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Weekly Post:

May 15, 2010

Teenage Boy Shot Dead by Israeli Settler:

My friends and I went out on Thursday night to a bar called La Vie in Ramallah. We listened to some live music, had some drinks, and were having a very nice night. When we decided to go home, the road we walk on leads through the Ramallah Hospital. As we walked through at around 1:30 am, we noticed that there were about a hundred men outside the hospital—which is very unusual for that time of night so we knew something was wrong.

I assumed there had been a fight or something, but my Palestinian friend stopped to talk to some of the people there and ask what was going on as we continued walking. He caught up with us and told us that a teenage boy had been shot by settlers after throwing stones with some friends at the settler cars as they passed. They were near the village of Mazra’a Al Sharqiyya.

My friend looked upset and I asked him if he knew who it was. He told me it was a friend of his…

The boy, Aysar Zaben, had been shot in the back after throwing stones at his shooter’s car. His friends ran away when the settler stopped his car, and apparently Aysar had been running away as well since he was shot in the back. No one found his body until hours later—and Aysar by then had bled to death.

We didn’t know that it was settlers at the time; we assumed the boys had been throwing stones at Israeli jeeps that were raiding in the area. I got a call from one of my friends in the PA and he told me the type of ammunition they found in the boy wasn’t from an M-16—they type of weapon most IDF soldiers carry. Later, we found out it was a settler who killed him. For throwing stones at his car—since when does that warrant killing someone??

Two Settlers Injured by Palestinian Fire

On Friday, two young female settlers were injured as their car was fired on when they were driving in the same area that the Palestinian boy was killed. Again, I got a call from my friend in the PA who asked me if I knew what was happening near Ramallah. I hadn’t heard because I was at the weekly protest in Bil’in at the time.

He told me about what happened and I was very surprised. It’s not common for Palestinians to shoot at settlers or soldiers because most Palestinians do not have guns…just stones. Even the PA soldiers who stand on the streets with Kalashnikovs are not allowed to fire any bullets unless they have already coordinated with and got permission from the Israelis (strange? Ha). So shooting bullets is a very big deal.

Today in the news, I saw that the Imad Mughniyeh Group of Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades had claimed responsibility for the attack on the settlers. They said that the attack was in response to the killing of Aysar the day before by settlers.

They also said that the attack symbolized their rejection of the indirect peace talks that have begun between the Israeli and Palestinian leadership. I don’t blame them because so far, every time there are peace talks, the Palestinians end up making all the compromises and fulfilling the demand s of the Israelis, while the Israeli government gives nothing, and usually takes more land and more concessions from the Palestinians.

IDF Forces Gather Around Ramallah

As my PA friend was telling me about the attack on the settlers, he mentioned that hundreds of IDF soldiers were massing near Ramallah in an attempt to capture the people who shot at the settlers.

That night, there were flares in the sky near Ramallah. Flares are a pretty good sign around here that kind of Israeli military raid or attack is about to begin. So that was kind of scary. Killing of Israelis is not taken lightly by the Israeli government and military—since the two settlers were only injured by the glass that broke when the shots were fired at their car; it was only a raid and not an attack.

There were 3 young Palestinian men detained last night from the village of Sinjel near Ramallah. It’s not clear yet whether they were detained because of the attack on the settlers or whether it was “just another” Israeli raid.

Bil’in Weekly Protest Against the Wall

I went to the Friday protest in Bil’in yesterday, it was a pretty small group of demonstrators, but there was a big percentage of Israeli activists which is always a good thing (despite the fact that a few of them were most likely spies…).

We marched to the wall together and after about 5 minutes of standing at the wall (without throwing one stone…) the IDF started shooting gas grenades at us. Most of the first-time protestors and internationals retreated to the back of the protest, but all of the Palestinians from the village and a small group of internationals and Israelis stayed.

They kept shooting the teargas grenades—the gas they used this week was extremely strong and focused mostly on the eyes. My eyes stung for about 10 minutes after I got out of the gas and were half shut. My face also stung a lot.

Then over a dozen Israeli soldiers came through the fence and chased us down the hill towards the village while shooting teargas at us. They also set off a huge gas bomb that caused a bigger cloud of teargas than the teargas cannon (which shoots out over 30 teargas canisters simultaneously into the air). In that cloud, they caught one Palestinian journalist from Al Arabiyya. Luckily, the rest of us ran fast enough to not be caught in the teargas and we were able to get away from the soldiers.

The soldiers made one more run at us and we went back even further. Then the Palestinian boys from the village started moving towards the soldiers as we all ran away. They started picking up stones and throwing them at the advancing soldiers. The soldiers shot teargas grenades directly at the boys but luckily didn’t hit any of them. The rocks were still flying at the soldiers (in full riot gear and armed to the teeth…) and the soldiers got scared and started to retreat.

The boys followed them back to the fence, still throwing stones at them and being fired at with teargas. Then the soldiers turned around and made a run for the wall and they all went back to the other side. Victory! Haha.

Fire in the Olive Fields

After the soldiers went back to their side of the wall, the boys started throwing stones at the side fence where there were soldiers. The soldiers responded with teargas grenades shot at head level. The gas grenades caught the dry brush in the olive fields around where we protest on fire. Within minutes there were several small fires. And soon after that they turned into a big wildfire that was threatening to burn down olive trees. The people at the front started shouting for everyone to come up and help put out the fire because the weather had been so hot and dry that the fire kept getting bigger and bigger.

We ran up to the fields by the side fence and grabbed olive tree branches to beat the land that was on fire to put it out. Then the soldiers started shooting teargas at us! As we were trying to put out a fire they started! The men ran straight to the fence and started yelling and arguing with the soldiers, who eventually gave us about 15 minutes of ceasefire to try to stop the fire.

We were all beating the fire with the olive tree branches, inhaling regular smoke and teargas at the same time. Eventually, we saved the olive trees and got the fire under control when another fire near the front fence started. Luckily, a fire truck finally arrived at the scene and started to put the front fire out as we took care of the small fires that kept popping up in the first area.

After that the ceasefire was over and the soldiers began shooting teargas at us again and we had to go back. The boys stayed and kept throwing stones at the soldiers for a while longer. The protest organizers declared that the protest was officially over and the demonstrators should leave. Only the boys stayed, the rest of us headed back to the village.

In the end there were a couple of people who were injured by being shot with the teargas grenades, but no serious injuries.

World’s Largest Keffiyeh

And to end on a positive note, Palestinians recently reveiled the world’s largest keffiyeh at Al Muqata (the main military and political headquarters in the West Bank).

The Friend’s Society (a Quaker Society here in Ramallah) organized this event and volunteers began weaving the keffiyeh months ago. The keffiyeh is 500×500 meters and will be entered into the Guinness Book of World Records.

They plan to put the keffiyeh up on another “world’s largest”—the Separation Wall between Israel and the West Bank and then bring the keffiyeh to Palestinian refugee camps outside of Palestine.

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9 comments

  1. Without justifying the specific incident as I wasn’t there, stonethrowing from a hill at moving vehicles is punishable by 25 years in the United States, by the way. And there was a case in Germany:
    http://www.stripes.com/dec00/ed122300a.html

    In June 2001, 5 month old Yehuda Shoham of Shiloh had his head crished in and died a few days later after being hit by a stone thrown threw the window of his parents’ car.

    Throwing stones is considered attempted murder by us.


  2. The difference between throwing stones at a car in the states or germany or any other place where there is NOT an illegal occupation, is that there is no REASON to throw a stone.

    In Palestine, however, there is a 62 (or 43, depending on who you ask…) year long, illegal, brutal occupation going on. Stone throwing is symbolic of not accepting the occupation. Any Israeli (military or settler) who is in the occupied territory, is there ILLEGALLY and is prolonging this occupation. Therefore, them being targeted with a stone is their own problem. Its a lot better than what the Palestinians have shot at them (bullets, missiles, teargas canisters, shit water…), dont you think??


  3. And are you really trying to justify the fact that a teenager who was throwing stones was shot in the BACK and left to bleed to death for hours (with Israeli soldiers standing nearby)?? For a stone?

    Thats just about on par for killing Palestinian teenagers for driving stolen cars! Since when does that justify a DEATH sentence? In what world is that OK?


  4. Renee, well, since a few years, depending on who you ask, doesn’t mean too much, you’ll understand that some Jews view the Arabs as 1300-year old occupiers of our Land. Can we throw stones at them?

    As for the facts of the incident, I do not think any Israeli soldier stood by why a boy bled to death. They came when alerted, looked around, no one was there, they left. On the other hand, his friends ran away, didn’t tell anyone they were acting in a violent manner (so they knew what they did was wrong?) and it were they who left him to bleed to death. Right?

    It isn’t worth a death sentence. But then again, since Jews have been killed by stones, including my 5-month old neighbor, since when is a dispute over land worth a death sentence? Especially since for over 80 years the Jews have accepted compromise and partition.


  5. I think the expiration date on ownership is a little less than 1300 years. If you wanna go down that road, then why no say the ANCIENT Jewish people who lived in the land 1300 years ago occupied it from the people who lived there before them so it should belong to the Romans?

    There are a lot of facts that you probably dont hear about in the media you are exposed to…like Israeli soldiers crushing Palestinian’s heads with rocks to see which can make the loudest crack. (second intifada). Ive heard much worse stories (and seen some for myself) than an Israeli soldier standing by while a Palestinian child bleeds to death. That is the least of their crimes!

    Its terrible that a 5 month old baby had to die from a stone…no children (Israeli, Palestinian, whoever…) should not have to pay for the politics of their parents. But unfortunately the parents chose to live in a settlement, and living illegally in occupied territory has its risks- right? Thats why a lot of settlers walk around with M-16s on their backs and sleep with rifles under their beds.

    If you wanna compare how many children have died because of all this political warfare, check out ifamericansknew.org. Or just look at the stats from Operation Cast Lead last year in Gaza–where half of the 1400 deaths were children. Were those children “Hamas militants??” Did they deserve to die?

    And about this sentence: “For over 80 years the Jews have accepted compromise and partition”. I dont even know where to begin replying to that except that that is complete bs.

    From the Palestinian point of view (and mine) the Israelis have been constantly taking land from Palestine since the beginning of the zionist movement–of course it got much worse in the years leading up to the 1948 war. Israel has been ignorning international laws and resolutions telling them to stop for decades.

    Check out the route of the “Security” wall and see how it lines up with the internationally recognized Green Line (1967 border). It doesnt. It snakes around INSIDE the West Bank, annexing (aka stealing) even more Palestinian land.

    And the only ones who have been making compromises (and losing more every time because of them) are the Palestinians. Oh sure, the Israeli government says it will have a settlement freeze, that it will move the Wall back 100 meters in Bil’in, but it NEVER actually does. It completely ignores its own civil authority (and Supreme court) decisions–if thats not a military dictatorship I dont know what is…

    Take a moment to check out alternative information sites (palestinemonitor.org, ifamericansknew.org, electronicintifada.net, maannews.net/en/, haaretz.com, btselem.org, checkpoint watch….)from the ones you usually look at. Im sure you will learn lots of interesting things that contradict the propaganda and lies you’ve been fed for years.


  6. Allow me to be a bit pithy.

    a) you err about that 1300 years. Jews have always lived in the Land of Israel even if we had lost political power. Jews lived in Hebron, Jenin, Nablus (Shchem) and Gaza as well as what you call Arab Jerusalem which had a Jewish majority since the 1860s until ethnically cleansed by murderous Arabs in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.

    We weren’t ANCIENT but quite current.

    b) some of your stories are quite outrageous and urban legends. We also don’t treat Arabs in our hospitals, right?

    c) as for deserving to die, you just told me my children can die simply because we live in a Jewish community but doesn’t that hold true for the children of Gaza by your own logic?

    d) as for 80 years of compromise, I am surprised you are ignorant. We lost all of eastern Eretz-Yisrael when the British created the fictional TransJordan, in 1923, agreed to a partition in 1937, yielded to a greater partition in 1947 but the Arabs wanted all or nothing – and got nothing.

    e) the “West Bank” doesn’t “belong” to Arabs. They want it. It was part of the Jewish National Home by international law until the Jordanians launched an aggressive war in 1948 and then screwed the local Arab residents. We have to also pay for their mistakes?

    I do check them. Do you ever check our sites?


  7. Living in occupied territory is risky! Im not saying that your children deserve to die. I dont want any children to die. But just like the missionaries who were settling the west in the USA in the 18oos, settlements are inately risky because you are on SOMEONE ELSES land, illegally occupied it. That was my point.

    You threw that 13oo year number out there, not me.

    About losing land, you cant lose something you didnt possess. Jews have been living in this area since ancient times, of course I know that. But they lived in PEACE with their -majority- Christian and Muslim Arab neighbors…they didnt try to take the whole land of israel back for themselves, as a jewish-only state. From my point of view, whatever Israel ends up with land-wise is more than they had before there was no state of Israel.

    At the point in history around WWII the world was decolonizing. There were a lot of ethnic and religious groups who were occupied by empires. Then the world started decolonizing. Everywhere but here–where the Palestinians were finally supposed to get their own homeland, officially, although they, a specific community sharing culture, language and history in THIS land, had been living here and existing for centuries before. Then all of a suddent, instead of getting their official state, their land was given to the Jewish people as their state.

    Keep in mind, most of the Israelis are not the Jews who have lived here continuously since it WAS a Jewish land. These are Jews from the US, Russia, Europe, Ethiopia, etc…To say they have ANY connection to this land is quite ridiculous. Thats part of the reason why Israel as a nation is having so many internal struggles, within the society and within the government. Because there is not a shared culture and history


  8. wow. that bel’in stuff is so nuts. do israelis who aren’t activists know about what is going on there? they really should. there is no way people can really see it as an acceptable response to a protest, can they?

    do you think that the boys hanging around throwing stones recognize the symbolism of what they are doing? i worry that they are there just because they’re looking for action. the symbolism of a completely stone throwing-less protest could be so much stronger and could make israelis look so much worse. I of course understand the need to lash out in any way possible when faced with such brutality, especially for kids who grow up with this kind of stuff.

    As a non-israeli jew, and someone with a tenuous connection to the religious aspects of judaism, I still don’t think the jewish connection to palestine is ridiculous. the history that my people had here was real. and the idea of yearning to return to zion is something that shaped my family for generations. and i even think it is part of the cultural thing that connects jews from disparate places around the globe. we share a culture of dispersion and a history of remembering. I don’t think that these things are necessarily reason enough to kick out, let alone viciously mistreat the people who have been living here in the meantime…


  9. WHAT THE ISRAELIS ARE DOING IS WRONG.THEY SHOULD BURN IN HELL FOREVER



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