Judge, Jury, and Executioner — The Horrifying Reality of Palestinian Civilian Life Under an Israeli Military Court
Recently, Netanyahu’s government passed a law allowing the execution of Palestinian prisoners. Palestinians accused of terrorism can now be put to death by the Israeli state. Now, this might not seem a big deal to some (it is absolutely a big deal, you’re not supposed to kill enemy prisoners of war), but, let’s analyze this in the context of life in Palestine.
Israel passed a different law in 2016. The Combating Terrorism Law of 2016 defines a terrorist act as containing the following:
The Law defines a “terrorist action” as an action that:
- is driven by a political, religious, or ideological motive;
- is carried out with the goal of instilling in the public fear or anxiety, or of forcing the Israeli government or another governmental agency, including an agency of a foreign country, or an international organization to do or refrain from doing an act; or
- involves an actual act or a real threat to inflict severe harm on one of the following:a. a person’s body or liberty;
b. public security or health;
c. property, where the circumstances involved entail an intention or a real possibility to inflict severe harm on individuals or public safety and liberty;
d. religious sites, burial places, and religious paraphernalia; or
e. infrastructure, public systems or essential services, or the state economy or environment. (Id. § 2.)
So, let’s look at several common actions in Palestinian protest and see if someone can be tried for a terrorist action on those grounds.
Stone Throwing is common. When the soldiers have guns and are bulldozing your houses, chucking a couple rocks is a natural response. It’s a method of reaction and resistance to what is an illegal activity on Israel’s type. It is a physically violent act as a response to an act of great structural violence. However, stone throwing definitely is ideological. Stone throwing is done to make soldiers stop tearing down the homes that some families have inhabited for generations. Stone throwing affects a person’s body. Thus, stone throwing is terrorism.
Children as young as 12 throw stones. It’s instinctual. Israelis do it too. However, under the new law and this law, any Palestinian could be convicted of terrorism and sentenced to death for throwing a rock. Does this sound like justice? Does this sound like a reasonable response? One may say that Israel obviously wouldn’t execute for stone throwing, but Israel’s military courts, under which every Palestinian is tried, have a 99% conviction rate.
Stone throwers in Palestine are given 20 years in prison. Israel clearly does not care about retributive justice. It clearly doesn’t care about proportional response. The ability to murder any Palestinian who has participated in a protest under an unequal apartheid court system goes even beyond what the Kach Party wanted to do to those who throw stones (officially. Unofficially, Kach probably would have murdered them too.) Netanyahu’s government has gone above and beyond extremism.
Imagine what they would have done to Ahed Tamimi about this. Israelis already believe soldiers should have killed her. They harass her family daily. What happens when the clan lashes out after continued settler violence?
Israel has opened the way to state sanctioned mass murder. It is yet to be seen if they go through with it, but the infrastructure for the continued ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population is expanding. The consequences will continue to be horrific, and it is feared that the worst is yet to come.