How Israel dehumanises Palestinian resistance

There is a standard method by which the international community reacts to Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights, depending on the visibility of the oppressive measures and whether they fit the pattern of previous condemnations. The result is a process of selective awareness, whereby the imprisonment of Palestinian children, home demolitions, settlement expansion and forced displacement are chosen for futile criticism and condemnation.

When it comes to other measures that directly show Israel’s intention to target Palestinian resistance and disappear Palestinians, however, the silence is striking. In early February, the parents of a soldier killed in occupied East Jerusalem told the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee that the bodies of Palestinians held by Israel should either be held permanently or thrown “into the sea” as deterrence.

During the same session, the request was echoed by internal affairs committee chairman MK Yoav Kisch, who referred to the US narrative of al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden’s body being disposed of at sea.

Historical precedents

Kisch’s propagation of the US narrative serves various purposes. It promotes the actions of one of Israel’s main allies, while also exploiting “terrorism” propaganda to dismantle the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle – a tactic Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has used on several occasions under the pretext of security concerns.

There are historical precedents for the disappearance of political opponents being incorporated into routine practice. Replete with examples is Latin America, where US-backed dictatorships instilled terror by disappearing their opponents.

Chile and Argentina under Augusto Pinochet and Jorge Rafael Videla, respectively, made use of “death flights“, dumping the tortured bodies of opponents into the ocean from helicopters. In Argentina, it is estimated that around 30,000 people were disappeared. Read more.

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