Did Israel's Killing of a Disabled Protester Create Another 'Icon for an Intifada'?

Published December 16th, 2017 - 01:30 GMT
Ibrahim Abu Thuraya protesting shortly before his death on Dec. 15 in Gaza (Mohammed Abed/AFP)
Ibrahim Abu Thuraya protesting shortly before his death on Dec. 15 in Gaza (Mohammed Abed/AFP)

Could the killing of double-amputee, Ibrahim Abu Thuraya, be the spark that ignites a third intifada in Palestine?

That is what Palestinian journalist Nasser Atta has suggested.

Abu Thuraya, who lost both his legs in Israeli bombardment of Gaza in 2008, was killed by an Israeli bullet in the head. He was one of four Palestinians to die on Friday, as protests continued against U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to declare Jerusalem Israel’s capital.

Atta wrote that his death is being compared by Palestinians to the death of fellow Gazan Muhammed al Dura in the Second Intifada.

Video footage of 12-year-old Muhammed and his father cowering, caught in the crossfire during the early days of the 2000 uprising, had a powerful effect on public opinion. The young boy was hailed as a martyr across the Muslim world.

With Muhammad al Dura the excess of Israeli brutality was felt to be put on display through the killing of an unarmed child, apparently at the hands of the military. For many, the death of Ibrahim Abu Thuraya has shown the same through the slaughter of an unarmed disabled man.

“What a weak occupation that assassinates the disabled Ibrahim Abu Thuraya,” tweeted @emaaaddddd.

“Even a psychiatrist can't help you if you think it's OK to kill an unarmed disabled man who was defending his land by stones,” @KevorkAlmassian added.

Images of Abu Thuraya were being tweeted on Saturday under the hashtag “icon of the intifada,” adding credence to Atta’s suggestion that his death could be a turning point.

“A disabled person will move the people and ignite the battlefront,” said @mohammed_wahidy.

On social media his death has already proved to be symbolic, sparking numerous artistic responses, most prominently from renowned cartoonist Carlos Latuff.

Others have painted him as an angel and as having the land of Palestine in the place of his legs.

Prior to the demonstration Friday, Abu Thuraya had told reporters “this land is our land. We are not going to give up. America has to withdraw the declaration it has made.”

Israeli forces opened fire on protesters at the Gaza-Israel border, killing the 29-year-old activist. Thousands marched in his funeral on Friday, according to Maan News.

The shooting of Abu Thuraya is just one moment of apparent cruelty from the Israeli military during the protests that have followed Trump’s Dec. 6 decision.

A video of children being arrested by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank city of Hebron and seemingly placed in a “cage” has caused outrage online.

Meanwhile, the image of a blindfolded 16-year-old being arrested by nearly two dozen soldiers has already become symbolic of heavy-handed Israeli military tactics.

This killing, however, may well have a greater impact still, feeding Palestinian anger and potentially intensifying protests.

“With the death of Abu Thuraya, the Trump administration now has the bonfire it wanted,” Chris Meserole, Middle East expert at the Brookings Institution, told Newsweek.

“The question going forward is this: Do they further fan the flames, or instead grab the fire extinguisher?”

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