3 June 2020

When George Floyd was Murdered There Was Outrage – When Iyad Hallak, an Autistic Palestinian was Murdered, Noone Said Anything

Black Lives Matter and so do Palestinian Lives – Israel’s Murderous Border Police Escape Unscathed

Five days after the murder of  George Floyd by the Minneapolis police, Iyad Hallak, an autistic 32 year old, was also murdered.  This time by the Israeli Border Police, who are the most violent of all Israeli police units.

But whereas the reaction to the murder of George Floyd has rightly been international outrage, riots and demonstrations, the reaction to the murder of Iyad is virtually zero.

Iyad Hallak

The Socialist Campaign Group of MPs has even issued a statement on the murder of Floyd even as some of their hypocritical MPs give their fulsome support to the ‘anti-Semitism’ allegations.

American society is built on racism and slavery.  The United States not only represses its own Black population but it exports its racist terror to a host of other countries, including Palestine. 

Abu Thuraya murdered by Israeli snipers at the Gaza fence

Iyad Hallak was not the first disabled Palestinian to be murdered by Israeli security forces.  There was for example Ibrahim Abu Thuraya, a double amputee who was shot dead by Israeli troops at the Gaza border fence in December 2017. 

What is remarkable though is the lack of any international reaction to the murder of Iyad.  His death at the hands of Israel’s police is one of a number involving disabled Palestinians who didn’t understand the instructions of Israel’s military/police. When he didn’t stop they simply mowed him down with gunfire.

There is however a difference. Medaria Arradondo, chief of the Minneapolis police, instantly fired all four policemen involved in the murder of George Floyd. Derek Chauvin, who was the police officer whose knee was on George Floyd's neck, has now been charged with 2nd degree murder and manslaughter. The other 3 officers - Tou Thao, Thomas Lane & J. Kueng - have been charged with aiding and abetting murder.

Contrast the situation in Israel.  Not one of the Border Police who gunned down Iyad has been arrested, still less charged.  One of the Police was put under house arrest, but he has since been released.

Of course there is a Police investigation but as Gideon Levy noted, when the Israeli Police investigate themselves they also acquit themselves. This time will be no different.

As the investigation of the murder of Israeli Palestinian school teacher, Yaqoub Mousa Abu al-Qia'an, in Umm al Hiran demonstrated, Israel’s Internal Police Investigation Department is corrupt and perfectly prepared to ‘lose’ and manipulate evidence in order to acquit those they are allegedly investigating.  Where that is not possible they simply ignore the evidence.

The ‘investigation’ by Israeli Police is likely to find that it was a ‘tragic accident’, that Iyad was murdered. A case of mistaken identity. Of course this never seems to happen to disabled and autistic Israeli Jews.  What Israel won’t do is to charge the murderers with the crime that they committed.  After all their job is to prevent ‘terrorism’ and Iyad was a Palestinian which is as nearly good as being a terrorist.

If Palestinians in East Jerusalem where Iyad lived were to riot and demonstrate then there would be many more dead Palestinians.  In Israel, the right to protest is a Jewish privilege. Unsurprisingly a Jerusalem court issued a ‘gag order’ preventing the naming of Iyad’s killers because Israeli courts are also part of the racist consensus.

In America, there is a thin sugar coating of democracy resting on a repressive and undemocratic state in which the Police are equipped with all the paraphernalia of an army. But even in the United States, despite the urging of Trump, demonstrators aren’t generally shot.

However the United States, Democrats and Republicans, are responsible for funding, arming and supporting the Israeli state. Indeed American Police forces send their officers over to Israel for ‘training’.

As Azadeh Shahshahani, Ilise Benshushan Cohen write U.S. Police are Being Trained by Israel—And Communities of Color Are Paying the Price.

Eyad al-Halaq, who according to his family, had a mental age of a six-year-old child, was on his way to a school for children and adults with disabilities where he was a student when Israeli police spotted a “suspicious object that looked like a pistol.” In fact it was his mobile phone.  A simple mistake to make except it's one that's never made in the case of Israeli Jews.

Al-Halaq, ran away from the police out of fear. The response of the police was to shoot at him at least 7 times. Israeli police issued a statement saying that after they “neutralized” the “suspect,” they conducted a body search and found no weapon in his possession. Even the word 'neutralise' signifies that he was a terrorist and also not quite a human being.

One officer “suspected [al-Halaq] was a terrorist because he was wearing gloves” — something extremely common given the coronavirus pandemic. 

 “Israel has been on a killing spree,” Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement, referring to the case of al-Halaq, and the killing of 37-year-old Fadi Aqed 24 hours earlier. 

Aqed was gunned down by Israeli soldiers at a bus stop outside Ramallah after the soldiers claimed he tried to ram them with his car. No soldiers were injured in the incident, while Aqed’s family said that he was on his way to pick up his wife when his car skidded off the road. 

“The latest execution-style killing brings, to at least 21, the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli occupation forces in such senseless acts of violence since January,” Ashrawi said. She added that “murders, land appropriation, home demolitions, and other acts of structural violence are on the rise.”

The only measures taken against the police officers, according to Haaretz is that one officer was released “under restrictive conditions” while the other was placed under house arrest.

B’Tselem said that : “Those responsible for harming Palestinians go unpunished, and the victims receive no compensation for the harm they suffer. The few, isolated exceptions serve only to amplify the illusion that the law enforcement systems in place are functioning properly.”

See Killing of unarmed, autistic Palestinian in Jerusalem sparks outrage, Yumna Patel, Mondoweiss, 31.5.20.

Attacks on Journalists (thanks to Canary)

In Minneapolis, police fired rubber bullets at CBS Newspath reporter Michael George and his crew. His sound engineer was hit. Meanwhile, police also shot MSNBC‘s Ali Velshi with a rubber bullet. He noted that State Police supported by National guard fired unprovoked into an entirely peaceful rally

Police targeted another MSNBC crew:

Ed Ou, a photographer for NBC, was injured by police officers in Minneapolis during a confrontation with protestors violating curfew near a police station. He received a scalp wound from a projectile and needed hospital care.  Credit...Peter van Agtmael for The New York Times

and used tear gas against journalists:

KSTP reporter Ryan Raiche and his crew suffered similar, as did a USA Today contributor. Police shot a Reuters journalist with rubber bullets. They also targeted someone with an actual press helmet on:

And again, this time another group of journalists including one from Vice News:

— Michael Anthony Adams (@MichaelAdams317) May 31, 2020

CNN journalist Omar Jimenez were arrested live on air by Minnesota police whilst the police ignored all other white journalists and cameramen.

Similar stories emerged from journalists in Kansas, Detroit, multiple ones in Los Angeles and in New York, more in Chicago, more from Kentucky, Washington, some in Denver, Dallas, and Las Vegas,

Also, police have attacked or harassed foreign journalists, including Canadian broadcaster CBC‘s Susan Ormiston; Andrew Buncombe from the UK’s Independent; Kurdish and Japanese journalists; one from Sweden, and Nine News Australia‘s US crew,

Some of the media’s own reporting of the attacks on its own journalists cast doubt on the veracity of the attacks.

CNN did similar – framing what is clear as ‘appeared’ and making the vehicle the offender, not the police officer driving it:

As Noam Chomsky wrote in 1988:

The mass media serve as a system for communicating messages and symbols to the general populace. It is their function to amuse, entertain, and inform, and to inculcate individuals with the values, beliefs, and codes of behavior that will integrate them into the institutional structures of the larger society.

In other words, the corporate media can’t be seen to be promoting anti-police narratives. And as Chomsky concluded:

a propaganda approach to media coverage suggests a systematic and highly political dichotomization in news coverage based on serviceability to important domestic power interests.

Thanks to Steve Topple, The Canary, Here are the 30+ journalists US police have attacked during George Floyd protests

'Being Black in America Shouldn't Be a Death Sentence.' What About Being Palestinian?

Gideon Levy, 30 May 2020, Ha’aretz

Did you see the American police officers? Did you see how they choked George Floyd to death in Minneapolis? Did you see Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on his neck, pinning him down, with Floyd begging for his life until he died five minutes later? What racist police forces they have in America, how brutal. Now Minneapolis is burning after a black citizen was executed because of his skin color. The mayor apologized, the four officers involved were fired, Chauvin was indicted. America is a cruel place for black people and its police are racist.

A few days after Minneapolis, on Saturday morning, in Jerusalem’s Old City, Eyad Hallaq, a 32-year-old autistic man, was on his way to the Elwyn Center for disabled people. Border Police officers claimed they believed he was holding a gun – there was none – and when they called out for him to stop, he started running. The penalty was death. The Border Police, the most brutal of all units, knows no other way to overpower a fleeing autistic Palestinian except to execute him. The cowardly Border Police officers fired some 10 bullets into Hallaq as he fled, until he died. That’s how they always act. That’s what they’ve been trained to do.

The Israel Defense Forces and the Border Police have a special weakness for the disabled. The slightest wrong movement or sound could sentence them to death. In another Old City, of Hebron in March 2018, soldiers killed 24-year-old Mohammad Jabari, who was mute and mentally ill, and whose neighbors called him “Aha-Aha” because those were the only syllables he could say. They ambushed and shot him near a girls’ school, claiming he was throwing stones. He left behind a 4-year-old son, an orphan.

The nickname for another young man, Mohammad Habali, was Za’atar (hyssop); nobody knows why. He was also mentally ill and used to walk around with a stick. Israeli soldiers executed him by shooting him in the head from about 80 meters away. That happened in December 2018 opposite the Sabah Restaurant in Tul Karm, just after 2 A.M., while he was moving away from the soldiers and the street was quiet.

Two years earlier the army killed 23-year-old, mentally disabled Arif Jaradat, in the town of Sa’ir. His family called him Khub, which means love. Whenever he saw soldiers he would shout at them in Arabic, “Not my brother Mohammed.” He meant to say, “Don’t take my brother Mohammed.” Mohammed, Arif’s older brother, was abducted from his home and arrested at least five times by soldiers right in front of him. On the day Arif died they heard him shouting his usual cry at the soldiers. “He’s disabled, don’t shoot him,” somebody managed to shout at the soldiers, but they didn’t care. They shot Khub to death too.

None of these unfortunate mentally disabled people were endangering the soldiers or the Border Police personnel at all. The autistic Hallaq wasn’t endangering anyone either. The Border Police officers shot him because that’s how they do things. They did it because he was a Palestinian and because live fire is the first and preferred option of the occupation forces.

The Border Police are no less brutal or racist than the police in the United States. There, they shoot black people, whose blood is cheap, and in Israel they shoot Palestinians, whose blood is even cheaper. But here, the killing puts us to sleep; there it sparks protest. The mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, who happens to be Jewish, was quick to apologize to the black community of his city. “Being black in America should not be a death sentence,” he said.

Neither should being a Palestinian be a death sentence, but no Jewish Israeli mayor ever said anything like that. The police officer who choked Floyd to death was charged with third-degree murder, his colleagues were fired. In Israel, the department in the Justice Ministry that investigates police misconduct is investigating the officer who shot Hallaq. The end, as in all other cases like it, is known.

Meanwhile, in America, the police are brutal and racist.

Police officers are targeting journalists covering protests.

Reporters and news photographers say they are being roughed up by the police, shot with projectiles and arrested while covering demonstrations against racism and police brutality across the country. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker and a writer for the Bellingcat website have each tracked about 100 instances of reporters being harassed or injured at the protests.

In interviews, reporters said they had identified themselves as members of the press before police drew their weapons or pepper-sprayed them.

Tyler Blint-Welsh, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, said he was hit multiple times by police officers while covering a protest in New York on Sunday. “I was backing away as request, with my hands up,” Mr. Blint-Welsh, who is black, wrote on Twitter. “My NYPD-issued press badge was clearly visible.”

Andrea May Sahouri, a reporter for The Des Moines Register, was pepper-sprayed and handcuffed in zip-ties after identifying herself as a journalist while covering a protest at a Des Moines mall on Sunday evening. She streamed video live from the back of a police vehicle, and was later released.

The arrest of journalists covering demonstrations and riots is common in autocratic countries, but has been rare in the United States, where freedom of the press is protected by the First Amendment.

Many reporters, photographers and press advocates said the treatment of journalists by police officers in the last week reflected an erosion of trust in the news media that has seeped into law enforcement under President Trump, who has deemed critical coverage of his administration “fake news” and has frequently labeled some news organizations and journalists with variants of the phrase “enemies of the people.

On Sunday, Mr. Trump blamed the news media for the protests in a tweet, calling journalists “truly bad people with a sick agenda.”

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