Monday, September 30, 2002

Five year-old Danielle Shefi.

Murdered on April 27th, by a Palestinian who shot her in the head as she huddled terrified in her bed at home .

In a new document, Amnesty International addresses the issue of the children on both sides who are victims of this conflict. Amnesty International can hardly be seen as an unprejudiced observer. They appear to be attempting impartiality in this new document, but you only have to skim through to catch them out. Why do they make a point of saying that “some 7000 Palestinian children were injured in attacks by the IDF and Israeli settlers”, for instance, but only that “hundreds of Israeli children were injured by armed Palestinians”. Are there no accurate numbers for Israeli children wounded? And why does the IDF attack but the Palestinians are just armed (it sounds like they hit the kids with the butts of their rifles by mistake, doesn't it?).

And take a look at this highly judgmental description: “The overwhelming majority of Palestinian children have been killed in the Occupied Territories when members of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) responded to demonstrations and stone-throwing incidents with excessive and disproportionate use of force, and as a result of the IDFs reckless shooting, shelling and aerial bombardments of residential areas. …”.

As opposed to this far more forgiving account: ”Israeli children have been killed in direct and indiscriminate attacks, including suicide bombings, and shootings by members of Palestinian armed groups and by Palestinian individuals who may not belong to armed groups…, both inside Israel and in settlements or on roads leading to settlements in the Occupied Territories”.

I could go on, but what’s the point?

Amnesty International accuses the IDF of failing to investigate Palestinian children’s deaths. How can this be? I know this is a war. I know the Palestinians are committing horrific atrocities and purposefully targeting and murdering civilians, preferably women and children. I know they are putting their own children in the line of fire. I know we must stand by our soldiers who are in impossible situations, bravely fighting to protect our lives. But if this accusation is true, it is wrong. The least we can do is check ourselves. How can we learn from our mistakes if we do not even bother to check ourselves?

While I agree with Tal G. who says that “The Amnesty report is itself disturbing because it implies a moral equivalence between Islamikaze bombings and cases where children have been killed by the IDF in the course of dealing with violence by Palestinians”, there have been, of late, far too many mistakes and mishaps, taking innocent Palestinian lives. How could the IDF have used Flechette shells again, for instance, given how unsuitable they seem to be for urban warfare and having specifically promised not to? I am disturbed by the possibility that no one is looking into these occurrences and learning from them.