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Palestinians cynical as Israel mobilizes #BringBackOurBoys campaign
Published Sunday 15/06/2014 (updated) 30/06/2014 10:28
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BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- As Israeli forces deployed across the West Bank in hot pursuit of three teenagers who went missing on Thursday, the eyes of the Israeli public have been glued to screens across the country as they watched the drama unfold.

Thousands of Israelis have taken to social media to support campaigns to demand that Palestinians #BringBackOurBoys. Following the lead of the prime minister, the Israeli public has placed blame on Hamas and the Palestinians more broadly, despite the fact that no group has yet claimed responsibility.

The cries of the Israeli public for justice are now resounding throughout the English, Hebrew, and Arabic blogospheres.

For Palestinians, however, the drama is not unfolding on television, but before their very eyes. And with more than 5,000 Palestinians currently sitting in Israeli prison cells, many view the Israeli campaign with deep skepticism.

"What is three among thousands?" Ali Qaraqe, a Palestinian political satirist, asked during an interview at his Bethlehem shop. "A half-million Palestinians have entered occupation prisons (since 1967), and no one ever asked about them," he continued.

For Qaraqe, the disparities between how the media and Israeli public has reacted to the missing three teenagers -- compared to the thousands of Palestinian prisoners, including more than 100 arrested in the last 24 hours -- has made it hard to take the campaign seriously.

"Don't the prisoners also have poor families? It's as if the Israelis are humans but we are from a different planet," he said.

Qaraqe highlighted the timing of the boys' disappearance, which came on the 50th day of a hunger strike by more than 125 Palestinian prisoners who are being detained with charge or trial by Israeli authorities. The strike has been hardly covered by the Israeli media, and Qaraqe argued that many Palestinians have concluded that the only way prisoners get out of jail is through prisoner exchanges.

"Israelis have to understand their responsibility in the occupation." Qaraqe continued: "You are the occupiers, you are the ones arresting us and killing us every day. You have to deal with us, because for every action you take against us there will be a reaction."

Indeed, the brutal Israeli reprisals in recent days have highlighted the tenuous realities of life under occupation for millions of Palestinians. In addition to the 125 arrested in door-to-door overnight and daytime raids across the West Bank in the last 24 hours, overnight air strikes injured a woman and a girl in their homes in the southern Gaza Strip.

'Palestinians have been asking to 'bring back our boys' for years'

Khaled Quzmar, a legal adviser at Defense for Children International-Palestine, argues that while many Palestinians sympathize with the suffering of the families of the missing boys, the double standards are staggering.

"We support the right to life of all Israeli children, but not at the expense of Palestinian children," he told Ma'an in a telephone interview.

"1,400 Palestinian children have been killed by Israel since 2000, and more than 200 are currently in prison, suffering from all kinds of torture," he added.

Quzmar also stressed that Israel has endangered the lives of its own children by transferring them to zones under military occupation. More than 500,000 Jews live in Israeli settlements across the occupied West Bank, and the three boys went missing while trying to hitch hike in the Gush Etzion settlement west of Hebron, built atop lands confiscated from local Palestinians.

"These children went missing in a settlement, which is internationally recognized as being illegal and in occupied lands. The responsibility lies with the Israeli government which brought these children to an illegal settlement built on occupied lands," Quzmar argued.

"There is no Palestinian who wants any person on earth to live the moments they have had to live through … But but every single family in Palestine has seen the violations of their children’s rights by the occupation," he continued.

"Palestinian families have been asking for many years to 'bring back our boys!'"

Quzmar told Ma’an that earlier on Sunday he had passed through Hebron, whose 600,000 inhabitants are currently under a tight military siege, en route to see his brother for the first time in 11 years. Quzmar’s brother, like 40 percent of Palestinian men, has been in Israeli prisons for a large portion of his life, and Sunday was the day of his release after more than a decade of incarceration.

But passing through the checkpoints around Hebron, and the large concrete barriers erected to prevent Palestinian traffic, he lamented that the Israeli attacks were now renewing a cycle of violence that would only hurt more Palestinian civilians.

"They are doing whatever they want to the Palestinians. Hebron is besieged, and everything is closed," he told Ma'an. "Children and mothers have to go walking through the checkpoints, as cars are forbidden, and they stand there waiting for the soldiers to let them through."

"What is the fault of the children at the checkpoints?"

As the search for the three teenagers drags on with no end in sight, an entire population is being held hostage to the whims of the military as the Israeli public demands blood. For Palestinians, besieged for the last seven years in Gaza and now Hebron as well, there is a fear that the lockdown could potentially mean a renewal of violence and increased restrictions.

Bethlehem-based satirist Qaraqe, however, is not fazed.

"When these things happen, Israelis need to ask themselves: Why do they take our children? Because they love to take children? No, there's a reason, and they need to realize it."

"What is the point of peace if we do not have our rights and our prisoners are still in prison? This is not the kind of peace we want."
1 ) Walid / spain
15/06/2014 23:40
It's not the same! All of the Palatines prisoner were involved with terror!! Those kids are inosencte

2 ) Dick Reilly / USA
15/06/2014 23:59
Here's a headline I'd like to see in English: "Palestinian resistance forces place three Israeli settlers under administrative detention for trespassing, pending negotiations for prisoner swap."

3 ) Mel / USA
16/06/2014 00:17
Israeli hypocrites! They don't bother to even acknowledge,or remember,what's happening every day in the Occupied Palestinian Territories when thousands of NON-jewish kids,even babies,are the kidnapped,harassed,tortured victims.But,as soon as 3 Jewish kids go"missing"it's 'Boo-Hoo-poor Israel crocodile-tears time,again! Such hypocrisy is criminally shameful & an insult to world Jews!You want to see nasty reality Israel?Look in the mirror,&'glue' youself to that Zionist legacy!

4 ) Jesse / Usa
16/06/2014 12:30
I agree with the author. I am Jewish but he has a strong point. However, I have one question. When israel pulled out of gaza, what happened? A major terrorist group became the government, it then ceded from th rest of the Palestinian gov, rockets were fired from a closer position, suicide bombers were increased, not to mention many other negative events. So for israel to "give back" the 67 lands, it needs to feel secure in that. Right or wrong, israel must feel secure.

5 ) Rabiah / Gaza, Ps
16/06/2014 14:29
#5 - Jessie, I live in Gaza & you live safely in America. Did you ever ask yourself what it is like to live under military occupation, under seige, drones, white phosphorus bombs, arbitratry arrest & killing. We support Hamas because they are a resistance movement. They resist because our lands are under occupation, that is the problem. If our lands were free, if we were free, then there would be no need for resistance & EVERYONE could live free, secure & in peace. We want peace, think about it.

6 ) John Goldstein / USA
16/06/2014 19:40
@Walid, so 5, 6, 12 year old were involved in terrorism? Really? NO ONE KNOWS OF A KIDNAPPING EVER TOOK PLACE. Provide the proof... Israel has a history of Coups and supporting terrorism, they created Hamas.

7 ) Mel / USA
16/06/2014 21:05
p.s. And how about Palestinians/activists launching a Facebook page for 'BringBackOur2millionRefugees'? As is their right(of return)under international laws,conventions,treaties&humna rights. Ain't THAT right Mr.Obama?Or you could ask Bibi,Mossad or IOF,to release the 3 Israelis?Seeing as PA/Fatah or Hamas have no access to Area C,from where the young men went"missing"?It's under ISRAELI control!

8 ) Colin Wright / USA
16/06/2014 23:08
'...The cries of the Israeli public for justice...' Israelis should be careful about asking for justice. They might get what they wish for.

9 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
17/06/2014 01:34
Here's the real headline, Dick: "Navajo, Sioux, Cree, Mohawk, Cherokee and Hopi police arrest Dick Riley and charge him with colonization, land theft, genocide, resource theft, pollution, slave importing, slavery, and other crimes against humanity." It is expected that Dick's life will be spared, but he will be deported back to England and his home, farm and factories will be siezed and given back to the rightful owners.

10 ) ian / australia
17/06/2014 02:05
If there's a lesson to be learnt from all this it's surely don't hitchhike in a kippah in occupied Palestine. Occupation is a form of war making the West Bank a war zone. The striking thing is that the teenagers (who I have a sinking feeling might not be coming back) thought they could. That was their big mistake: a breezy acceptance of occupation as an immutable status quo, the way things are meant to be, almost certainly on religious grounds ("This WHOLE land is OURS. Judea, Samaria,

11 ) ian / australia
17/06/2014 02:06
(contd.) the WHOLE Land of Israel.") which may have proven fatal. If you want to blame someone, I'd blame their Rabbis for filling their heads with such evil and dangerous nonsense.

12 ) Colin Wright / USA
17/06/2014 03:30
Re Jesse #5: 'However, I have one question...' ...rather predictably, said 'question' being followed by a succession of distortions and lies. All Zionists are the same -- they just wear different costumes.

13 ) Randi / USA
17/06/2014 08:24
Jesse..Hamas needs to change their charter. major terrorist org. moniker is passe. evac. 05 was what it needed to be and?? as a Jew? what I've seen is selfish and shameful treatment of Ps. that's far enough. you take ours? they didn't.

14 ) Dick Reilly / USA
17/06/2014 20:02
Well, Brian, I've spent over 30 years working with Lakota and other First Nations activists to try undo the genocidal damage that the colonial settler state I live in has inflicted on the rightful owners. What's your excuse? FYI, my family is from Ireland, not England, a country also victimized by occupation and colonialism. But I'm not surprised you couldn't figure that out. Tiocfaidh ?r l?

15 ) Colin Wright / USA
17/06/2014 22:43
re Brian Cohen #10: 'Here's the real headline, Dick: "Navajo, Sioux, Cree, Mohawk, Cherokee and Hopi...' There should be a rule against allowing parrots to post on internet forums. They don't actually have minds, and they just repeat themselves over and over no matter what is said.

16 ) spb / usa
18/06/2014 07:11
according to palestinian hamas is only wining. so Randi #14 why should palestinians change a wininig hand?

17 ) ian / australia
18/06/2014 09:45
#5 "So for israel to "give back" the 67 lands, it needs to feel secure in that. Right or wrong, israel must feel secure." I think that's obvious, Jesse. But tell me, how is Israel NOT secure within its '67 borders? With its massive military and hi-tech US arsenal inc. nukes surely it's invulnerable. Only in the occupied territory of a sovereign neighbour are Jews at risk. And why wouldn't they be, living illegally on stolen land? But the problem is a government which is ideologically opposed

18 ) ian / australia
18/06/2014 09:47
(contd.) to giving back ANYTHING and to ANY kind of Palestinian state, can ALWAYS make sure Israelis DON'T "feel secure". As Goering famously said, "That is easy." And one of the ways to do it is to crack down COLLECTIVELY on vulnerable civilians stoking the anger and frustration which caused the abduction (or worse) in the first place. What's required, Jesse, is for Jews like you to see through this deception and call its bluff in the knowledge that Israel would be COMPLETELY safe

19 ) ian / australia
18/06/2014 09:48
(contd.) inside its legal border. And with some gentle prodding from the international courts, and perhaps a financial incentive (i.e. slashing aid), Israel may finally be compelled to do the decent thing. And, if G-d wills it, we may eventually see security for Israel and justice for Palestine.

20 ) Rami / Palestine
18/06/2014 11:29
#14 - "The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river. The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state." Any guesses whose charter that is? No? Its LIKUD. As in, Israeli Prim Minister Netanyahu's party. Is it any surprise that he is opposed to peace with Palestinians?

21 ) rami / palestine
18/06/2014 21:12
what does building settlements have to do with israel's security? settlements is the proof that israel does not want peace..one of the one million evidence i mean

22 ) Patrick O'Shaughnessy / Ireland
18/06/2014 21:44
Based on some of the comments here, unless Likud changes its own charter, Hamas may as well keep its charter as it is. Whilst a charter is a contract of rights, such rights do not necessarily have to be acted upon (if the parties agree not to exercise them). Were peace to ever come to the region, Hamas could consign its charter as a historical document for posterity. As to Israel's security, in truth it's more secure than Fort Knox. Paranoia is the issue here, probably due to its own aggression.

23 ) Mel / UAS
19/06/2014 20:05
#22:Patrick:Well said! Israels paranoia is its own enemy. A paranoia exploited by extremistZionism,not for mutual peaceful ends,but for the END of peace &mutuality!Zionism is the nemesis of Israel.

24 ) Sami / Denmark
22/06/2014 19:50
#4 Jesse: There have been no suicide bombing against Israelis since 2006, the same year as Hamas came into power. You can yourelf figure out whether this is related or not. The rockets came after Israel enforced a blockade of Gaza because they did nor recognize a democratically elected Hamas-government. The rockets came AFTER the blockade. A whole population punished just because of their votes. Israeli politicians spoke publically about giving Palestinians the minimum amount of nutrition.

25 ) Chainlink / Usa
23/06/2014 14:16
Israel will do everything it can to stop Hamas in its tracks, veto of election results, collective punishment, etc, etc. Will these boys be found dazed & alive, with a story later on, who knows.

26 ) Maureen / Australia
26/06/2014 18:39
The three 'missing' Zionist teenagers have more than likely been whisked overseas under some of the many IDs the MOSSAD has reportedly stolen in the past. A Zionist false flag to prevent Palestinian unity!

27 ) Outlier / USA
02/07/2014 00:16
26., Right about now, Maureen, you should be posting an apology.
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