An event happened today that I’ve been contemplating for most of the evening. A 13 y.o. boy was shot after participating in an attack in a Jerusalem neighborhood. He was videotaped by Israelis and what they filmed caused the video to go viral, a fact that so disturbed the Israeli government they’ve apparently pressured YouTube to yank the video. Of course, that is a bit like trying to put the genie back in the bottle, it doesn’t work out too well.
Before I dive into why this event stood out to me, let me give a backstory. If you don’t know, Israel is razor thin close to having a third Intifada on their hands. Since the beginning of the month, over 1000 Palestinians have been wounded, another 1000 arrested and a couple dozen killed including a couple more today. There were no less than four attacks today in Jerusalem, by Palestinians who feel they have nothing to lose anymore. Truth is, this is as much a Jewish Settler Intifada as anyone’s. Settlers have been launching attacks regularly for months, stirring the pot of hatred and resentment, with a wink and nod from the Netanyahu government, and a wink and a nod gets you an Intifada no one controls.
Why this particular shooting stands out is because of the aftermath. The 13 y.o. boy participated in an attack that took the life of a Jewish teen. There is no condoning that act. The Palestinian boy was shot escaping. That is he, laying on the ground in the picture above, right after being shot. In the video, you could see absolute fear on his face. I’m sure at 13, he never contemplated the life and death consequences he was jumping into or that he’d find himself sprawled out in a pool of his own blood with strangers surrounding him, shouting, swearing at him.
It is those Israeli strangers that sent this video viral around the world. The people filming were Jewish. You hear them, and those in crowd, shouting, getting mad at the soldiers, urging them to put a bullet in the boy’s head and kill him.They get angry at the soldiers and police for pushing the crowd back.
There was a group of mostly Orthodox Jewish medics on the scene. They stood there laughing, talking to themselves. None of them checked on the boy as he bled. I can think of no greater sacrilege for a health care worker. One of them did approach the boy and seemed to mock him before turning around and walking away again. An ambulance did arrive and finally loaded the boy up. Last word is he is in critical condition at the hospital. The ambulance workers had to force the police and soldiers to help them with the boy. At first the soldiers refused, telling the boy to get up on his own. The boy tries to rise up in the video but collapses from his wounds.
I think what disturbs me is that no one in the video, even if it is with visible anger, is capable of connecting with their humanity long enough to act upon it. That is what made the viral video so condemning and no doubt why the Israeli government pressured YouTube to yank it. The footage didn’t match the government’s rhetoric and makes for lousy PR.
The video did fit a second piece of film, that of a 65 y.o. man confronting troops today. In Hebron, the man shamed the troops publicly, scolding them after they’d been shooting at protesters. A couple of the soldiers raised their weapons at the man, as though he would be intimidated, he wasn’t but again that says so much. The man did collapse from a heart condition. The soldiers stood there, mocked him, one waving his hand at the man as though to say, ‘good riddance’, leaving it up to journalists who were filming the incident to rush over and seek medical treatment for the man.
The level of indifference ingrained in Israeli society is a major source of the trouble now underway. Israel may win another Intifada – or they may not – though they now have other serious worries with Russia on its border. Truth is, this generation of Palestinians has only known the squalor of despair and weren’t really around for the last Intifada. Equally true, for all of Israel’s bluster militarily, they’ve not fought a real war since Yom Kippour War in the ’70’s. As tough as Gaza or Hezbollah may be, they aren’t standing armies like the Russian one now building up on its border. As a boy bleeds, it should give everyone pause to tread lightly into their next move for the consequences may prove far more dire than anyone anticipates.