Instead of working toward revealing the truth behind the recent death of an anti-fence demonstrator the IDF is reaching into its bag of lies.
By Gideon Levy
Jawaher Abu Ramah died young. She stood facing the demonstrators against the separation fence in her village, inhaled very large quantities of the gas that Israel Defense Forces soldiers fired that day, collapsed and died several hours later at a Ramallah hospital.
A protest against the separation fence in Bil’in in 2009. Jawaher Abu Rahmah can be seen in the second row in a black and white shirt.
|Photo by: Hamadi Abu Rahmah|
These are definitive facts. The IDF should have immediately issued a statement expressing sorrow for the death of the demonstrator, and said it would investigate the excessive means used for dispersing demonstrations at Bil’in, which had killed Bassem, Jawaher’s brother, for no reason. He was hit by a gas canister fired directly at his chest two and a half years ago.
So, the IDF began with the spreading of lies, making up facts and spinning tales, originating with officers who did not dare identify themselves. Following the investigation into Jawaher’s death, it is also necessary to investigate how the army dares to distort in this way. Perhaps it will disturb Israeli society more than the death of a demonstrator.
It started with the first announcement of the IDF spokesman who spoke of an “illegal demonstration.” Illegal, Avi Benayahu? Stealing land for the construction of enormous settlements and the enrichment of questionable developers is legal; the defense establishment’s continuously ignoring the High Court decision that the fence route needs to be changed is legal; the killing of Bassem is legal; and only the demonstration is illegal. Why is it illegal? Are the Palestinians and the anti-occupation activists not entitled to demonstrate? What demonstrations can be more legitimate than peasants protesting against the theft of their lands – demonstrations that resulted in the High Court ruling? How could the Palestinians demonstrate legally? And why are the IDF and the police capable of dispersing the demonstrations of wild and violent settlers without deaths and only the dispersal of Palestinian demonstrations becomes – not for the first time – fatal?
But that was not enough. The day after Jawaher was killed, the IDF began disseminating lies. It’s not clear why the army chose to embark on this campaign since a day after Jawaher’s death IDF soldiers intentionally killed a youth carrying a bottle at the Bik’ot crossing, but that did not stir any outburst. The IDF left little that it did not disseminate about poor Jawaher. It was said that she died at home in peace, and not in hospital. Oops, it was proved that she died in hospital. When the IDF learned that this trick did not succeed, it came up with other stories, a bag full of lies. Jawaher was not at the demonstration. There are no photos of her. She was there, observing from about 100 meters, and was choked by the smoke.
Another lie from the bag of the IDF: Jawaher had cancer, not just any cancer, but leukemia. She stood at the demonstration and suddenly collapsed and died of leukemia. Where did they pull that from? Perhaps because her father died of leukemia five years ago. Blood? Through its propagandists in the media, the IDF said that the funeral was “strange,” that her face was “covered” and that her body was covered in a “blood-soaked” shroud (perhaps she cut her wrists? ). No one saw the shroud, nor the covered face – only God knows their importance, but whatever. It’s enough that the IDF says leukemia and bloody shroud for the army or right-wing analysts to raid the media and spread their tales.
Jawaher watched the demonstration, inhaled gas, collapsed, was taken, in serious condition, by ambulance, to the hospital and died there the next day. As far as anyone knows, she did not suffer from leukemia. She had complained of vertigo, and the doctor diagnosed an ear infection. There was no autopsy, and the inventions on her medical past only desecrated the honor of the dead and her family. Even if she was taking medicine, as the IDF disseminated, did she not die as a result of inhaling gas?
It’s good to know that the death of Jawaher is on the IDF’s conscience. That is how it should be. All 21 Palestinian anti-fence demonstrators who were killed over the years, and with them dozens activists who were injured, including an American student who lost her eye during the summer, should also be on its conscience. But the way to deal with a troubled conscience needs to be through the exposure of the truth, not through lies. For the attention of the new IDF spokesman: The IDF is not a propaganda ministry of an authoritarian regime.