By Gideon Levy
Don't let the quiet fool you: It is imaginary. While all eyes are on Gaza, the impression has been created, under the aegis of a media turning a blind eye, that the West Bank is quiet. That's where the "good guys" are in charge, those with whom we went to Annapolis, those who will be getting the money from the donor nations, and life there is great, so it seems.
Well, that is not the case. The lives of the Palestinians in the West Bank are also intolerable, blood is being shed there too. For the Israel Defense Forces it is business as usual, with a frighteningly quick finger on the trigger. The spirit of Annapolis and the lofty words of the prime minister do not prevail there.
I have visited quite a few mourners' homes in the West Bank in recent months. They were all mourning family members who had been killed for no reason. Every week, innocent people are killed in the West Bank, and nobody talks about them. Among the dozens of Palestinians killed recently, not all were Qassam launchers or gang leaders from Gaza. If a new uprising erupts in the West Bank one day, it will originate in these mourners' homes.
The daily routine in the West Bank is also patently inhumane. The night I spent last summer in the Jenin refugee camp brought that home to me: The IDF enters the camp every night, and even when it does not kill, it strikes great terror in the hearts of thousands of families, who are the victims of anxiety. There are few Israelis who can imagine the daily routine of West Bank residents, during the day and even more so at night. And we have not said a word about the poverty, the roadblocks and the home demolitions.
The story of the recent killings in the West Bank is not on our agenda, because so far the Palestinians there have not responded with attacks in retaliation for these deaths. But it is not certain that this quiet will continue.
Adib Salim, paralyzed on his right side, sold lupini beans. When the IDF conducted one of its raids on Nablus he dared to stick his head out. The soldiers killed him. The IDF Spokesman claimed that he threatened to shoot at the soldiers, but the paralyzed bean seller was totally incapable of doing so.
Abdel Wazir, the 71-year-old cousin of the legendary Abu Jihad, was a retired accountant. He spent a terrifying night in his home: for hours the soldiers fired next to his window, while he sat with his wife on the sofa, both of them incapacitated by fear. When the order to go outside was heard, he left his house and was immediately shot dead.
Jihad Shaar, 19, was making his way from his village, Tekua, in order to register for university. Soldiers killed him for an unexplained reason with cudgel blows and kicks, while he was waiting at the bus stop. The IDF Spokesman said that the soldiers "behaved appropriately."
Mohammed Salah was a Palestinian policeman, after years of working as a tiler in the settlements. On duty, he stopped a suspicious Palestinian commercial van, which had tried to avoid the Palestinian checkpoint in Bethlehem. Salah opened the door, suspecting that the van was carrying stolen merchandise, and the IDF undercover soldiers inside shot him to death. The IDF Spokesman claimed that he tried to shoot at the soldiers, but all the eyewitnesses have rejected this version out of hand.
Firas Kaskas went for a nature hike near Ramallah, accompanied by his brother and his brother-in-law. When they noticed a herd of gazelles running down to the wadi, they stood to watch. The soldiers who suddenly appeared shot him from afar, without warning. The IDF Spokesman claimed that the soldiers thought that he was placing an explosive device in the heart of the nature reserve.
All these people were killed by the IDF in recent weeks, for no reason. Add to them Mohammed Askar from Saida, who was shot at close range during riots at Ketziot Prison; Kamela Kabha of Bartaa, an elderly woman whose son tried to rush her to the hospital in Jenin and was delayed at the Reihan checkpoint for three hours, until she died in his arms, and other incidents of killing, and you will get the true picture of Israel's "peace efforts."
And we haven't even mentioned the construction in the settlements.