Schrauben anziehen

Das Missverhältnis wird immer grotesker: Während bis an die Zähne bewaffnete Soldaten mit hochgerüsteten APCs in Dörfer einfahren und Schrecken und Terror gegen Unbewaffnete, Frauen und Kinder, in der Westbank verbreiten, wird wieder einmal das Strafmass für Steinewerfen – auch gegen Fahrzeuge – erhöht. Jedes Kind mit einer Steinschleuder kann mit 10 Jahren bestraft werden, ohne dass man nachweisen muss, dass es eine Wurfabsicht verfolgte; 20 Jahre für das Steinewerfen gegen Israelis.  – Zur Erklärung: Siedlerkinder werden oft gesehen, wie sie unter den Augen von Soldaten und Eltern Steine werfen gegen Palästinenser. Gegen sie gilt das Gesetz nicht.

Fragt sich, was die Absicht hinter dieser Erhöhung des Strafmasses ist. Sicherheitsgründe sicher nicht. In israelischen Gefängnissen sind Hunderte von angeblichen Steinewerfern jahrelang inhaftiert, schon heute sind 17 Jahre möglich.

Und noch etwas. Ich fragte Leute, warum denn Kinder tatsächlich Steine würfen, was doch offensichtlich nur zum eigenen Schaden sei. Und man sagte mir: Wir gehen nicht hinaus nach Tel Aviv, sondern hier, in unseren Dörfern werfen wir Steine, da haben die Israelis nichts zu suchen. Es ist ein Automatismus. Und einige israelische Offiziere nützen ihn aus, wie ich in “Breaking the Silence” gelesen habe: Sie fahren ein Armeefahrzeug mitten in ein palästinensisches Dorf und warten, bis die Kinder Steine darauf werfen. Einer habe ihnen befohlen, auf die Kinder zu schiessen, sagt ein ehemaliger Soldat.

Hier zwei Zeitungsmeldungen von heute zum Knesset-Beschluss:

Palestinian stone-throwers face 20 years in Israel prison

File photo of a Palestinian boy with a slingshot during a protest against the seizure of Palestinian land to expand the Israeli settlement of Hallamish (seen in the background)File photo of a Palestinian boy with a slingshot during a protest against the seizure of Palestinian land to expand the Israeli settlement of Hallamish (seen in the background)

Israeli cabinet on Sunday approved an amendment to the Israeli penal code to enable more severe punishment against Palestinians convicted of involvement in stone-throwing attacks against Israeli targets.The new sections, which will be added to the Israeli penal code, would allow the imposition of a prison sentence up to 20 years for those convicted of throwing stones or other objects at Israeli vehicles.

“Israel is strongly acting against terrorists, against who throw stones, Molotov cocktails and fireworks,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the weekly cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu went on to say that the new legislation aims to restore what he called “peace to all parts of Jerusalem.”

“We will dedicate massive force and an aggressive legislation to restore quiet and security to every part of our capital,” he added.

The new code would slap an imprisonment sentence of ten years against whoever throws stones or other objects at vehicles and 20 years for doing so with the view of exposing passengers to danger.

The law would also allow the slapping of a jail sentence up to five years against whoever throws rocks at police cars in order to obstruct the work of Israeli police.

In recent months, Israeli cars and light rail trains have become frequent targets of Palestinian stone-throwers.

Tension has run high in Jerusalem since the July abduction and murder of a Palestinian teenager in the Shuafat district by Israeli settlers, which had sparked confrontations between Palestinian residents and Israeli troops.

Confrontations intensified during and after Israel’s recent 51-day military onslaught on the Gaza Strip in July and August.

The situation in East Jerusalem has been further aggravated by frequent visits by groups of extremist Jewish settlers to the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, where they are frequently seen performing Talmudic rituals.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a move never recognized by the international community.

Sacred to both Muslims and Jews, Jerusalem is home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which for Muslims represents the world’s third holiest site.

Jews refer to the area as the “Temple Mount,” claiming it was the site of two prominent Jewish temples in ancient times.

International law views the West Bank and East Jerusalem as “occupied territories,” considering all Jewish settlement building on the land to be illegal.

|Published November 2, 2014

The only way to stop stone throwing is to end the occupation

If Israel was serious about restoring security to its capital, it would recognize the Palestinian claim to East Jerusalem and find a way for all residents to live in dignity.

Trying to make good on his promise to restore quiet in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Netanyahu and his cabinet approved an amendment to Israel’s penal code on Sunday, which would prescribe up to 20 years in prison for someone caught throwing stones at a vehicle (and 10 without having to prove intent to cause harm).

Currently, Palestinians convicted in Israeli civil courts of throwing stones receive around two years in jail, so if this is enforced, it would be a significant increase in degree of severity. While in theory such a law would apply to Israeli citizens, the country’s history of discrimination and granting settler impunity, it is hard to imagine Israeli Jews will be more than nominally affected. While the amendment still needs to pass through committee and three Knesset votes, the message of the bill is clear: a Palestinian caught throwing a stone will go away for a long, long time.

Palestinian youth throw stones during a solidarity protest with the hunger striking Palestinian prisoners jailed in Israeli prisons, outside the Ofer military prison, February 15, 2013. (photo: Activestills)

While the potential law would apply to all citizens of Israel, it is clearly directed at Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem — occupied, annexed and ruled under Israeli civil law. A similar law is already in place in the West Bank, which under direct Israeli military occupation is governed by Israeli military law. This strengthens the notion that Israel is looking to treat East Jerusalem Palestinians more like it treats West Bank Palestinians.

Whether or not the bill goes through, the Israeli government’s approach to the intensifying unrest in Jerusalem is clearly designed to, as Netanyahu put it, “[take] vigorous action against terrorists and those who throw stones, fire bombs and fireworks…in order to restore quiet and security throughout Jerusalem. I have ordered that massive reinforcements be brought in [to Jerusalem] and that additional means be used in order to ensure law and order in Israel’s capital.”

The Israeli security establishment sincerely believes that it will be able to put a stop to Palestinian resistance by placing more Palestinians — many of them minors — behind bars. While that may solve the problem in the immediate short-term (and even that is doubtful, as riots have only increased despite the arrest of over 700 people since the start of the summer), history and common sense show it will do nothing for the security of Israeli Jews in the long-term.

Since the First Intifada in the late 1980s, thousands of Palestinian men have sat in Israeli jails — many of them more than once. This has not proven to be a long-term deterrent of Palestinian resistance – whether armed or unarmed. Arguably the most popular leader of the Palestinian people is Marwan Barghouti, serving five life sentences in Israeli prison for his involvement in armed Palestinian resistance and terror. Muataz Hejazi, who allegedly shot Rabbi Yehuda Glick at point blank range last week, spent 11 years in Israeli prison, and according to reports, his violent behavior only got worse during his imprisonment. Abd al-Rahman al-Shaloudi, who rammed his car into a group of people at a light rail station in Jerusalem, killing a three-month-old and a woman a week earlier, also did time in Israeli prison.

Palestinian youth throw stones during clashes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al Amud, with the Aqsa Mosque seen in the background. (Photo by Oren Ziv/

While I am in no way condoning these acts of violence, Israeli authorities have not convinced me that what they are doing will bring any calm or safety to Jerusalem or any other territory under its control. They certainly don’t seem to be taking into account the adverse effects putting young Palestinians in Israeli jail for years for throwing a single stone has on them and their families.

There is no reason to think Palestinians will give up on their claims to East Jerusalem, to self-determination, to freedom and human rights after being dealt an even heavier hand by the entity occupying them. It has been nearly half a century and they haven’t done so yet. It’s pretty obvious that compromise, sacrifice and agreement are the only way to put a stop to it once and for all.

Israeli journalist Amira Hass, who wrote an op-ed in Haaretz in April 2013 explaining the act of stone throwing and defending the Palestinian right to resist occupation, said it best:

Often hurling stones is borne of boredom, excessive hormones, mimicry, boastfulness and competition. But in the inner syntax of the relationship between the occupier and the occupied, stone-throwing is the adjective attached to the subject of “We’ve had enough of you, occupiers.”

In an interview with Democracy Now!, she went on to explain why it is so problematic to see Palestinians as violent and Israelis as victims:

Any hegemonic group, sees its hegemony, and the violence it uses, as self-evident, as a natural thing. And we do everything possible to protect this hegemony…Palestinians have tried many ways, diplomatic ways and others to resist Israeli domination and it has not succeeded. Stone throwing is a message, and the Israelis don’t listen to it. Twenty-five years ago in the first Intifada, Israelis did listen – they did understand it’s a message — not in order to kill or hit somebody but to tell, you are unwelcome visitors in our midst.

If Israel was serious and pragmatic about “restoring security to Jerusalem,” it would once and for all recognize the Palestinians’ claim to East Jerusalem as their capital, find ways to end the occupation and find a way for everyone to live in the city equally. At the very least it would invest in East Jerusalem’s infrastructure and schools — even while continuing to be the occupying force. But it is doing neither. Instead, it is deepening its control and amping up its means of violence, whose only realistic outcome is more stone throwing. That will lead to more arrests, which, based on experience, will only lead to more violence.

Photos of the month: The holy city nears its boiling point
The New York Times investigates Palestinian stone throwing
Jerusalem expert attacked: ‘No rock can move me to hate’