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Disabled, underage or critically-ill in hospital, Israel soldiers’ abuse with no limits

Al-Ajlouni, 25, suffered from a state of shock, as well as severe pain in the neck and shoulders following his abuse at the hands of the Israeli officers.

February 24, 2022 at 10:03 am

Five security forces mercilessly beat a Palestinian with Down’s syndrome as he panicked and screamed in pain and fear. Unfazed by his terrified shrieks, the soldiers continued to forcefully grab and pull at Muhammad Al-Ajlouni in an attempt to detain him, which paramedics claim would have happened, if not for the intervention of locals.

Al-Ajlouni, 25, suffered from a state of shock, as well as severe pain in the neck and shoulders following his abuse at the hands of the Israeli officers.

It is a minor incident by the standards of Israel’s long-running belligerent occupation. But it sadistically symbolises the humiliating, terrifying and often deadly experiences faced daily by millions of Palestinians.

To list a handful, a 16-year-old Palestinian child arrested from the Al-Arroub refugee camp, north of Hebron, while he was heading to school, was hospitalised in 2020, at the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem after suffering abuse at the hands of Israeli occupation forces while in detention.

As a result of the beating, Mohammad Muqbel suffered a fractured lower jawbone and had his teeth broken.

Last year, Israeli forces raided a hospital in the occupied West Bank on Monday, causing panic among critically-ill patients.

According to the Palestinian Health Minister, Mai Al-Kaili, Israeli soldiers fired stun grenades inside the Thabet Thabet Hospital in the northern city of Tulkarem and stormed the main floor of the medical facility, causing anxiety attacks among many patients.

Last month, an elderly Palestinian man died during his arrest and assault by the Israeli army in the village of Jiljilya on the outskirts of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

Omar Abdulmajeed Asaad, 80, who suffered from respiratory and heart problems, was thrown to the ground on a cold night, gagged, blindfolded and handcuffed.

Last night, Israeli forces and killed a 14-year-old Palestinian boy in Al-Khader town, near the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem. Mohammed Shehadeh was wounded after being shot and bled to death as occupation forces prevented ambulances from reaching him.

Al-Ajlouni was not the first disabled Palestinian to be attacked and gain global attention. Eyad Al-Hallaq, who was autistic, was fatally shot in 2020 while on his way to the special needs institution that he attended.

From the Wadi Al-Joz neighbourhood, the 32-year-old with the mental age of an eight-year-old child, was chased by soldiers while he ran in fear for his life into a garbage room and he was shot as he cowered next to a bin. As he screamed in agony, the caregiver, who followed closely, was shouting out that he was disabled and begged the police to stop. She said the soldiers ignored her cries and fired another three bullets into Hallaq’s midsection as he lay wounded on his back.

The aftermath of his killing elicited enormous sympathy and outrage, as the hashtag “Palestinian lives matter” was shared and trending on social media.

Through this pattern of assaults, Israel is reminding Palestinians that there are no limits to its soldiers’ abuse and nothing will stop it. They are a way to hammer home the idea that even the weakest and most innocent Palestinians are not off-limits for Israeli soldiers.

And they are comforted by the guarantee that they will not be held accountable for their actions. Because the attention is temporary.

The footage of Al-Ajlouni, who ended up in hospital, is currently circulating online and has garnered widespread condemnation, like the murder of Hallaq did at the time of his death. However, this heightened focus and attention online is repetitively temporary.

READ: Oppressing the weak

Social media remains an important tool for Palestinians, many of whom believe traditional media coverage does not sufficiently capture the reality of the crisis.

Also like Hallaq, Al-Ajlouni also lives in Wadi Al-Joz, a neighbourhood in East Jerusalem close to Sheikh Jarrah, where Palestinian families are facing the threat of eviction to make way for Israeli settlers.

It was while he was at a demonstration in solidarity with his neighbours outside the residence of the Salem family, that soldiers targeted and attacked him. Out of the 45 Palestinian families that live in the neighbourhood, 17 are facing eviction orders. The Salem’s, though, are said to be the only ones who have seen the legal process through to its conclusion, with the Jerusalem courts rejecting the residents’ appeals.

Since May last year, when all social media platforms were overflowing with videos of forced expulsions of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah, there has been a gradual, notable decline in social media activity by users around the world expressing outrage and drawing attention to the events at Sheikh Jarrah.

This is despite the ongoing attacks against the residents.

Must more Palestinians be expelled from their homes for Israeli authorities to receive condemnation? Must another disabled, elderly, underage, or bedridden Palestinian be a victim at the hands and guns of Israeli soldiers to force the world’s attention again?

London-based human rights watchdog, Amnesty International released a 211-page report earlier this month, titled “Israel’s Apartheid against Palestinians which concludes that the occupation state has imposed a “cruel system of domination” and is committing “crimes against humanity.” Last year, B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch came to the same conclusion, while a legal opinion issued by Yesh Din in 2020 also said that “the crime against humanity of apartheid is being committed in the West Bank.”

Every now and then, a spokesperson for a country claiming to stand in solidarity with Palestine or a UN official will spare a few words of criticism against the brutal violations committed by Israeli soldiers, expressing “grave concerns” and reminding that “children must not be the target of violence”. However, much like the temporary social media trends supporting a Palestinian victim, it is all too repetitive.

As a result of a lack of any long term, effective measures in response to the plight of the Palestinians for many years, the international community has lost its credibility.

Now, it is time for practicality, a power and responsibility UN officials and world leaders can put into action and hold Israel to account, but they fail and refuse to do so. Moreover, social media users, which make up more than half of the global population, must keep Palestine trending and never lose momentum, until Palestine is really and truly, free.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.