As tensions rise in Jerusalem right-wing Israelis are demanding that police increase the already brutal level of state violence inflicted exclusively against Palestinians. Numerous Israelis I have spoken to demanded police implement shoot-to-kill tactics in East Jerusalem on any Palestinian who throws a rock — which would effectively expand the tactics used against Palestinians living on the other side of Israel’s separation wall in the occupied West Bank.
Thursday morning, I met Jeremy Rossman, a 22-year-old settler from New York at a demonstration demanding Jewish dominance of what is known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount. “If somebody challenges Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel, he’s a terrorist.” Rossman said before adding, “I don’t care if a person throwing a rock is 13, 20, 30 or 70 years old — he needs to be taken out.“
Two days earlier, at a protest in front of a Jerusalem police station organized by Im Tirtzu — the neo-Zionist and proto-fascist organization that has chapters in 13 Israeli universities — near the site of the recent apparent vehicular attack demonstrators made similar calls. “Let the police win,” Im Tirtzu protesters chanted — a riff on the popular slogan “Let the IDF win.”
“Let the police mow the lawn,” one woman said into a megaphone — a euphemism for extreme violence used to describe Israeli wars such as this summer’s assault on Gaza that killed more than 2,100 Palestinians.
“Shoot anyone who throws a rock,” said Lizi Hameiri who came from Tel Aviv to join the protest.
“The IDF knows how to handle it.” said Im Tirtzu spokesperson Asher Suzin.
Indeed, the shocking violence protesters demand are used only a few kilometers away in the occupied West Bank. In July, Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition on Palestinian protesters at the Qalandia checkpoint this summer, injuring more than 200 people and killing 3.
Contrary to popular sentiment, police repression against Palestinians in East Jerusalem has been anything but soft.
Since demonstrations began in response to the grisly murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir this summer, Israeli police and Border Police units in full riot gear have been stationed throughout East Jerusalem neighborhoods. Any form of protest to the presence of police is repressed with heavy force using a combination of flash grenades, tear gas, rubber and plastic-coated bullets and skunk trucks — an Israeli-invented liquid that smells of rotting flesh. Police violence is inescapable — children have been shot while standing near windows inside their homes, and skunk trucks wantonly spray the putrid liquid throughout neighborhoods. Cops stage nighttime raids to arrest Palestinians and since the demonstrations began at least 900 Palestinians have been detained, many of whom are minors.
Yet this brutal repression isn’t enough for Israel’s right-wing. At Thursday’s demonstration, settler leader and Jewish National Front leader Baruch Marzel found himself himself in a sort-of agreement with the Obama administration. “Bibi is a coward,” referencing the recent chickentshit comments. Marzel’s statement reflects widespread belief among right-wing Israelis that Netanyahu is preventing the police from taking requisite action to completely subdue any form of Palestinian resistance. Though Netanyahu ordered 1,000 extra police and Border Police to Jerusalem, Marzel dismissed the move. “We don’t need a lot of police. A lot of them don’t do anything. The police know what they have to do, they only have to have the orders,” Marzel told me.
Contrary to their delusions, Netanyahu is broadening police powers to attack Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem. After a meeting with top security officials last week week, Netanyahu expedited passage of a law that would expand the legal definition of stone-throwing, casting an even wider dragnet through the streets of East Jerusalem to make the common form of resistance punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Police attorneys have proposed legislation that would make parents of minors liable for minors under the age of 14, with punishments ranging from fines to prison time. Last Monday, Mayor Nir Barkat ordered police and Border Police to crackdown on Palestinians in East Jerusalem using enforcement of municipal regulations.
Yazeed Abu Khdeir, 26, has seen the crackdown in effect. “Thursday in East Jerusalem, I saw an officer in East Jerusalem who issues traffic citations tell a couple policemen ‘180 today — it was a good day.’” he told me.
As police operate with total impunity, a climate of fear exists that has led some Palestinians to avoid publicizing information about other beatings due to fear of police reprisals like the punishment the Abu Khdeir family received in Shuafat.
“Many people don’t want to give statements because they worry about this kind of collective punishment,” Yazeed Abu Khdeir explained.
Despite the Israeli government’s brutal violence on Palestinians in East Jerusalem, nothing short of massacres will satisfy the right-wing’s cravings for violence. As the far-right pushes the Netanyahu government to take over the Temple Mount, the possibility exists that heightened resistance may create the pretext needed to carry their bloody fantasies out.