Pray for the innocent

The killing of children is a horrific, despicable act, yet Israel condones it
IMEMC, Celine Hagbard – Every Palestinian group has harshly condemned the murder of a family sleeping in their beds in Itamar settlement last Friday, as well they should.

So why is there no equivalent renunciation by the Israeli government of its military, which kills children on a regular basis? Why, instead, did an Israeli internal investigation, which released its findings just two weeks ago, say that a 2002 missile strike in Gaza that tore apart the small bodies of 8 children asleep in their beds was ‘justified’, and that there was ‘no wrongdoing’ committed by the perpetrators of this horrendous act? (http://www.imemc.org/article/60728)

The killing of children is never justified! Under any circumstances! Why does the Israeli government condemn the killing of children when the victims are Israeli Jews, and allow the killing of children when the victims are Palestinian Arabs? This kind of double standard is blatantly racist and unjustifiable.

Why is someone like Rabbi Dov Lior, who said just last month that the killing of non-Jews, even children, is allowed under Jewish law, allowed to remain in his post as the Chief Rabbi of the Kiryat Arba settlement in Hebron, in the southern West Bank (http://www.imemc.org/article/60606)? Even Hamas, among the most extreme of the Palestinian resistance movements, condemns the killing of children under any circumstances.

In 2007, a year which saw 92 Palestinian children killed (thankfully, no Israeli children were killed in 2007), Israeli reporter Gideon Levy wrote these words about a tour he made of the Gaza Strip: “The day after Rosh Hashanah we traveled to Rafah. Dam Hamad, 14, had been killed in her sleep, in her mother’s arms, by an Israeli rocket strike that sent a concrete pillar crashing down on her head. She was the only daughter of her paralyzed mother, her whole world. In the family’s impoverished home in the Brazil neighborhood, at the edge of Rafah, we met the mother who lay in a heap in bed; everything she had in the world was gone. Outside, I remarked to the reporter from French television who accompanied me that this was one of those moments when I felt ashamed to be an Israeli. The next day he called and said: “They didn’t broadcast what you said, for fear of the Jewish viewers in France.” (http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/magazine/twilight-zone-t…30132)

And this is not to mention the 3-week long invasion of Gaza in 2008-9, in which Israeli troops killed 1400 Palestinians, 335 of whom were children. These children have as much of a right to be humanized, memorialized and remembered as the Fogel children: Yohav, 10; Elad, 4; and Hada, 3 months. Each of the 335 children killed in that invasion have names, families, siblings, parents. Why are their lives not worth reporting? Less than twenty of these children were even named in media reports of the invasion. They were killed in the most despicable, inhuman ways, living in sheer terror as Israeli bombs and tanks attacked their neighborhoods for three weeks straight.

In just one incident, 12 children, including 10 siblings from the Rayan family were killed along with their parents in a missile strike on their home in Jabalya refugee camp by Israeli forces on January 1st, 2009. These children: Asad, 2; Aisha, 2; Reem, 4; Halima, 5; Maryam, 5; Abdul-Rahman, 6; Abdul-Qader, 12; Ayah, 12; Zainab, 15 and Ghassan, 16, were as innocent and undeserving of their cruel death as the Fogel children.

Kids like Hamza abu-Maria, age 7 months, who was killed on May 9th 2010 in her home in Beit Omar village, in the southern West Bank, when Israeli troops fired CS gas at non-violent demonstrators at a protest near her house.

Why is it that some children’s deaths are deemed more worthy of media attention than others, and more deserving of condemnation?

Why does the Israeli government say, and the US media repeat, the contention that the last six years have been a period of ‘relative calm’ in the Israel-Palestine conflict, when 733 Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers in that time period? Is it because only 20 Israeli children were killed in the same time period?

None of these children’s deaths are acceptable! By de-emphasizing the lives of Palestinian children, we are excusing the actions of their killers, who are, in the words of Israeli President Shimon Peres (in reference to the killing of the family at Itamar), absolute animals. This is the same President Peres who said, about the Israeli invasion of Gaza in 2008, “As a nation, there is wholehearted support for the army, the way they handled it, their restraint, their discrimination, and their responsibility.”

Why, in the eyes of Peres and other Israelis, and in the reporting by the US press, are Palestinian children’s lives somehow expendable, and their killers somehow justified in murdering them? The main debate in the Israeli press about the killing of Palestinian children during ‘Operation Cast Lead’ was the question of what this would do to Israel’s image — no one even questioned the act of killing children itself, let alone call the perpetrators ‘animals’.

As Hanna Issa, the Director-General of the Palestinian Ministry of Justice, put it: “Murder is murder, period. I don’t believe that Israel stands on a higher moral ground just because Israeli soldiers are dressed in khaki and use F-16s, apache helicopters and flechette shells to kill and maim Palestinian children while Israeli civilians are killed by suicide bombers.”

B€€FY

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