Palestinian Woman Confronts Israeli Army

Via Juan Cole comes this video of a Palestinian women from the U.S. putting her life on the line by standing up to the Israeli army firing (what are likely but not necessarily rubber bullets) at demonstrating Palestinian adolescents.

The woman is being identified as peace activist Huwaida Arraf. As BFP notes, it’s unclear when this video was taken — during the current attack on Gaza, or earlier last year — but I agree with her that it speaks volumes, as do her repeated statements of the obvious: “you’re shooting at kids.”

I think that one comment at Juan Cole’s summed up my reaction well:

What strikes me in this is how casual the soldiers are as the aim and prepare to fire. Clearly they are in no imminent danger — as they are being confronted by the brave girl, they are not taking cover behind rocks or barriers. They are standing in the open, up straight, on top of a rock in one case, and carefully taking aim to fire at the demonstrators. Their body language is clear — they are not afraid for their own well-being. And yet, absent this girl’s intervention, they seem to have no reservation about casually firing into a crowd that poses no threat to them.

Another commenter asks how she was just allowed to get away with pushing down a soldier’s gun and standing in front of it (and whether she actually did once the camera went away): the camera, her sex, her accent/nationality, her English?

It’s a good question, and the answer is unclear.  But I’m still moved and astounded by her bravery, and I just had to share.


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19 Responses to Palestinian Woman Confronts Israeli Army

  1. CTD says:

    It’s a good question, and the answer is unclear.

    It’s actually pretty clear: The soldiers shown are not, in fact, psychotically evil butchers hellbent on murdering “kids” (though those “kids” mostly look an awful lot like young, grown-ass men to me), but soldiers disbursing a violent crowd that’s slinging rocks.

  2. frank says:

    i’m not impressed. you realize the difference between the idf and the Palestinian terrorists rather quickly when you think of what would happen if she walked up to hamas gunmen and tried to stop them from firing rockets.

  3. thilardiel says:

    the video is no longer available.

  4. Holly says:

    That’s funny, it’s working for me.

  5. Cara says:

    It’s actually pretty clear: The soldiers shown are not, in fact, psychotically evil butchers hellbent on murdering “kids” (though those “kids” mostly look an awful lot like young, grown-ass men to me), but soldiers disbursing a violent crowd that’s slinging rocks.

    They may not be hellbent on murder, but if you think that the U.S. military — or hell, just the police — would generally tolerate this kind of thing, you’re mistaken. Which can be taken to show that the Israeli military has incredibly restraint — but recent actions and the actions in this video indicate absolutely otherwise, which makes me ask the question, again, of why she was allowed to “get away with it.”

    i’m not impressed. you realize the difference between the idf and the Palestinian terrorists rather quickly when you think of what would happen if she walked up to hamas gunmen and tried to stop them from firing rockets.

    I fail to see what this has to do with anything at hand.

    The video is still working fine for me, too. Anyone else having problems?

  6. Holly says:

    You get to trumpet about how you’re “not impressed” once you can prove you’d do the same thing: stand up to men with guns who are part of an armed force that’s killed thousands of people in your community over the last few years, and try to get them to stop firing. Come back when you have the video.

  7. Ellen says:

    Police or the army in the US would absolutely never disperse a crowd by shooting at them. They often become violent and use teargas, but they have strategies for breaking up potentially violent protests that they use before they start killing people.

  8. victoria says:

    Ellen, are you being sarcastic? I can introduce you to people who have been shot at by police with “less lethal” weapons like rubber bullets and wooden dowels as they were attempting to peacefully disperse from an area. Two events I can name:

    April 7, 2003, Port of Oakland, CA. Oakland police fired at anti-war protesters as they were walking away as directed. People were shot in the back with wooden dowels and other projectiles.

    November 20, 2003, Miami, FL. Police fire into crowd protesting the FTAA trade deal. A permitted march was dispersing, but apparently not fast enough, because the police starting firing at people. A friend of mine was shot in the forehead, near his temple, with a rubber bullet.

    Both of these events have photo and video footage on the web if you do a quick search.

  9. Ruchama says:

    Anybody know where the video was taken? The landscape looks to me more like Northern Israel than Southern, but I’m not certain. Also, who was filming? And in a few shots, you can see a few other non-military people right by her — a man a bit behind her, and a woman next to her.

    As for the Israeli military having “incredibly restraint,” there’s a huge difference between the actions of the military as a whole and the actions of individual soldiers.

  10. misstickle says:

    it looks staged to me

  11. Eurosabra says:

    Um, she’s actually a terribly well-known activist in the area, as in *internationally famous* and a US-Passport Palestinian, which explains why she wasn’t even arrested. FWIW, the soldier is also clearly far out of thrown-rock range, so even firing rubber-coated steel bullets (which is what the red tape on the magazine indicates) would be seen as excessive.

    If I were an incredibly bloody-minded IDF soldier or Border Guard with tons of chutzpah, I might have arrested her on camera for going for the gun, suicide-terrorist style. But I’m a civilian medic, and not on-site anyway.

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  15. Samuel says:

    They may not be hellbent on murder, but if you think that the U.S. military — or hell, just the police — would generally tolerate this kind of thing, you’re mistaken. Which can be taken to show that the Israeli military has incredibly restraint — but recent actions and the actions in this video indicate absolutely otherwise, which makes me ask the question, again, of why she was allowed to “get away with it.”

    Cara, you’re absolutely right, I am surprised they let her that close without opening fire on her, she is caring a camera bag(?) which makes her a possible threat. As for throwing rocks, if you are within range to throw a rock you are within range to throw an incendiary device.

  16. Radfem says:

    Police or the army in the US would absolutely never disperse a crowd by shooting at them. They often become violent and use teargas, but they have strategies for breaking up potentially violent protests that they use before they start killing people.

    Have you ever been shot with rubber bullets? Every “less-lethal” projectile used has caused deaths and serious injuries, especially when they don’t shoot them at the ground for dispersal of a crowd but fire them point-blank at people’s faces and heads.

    it looks staged to me

    You know, you’re right. If you look carefully at the soldier’s back pocket, you can clearly see his SAG card sticking out.

  17. S.D. says:

    It’s an insane violation on their part to let her so close to them;
    I’ll elaborate: there were, are, and most likely will continue to be female suicide bombers, according to any common sense they should have opened warning shots and shouted at her to stay away.

    The whole reaching for the gun thing is a clear provocation, hell, the whole thing was a provocation on her part, she’s not an activist – she’s a propaganda tool.

  18. lover says:

    @victoria They were shot at with non-lethal weapons which is how riot police do it in almost all Western counrties (hell, even most Eastern countries).

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