Jenin-based producer Ali al-Samoudi said.
5: Mujahed al-Najjar, 32, from the town of Silwad on the outskirts of Ramallah, was shot and killed on December 7. According to media reports, there was a firefight with the Israeli occupation army in the nearby village of Deir Dibwan when al-Najjar was shot and killed. The following morning (December 8), the occupation army raided Silwad and arrested al-Najjar’s father and brother as well.
6: Mohammed Ayman al-Saadi, 26, and Naeem Jamal al-Zubaidi, 27, were shot dead during an Israeli raid on Jenin on December 1. They became the seventh and eighth Palestinians to be shot dead in a 72-hour period in what Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian lawmaker, described as “more #IsraelCrimes with impunity”, referring to later killings by the Israelis. Al-Saadi was a field commander and al-Zubaidi was a senior leader in the Jenin Brigade, a local armed group made up mainly of Islamic Jihad members.
Human rights groups have condemned Israel’s “shoot to kill” policy in which children, infants, women and young girls are all killed with impunity. The case of 15-year-old Jana is typical. She posed no threat to the heavily-armed Israeli soldiers. She had climbed the roof of her house to collect her cat but was still shot four times.
Jana was the 59th Palestinian and the 15th child to be killed by Israeli forces in Jenin in 2022. Across the West Bank, she became victim number 166 and the 39th minor to be killed by Israeli forces, according to Wafa.
The year 2022 was one of the deadliest years on record for Palestinians since 2005. The number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces totalled 220, including 52 in the Gaza Strip and 168 in the West Bank.
Together with killings, Israel also arrested more than 2,500 Palestinians across the West Bank and al-Quds/Jerusalem, according to Israeli occupation authorities. Palestinian schools have also been targeted and demolished including one in the village of Yabrud, 13 kms northeast of Ramallah on December 5, according to the Palestinian news agency Wafa.
On November 23, Israeli occupation forces had raided the Masafer Yatta region (southern West Bank), and demolished the recently-built Asafat primary school in the village of Asafat al-Fawqa. Video footage showed teachers helping young Palestinian students—boys and girls—out of a classroom window. Heavily-armed Israeli soldiers stood outside menacingly as if these young children posed a threat.
The zionists stole the school’s stationery, tables and chairs before a bulldozer moved in to flatten the building. The Palestinian Ministry of Education said that dozens of Palestinian students in Masafer Yatta now had no school to attend. The European Union also strongly condemned the Israeli demolition, saying the move violated children’s right to education.
Despite such crimes against the Palestinian people, a fascist member of Israeli Knesset claimed in an interview with UK’s Channel 4 News aired on December 9, that Israel had been “too merciful” towards the Palestinians. Zvika Fogel dismissed “the concept of proportionality.” He went on: “If it is one Israeli mother crying, or a thousand Palestinian mothers crying, then a thousand Palestinian mothers will cry.”
When asked by the presenter if this policy was racist, Fogel said: “We are too merciful. It’s time for us to stop being so. It has nothing to do with racism.”
The new UN Special Rapporteur, Francesca Albanese, issued her first report to the UN General Assembly in New York in November. An Italian academic jurist and highly regarded human rights expert, her report comprehensively depicts and documents the most fundamental violations of the basic rights of the Palestinian people.
Not surprisingly, the pro-Israel lobby immediately resorted to the old canard, screaming, “anti-Semitism.” The world is beginning to get tired of such blackmail. As Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, writing in Ha‘aretz pointed out, the mask has come off Israel’s face with the new right-wing government.