In a rather extraordinary, because rare, development the IDF discharged a soldier because he murdered a 65-year-old sleeping Palestinian, Amr Qawasme, while in his bed. What’s bizarre about the case is that the first soldier who shot at Qawasme was found to have acted according to regulations because he sensed a movement and “believed his life was in danger.” The second soldier shot apparently because his comrade had. And yet only the second man gets the axe.
Personally, I think the whole thing stinks. Recently, IDF soldiers killed a Palestinian boy holding a bottled drink in his hands. At first they wounded him, then approached and seeing he was wounded but not dead, and that he wasn’t armed, finished him off with lethal shots. They were found justified because they too were ‘afraid for their lives.’ Don’t ask them how a drink bottle becomes a lethal weapon except in the mind of the scared 20 year old Israeli recruit patrolling among an alien people he views as his enemy. Perhaps it was the world’s first suicide vest in a bottle.
So why does the first soldier above who fired get off scot-free, while the second who perhaps thought he was protecting his comrade gets the ultimate punishment.
Why not discharge the commanding officer who didn’t ask Qawasme’s wife after they barged into their home whose home they were in? If they had, they’d have discovered that their intelligence was inept and that they’d forced their way into the wrong home (the real suspect lived one floor below) and killed the wrong man. And why only discharge the first shooter? In the IDF, the discharge is considered the real punishment because they’d never actually send a killer like this to jail. After all, he only killed a Palestinian and they’re all the enemy anyway.
In a related development, the Jerusalem Border Police who pursued a Palestinian driver, Ziad Jilani, after he sideswiped their patrol car and executed him while he was unarmed and face down on the pavement, were found to have done nothing wrong. The case was dropped “for lack of evidence.” They have the executioners. They have videotape from stores along the way. They have the corpse with a bullet through the face shot at close range. What evidence are they lacking?
On a positive note, Israeli peace activists tell me that at the demo called by the settler right at Rabbi Arik Ascherman’s home today, they outnumbered the settlers four to one. Ascherman will be traveling to a Palestinian village tomorrow to celebrate Tu B’Shvat by replanting trees uprooted by the same settlers who attempted to intimidate him by assaulting him in his own home. Settlers would rather commit their crimes with no Israeli Jews watching. Hence the effort to intimiate Rabbi Ascherman. Uprooting Palestinian orchards is viewed by settler thugs as “redeeming the land of Israel.”