Israeli police just got caught teaching Israeli kids how to shoot Palestinians, part of a disturbing, racist trend in recent years. Police and school staff claim they “noticed” they had hung up pictures of people in kuffiyehs for target practice, and removed them before any children saw them. The Israeli education minister called it a “serious mishap.” What mishap? Did they accidentally hang up pictures of Palestinians instead of their usual bullseye targets? Or was the “mishap” getting caught?
Israeli police planned to teach children how to shoot at Palestinians as part of a training exercise in a school.
The incident in the Menashe Regional Council, near Haifa in northern present-day Israel, was brought to light in recent days when Palestinian citizens of Israel took photos of what was happening.
Jamal Zahalka, a member of the Israeli parliament from the Joint Arab List, is demanding an investigation into the training sponsored by the Israeli police and the education ministry, which he said “prepares students psychologically to kill Arabs.”
One photo shows a person – most of their body blurred with a black marker – using a paintball gun to fire at cutouts of men and women wearing checkered kuffiyeh headscarves that are associated with Palestinians.
Zahalka made his demand in a letter to public security minister Gilad Erdan, according to the publication Arab48.
The activity in Menashe Regional Council is part of widespread training of children by police in Israeli schools, according to Arab48.
In 2011, the newspaper Haaretz reported on how a group of Israeli high school students from Herzliya took part in a simulated shooting attack at a military base “in which the targets were figures decked out with the Arab kuffiyeh headdress.”
One source told Haaretz that the exercise, which was also supported by the education ministry, was tantamount to “educating toward hatred of Arabs.”
The training in the Menashe Regional Council school is also reminiscent of an incident last year in which Israeli police put on a demonstration for a group of fifth-graders for how to “confirm a kill” – in other words how to perpetrate an extrajudicial execution.
Early this year, American comedian Jerry Seinfeld visited a training center in an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank where tourists are given demonstrations on how to kill Arabs.
And in a disturbing parallel in 2015, police in North Miami Beach, Florida, were found to be using photos of African American men for target practice at a shooting range.
Separate and unequal
Zahalka noted that the incident occurred in Menashe Regional Council, which bills itself as a paragon of coexistence between Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel.
There are approximately 1.5 million Palestinian citizens of Israel. They are the survivors and their descendants of the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
Unlike Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, they hold Israeli citizenship and a right to vote, but nonetheless live under dozens of laws that discriminate against them because they are not Jewish.
Anti-Arab incitement and indoctrination is endemic in schools for Jewish children from the earliest grades.
Proud to kill
The Israeli police said that the targets in the Menashe Regional Council school had been set up as part of an activity day to teach children “about good citizenship” and that to “engender interest among participants, a paint gun station was erected.”
“Before the activity began, the activity’s commanders and the school staff noticed the matter and hid the images, and no children saw them during the activity itself,” the police claimed.
The education ministry also called the use of the targets, according to the publication Ynet, a “serious mishap.”
Zahalka also wrote to Israeli education minister Naftali Bennett calling for those responsible for organizing the shooting training to be punished.
He stated that it was unacceptable for the ministry to merely cancel the activity without seeking accountability, and to try to shift the blame to the police alone.
Zahalka quipped that had a similar activity taken place in a school run by the Palestinian Authority, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “would have demanded a meeting of the UN Security Council.”
Nadav Perez-Vaisvidovsky, an Israeli college lecturer, expressed shock at the training, tweeting, “This is the type of thing you see in history books and wonder how it could be allowed to go on.”
Yet this is only a small part of what the so-called international community is allowing Israel to do with impunity.
The European Union, for instance, which never ceases to issue reminders of the importance of learning “lessons from the past,” is currently pretending not to see how Israel is deliberately massacring unarmed civilians besieged in the Gaza Strip.
Naftali Bennett, the education minister, himself notoriously declared in 2013, “I have killed lots of Arabs in my life – and there is no problem with that.”
Last December, Belgium’s KU Leuven university announced that it would end its role in an EU-funded “research” project carried out in partnership with Israeli police.
“The participation of the Israeli public security ministry indeed poses an ethical problem taking into account the role which the strong arm of the Israeli government plays in enforcing an unlawful occupation of the Palestinian territories and the associated repression of the Palestinian population,” university rector Luc Sels explained.
In light of Israel’s ongoing premeditated killing and maiming of unarmed protesters in Gaza, Palestinian activists recently renewed their calls for an international arms embargo on Israel, including a ban on cooperation and joint training with Israel’s police and military.
“What the Israeli police did is not that unusual, especially in the current atmosphere of racism against Arabs,” Zahalka wrote.
“In any case, the Israeli police do not require such an atmosphere as their record is full of disregard for the lives of Arab citizens, whom they continue to treat as enemies and not as citizens.”
Zahalka concluded that firing on cutouts of Arab citizens “falls within the racist policies of Netanyahu and his government, and therefore everyone is called upon to confront this racism until it is defeated.”