In the long and gruesome annals of IDF mayhem against children, this one deserves a special place of shame. It seems that three Palestinian Bedouins, 10-year-old Mahmoud Ghazal, his 12-year-old cousin, Yehiya Ghazal, and their 10-year-old cousin Sara Ghazal were playing tag last Tuesday in a Beit Hanun field just outside their home as children are wont to do. These particular kids had made a very bad mistake in playing near Palestinian rocket launchers. It so happens the launchers were being monitored by Israeli aerial reconnaissance. When the IDF saw the children approaching the launchers it too made a fateful error by assuming they were activating them. According to the IDF, while it saw the children approaching the launchers it only noticed they were children after artillery fire had been launched:
The Israel Defense Forces said the children were killed after an army ground unit fired on Qassam launchers in the area. The launchers, which were pointed at Israel, were deployed in fields just outside Beit Hanun, near the Ghazal family’s home. According to the IDF, troops detected “unidentified movement and opened fire.”
…The probe, which was launched immediately after the incident, determined that the children were playing tag near the launchers, as revealed by army footage recording the incident. The video reportedly shows the children – who appear as figures whose age cannot be determined – approaching the launchers and then moving back, in a way that could be seen as suggesting that they were loading the launchers with rockets.
The terrain did not allow for direct observation of the area, so the army had to rely on aerial photography. The unit that launched the missile at the children used this visual feed to direct their fire, army sources told Haaretz.
The video does show one of the figures to be a child, army sources said, but this happened so close to the moment of impact that the troops were unable to abort in time.
This is what happens when the IDF acts hastily, indiscriminately and without sufficient technical means to ensure it has selected a valid target. It did not have the technical means to discriminate whether the individuals were adults terrorists or innocent children. Instead, it presumed the former with disastrous results. Disastrous only for feeling human beings. The IDF will certainly shed few tears and express perfunctory regret. After all, these were only Palestinian children and Bedouin at that.
Finally, if IDF video of the attack viewed after the attack showed clearly the children WERE children and playing tag, why couldn’t the IDF video taken BEFORE the attack have shown the same image?
May the childrens’ families be comforted in their sorrow and loss. And may the gunner who targeted them have many sleepless nights imagining the cries of these children after the shell hit.