Haaretz’s Gideon Levy continues his recent series documenting the suffering inflicted on Gaza civilians by the IDF’s ongoing invasion there. Today’s harrowing story depicts a week-long concentrated attack on the Gaza neighborhood of Saja’iya, during which 22 civilians died, five of whom were children. One of them, Mohammed Al-Zakh, was blasted by two tank shells which severed his body in two:
Mohammed was buried twice. He was 14 years old at the time of his death. He was killed last week, three days before the start of the new school year, so he never got to enter ninth grade. Did the [IDF] planners of the operation give thought to the children who would be killed before giving it the satanic name “Locked Kindergarten”? Did the IDF computer that comes up with the names know that there would be five children and adolescents among the dead?
…This sprawling, overcrowded residential [Saja’iya] neighborhood was occupied for almost a week by the IDF. The army wreaked destruction in it. A monstrous bulldozer maliciously potholed a few roads, scarring the asphalt with gaping wounds, for no apparent reason. Houses were hit, street tiling was uprooted, electricity poles were cut down, cars were crushed, dozens of trees were destroyed and 22 residents were killed. For almost a week the tens of thousands of residents lived in terror, some of them unable to leave their homes.
…[Just before he died] Mohammed walked toward Mansura Street, the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare, where the tanks were. According to one account, he was asked to go there to see how his uncles, who lived in the line of fire, were doing; another version has it that he went to see the tanks and help the “defenders,” as they call themselves in this fighting family.
…Last Tuesday his sister came to the house and said there was a wounded boy on Mansura Street. Abdullah rushed to Shifa Hospital. “I looked everywhere but couldn’t find him. I thought maybe he was in surgery, but no. I had a feeling that Mohammed was a shahid [martyr].
“I thought maybe he was transferred to another hospital and I sent relatives to look in Al-Quds Hospital. They didn’t find him there. The feeling that he was a shahid grew stronger. I thought that if he was not in the hospital, he must be lying at the place where he was killed. It would be very hard to get there and get him out. We know that if anyone is wounded there, no one can get close enough to get him out. We know that the army shoots at anyone who approaches there, even at rescue parties. There were cases of people who tried to rescue the wounded and were shot.
“Then I thought he must be in the hospital refrigerator. I asked my cousins to go and check. There were a few shahids there, and they saw them, but they came back and said they did not find Mohammed. The feeling that Mohammed was a shahid grew stronger in me. But there was no announcement.
“I decided to go to the morgue and look. I went in but I didn’t find Mohammed. Then I saw half a body, the only one that was not identified. I saw that it was Mohammed’s half-body. By the belt. It’s a belt that I bought him. And the shoes he wore. I looked at the socks and I knew it was Mohammed. I was sure it was Mohammed. The upper half of the body had disappeared.
“Mohammed was killed by two shells fired by a tank, and both shells hit him. Mohammed is fourteen years and four months old. He was not armed and he didn’t know what a weapon was. They saw that he was a boy. Maybe he went there to see the defenders, maybe he wanted to take part. Maybe he threw stones at a tank. They fired a shell at him. That is Mohammed’s story and that is the end of Mohammed.”
Mohammed was buried that day. The next day, last Wednesday, when the IDF left Mansura, they went to the killing place to look for the other half of Mohammed. They found his body parts together with the body parts of Yusri Abu Jabber, a press photographer for the Al-Quds network, who was also killed there. The rest of Mohammed’s body was buried on Wednesday. Abdullah, the father: “Mohammed was a schoolboy. That is the whole story of Mohammed. It happens every day, every day. Can a boy like this, like Mohammed, be a danger to them? And if he was a danger to them, they could have wounded him instead of killing him. They could have thrown a teargas grenade at him. Even if he was a danger to them, you don’t fire a shell at him.”
The IDF Spokesperson’s Office, this week: “The IDF is not aware of a 14-year-old boy being hit other than from media reports, and is not familiar with the circumstances in which he was hit. It should be noted that on the day the report was published there were heavy exchanges of fire, which included the firing of antitank missiles, the detonation of explosive devices, and light-arms fire against IDF forces.”
His youngest child, Ibrahim, is on his knees, scribbling on himself with a pen. Abdullah gags every so often. Abir is pregnant, and if it’s a boy they will name him Mohammed.
And what do you think this newborn Mohammed will grow up to be? And why do you think he will grow up to avenge his brother? Because an IDF spokesperson doesn’t have the human decency to say a kind word about a lowly Palestinian boy killed by two of its rocket shells which tore his body to pieces for no good reason. Because a stupid IDF and Israeli government doesn’t have the vision to embrace a negotiated end to this horrific conflict that kills the soul, spirit and bodies of both nations.
Hat tip to Haitham Sabbah.
Answer this question as honestly as you can, Richard:
You call for a “negotiated end.” Right, let’s say Israel removed it’s security barrier, all checkpoints and Gaza, Judea & Samaria were 100% ethnically cleansed of Jews. Any “Palestinian” can cross into Israel at will for whatever reason, the border between Israel and a “Palestine” is totally open. Would terrorism increase or decrease?
Yohay Elam says
Unfortunately, everything related to Gaza is now in the shadows – under-reported.
Maybe Olmert’s declaration from today will start a change. Maybe a meeting between Abbas and Olmert will be a first step in the right direction.
Richard Silverstein says
“Ethnically cleansed?” Surely you’re joking! This is a perfect example of hard right hysterical overstatement in the guise of…what, I don’t know–serious debate?
Preposterous. Israel’s border with Palestine is NOT going to be like the U.S. border with Canada. It’s a border between two (hopefully by then) formerly warring nations. There will be security personnel on the border for both sides plus probably international monitors.
Can’t you come up w. any better arguments for yr extremist viewpt. than these?
Richard Silverstein says
Amen to that, brother. But first he has to schedule an actual meeting rather than stating a vague desire to have one. Second, he has to create a serious agenda for that meeting which involves discussion of substantive issues bet. the 2 sides. If he does those 2 things he’d have my support. But I don’t take things he says on faith. “Trust, but verify,” as Regan used to say. I want Olmert to verify before I’ll cut him any slack.
“Ethnically cleansed?” Surely you’re joking! This is a perfect example of hard right hysterical overstatement in the guise of…what, I don’t know–serious debate?”
Gaza wasn’t ethnically cleansed then? And there was me thinking the Jewish communities were forcibly removed against their will.
Since all the Arab states are Judenrein, “Palestine” being the same is a given. In fact it’s one of the “Palestinians'” pre-requisites for statehood. Do you really think any Jews under “Palestinian” jurisdiction would be safe?
“Preposterous. Israel’s border with Palestine is NOT going to be like the U.S. border with Canada. It’s a border between two (hopefully by then) formerly warring nations. There will be security personnel on the border for both sides plus probably international monitors.”
There’s only one “nation” and one terrorist pseudo-state. Secondly, why can’t the border be open? As we’re told time and time again, terrorism will magically cease once Israel ends “The Occupation,” for arguments sake let’s pretend that the phrase “occupation” only means Judea and Samaria and not Israel-proper. And you’re saying “Palestinian” security personnel–many of which are members of Hamas/Islamic Jihad/Fatah et al–are suddenly going to start combatting terrorism and protecting Israel’s border from infiltration? And as for international monitors, yes, they’ve done a sterling job at Kerem Shalom and Rafah, if they’re not fleeing they’re watching as weapons are smuggled in by the crate load.
And I notice you didn’t answer the man point about terrorism increasing or decreasing. As in reality you know the answer. It would increase tenfold as the “Palestinians” would be emboldened by Israel’s further capitulation, Only now the borders are increasingly indefensible and Israel is fighing a missile war on all fronts.
“Maybe a meeting between Abbas and Olmert will be a first step in the right direction.”
Yes, because meeting with a Holocaust-denying terrorist is a “step in the right direction?” Abbas’s demands are as follows:
1) Release of all prisoners–even those serving multiple life sentences for murder.
2) The “Right of Return” whereby Israel is flooded with millions of fundamentalist Muslims.
3) Removal of the Security Barrier–which has prevented suicide attacks by over 90%.
4) A Jew-free “West Bank” and East Jerusalem.
All of which are non-starters.
Richard Silverstein says
Of course not. The democratically elected State of Israel (foolishly) sent those settlers to settle that land in the first place. And another democratically elected government decided that they should leave. To use such a highly charged term to describe the Gaza withdrawal certainly gives away your ideological bias.
I don’t have a crystal ball so I don’t know the answer. But tell me–how well treated are Israel’s Arabs? Do you think Jews would be treated much worse than Israeli Arabs are now? In other words, I don’t think either Israel or Palestine can trumpet their human rights record when it comes to minorities in their midst.
You’re full of crap. Why do you bother coming here? Do you think I’ll let the crap demagoguery slip by here? I suggest you go try it at LGF where it’ll be welcomed w. open arms.
I never told you that. I’m fully prepared for the possible eventuality that some Palestinian rejectionist groups may attempt to foment violence to undermine a peace agreement just as I’m prepared that some settler extremists might do the same.
No, why don’t you read what I actually write instead of what you’d like me to have written so you can poke holes in it? There will be Israeli security on the Israeli side and international monitors on both sides reinforcing security on both sides of the border. If the Palestinians sat back and drank tea all day there would still be a formidable security presence on both sides.
There are many reasons why the Kerem Shalom & Rafah crossings have been abject failures many of which are Israel’s fault. Instead, why don’t you look at other more successful international monitoring missions: Kosovo, Sinai, and the renewed UNIFIL (so far).
I’ll thank you for not putting words in my mouth. I ‘know’ no such thing. Terrorism would rapidly become a thing of the past after a peace agreement is signed. Would everything go swimmingly with no acts of violence ever again on either side against the other? I don’t know but I hope so. But peace would eventually subsume hatred and violence. I know this with every fiber of my being. And a few years after such peace agreement if you ever came across yr comments above you would realize how wrong you were.
Lies don’t go unchallenged here. Either provide reliable proof of this stupid charge or shut up about it.
Regarding Abbas’ alleged negotiating positions (which I by no means grant are accurate portrayals of his views), you have absolutely no clue how international negotiations work. Both parties come to the table with their maximal positions. Then they figure out a way to compromise and come up w. an agreement that meets as much of their needs as possible. The Palestinians may come to the table with claims that are unrealistic or unrealizable as will the Israelis. They can both say they whatever they wish as opening positions. That doesn’t faze me in the least. Neither side believes they will walk out of the room at the end of the day with every claim satisfied with which they walked into that room.
You make a major mistake in confusing the beginning of the process with the end.