Last Thursday morning, Israeli soldiers shot dead two Palestinians in the West bank city of Hebron. Video caught an IDF soldier shooting one of the men in the head at after he was wounded.
Loud & Clear’s Brian Becker sat down with author and professor Dr. Noman Finkelstein to discuss the rising tensions in the West Bank following the incident and whether it could be a triggering point for a Third Intifada.
What is the mood among Palestinians and Israelis following the incident?
Dr. Finkelstein explained that while the international community was outraged by the video showing the pointblank shooting after the man lay wounded in the streets for 11 minutes, to the people in the occupied territory it was pretty much a normal day.
"Despite the savagery that was on display in the video it is kind of old news if you read the human rights reports of what goes on each time Israel launches another of its brutal operations against Gaza," said Finkelstein. "These types of killings and indifference are typical in the Palestine occupied territories."
"You have Palestinians walking places with white sheets and white flags to indicate they are civilians, but they are shot dead. You have ambulances denied entry to rescue those who are injured; sometimes ambulances are fired on by missiles killing the ambulance drivers and medical crews. Then they send a second ambulance and it too is fired on while the first injured person is left to bleed to death. This is not hyperbole, it is not exaggeration, it has been documented over and over again in human rights reports."
Doctor Finkelstein noted that last Thursday’s incident only had really two small distinguishing characteristics. First, it was videotaped. Second, it occurred in what was not technically a war situation.
Following the shooting, there was an online petition asking the Israeli government to award the IDF medic a medal for his ‘heroism,’ is this a normal response by people in Israel?
"Yes," said Dr. Finkelstein, "after each of Israel’s savage operations in Gaza there are typically calls to give the most murderous of the soldiers a medal. If you know the history and you follow the details, it isn’t surprising."
He gave the example of Baruch Goldstein, responsible for the Hebron massacre in 1994 that led to the deaths of 29 Palestinian worshippers who were shot upon as kneeled down to pray in a mosque. "One of the settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories built a shrine to him, it became a place of pilgrimage for Israelis, and this stuff is common because they’ve dug in their heels like the white South Africans had in the 1980s."
Do you think the murders, repression, and racism from the occupation will lead to a Third Intifada?
"No, there is no evidence of that," said Dr. Finkelstein. He explained that it isn’t because the Palestinian people aren’t fed up, but that in fact conditions have gotten so bad that the people have largely given up hope altogether and the institutions that normally represented the people have been bought off by the Israeli government.
"The two critical factors for any uprising to occur simply don’t exist there, there is no organization and there is no leadership," said Dr. Finkelstein.
"The organizations that existed in the occupied territories have been hollowed out by the Palestinian authorities and any person with talent or ability has been bought off by the Israeli funded NGOs in exchange for a salary higher than any other Palestinian gets," he explained.
"There is also no leadership. The Palestinian authority is bought and paid for by Israel and the United States, they now follow orders and are basically a conveyor belt in the torture of the Palestinians," he continued.
The situation has been too dire for too long, Dr. Finkelstein explains, such that the very fabric of the community has been fractured. "People at this point in time have given up on politics, they have become cynical on politics, it has become atomized, it is basically every man for themselves."