The Journal of History     Fall 2002  TABLE OF CONTENTS
How Terrorists Are Created!
Excerpts from Norman G. Finkelstein's,
Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict,
Verso, London and New York, 1995


In fact, every expression of Palestinian "violence" I witnessed during my stay in the occupied territories was little more than symbolic, though the same could not be said for the force used to suppress it.  Once, at Jalazoun refugee camp, children were burning a tire off the main road inside the camp when a car ... pulled up next to it.  The doors swung open, and four men (either settlers or the army in plainclothes) jumped out, shooting with abandon in every direction.  The boy beside me was shot in the back, the bullet exiting from his navel.  ...  Next day the Jerusalem Post reported that the army had fired in self-defense.  (Norman G. Finkelstein, The Rise and Fall of Palestine: A Personal Account of the Intifada Years, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis and London, 1996, p. 2)

Editor's note: Burning tires is used to alleviate the effects of tear-gas.

In the afternoon, news arrived of a massacre in Bethlehem.  Infiltrating a crowd of protestors, an Israeli undercover squad disguised as tourists shot five Palestinians youths point-blank.  One lay dead; the four wounded were pulled by their hair along the pavement to the army depot.  As the terrified crowd dispersed, the civilian-clad assassins laughed and joked with the assassins in uniform.  (Norman G. Finkelstein, The Rise and Fall of Palestine: A Personal Account of the Intifada Years, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis and London, 1996, pp. 42-43)

A thousand-page Save the Children study, The Status of Palestinian Children during the Uprising, exhaustively documented the "indiscriminate beating, teargassing, and shooting of children."  More than 150 Palestinian children have been killed since the beginning of the intifada, including at least 37 below the age of six.  The average age was ten.  A majority, the study found, were not even participating in a stone-throwing demonstration when shot dead, and four-fifths of the gunshot victims were "obstructed or delayed by the army" as they sought emergency medical treatment.  Funerals were "violently disrupted or interfered with" by the army.  More than fifty thousand Palestinian children required medical attention for tear-gas inhalation, multiple fractures, and so on, during the first two years of the intifada; nearly half were ten years old or younger.  The study also found that "the vast majority of soldiers responsible for the child casualties have been neither censured nor punished."  Indeed, only the few cases that received press coverage were even being investigated.

A B'Tselem (Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories) study, Violence against Minors in Police Detention, found that "illegal violence against minors, ... many [of whom] are innocent of any crime, ... occurs on a large scale."  Severe beatings, including "slapping, punching, kicking, hair pulling, beatings with clubs or with iron rods, pushing into walls and onto floors," were said to be "very common."  The study also highlighted more novel methods for interrogating minors:

Beating the detainee as he is suspended in a closed sack covering the head and tied around the knees; tying the detainee in a twisted position to an outdoor pipe with hands behind the back for hours and, sometimes, in the rain, at night, and during the hot daytime hours; confining the detainee, sometimes for a few days, in the "lock-up" Ð a dark, smelly and suffocating cell one and a half by one and a half meters [five by five feet]; placing the detainee, sometimes for many hours, in the "closet" Ð a narrow cell the height of a person in which one can stand but not move; and depositing the tied-up detainee for many hours in the "grave" Ð a kind of box, closed by a door from the top, with only enough room to crouch and no toilet.

Israeli press and human rights reports put flesh and blood on the data.  The 1 April 1988 issue of Hotam reported the case of a ten-year-old beaten so black and blue during an army interrogation that he was left "looking like a steak."  The soldiers "weren't bothered" even when they later learned that the boy was deaf, mute, and mentally retarded.  The 13 July 1988 issue of Koteret Rashit reported the "disappearance of 25 children" and jail threats to their parents for "annoying" the army about the children's whereabouts.  The 19  August 1988 issue of Hadashot  featured three photos of a blindfolded six-year-old in an army jeep.  The caption reported that many children his age would be held in detention until "ransoms" of several hundred dollars were paid, and that, as they were carted away, the children often urinated in their pants "from fear."  Under the heading "Deliberate Murder," the August 1989 bulletin for the Israeli League for Human and Civil Rights reported that the Israeli army (apparently sharpshooters from "special units") had targeted an "increasing" number of Palestinian children in leadership roles.

"Carefully chosen," the victim was usually shot in the head or heart and died almost instantaneously.  Dr. Haim Gordon of the Israeli Association for Human Rights reported the case of an eight-year-old tortured by soldiers after refusing to reveal which of his friends had thrown stones.  Stripped naked, hung by his legs and brutally beaten, the boy was then pushed to the edge of a rooftop before being released (cited in the January 1990 bulletin of the Israeli League).  The 15 January 1990 issue of Hadashot reported the case of a thirteen-year-old who was thrown into detention after his fingers were deliberately broken and who was then left without any medical treatment or food because his father was unable to pay the ransom of 750 dollars.

The 26 January 1990 issue of Davar  reported the case of a sixteen-year-old girl who was beaten by a club-wielding policeman ("He even tried to push the club between my legs") and then thrashed in prison for refusing to sign a confession.  The 29 June 1990 issue of Hotam reported the case of a thirteen-year-old detainee who, refusing to supply incriminating evidence against his brother, was "smashed" in the face, had "bruise marks on his entire body," was not allowed to drink or eat "for hours," and was forced to "urinate and defecate in his pants."

Reporting on the grisly fate of Palestinians as young as fourteen arrested on "suspicion of stone-throwing," the 24 February 1992 issue of Hadashot quoted an inside source at the Hebron detention center:

What happened there ... was plain horror: they would break their clubs on the prisoners' bodies, hit them in the genitals, tie a prisoner up on the cold floor and play soccer with him Ð literally kick and roll him around.  Then they'd give him electric shocks, using the generator of a field telephone, and then push him out to stand for hours in the cold and rain....  They would crush the prisoners, ... turning them into lumps of meat.

Another source inside the center was quoted to the effect that the "tortures recall what is being inflicted in the cellars of Damascus's prisons."  (Norman G. Finkelstein, The Rise and Fall of Palestine: A Personal Account of the Intifada Years, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis and London, 1996, pp. 47-49)


The Journal of History - Fall 2002 Copyright © 2002 by News Source, Inc.