If you throw a frog into boiling water, it will jump out and save its life. But a frog swimming in room temperature water that is gradually heated will grow used to the heat; by the time the water boils, it’s too late and the frog dies. That’s another metaphor for the resilience of the Palestinians against any new weapon with which they are attacked, a new Israeli regulation further limiting them, a land expropriation. True, the frog doesn’t die, but it is exhausted.
But there’s an absentee present making sure the temperature constantly rises. In the development of the Israeli system of control over the Palestinian people and their land, the Israeli occupation has raised to the level of genius the use of gradualness as a means of making people grow used to something. The gradualness is implemented over a period of time, but it is also spread out over space.
The Israeli assault on the chances of the Palestinian people to lead normal lives is evident in millions of different ways. Here, a family is hurt, there, a village. Here it’s from ammunition, there from settlers, here it’s a new military order. A lot of it is reported on our side, but spread out. The assault is intensified gradually. But the overall totality of the damage is not felt, because of the way it is gradually applied, dispersed over large areas.
Gideon Levy reports on children from the south Hebron area, killed and wounded by an Israel Defense Forces phosphorus shell. According to international law, the use of phosphorus shells in populated areas is forbidden, Levy reminds his readers. The IDF Spokesman promises the use of phosphorus shells is “only to mark boundaries and the boundaries of sectors,” and that the IDF will scout the area and neutralize any shells or similar devices, if found, for the safety of the residents. In other words, Levy notified the army that there was a population in the area, and that when the army leaves a training area it should neutralize any remaining dangerous ammunition left behind. The report in the weekend paper passed without any other media reaction to it, since it’s just another Palestinian child who will be killed and just another Palestinian child who will suffer dreadful pain because of a wound, so it’s not news. We’ve gotten used to it.
The report passed in silence like thousands of other reports that were published and not published. All show how Israel violates without disruption international law and how the Israeli occupier is greedy for the land and how the people who live on the land are merely redundant. And not only in the eyes of the people in uniform. Take the army of Israeli planners and architects, those who “shape the space” in the West Bank, as the IDF calls the limitations on Palestinian transportation and the internal checkpoints that constantly pop up, like mushrooms after rain.
At what school of architecture and planning did they learn to strangle houses and villages with highways as wide as any in America and with airy settlements? By planning Givat Ze’ev, Rechalim and Adam, Beit Horon, Anatot and other settlements, the Israeli architects are not only breaking international law. They are also personally making sure the Palestinian residents of the nearby village will be cut off from their land, or that the Palestinian house won’t have an access road, or there’s a road for Jews only, like the Modi’in-Givat Ze’ev road, which reaches right up to the playground of an elementary school that the military administration will not allow to build a second floor.
In another violation of international law, Israel is holding thousands of Palestinian prisoners inside its territory and not in the occupied territory, promulgating regulations that discriminate against the Palestinian prisoners, compared to Jewish ones. The Prisons Service has a rule that allows only first degree relatives to visit security prisoners. Sometimes a prison gives in and doesn’t apply the rule to the Israeli security prisoners and those from Jerusalem. Sometimes it does.
Five-year-old Mohand has an uncle in one of the Israeli prisons. Up until a month ago, he and some of his little brothers and sisters were allowed to visit the uncle, who does not have parents and whose siblings can’t arrange to visit him routinely. But the State of Israel, in the form of the Prisons Service, once again decided that Mohand cannot be allowed to visit his uncle.
The High Court of Justice and the lawyers at the university and the authors and the heads of the institutes for the study of anti-Semitism and racism don’t pay attention to such dispersed, small matters, or have grown used to them, or are not shocked because of the progression. And they become partners to it all.