Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki has hailed three recent images as iconic reminders of resistance in the Palestinian-Israeli struggle.
In his remarks at the United Nations General Assembly emergency meeting addressing the US decision on Jerusalem on Thursday, al-Malki said: “The steadfastness of our people on their land is legendary. Their aspiration for freedom and integrity is legitimate. Their hope for security and a better life for their children is renewed daily, but the Israeli assault robs their dreams and future.”
He referenced images of three Palestinians taken during the latest wave of protests in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The images highlighted instances of Israeli forces “besieging an unarmed child by a battalion of soldiers, sniping at a disabled man in Gaza and kidnapping a courageous young woman from her home”.
The latest wave of protests in response to the US decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has resulted in the deaths of 10 Palestinians and the detention of more than 500 people.
Other iconic images have emerged in the past to shed light on the Palestinian people’s plight under Israeli occupation.
First and second Intifadas
In the first Palestinian Intifada – or mass uprising – the most powerful image was transmitted by an American television network whose cameraman, using a long lens, was able to capture Israeli soldiers breaking the bones of a nameless Palestinian stone-thrower.
Israeli cameraman Moshe Alpert, who worked for the American channel CBS News, in 1988 captured four Israeli soldiers following the directives of Defence Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who implemented a policy of breaking bones to prevent Palestinians from protesting.
During the second Intifada, the victim in the viral photo had a name: Mohammad al-Durrah, a 12-year-old Palestinian boy, died instantly in Gaza after being shot by Israeli gunfire while his father attempted to shield him from live ammunition. The footage was captured by a cameraman with the French TF2 station, Talal Abu Rahmeh.
Abu Rahmeh told the Al-Monitor news website that his French employer had posted on YouTube the entire raw video to put an end to attempts to discredit him through claims that the footage was staged.
The footage of al-Durrah was popular because it captured human emotion, he said: “It moved the world and whoever saw it because it reflected a real human emotion of a father unable to protect his young son.”
New iconic images
In the three short weeks since Trump declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel, three new iconic images have emerged from Hebron, Gaza and the village of Nabi Saleh near Ramallah. Two of the subjects are now in Israeli jail, and one was killed, shot in the head by an Israeli sniper.
The first image that appeared shortly after protests broke out was from Hebron, showing a 16-year-old boy surrounded by at least 20 Israeli soldiers. The boy appeared to be handcuffed and blindfolded.
Fawzi al-Junaidi, who is now facing charges of throwing rocks, was arrested a few days after protests broke out.
Within days, another image began to circulate online.
Ibrahim Abu Thurayyah, a 30-year old Palestinian from Gaza who lost both his legs in the 2008 Israeli assault on Gaza, was shot in the head on December 15 – this time, by live ammunition, as he was protesting against the US decision.
The image of him protesting in a wheelchair while waving a Palestinian flag quickly took over social media pages. Cartoonists were quick to turn the story into illustrations depicting Israeli brutality and showing Abu Thurayyah as having wings and flying into the heavens.
Carlos Lattuf, a Brazilian cartoonist, asked his 71,000 followers on social media to pass on to the family of the slain Palestinian double amputee the depiction he had produced of this new Palestinian icon.
Shortly after, a third image began making the rounds.
A 16-year-old Palestinian girl who stood up to Israeli soldiers after her house was ransacked and her cousin shot in the head by an Israeli rubber bullet, was filmed taunting Israeli soldiers and shouting at them to leave.
The soldiers did not react, and the image of their non-reaction was considered humiliating by Israelis as the story made headlines in major media outlets.
The Israeli military responded quickly, ordering the arrest and detention of Ahed Tamimi, who was taken from her home in the early hours of December 19.
When her mother attempted to check on her in detention, she was also arrested.
Tamimi was quickly depicted as a hero. Again, her image was turned into cartoons and short videos in both English and Arabic.
Jordan’s Prince Ali bin Hussein even praised the Palestinian teenager on his Twitter account.
Is this what really scares Israel @Netanyahu ? A young 16 year old girl, who has the courage to stand up for her rights as a child in the face on an illegal occupation that is breaking all norms of international law? Free her!! @realDonaldTrump @nikkihaley #عهد_التميمى pic.twitter.com/CCoQjiBfch
— Ali Al Hussein (@AliBinAlHussein) December 20, 2017