[News] 'Killing children is no longer a big deal'

News at freedomarchives.org News at freedomarchives.org
Sun Oct 17 14:41:53 EDT 2004

Ha'aretz, October 17,2004

Killing children is no longer a big deal


By <mailto:levy at haaretz.co.il>Gideon Levy


More than 30 Palestinian children were killed in the first two weeks of 
Operation Days of Penitence in the Gaza Strip. It's no wonder that many 
people term such wholesale killing of children "terror." Whereas in the 
overall count of all the victims of the intifada the ratio is three 
Palestinians killed for every Israeli killed, when it comes to children the 
ratio is 5:1. According to B'Tselem, the human rights organization, even 
before the current operation in Gaza, 557 Palestinian minors (below the age 
of 18) were killed, compared to 110 Israeli minors.


Palestinian human rights groups speak of even higher numbers: 598 
Palestinian children killed (up to age 17), according to the Palestinian 
Human Rights Monitoring Group, and 828 killed (up to age 18) according to 
the Red Crescent. Take note of the ages, too. According to B'Tselem, whose 
data are updated until about a month ago, 42 of the children who have been 
killed were 10; 20 were seven; and eight were two years old when they died. 
The youngest victims are 13 newborn infants who died at checkpoints during 

With horrific statistics like this, the question of who is a terrorist 
should have long since become very burdensome for every Israeli. Yet it is 
not on the public agenda. Child killers are always the Palestinians, the 
soldiers always only defend us and themselves, and the hell with the 

The plain fact, which must be stated clearly, is that the blood of hundreds 
of Palestinian children is on our hands. No tortuous explanation by the IDF 
Spokesman's Office or by the military correspondents about the dangers 
posed to soldiers by the children, and no dubious excuse by the public 
relations people in the Foreign Ministry about how the Palestinians are 
making use of children will change that fact. An army that kills so many 
children is an army with no restraints, an army that has lost its moral code.

As MK Ahmed Tibi (Hadash) said, in a particularly emotional speech in the 
Knesset, it is no longer possible to claim that all these children were 
killed by mistake. An army doesn't make more than 500 day-to-day mistakes 
of identity. No, this is not a mistake but the disastrous result of a 
policy driven mainly by an appallingly light trigger finger and by the 
dehumanization of the Palestinians. Shooting at everything that moves, 
including children, has become normative behavior. Even the momentary 
mini-furor that erupted over the "confirming of the killing" of a 
13-year-old girl, Iman Alhamas, did not revolve around the true question. 
The scandal should have been generated by the very act of the killing 
itself, not only by what followed.

Iman was not the only one. Mohammed Aaraj was eating a sandwich in front of 
his house, the last house before the cemetery of the Balata refugee camp, 
in Nablus, when a soldier shot him to death at fairly close range. He was 
six at the time of his death. Kristen Saada was in her parents' car, on the 
way home from a family visit, when soldiers sprayed the car with bullets. 
She was 12 at the time of her death. The brothers Jamil and Ahmed Abu Aziz 
were riding their bicycles in full daylight, on their way to buy sweets, 
when they sustained a direct hit from a shell fired by an Israeli tank 
crew. Jamil was 13, Ahmed six, at the time of their deaths.

Muatez Amudi and Subah Subah were killed by a soldier who was standing in 
the village square in Burkin and fired every which way in the wake of 
stone-throwing. Radir Mohammed from Khan Yunis refugee camp was in a school 
classroom when soldiers shot her to death. She was 12 when she died. All of 
them were innocent of wrongdoing and were killed by soldiers acting in our 

At least in some of these cases it was clear to the soldiers that they were 
shooting at children, but that didn't stop them. Palestinian children have 
no refuge: mortal danger lurks for them in their homes, in their schools 
and on their streets. Not one of the hundreds of children who have been 
killed deserved to die, and the responsibility for their killing cannot 
remain anonymous. Thus the message is conveyed to the soldiers: it's no 
tragedy to kill children and none of you is guilty.

Death is, of course, the most acute danger that confronts a Palestinian 
child, but it is not the only one. According to data of the Palestinian 
Ministry of Education, 3,409 schoolchildren have been wounded in the 
intifada, some of them crippled for life. The childhood of tens of 
thousands of Palestinian youngsters is being lived from one trauma to the 
next, from horror to horror. Their homes are demolished, their parents are 
humiliated in front of their eyes, soldiers storm into their homes brutally 
in the middle of the night, tanks open fire on their classrooms. And they 
don't have a psychological service. Have you ever heard of a Palestinian 
child who is a "victim of anxiety"?

The public indifference that accompanies this pageant of unrelieved 
suffering makes all Israelis accomplices to a crime. Even parents, who 
understand what anxiety for a child's fate means, turn away and don't want 
to hear about the anxiety harbored by the parent on the other side of the 
fence. Who would have believed that Israeli soldiers would kill hundreds of 
children and that the majority of Israelis would remain silent? Even the 
Palestinian children have become part of the dehumanization campaign: 
killing hundreds of them is no longer a big deal.

The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://freedomarchives.org/pipermail/news_freedomarchives.org/attachments/20041017/230f5117/attachment.html>
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: 1c6123.jpg
Type: image/jpeg
Size: 633 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <http://freedomarchives.org/pipermail/news_freedomarchives.org/attachments/20041017/230f5117/attachment.jpg>

More information about the News mailing list