Home as hospital: Gaza families struggle to care for the wounded

Home as Hospital: Gaza Families Struggle to Care for the Wounded

by Alyona Synenko
Omar was wounded on May 14. He is now waiting for follow-up surgeries. The healthcare system in Gaza is overwhelmed by the scope of the needs and until now doctors have been unable to say when the surgeries will take place. [Alyona Synenko/ICRC]

Omar was wounded on May 14. He is now waiting for follow-up surgeries. The healthcare system in Gaza is overwhelmed by the scope of the needs and until now doctors have been unable to say when the surgeries will take place. Alyona Synenko/ICRC
The pain is unbearable, but I try not to scream because I don’t want my family to spend more money on drugs,” said Omar, a 25-year-old fisherman wounded in the recent upsurge of violence in Gaza.Omar’s bandaged leg is propped up against two pillows. Metal rods and pins protrude from the bone. A plastic bag filled with pills is hanging on a window latch next to the bed. A simple room in the family house has been turned into a makeshift hospital ward. It’s an improvisation that has become a familiar sight in many houses in Gaza.

Violence escalated in the border area of Gaza at the end of March, resulting in dozens of deaths and thousands of wounded, many by live ammunition.

Hospitals, overwhelmed by a series of injured people, have already reached the limit of their capacity. Medical staff are constantly faced with the dilemma of either discharging patients early or having no space to receive new ones.

The burden that hospitals could not handle fell on the shoulders of the families, adding emotional, financial and logistical stress to already difficult lives.

“Somebody has to be with him 24 hours,” said Abdallah, Omar’s brother.

Abdallah earns a living as a construction worker, but has been spending most of the time caring for Omar since a bullet hit his leg on May 14. He shares the task with Asmaa, Omar’s twin sister, who had to make her own sacrifices.

Omar, who looks thin and exhausted, said he knows the burden he is placing on his family: “I feel like I have paralysed the lives of two people.”

While Omar’s family is struggling to give him the best care they can, the financial hardship is becoming more pressing. Gaza is experiencing the worst economic crisis since the war in 2014 and almost half of its population is unemployed.

Meanwhile, injured and handicapped men have now become part of the urban landscape in Gaza. They sit in front of hospitals, but also in the street and at the markets. The surgical device used to stabilize fractured bones of many young men is now referred to as “Gaza leg” locally.

Dr Gabriel Salazar, health coordinator in Gaza for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said there are over 1,300 with health complications due to injuries, while some 400 remain with a temporary or permanent disability.

Asmaa, Omar’s twin sister, has been spending her days by her brother's bedside since he was wounded. [Alyona Synenko/ICRC]

Asmaa, Omar’s twin sister, has been spending her days by her brother’s bedside since he was wounded. Alyona Synenko/ICRC
An aspiring photographer, Asmaa used to participate in youth projects and take photography classes. She now dedicates all her time and effort to her brother. 'I watch over him at night. He hardly falls asleep because of the pain. When he does he wakes up from nightmares. I am afraid he can hurt himself.' [Alyona Synenko/ICRC]

An aspiring photographer, Asmaa used to participate in youth projects and take photography classes. She now dedicates all her time and effort to her brother. ‘I watch over him at night. He hardly falls asleep because of the pain. When he does he wakes up from nightmares. I am afraid he can hurt himself.’ Alyona Synenko/ICRC
Asmaa keeps the family's children away from Omar's room out of fear of the trauma seeing him may cause. But the house is small and it is difficult to contain Omar's screaming to a single room. [Alyona Synenko/ICRC]

Asmaa keeps the family’s children away from Omar’s room out of fear of the trauma seeing him may cause. But the house is small and it is difficult to contain Omar’s screaming to a single room. Alyona Synenko/ICRC
Omar’s brother and nephew sitting on his fishing boat. Omar is a fisherman and one of the main breadwinners for the family. After his injury, the family’s earnings went down and expenses increased. They have to purchase medicine and hire an ambulance to take him to hospital for outpatient treatment. Everybody’s dream, to send Omar for medical treatment outside Gaza, is beyond the family’s financial means. [Alyona Synenko/ICRC]

Omar’s brother and nephew sitting on his fishing boat. Omar is a fisherman and one of the main breadwinners for the family. After his injury, the family’s earnings went down and expenses increased. They have to purchase medicine and hire an ambulance to take him to hospital for outpatient treatment. Everybody’s dream, to send Omar for medical treatment outside Gaza, is beyond the family’s financial means. Alyona Synenko/ICRC
Since Mahmoud was injured in the border area and released from hospital, his family cares for him at home. 'We try to help him the best we can,' Mahmoud's mother said, 'but everybody is confused and we don't always know what to do.' [Alyona Synenko/ICRC]

Since Mahmoud was injured in the border area and released from hospital, his family cares for him at home. ‘We try to help him the best we can,’ Mahmoud’s mother said, ‘but everybody is confused and we don’t always know what to do.’ Alyona Synenko/ICRC
A father of three, Mahmoud is the main breadwinner for his family. Since he was injured, Mahmoud cannot work and he worries he will not be able to pay the rent for his barbershop next month and his family will lose their main source of income. [Alyona Synenko/ICRC]

A father of three, Mahmoud is the main breadwinner for his family. Since he was injured, Mahmoud cannot work and he worries he will not be able to pay the rent for his barbershop next month and his family will lose their main source of income. Alyona Synenko/ICRC
Mahmoud’s young assistant has been running the barbershop alone. The business has lost many clients. Doctors have forbidden Mahmoud to work. His standing job may compromise his recovery. He still goes to his barbershop to lend a hand to his assistant and try to bring his customers back. [Alyona Synenko/ICRC]

Mahmoud’s young assistant has been running the barbershop alone. The business has lost many clients. Doctors have forbidden Mahmoud to work. His standing job may compromise his recovery. He still goes to his barbershop to lend a hand to his assistant and try to bring his customers back. Alyona Synenko/ICRC
Baha had been working in his brother's mechanic shop until he was injured in recent violence. He still needs follow-up treatment and may face additional surgeries in the next six months. [Alyona Synenko/ICRC]

Baha had been working in his brother’s mechanic shop until he was injured in recent violence. He still needs follow-up treatment and may face additional surgeries in the next six months. Alyona Synenko/ICRC
Raad, Baha's brother, is now running the mechanic workshop alone, while caring for his brother and trying to cover all the medical expenses. [Alyona Synenko/ICRC]

Raad, Baha’s brother, is now running the mechanic workshop alone, while caring for his brother and trying to cover all the medical expenses. Alyona Synenko/ICRC
A client brings a car to the mechanic workshop for repairs while Baha sits outside. [Alyona Synenko/ICRC]

A client brings a car to the mechanic workshop for repairs while Baha sits outside. Alyona
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israeli Soldier Awarded Medal For Bravery After Being Hit By Pebble

Israeli Soldier Awarded Medal For Bravery After Being Hit By Pebble

JUST days after being struck down by a pebble launched from a terrorist 12-year-old Palestinian’s catapult, inspirational IDF soldier and Israeli man, Adam Damkani, was awarded the medal for bravery.

Injured in a series of clashes at the Israeli border, which is somehow situated in the heart of Palestine, the fallen 23-year-old soldier was rushed to hospital in the hopes of not needing a stitch, where a team of medical experts helped dress his injuries with a band aid.

“When we saw the scratch on his head we just had to act immediately,” Israeli red cross member Jacob Alterman recalled, “he was visibly upset and was crying profusely, asking for his family members.

“We were all a little taken aback at the level of his injury. He even flinched when we tried to clean the abrasion with a cotton bud. Hopefully it won’t leave a scar”.

In the tense minutes it took to close the wound, the grandson of four told WWN exactly what he was going through his head at the time.

“You think it won’t ever happen to you,” the now recovered Damkani told us from a Jerusalem intensive care unit, “one minute you’re blowing kids kneecaps out with a 50 cal sniper rifle, and the next you’re hit with a pebble the size of a large pea. I was lucky my eye was covered by the sniper scope or I would have certainly lost the use of it if it hit me.

“The scratch still stings when I touch it and it is all dried up now and a bit scabby, so I could be out of action for a while”.

Despite his extensive injuries, Damkani somehow managed to make it to today’s ceremony where he received his medal for bravery.

“I don’t normally like to make a fuss about these kind of things, it’s all part of the job, but this was a close call and I thank everyone that helped save my life,” the hero concluded.

The IDF soldier was also treated for “trigger finger cramp” and is expected to make a full recovery.

israel threatening more genocide in Palestine

Source

After last weekend’s significant escalation in Gaza involving Israeli airstrikes on 40 targets, which reportedly killed two teens and wounded over a dozen others, and over 30 rockets launched by Hamas toward southern Israel, all signs are currently pointing toward a broader outbreak of fighting as in new comments the Israeli defense minister is preparing the public for “a large and painful military operation” to come.

Israeli officials and media have broadly referred to this latest flare-up of hostilities as the biggest attack since Operation Protective Edge in 2014, and now Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman is warning that Israel is prepared to go to war if Gazans don’t cease releasing incendiary kites and balloons in attempts to set communities and farmlands in southern Israel ablaze.

Gaza during the 2014 war. 

Liberman issued the warning at a press conference in the town of Sderot, which lies close to Gaza and is considered constantly under threat by Hamas rockets. The defense minister said, “We see in the newspapers that you don’t go to war over kites and fires. However, any reasonable person who sees a natural grove burned or thousands of dunams [1,000 square meters] of agricultural fields scorched understands that this situation is unreasonable.”

“We are trying to be considerate and responsible, but the heads of Hamas are forcibly leading us to a situation of not having a choice, to a situation in which we will need to carry out a large and painful military operation — not something that’s just for show, but a large and painful military operation,” he said.

Liberman added further, apparently in reference to the international criticism Israel routinely receives over the indiscriminate nature of Palestinian civilian casualties that result from its offensives: “I think that the only people responsible for this are the heads of Hamas, but unfortunately all the residents of Gaza will be forced to pay the price.” And while referencing the 2014 Gaza war, he indicated Israel is now prepared to “carry out an operation that is of a much wider scope and much more painful than Operation Protective Edge.”

Defense Minister Liberman’s ominous words follow reports that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) held a large-scale military drill simulating a ground incursion into the Gaza Strip early this week, which The Times of Israel described as follows:

The drill in the country’s Negev region, which involved infantry and armored corps, included exercises in urban warfare, with the city of Beersheba serving as a surrogate for Gaza’s cities, Channel 10 news reported. The drill began Sunday and will continue on Tuesday, and exercises include the simulated capture of Gaza City, officials said.

Parts of the exercise were also filmed by local media in order to “send a message” to Hamas, according to IDF officials.

Meanwhile, the army has erected additional Iron Dome Missile Defense systems in central Israel ahead of any potential military escalation. One IDF infantry commander told local media: “We are ready and speaking in terms of war [that could come] tomorrow, it occurs to me that this drill could become a real entry into the Strip.”

Israel has grown increasingly concerned at the trend of Gazans using explosive and incendiary devices released along the Israeli-Gaza border fence to target farmlands in southern Israel.

Large kites or collections of balloons will typically be floated across the fence while carrying burning items attached by a long cord. They’ve also been dubbed ‘Molotov cocktail kites’ and have become the latest improvised means of getting around Israel’s high-tech air defense systems, and have reportedly floated into Israel in the thousands since the ‘Great March of Return’ protests, reportedly destroying thousands of acres of land.

Israeli authorities have specifically attributed over 400 fires which burned more than 6,000 acres to the low-tech incendiary devices, according to a spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Last week, just prior to the Israeli air offensive, local authorities counted 21 fires originating in a single day due to burning kites launched from Gaza, impacting mainly farmlands in southern Israel.

Protests along the Israeli-Gaza border fence have now reached over 100 days, with tensions exploding after an incident last Friday wherein Israeli forces shot dead a 15-year-old Palestinian who approached the fence.

 

Video which circulated widely on social media purportedly shows Israeli forces shooting dead the Palestinian teen once he began climb one of the outer barriers separating Gaza from Israel.

The IDF said that one of its soldiers was moderately wounded during last Friday’s protest, and in official statements have sought to justify all lethal force in response to Palestinian attempts to penetrate the fence.

With this week’s uptick in IDF military preparations to invade Gaza, and with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman latest warning for “a much wider scope and much more painful than Operation Protective Edge,” it is very likely that we could witness a return to all out war in the Strip by month’s end.

israelis Just Keep Killing People, Stealing Land

 by Uri Avnery

One can look at events in Gaza through the left or through the right eye. One can condemn them as inhuman, cruel and mistaken, or justify them as necessary and unavoidable.

But there is one adjective that is beyond question: They are stupid.

If the late Barbara Tuchman were still alive, she might be tempted to add another chapter to her groundbreaking opus “The March of Folly”: a chapter titled “Eyeless in Gaza”.

The latest episode in this epic started a few months ago, when independent activists in the Gaza Strip called for a march to the Israeli border, which Hamas supported. It was called “The Great March of Return”, a symbolic gesture for the more than a million Arab residents who fled or were evicted from their homes in the land that became the State of Israel.

The Israeli authorities pretended to take this seriously. A frightening picture was painted for the Israeli public: 1.8 million Arabs, men, women and children, would throw themselves on the border fence, break through in many places, and storm Israel’s cities and villages. Terrifying.

Israeli sharpshooters were posted along the border and ordered to shoot anyone who looked like a “ringleader”. On several succeeding Fridays (the weekly Muslim holy day) more than 150 unarmed protesters, including many children, were shot dead, and many hundreds more severely wounded by gunfire, apart from those hurt by tear gas.

The Israeli argument was that the victims were shot while trying to “storm the fences”. Actually, not a single such attempt was photographed, though hundreds of photographers were posted on both sides of the fence.

Facing a worldwide protest, the army changed its orders and now only rarely kills unarmed protesters. The Palestinians also changed their tactics: the main effort now is to fly children’s kites with burning tails and set Israeli fields near the Strip on fire.

Since the wind almost always blows from the West to the East, that is an easy way to hurt Israel. Children can do it, and do. Now the Minister of Education demands that the air force bomb the children. The Chief of Staff refuses, arguing that this is “against the values of the Israeli army”.

At present, half of our newspapers and TV newscasts are concerned with Gaza. Everybody seems to agree that sooner or later a full-fledged war will break out there.

The main feature of this exercise is its utter stupidity.

Every military action must have a political aim. As the German military thinker, Carl von Clausewitz, famously said: “War is but a continuation of politics by other means.”

The Strip is 41 km long and 6 to 12 km wide. It is one of the most overcrowded places on earth. Nominally it belongs to the largely theoretical State of Palestine, like the West Bank, which is Israeli occupied. The Strip is in fact governed by the radical Muslim Hamas party.

In the past, masses of Palestinian workers from Gaza streamed into Israel every day. But since Hamas assumed power in the Strip, the Israeli government has imposed an almost total blockade on land and sea. The Egyptian dictatorship, a close ally of Israel and a deadly enemy of radical Islam, cooperates with Israel.

So what does Israel want? The preferred solution is to sink the entire strip and its population into the sea. Failing that, what can be done?

The last thing Israel wants is to annex the Strip with its huge population, which cannot be driven out. Also, Israel does not want to put up settlements in the Strip (the few which were set up were withdrawn by Ariel Sharon, who thought that it was not worthwhile to keep and defend them).

The real policy is to make life in Gaza so miserable, that the Gazans themselves will rise and throw the Hamas authorities out. With this in mind, the water supply is reduced to two hours a day, electricity the same. Employment hovers around 50%, wages beneath the minimum. It is a picture of total misery.

Since everything that reaches Gaza must come through Israel (or Egypt), supplies are often cut off completely for days as “punishment”.

Alas, history shows that such methods seldom succeed. They only deepen the enmity. So what can be done?

The answer is incredibly simple: sit down, talk and come to an agreement.

Yes, but how can you sit down with a mortal enemy, whose official ideology totally rejects a Jewish State?

Islam, which (like every religion) has an answer to everything, recognizes something called a “Hudna”, which is a lasting armistice. This can go on for many decades and is (religiously) kept.

For several years now, Hamas has been almost openly hinting that it is ready for a long Hudna. Egypt has volunteered to mediate. Our government has totally ignored the offer. A Hudna with the enemy? Out of the question! God forbid! Would be terribly unpopular politically!

But it would be the sensible thing to do. Stop all hostile acts from both sides, say for 50 years. Abolish the blockade. Build a real harbor in Gaza city. Allow free trade under some kind of military inspection. Same for an airport. Allow workers to find employment in Israel, instead of importing workers from China and Romania. Turn Gaza into a second Singapore. Allow free travel between Gaza and the West Bank by a bridge or an extraterritorial highway. Help to restore unity between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Why not? The very idea is rejected by an ordinary Israeli on sight.

A deal with Hamas? Impossible!!! Hamas wants to destroy Israel. Everybody knows that.

I hear this many times, and always wonder about the stupidity of people who repeat this.

How does a group of a few hundred thousand “destroy” one of the worlds most heavily armed states, a state that possesses nuclear bombs and submarines to deliver them? How? With kites?

Both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin pay us homage, the world’s fascist dictators and liberal presidents come to visit. How can Hamas pose a mortal danger?

Why doesn’t Hamas stop hostilities by itself? Hamas has competitors, which are even more radical. It does not dare to show any sign of weakness.

Some decades ago the Arab world, on the initiative of Saudi Arabia, offered Israel peace under several conditions, all of them acceptable. Successive Israel governments have not only not accepted it, they have ignored it altogether.

There was some logic in this. The Israeli government wants to annex the West Bank. It wants to get the Arab population out, and replace them with Jewish settlers. It conducts this policy slowly, cautiously, but consistently.

It is a cruel policy, a detestable policy, yet it has some logic in it. If you really want to achieve this abominable aim, the methods may be adequate. But this does not apply to the Gaza Strip, which no one wants to annex. There, the methods are sheer folly.

This does not mean that the overall Israeli policy towards the Palestinians is any more wise. It is not.

Binyamin Netanyahu and his hand-picked stupid ministers have no policy. Or so it seems. In fact they do have an undeclared one: creeping annexation of the West Bank.

This is now going on at a quicker pace than before. The daily news gives the impression that the entire government machine is now concentrating on this project.

This will lead directly to an apartheid-style state, where a large Jewish minority will dominate an Arab majority.

For how long? One generation? Two? Three?

It has been said that a clever person is able to extricate himself from a trap into which a wise person would not have fallen in the first place.

Stupid people do not extricate themselves. They are not even aware of the trap.

Uri Avnery is a peace activist, journalist, writer, and former member of the Israeli Knesset. Read other articles by Uri, or visit Uri’s website.

israel, Land Of (fake) Miracles

By Gideon Levy

The days of kites abound with miracles here. The fact that more Israelis were scratched while shaving in recent months than from kite fires is attributed entirely to miracles

A great miracle occurred on Moshav Tkuma. A cinder carried by a paper kite from Gaza landed in a kindergarten yard. The kindergarten teacher called what she saw in the sky a finger-size glowing ember. She was the first to detect it and rushed to get all the children into the protected area. A small boy wearing a large kippa said a miracle had happened.

The reporter of Kan 11 TV in the south, Itzik Zoaretz, did not miss the opportunity to explain the proportions of the averted disaster: The cinder landed a few meters away from a jute roof in the yard. Jute is flammable material. If the jute had caught fire, all the kindergarten children would have burned to death. Maybe the fire would have spread, destroying all the moshav’s homes. Maybe it would have consumed the entire south, and from there the way to destroying the country would have been very short. Almost-Treblinka in Tkuma, and it was all prevented thanks to the miracle.

The tiny stain in the sand, slightly abashed, seemingly caused by a thrown match, was somewhat contradictory to the reporter’s apocalyptic description, which was a war correspondent’s dramatization in a kindergarten sandbox, but that’s how it is with miracles and wonders.

The days of kites abound with miracles. The fact that more people were scratched while shaving in recent months than from kite fires is attributed entirely to miracles. Not a day goes by without an emotional report by one of the indistinguishable reporters in the field about a disaster that was miraculously avoided. The Qassam rocket that fell nearby, the kite that went out at the last moment – that’s how to conduct the well-timed campaign when you need to finally start the war we crave so much. Meanwhile, a state that describes its establishment as a miraculous event continues to live on its miracles, even when it’s a regional power.

The miracles intensify the danger. That’s good for everyone. If a cinder that hasn’t hit anyone is a flying miracle, then it’s clear that if not for the miracle, a disaster would have occurred. Clearly the cinder has the power to sow death, so we must wage war on it. But the fact is that no kite or balloon, not even a “helium balloon,” the latest advance by Gaza’s military industries, has harmed anyone. The chance of this happening is negligible. The kites harm the environment and agriculture – it’s a huge hazard and distress, but not a cause for war. Ever. There has never been a just war that was started over a kite.

The reports of miracles are meant to change this. Don’t think of that flying cinder as a cinder. It might as well be a cruise missile. Only by miracle is it not a cruise missile. That’s why we have to bludgeon Gaza.

The culture of miracles takes us back to the divine promise, the rock of our existence here, and don’t belittle it. Miracles don’t happen in Gaza. Over there our snipers, pilots, drones, bombs and shells strike and kill, with no miracle discounts for the targets. Miracles are only for the chosen people.

The miracles also take us back to the lie of the make-believe war between the almost equal sides, Gaza and Israel. If not for a miracle, Hamas might have destroyed us already.

Under cover of the lie of the almost equal sides, we can bomb and shell them without restraint and say that that’s war. But the IDF’s assaults on Gaza were never a war, because nothing close to an army has ever faced them. It wasn’t miracles that prevented disaster for Israel, only the pitiful destitution of the other side. Gaza has no army, no weapons, certainly not the kind that can threaten the IDF in any way, not in the wildest imagination.

The fires in the south are distressing. Life in the south is hard. No military strike can solve life’s hardships on either side of the fence, and no miracle can extract Israel from the need to change direction dramatically, to move from arrogance and aggression to humanity and compassion. That is something Israel has no intention of doing. Until then we’ll live from miracle to miracle, from attack to attack on bleeding, beaten Gaza, where miracles like ours never happen, only death and destruction.

This article was originally published by “Haaretz

‘Jewish nation state’: How israel enshrines apartheid into law

‘Jewish nation state’: How Israel enshrines apartheid into law

The law is only the latest attempt to legislate discrimination against Palestinians

Ben White's picture

On Thursday, the Israeli government formally passed the “Jewish nation state”law. With the Knesset’s summer recess on the horizon, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu managed to pass the law ahead of the break.

“This is a defining moment in the annals of Zionism and the history of the state of Israel,” Netanyahu told the Knesset after the vote.

The initiative has risen to the top of the news agenda in Israel, with high-profile interventions from opponents and supporters. Last Tuesday, President Reuven Rivlin warned in a public letter of what he believes are the dangers inherent in the law – especially an article designed to protect and promote the existence of Jewish-only communities.

Lobbying efforts

Ahead of the vote, a number of Jewish American leaders have strongly urged Netanyahu to reconsider, intensifying their lobbying efforts to prevent the bill’s passage.

These responses have, regrettably but predictably, been characterised by a failure to understand or take sufficiently into account how Israel’s status as a “Jewish state” has always been reflected in legislation and practice, and, crucially, how this has impacted on Palestinians since 1948.

The omission of the experience of Palestinian citizens in this ‘Jewish and democratic’ state is compounded by an analysis that fails to look deeper into why this legislation is being proposed at all

Many discriminatory laws are already on the books, and legal ways to create segregated communities in Israel already exist. There is no right to equality, and Israel is not a state of all its citizens. The much-heralded Declaration of Independence is not a constitutional law, and the Basic Law already privileges the protection of a “Jewish state” over equality for non-Jewish citizens. 

As a UN special rapporteur put it in 2012, Israeli authorities already pursue “a land development model that excludes, discriminates against and displaces minorities”. The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has similarly noted “the enactment of a number of discriminatory laws on land issues which disproportionately affect non-Jewish communities”.

Indeed, the issue of Jewish-only communities, which has dominated recent criticism over the law passed on Thursday, is often debated without reference to the fact that Israel already has hundreds of such segregated communities, thanks to the role of “admission committees”.

Traced back to the Nakba

A decade ago, Human Rights Watch reported on how these committees “are made up of government and community representatives as well as a senior official in the Jewish Agency or the Zionist Organisation, and have notoriously been used to exclude Arabs from living in rural Jewish communities”.

Such decades-old institutionalised discrimination, which can be traced all the way back to the Nakba, makes a mockery of the claim by the Israel Democracy Institute’s Mordechai Kremnitzer that the new law would somehow constitute “the end of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state”.


Palestinians gather at the site of a tent protest on 8 April 2018 in Gaza (AFP)

The new law does, however, represent an innovation, both legally and politically, as analysed by legal rights centre Adalah in a new position paper published on Sunday; enjoying the status of a Basic Law, the Jewish nation state law would anchor racist practices in the constitution.

Coverage by Western media has, on the whole, reproduced the lacuna of the law’s Israeli critics. Yet, the omission of the experience of Palestinian citizens in this “Jewish and democratic” state is compounded by an analysis that fails to look deeper into why this legislation is being proposed at all.

The “Jewish nation state” law is not the product of a right-wing tussle between Likud and Jewish Home, or Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett. Rather, tracing the origins of this proposed legislation reveals that it is, in essence, pushback against the efforts by Palestinian citizens over the last two decades to affirm their national identity and demand a state of all its citizens.

Doubling down

Not long after former Shin Bet head Avi Dichter began efforts to pass a “Jewish nation state” bill in 2011, Israeli journalist Lahav Harkov – now news editor of the Jerusalem Post – praised the initiative by citing “campaigns to delegitimise Israel on the rise both inside and outside the country”.

Thus, the response from the Israeli political establishment to a mobilised Palestinian citizenry demanding genuine equality has been to double-down on discrimination, and to defiantly and ever-more explicitly assert and legally protect the existence of a “Jewish state”.

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At 70, Israel more than ever deserves a cultural and academic boycott

But this is not without its advantages, as highlighted by the furore over the new law. For what the draft legislation threatens is not the existence of a “democratic” Israel, but rather critics’ idea of a “Jewish and democratic” state (or at least the plausibility of maintaining this idea).

Through its crudeness, the law threatens Israel’s ability to continue long-standing, institutionalised discrimination with no international cost, a prospect flagged through the warnings of Israel’s attorney general and Jewish American leader Rabbi Rick Jacobs.

Demographic war

“The true face of Zionism in Israel,” wrote Orly Noy in +972 magazine last week, is “an inherent, perpetual demographic war against its Palestinian citizens. If Israel seeks to be Jewish and democratic, it needs to actively ensure a Jewish majority.”

The “Jewish nation state” law is part of this historic and ongoing demographic war – one that is testimony to the activism of Palestinian citizens and an effort to stifle it.

As Israel consolidates the de facto single state between the river and the sea, this won’t be the last attempt to see the apartheid reality on the ground further reflected in legislation.

Ben White is the author of the new book Cracks in the Wall: Beyond Apartheid in Palestine/Israel. He is a freelance journalist and writer and his articles have been published by Al Jazeera, al-Araby, Huffington Post, the Electronic Intifada, the Guardian’s Comment is Free and more.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Photo: Israeli flags fly near the Dome of the Rock in the al-Aqsa Mosque compound on 5 December 2017 (AFP)

israeli army blows up three Palestinian wells in occupied Hebron

Israeli army blows up three Palestinian wells in occupied Hebron
As the extensive Israeli military invasion into the southern West Bank district of Hebron continues to escalate, the soldiers destroyed, on Thursday morning, water wells, and the entrances of several Palestinian homes. Media sources in Hebron said the soldiers destroyed several Palestinian water wells, detonated the entrances of eight apartments, in Hebron city, violently searched many residences and kidnapped at least one Palestinian. Also in Hebron, the army invaded Farsh al-Hawa area, and the area around the al-Ahli Hospital, before storming a residential building, and violently searched several apartments. During the invasions, the soldiers detonated three Palestinian water wells. The soldiers invaded two workshops in Hebron city, allegedly used for manufacturing weapons, and also stormed and ransacked many homes in the towns of Sa‘ir and Bani Ne‘im, east of Hebron, and placed concrete blocks, closing Hebron’s northern road
.http://imemc.org/article/army-destroys-water-wells-damages-property-in-hebron/

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