So here’s a question: when are IDF personnel ever held accountable for their misdeeds? Answer: only when it’s captured on video and the entire world watches via YouTube. IDF Moral: ensure there is no video documentation of its misdeeds. Next time Israeli soldiers will target the videographer and not the fellow who’s shouting at them as they did at a Bilin anti-Wall protest yesterday:
Israel Defense Forces sources said Saturday a tear gas canister that killed a Palestinian demonstrator Friday at a protest against the West Bank separation fence was likely fired in violation of orders. Bassem Abu Rahmeh, 31, was killed during a protest in the West Bank village of Bil’in, a flash point for confrontations between soldiers and anti-fence protesters.
…IDF officials who investigated the incident found the Armored Corps soldier who fired the canister apparently aimed directly at Abu Rahmeh from a distance of a mere few dozen meters.
What’s curious about this statement is that numerous Palestinians, a few Israelis and foreign activists have been similarly injured by canisters fired directly at them from short distances. So why aren’t those incidents being prosecuted? I hate to say this, but probably because the video documentation wasn’t as good.
The key question is whether the IDF will recalibrate its operational orders in future demonstrations and so avoid mayhem like this. The answer of course is no. By blaming a single soldier for violating orders the IDF has avoided this unpleasant option. You see, it’s not the system or overall mission that are at fault, it’s just the single slightly-tainted apple.
At a rally today sponsored by Dov Kheinin’s Hadash party, hundreds of demonstrators called for a sensible doctrine which the IDF will never adopt precisely because it is sensible, measured and proportionate to the threat posed by the demonstrators:
“The silence of the public, the media, and of decision-makers continues as well,” the organizers added, concluding by calling for the “cessation of all use of deadly weaponry in demonstration dispersal; all occupation’s criminals must be brought to justice, including those who fire on civilians.”
So what was this soldier’s real sin? He was caught on camera doing what all of his comrades do in the same situations. Every demonstrator knows that the IDF uses the tear gas canisters as a weapon rather than for crowd dispersal. Every demonstrator knows that the IDF fires the canisters directly at them. This is not a single incident involving a single misdeed. This is a systemic issue involving the IDF deliberately stepping over the line and seeing how much it can get away with before someone with half a conscience pushes back.
What particularly distresses me about virtually all the media reports on this incident is that they dutifully report the IDF lie that the tear gas was shot in the midst of a violent rock-throwing demonstration. But no reports refer to the YouTube video footage which clearly testifies to the IDF lie. Some reports like this one don’t even acknowledge the witnesses claim that there was no provocation for the attack and no stone throwing to which the IDF was responding. So in effect the world media is giving the IDF half a bye on this when they have no excuse for doing so. Why are the only ones calling this what it really is bloggers? What are reporters afraid of?
This is murder. Just so I can give a hand to my more timid brethren in the fourth estate…it’s spelled M-U-R-D-E-R. Call it what it is. Note that in the longer YouTube video which I feature here thanks to reader Orgo, there isn’t a hint of violence or stone-throwing from the demonstrators. Further, AFTER the IDF has fired the fatal shot, a soldier says to one the demonstrators in a threatening tone: “You want more gas?” This is heinous, wanton disregard for human life.
But of course these are Palestinians lives and so to the IDF they are not quite human. Perhaps somewhere in value between a dog and a human. So this death isn’t really a human death, but rather something like the 3/4 of a vote for which each African-American slave counted according to the original U.S. constitution.
This is the “most moral army in the world” in action. Proving its mettle against unarmed Palestinians. It appears, as I wrote yesterday, that if you are Palestinian you will die for having a big mouth and calling undue attention to yourself. Of this brutish behavior every Israeli citizen can be proud (if they even care).
Several hundred left-wing demonstrators… This is becoming familiar: people who don’t support the actions of Israel are all left-wing or, more bluntly, Communists. Labels – so handy, use requires no thought nor does understanding.
JP Bouche (France) says
“…IDF officials who investigated the incident found the Armored Corps soldier who fired the canister apparently aimed directly at Abu Rahmeh from a distance of a mere few dozen meters.” This sort of minimal statement – it would have proven hard to claim that he was hit in the back – is also likely to be a maximal statement. The officer who killed Iman al Hams at close range in 2004 was cleared from any charge and there are scores of other examples of impunity for I”D”F killers. Although this paper generally express a realistic view of the deep racist scorn animating the zionist military, the contention that when captured on video and watched by the world on youTube, IDF personnel may be held accountable for their misdeed is likely overoptimistic.
Donald Johnson says
I haven’t gotten around to it, but this post deserves to be forwarded to the NYT public editor.
Kung Fu Jew 18 says
At least the JTA recognized the oversight also: http://jta.org/news/article/2009/04/20/1004438/barrier-protester-killed
Miles Stuart says
The comments below it are depressing though.