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writing for godot

Israel's Policy Towards Palestine and its Children has Failed

Written by David Starr   
Tuesday, 23 March 2021 02:26

The Israeli occupation of Palestine has been based on ultra-nationalism and religious fanaticism and in turn is a failure. The treatment of Palestinian children by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Israeli settlers bears this out.

A recent incident occurred in the West Bank in the southern Hebron Hills where Palestinians live. A group of five Palestinian boys were picking a wild vegetable called akoub in order to sell it to support their families, the latter of whom are poor. They were chased by Israeli settlers who called in members of the IDF. The armed soldiers eventually arrested the boys, ages 8 - 13, brought them to an Israeli settlement called Kiryat Arba, and interrogated them for about five hours. The boys were finally released. (Akram Al-Waara, Middle East Eye, 03/11/2021. David Doel, The Rational National, 03/12/2021.)

This one incident doesn't even scratch the surface of how Palestinian children are treated by Israel. The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is one group out of many that has condemned Israel's behavior, calling it a "widespread and systemic abuse of Palestinian children." The AFSC is working "to end Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territory."

According to Jennifer Bing, AFSC coordinator for the No Way to Treat A Child campaign, "[E]very year Israel prosecutes between 500 and 700 Palestinian children in military courts." The AFSC states that "Israel is the only country in the world that automatically prosecutes children in military courts. Children typically arrive to interrogations bound, blindfolded, and sleep-deprived. They often give confessions after verbal abuse, threats and physical and psychological violence. They have no right to legal counsel during interrogation, and Israeli military judges rarely exclude confessions obtained by coercion or torture." Since 2000, there have been 10,000 Palestinian children arrested and held in the Israeli military detention system, according to the AFSC.

The United States has fueled the situation with its unregulated $3.8 billion military aid package to Israel. The funds have actually contributed to Israel's military occupation of Palestine but U.S. leaders allow the continuation of it anyway. There has been a "tradition" among U.S. ruling circles not to speak out against Israel's occupation. Rather, for the sake of Israeli security, Israel is portrayed as the victim of Palestinian "aggression," although there has been no official acknowledging of the occupation being the essential cause of Palestinian anger.

The Israeli right-wing in particular has been practicing a sort of Manifest Destiny-like policy in its treatment of Palestinians based on the use of ancient religious texts. The idea that God has given Israelis the right to "acquire" more and more land that is meant to be theirs. Israelis, after all, are the "Chosen Ones" and can do what they want in regards to Palestinians, the Ten Commandments be damned.

For the Israeli right, though, it is not a case of "civilizing" the Palestinians. They are viewed as "barbaric" and thus helping them would be a waste of time. It's a matter of exploiting them for their labor while looking down on them as being "inferior." This ultra-nationalism appears similar to the racism that has had negative effects on U.S. foreign and domestic policies. In the U.S.'s imperial wars, invading, occupying and bombing especially a "Third World" nation has most of the population in such a nation treated as "The Other," an "uncivilized" people. In its domestic policy, the U.S. historically has treated segments of the population in a similar fashion, slavery of Africans and genocide against Native Americans being prominent examples. Likewise, there is a degree of similarity with the actions and attitudes of the Israeli right toward Palestinians.

But getting back to Palestinian children, they have been victims of Israeli operations as the following examples show:

In 2014, Israel launched Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip, killing 2,231 Palestinians, including 551 children; in a Right of Return protest by Palestinians in 2018, 200 were killed, 40 being children; in a 2006 operation in Gaza, 240 died as a result, 48 being children; in a 2008-2009 operation in Gaza, 1,400 were killed, with more than 300 children being part of the death toll. (Belen Fernandez, The Wire, 01/03/2020.)

Israel has gone beyond the necessity of self-defense with its occupation and settlements. Perhaps if Israel were to stop these obstacles to peace, it might get a more positive reaction from Palestinians since the current policy toward them has failed. your social media marketing partner
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