"Yesterday at this spot the Israelis shot eight young men, six of whom were under the age of eighteen. One was twelve. This afternoon they kill an eleven-year-old boy, Ali Murad, and seriously wound four more, three of whom are under eighteen. Children have been shot in other conflicts I have covered—death squads gunned them down in El Salvador and Guatemala, mothers with infants were lined up and massacred in Algeria, and Serb snipers put children in their sights and watched them crumple onto the pavement in Sarajevo—but I have never before watched soldiers entice children like mice into a trap and murder them for sport."
An article in the Guardian (18 February 2013) contextualises a horrific photo taken somewhere in Palestine through the cross hairs of an Israeli sniper rifle and posted publicly by Mor Ostrovski, aged 20. Ostrovski is a soldier in an Israeli sniper unit.
According to the Guardian article, the soldier's superiors, who claim to be investigating the incident, were quick to assert that Ostrovski's behaviour was "not in accordance with the spirit of the IDF or its values". The IDF's values, however, have long explicitly included the murder of Palestinian civilians, including Palestinian childen.
Ostrovski claimed he did not take the picture but found it on the internet, although no-one else had previously noted its existence. Breaking the Silence, a group of Israeli combat soldiers campaigning to raise awareness about life in the West Bank, suggested on its Facebook page that this incident is not particularly unusual: "This is what occupation looks like. This is what military control over a civilian population looks like."
Electronic Intifada published several other images from Ostrovski's Instagram page. They earlier published one of Israeli soldier Nisim Asis licking what is probably tomato ketchup from a knife with the caption: "Fuck all Arabs their blood is tasty". No charges followed this and numerous other public pornographic incitements to murder Palestinians, not excluding children.
These incidents picked up by EI's alertness should be seen in the context of sick and shocking images printed on tee-shirts popular among other Israeli snipers that urge the killing of women and children.
The depth of the child-killing depravity of sections of the Israeli military currently being equipped by the US and EU was witnessed and reported by Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges in his Gaza Diary in Harper's Magazine in 2001 (reproduced on the website of Bint Jbeil refugee Camp in Gaza). Israeli snipers in Rafah routinely used silencers to kill Palestinian children for sport, after luring them into rock-throwing confrontation.
"Come on, dogs," the voice booms in Arabic. "Where are all the dogs of Khan Younis? Come! Come!" I stand up. I walk outside the hut. The invective continues to spew: "Son of a bitch!" "Son of a whore!" "Your mother's cunt!"
The boys dart in small packs up the sloping dunes to the electric fence that separates the camp from the Jewish settlement. They lob rocks toward two armored jeeps parked on top of the dune and mounted with loudspeakers. Three ambulances line the road below the dunes in anticipation of what is to come.
A percussion grenade explodes. The boys, most no more than ten or eleven years old, scatter, running clumsily across the heavy sand. They descend out of sight behind a sandbank in front of me. There are no sounds of gunfire. The soldiers shoot with silencers. The bullets from the M-16 rifles tumble end over end through the children's slight bodies. Later, in the hospital, I will see the destruction: the stomachs ripped out, the gaping holes in limbs and torsos.
Yesterday at this spot the Israelis shot eight young men, six of whom were under the age of eighteen. One was twelve. This afternoon they kill an eleven-year-old boy, Ali Murad, and seriously wound four more, three of whom are under eighteen. Children have been shot in other conflicts I have covered—death squads gunned them down in El Salvador and Guatemala, mothers with infants were lined up and massacred in Algeria, and Serb snipers put children in their sights and watched them crumple onto the pavement in Sarajevo—but I have never before watched soldiers entice children like mice into a trap and murder them for sport.
Chris Hedges' full report here on Bint Jbeil website
Hold in check your natural human inclination to reject such shocking testimony concerning a murderous nuclear-armed military currently being equipped by the US and EU.
I visited Rafah and interviewed on camera the dignified and impressive father of murdered Palestinian schoolgirl Iman Al Hams. The short film, The Killing of Iman Al Hams, focuses on an unexceptional example of Israeli murder that only the chance publication of military radio communications thrust into the public domain. Iman was executed by Israeli soldiers in 2004 in a fashion the Israeli military judged to be ethical, i.e. crumpling a 13-year old school child to the ground by sniper fire and then "confirming the kill" by emptying a magazine into the dying child's body as she lay alone on the ground. The Israeli officer, who said he would kill "three year old" Palestinian children, was later promoted from Captain to Major in the self-proclaimed "most moral army in the world"
Despite the primitive camera work of The Killing of Iman Al Hams, in the 13-minute testimony that is the heart of the film, Mr. Al Hams reports the facts of the Israeli army's execution of his child and the shocking official response. The other twelve minutes present evidence that this is a common occurence, and argue that BDS is the appropriate response to Israeli savagery.
This readiness to kill civilans of all ages has been at the heart of the Zionist project since its inception. There has been no "fall from grace", no earlier heroic period of Zionist history; state terrorism against Palestinian civilians was the forceps that birthed the State of Israel. This point should not be contentious, since David Ben Gurion, revered as Israel's founding father, demanded from the Jewish militias that later became the Israel Army a readiness to kill civilians. Ben-Gurion confided to his War Diary on New Year's Day 1948:
"What is necessary is cruel and strong reactions. We need precision in time, place and casualties. If we know the family -- [we must] strike mercilessly, women and children included...there is no need to distinguish between guilty and innocent."
Ben Gurion's legacy is strong in Israel today - the Army he founded, barbarised by over six decades of ethnic cleansing that is still under way, behaves with great cruelty towards Palestinians under its control, "mercilessly, women and children included". That is the inevitable tradition fostered by all settler colonial projects, including the Zionist project in Palestine, where a population of incomers under the protection of an imperial power sets itself the aim of removing the indigenous inhabitants. Great cruelty and an inbuilt tendency towards genocide.
Israeli soldiers confirm innumerable Palestinian and other testimonies that soldiers kill Palestinians casually and with impunity:
We were in a weapons carrier when this guy, around 25, passed by in the street and, just like that, for no reason - he didn't throw a stone, did nothing - bang, a bullet in the stomach, he shot him in the stomach and the guy is dying on the pavement and we keep going, apathetic. No one gave him a second look
All our governments know what is going on, and still sell arms to this murderous rabble of an army.
18 February 2013