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Jun. 5 2010 - 10:00 am | 379 views | 2 recommendations | 8 comments

‘Rachel Corrie’ proves Israel doesn’t need commandos or shootings

So no Irish activists were shot this morning as the Israeli navy – during daylight, from boats, not helicopters – boarded the Gaza-bound ship ‘Rachel Corrie.’ Hooray. If only this sensible strategy had been used a week ago, the world might not be looking so unkindly toward Israel.

Rachel Corrie ship replica used in West Bank protest

Rachel Corrie ship replica used in West Bank protest (Getty Images photo from Daylife)

While the world’s attention is focused on this, we are missing the grinding violence of the occupation on the West Bank:

A settler got out of his car and shot two 16-year-old Palestinian boys in Hebron, then calmly got in his car and drove home. He phoned police to turn himself in and was merely given ‘house arrest.’ If this isn’t terrorism, what is?

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s office released a statement based on witness accounts about the shooting that said, “the settler shot randomly at school students. Shop worker Nidal Mawi, said a man driving a white Citreon car with yellow plates ’stopped in the middle of the street and one of the two settlers in the car stepped out and started shooting at the students.’

An American Jewish student from Cooper Union, Emily Henochowitz, 21, lost her eye after Israeli soldiers hit her in the head with tear gas canister fired at protesters during a demonstration at the notorious Qalandiya checkpoint. Soldiers on the West Bank should be shooting tear gas canisters into the air – not directly at protesters. It leads to criticisms of inhuman military practices – doing more damage to Israel’s image abroad.

Protesters' photo taken right after American student was shot in the eye by an Israeli soldier firing a tear gas canister at protesters, from ISM.

Make no mistake: These actions might not be widely reported in the United States, but they are widely reported throughout the Muslim world. Every shooting, every house demolition. And every time the right-wing Israeli government foolishly restricts Palestinians from worshiping at their holy sites in Jerusalem’s Old City – as they did yesterday.

All people carrying Palestinian ‘residency’ cards were restricted from praying on their holy site, the Haram al-Sharif, site of the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Only Palestinian men considered residents of Israel over age 50 and women who are considered residents of Israel were permitted. This frequently-imposed restriction cuts off literally millions of Palestinians from their holy sites.

And boy does it feed the holy war.

Follow @Peacemakersblog on Twitter.


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  1. collapse expand

    If you think about sentencing guidelines, demonstrating an improved pattern of behavior is a mitigation factor. But here Israel in the past had dealt with Gaza aid vessels without violence and now has done it again. In between, however, stand the events of Monday.

  2. collapse expand

    Once again, though, Israeli forces intercepted and commandeered the ship in international waters – another textbook case of piracy.

  3. collapse expand

    Is this a case that Israel wasn’t belligerent? Or is this a case where the vessel occupants were willing to negotiate instead of fight so that their humanitarian mission could actually do some good?

    • collapse expand

      Jake, I guess I would say, a little of both. I think the activists were terrified of being shot at and chastened by their predecessors’ experience. I think the Israeli military command also learned a lot from what happened Monday, especially about the foolhardiness putting their commandos in harm’s way by dropping them individually into an unknown situation in the middle of the night – on a ship containing 600 activists. I also think that, in the case of the Rachel Corrie, no one wanted to see an Irish Nobel Peace Laureate shot.
      The Gaza blockade cannot go on indefinitely; Hamas has been strengthened by the blockade; Gilad Shalit is nowhere near to getting out. So if Monday’s tragedy [and Noam Shalit's landmark criticism of the Israeli government's reluctance to release Palestinian political prisoners] had a galvanizing effect….. maybe now we will do the Shalit prisoner exchange and start to unravel this mess.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  4. collapse expand

    The United States started World War III by invading Afghanistan and Iraq. Now our global reputation is ruined and it will be years before this Holy War will be over. Take a look at this: http://freethegods.blogspot.com/2010/05/memorial-day-respect.html

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    About Me

    I'm a former Wall Street Journal defense, technology, and telecomm reporter and helped launch the Friday Weekend Journal as a contributing writer. For the past several years I have been a writer, editor, and communications professional for international NGOs in human rights, microcredit, and advocacy. Currently working on an anti-genocide project at a Washington, DC, think tank.

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