Featured in MSNBC’s “The Week in Pictures” is a photograph of a Palestinian man screaming in agony as an Israeli soldier drives a tractor-hitched trailer over his legs.
It’s a heartbreaking photograph, and the stone cold and carefree attitudes of the soldiers surrounding the man literally adds insult to injury. But first, a backstory: In the West Bank village of Al-Dirat near Al-Khalil, a group of Palestinian construction workers prepared the equipment and materials necessary to begin the construction of a new home. Soon after, a half-dozen or so Israeli soldiers appeared at the scene and ordered the workers to cease construction.
Almost as suddenly as their arrival, the hostile soldiers commandeered the equipment and ordered the Palestinian workers to disperse. At least one soldier boarded a tractor and, although it is unclear what exactly he aimed at, drove the vehicle’s attached trailer over one of the workers. The worker had reportedly been protesting the unfair expulsion of him and his fellow construction workers. Hazem Bader with Agence France-Presse (AFP) captured the photograph above, as well as the first of the two photographs below.
I expect people to argue that the soldier didn’t deliberately run the man over. I was not at the scene but here’s a question for these people: Do you drive over speed humps without noticing? I find it hard to believe that the soldier didn’t feel or notice the resistance from the man’s body as the wheels lurched up and over him. It’s just not practical.
But that’s not the main point. True, the photograph shows one very real example of abuse at the hands of the Israeli military but in doing so, it exposes the dynamic of the occupation. Here, a Palestinian man is punished for building a home within Palestine. He is not crossing any borders nor is he wielding any weapons. Unless concrete, mattresses, and sheltered Palestinians pose a threat to Israel’s psychological security, there should be no reason for occupying military units to forcefully evict Palestinian laborers from their workspaces, especially those concentrated outside of any legal Israeli jurisdiction.
In the grander scheme of things, what happened to this man on January 25 is only a pea-sized portion of Israel’s greater strategy to dehumanize Palestinians and chip away at their social, political, and economic infrastructures. What you see is what you get.