January 17, 2016
We should call it like it is: Israel executes people without trial nearly every day. Any other description is a lie. If there was once discussion here about the death penalty for terrorists, now they are executed even without trial (and without discussion). If once there was debate over the rules of engagement, today it’s clear: we shoot to kill – any suspicious Palestinian.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan outlined the situation clearly when he said, “Every terrorist should know he will not survive the attack he is about to commit” – and almost every politician joined him in nauseating unison, from Yair Lapid on up. Never have so many licenses to kill been handed out here, nor has the finger been so itchy on the trigger.
In 2016, one doesn’t have to be Adolf Eichmann to be executed here – it’s enough to be a teenage Palestinian girl with scissors. The firing squads are active every day. Soldiers, police and civilians shoot those who stabbed Israelis, or tried to stab them or were suspected of doing so, and at those who run down Israelis in their cars or appear to have done so.
In most cases, there was no need to shoot – and certainly not to kill. In a good many of the cases, the shooters’ lives were not in danger. They shot people to death who were holding a knife or even scissors, or people who just put their hands in their pockets or lost control of their car.
They shot them to death indiscriminately – women, men, teenage girls, teenage boys. They shot them when they were standing, and even after they were no longer a threat. They shot to kill, to punish, to release their anger, and to take revenge. There is such contempt here that these incidents are barely covered in the media.
Last Saturday, soldiers at the Beka’ot checkpoint (called Hamra by the Palestinians) in the Jordan Valley killed businessman Said Abu al-Wafa, 35, a father of four, with 11 bullets. At the same time, they also killed Ali Abu Maryam, a 21-year-old farm laborer and student, with three bullets. The Israel Defense Forces did not explain the killing of the two men, except to say there was a suspicion that someone had drawn a knife. There are security cameras at the site, but the IDF has not released video footage of the incident.
Last month, other IDF soldiers killed Nashat Asfur, a father of three who worked at an Israeli chicken slaughterhouse. They shot him in his village, Sinjil, from 150 meters away, while he was walking home from a wedding. Earlier this month, Mahdia Hammad – a 40-year-old mother of four – was driving home through her village, Silwad. Border Police officers sprayed her car with dozens of bullets after they suspected she intended to run them over.
The soldiers didn’t even suspect cosmetology student Samah Abdallah, 18, of anything. Soldiers shot her father’s car “by mistake,” killing her; they had suspected a 16-year-old pedestrian, Alaa al-Hashash, of trying to stab them. They executed him as well, of course.
They also killed Ashrakat Qattanani, 16, who was holding a knife and running after an Israeli woman. First a settler ran her over with his car, and when she was lying injured on the ground, soldiers and settlers shot her at least four times. Execution – what else?
And when soldiers shot Lafi Awad, 20, in his back while he was fleeing after throwing stones, was that not an execution?
These are only a few of the cases I have documented over the past few weeks in Haaretz. The website of the human rights group B’Tselem has a list of 12 more cases of executions.
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, one of the few ministers with a conscience left in the world, demanded that these killings be investigated. There is no demand more moral and just than this. It should have come from our own justice minister.
Israel responded with its usual howls. The prime minister said this was “outrageous, immoral and unjust.” And Benjamin Netanyahu understands those terms: That is exactly how to describe Israel’s campaign of criminal executions under his leadership.