Palestinian Journalists Protest Action Draws International Support from Social Media

Palestinian journalists have long been at the forefront in calling the world’s attention on how the Israeli occupation has resulted to abuse and agression by Israeli forces. However, many of those journalists were also among those who suffer as a result of such aggressions; from arrests to serious injury, and at worst, death.

The most recent incident of violence involved Muath Amarneh, a Palestinian photojournalist who took a hit in the eye from a shot taken by an Israeli sniper, while Amarneh was documenting Israeli soldiers in Israeli-occupied Hebron.

Although the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) issued a statement condemning Armameh’s shooting, the condemnation continued to fall on deaf ears as far as Israeli auhtorities are concerned. Even the sit-in protest against Armameh’s wounding held by Palestinian journalists in Bethlehem, did not escape the Israeli force’s abusive treatment.

As the PJS stated

“The Israeli forces’ aggression against Amarneh, only represents a part of a series of attacks launched by the occupation forces in order to suppress and prevent Palestinian journalists from covering Israel’s continuing occupation of the Palestinian people.”

Even the Peaceful Sit-In Protest Was Not Spared from the Aggression

The sit-in solidarity protest saw dozens of activists and journalists coming from across Gaza and the West Bank, to show solidarity in voicing condemnation not only the violence committed against Amarneh but for many other journalists who were either injured or killed by Israeli forces in the past years.

Akram al-Waara, a Palestinian freelance reporter for Mondoweiss, told of how the Bethlehem sit-in protesters took to the streets with one eye covered to symbolize Amameh’s eye injury. However they were immediately dispersed when Israeli forces started firing tear gas. The sound bombs sent the crowd of protesters scampering for safety.

Akram added the Israeli forces not only suppressed the protest rather quickly but also and went after people, detaining a handful of them for several hours. Akram reported that any journalist filming the protest was a target.

Palestinian Journalists Turn to Social Media for Support

Unable to take their peaceful demonstrations to the streets, the protesters flooded social media sites with one-eyed photos of themselves. The collage of photographs came captioned as “We are All Muath.” Underneath was a brief explanation of the reason why they covered their eye with either their hand or with a patch is to highlight the result of an Israeli sniper’s intentional shooting of Amarne, who was at that time was documenting Israeli soldiers occupying Hebron.

The Palestinian social media post immediately drew the attention of international journalists particularly Activestills photographers, who joined the protest by posting similar one-eyed photos of themselves under the hashtags “The eye of the truth will not be shut” and “We are all Muath.”

Succession of Drone Attacks Heightening Conflict between Middle East Countries

Several and separate drone attacks recently launched against countries like Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen and most recently Lebanon, has caused tensions that aggravated conflicts among the countries.

Saudi Arabia points to Iran as the culprit behind the drone attacks that destroyed major Saudi oil pipelines and pumping stations. The Lebanese government on the other hand, has accused Israel of launching the drones that recently hit Beirut, specifically, the Hezbollah media office.

Drones have Become Primary Weapon of Assault

Apparently, drones have become instrumental in escalating conflict between between Israel and Iran, as well as between Israel and Lebanon. The small, economically manufactured drones are capable of eluding radar systems. That is why Israel is widely known for using it as primary weapon, primarily in the country’s operations in Gaza.

 

The Israeli air force though dropped bombs in Syria targeting and hitting Iranian military assets positioned in Syrian territory. According to the air force, it was a pre-emptive strike that would prevent Iran from launching killer drones coming from war-torn Syria.

Although Israel has not made any official statement for being responsible in the recent Beirut drone strikes, two western diplomats speculated that the attack could have been an assassination attempt; or an attempt to destroy equipment to be used in fitting rudimentary rockets with advanced guidance systems. Other sources say that Israeli officials confided to European diplomats that the Beirut drone attacks were for the latter reason.

Elias Bou Saab the defense minister of Lebanon said it was Israel’s most dangerous act of aggression against the Hezbollah, since the month-long war that transpired between the two, in 2006. Hezbollah, is the powerful Shia Islamist military and political organisation in Lebanon, which emerged as a force to contend with when Israel invaded the country in 1982.

That being the case, Hezbollah warned that retaliatory attacks will be launched against Israel.

Israel Razed Palestinian Houses Said to Be Illegal Because They Were Too Near the Border

On July, 22, 2019, security forces tore down a cluster of Palestinian houses, which the Israeli government said are illegal because they were built too close to the West Ban separation barrier.

Around 200 Israeli soldiers and 700 police officers swooped down on the village of Wadi Hummus, located at the edge of Sur Baher. They arrived with excavators and began tearing down 10 buildings earmarked for demolition.

Although Palestinian residents said the Palestinian Authority had given them permits to build the houses, the Israeli government contends they were illegally constructed, based on the ruling handed down in 2012 by the Israeli Supreme Court.

Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that the Supreme Court had already ruled unequivocally that building houses in the area of the security fence, is prohibited. Those who insist on building in that area are taking the law into their own hands. He further quoted a passage in the ruling, which said

“the illegal construction constitutes a severe security threat”

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Actually, the ruling made by the courts in 2012 mentioned that the houses built near the barrier “limit the operational freedom of the military as well as increase tension among the civilian population”. The Supreme Court elaborated by stating that such buildings may also shelter illegal residents or terrorists; allowing terrorist operatives to sneak in and/or smuggle weapons inside Israeli territory,

Palestinian Authority Set to File a Complaint with the ICC

Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said they intend to file a complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Israel’s “grave aggression”.

PM Shtayyeh describes it as continuing action of the forced displacement from their homes and lands, which is a war crime not only on the people of Jerusalem but also against humanity.

UN officials have warned that under international humanitarian law, the demolition actions launched by Israel were incompatible with its obligations.

The European Union likewise appealed to the Israel government to immediately cease the demolitions, asserting that such actions undermine the policy for lasting peace.

The Global BDS Movement: What is It and What Triggers it?

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement stems from calls for freedom, equality and justice by Palestinians situated in Palestinian land colonized by Israel. Locally and originally launched by 170 organizations, comprising Palestinian political parties, professional associations, unions, women’s groups, refugee networks, popular resistance committees and a host of other Palestinian civil society bodies that banded to achieve the simple mission of entitling every Israeli Palestinian, the same basic rights held by the rest of humankind.

Several decades of discriminate actions against Palestinian citizens, who became subjects of the Israeli government as a result of colonization, have drawn international attention. Not a few academic associations, churches, unions, and various grassroots organizations from across the globe. have joined the campaigns against Israel; whilst transforming the BDS into a dynamic global movement aimed at pressuring Israel to abide by international laws.

Inasmuch as the BDS contends that Israel, through a colonial apartheid rule, denies Israeli Palestinian citizens their fundamental rights, the BDS continuously takes action by launching boycotts, divestment campaigns and calls for sanction. The campaigns are addressed to foreign governments and corporate entities that ignore Israel’s violations of internationals laws and oppression of its Palestinian citizens; including denying Palestinian refugees the right to go back to their homes.

BDS is not without critics and oppositionists though, as not all countries encourage or even allow participation in BDS movements.

Countries that Support or Forbid BDS Boycotts

Countries like Germany, South Africa, Ireland, and Spain have issued policies that clearly endorse boycott movements launched by the BDS.

Still, serious accusations hurled by critics against the BDS are its alleged ties to Middle Eastern Terrorist groups such as the PLO and Hamas. The contention is that the BDS receives financial support from the same financial backers of the said terrorist groups.


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it is interesting to note that the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) had issued statements that it does not support the BDS movements. PNA Chairman and President of the State of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, had uttered in a speech before the Greek Parliament that the state would prefer to have a peace agreement with Israel rather than build a fence that would separate their nations. In contrast however, the PNA carries on with boycott strategies against Israel, in ways that partially match those launched by the BDS.

In the UK, several city councils passed motions that support the BDS and its campaigns. The motions though were refuted, when in 2016, the UK government prohibited local councils from enacting policies in support of boycotts of Israeli goods. The British administration deemed such boycotts as detrimental to community cohesion as well as liable to hurt the country’s national security.

In the U.S. and as of January 2019, 27 states have issued policies that do not support BDS boycotts .