Fragile Peace

 Newspapers and television news programs throughout the world yesterday reported a strikingly similar story about how the “fragile peace” that Israelis and Palestinians were said to enjoy in recent months has been threatened. It has been threatened after 3 Palestinian teenagers were shot and killed in the Gaza strip.

Originally the story was reported that the three were chasing a soccer ball near the “security zone” of the Egyptian/Gaza border when Israeli soldiers opened fire on them. Later, after Israel issued an official statement regarding the incident, it was reported that the three were members of a resistance group who might have been attempting to smuggle weapons. The story was found to be particularly newsworthy, due not only to the Palestinian death count, but the fact that there was a response by Hamas when they fired missiles into a neighboring Jewish settlement (causing no injuries).

The incident is troubling on a number of different levels. For one is Israel’s policy of shooting first and asking questions later. As international human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International, have widely reported, incidents as the one which occurred yesterday are common. Besides the fact that the incident occurred by Israeli soldiers who are occupying a foreign territory, it is amazing that newspapers and journalists didn’t question the fact that the shootings fall into a pattern of behavior by the Israeli military toward not only Palestinians, but also toward international human rights workers and journalists themselves.

It is also troubling that journalists had not questioned the fact that the “security zone” is on Palestinian land and further that it is an ever-expanding area between Palestinian Gaza and Egypt. Every month Israel illegally (under international law) demolishes homes owned by Palestinian families to widen these security zones. Hundreds of homes in Gaza have been destroyed for such stated purposes; leaving thousands with few options in this impoverished and densely populated area. Palestinian families, guilty only of owning a home that is close to the border, are not compensated for their losses.

Beyond these questions and concerns, what interests me about the incident is how it was reported with near uniform consensus among the world’s corporate media.

It was said that

A) a “fragile peace” had been achieved of recent and that the shootings have threatened such and

B) that it was the single deadliest incident in months of otherwise calm. “A fragile lull in Israeli-Palestinian fighting was shattered yesterday,” the New York Post reported.

In Britain, the Independent wrote that after more than a month of “calm”, “three Palestinian teenagers were killed in Gaza by Israeli troops yesterday in the worst fatal incident since Ariel Sharon and the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, declared a truce in February”. Near identical accounts of “fragile peace” being threatened by the “single most deadly incident” in months were not only reported throughout the U.S., but also similarly reported in India, Australia, France, Germany, New Zealand, and China, and elsewhere. Perhaps it could be that the world’s media depends on a few journalist and media outlets that actually work in the Palestinian territories. It is astonishing how much power a couple of journalists have in framing the debate for the world’s media – and thus how the world understands the event.

In speaking to the so-called peace that has existed in recent months, it should be pointed out that the “fragile peace” has been threatened daily by hundreds of acts of humiliation, fear, and violence in the occupied territories. While killings do threaten “fragile peace”, the threat and execution of violence also threaten it. In fact, every time Israeli military vehicles invade towns and cities (which happens daily somewhere in the West Bank) and prevent people from leaving their homes, fragile peace is threatened.

Every time a family member is randomly pulled out of line at an Israeli checkpoint (within the Palestinian territories) and beaten and humiliated in front of his family and others, peace is threatened.

Every time a death is caused to a woman or her unborn child because the Israeli military refuses to allow an ambulance to travel to a hospital, peace is threatened. Every time land is stolen from a Palestinian family for the building of the so-called security wall or for the benefit of Israeli Jewish citizens, peace is threatened.

Every incident where Israeli settlers, who reside illegally in the Occupied territories, physically attack Palestinians and their property without punishment, peace is threatened (as occurred last week when masked Israeli settlers attacked people and their homes in different locations around the West bank; or the incident on April 7th where four members of a family in the village of Deir Ballut were shot by private Israeli settler security officers while they were simply tending to their fields).

Every time that a parent learns that their child was mistreated by the Israel military, peace is threatened (as in Hebron yesterday where Israeli soldiers broke into a kindergarten and detained some 80 children in a room for 90 minutes).

Every time non-violent demonstrations are met with Israeli military violence in the form of beatings, arrests, and rubber coated metal bullets, peace is threatened (as with 5 non-violent protesters who were injured after being attacked with tear gas, sound grenades, and rubber bullets on April 8 in a village west of Ramallah).

Every time a Palestinian is detained and tortured in an Israeli prison without a trial or access to lawyers or family, peace is threatened. And every time the media is outraged by the suffering of Israelis but turns a blind eye to the suffering of Palestinians, peace, once again, is threatened.

The reality is that peace is fragile, and it is threatened every day. For dozens, if not hundreds, of incidents occur daily – in the forms of humiliation, land theft, violence by the brutal Israeli military or settlers toward ordinary non-combatant Palestinians. The very fact that it is not considered a threat to peace that an entire people have been forced to live under a foreign military occupation is surprising in itself. The sad fact is that peace will be impossible until a just solution to the Palestinian situation is achieved – a fact that Israel continually refuses to consider.

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