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Friday, 15 October. 2021
Your Key to Palestine
The Palestinian Initiatives for The Promotoion of Global Dialogue and Democracy

It was a story full of horror. On an otherwise normal day in Jerusalem on March 11, a 35-year-old Palestinian man was arrested by Israeli police, beaten into unconsciousness and then declared dead.

The details of the incident are horrendous. Wael Qarawi was apparently stopped by Israeli border guards and police while transporting passengers into Jerusalem. While versions of the story may vary slightly, the main plotline is the same, as is the horrific outcome.

When Israeli police realized that some of Qarawi’s passengers were West Bank residents (according to Israeli “law” it is illegal for West Bankers to enter Jerusalem without a permit), they took Qarawi’s Jerusalem ID and promptly told him he would have to come to the police station on east Jerusalem’s Salah Eddin Street to reclaim it.

According to eyewitnesses and Qarawi’s relatives who were barred from entering the station with their son, Israeli police began beating Qarawi inside, delivering blow after blow, focusing on his head. Qarawi eventually lost consciousness and was later declared dead.

While Palestinians everywhere condemned the attack and mourned Qarawi’s death along with his family, his wife and his young daughter, accusing Israel of committing a “heinous crime”, in other parts of the Palestinian territories, a similar mentality has begun to flourish, only this time at the hands of the Palestinians themselves.

On March 13, inter-factional violence took on a particular ugliness in the Gaza Strip, the perpetrators mirroring some of the same cruel lessons they have been taught for so long at the hands of their Israeli occupiers.

Forty-one-year-old Ala’ Haddad, commander of Hamas’ Izzedin Al Qassam Brigades was shot and killed by masked men who intercepted his car in Gaza City before fleeing the scene. The assassination also resulted in the wounding of four other Hamas-affiliated executive committee members in the area.

Gaza City hospital sources also reported the injury of seven others in the subsequent exchanges of fire. Unsurprisingly, Hamas has accused the Fateh-run Preventative Security Apparatus for the assassination, claiming these “rogue groups” want to sabotage the ongoing efforts at forming a national unity government.

The preventative security has denied any involvement in the incident, insisting that all the parties involved are well aware that the incident was rooted in a family feud.

The Qassam Brigades were not buying, however and proceeded to send a band of executive committee members to the Khalifeh house in the Zeituna Quarter of Gaza City, who they held responsible for Haddad’s death. What transpired after this was both outrageous and dangerously disturbing in its uncanny resemblance to Israeli occupation measures.

Five members of the Khalifeh family were kidnapped by executive committee forces (two other residents would also be kidnapped later in the day by unknown assailants) before the house was dynamited and demolished.

For years, ever since the inception of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, Palestinians have been made to endure the worst kind of oppression. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been killed at the hands of their occupiers and thousands of homes have been turned to rubble in the matter of time it takes for a bulldozer to tear it down. Scores of Palestinians have been arrested by Israeli authorities over the years, their families made to live for days or weeks in the anguish of not knowing their whereabouts.

Too many Palestinians know the terrible ramifications of such measures – the gaping void that opens up by the sudden death of a loved one, the unbearable scars left behind when your life’s work, the safe haven that has sheltered your family, is razed to the ground before your eyes and the agony of uncertainty as to where your children will lay their heads down to sleep that night or where your husband, father, brother or sister has been taken; if they are alive or dead.

More important than who is to blame for the recent flare of violence, those who cannot see further than the tips of their noses must at least see this: whether consciously or inadvertently, we have morphed into a crude version of our Israeli occupier. We kidnap, assassinate and demolish homes without reason and we blame our victim for bringing their woes onto themselves.

This is not an unusual pattern. Just like the Jews, and later the Israelis, who continue to portray themselves as the victims of Nazi (and other) persecution while concomitantly applying some of these same tactics to the Palestinians, we have done the same, justifying our unjustifiable actions with meaningless political mumbo-jumbo.

How unthinkable is it that the very actions which have caused so much suffering among us and which we have decried in international forums as the acts of a ruthless and unrelenting occupation have been adopted as an acceptable means of interaction between our own people? Can we not see that as bad as it is to have our home demolished by the Israelis or our sons killed at the hands of those who wish to annihilate our national cause, when these same actions are taken by people who share the same language, national cause, customs and history, the damage is tenfold. While the scars from all the years of Israeli military oppression may run deep and need decades to heal, the wounds from such insane behavior by our own “patriots” will remain open and gashing, pierced with the sting of betrayal. In years to come, when the Israeli occupation is gone from our land and our declared enemies are no longer among us, how long will it take our people to forgive and forget that their brother, their father, their sister, was killed at the hands of a neighbor in the name of Palestine?

By adopting the actions of our occupier we automatically strip ourselves of the right to condemn these same actions to the world. We must hold up a mirror and look at who we have become. It cannot be in any of our interests to emulate those who continue to oppress us and try to beat us into annihilation. As we continue on our path to liberation and independence, we must be proud of what we have accomplished in spite of the obstacles on our way. Events such as those that transpired in Gaza yesterday will bring nothing but shame.

Joharah Baker is a Writer for the Media and Information Programme at the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH). She can be contacted at mip@miftah.org.

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