An asymmetrical conflict

I’m now receiving news of events in Palestine/Israel from a variety of sources, including Mondoweiss, which describes itself as “a news website devoted to covering American foreign policy in the Middle East, chiefly from a progressive Jewish perspective”.

This week’s summary of events in Palestine/Israel included the following news items, which I have summarised:

Monday 4 November, East Jerusalem. A building owned by the Roman Catholic church, which housed a family of 14, was demolished. Israeli forces and bulldozers arrived at 5 a.m. with a “previously unseen demolition order”, which claimed that the house had been built without a permit. One of the occupants stated that the house had been built before 1967 when Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank as a result of the Six Day War.

Wednesday 6 November, Tulkarem. Israeli Defence Forces raided two villages near Tulkarem. They fired live ammunition, tear gas, and a sound bomb at young protesters.

Wednesday 6 November, Ramallah. Shots were fired from a Palestinian car at Israeli soldiers in Ni’lin, a village near Ramallah. Another car tried to run over an Israeli army commander, who then fired shots at the vehicle as it sped away.

Thursday 7 November, Hebron. Israeli settlers set two cars alight in a village near Hebron.

Thursday 7 November, Bethlehem & Nablus. Two Palestinians were shot and killed in separate incidents at roadblocks near Bethlehem and near Nablus.

Friday 8 November, East Jerusalem. A 16-year-old was hit in the face by a stun grenade during clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces at a road junction near Abu Dis. He lost consciousness and suffered from internal bleeding and a skull fracture.

Friday 8 November, Bil’in. Dozens of Palestinian and international activists were injured as Israeli forces fired tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets, and stun grenades during protests in Bil’in and three other villages which had been sparked by the killing of two Palestinians at roadblocks the day before.

Friday 8 November, Bethlehem. There were clashes in Bab al-Zawiya, a neighbourhood of Bethlehem, following the funeral of a 23-year-old Palestinian who had been shot at a roadblock near Bethlehem the day before. Palestinian protesters threw rocks and empty bottles. Israeli soldiers fired tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber-coated steel bullets.

Friday 8 November, Efrat. Two Israeli settlers were injured when a Molotov cocktail was hurled at their car on a road near Efrat, a settlement south of Bethlehem. The car was burnt out.

Both Israelis and Palestinians are responsible for acts of violence which cause suffering and cannot be condoned. But: “In the asymmetry of relations between the growing state of Israel and the shrinking non-state of Palestine, doing nothing is a deeply partisan act.” (Anon)

I guess I’m doing my best to be bipartisan here, which means being willing to talk to – or, better still, listen to – anyone and everyone. We were reminded during Meeting for Worship this morning of Britain Yearly Meeting’s Advices & Queries no. 17, which begins with a query: “Do you respect that of God in everyone though it may be expressed in unfamiliar ways or be difficult to discern?” And we are advised: “Listen patiently and seek the truth which other people’s opinions may contain for you.”


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