Sunday, October 7, 2007

Mohammed al-Dura lives on

By Gideon Levy

"....All of these are tasteless questions designed to divert attention from the truly important issues: According to data collected by human rights group B'Tselem, Israel is responsible for killing more than 850 Palestinian children and teenagers since al-Dura was killed, including 92 in the past year alone. Last October, we killed 31 children in Gaza. This is what should have raised a storm.....

...... Al-Dura became a symbol because his killing was documented on videotape. All the other hundreds of children were killed without cameras present, so no one is interested in their fate. If there had been a camera in Bushara Barjis' room in the Jenin refugee camp while she was studying for a pre-matriculation test, we would have a film showing an IDF sniper firing a bullet at her head. If there had been a photographer near Jamal Jabaji from the Askar camp, we would see soldiers emerging from an armored jeep and aiming their weapons at the head of a child who threw stones at them. But these children did not become symbols; there are no stamps bearing their portraits, no streets named after them and no songs composed for them as with al-Dura because they were not filmed at the time of their deaths.

Al-Dura became a symbol because every struggle needs a symbol, a shrine for the masses of dead and the anonymous heroes. The assumption that the IDF soldiers firing at Palestinians at the Netzarim junction killed the boy cradled in his father's arms exactly seven years ago is the most reasonable one. As far as we can remember, there has been no other case in which Palestinians fired at the IDF and hit a Palestinian child.

But even if there is some doubt, it is certain that the IDF has killed and is killing children. So this ridiculous focus on who killed al-Dura, a question that will never be resolved, is no more than a tempest in a putrid teapot. There should be a tempest, a great and mighty one, but one focused on an entirely different issue: Why is the IDF continuing to kill children at such a frightening pace, and why doesn't Israel take responsibility for this and compensate the families of those killed? But no one is conducting "investigations" about this. "

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