PALESTINE REFLECTION: On stone throwing and strategies

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CPTnet
PALESTINE REFLECTION: On stone throwing and strategies
Jan 17 2014

by Kathleen Kern

Years ago in our Hebron
apartment, we had a foam cushion insert on which someone had drawn a smiling
face.  Dubbed “Happy Foam Square,” we would throw it at a wall when our
work got frustrating, and doing so was surprisingly cathartic.

So in a small way, I
understand why throwing stones feels good.  I also understand, when I see
the posters of small boys throwing stones at tanks, that their actions are
brave.  I understand why the narrative of an occupied people resisting one
of the most technologically advanced militaries in the world with rocks and
Molotov cocktails is a source of pride in some circles.

Soldiers preparing to fire tear gas on boys throwing stones about 100 meters away  

Soldiers preparing to fire tear gas on boys
throwing stones about 100 meters away

 

But monitoring clashes in
Hebron has always been one of my least favorite things to do, because we have
almost no impact on the situation,  so little strategy is involved on the
part of the Palestinian boys throwing things, and because the consequences for
them can be dire.

In
some situations, a thrown stone can literally grant a soldier a license to kill
or can result in months, even years in jail for Palestinian youth.  We
have seen boys as young as eight taken away on suspicion of stone
throwing.  In one case, I witnessed soldiers detain children because they
were wearing balaclavas in the cold weather; they told me the masks proved the
boys were intending to throw stones (For  more information on what happens
to children accused of throwing stones, see Occupied Childhoods. Newly
released report on violation of children’s rights in Hebron
.)

On
school days, we monitor two checkpoints through which students and teachers
must walk to get to school.  At one checkpoint, almost every day,
schoolboys throw stones at Border Police and Border Police respond with tear
gas and sound bombs.  One young mother told me, exasperated, “If they
weren’t here, the boys would not throw stones.”  And it’s true.  If
the soldiers, for the fifteen minutes before the school bell rang just went
around the corner, had a cup of coffee, and let the principals shoo the
children into the schoolyards, this dreary daily theatrical production would
not take place.

Stone throwing at the
Qitoun checkpoint happens less often, but recently, it had a
tragic consequence for a family in the line of fire
.  After a volley
of stones lasting less than a minute, a Border Police officer shot tear gas
from a nearby rooftop at the boys.  He missed, and it went into a family’s
home and caught something on fire. They lost everything.

So do I think Palestinian
children should stop throwing stones?  I do.  Apart from my own
pacifist beliefs, I see it having no positive outcomes for the children and
teenagers.  But there is a reason that societies hold adults more
responsible than children for their negative actions, and the soldiers firing
the teargas and rubber bullets at stone throwers are at least nominal
adults.  And the strategists running this stupid, immoral occupation
passed the threshold of adulthood a long, long time ago.

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