Monday, March 12, 2007

Footnote to the preceding: the price of vengeance

It has been said by sager folks than me that those who deal in vengeance tend to become that which they say they oppose. Again, Israel has provided an object lesson. Last week, the BBC reported that
[a]n Israeli human rights group has accused Israel's army of using two young Palestinians as human shields during a recent raid in the West Bank.

The B'Tselem group said it had testimony from a 15-year-old boy, his 24-year-old cousin and also an 11-year-old boy.

They said soldiers had forced them at gunpoint to enter houses ahead of the troops during the raid in Nablus.
There is one error in the story: the 11-year old, whose name is Jihan Dadush, is a girl. The boy is named 'Amid 'Amirah.

The use of human shields is illegal under both Israeli and international law, not to mention deeply offensive to any civilized concept of morality. And it is something of which the Israelis have long accused Palestinians.

B'Tselem is The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. In its report, the group says that during the Nablus operation, which took place in late February, the 'Amirah family was forced from its house to another where other Palestinians were being held. Soldiers then forced 'Amid to accompany them in a search of three more houses.
According to 'Amid's testimony, the soldiers pushed him with the barrels of their rifles and forced him to enter rooms of the house in front of them, open cabinets and empty out the contents, and open windows. In one instance, according to the testimony, a soldier shot several shots into the room.
Three days later, soldiers seized the Dadush family house and locked the six members of the family in one room, where they were interrogated about the location of armed Palestinians who fired at soldiers in the area. That evening, soldiers forced Jihan Dadush
to lead them twice to one of the adjacent houses that she had mentioned to the soldiers in response to their questions. The second time, when they arrived at the house, the soldiers forced her to open the door and enter in front of them.
The Israeli Defense Force says it's investigating the allegations, but as Professor Wahrman pointed out in the previous post, many reports of illegalities over the years have merely collected dust. Even so, there is the third case, that of 'Amid's cousin Samah, who was forced to enter every room in his house while soldiers followed him and fired a burst of shots into each room after he entered.
Part of this incident was recorded on by AP television cameras and broadcast both on Israeli television and abroad,
which at least should make this may be hard to bury easily, especially since, B'Tselem says, the behavior of the soldiers, including the firing into rooms, indicates they were knowingly and deliberately exposing all three to danger.

However, the fact that this, as B'Tselem also points out, is not the first time this has happened and, it now appears, it continues despite rulings by Israel's High Court of Justice that the practice is illegal, does not engender a great deal of confidence. One thing that the investigation has not deterred is the continuing string of provocative Israeli raids in the West Bank. At this point, it is safe - and fair - to say that with regard to its actions and practices on the West Bank and in Gaza, Israel has something it needs to prove to the world. But again, the question is if the Israeli government cares.

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