Even by Israel’s sordid standards the cold-blooded murder of double-amputee Ibrahim Abu Thuraya is shocking
Even by Israel’s sordid standards the cold-blooded murder of double-amputee Ibrahim Abu Thuraya is shocking
Perhaps Labour’s Zionist apologists – Ellman, Ryan, Austin
& Newmark will explain how Ibrahim’s murder squares with Israel’s claim to be the Middle
East’s ‘only democracy’?
It will be
interesting to see how Mark Regev, Israel’s smooth talking Ambassador in
Britain or maybe Luke Akehurst of Stand by Israel explain away the murder of Ibrahim Abu Thuraya. Perhaps it was another of these ‘tragic
accidents’? That was the excuse for the murder of 4 young boys on a Gaza beach by an Israeli plane. Strangely when Israelis die at the hands of
Palestinians it is always murder, never a tragic accident.
they won’t explain it away? They will
simply pretend it didn’t happen. After
all it is just one more Palestinian life amongst many.
Last Friday Ibrahim
Abu Thuraya, who had already lost both his legs to an airstrike during
Operation Cast Lead in 2008 was murdered.
An Israeli army sniper decided to finish the job. Ibrahim was in his wheel chair at a protest
on the other side of the Gaza fence. He
was protesting against Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s
capital. He posed no danger to Israeli
troops, he wasn’t throwing stones, he was simply demonstrating.
you hear Israel’s apologists – such as Louise Ellman, Ian Austin, Joan Ryan MP
or perhaps Jeremy Newmark of the Jewish Labour Movement – defending Israel as
the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’ and
its army of occupation as ‘the most moral
army’ and most benign occupation in the world, you should think of Ibrahim
Palestinian prisoners go on hunger strike to demand their rights after decades
in prison we are told that they have ‘blood on their hands.’ The soldier who committed this crime will not
even see the inside of a prison for one day.
Israeli Jews who have Palestinian blood on their hands are not seen as
criminals but heroes. We do not know the
name of the sniper nor does it matter.
He is part of a criminal army for whom Palestinian life is cheap.
When Labour MPs Joan Ryan, Louise Ellman or Ian Austin stand up in Parliament and defend Israel right or wrong, we
should understand that they, in their own way, are equally as guilty as Ibrahim’s
killer because they create the conditions in Ibrahim is murdered. Their failure to speak out about this and
Israel’s other atrocities, indeed their continual attempts to justify Israel’s
military occupation make them equally as guilty as the sniper who took his
life. Those who act as Israel’s
apologists are as guilty as the war criminal who took Ibrahim’s life.
These four children were murdered in another ‘tragic accident’ by Israel during Operation Protective Edge
The precedent for this was set at Nuremburg in 1946 when Julius Streicher, the Editor of the viciously anti-Semitic Der Sturmer was convicted of the new Crimes Against Humanity. He wasn’t accused of actually killing people but he created the conditions for the murder of 6 million people. We should understand the role of Luke Akehurst, Ellman, Ryan and Austin as making the murder of Palestinians like Ibrahim palatable. That is why they are no different from those who pull the trigger.
apart from Israel’s sole liberal paper Ha’aretz, this murder has not even been reported. Why should it when Palestinian life is as
cheap as water? Those who are old enough
to remember the hijacking of the
cruise liner Achille Lauro in 1985 when a disabled Jewish man Leon Klinghoffer
was thrown overboard, will note the difference.
Then there was rightly world wide outrage.
Today there is barely a murmur.
The murder of these children by Israel was also a ‘tragic accident’
The car headlights picked out two
soldiers in the darkness, carrying guns and other equipment at the entrance to
the overcrowded and dense West Bank town of A-Ram. Our eyes met for a fleeting
moment, as they say. Their faces expressed that familiar mixture of arrogance,
ignorance and fear. How young they look, I thought. I also considered what
everyone who drives past soldiers thinks these days: One slight deviation of
the car and they’ll assume this lady is hell-bent on running them over. A
subsequent Military Police investigation will determine they felt their lives
were endangered and so they acted properly. Focus on steering, I told myself,
thinking again about how young they were.
It’s doubtful you’d have seen any
fear in the eyes of the Israeli soldiers who shot to death Ibrahim Abu
Thuraya, 29, on Friday. They were on the other side of
the border fence, east of the Shujaiyeh neighborhood in Gaza. Perhaps they were
in an observation tower. Maybe on a hill or in an armored jeep, which fired in
bursts at the Palestinian demonstrators.
What danger did Abu Thuraya pose?
He stood out among the crowd of demonstrators, for sure: A double amputee, he
was advancing in his wheelchair, getting off it and moving quickly with the aid
of his arms, going eastward across a sandy mound. Did his courage and
fearlessness unsettle a soldier on the Israeli side of the fence?
Abu Thuraya had been seriously
wounded during the 2008-09 Israeli offensive in Gaza, when he lost both legs. A
story on the Palestinian Al Watan news website in 2015 reported that he and his
friends were the targets of Israeli shelling on the Bureij refugee camp. He
later recovered from his serious injuries and made a living by cleaning car
windows on Gaza’s streets, maneuvering among the cars in his wheelchair.
Undated video footage shows him climbing up an electricity pole near the Gaza
border and flying a flag. In another video, probably recorded on Friday, he is
seen in his wheelchair on an exposed spot across from the perimeter fence,
again waving a Palestinian flag.
At midday on Friday, he was
saying to a TV camera that the demonstration was a message to the Zionist
occupation army that “This is our land and we won’t surrender.” Edited footage
shows him in his wheelchair later, surrounded by dozens of upset youngsters.
His head is drooping, and they lift him to an ambulance and accompany him to a
hospital. He was pronounced dead that evening, killed by a bullet to the head.
Ibrahim Abu Thuraya during the demonstrations by Palestinians along the border fence between Gaza and Israel, December 15, 2017.Mohammed Salem/Reuters
Did the edited video omit some
incriminating footage? For example, did Abu Thuraya aim a rocket at the
soldiers? If that was the reason a soldier shot a legless man in a wheelchair,
this was a failure of the army and Coordinator of Government Activities in the
Territories spokesmen. Why didn’t they issue a statement to the media about the
thwarting of a rocket attack by demonstrators, thus preventing any harm
befalling our soldiers?
Back in the West Bank, a tingling
in the nose alerted me to the presence of soldiers on the road leading to the
Jalazun refugee camp – meaning there were stone throwers there, too. But there
was no turning back. The wafting tear gas increased in intensity and the road
ahead curved. On one side, behind some houses, crouched some youths – and they
were very young. They were holding stones but not throwing them at the time. On
the other side, near a wall that protects the settlement of Beit El, stood a
formidable-looking armored personnel carrier with a few soldiers alongside it.
Perhaps they were Border Policemen (my sense of panic made me forget some of
the details). Under their helmets and from a distance, it was hard to determine
how young they were. But their arrogance and ignorance was evident in their
My attempt to travel from
Ramallah to Bethlehem on Friday (for a concert and children’s choir
performance) was unsuccessful. At an intersection on the way to the Beit El
checkpoint, a few young men – how young they were – pulled some tires out of a
car with the intention of torching them. I understood what was happening and
turned back toward Qalandiyah. The traffic was slow.
A Palestinian demonstrator kicking a burning tyre during clashes with Israeli forces near an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank city of Ramallah, December 16, 2017.Abbas Momani/AFP
At one spot worshippers were
emerging from a mosque, and at another people walked in the middle of the road
carrying baskets from the market. Elsewhere, there were double-parked cars or
men coming out of a festivities hall carrying disposable coffee cups and pieces
of cake. An ambulance, sirens blaring, was coming from the direction of the
checkpoint, signaling what lay ahead. A few dozen meters up the road, a cloud
of tear gas was clearly visible. Any desire I had to explore the situation at
any of the other exits from the five-star prison that is Ramallah had passed.
It was later announced that one person died at the Beit El checkpoint and
another was seriously wounded in Qalandiyah.
On a morning excursion with
friends on Friday, he said: “On the one hand, I know I should be there with
those courageous young people at the checkpoint. On the other, I know that only
through hundreds of thousands going there, hands in pockets, will anything
She added, “Once, we used to hear
about one person being wounded in Gaza and the whole of the West Bank was
inflamed. Now, we hear of someone dying in Ramallah or a young person losing an
eye because of a tear-gas canister and all we do is shake our heads in sympathy
and get on with our lives.”
A person living on a street next
to the Beit El checkpoint opened his door to those fleeing the clouds of tear
gas. The alcohol-soaked handkerchief passed around by a paramedic helped, but
it was only inside the house that the tears and burning sensation subsided.
“Our leadership is cut off,” the
host declared. “It doesn’t care about the people, only about the money and the
jobs. I can’t tell the young people not to go to the checkpoints, but I know
their courage is in vain.”
On Friday, a sharpshooter shot
and killed Ibrahim Abu Thuraya, a Gazan double amputee, as he protested from
his wheelchair near the Israeli border
Gideon Levy Dec 17, 2017 4:36 PM
Wheelchair-bound Palestinian demonstrator Ibrahim Abu Thuraya, who according to medics was killed later on Friday during clashes with Israeli troops near the Gaza border, December 15, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
The Israeli army sharpshooter
couldn’t target the lower part of his victim’s body — Ibrahim Abu Thuraya
didn’t have one. The 29-year-old, who worked washing cars and who lived in Gaza
City’s Shati refugee camp, lost both legs from the hips down in an Israeli
airstrike during Operation Cast Lead in 2008. He used a wheelchair to get
around. On Friday the army finished the job: A sharpshooter aimed at his head
and shot him dead.
The images are horrific: Abu
Thuraya in his wheelchair, pushed by friends, calling for protests against the
U.S. declaration recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital; Abu Thuraya on the
ground, crawling toward the fence behind which the Gaza Strip is imprisoned;
Abu Thuraya waving a Palestinian flag; Abu Thuraya holding up both arms in the
victory sign; Abu Thuraya carried by his friends, bleeding to death; Abu
Thuraya’s corpse laid out on a stretcher: The End.
The army sharpshooter couldn’t
aim at the lower part of his victim’s body on Friday so he shot him in the head
and killed him.
It can be assumed that the
soldier realized that he was shooting at a person in a wheelchair, unless he
was shooting indiscriminately into the crowd of protesters.
Abu Thuraya posed no danger to
anyone: How much of a danger could a double amputee in a wheelchair, imprisoned
behind a fence, constitute? How much evil and insensitivity does it take in
order to shoot a handicapped person in a wheelchair? Abu Thuraya was not the
first, nor will he be the last, Palestinian with disabilities to be killed by
soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces — the most moral soldiers in the world,
The killing of the young disabled
man passed almost without mention in Israel. He was one of three demonstrators
killed Friday, just another humdrum day. One can easily imagine what would
happen if Palestinians had killed an Israeli who used a wheelchair. What a
furor would have erupted, with endless ink spilled on their cruelty and
barbarism. How many arrests would have resulted, how much blood would have
flowed in retaliation. But when soldiers behave barbarically, Israel is silent
and shows no interest. No shock, no shame, no pity. An apology or expression of
regret or remorse is the stuff of fantasy. The idea of holding those
responsible for this criminal killing accountable is also delusional. Abu
Thuraya was a dead man once he dared take part in his people’s protest and his killing
is of no interest to anyone, since he was a Palestinian.
The Gaza Strip has been closed to
Israeli journalists for 11 years, so one can only imagine the life of the
car-washer from Shati before his death — how he recovered from his injuries in
the absence of decent rehabilitation services in the besieged Strip, with no
chance of obtaining prosthetic legs; how he rumbled along in an old wheelchair,
not an electric one, in the sandy alleys of his camp; how he continued washing
cars despite his disability, since there are no other choices in Shati,
including for people with disabilities; and how he continued struggling with
his friends, despite his disability.
No Israeli could imagine life in
that cage, the biggest in the world, the one called the Gaza Strip. It is part
of a never-ending mass experiment on human beings.
One should see the desperate
young people who approached the fence in Friday’s demonstration, armed with
stones that couldn’t reach anywhere, throwing them through the cracks in the
bars behind which they are trapped.
These young people have no hope
in their lives, even when they have two legs to walk on. Abu Thuraya had even
There is something pathetic yet
dignified in the photo of him raising the Palestinian flag, given his dual
confinement — in his wheelchair and in his besieged country.
The story of Abu Thuraya is an
accurate reflection of the circumstances of his people. Shortly after he was
photographed, his tormented life came to an end. When people cry out every
week: “Netanyahu to Maasiyahu [prison]” someone should finally also start
talking about The Hague.