Four teenagers in the West Bank villages of Iraq Burin and Awarta were
killed this weekend by Israeli soldiers. Initially the army denied the use of
live ammunition but an X-ray of an M-16 bullet lodged in the skull of one
of the killed disproved the claim. In the second incident, where Israeli
soldiers detained two teenage farmers, the army claimed the Palestinians
were shot (one with five bullets and the other with at least two) because
they attempted to attack a soldier with pitchforks, knives, or axes. The
Real News’ Lia Tarachansky spoke to Edo Medicks and Jesse Rosenfeld
of The Daily Nuisance. Rosenfeld and Medicks attended the funerals at
Iraq Burin when the shooting in Awarta took place and investigated what
actually took place.
LIA TARACHANSKY, PRODUCER, TRNN: Over the weekend, four Palestinian teenagers were killed by Israeli soldiers in the north of the occupied territories. Immediately, conflicting reports emerged as to the sequence of events in the two shooting incidents, as well as the use of live ammunition. The Real News spoke to Jesse Rosenfeld, the Editor of The Daily Nuisance, who attended the funerals and investigated what actually occurred.
JESSE ROSENFELD, EDITOR, THE DAILY NUISANCE: Well, at The Daily Nuisance we had been following the events of the unrest in Jerusalem all week and covering them. And after the two deaths in Iraq Burin, it seemed like a real pivotal point is there’s the first casualty out of a week of serious clashes that people are starting to call the beginning of a new intifada. The settlers from the nearby settlements decided to use Iraq Burin, as they regularly do, as a throughway or passing point. So according to the International Solidarity Movement’s media coordinator, who was in the town at the time, the Israeli army came in and started going door to door in the village, you know, entering homes to try and effectively seal people into their homes. So youth came out and started throwing stones at the army. Then tear gas and rubber bullets erupted, and then shots were fired while the army was in the center of town. Now the claims that have been coming from the army have been that soldiers were feeling trapped and threatened for their lives. But what the International Solidarity Movement media coordinator was clear in pointing out was that they had held the T intersection entering the town. The army could have left town at any time, but instead decided to entrench themselves and not only use their regular methods of tear gas and rubber bullets, but also extended into live fire, which they then later denied.
TARACHANSKY: The Real News also spoke to Edo Medicks, The Daily Nuisance’s Photography Editor and Photographer. Medicks served in the Israeli army in the Ramallah and Jenin regions during the outbreak of the Second Intifada. He disputes the army’s claim that the first two teenagers were shot with rubber bullets.
EDO MEDICKS, PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR, THE DAILY NUISANCE: It’s a big slug of steel, and it’s coated with, like, tire kind of rubber. It’s really hard. But, anyway, this is a rubber bullet. It also comes in, like, ball shaped, but this is not what we see in the x-ray. He was shot in the back of his head, meaning he was running away or walking away with his back to the soldiers.
TARACHANSKY: While the funerals in Iraq Burin were underway, two Palestinian teenagers were killed in the nearby village of Awarta during what the Israeli army called an attempted terrorist attack.
ROSENFELD: Well, I went to Iraq Burin expecting a regular funeral and mourning session and understood the potential of renewed clashes with the Israeli army, but it got cut completely short as, at the funeral session, the burial ended, news got into the crowd very quickly about the shooting of two other boys in Awata, a village just on the other side of Nablus. What was interesting was even after we arrived at the hospital in Nablus, the bodies had yet to arrive. It’s fairly routine for the Israeli army to hold up Palestinian ambulances, to delay and quarantine and not allow anyone into an area until they figure out what it is they want to do with the situation and the sort of message that they are going to release.
HASSAN AWAD, HEAD OF VILLAGE COUNCIL, AWARTA (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): Palestinian youth Mohammad Qawariq and Saleh Qawariq, who are cousins, were together on their land 700 meters away from the eastern neighborhood of Awarta and 2 kilometers away from the center of the nearby settlement, so it’s far from the settlement and the security fence of the settlement. Palestinian farmers saw the youth sitting on the ground. The army asked them to sit down [sic], and after 5-6 minutes the army fired at them. We faced the armies district coordination officer with this account, and he confirmed it and said he will follow up with investigating. He could not refute our account. We said we had witnesses who saw what happened; they saw the soldiers shooting at the youth. We stress that these youth were farmers on their land. They had their agricultural tools, they had their tilling and plowing tools to fix their land in the area of Al Bayadat.
TARACHANSKY: Throughout the day, the Israeli army spokesperson provided The Real News with several versions of what had happened. The time, location, and circumstances of the incident changed several times. Initially, the army claimed that Palestinians, armed with pitchforks, attacked a soldier on patrol, whose unit spotted them and opened fire. Later versions admitted the Palestinians were in custody while killed, but said that they were detained because they were armed with knives, axes, or garden picks. The Israeli media repeated the army’s version of events, claiming that while the Palestinians were detained, they tried to attack the soldiers with a bottle full of rocks and a syringe they found on the side of the road. In response, the army explained, the soldiers fired five bullets into one of the teenagers and at least two into the other.
MEDICKS: What is an attack? You define it by two basic factors: means and intention. If the soldiers captured someone who was so unthreatening to them, I mean, carrying gardening picksï¿½from which they have been disarmedï¿½and these persons are so unthreatening to you that the soldiers would not even bother to bind them, as they say, this person, after two or three or five minutes, would be struck by madness and pick up a bottle from the ground and try to assault a soldier, you know, armed with an M-16 and wearing body armor andï¿½. I mean, it’s like you captured two different sets of two persons.
TARACHANSKY: Protests have been taking place throughout the occupied territories for years, and the killings came at the end of two weeks where tensions escalated throughout the West Bank and Jerusalem. Many have therefore been speculating whether the killings may provoke a popular uprising like that of the late ’80s and 2000s. Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, previously a presidential candidate and a longtime activist, attended the weekend funerals and spoke to The Daily Nuisance about the timing of these deaths.
ROSENFELD: Do you think this is the beginning of a new intifada? Do you think one is underway now?
DR. MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI, PHYSICIAN, POLITICIAN, AND ACTIVIST: Depends on what you mean by “intifada”. You meanï¿½?
ROSENFELD: A popular uprising.
BARGHOUTI: Depends on what you mean by “intifada”. If you mean the First Intifada, the answer is probably yes. It’s popular, it’s nonviolent, and it’s peaceful. If you mean the Second Intifada, where Palestinians used military action, the answer is no. There is an agreement between all groups that we don’t use military actions. And the nature of this uprising, if you can call it an uprising [inaudible] popular and nonviolent. And it is happening everywhere now, becauseï¿½and these deaths and killings will provoke even more. But it is clear that people haveï¿½are unarmed, they have nothing to defend themselves with, encountering the Israeli army and the Israeli settlers, who are both armed, and both are using guns and shells to shoot and kill Palestinians.
ROSENFELD: The idea behind it is very similar to the way that the Second Intifada broke out in 2000, where on the ground Israel was making the occupation even more unbearable, while at the same time they were claiming to be interested in peace talks. Now, the result of that was, when the negotiations process broke down, or when any sort of attempt at pie-in-the-sky dreams towards optimism broke down, Israel absolved themselves of [their] responsibility and just blamed the Palestinians. And what it looks like they’re trying to do here is exactly that. They minimize in the media the consequences of their actions. They downplay, they deny, they try and change the story. And then they use that opportunity to peddle these sort of discourse of peace as highly as they can. So when it falls through, they turn around and blame the Palestinians. So it’s victim-free antagonism, effectively.