Gideon Levy criticises Israeli army’s policy regarding dehumanising Palestinian children, pointing out that Israeli soldiers considers shooting them less severe than shooting stray dogs.
Israeli soldiers shoot children. Sometimes they wound them and sometimes they kill them. Sometimes the children wind up brain dead, sometimes disabled.
Sometimes the children have thrown rocks at the soldiers, sometimes Molotov cocktails. Sometimes by chance they wind up in the middle of a confrontation. They almost never put the soldiers’ lives in danger.
Sometimes the soldiers intentionally shoot at the children, sometimes by mistake. Sometimes they aim at the children’s heads or the upper body, and sometimes they shoot in the air and miss, hitting the children in the head. That is how it goes when a body is small.
Sometimes the soldiers shoot with the intent to kill, sometimes to punish. Sometimes they use regular bullets and sometimes rubber-coated bullets, sometimes from a distance, sometimes in an ambush, sometimes at close range. Sometimes they shoot out of fear, anger, frustration and a sense of having no other option, or a loss of control, sometimes in cold blood. The soldiers never see their victims afterward. If they saw what they caused, they might stop shooting.
Israeli soldiers are allowed to shoot children. Nobody punishes them for shooting children. When a Palestinian child is shot it is not a story. There is no difference between the blood of a small Palestinian child and the blood of a Palestinian adult. They are both cheap.
When a Jewish child is hurt, all of Israel shakes, when a Palestinian child is hurt, Israel yawns. It will always, always find a justification for soldiers shooting Palestinian children. It will never, never find a justification for children throwing stones at soldiers who raid their village.
For six months a boy named Abdul Rahman Ishtiwi has been recovering at the rehabilitation hospital in Beit Jala. For 10 days a relative of him, Mohammed Shatawi, has been at Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem, in Jerusalem. Both are from the village of Kafr Qaddum in the West Bank.
Israeli soldiers shot them both in the head. They shot regular bullets from a great distance at Abd el-Rahman as he stood at the entrance to a friend’s home, they shot a rubber-coated bullet at Mohammed from a nearby hilltop as he tried to hide from them down the same hill. The Israeli occupation army said he had set a tire on fire.
Abdul-Rahman is 10 and looks small for his age. Mohammed is 14 and looks older than he is. These are the children of the Palestinian reality, both hanging between life and death. Theirs and their parents’ lives have been destroyed. Abdul-Rahman’s father drives him home from Beit Jala to Kafr Qaddum once a week for a weekend in the village.
Mohammed’s father does not stray from the doorway of the neuro-intensive care unit at Hadassah Ein Karem, where he is alone facing his son and his fate. Neither of these children should have been shot. Neither should have been shot in the head.
After Abdul-Rahman was shot, the army spokesman’s office said that “during the incident a Palestinian minor was wounded.” After Mohammed was shot the spokesman said: “A claim about a Palestinian who was wounded by a rubber bullet is known.” The office is familiar with the complaint. The army spokesman is the voice of the Israel Defence Forces. The IDF is a people’s army, therefore the IDF spokesman also speaks for Israel.
The spokespeople publish their bloodcurdling statements from a new office tower in Ramat Aviv near Tel Aviv, where the office recently moved. They refer to a 10-year-old boy as a “Palestinian minor” and remark that “the Palestinian claim is known” about a boy fighting for his life because soldiers shot him in the head.
The dehumanisation of Palestinians has reached the IDF spokespeople. Even children no longer rouse human sentiment such as sorrow or mercy, certainly not in the IDF.
The IDF spokesman’s office does its job well. Its statements reflect the spirit of the time and place. There is no room to express any regret for shooting children in the head, there is no room for mercy, an apology, an investigation or punishment, and certainly not for any compensation.
Shooting a Palestinian child is considered less severe than shooting a stray dog, for which there is still a chance someone will do some investigating.
The IDF spokesman announces: Continue to shoot Palestinian children.
HaaretzThe views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Palestine Post 24