When Israeli soldier-medic Elor Azaria shot dead a badly injured Palestinian youth in a street in Hebron last year he had no idea that his war crime had been captured on camera. Once the shocking images were released they resulted in a trial and prison sentence which attracted international attention because of the cold-blooded nature of this very public execution.
It proved to be a hugely embarrassing moment for Israel and its supporters who, until then, had always vigorously denied accusations that Zionist occupation forces carried out street executions of injured Palestinians. Such denials were hard to maintain in the light of video evidence, and now last year’s controversy has been revived by Zionists who’ve tried to get a photographic exhibition depicting Abdul Fatah Al-Sharif’s execution closed down.
Whenever they are confronted with irrefutable evidence of Israeli brutality it seems that the only options for supporters of the Zionist State are censorship, abuse and intimidation. The pro-Israel lobby appears to have gone to astonishing lengths to get the exhibition outside an Edinburgh church banned. A barrage of intimidation, including abusive phone calls, vandalism and angry confrontations, has been endured by church staff since the photographs and explanatory captions went on display.
Now Police Scotland has opened itself to accusations of being used as a Zionist stooge after officers tried to shut down the hard-hitting photographic exhibition at the world famous Edinburgh Fringe festival. It seems that photographic evidence of Azaria’s street execution of the young Palestinian is still too much to stomach for supporters of the Tel Aviv regime.
“This morning… Palestinians Ramzi Al-Qasrawi and ‘Abd al-Fatah Al-Sharif were shot after stabbing a soldier in Tel Rumeida, Hebron. The soldier sustained medium-level injuries. While Al-Qasrawi died on the spot, Al-Sharif was injured and fell to the ground. In video footage captured by Hebron resident ‘Imad Abu Shamsiyeh, (Al-Sharif) is seen lying on the road injured, with none of the soldiers or medics present giving him first aid or paying him any attention at all. At a certain point, a soldier is seen aiming his weapon at Al-Sharif and shoots him in the head from close range, killing him. Although this occurs in the plain view of other soldiers and officers, they do not seem to take any notice.”
(Source- 24 Mar 2016 B’TSelem)
“The Legacy of Balfour” is a documentary exhibition created by the Network of Photographers for Palestine (NPP) on show outside St. John’s Church in the Scottish capital’s Princes Street to highlight international human rights abuses. Since it opened, it has been targeted by vandals suspected to be from pro-Israeli lobby groups. This weekend, after a complaint to local police officers, an attempt was made to close it for good.
Police in Edinburgh were called after a member of the public entered the church and became verbally abusive towards the staff inside. A female complainant, whose identity is being withheld by the police, demanded that the exhibition be shut down. The police officers agreed until church staff intervened and a compromise was reached. Ironically, all of the pictures in the exhibition depicting Israeli atrocities towards the Palestinians were removed, whereas equally graphic images of British atrocities remained on view.
The aim of the exhibition is to depict the impact of the Balfour Declaration on the lives of millions of Palestinians. In 1917, the then British Foreign Secretary, Arthur J. Balfour – whose stately home is in Whittingehame, just 25 miles or so from Edinburgh – promised a “national home” for Jewish people at the expense of the Palestinians who were living and working on the land which they rightly regarded, and still do to this day, as home. The subsequent brutalities carried out by Zionist Jewish terror gangs followed by the Israel Defence Forces on the Palestinian population were caught on camera over the following hundred years; some are part of the exhibition which examines the continuity between Britain’s rule in Palestine during the Mandate Period (1921-48) and current Israeli policies in the occupied Gaza Strip and West Bank.
While no one was available from Police Scotland on Sunday to comment on the action of local officers in Edinburgh, MEMO understands that official complaints by members of the public and the Network of Photographers for Palestine have been lodged. NPP members say that they are outraged by the attempt to shut down their exhibition.
The curator of the exhibition and secretary of the NPP is Phil Chetwynd. “Bizarrely, the woman who was complaining objected solely to the pictures and not the written explanation beneath the images which were probably more damning of the Zionist regime,” he explained. “It seems that Zionist supporters find it easier to dismiss words as ‘lies’ but when confronted by images of the work that the [Israeli] regime carries out it’s not so easy to dismiss.”
He pointed out that the exhibition has been targeted by vandals since it opened. “We have simply replaced the damaged images but this woman – and we have no idea who she is – called the local police who tried to shut it down. Our enquiries indicate that the complaint was made against just one picture depicting the murder of a Palestinian man by an Israeli soldier, and yet all the pictures of Israeli actions against Palestinians had to be taken down.”
This happened, said Chetwynd, despite protests from members of the general public present at the time. “They insisted that the story contained in the exhibition should definitely be told in full.”
What puzzled NPP members was that the same police officers decided that the pictures of British atrocities in Palestine should not be censored and should be allowed to remain on view.
It is understood that the NPP and members of the public are now lodging complaints to the Scottish Police Investigations and Review Commissioner about the action taken by the capital’s police force. Officers, they believe, have been “manipulated into colluding with this clear infringement of freedom of expression in Scotland.”
The censored pictures have been replaced by the NPP which has published the full version of the exhibition on social media, so that it can be seen in its entirety should any further vandalism take place.
Far from being intimidated by the hostile reaction, NPP members say they are now open to offers from around Scotland and beyond from anyone who wants to display “The Legacy of Balfour” exhibition at their church, community centre, library, workplace or gallery. The full exhibition can be seen on the group’s Facebook page which is also the best point of contact for Phil Chetwynd.
The NPP has a second Fringe exhibition this year on Palestinian refugees and it is entitled “Displaced”. It will go on show in Inverness next weekend and on to Lochinver before it heads to Ramallah and Gaza City in October.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.