Reporting from Besieged Shuafat Refugee Camp
Abu Khdeir was kidnapped from the Shuafat refugee camp a day after the funeral of three Israeli teenagers whose bodies were found south of Hebron. The teenagers’ kidnapping, allegedly by members of the extremist Qawasmeh clan loosely associated with the Hamas Party, sparked the biggest operation the Israeli army led in the West Bank in a decade. All Palestinian cities and most villages were invaded, thousands of homes were searched and many destroyed, and more than 500 people arrested, not one of whom charged with the kidnapping. In the process six Palestinians were killed and another three elderly people died in various incidents. On Friday night, The Real News’ Lia Tarachansky entered the besieged Shuafat refugee camp, where electricity has been shut and protests rage since Wednesday to speak to the youth protesting about the rise in vigilante and army violence this week, as many suspect the beginning of the Third Intifadah.
LIA TARACHANSKY, TRNN PRODUCER: For three days since the body of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir was found, protests have rocked the city of Jerusalem.
Abu Khdeir was kidnapped from the Shuafat refugee camp a day after the funeral of three Israeli teenagers whose bodies were found south of Hebron. The teenagers’ kidnapping, allegedly by members of the extremist Qawasmeh clan, loosely associated with the Hamas Party, sparked the biggest operation the Israeli army led in the West Bank in a decade. All Palestinian cities and most villages were invaded, thousands of homes were searched and many destroyed, and more than 500 people arrested, not one of whom charged with the kidnapping. In the process, six Palestinians were killed and another three elderly people died in various incidents.
After the teenagers were buried, online campaigns began popping up on various social media sites, calling for vigilante attacks on Palestinians. The same night, a nine year old boy was nearly kidnapped in Shuafat, according to witnesses.
CROWDS CHANTING (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): Death to Arabs
TARACHANSKY: The next night, Muhammad Abu Khdeir was taken, also in Shuafat, on his way to morning Ramadan prayers.
After his body was found, the Israeli army did not go door to door looking for the perpetrators, nor did it interrogate the hundreds of Israelis who called for the killing of Palestinians. Instead they interrogated Mohammed’s father, accusing him of being involved in his son’s murder.
Protests therefore sparked here, in Shuafat, and in other Jerusalem neighbourhoods, in major Palestinian towns in the north and center of the country, and in the mixed cities of Jaffa and Haifa.
In the protests, several journalists and hundreds of Palestinians were injured. The Israeli army then surrounded Shuafat, set up checkpoints, and besieging the camp. Electricity was cut and the light rail which connects the camp to the city was prevented from entering. The camp now looks like a besieged war zone.
On Friday night, The Real News managed to enter the camp to speak to the youth who have been protesting here since Wednesday afternoon.
TARACHANSKY: Why don’t you want to give me your name and why don’t you want to show me your face?
INTERVIEWEE: Okay. First of all, it’s a security option because of the Shabak. [snip] It’s so dangerous.
TARACHANSKY: Why is it dangerous to interview you?
INTERVIEWEE: I already said that security thinks that if you show your face or [got your?] voice, they can reach you.
TARACHANSKY: Why is there no electricity?
INTERVIEWEE: It’s a reaction. We don’t know why there’s no electricity.
INTERVIEWEE: They take him into car, okay, and–.
TARACHANSKY: He was going from here to that mosque.
INTERVIEWEE: Yeah. He–this is video how he killed.
TARACHANSKY: Show me the kidnapping.
INTERVIEWEE: These are investigators.
TARACHANSKY: So they came to the–oh, I see.
INTERVIEWEE: They came to this place.
TARACHANSKY: So they’re in the grocery store,–
TARACHANSKY: And they’re looking at the footage.
INTERVIEWEE: And there are 28 cameras on this street.
TARACHANSKY: Twenty-eight cameras?
INTERVIEWEE: Twenty-eight cameras that they can film the car that they put the child on it.
TARACHANSKY: Amnesty International, the European Union, and the UN Security Council condemned the revenge killing this week. Human Rights Watch issued a press release saying the Israeli army’s actions amount to collective punishment, a war crime according to international law.
But here, in Shuafat, a refugee camp surrounded by three settlements and the segregation wall, the protests are no longer just about Muhammad.
INTERVIEWEE: It’s all about the right of living here. It’s not about Muhammad himself.
TARACHANSKY: It’s not about Muhammad.
INTERVIEWEE: I don’t think that it’s all about Muhammad himself.
TARACHANSKY: So can you explain what is it about?
INTERVIEWEE: It’s all about that these settlers has the right to do whatever they want with the cover of the police.
TARACHANSKY: Do you think there will be a third intifada?
INTERVIEWEE: Yeah, our feeling are that we’ll go to intifada three.
TARACHANSKY: At the same time as Israel launched its ground invasion in the West Bank, its air force launched the biggest bombardment on Gaza since the last war, in November 2012. Various Gazan groups responded with rockets, firing at Israeli cities in the South of the country. On Friday, the Israeli prime minister warned his government is preparing to expand the bombardment campaign, dragging the region into another war. The same night, another attempt was made to kidnap a Palestinian teenager near Umm el Fahm, according to sources.
On Saturday protests will be held in various Palestinian towns throughout Israel and the West Bank.
For The Real News, I’m Lia Tarachansky in Shuafat refugee camp in Jerusalem.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.