When the video emerged of a Minneapolis policeman pressing his knee on the neck of George Floyd as he lay on the ground, Palestinians were surprised by the image — the technique was all too familiar. Within hours of the video being made public, Palestinian supporters were able to find almost identical images of Israeli soldiers pressing their knees to control a Palestinian youth. This is not entirely surprising, as Amnesty International reported in 2016 that Israel has been a training ground for U.S. policemen from most America cities, including Minneapolis. Linda Mansour, an American immigration lawyer in Toledo, Ohio, told Al-Monitor that since 9/11, “at least 31 U.S. states have been involved in police exchange training programs of their officers in Israel. The repressive and dangerous tactics learned include the knee on the neck.”
For Palestinians, however, this is nothing new. For decades videos have captured Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers protected by them abusing and killing unarmed Palestinian protesters and sometimes even innocent bystanders or clearly identified humanitarian workers. During the first Palestinian intifada in 1988, a CBS crew captured footage of Israeli soldiers using their helmets to break the arms of Palestinians, following the directive given by senior Israeli officials to break protesters’ bones. In the ensuing years the Israeli military has become more brutal and less deterred. Earlier this year, a video surfaced of Israeli forces shooting dead a Palestinian demonstrator near the Gaza border fence and then dragging and removing his body using a bulldozer as other Palestinian locals attempted to retrieve it.
A UN commission of inquiry investigating the killing of 189 Palestinians in Gaza between March 30 and Dec. 31, 2018 found “reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli snipers shot at children, medics, and journalists, even though they were clearly recognizable as such.” In 2016, the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem became so disgusted with the “whitewash” of the army’s own investigations into such incidents that they decided to stop cooperating with them so as not to give them credibility.
Just days after George Floyd’s gut-wrenching, eight-and-a-half-minute-long video was posted, Israeli soldiers in East Jerusalem chased down an unarmed Palestinian man with autism. Even though his caregiver shouted in Hebrew to the Israeli security forces that he was disabled, that failed to stop them from firing seven bullets into Eyed Hallaq’s frail body as he hid in a garbage room outside Jerusalem’s Lions’ Gate.