On Stone Throwing
The demonstration at An Nabi Salih forced me to face certain questions about what was a legitimate form of resistance… In previous demonstrations, I had seen Israeli soldiers use completely unnecessary aggression to repress what were peaceful demonstrations. When faced with physical force by soldiers, the demonstrators protected themselves, and stood their ground, but did not fight back.
However disproportionate the use of military force — rubber-bullets & tear-gas — is against youths throwing rocks, it could be argued that the use of weapons by the Israeli army, at this point, does become somewhat more legitimate. Or it is at least, legitimised. (Despite the fact that the rocks were thrown in response to IDF aggression.)
This then puts into question the legitimacy of the non-violent demonstrations throughout the West Bank. Are these demonstrations achieving anything?
In many cases, yes.
The weekly demonstrations at Bi’lin have caught both the attention of the international media, and served to challenge court rulings about the route of the Israeli West Bank Barrier. Here at An Nabi Salih, a court has ruled in favour of the Palestinians against one of the settlers’ fences.
When is violent struggle acceptable? The ANC urged South African blacks to mount a “people’s war”, rendering townships ungovernable. But it is the violence inflicted upon the Israelis by Hamas-fired rockets that has caused so much death in Gaza, for example, as Israeli collectively punishes the whole of the Gazan population. By using violence, the use of retaliatory force becomes somewhat more permissible, and the Israeli government is not known for moderation when sending in tanks and bombers. This massive use of force has garnered much criticism from the West, but little, or nothing, has been actively done to stop it. Do things like stone-throwing reduce the sympathy the West has to the Palestinian cause?
Last week, a Palestinian boy died after having been shot by a live bullet at a demonstration. The Israeli forces claimed that they were not using live rounds, but an x-ray of the boys head clearly shows a bullet lodged inside his brain. With this sort of force used against stone-throwing, what would Palestinians face if greater resistance was used?