Palestine: the view from Korea (April 8)

* For those interested in getting involved with Palestine Peace & Solidarity in Korea, we meet weekly on Mondays at our office in Hapjeong at 7:30pm. Please email Tom @ palestinekorea@gmail.com for more information. We welcome you to join us! *

Another week of Israeli military violence

In its weekly report on the human rights violations in the occupied territories (March 28 – April 3), the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) is reporting that Israeli forces killed 2 Palestinian teenagers – cousins named Naji Balbisi (17) and Amer Nassar (16) – and wounded a third civilian in Anabta village, east of Tulkarem. Another two youths were wounded during an incursion into Hebron, one of 65 incursions carried out by the IDF over this period. The same report notes that in addition to firing at Gazan fisherman in order to confine them to the 3km nautical limit line it is imposing, Israel also carried out two air strikes on Gaza.

Palestine’s Children

April 5 was Palestinian Children’s Day. Rather than to celebrate young people and the joys of youth as it is elsewhere, Children’s Day in Palestine is used to highlight the conditions children exist in under Israeli military occupation. This year it falls shortly after a recent incident in which a number of youths were harassed and arrested by the IDF during their walk to school and at a time when some 236 youths remain in Israeli prisons according to Defence for Children International Palestine. Over at Electronic Intifada Adri Nieuwhof recently had this to report: “In February, the number of Palestinian children between 12 and 15 years who were detained by Israel rose from 31 to 39. Almost 60 percent of the 236 Palestinian child detainees of all ages have been unlawfully transferred to prisons inside Israel. Children were arrested and detained during the recent protests in support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike.”

UNICEF released its report last month on youths in Israeli military detention, writing that “in no other country are children systematically tried by juvenile military courts that, by definition, fall short of providing the necessary guarantees to ensure respect for their rights.”

Occcupation and resistance

In his latest piece on Palestine, Noam Chomsky writes about the “humiliation, degradation and terror” used by Israel to keep Gaza as the world’s largest open air prison following his first ever visit last year. He finishes his article with an ominous warning: “Unless the powerful are capable of learning to respect the dignity of the victims, impassable barriers will remain, and the world will be doomed to violence, cruelty and bitter suffering.”

Amira Hass has written an important article for Haaretz about the reality of resistance for Palestinains under the harsh Israeli occupation. She describes the act of stone throwing as an important part of the dialogueReuters photo of a protestor throwing stones during a clash with the IDF in Hebron on Feb 25, 2013 between the occupier and the occupied in which the latter responds by declaring their right to resist and their will to defy their oppressor. She suggests that classes on resistance should in fact be a staple of the curriculum in Palestinian schools. The Middle East Monitor is reporting that in response to her article, representatives of Jewish settlers wrote to the Jerusalem police demanding an investigation into whether she is inciting violence. Given the war mongering rISRAEL-PALESTINIANS-CONFLICT-ARABS-LAND-DEMOhetoric aimed at the Palestinian population that one can find in any typical Israeli newspaper, one can only hope that the police will laugh this one off. But it does raise interesting questions about the basic right to resist a brutal military occupation and how far nonviolent struggle can really go under such conditions. Check out this article over at Waging Nonviolence for an interesting look at evolving nonviolent Palestinian struggle.

Upcoming actions

Coming up on April 17 this month is Palestinian Prisoner’s Day. PPS will be taking action to raise awareness of the plight of Palestinians illegally imprisoned inside Israel and those facing torture and other human rights violations in administrative detention. Two days before, on April 15, South Korean peace groups will converge in Yeouido to demand that both North and South Korea – which of course includes the U.S. – lay down their weapons and choose dialogue over war. You can find out more about the event here.

Parting note

Finally, and on a side note, I recently watched an excellent Al Jazeera documentary on the pillage of Palestinian books that occurred during the 1948 Nakba (catastrophe) when hundreds of thousands were driven from their homes at gunpoint by Israeli forces. While many of you will know the history well, it is very interesting to consider the loss of culture represented by these books which now sit inside Israel and can be read by any Israeli while their original Palestinian owners cannot access them. I highly suggest you take the time to watch this to understand the cultural and intellectual impact of Palestinian displacement.

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