To Maintain the Occupation of Palestine, Israelis
Lost their Human Decency
By Uri Avnery
December 27, 2017
Ibraheem Abu Thuraya had lost his legs and a kidney in an air
strike on Gaza,
in 2008, was killed by an Israeli sniper in
December 15, 2017
Cry, Beloved Country
ANYONE PROPOSING the
death penalty is either a complete fool, an incorrigible cynic or
mentally disturbed – or all of these.
There is no effective
therapy for any of these defects. I wouldn't even try.
would not understand the overwhelming evidence for the conclusion. For a
cynic, advocacy of the death penalty is a proven votecatcher. A mentally
disturbed person derives pleasure from the very thought of an execution.
I am not addressing any of these, but ordinary citizens of Israel.
LET ME start by repeating the story of my own personal experience.
In 1936, the Arab population of Palestine launched a violent uprising.
The Nazi persecution in Germany drove many Jews to Palestine (including
my own family), and the local Arabs saw their country slipping away from
under their feet. They started to react violently. They called it the
Great Rebellion, the British talked of "disturbances" and we called it
Groups of young Arabs attacked Jewish and British
vehicles on the roads. When caught, some of them were sent by the
British courts to the gallows. When the Arab attacks did not stop, some
right-wing Zionists started a campaign of "retaliation" and shot at Arab
One of these was caught by the British. His name was
Shlomo Ben-Yosef, a 25 year old illegal immigrant from Poland, a member
of the right-wing youth organization Betar. He threw a grenade at an
Arab bus, which failed to explode, and fired some shots that hit nobody.
But the British saw an opportunity to prove their impartiality.
Ben-Yosef was sentenced to death. The Jewish population was shocked.
Even those who were totally opposed to "retaliation" pleaded for
clemency, rabbis prayed. Slowly the day of the execution drew near. Many
expected a reprieve at the last moment. It did not come.
hanging of Ben-Yosef on June 29, 1938 sent a powerful shockwave through
the Jewish public. It caused a profound change in my own life. I decided
to fill his place. I joined the Irgun, the most extreme armed
underground organization. I was just 15 years old.
I repeat this
story because the lesson is so important. An oppressive regime,
especially a foreign one, always thinks that executing (Palestinian
freedom fighters) will frighten others away from joining the rebels.
This idea stems from the
arrogance of the rulers, who think of their subjects as
inferior human beings. The real result is always the opposite: the
executed rebel becomes a national hero, for every rebel executed, dozens
of others join the fight. The execution breeds hatred, the hatred leads
to more violence. If the family is also punished, the flames of hatred
rise even higher.
Simple logic. But logic is beyond the reach of
Just a thought: some 2000 years ago, a simple
carpenter was executed in Palestine by crucifixion. Look at the results.
IN EVERY army, there are a number of sadists posing as patriots.
In my army days, I once wrote that in every squad there is at least
one sadist and one moral soldier. The others are neither. They are
influenced by either of them, depends on which of the two has the
something horrible happened. Since the announcement of the American
Clown-In-Chief about Jerusalem, there have been daily
demonstrations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians in
the Gaza Strip approach the separation fence and throw stones at the
soldiers on the Israeli side. The soldiers are instructed to shoot.
Every day Palestinians are wounded, every few days Palestinians are
One of the demonstrators was
Ibrahim Abu-Thuraya, a 29 year old
legless Arab fisherman. Both of his legs were amputated nine years ago,
after he was injured in an Israeli air-strike on Gaza.
He was pushed in his wheelchair over the rough terrain towards the fence
when an army sharpshooter took aim and killed him. He was unarmed, just
The killer was not an ordinary soldier,
who may have shot without aiming in the melee. He was a professional, a
sharpshooter, used to identify his victim, take careful aim and hit the
I try to think about what went on in the shooter's
brain before shooting. The victim was close. There was absolutely no way
not to see the wheelchair. Ibrahim posed absolutely no threat to
the shooter or to anyone else.
cruel Israeli joke
was born immediately: the sharpshooters were ordered to hit the lower
parts of the bodies of the demonstrators. Since Ibrahim had no lower
parts, the soldier had no choice but shoot him in the head.)
This was a criminal act, pure and simple. An abhorrent war crime. So,
did the army – yes, my army! – arrest him? Not at all. Every day, a new
excuse was found, each more ridiculous than the other. The shooter’s
name was kept secret.
My God, what is happening to this country?
What is the occupation doing to us?
Ibrahim, of course, became
overnight a Palestinian national hero. His death will spur other
Palestinians to join the fight.
ARE THERE no rays of light? Yes
there are. Though not many.
A few days after the murder of
Ibrahim Abu-Thuraya, an almost comic scene was immortalized.
the Palestinian village Nabi Saleh in the occupied West Bank, two fully
armed Israeli soldiers are standing. One is an officer, the other a
sergeant. A group of three or four Arab girls, about 15 or 16 years old,
approach them. They shout at the soldiers and make abusive gestures. The
soldiers pretend not to notice them.
'Ahd Tamimi, approaches a soldier and hits him. The
soldier, much taller than her, does not react.
The girl comes
even closer and hits the face of the soldier. He defends his face with
his arms. Another girl records the scene with her smartphone.
And then the incredible happens: both soldiers walk backwards and leave
the scene. (Later it appears that the
cousin of one of the girls was shot in the head a few days earlier.)
The army was shocked by the fact that the two soldiers did not
shoot the girl. It promised an investigation. The girl and her mother
were detained that night. The soldiers are in for a rebuke.
For me, the two soldiers are real
heroes. Sadly, they are the exceptions.
human being has the right to be proud of his or her country. To my mind,
it's a basic human right as well as a basic human need.
can one be proud of a country that is trading in human bodies?
In Islam, it is very important to bury the dead as soon as possible.
Knowing this, the Israeli government is withholding the bodies of dozens
of (Palestinian freedom fighters), to be used as trading chips for the
return of Jewish bodies held by the other side.
This is not the Israel I helped to found and
fought for. My Israel would return the bodies to the fathers and
mothers. Even if it means giving up some trading chips. Isn't losing a
son punishment enough?
What has become of our common
Ibrahim Abu Thuraya: Disabled Palestinian
activist shot dead by Israeli troops in Jerusalem protest
Outrage after double amputee among of eight Palestinians killed since
Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital
Roberts Saturday 16 December 2017 22:06 GMT
activist who lost his legs in an air strike has been shot dead by
Israeli troops as he protested against the US decision to recognise
Wheelchair-bound Ibraheem Abu Thuraya, 29, was one of four
Palestinians killed during Friday’s violent clashes, according to
officials. Witnesses said he was unarmed.
The Palestinian Authority’s health ministry said Mr Thuraya was shot
just east of Gaza City, with the Israeli army saying it opened fire on
the “main instigators” of violent protests at the Gaza border. A
31-year-old, Yasser Sokhar, was killed in the same clash.
The violent protests followed the decision by
earlier this month to officially recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s
Another 82 Palestinians were injured, five of them seriously, in
clashes along Gaza’s border with Israel, the health ministry said.
Mr. Abu Thuraya had lost his legs and a kidney in an air strike,
according to local reports, and was regularly seen with other
Palestinian activists at protests.
“He was injured in 2008 by an Israeli helicopter that targeted him
after he brought down the Israeli flag and raised the Palestinian flag
along the border,” his brother Samir told AFP .
“It did not stop him from demonstrating for Jerusalem. He went alone
every day to the border.”
He is understood to have washed cars for a living and told Shehab
News in 2016 he hoped one day he could go abroad to get prosthetic legs.
Irish Friends of Palestine helped raise money for his motorised
scooter, according to its website.
In video footage apparently recorded shortly before his death, Mr Thuraya
can be seen carrying the Palestinian flag and waving the victory sign at
In another video, he is heard saying: “This land is our land. We are
not going to give up. America has to withdraw the declaration it has
Tear gas was reportedly used against the protesters and at some point
Mr Thuraya abandoned his wheelchair, crawling through the grass before
he was shot.
His funeral took place on Saturday, The
Photos and videos showing Mr. Abu Thuraya being pushed in his
wheelchair shortly before his death have been widely shared on social
Nasser Atta, a Jerusalem-based journalist, said on Twitter the death
of the Gaza amputee “will be the beginning of the start of a third
intifada, they compare him to Mohammed al-Dura killed during the Second
Mohammed al-Dura was a 12-year-old boy killed by Israeli forces
during rioting on the Gaza Strip in 2000, prompting worldwide
condemnation and violent retribution.
According to the Middle East Eye, Mr Thuraya was known for climbing
electricity poles and holding up Palestinian flags during protests.
He told the Irish Friends of Palestine: “Please never look at my
disabled body, look at the great job I am doing. I never get despaired.
It’s not the end of the world and life should go on.”
Several thousand Palestinians took part in Friday’s protests at the
West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza, according to Israeli forces and
“During the violent riots IDF (Israel Defence Force) soldiers fired
selectively towards main instigators,” the military said in a statement.
It said demonstrators in the West Bank threw firebombs and rocks and
rolled flaming tyres at soldiers and border police.
Another Palestinian was shot and killed after he reportedly stabbed
an Israeli soldier during clashes at the West Bank border, according to
reports which claimed he was believed to have been wearing a suicide
He was named by the Palestinian Health Ministry as 29-year-old
Protests have raged for the past 10 days in the disputed territories
since Mr Trump’s announcement – highly controversial because Jerusalem
is a holy place to Jews, Christians and Muslims.
Israeli forces seized control of East Jerusalem from Arab forces in
the 1967 Middle East War and later annexed it in a move considered
illegal under international law.
Israel has maintained a blockade of Gaza for a decade, claiming this
is necessary to contain the territory's Islamist rulers Hamas, who have
called for a new uprising in response to Mr Trump's Jerusalem
Mr Trump said the announcement merely recognises the reality that
Jerusalem already effectively serves as the Israeli capital and is not
intended to alter the city's borders.
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