The killing of Palestinian activist Ibrahim Abu Thurayya is an example of Israel’s policy of slow extermination. After losing both legs in an Israeli airstrike on Gaza in 2009, Abu Thurayya was murdered by a sniper, who shot him in the head during protests against the appropriation of Jerusalem, despite posing no threat to the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) at the time.
As expected, Israel has exonerated itself from the murder. An inquiry carried out by the military and presented to journalists on Monday by Major General Eyal Zamir, claimed that “it was unable to conclude whether he was killed by Israeli forces or what caused his death.” Alleging that no information was forthcoming from Palestinians regarding his murder, the army’s report stated that “it could not rule out the possibility that Abu Thurayya was actually killed by bullets fired from the gun of one of the demonstrators.”
The UN described the Israeli murder of Abu Thuraya as “a truly shocking and wanton act.” According to a statement published by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the international body also asserted that Abu Thurayya posed no “imminent threat of death” at the time of his murder. As opposed to the usual detached statements, UN High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein insisted, “These events, including the loss of five irreplaceable human lives, can sadly be traced back to the unilateral US announcement on the status of Jerusalem.” However, there was no breaking from the tradition of criminalising Palestinian resistance in Gaza, with rhetoric such as “indiscriminate shelling of Israeli civilian areas by armed Palestinian groups operating out of Gaza.” The intention is to promote a semblance of balance in a totally asymmetric conflict and thus contribute indirectly to Israel’s narrative that the IDF always acts in self-defence due to security concerns.
Since the UN has proved itself incapable of acting against Israel, other than allowing itself to be used for issuing non-binding resolutions against the rogue state, calls for an independent investigation into the killing of Abu Thurayya are worthless. Apart from the fact that Israel will never allow such an investigation to take place, the UN has no credibility in backing such a proposal. Its history of acting according to powerful interests against human rights is evidence of this. When it comes to Palestine, its duplicity is even more entrenched. It has upheld Israel’s insistence upon an imbalanced demography that risks Palestinians’ presence on their own territory ever since the 1947 Partition Plan.
With the foundations having been set, the UN has embarked upon complementary tactics. Operating through a set process of condemnations without action with regard to every Israeli violation of international law and human rights, the UN’s role in normalising the murder of Palestinian civilians has been facilitated. Offering no alternative to statements which will not be heeded, it is participating directly in the exploitation of Palestinian lives by placing unwarranted importance upon Israeli rhetoric. It does a great disservice to Abu Thuraya’s memory of resilience if the UN does not at least acknowledge Israel’s policy of extermination, as opposed to this being an isolated murder which only elicited a stronger statement than usual due to the victim’s obvious lack of mobility, which was also a direct result of Israeli colonial violence. If the UN cared beyond its statements, it would affirm the difference between Israel’s legacy of maiming and murdering Palestinians, and the legacy of legitimate Palestinian resistance, of which Abu Thuraya formed a part.