I wrote earlier about the death of Fadel Shana, the Gaza Reuters cameraman, whose spine was severed by metal flechette darts fired by an Israeli tank, which also killed five other civilians in the same incident. Human Rights Watch has denounced the attack:
New York-based Human Rights Watch has said it has evidence suggesting that the tank fired “recklessly or deliberately” at the Reuters news crew.
When I earlier wrote about this I was under the mistaken impression that the cameraman was the only person killed. But two others died with him and two others died subsequently–all from the same single shell. This clearly indicates how savage, destructive and heinous the flechette weapon is. It is a tank version of a cluster bomb which explodes in the air above the target and sprays sharp metal darts indiscriminately throughout the vicinity.
The tank attack took place shortly after a Hamas ambush which resulted in three IDF soldiers being killed. Could we surmise that the tank was outfitted with such weaponry and the tank crew eager to fire in order to avenge the deaths of their comrades–even if the Palestinian target was of no military value? An act of sheer, naked vengeance?
One of my readers has attempted to argue that one of the victims was armed as an attempt to explain the tank’s firing. I haven’t even heard the IDF claim this and one would think it would be eager to do so if there was any evidence at all to support it (hell, they’re not even above lying in these types of circumstances so I truly doubt if that charge can be supported). Others have argued that the tank crew might’ve confused the cameraman’s camera for an RPG launcher. But there were at least seven, and probably more civilians standing at the scene of this incident. Can anyone credibly argue that Hamas militants gather in groups this large in the open air when they fire an RPG?
I think it’s important also to document how one dies when hit by such a shell:
Shana’s body armour, which bore a blue-on-white “PRESS” marking, was ripped off by the attack, which medical examination showed had thrust several 1.5-inch (38-mm) metal darts through his neck, shredding his flesh and severing his spine.
I seem to spout the same old almost cliches by now about how Arab life is so cheap to the IDF. But it bears repeating until Israel learns the lesson if it ever will. A man wearing a clearly marked flak jacket indicating he was a journalist, and whose vehicle was similarly marked, was blasted to kingdom come by an Israeli tank using ultra-lethal anti-personnel weapons. It’s unfortunately par for the course for this conflict.
The total inadequacy of the Israeli Supreme Court in policing the IDF’s overaggressive tactics is indicated by this passage:
The Israeli army has defended its use of flechettes, noting that the Israeli Supreme Court turned down a petition to ban their use as a danger to civilian bystanders.
Maybe they’d want to reconsider their previous ruling in light of the death toll from this incident and the international opprobrium that will attach to it. Even if a sense of humanity doesn’t move Israel to act properly, sometimes just plain embarrassment will do the trick. Whatever it takes.
As a former tank gunner, i learned to fire these shells. This insidious weapon was introduced to the IDF during Israel’s occupation of Southern Lebanon. I will not be revealing any IDF secrets if I say we trained to shoot these shells at terrorist infiltrators if and when they are spotted at night trying to cross into Israeli territory. Knowing full well the destructive capability of this shell, the IDF – back then – had regulations prohibiting shooting these shells in a direction where civilians are likely to be found. But the war on Gaza, I presume, has its own rules, or to be more accurate, has no rules at all. By using these shells during daytime and firing them toward a journalist’s jeep, Israel shows utter contempt toward the lives of innocent civilians and reporters. When Israelis recite during the Seder “shfoch hamatha al hagoyim…tirdof be’af ve’tashmidem” – what they really mean is we will pour our wrath on Gazan civilians and we will obliterate those Gazan people (by tank shells, Apache helicopters, F-16 bombs, and hermetic blockade) until they wave the Israeli flag and recite Hallel on Yom Ha’atzmaut.
boohoo, Silverstein care to remind us what other heinous “illegal” weapons the Americans are using in Iraq, uh oh what of the “illegal” weapons in Darfur.
Too much unecessary time is wasted focusing on just about any tiny thing to hang Israel with.
If its not its use of buldozers today it will be its use of M16 rifles tomorrow.
What a sad commentary on hypocrisy.
Richard Silverstein says
@david: No, I wouldn’t expect someone like you to shed any tears for innocent Palestinian civilians killed by metal darts piercing their neck & severing their spinal cord. You’ve got far more important things to do like putting a down payment on your new apartment in Maaleh Adumim I suppose.
This blog deals with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict largely. Why would I write about the use of weapons in Darfur or Iraq??
I’m afraid bulldozers are the least of it when you have indiscriminate weapons like Flechettes, white phosphorus, cluster bombs, & D.I.M.E. all of which the IDF has used to kill civilians.