Should we be surprised that the first martyr of the year is a Palestinian?
Jawaher Abu Rahma, a 36 year-old activist, was protesting against Israel’s apartheid wall in the village of Bilin—– for years the site of weekly peaceful protests —- when she was tear-gassed by Israeli troops. She collapsed and was rushed to a hospital in Ramallah, also on the West Bank of Occupied Palestine. That was on 31st December 2010. She died on the 1st of January 2011.
Jawaher’s brother, Bassem Abu Rahma, was also killed during a Bilin protest on 17 April 2010. He was hit on the head by a tear-gas canister fired at close range. It should be emphasised over and over again that neither Jawaher nor Bassem, nor any of the other protesters at Bilin was armed.
Bilin has become a symbol of the peaceful, non-violent struggle of the Palestinian people for self-determination. International advocates of the Palestinian cause are regular protesters at Bilin. Some of them like the Nobel Peace Laureate , Mairead Maguire, have also suffered injuries at the hands of the Israeli troops.
The Bilin protesters have vowed to continue with their peaceful struggle. They will not give up. Indeed, it is partly because of their perseverance that they managed to breach the apartheid wall on 31st December.
On the whole, the peaceful mobilisation of the people against Israeli occupation is beginning to yield results. Though Palestinian freedom fighters continue to die, the truth about the Israeli regime is now more widely known than ever before. The Flotilla episode in the middle of 2010 exposed the brutality of the regime. It happened just 18 months after Israel’s merciless assault on the helpless people of Gaza which revealed to the whole world the magnitude of the asymmetry of power between Israel and the Palestinians. In the course of 2010, both the Goldstone Report and the Report of the UN Special Rapporteur for Occupied Palestine, Richard Falk, admonished the regime for its harsh, inhuman treatment of the Palestinian people.
2010 has shown that truth and justice in the Israel-Palestine conflict cannot be suppressed forever.
Dr. Chandra Muzaffar,
International Movement of a Just World (JUST).
3 January 2011.