In 2003, people from the London borough of Camden started to make links with Palestinians living in a suburb of Jerusalem called Abu Dis, and this led eventually to the twinning of the two places. This happened at a crucial time for Abu Dis, as Israel was in the process of building its apartheid wall right through the town.
In 2004, the International Court of Justice ruled that this was a serious violation of human rights, in breach of international law. In response, the Camden/Abu Dis friendship association (Cadfa) was formed to promote solidarity, and over the years many British volunteers have visited Abu Dis.
So it was with a special poignancy that members of Cadfa learned that one of the latest victims of psychotic Israeli aggression was a young man well-known to Cadfa volunteers, a man remembered with great affection and respect. Cadfa broke the news to its members:
“We are writing to you all with some horrible news. A few days ago in a Palestine for Beginners session (Cadfa Zoom event), the Cadfa co-ordinator in Abu Dis told people: ‘Checkpoints are very dangerous for Palestinians. A number of people have been killed at Container checkpoint in the past few years.’
“It wasn’t clear if the western people who had not been to Palestine had any idea what a checkpoint would be like, or what danger there might be there. Today saw the sort of real horror that hangs over the word ‘checkpoint’ for Palestinians: those heavily-armed military places that interrupt normal life, manned by soldiers to whom Palestinian life is of no consequence.
“For a lot of time in Palestine, people are just getting on with their normal lives. The sun shines (or it doesn’t), families cook, clean, work (if they have work), play sport, visit friends, whatever. Arrangements are made for marriages. Then, out of the blue, the fault lines and the chaos of the underlying situation are shown up by a sudden horrible incident.
“Today, the young man who lost his life, shot by an Israeli soldier and left to bleed to death, was Ahmed Eriqat from Abu Dis. He was 27, young, healthy and full of life: he was due to be married soon. (His wedding, set for May, was postponed because of corona.) Ahmed did a degree at Al Quds University in graphic design and had a small t-shirt printing business in Abu Dis.
“Today was his sister Iman’s wedding day. Ahmed had rented a car, dropped his sister and their mother at a hair salon to have their hair done for the wedding, and set out to get the car decorated ready for the evening wedding.
“The road to Bethlehem from Abu Dis is now a main road in Palestine, since Israel has blocked the old roads that went via Jerusalem. There is no main road in Palestine without an Israeli checkpoint, and there is no checkpoint in Palestine at which Palestinians have not been killed.
“On the Wad an-Nar road to Bethlehem, there is a major checkpoint known as Container after the original sea container that used to be a tea shop near the bus stop in Sawahreh, on the Jerusalem road. Now it is a military point that has become increasingly fortified with a watchtower and heavily armed soldiers.
“Then, this afternoon, the peace was shattered suddenly by army shooting. A small witness video was released with someone upset saying: ‘They just shot him in front of us …’ We don’t know exactly how it happened, but Ahmed was shot by Israeli soldiers and died there.
“No one in Abu Dis gives a minute’s credence to the excuse they saw given by the Israeli military. ‘He was not about to run his car into soldiers,’ wrote a friend. ‘He was going to pick up his mother and sister on a happy occasion, and he had a lot going for him: he was about to get married himself.’”
Cadfa put this completely pointless tragedy into context: “We wish it were the first time or even the second that we have to write to you about the Israeli army killing a Palestinian. But over the years since Cadfa was started, this has shockingly happened again and again.
“Just as we have to say ‘Black lives matter’ because of systemic racism and violence against black people that has happened before and also since the brutal murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, so too do we have to say ‘Palestinian lives matter’ for reasons that relate to systemic racism and violence against Palestinians in their own country at the hands of the Israeli military and settler movement.
“If we raise our eyes from Abu Dis to look at Palestine as a whole since Cadfa started 16 years ago, there have been over 6,000 killings at the hands of the Israeli army and settler movement (from Wafa, Palestinian press agency), six of these in Abu Dis.
“A reporter from local television (Qanat al Ghad) said that 25 young people have been killed in the West Bank since the beginning of 2020, and 11 of them in cars in the way that Ahmed was.” (Rest in peace Ahmed Eriqat: the cccupation is deadly, Cadfa, 23 June 2020)
Although Israel continues to enjoy impunity for its many crimes, protected from international retribution by its imperialist sponsors in the USA and Britain, the court of international public opinion long ago made up its mind, and the masses everywhere support the right of the Palestinian people to use whatever means are available to them to gain their freedom.
As Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu formalises the theft of territories that were declared by the United Nations 50 years ago to be illegally occupied Palestinian territory, he is only underscoring what has been obvious to all sane observers for some years already: that there is no possibility of negotiating with these rabid zionists, that the two-state solution is dead, and that the only possible future is a single state on the whole territory of historic Palestine, encompassing all who live there on an equal basis.
In killing the two-state solution, far from ensuring Israel’s security, the Israelis are in fact killing Israel. And in their brutal murder of so many innocent Palestinians, they are ensuring that the zionist state will have plenty of gravediggers.