I visited Israel a month ago. I left with the thoughts foremost in my mind, watch Silwan and pay attention to May 15. I knew something big would happen. Something big did happen, a teenager died apparently at the hand of settlers. The why, the rewrite of history by the Israelis, is just as interesting. The first part of the diary is to get people up to speed on the fast-moving events on the ground. If you are interested in the rewrite of history -- on Nakba Day of all days -- go straight to the fold.
In order to make sure that I wasn't accused of predicting the past I left the following comment earlier this week here:
Just so I am on the record here before it happens, I predict the Arab Spring will hit Palestine on May 15 (the anniversary of the Nakba).
Little did I know that the parallels would be complete right down to a martyred teenager. (Thus the title of this diary.)
Then, I left the following comment on Friday, watching Silwan.
Also, here's a video of IDF in Silwan today, where seventeen-year-old Morad Ayyash from the el-Amud neighborhod was shot in the stomach with live fire. He was rushed to the Muqassed hospital where he needed eight doses of blood. His condition is described as serious. To think I walked those streets a month ago. Much safer for American tourists.But Aharonovitch told the radio he believed the anniversary would pass quietly, and Israeli news website Ynet quoted him as saying he had instructed the security forces "to exercise restraint and avoid using force."
I got the name wrong but the rest of the details appear to be correct. Then I saw the following from AJE this morning.
Tensions had risen a day earlier after a 17-year-old Palestinian boy died of a gunshot wound suffered amid clashes on Friday in Silwan, another East Jerusalem neighbourhood.
Police said the source of the gunfire was unclear and that police were investigating, while local sources told Al Jazeera that the teen was shot in random firing of live ammunition by guards of Jewish settlers living in nearby Beit Yonatan.
Did this have to do with what I was noticing on Friday? Off to CNN.
Milady Ayahs, 17, was participating in a protest Friday when Israeli police shot him, his family said. He died early Saturday, according to police and his family. The incident is under investigation.
Initial reports were that no live ammunition was used by police who responded to the protests, Rosenfeld said. He said Ayahs was taken to the hospital with what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the shoulder.
Rosenfeld said police asked to perform an autopsy on Ayahs to aid the investigation, but the family declined.
Something's not adding up. I'll give a fuller explanation after the fold, from what I saw in Israel the settlers have a better chance of being the shooter and the stomach was where he was shot -- how else can he die with so much blood loss?
OK. How about AFP? It would not have as much of a pro-Israeli bias as the American media.
In conflicting reports of Ayyash's death his family say he was 16 years old, but police say 17.
A relative said he was shot in the stomach by a Jewish settler in the neighborhood of Silwan.
Police said that he suffered a light wound to the shoulder, from as yet unknown causes, and they were investigating the circumstances. They said that no live ammunition was used either by security forces or settlers.
Activists added that the bullet removed from his wound during surgery came from a gun and not a riffle, which is predominantly used by security guards, as opposed to Israel Defense Forces soldiers.
Now it's starting to make sense. Now a much fuller account from PCHR:
In a new crime in the evening of the day before yesterday, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) killed in cold blood a Palestinian child in Silwan neighborhood in the south of the old town of occupied Jerusalem. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns this crime and calls upon the international community to take immediate action in order to compel the government of Israel to stop such crimes.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR and statements made by the deceased child's father, Said Ali Issa Ayash, 57, who lives in Ras al-Amud area in East Jerusalem and who is a translator and an editor of Israeli affairs, at approximately 15:00 on Friday, 13 May 2011, Milad, 17, who is Ayash's son, was walking on a dirt road in the center of Silwan in the south of the old town of Jerusalem. As he was between 10 and 15 meters far from two houses which had already been occupied by Israeli settlers, he was shot by a bullet coming from the direction of the two houses. The bullet penetrated Milad's abdomen and exited his back and he fell onto the ground. A number of Palestinians rushed to rescue him, but IOF soldiers providing protection to settlers occupying the two houses fired sound bombs at them. Approximately fifteen minutes later, an ambulance could reach Milad and transferred him to al-Maqased Islamic Charity Hospital. Quoting medical sources at the hospital, the father said that when Milad arrived at the hospital, his heart was not beating and his intestines and arteries were torn. Medical sources pronounced Milad dead in the dawn of Saturday, 14 May 2011. Mr. Ayash said that the area where Milad was passing was so calm at that time and that there were clashes between Palestinian boys and IOF in Beer Ayoub area in al-Bustan district in Silwan, approximately 1,500 meters far from the area where Milad was walking.
It should be noted that individuals from Israeli private security companies and forces from the Israeli Border Guard are providing protection to the Israeli settlers occupying the two mentioned houses.
PCHR renews its condemnation of, and points with grave concern to the reported crime and:
1. Asserts that these crimes are part of a series of war crimes committed by IOF in the OPT, which reflect a total disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians.
2. Calls upon the international community to take immediate action in order to put an end to such crimes. PCHR further renews its demand for the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligation under Article 1 which stipulates "the High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances," as well as their obligations under Article 146 which requires that the Contracting Parties prosecute persons alleged to commit grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention. These grave breaches constitute war crimes under Article 147 of the same Convention and under Protocol I Additional to Geneva Convention
Note my bolded text. Again, more later. Now the funeral. With chants of "With our blood and our soul, we shall sacrifice for the martyr," they went to the Al Aqsa mosque and flew a Palestinian flag on the Temple Mount! Note how close the Temple Mount is to all this. To get to the flashpoint of the so-called City of David and it's associated Jewish settlements you take a right from the Western Wall security complex, go out the Dung Gate, go a few feet down a hill and boom you're there.
Here's some images from the funeral:
You may ask why I was obsessed with Silwan after my Israeli vacation. The explanation after the fold.
When I was visiting the tunnels under the Western Wall complex and the City of David I noticed how the security was not the IDF nor the police. Rather, the IDF were the "tourists". Part of the military service in Israel is indoctrination tours. The tour I was on was a Christian Zionist tour so the people wanted to express their appreciation by having their picture taken with the IDF. The picture below was taken just outside the Western Wall tunnels of what the tour members thought was Israeli military. (I cropped out the people on the tour to protect their privacy.)
This was a private security guard who was very friendly and corrected my tour member's mistake. These private guards are all over the tunnel system under the Western Wall and also the City of David in Silwan.
The City of David is not so much an archeological park as a propaganda park. In all things I/P you always need to pay attention to tunnels and walls. The latter is the most famous but the former possibly more devastating. For the last 100 years, modern archeology has dug from the top down in a gridded system in order to properly preserve the chronology and provenance of the dig. It's also either supervised by some neutral body such as UNESCO or even the government where the dig occurs. Artifacts are displayed with as little of an agenda as possible. This is not how archeology is done in Israel. First of all, the use of tunnels allows the fiction that there was Israel 2000 years ago and then Israel today and nothing has happened between those two dates. Since Christian Zionists are only concerned with "Bible times" no one except me appeared to be bothered by this.
Here's an example for the Western Wall tunnels. First what it looked like 2000 years ago:
and the plan for the future. (I think a few Muslims will object):
Here's what it looks like in context. Above us are houses. Such archeology requires more engineers than archeologists!
The City of David takes this to the next level. It's run by a settler organization known as Elad. It was these settlers that apparently shot at Milad. (Settler on Palestinian violence is one of the dirty little secrets of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.) They also use tunnels to create a huge historical ellipsis that conveniently erases the history of the Arab people of Silwan.
Looking up from the City of David to the security cameras on Silwan:
The alleged "tomb" of David which many archeologists believe are just storerooms. To date no record of either David or Solomon exist in the City of David.
Here's what that tunnel looks like. The plan appears to be to connect to the Western Wall complex.
This is a street that goes up to the temple. We are currently under a mosque in this picture. alt-archeology.org, an organization that includes some of the elite archeologists of Israel, tells how these tunnels produce a false narrative:
The IAA effects an interesting manipulation in its portrayal of the excavations in the Historic Basin. In its response to an Israel Supreme Court petition submitted by the residents of Wadi Hilweh, the IAA claims that the clearing out of the ancient drain underneath the houses in the village is little more than the rediscovery and cleaning of a channel whose existence has been long known 11 This claim allows the IAA to emphasize that its tunnels are a fait accompli, and that its actions therefore do not pose any new threat to the houses above. At the same time, the IAA publicly advertises its discoveries as new and exciting. Another aspect is connected to the mythological status of past researchers: although some of their conclusions have become outdated, their adventurous spirit, their boldness and originality have turned their research and activities into an object of admiration. It thus becomes easy to embrace the old narrative that views archaeology as a bastion of Western science, and the opposition to it as a symbol of Oriental ignorance. This archaeological myth apparently enables the IAA to ignore changing methods and changing social and political realities. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the IAA relieves itself of any responsibility toward the local Palestinian population, neither informing it of its intents, or consulting with it as work proceeds.
Once the Roman drain has been opened, visitors will be able to take a circular walking trail in underground Jerusalem, beginning (or ending) near the Western Wall. From the area of the Western Wall, the path will go through the Roman drain/road to the Givati parking lot, just a short distance from the City of David visitors’ center. There the tunnels of the Gihon and Warren’s Shaft can be accessed, and at their exit, at the Pool of Siloam, the underground part of the Herodian stepped street can be reentered, leading back to ancient drain that leads back up at the Davidson Center, near the Western Wall. Those who walk along this path are relieved of the need to confront the present reality of Jerusalem. The circuit is meant to create a visiting experience in a parallel, imagined, Jerusalem, among the remains of two periods: the Kingdom of Judah and the Second Commonwealth. These two periods are identified, in the Israeli narrative, as the most meaningful periods for the formation of Israeli identity and the connection of the Jewish people to the land. The end (or beginning) of the path near the Western Wall plaza emphasizes the close connection between underground Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, the most holy place for the Jews.
According to the version marketed to the public, the excavations in the village of Silwan exposed a pool, a street, and a drainage and sewage system, all dated to the 1st century B.C.E. (Second Temple period), and no more. These structures allow the visitor to relive the experience of making pilgrimage to the Temple in its glory, while also making palpable its destruction. In a new publicity film shown by the IAA on its website, the connection is presented between the ‘Herodian’ street in the Western Wall plaza on the one hand, and the tunnels and channels within Silwan, on the other. In this manner the aegis of the Western Wall extends itself to include the whole eastern ridge of ancient Jerusalem and the Wadi Hilweh neighborhood. The IAA and its patrons--the Elad Organization, the Western Wall Heritage Fund, and others—work hand in hand in order to diminish both Jewish history and the history of Jerusalem. All of Jewish history is compressed into the short periods of Israelite-Jewish sovereignty in Jerusalem, while cultural layers that are not associated with Jewish political sovereignty or with the sacrificial cult are ignored. The history of Jerusalem is stripped both of the eras that preceded the Kingdom of Israel, and of what came after it, when it became the Holy City for the Christians and Al-Quds for the Muslims.
Moreover, the story told about the tunnels serves as a means of justifying Israeli settlement in the Palestinian village of Silwan and in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. The tunnels create an underground Jewish-Israelite city that transforms those in charge, i.e., the Israeli settlers, into inhabitants, and the disempowered, i.e., the Palestinian residents, into a temporary presence.
Here's some more from the premier expert on the City of David. Note what is said at 3:05 about the armed guards. Also note this from France 24:
Sixty Minutes came to Silwan this last fall and this shows the connection between the City of David and heavily armed settlers:
Just like the outsourcing of our military to Blackwater caused us problems the outsourcing of key archeological sites to ideological settler groups has caused problems for Israel. Not only is a teenager dead but Israel is, yet again, a tinderbox waiting to explode.