Ferguson Just Happened Again

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The fatal police shooting of a 22-year-old minority last night, this time caught on video, has once again brought angry community members into the streets to protest in dramatic fashion. This time, however, it’s not the streets of St. Louis which are burning, but those in the Arab village of Kfar Kanna near Nazareth in Israel, where Jesus turned water into wine in the Gospels. Today the streets are running red with blood and rage.
On Friday night, Israeli police entered the village to arrest someone involved in a family dispute. After the arrest, an angry family member, Khayr al-Din al-Hamdan, emerged from a house and began hitting a police van with a small metal object, which residents claim was a bar and police claim was a knife. Soon after, al-Hamdan was dead, shot several times in the back by police.
Law enforcement claimed afterward that their lives were in danger, and that they fired warning shots before shooting the Arab youth. However, CCTV video footage shows none of these claims to be true. Instead, officers broke protocol by by emerging from the van, their lives not in danger, and immediately shooting al-Hamdan, who was backing away and fleeing when he was shot in the back several times. Officers then drug al-Hamdan’s body to the police van rather than calling for medical personnel to treat the victim at the scene.

Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets and clashed with police after video surfaced of the killing of a 22-year-old Arab-Israeli citizen in Kfar Kanna.

As a result of the shooting and the video footage which has emerged, approximately 100 Israeli-Arab residents of the Galilee region have taken to the streets, clashing with law enforcement outside a local police station and blocking roads. The killing, and resulting unrest, comes just days after Israel’s Public Security Minister endorsed extra-judicial killings by police of Arab murder suspects in the wake of a suspected terror attack in Jerusalem.
In the past three years, forty-five Palestinians have been killed by Israeli police or soldiers in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, many of whom who were protesting Israel’s occupation. In that same period, 261 civilians (sixty-seven children) have been wounded by live fire, and over 8,000 (1,500 children) by other means, such as rubber bullets and tear gas.
It’s within this context, as well as near-daily clashes now found in Jerusalem and a growing rage found amongst Palestinians, that al-Hamden’s death is now being placed. Israeli police, recognizing the severity of the anger amongst Palestinians and its wrongful killing of al-Hamden, have opened up an immediate investigation.
Clashes in Shuafat Refugee Camp, East Jerusalem, 5.11.2014

Clashes in East Jerusalem on November 5, a part of ongoing tensions and violence which have broken out in what many consider to be a new intifada incited by new settlements, Temple Mount restrictions and police killings of Arab citizens.

Palestinians have little faith in the justice system, though, where just like in the United States, convictions for such shooting deaths are extremely rare, which is why the investigation is unlikely to ease tensions. Palestinian media are also characterizing the anger and rage within Palestinian society today as exceeding that of the 2002 intifada, anger which is intensifying due to incitements by Israeli politicians and ongoing oppression resulting from Israel’s occupation.
Unless an immediate shift occurs, such as a dramatic, diplomatic breakthrough leading to an end of the occupation or a shift in the way law enforcement treats minority residents in Israel, unrest is likely to grow in East Jerusalem, Kfar Kanna and Israel. Unfortunately, with inciting statements by public security officials embracing extra-judicial killings and Israeli politicians (including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu) stating that Israel will never give up military control of the West Bank, the prospects of political leadership easing tensions is unlikely.
It is entirely possible that unrest and instability will spread dramatically throughout Israel and the West Bank, creating a crisis the White House will no longer be able to address with vanilla statements and inaction.
By then, it will be too late to quell what should have ended long ago.


What Do You Buy For the Children
David Harris-Gershon is author of the memoir What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, published recently by Oneworld Publications.
Follow him on Twitter @David_EHG.