WITNESS: The Brutal Asymmetry of the Occupation

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The IDF on Saturday attacked peaceful Palestinians with tear gas, rubber bullets, live bullets and pepper spray at point-blank range. Their crime? Setting up a protest camp in the West Bank village of Burin to demonstrate against Israeli settlement expansions and violence perpetrated against Palestinian civilians by local settlers.

Seated Palestinians dispersed by IDF soldiers using pepper spray. Image by Alaa Badarheh.

For the third time in as many weeks, Palestinians set up such a protest camp on village lands, only to be attacked by local settlers and the IDF. This time, approximately 300 villagers erected a “neighborhood” made of tents and metal shacks on privately-owned land in Burin, which resides in Area B.
Soon thereafter, settlers attacked the peaceful demonstrators with stones – on their own lands – and the IDF swiftly moved in, directing their force upon the seated Palestinians.

IDF soldiers move in on seated families in the village of Burin.

In a press release, Palestinian organizers of the protest camp stated, “This activity highlights the crucial need of enhancing and strengthening the culture of grassroots self-defense of our land. Furthermore, the action aims at removing settlers and settlements from Palestinian land.”
Reports are that a 16-year-old Palestinian was injured by live fire, 20 Palestinians were treated for tear gas inhalation, still others for pepper spray burns, and a mosque was reportedly set alight by local settlers.


This is just another day in the occupied West Bank. Another day in which asymmetrical military rule props up settler violence and encroachments while suppressing non-violent Palestinian resistance to such rule.

There has never been any balance in the West Bank, with Palestinian civilians oppressed by an unequal, often brutal set of military dictates that do not apply to nearby settlers – Israeli Jews.

This is why people who characterize the reality of life for Palestinians in the West Bank as apartheid are correct. For the two-tired justice system applied in the West Bank – military rule for Palestinians and democratic rule for Israeli Jews – is exactly that. Even Jeffrey Goldberg, a moderate voice if ever there was one, admits that apartheid is the correct term, albeit charged, to describe the West Bank’s realities.

IDF soldiers pepper spray an already-subdued Palestinian at point-blank range.

Today in Burin was just one more example of that: Palestinians being pepper sprayed at point-blank range by heavily-armed soldiers for erecting temporary structures on their own lands.
Today in Burin was just one more reason why Israel must be compelled by the international community to end its occupation, for as the recent elections have shown, the country is incapable of ending the occupation on its own.
Follow David Harris-Gershon on Twitter @David_EHG