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How Israel’s ‘terror’ lies backfired

Israeli security forces take position amid clashes with Palestinian protesters in Hebron in the occupied West Bank. (AFP)
Israeli security forces take position amid clashes with Palestinian protesters in Hebron in the occupied West Bank. (AFP)
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20 Aug 2022 03:08:57 GMT9
20 Aug 2022 03:08:57 GMT9

It did not take long for another foolish and senseless act by the Israeli army to produce the very opposite effect from what they had intended. Violent raids on areas under Palestinian administrative and security control are no longer news, but breaking into the offices of Palestinian rights groups, taking away a truck full of computers and other items, soldering their doors shut and declaring them permanently closed — as Israel did on Thursday — has totally backfired.

Security camera footage from inside those offices exposed the 3 a.m. break-in, with soldiers lounging around as if they were on a picnic on the French Riviera. The soldered doors were quickly reopened by the rights groups, who were not tarnished as “terrorists” but rather saluted for what they are: human rights defenders. A nearby Anglican/Episcopalian church was broken into in the early hours of Thursday, terrorizing those living in the St. Andrews Church compound and causing the usually polite church leadership to issue a scathing statement calling for an independent investigation and accountability for the soldiers (as well as those who ordered them) for violation of religious rights.

Palestinian prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh visited the quickly reopened NGOs and said the decision to open or close Palestinian organizations was not the right of the Israeli occupiers, but that of the Palestinian government. In addition to the church statement and the support from the Palestinian prime minister, 17diplomatic representatives of European countries visited the briefly closed Al-Haq organization and expressed solidarity and support. European countries, many of whom are major funders of Al-Haq and other civil society groups, had told the Israelis they were not convinced of their fabricated accusation and would continue to fund those organizations.

Of course, the most silent diplomatic mission was that of the US, whose president had vowed to support Palestinian rights to live in freedom, peace, and dignity, all of which were viciously violated by the so-called most “moral army.”

The accusation of terrorism has not stuck, nor has it convinced anyone — not even the US, which has demanded evidence from Israel, to no avail.  The raids are surely related to the forthcoming Israeli elections, but even that does not explain an attack on human rights defenders who are clearly respected around the world.

A much more likely explanation is that the Israelis are not comfortable with the repeated and documented accusations being made against them. They honestly believe that they are a democracy, that their army is moral, and that their actions in the occupied territories are justified because of terrorists who do not want peace and use every means to deny them their very existence.

The gap between this outrageous belief and the reality on the ground can be seen by diplomats, journalists, and human rights defenders. While racist Israeli supremacy makes them look down on Palestinians (including Arabs who work for international human rights organizations, such as Omar Shakir of Human Rights Watch) they cannot stand the fact that these “annoying” Palestinian human rights defenders are collecting evidence of their war crimes and taking them and their leaders to the International Criminal Court in the Hague. Instead of investigating their own actions, the Israelis have continued on the path of repressing— violently if necessary — everyone who dares question their narrative and poses a danger in their eyes to their existential needs.

The security threat posed by terrorism — whether true or false —had an aura to it, but it has been repeatedly exposed and has lost its power. Israel’s false attempts to paint everyone who opposes their narrative as a terrorist has become a joke in many circles.

The fiction that Israel is living, with its continued occupation and subjugation of five million Palestinians while professing to be a liberal democracy, is no longer being believed. The sooner Israelis wake up from the nightmare that they caused and begin ending their criminality against a proud and vibrant Palestinian community, the sooner their country can try to repair the damage it has done to its own reputation and narrative.

Daoud Kuttab is an award-winning Palestinian journalist from Jerusalem. Twitter: @daoudkuttab

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