Israeli soldiers and settlers kill and injure with impunity

By Sonja Karkar

17 March 2009

Yesterday, peace activists all over the world remembered the tragic killing of Rachel Corrie in Palestine by an Israeli bulldozer. That was 6 years ago. She became the icon for all peace activists in the Palestine/Israel
conflict, but there have been other internationals too who have been killed or injured by Israeli forces and sometimes the extremist Israeli settlers. Many of them were young like Rachel who came with compassion for humanity
and the courage to defend the defenseless while the rest of world turned its head. Some paid for their fervour with their lives, others have been badly disfigured. The ones listed here are just some of many who come to be human shields for the Palestinians against Israeli bulldozers, tanks, soldiers and the crazed Israeli settlers whom not even Israel’s formidable army can control.

As Israel intensifies its daily attacks on the Palestinian population, the internationals too face very real danger – their passports and their citizenship are no guarantee of a free pass and rarely do they get the support of their own governments when they are deliberately shot by Israeli soldiers. Israel, of course, brushes aside the killings and
injuries and puts them down to collateral damage, accidents, caught in cross fire, ricochet bullets and/or the recklessness of the internationals themselves, despite internationals being trained in safety procedures and
wearing bright orange safety flap-jackets with reflective stripes and the Israeli army knowing that they are there to provide protection for Palestinian civilians. The confrontations usually occur when Israel sends in armed bulldozers to demolish family homes or raze agricultural lands or uproot olive groves. Lest anyone think that the Palestinians are armed to the teeth and fighting these great military machines, we can quickly dissuade anyone of such a notion. The bulldozers do not come alone, but
come with army jeeps, tanks and soldiers: the Palestinian men are usually rounded up, handcuffed and are often taken away for questioning or are imprisoned. The women, children and elderly can only watch in numb silence,
and in most cases, are never given any time to save their belongings or to make a plea for consideration.

It is in just one such incident, that Rachel Corrie lost her life trying to save the house of a Palestinian doctor who had welcomed her into the family home. She was wearing a flap-jacket and carried a megaphone and the bulldozer driver could see her on the dirt mound, but he kept coming.
Rachel fell as the earth moved and the bulldozer ran over her fracturing both of her arms, legs and skull. Other peace activists have been killed or injured trying to protect Palestinian children going to school or coming
home or joining in the weekly non-violent protests the Palestinians stage against the Wall that is cutting through their lands and communities.

It is one thing to face the soldiers and quite another to face the illegal settlers. They are a law unto themselves and their children can only be described as brats. They throw stones at Palestinian children trying to go to and from school, they terrorise the elderly in the same way, constantly taunting and jeering and throwing their rubbish into Palestinian backyards. The teenagers carry rifles emulating the adults and think nothing of firing
at Palestinians to drive them out of their homes and farming lands. It is in this lawless environment that internationals come to provide some protection for the Palestinians, although there is really no authority to
whom they can appeal against the settlers.

If the deaths and injuries of internationals is troubling, then the deaths and injuries of the Palestinians themselves is even more so. Since October 2000, the number of Palestinians deaths to date is in excess of 6,000 (a
conservative estimate) with tens of thousands wounded and or suffering from severe trauma. Every week in the peaceful protests against the Israel’s Apartheid Wall, Palestinians and internationals alike suffer from the effects of tear gas inhalation and injuries caused by rubber-coated metal
bullets and their intensity is increasing. Is it any wonder when no one is calling Israel to account. Until that happens, the internationals are needed more than ever while Israel does everything it can to make their stay as precarious as possible. A few days ago that was borne out when Tristan Anderson from the USA was shot in the head by a new high velocity tear gas canister leaving him in a critical condition. Already Israel’s excuses are coming
thick and fast, but perhaps Israel ought to realise that there is no shortage of people wanting to bring some humanity back to the lives of Palestinians and to see justice done – even if that means putting their own lives on the line. It is such acts that renew our faith in humanity when all around us many have forgotten what this means.

(Submitted by Ingrid B. Mork)

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