Behind the incineration

July 11, 2014

In Blog


Implementing the master plan for East Jerusalem

Israel’s undeclared goal is to expel the residents of East Jerusalem from the city, or at least to limit their number and weaken them as a national community.

By Amira Hass Jul. 11, 2014 | 5:29 AM
The Shoafat neighborhood of East Jerusalem, November 2013.

The Shoafat neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Every East Jerusalem resident lives in fear that his permanent residence status will be revoked and he will be expelled. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi
There is a direct connection between the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir on the one hand, and the Jerusalem municipality, Interior Ministry, Jerusalem police and High Court of Justice on the other. Since the occupation and annexation of East Jerusalem, these official bodies have initiated, implemented and approved deliberately discriminatory policies against its Palestinian residents. Their message is clearly heard by the inciters and has been internalized by the murderers.

A long, long time ago, in other words two or three days ago, before the new war with Gaza began, the murder of Abu Khdeir by Jews aroused condemnation and shock, including from the right-wing establishment: ministers, MKs and settlement rabbis. They managed to present it as a single, isolated incident, unrelated to anything. Although the impression is spoiled by the Facebook storm troopers who praise the murder, and the anonymous individuals who destroyed the monument built by Israelis in the Jerusalem Forest, where the boy’s body was found, what’s important is that people abroad know that Economy Minister Naftali Bennett and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemn the act. They are even considering declaring Abu Khdeir a terror victim.

Because what could be easier than condemning the burning of a boy when he was still alive? It’s also easy to condemn the murder because the suspects come from the social sector, the community, the accent, the political party and the place of residence that can be conveniently shrugged off. It’s not “our people.” After all, they’re not really normative like us. And the main thing, they aren’t settlers or “hilltop youth.”

Rightly it was written here about the incitement that gave rise to the murder after the report of the murder of the three yeshiva students, and about the connection to rabbinical and other incitement in recent years, and the evidence of racism among teens. Rightly there was mention of the attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank, including acts of murder, which were buried in the uncaring bureaucracy of the police and State Prosecution.

On the website “Sikha Mekomit” [the Hebrew sister site of the +972 blogsite], Haggai Matar rightly wrote about 1,384 Palestinian children and teens killed by Israel Defense Forces soldiers since 2000 (not including victims of the present assault). On average, one child has been killed every 3.7 days, compared to 127 Israeli children killed by Palestinians.

But even these contexts of Abu Khdeir’s murder are insufficient. The Israeli government committed three crimes after the occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967: It defined the Palestinians there as non-Jewish immigrants to Israel, according to the Citizenship and Entry Into Israel laws (as though they chose to live in Israel, rather than Israel being the party that “entered” their home); confiscated from them about 24,500 dunams (about 6,050 acres) of land, mainly private, which were allocated for construction for Jews only; and imposed draconian building restrictions on the Palestinians in the area it left to them.

Those who implement this policy are generations of interior ministers and officials of the ministry and the municipality, its mayors, clerks, planners and architects. And also the police and the National Insurance Institute, the enforcers, and the High Court, which approves directly or indirectly.

These crimes were the source of the other official crimes, laws and regulations, walls and restrictions, which have turned East Jerusalem into what it is today – a collection of impoverished, crowded neighborhoods, with an insufficient infrastructure, a shocking school dropout rate and few employment opportunities, cut off from the rest of the Palestinian territory. And every resident lives in fear that his permanent residence status will be revoked and he will be expelled. The bottom line: Living in constant humiliation.

Israel’s undeclared goal regarding the residents of East Jerusalem is to expel them from the city, or at least to limit their number and weaken them as a national community. Its clear message is: The Palestinians are inferior. Not human beings like us. The racist murder is an extreme but self-evident translation of the message, the policy and the goal.