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Netanyahu angling to institute capital punishment for Palestinians just in time for elections

Israel/Palestine
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Early Sunday morning five Palestinian citizens in Al-Khader village south of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank were detained by Israeli Occupying Forces without charges leveled against them, a common enough occurrence in the quiet village which just last month saw 100 athletes sequestered, searched, and interrogated at gunpoint in its soccer stadium after practice. But now, on top of the characteristically violent and indiscriminate means of detaining Palestinians, there may be even more reason besides Israeli contempt for due process to fear for prisoners’ fates.

If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gets his way, Israel will be able to add among its repertoire of an unwritten constitution and ethnonationalist Basic Laws the right to put Palestinians to death.

Israel technically already has the death penalty, but it’s only been used twice in the country’s entire history. For perspective, and perhaps to show you exactly what genus of evil Israel sees the Palestinians falling under, one of the two men capitally punished was Adolf Eichmann, a leading Nazi Holocaust organizer and, I hope it doesn’t need clarifying, a non-Israeli citizen.

If anyone ever deserved execution, it was Eichmann. But in the last few decades, leading democracies and human rights groups have been trying to move away from this controversial if not wholly immoral form of punishment, not towards it. Even in Israel the call for the death penalty against Palestinians accused of taking part in terrorist acts, an offense leveled without discretion against even non-violent forms of resistance to Israel’s illegal occupation, has in recent times been left to the more religious-nationalist and ultra-nationalist Israeli parties and members of government. Most notably the call for capital punishment against Palestinians formed the 2015 banner-call of Defense Minister and head of the Beiteinu Party, Avigdor Leiberman. (It’s a further shock that ethno-nationalism accounts for two separate, prominent parties in Israel, not just the one as it does for the Trump-era American GOP.)

Formerly less gung-ho on the bill, Netanyahu has now changed his tune, and what a wicked tune to change to.

This came some weeks ago after the Education Minister Naftali Bennet called for the advancement of the bill in the Knesset. The issue has become a lynchpin of political jockeying, with recent weeks seeing Leiberman and Bennet taking to the issue to better position their separate nationalist parties in upcoming elections, to say nothing of their true convictions on the matter. It’s the kind of advocacy that makes the Hillary Clinton-targeted “Lock Her Up” chant by Trump Supporters look like friendly ribbing. Moreover it’s a game whose winner must show the most vile contempt for human life.

In addition to being Education Minister, Bennet is part of the religious-nationalist faction Jewish Home. Typifying that unofficial Israeli slogan, that Jews born in San Francisco have the right to citizenship and self-determination in Israel over Palestinians born in Jerusalem, Bennet was born to immigrants from the West Coast of the United States. If his current station of Education Minister is any testament, they were no doubt in a rush to shirk the most important of American democratic principles that separate religious nationalism from education, let alone government.

But there you have it, Israel is rife with ethno-nationalist lunatics, religious and secular. All that was missing was for Netanyahu to green light the death penalty bill. But he did them one better, announcing his support for capital punishment from the Halamish settlement, standing on land long settled by Palestinians for millennia in sight of various nearby Palestinian villages awaiting their turn on the colonial chopping-block. There he promised at last for Palestinians a privilege only one Israeli citizen and a Nazi has ever enjoyed in the history of the nation, the right to be put to death.

The bill has been stalling in recent weeks but Netanayahu no stranger to breaking international law, is ready to give it his all in response to truly unbelievable Israeli criticism that he has been too weak and lenient on Gaza. If only that criticism were actually true, or that the cute moniker “Bibi” actually fit the man. Then Israel might resemble something of the democracy they shamelessly masquerade as.

But for Palestinians it’s nothing to be met with irony. The five Al-Khader citizens detained only days ago join 25 in the rest of the West Bank taken on the same night. Those 25 join 511 Palestinians detained in October alone, 74 of them minors and 15 of them women, swelling the total number of Palestinians imprisoned in Israel closer to 7,000.

For the record, among the five Al-Khader citizens detained was farmer Ahmad Salah and his brother. Between photos of his children or of himself posing playfully with grapes he had grown, a quick glance at Ahmad’s Facebook posts shows he is vocal about what the UN have themselves consented are brutal usurpations of basic human rights. No advocacy for violence or anything out of line with basic democratic principles to be found. And yet, in addition to handcuffs, the man was blindfolded in the middle of the night, leaving him and his family with no inkling of an idea when he might be back.

What followed the raid was an unofficial curfew which residents know all too well not to break. Spending that night in the village, I was advised to follow suit. Stores closed and residents remained in their homes, not willing to risk detainment and indefinite imprisonment by walking even a few meters down the road to a friend’s or family member’s home. Not to see a sister’s new baby in the home I was staying, named after a deceased family member recently swallowed whole by the crisis, or to take up that paused round of video game FIFA 17 at a cousin’s (’17 because FIFA 18 and ’19 are too expensive). Palestinians know too many innocent human beings who have been taken and detained inexplicably for years on end. Brothers, sisters, cousins, handfuls of best friends, or even their own selves. Most without charges, or with charges coming only well into detention. Without or without them, very few prisoners ever see trial, instead being released after months or years as inexplicably as they were taken.

Anyone who cares about human rights should shudder at the thought of what fate might be awaiting these men, women, and minors sitting in detention if the favorite of Israeli criminal convictions, “terrorism,” gets to carry a new weight to it – the right to put those Palestinians detained and trialed with dubious legality to death. A new power Israel’s record indicates it probably won’t waste time in trying out.

How can a nation be trusted to carry out the most barbaric and archaic of legal punishments against an ethnicity of human beings which it has a long, proud, and brutally violent record of denying to them their inalienable human rights? If the consistency of the indiscriminate, indefinite detentions can be counted on, as well as dubious convictions by incredulously partial Israeli juries against Palestinians as “terrorists,” we can be sure that an allocation of capital punishment will follow a similar thread.

Israeli barbarity is about to set a new precedent for human rights violations if the international standard of thumb twiddling continues and president Benjamin Netanyahu and the larger racist, ethno-nationalist impetus of modern Israel gets its way. Don’t let it.

About Nicholas Vincenzo Barney

Nicholas Vincenzo Barney is an American writer and human rights advocate for Palestine.

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24 Responses

  1. eljay
    eljay
    November 29, 2018, 11:17 am

    Zionists continue to find new ways to be hateful and immoral people both within the Partition borders of their religion-supremacist “Jewish State” and throughout the non-Israeli territory they continue to steal, occupy and colonize.

    • Misterioso
      Misterioso
      November 30, 2018, 11:37 am

      @eljay

      Zionist Jews of foreign origin have been massacring en masse, killing and wounding essentially defenseless indigenous Palestinians, including children, for over 70 years.

      Here’s just a few examples of their recent atrocities:

      IMEMC 23 Nov — “Israeli soldiers attacked, Friday, the Great Return March processions on Palestinian lands near the perimeter fence in the besieged Gaza Strip, and shot fourteen Palestinians, including one child. Medical sources said the soldiers stationed in their fortified posts across the fence fired dozens of live rounds and high-velocity gas bombs at the protesters. ”
      http://imemc.org/article/israeli-soldiers-injure-14-palestinians-in-gaza/

      “Seven months of protests by Gaza fence: Over 5,800 Palestinians wounded by live Israeli gunfire.”
      B’Tselem 22 Nov — “Open-Fire Policy — Since the protests by the Gaza perimeter fence began on 30 March 2018, Israeli security forces have fatally shot over 180 demonstrators – including 31 minors – and injured over 5,800 demonstrators with live gunfire. The vast majority of casualties were unarmed, and were fatally shot from a distance while in the Gaza Strip itself.” https://www.btselem.org/gaza_strip/20181122_over_5800_palestinians_wounded_in_7_months_of_protests

      “3 Palestinians shot, injured in 17th naval march in Gaza”
      GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 26 Nov — “Three Palestinians were injured with Israeli live ammunition and rubber-coated steel bullets, while dozens of others suffered from tear-gas inhalation, on Monday, during the 17th naval march setting off from the Gaza seaport in attempt to break the nearly 12-year Israeli siege. According to local sources, Israeli forces fired tear-gas bombs towards large Palestinian crowds gathered at the northern borders of the besieged Gaza Strip, while the Israeli navy opened fire at Gaza boats attempting to break the siege.”
      http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=781907

      “Israeli soldiers injure 14 Palestinians in Gaza”
      IMEMC 23 Nov — “Israeli soldiers attacked, Friday, the Great Return March processions on Palestinian lands near the perimeter fence in the besieged Gaza Strip, and shot fourteen Palestinians, including one child. Medical sources said the soldiers stationed in their fortified posts across the fence fired dozens of live rounds and high-velocity gas bombs at the protesters. It added that the soldiers shot three Palestinians with live fire, and caused many to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation, east of Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. The soldiers also shot two Palestinians east of Gaza city, and east of Jabalia, in the northern part of the coastal region.”
      http://imemc.org/article/israeli-soldiers-injure-14-palestinians-in-gaza/

      Gaza: “Thousands of complex gunshot wounds require urgent treatment”
      PARIS/NEW YORK (MSF) 29 Nov — “Thousands of people shot by the Israeli army during protests in Gaza this year are overwhelming the Gazan medical system with complex wounds, infections, and disabilities, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said today. MSF personnel work in four hospitals and five postoperative clinics in the Gaza Strip, providing dressing changes, physiotherapy, and plastic and orthopedic surgery. The cumulative needs of wounded patients are creating a medical emergency, as the lack of appropriate treatment in Gaza’s crippled health system leads to a high risk of infection, especially for patients with open fractures.”
      https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/what-we-do/news-stories/news/gaza-thousands-complex-gunshot-wounds-require-urgent-treatment

      • Misterioso
        Misterioso
        November 30, 2018, 4:22 pm

        Shocking News, just released:

        https://www.juancole.com/2018/11/thousands-palestinians-infection.html

        1,000 Palestinians in Gaza Shot by Israeli Snipers at Risk of Fatal Infection
        Middle East Monitor – Nov. 30/18

        “International medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) has said that more than 1,000 Gazans shot by Israel are at risk of infection, which could lead to permanent disabilities or death.

        “In a statement released today, MSF said that ‘the huge numbers of patients with complex and serious gunshot wounds are overwhelming the healthcare system in Gaza,’ meaning their wounds often go untreated. This ‘could lead to lifelong disability for many, and untreated infections pose the risk of amputation or even death,’ MSF added. MSF emphasised that the crisis was caused by the severity of the wounds inflicted by Israel’s policy of ‘shoot to maim’ during the Great March of Return protests.

        “The charity explained:
        “The vast majority of the 3,117 patients treated by MSF between 30 March and 31 October – out of the total 5,866 the [Gaza] Ministry of Health says have been injured by live fire – had been shot in the leg. Around half suffered open fractures, with severe soft tissue damage to many of the rest.

        ‘These are complex and serious injuries that do not quickly heal,’ MSF added, saying: ‘Their severity and the lack of appropriate treatment in Gaza’s crippled health system means that infection is a high risk.’

        MSF stressed that the situation was tantamount to a ‘slow-motion healthcare emergency,’ with MSF’s Head of Mission in Palestine Marie-Elisabeth Ingres saying that: ‘This many patients would overstretch [even] the best healthcare systems in the world.’ Although ‘Gaza currently lacks the ability to properly diagnose bone infections,’ MSF estimates that 25 per cent of patients with fractures are infected – amounting to more than 1,000 Gazans.

        “To combat the crisis, MSF called on ‘authorities in Palestine and Israel to facilitate the transfer of these patients abroad [and] for other countries in the region and around the globe to step forward and offer funding and space in their hospitals.’

        “Yet Israel’s 11-year siege of the Strip regularly deprives Gaza’s almost two million strong population of adequate access to healthcare. Earlier this month, head of the Popular International Committee to Support Gaza, Dr Essam Yousef, said that the health sector in Gaza has deteriorated to an unprecedented level. He added that the problem ‘cannot be ignored,’ as these institutions are unable to provide adequate and appropriate services to citizens across Gaza.

        “This crisis means that much-needed medicines are often unavailable to patients, with Deputy Minister of Health Yousef Abu-Rish saying in November that 47 per cent of medicines are in short supply in the Strip. Power outages as a result of fuel shortages are also commonplace, meaning that numerous hospital departments including dialysis, intensive care, surgery and neo-natal units are unable to treat patients or provide care.

        “Israel further compounds the health crisis by refusing to allow patients to leave Gaza to receive treatment elsewhere. According to a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Israel prevented 763 Palestinian patients from leaving the besieged enclave for treatment in September. WHO pointed out that some 668 patient applications to travel through the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing (Beit Hanoun) were delayed, ‘receiving no definitive response to their application by the date of their hospital appointment’. Of these, 161 applications were for children under the age of 18.

        “Since the Great March of Return began on 30 March, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHAoPt) estimates that 150 Palestinians have been killed and a further 21,000 injured. OCHA’s figures only account for the period 30 March to 4 October, meaning the latest figures are likely to be higher. Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem estimates that more than 180 protesters have been killed, including at least 31 minors.”

      • annie
        annie
        November 30, 2018, 5:13 pm

        omg Misterioso, i remember documenting the shooting of Palestinian footballer Mohammed Khalil during the beginning phases of the great return march: https://mondoweiss.net/2018/04/appears-palestinians-footballer/

        in conversation with Mondoweiss Kareem informed us Khalil had been hit with an explosive type of ammunition known as “the butterfly”. According to Dr. Basem Naim, former Health Minister of the Gaza Strip, there have been “100s of such cases“. Kareen said of the bullet:

        It’s a butterfly one, entered his knee and come out from the other side, then it hit the other knee and broke it

        The first knee is completely damaged and need to be surgically replaced. The other one is broken and it will take a few months to be well again

        Asaf Ronel of Haaretz comments appropriately:

        Another shocking video. @IDFSpokesperson says snipers were ordered to shoot “main instigators” during the #GreatReturnMarch protests in #Gaza. More than 800 Palestinians were wounded from live Israeli fire. Here is how it looks.

        Remember that the Israel Defense Forces spokesperson said: “nothing was carried out uncontrolled; everything was accurate and measured, and we know where every bullet landed.” This was highly intentional, and further proof of the arbitrary and criminal

        but Khalil was not a main instigator, he was filming when attacked. but the kind of bullets they used, and they showed photographs of those bullets. from MFS:

        Around half suffered open fractures, with severe soft tissue damage to many of the rest.

        ‘These are complex and serious injuries that do not quickly heal,’

        this is intentional.

        (a) Killing members of the group;
        (b) Causing serious bodily harm, or harm to mental health, to members of the group;
        (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
        (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
        (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

        genocide

  2. Kay24
    Kay24
    November 29, 2018, 11:35 am

    He is a despicable SOB, a corrupt, evil man, who will use the Palestinians as the tool to further his political ambitions, AND distract the country from the fact that his greedy wife, and he are being investigated for corruption, the wife being indicted as of today. It looks like Israelis love this type of leader, they have had many corrupt leaders, one already serving a prison term.
    There doesn’t seem to be any moderate Israelis. They are mostly extreme right wing zionists who get elected over there., each one trying to show they are tougher than their political rival, the more violent they can be against unarmed Palestinians, the better. Israelis seem to be impressed with this.

  3. catalan
    catalan
    November 29, 2018, 12:13 pm

    I do think that this will have a deterrent effect on those contemplating terrorism as the hope that they can go to jail and be released in the next prisoner exchange goes away. It would also reduce the relative value of captured Israeli soldiers as there would be less terrorists to bargain for. That could mean a change of strategy of Hamas from capturing alive to just killing. It also means that any Israeli soldier captured would be treated even worse than Shalit and potentially killed.

    • John O
      John O
      November 29, 2018, 12:40 pm

      The US has the death penalty, if not in every state. It has a murder rate that makes one doubt whether it qualifies as a civilised country. The idea that the death penalty is an effective deterrent is an old one, but is a myth.

      • catalan
        catalan
        November 30, 2018, 12:08 pm

        “The idea that the death penalty is an effective deterrent is an old one, but is a myth.” John
        You are distorting my thought John. I am not arguing if the death penalty is a deterrent if the alternative is say, life imprisonment or some very long sentence. The issue in Israel is that you can kill several innocent people under the guise of “liberation, struggle” and all that other nice sounding stuff. And then, a few years later, you would be released when the next Israeli soldier gets captured and sometimes even for remains. The deterrent effect of the death penalty would be that you can’t just kill and then serve a few years. That situation is unique as other prisoners don’t just get released when there is a hostage. That only happens in Israel, especially with the Shalit case and before thay the Lebanon war. You can’t be surprised that Israel is contemplating an alternative. But BDS folks are always surprised that ever action has a reaction.
        As a side note, you are simplifying American reality and the issue of the death penalty. It is a complex topic that won’t be resolved with clever one liners like “the death penalty is not a deterrent”. You are not so much brighter than those that embrace the death penalty as you think.

    • bcg
      bcg
      November 29, 2018, 12:48 pm

      @catalan: By the way, what is it you want with respect to the whole Israeli/Palestinian issue? What’s your position?

    • Marnie
      Marnie
      November 29, 2018, 2:18 pm

      yes, it’ll be real interesting to see how this tempers the impulses of the jewish terrorists and murderers.

    • Misterioso
      Misterioso
      November 30, 2018, 11:45 am

      @catalan

      Palestinians, the indigenous inhabitants of the lands between the River and the Sea, have every legal and moral right to resist by all means the illegal and brutal occupation imposed on them for over 70 years by Zionist Jews of foreign origin.

      • catalan
        catalan
        November 30, 2018, 12:01 pm

        “Palestinians, the indigenous inhabitants of the lands between the River and the Sea, have every right etc “ Misterioso
        That’s like, according to you. Rights are funny things and nobody knows who gives them and how. Are rights given by God; by the UN, by society? If the Palestinians want to resist violently, who am I to say anything about it? You do seem obsessed with the “indigenous” element. I think it’s total bs, just scientifically speaking. There is no rights that come about because you lived somewhere long. I have lived in New Mexico a total of 12 years. I am, evidently, of Jewish, Arabian/Persian, and Italian origin. My origins don’t bestow any rights or deprive me of any rights in New Mexico. The word indigenous itself is just emotional bs. We don’t have connections to the place we live in, just to other people. Believe what you want to, but the word “indigenous” has no scientific basis. Plus the history of human migration, out of Africa, towards Europe and China is well known now. We are all indigenous to Africa, big deal.

      • mondonut
        mondonut
        November 30, 2018, 2:52 pm

        @Misterioso, have every legal and moral right to resist by all means…

        No, they do not not have a right to resist by all means. The Palestinians (some of whom are indigenous) do not have the right to indiscriminately fire rockets and mortars at Israeli (some of whom are indigenous) population centers. Despite the entirely legal occupation of the West Bank.

      • eljay
        eljay
        November 30, 2018, 5:44 pm

        || mon donut: … The Palestinians (some of whom are indigenous) do not have the right to indiscriminately fire rockets and mortars at Israeli (some of whom are indigenous) population centers. Despite the entirely legal occupation of the West Bank. ||

        The military occupation and colonization of not-Israel – of territory outside of the Partition borders Israel accepted and within which it proclaimed its independence – is not legal and it most certainly isn’t moral.

        Palestinians have a right to resist the military occupation and colonization of their territory.

        Let Israel withdraw to within its / Partition borders and I will join you in condemning any and all Palestinian incursions into Israeli (i.e., not-Palestinian) territory.

      • mondonut
        mondonut
        December 1, 2018, 1:33 am

        @eljay Palestinians have a right to resist the military occupation and colonization of their territory.

        Irrespective of borders the Palestinians do not have the right to indiscriminately fire rockets and mortars into civilian population centers. Those actions are war crimes and it is disturbing (but not surprising) that you would defend it.

      • eljay
        eljay
        December 1, 2018, 10:06 am

        || mon donut: … Irrespective of borders the Palestinians do not have the right to indiscriminately fire rockets and mortars into civilian population centers. Those actions are war crimes and it is disturbing (but not surprising) that you would defend it. ||

        donut, this would be amusing if it weren’t so typically and Zionistically sad.

        I have no problem whatsoever with:
        – immediately ending Israel’s decades-long and on-going occupation and colonization of Palestine;
        – ensuring that Israel withdraws to within its / Partition borders;
        – establishing two secular and democratic states in geographic Palestine; and
        – holding ALL (war) criminals responsible and accountable for their respective (war) crimes.

        I’d ask you where you stand on this but I already know your Zionist position on the matter.

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus
        December 1, 2018, 12:31 pm

        Irrespective of borders the Palestinians do not have the right to indiscriminately fire rockets and mortars into civilian population centers. Those actions are war crimes and it is disturbing (but not surprising) that you would defend it.

        Repeating bullshit does not make it true.
        Repetition, by the aggressor, of lies re the right of resist only further incriminates the propaganda employee.

        Whoever starts a war of aggression, as the Zionist entity did in 1947, carries the full responsibility of all acts of war, independently of any humanitarian considerations. Any destruction during this 70+-year old war is entirely the responsibility of the Zionist aggressor, with no discounts. The wording of the right to resist is “by all means available” not even by all means necessary.

        You don’t like the resistance actions, which, if they were effective, would only very feebly mirror the mildest of Zionist atrocities?

        Don’t want it? Don’t start a war of aggression, don’t start an invasion. If you do, you mass murderers shut the feck up when anything you don’t like happens.

      • mondonut
        mondonut
        December 1, 2018, 7:04 pm

        @eljay, I have no problem whatsoever with:

        Apparently you also have no problem with the Palestinians indiscriminately firing rockets and mortars into civilian population centers.

      • mondonut
        mondonut
        December 1, 2018, 7:12 pm

        @echinococcus, Whoever starts a war of aggression, as the Zionist entity did in 1947, carries the full responsibility of all acts of war,

        And another one steps forward in support of indiscriminate rocket attacks on civilians. And doubles down by blaming it on the Jews.

      • eljay
        eljay
        December 3, 2018, 10:03 am

        || mon donut: … Apparently you also have no problem with the Palestinians indiscriminately firing rockets and mortars into civilian population centers. ||

        As usual, donut, you’re wrong. I do have a problem with it, and I completely agree with you that the Palestinians should be equipped with the same high-tech armaments as Israel so that instead of indiscriminately firing rockets and mortars into civilian population centers they – just like Israel – can precisely fire munitions into / drop munitions onto civilian population centers.

  4. Ossinev
    Ossinev
    November 29, 2018, 2:01 pm

    @Catalan
    “I do think that this will have a deterrent effect on those contemplating terrorism as the hope that they can go to jail and be released in the next prisoner exchange goes away”

    I seem to recall that during British Mandate days the death penalty did not discourage or “deter” the original Zionist Jewish terrorists from further contemplation of their slaughters in Palestine.

    And further to BCG`s question could you please clarify if an Israeli Jew,settler or otherwise, murders a Palestinian for political/nationalist/racist reasons(= terrorist reasons) should he/she be given the death penalty – you know as a deterrent. The latter to include of course IDF most moral snipers who deliberately murder innocent medics,journalists and protesters – again in your words in order to have “a deterrent effect”.

  5. Elizabeth Block
    Elizabeth Block
    November 30, 2018, 8:54 am

    I don’t understand why Israel needs an official death penalty. They have no trouble murdering anyone they want to, with no repercussions.

    Last night, Tarek Loubani gave the James Graff Memorial Lecture in Toronto. He’s the Canadian doctor shot by an Israeli sniper while he was tending to Gazans who had been shot. His lecture may be up on YouTube soon – look for it.
    Among other things, he said that 60% of Gazans who were shot were shot in the legs, 20% in the arms, and that if you’re shooting someone who is actually a threat to you, you shoot in the chest. So much for Zionists who say, of the shootings of Gazans, that Israel is defending itself.

    • mondonut
      mondonut
      December 1, 2018, 1:37 am

      @Elizabeth Block

      Tarek Loubani said the Israelis should be shooting the Palestinians in the chest instead of their legs? Weird.

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