Ahmad Manasra

Ahmad Manasra is the thirteen year old Palestinian boy who is alleged (together with an older cousin) to have stabbed two Israelis in East Jerusalem.  Responses to his arrest have followed a fairly predictable pattern.  First it was reported (by Mahmoud Abbas) that he had been shot dead at the scene, cueing much outrage.  Such claims of course have the potential to further inflame tensions.  Then it emerged that Manasra was only moderately wounded, and was being treated in an Israeli hospital.  However the photographic evidence prompted further objections.  This post by Megan Hanna writing in Mondoweiss notes several concerns over his subsequent treatment.

Another contentious aspect of Manasra’s treatment since arrest was the decision by the Israeli government to publicly release his photograph. The Israeli NGO Physicians for Human Rights denounced the move as inherently political saying, “the fact that it is a photo of a minor in custody who was photographed without his parents’ permission” is a violation of juvenile law and privacy laws… Even more disturbing, is that reportedly the instructions [to publish the photo] came directly from the office of the Health Minister [Yaakov Litzman] and that the picture itself was distributed by the Prime Minister’s Office.”

Megan Hanna also describes the more recent controversy over leaked footage of Manasra’s interrogation.

Alongside these fundamental rights which appear to have been neglected, international law states that a child cannot be interrogated without the presence of his parents or guardian. Tareq Barghouth, one of Manasra’s lawyers, claims that the boy has not been allowed contact with his family since the attack, and has been subjected to psychological abuse from the security forces.

Mondoweiss is not a neutral source, but this piece is comparatively objective and states clearly in the first paragraph exactly what Manasra has been accused of.  There is nothing wrong with raising concerns about the way the case has been handled.

By contrast this post by William Hanna, although it begins in a similarly factual manner, descends into some pretty vicious rhetoric.

In the case 13-year-old of Ahmed Manasra ― Whose trial began on November 10 for allegedly stabbing two Jewish settlers whose own savage crimes against Palestinians go unpunished ― it has to be asked whether Manasra is a dangerous terrorist or a victim of an “Apartheid” about which Noam Chomsky said “In the Occupied Territories, what Israel is doing is much worse than apartheid …

Is it just possible that growing up in such an environment drives children to rebel with acts of violence? Are they not entitled to retaliate against the illegal occupation of their land and the barbaric persecution of themselves and their families? Are they to accept being driven from their homes and being ethnically cleansed without objection or resistance? And will the child, Ahmed Manasra ― a victim of Zionism’s Master Plan for a “Greater Israel” ― receive a fair trial? I think not. Israelis are not renowned for either humanity or justice.

I don’t know whether the two people who were wounded were technically ‘settlers’ or not.  Hanna seems to be calling for their collective punishment, justifying an attack against innocent bystanders, one of them just thirteen himself.

Here’s another deplorable piece, this time from the Palestine Chronicle.  First, here’s a paragraph from towards the end of the article.  Hossam Shaker writes:

The occupation system would not dare ask the children fundamental questions such as: what made you participate in a demonstration? Pick up a stone? Think of using a knife? The question about their motives equates to a question regarding the fate of the occupation itself because eliminating the driving forces behind such actions can only be achieved by ending the occupation.

He implies that he thinks Manasra guilty, and that his actions are justified by the occupation.  And yet he holds him up as an example of commendable fortitude:

The astonishing video shows the impressive resilience of the Palestinian people, represented by this child from Jerusalem. The boy, Ahmed Manasrah, remains strong, unwilling to break, no matter how much the Israeli officers aggravate him with moral and physical pressure. The injured child was seen standing in the face of the human monsters who earn their daily bread by spreading systematic intimidation and fear in this manner.

The whole article perversely responds with horror to Manasra being shouted at, first as he lay wounded on the pavement (before the fairly swift arrival of an ambulance), then while he was interrogated, but simultaneously glosses over and glorifies the violent and random attack allegedly committed by Manasra.