Sunday, January 2, 2011
[By Vic Rosenthal, crossposted from FresnoZionism.]
BILIN, Palestinian Territories (AFP) -- A Palestinian woman died after being teargassed by Israeli troops at a West Bank protest, sparking a protest in Tel Aviv on Saturday and drawing Palestinian talk of "a war crime."
Jawaher Abu Rahma, 36, died in hospital in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah after collapsing on Friday during a protest against the Israeli separation barrier in the nearby village of Bilin, hospital staff said.
The army said that an "investigation has been opened to determine the exact cause of death," and that it had "unsuccessfully contacted the Palestinian Authority [PA] to obtain a medical report."
PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, was also at the "protest" -- a weekly gathering of hundreds of Palestinian Arabs, Israeli extremists and international activists who attempt to destroy the security barrier.
PA Spokesman Saeb Erekat called the woman's death "an abominable crime... an Israeli war crime." The Peace Now group has called on Israel to create a commission to study "IDF conduct" at the protest, and hundreds of demonstrators protested at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv Saturday night.
But questions remain about what really happened. There are conflicting reports about whether she actually died in the hospital or if she had been treated and released, and only later died at her home. The Jerusalem Post reports that
...the PA rejected an IDF request to receive Abu Rahma's medical file so that it could determine the cause of death. It also rejected an IDF request to establish a joint commission of inquiry with the PA, which it has done in the past after similar incidents.
There is also another unconfirmed story that Abu Rahma was only lightly injured at the demonstration, but was killed later by a family member for reasons of 'honor' -- she was allegedly pregnant.
Clearly this would change the whole picture, if true. But if it's not, then why won't the PA release the medical file or cooperate with the IDF?
It's not as though the PA has a great record of telling the truth about alleged Israeli 'war crimes'. We can't forget the al-Dura affair, in which the horrifying death of a child was fabricated and used as a pretext for war and murder.
Even if the allegations are true, the protests are unfailingly violent, with attempts made to harm police and soldiers who are trying to prevent the participants from destroying the security barrier. There is no totally safe way to accomplish this, something the protest leaders are aware of and depend upon. But the alternative of simply allowing the barrier to be destroyed is not acceptable.
Martin Solomon adds:
I've already heard claims that the tear gas (extremely difficult to die from) was "laced with phosphorus," so we've entered the realm of the bizarre and possible Pollywood.
Bilin has long been known for being Rent-a-Crowd Fridays in Palestine, a favorite stop for leftist outrage tourists. These "nonviolent" protests are also well known as anything but, and fortunately the IDF has released a few photos (one shown by Vic above), including not just stone throwing but use of a molotov cocktail (see last photo). Elder has more on this: What's the PA trying to hide in protester death?, as does Meryl: If it's Friday, this must be the anti-Israel narrative in Bilin
Update: The Abu Rahma Hoax.