‘Not Behaving Like a Normal State’
[ Ed. note – The life of a Palestinian school child is not easy, as the above video makes clear. Equally difficult can be the problems faced by Palestinian families attempting to hold funerals for loved ones slain by Israeli forces. As I have noted in previous posts (see here and here and here), the Jewish state seems to have a predilection for holding onto corpses–for days, months, sometimes even years. ]
Palestinians in Ramallah Stage Sit-in Demanding Return of Slain Palestinian’s Body
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Dozens of Palestinians organized a sit-in at the al-Manara square in the heart of Ramallah city in the central occupied West Bank, demanding the release of the body of Maen Abu Qaare and other slain Palestinians still being held by Israeli authorities.
Deputy Secretary General of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DLP) Qais Abd al-Karim said during the sit-in that holding the body of Abu Qaraa was “evidence of the brutality and inhumanity of the Israeli occupation that is still holding dozens of bodies of killed Palestinians.”
Abd al-Karim stressed that more protests of this “brutality” would continue, adding that “Israel not only kills our children unjustly but also holds their bodies in a clear violation to all international laws.”
Abu Qaraa, 23, was killed by Israeli forces on Nov. 3 after allegedly attempting to carry out a stabbing attack near the illegal Israeli Ofra settlement, between the Ramallah-area villages of Silwad and Deir Jarir.
In the days following Abu Qaraa’s death, Israeli forces imposed several road and checkpoint closuresacross the Ramallah district, making travel for residents of the Ramallah district’s northern villages extremely difficult.
Israeli authorities dramatically escalated a policy of withholding Palestinian bodies killed by Israeli forces following the emergence of a wave of unrest across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel in October 2015, having repeatedly claimed that funerals of Palestinians had provided grounds for “incitement” against the Israeli state.
However, following an uproar of protest among Palestinians over the policy, Israeli authorities began scaling down the practice, although a number of bodies still remain withheld.
When Israeli authorities have decided to return slain bodies and allow funerals in the occupied Palestinian territory, the ceremonies have been typically restricted by a long list of conditions imposed by Israeli authorities, including limiting the number of attendees and the deployment of Israeli soldiers throughout the event.
Palestinian families have also been forced to pay large financial deposits to the Israeli government as a collateral for potential “incitement” during the funerals and to ensure that families abide by Israeli-imposed conditions.
Israeli police announced in June that slain Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem suspected of “terrorism” would no longer be able to have funerals in their neighborhoods or villages, but would instead be buried in cemeteries chosen by the Israeli police.
A joint statement released by Addameer and Israeli minority rights group Adalah in March condemned Israel’s practice of withholding bodies as “a severe violation of international humanitarian law as well as international human rights law, including violations of the right to dignity, freedom of religion, and the right to practice culture.
“The statement said it appeared “many” of the Palestinians whose bodies Israel was holding had been “extrajudicially executed by Israeli forces during alleged attacks against Israelis, despite posing no danger.”
[ Additional ed. note – Stories about cadaver hoarding obviously leave lasting impressions in peoples’ minds and likely are contributing to increasingly negative views of the Jewish state by large numbers of people the world over. You would think this would trigger a heated debate among Jews over whether policies like this are advisable. After all, it’s making everybody look bad! Well as a matter of fact, earlier this month in Jerusalem a major confrontation between Jews from all over the world did occur, and over a policy of the Israeli government.
The showdown, which degenerated at times into violent fisticuffs, pitted members of the different branches of Judaism, i.e. Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, etc., but the bone of contention was not over whether it might be less than savory or kosher to fill the Promised Land’s mausoleums with bursting stockpiles of unreturned corpses. Nor was it over the efficacy of tear-gassing children on their way to school. No. The clash was over the all-consuming issue of which Jews should be allowed to pray at the Wailing Wall, and which should not. ]
Prayer Rights Protest at Jerusalem’s Western Wall Erupts into Clashes
A protest by non-Orthodox rabbis from around the world over equal Jewish prayer rights at the Western Wall in Jerusalem – including mixed gender prayers – descended into violent scuffles amid mounting anger at the Israeli government which they accuse of foot-dragging over the issue.
The demonstration had been called over the failure of the Israeli government to provide a promised egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall, which was agreed in January after three years of negotiations.
Before Wednesday’s protest the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu – who protesters accuse of reneging on a commitment to regularise a liberalised prayer space – called on Jews living outside Israel to show “patience and tolerance” over the issue.
“We have one people and one wall – it’s our wall,” he said. “The less publicly we talk about it, the better chance we have to resolve it. The last thing we need is more friction, as that will make a solution more difficult.”
That call, however, was ignored as several hundred protesters arrived at the site on Wednesday morning, and as some Orthodox men and security officials for the Western Wall Heritage Foundation became involved in scuffles as they tried to remove Torah scrolls being carried by the demonstrators.
Regulations at the site prohibit worshippers from bringing their own Torah scrolls to the premises.
The protest was led by senior rabbis from the reform and conservative movements, including Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the president of the US Union for Reform Judaism.
Witnesses said as the group tried to enter the prayer area of the Western Wall they were pushed and punched by security officials and young ultra-Orthodox men.
The march had joined forces with the monthly attempt by the Women of the Wall group to pray at the Western Wall, also known as the Kotel. The group, which has campaigned for almost 30 years for equal prayer rights – including being allowed to sing, read aloud from the Torah and wear religious clothing – has said it will move its monthly service to the new mixed section as soon as it is functioning.
While segregation of the sexes during prayer is long established within the Orthodox tradition, Conservative, Reform and other liberal forms of Judaism allow men and women to pray together.
The issue of equal prayer rights has become a source of tension between the Israeli government and diaspora Jews, who accuse Netanyahu of reneging on his promises to create a space at the Wall for non-Orthodox Jews to mollify the ultra-Orthodox parties in his rightwing coalition.
Commenting on Wednesday’s events Netanyahu accused the protesters of “a unilateral violation” of agreements of Jewish prayer arrangements.
“The unfortunate incident this morning at the Western Wall does not help advance a solution for prayer arrangements there,” he said. “The prime minister and the Speaker of the Knesset said yesterday to the leaders of the non-Orthodox movements that now is the time for dialogue and not for unnecessary friction. The unilateral violation of the status quo at the Western Wall this morning undermines our ongoing efforts to reach a compromise.”
A new 900-sq-metre egalitarian prayer section, envisaged under January’s agreement, is at the southern, Robinson’s Arch, end of the Western Wall and intended to replace a platform set up as a temporary measure after a compromise reached in 2013. The new section would allow men and women who do not want to pray in a segregated area to pray together.
The expanded area, planned to cost £6m, is intended to accommodate 1,200 worshippers and be officially registered in Israel’s Law of Holy Sites. It will be administered by government officials.
The idea had been to create a prayer space where groups such as Women of the Wall and other non-Orthodox denominations who hold mixed-gender prayers without a barrier separating men from women.
Since that decision, however, new regulations have not been implemented while Orthodox groups have begun using the space for “demonstrative” and segregated prayers.
Both sides in the long-running struggle over prayer rights at the Kotel have escalated their rhetoric in the past month, with those calling for equal prayer rights vowing to push the issue and Orthodox groups determined to resist greater liberalisation by calling on supporters to use Robinson’s Arch as well.
[ Final ed. note – Perhaps at some point the world’s patience with Israel will begin to run out–oh, wait! It looks like that moment has already arrived! As a member of the Irish Parliament tells the Israeli ambassador to Ireland in the following video: “I think, along with Desmond Tutu, that the time for treating you like a normal state is over, because you’re not behaving as a normal state.” ]