Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Israel’s War on Palestinian Children

On 18 November, the Israeli armed forces bombed a house and killed the al-Dalou family, all ten members that were present and two neighbors. When the dust and fires settled, it became clear that amongst the dead were five children and five women. Among them was Mohammed Jamal al-Dalou, 29, who his neighbors said worked at a grocery store. The Israeli military (IDF) said at the time that there was an error: either its ground operatives failed to laser-paint the correct target or its munitions misfired (as reported by Gili Cohen at Ha’aretz). Hamdi Shaqqura of the Palestine Centre for Human Rights in Gaza noted, “There is now a complete disregard for human life, shown by the attack on the Dalou family home in the middle of a residential area. This was not the home of a militant.”

Now, with the ceasefire in place, the Israeli military’s spokesperson Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich has reversed the IDF view. “There was no mistake from the IDF,” she noted. “It’s tragic when a terror operative is hiding among civilians but unfortunately it is part of Hamas and Islamic Jihad tactics.” The Israelis now say that al-Dalou was a member of the police unit of Hamas charged with the security detail for high-level officials. In other words, al-Dalou sounds like a functionary of the Hamas organization. The Israelis are not saying that he was part of the military wing, let alone was part of any unit that had either done or planned to undertake any kind of operations in Israel. At most, al-Dalou was a Hamas bodyguard and driver. His terror level is even lower than that of Salim Hamdan, Osama Bin Laden’s driver who was acquitted by a US appeals court in mid-October.

It is contrary to the customs of war to bomb civilian areas. The jargon of warfare (Proportionality and Distinction) makes it clear that the threshold for prevention of civilian casualties must be very high and the imminent threat from the person being targeted must be demonstrable. The attack on the Dalou home meets none of these tests. Mohammed al-Dalou was at home, not “hiding among civilians,” as the IDF spokesperson put it. The IDF bombed his home, knowing that his family would be inside. To have bombed a family as they cowered in their home is reminiscent of the IDF’s Dahiya Doctrine, so baldly enunciated by Israel’s General Gadi Eisenkott, “What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on. We will apply disproportionate force on it and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases. This is not a recommendation. This is a plan. And it has been approved.” To bomb civilian areas, then, is part of the Israeli government’s plan – and it is a violation of the international rules of war.

Why did the IDF kill and injure so many children during this bombing run? Seventy-five percent of the population of Gaza is under 25. This means that if the IDF attacks civilians, it is more likely to kill or maim children than adults. IDF officials conceded by the fourth day of the bombing that there was a “decline in the number of quality targets available to Israeli intelligence and Israel Air Force” (as reported by Avi Issacharoff in Ha’aretz). The IDF took to “bombing real estate” – empty Hamas facilities – and bombing secondary and tertiary targets, which included residential areas and UN facilities (the Palestine Chamber of Commerce estimates that the damage amounts of $300 million, a fortune in the impoverished Strip). In congested Gaza no amount of “precision” bombing is going to prevent the “flattening” of the civilian population and its infrastructure. Whether Mohammed al-Dalou is a member of Hamas or not, Israel was prepared to attack his home in a residential area. This was not a “quality target.”

Among the “secondary targets” were the media center, which was bombed because of the presence of a Hamas media unit in the building, and it bombed a car owned by the Hama-run al-Aqsa television channel (Mahmoud al-Kumi and Hussam Salama, cameramen for al-Aqsa, died in this attack). Lt. Col. Leibovich said, “The targets are people who have relevance to terror activity.” The al-Aqsa car also had Mohamed Abu Aisha, director of al-Quds Educational Radio, and the car in front of them was carrying the New York Times’ translator. IDF did not care for freedom of speech and the freedom of journalists to travel in war zones. It sent out a tweet, “Advice to reporters in #Gaza. For your own safety, stay away from #Hamas positions and operatives.” In other words, the IDF declared it a terrorist act to talk to Hamas during its bombardment. One of those who made the mistake was Omar Misharawi, age 11, son of Jihad Mishrawai, a BBC cameraman. Their house in Gaza City drifted too close to IDF positions.

Concern for the human rights of the Palestinians is minimal. No wonder that Raji Sourani, the director of the Palestine Centre for Human Rights in Gaza, came on Democracy Now and said quite plainly that Palestinians are entitled to protection, that “Geneva Conventions are not for the intellectuals or academics; it’s for civilians to have it on their skin, to be protected at the time of war, not peace.” To have rights on the skin is a decisive image: it is on the skin that the bombs begin their intrusion into the world of the civilian. Impunity delivered to Israel from one callous US administration after another provides the bombs with permission to break the skin of the Palestinians. “We are the targets of this war,” said Sourani, meaning that it is civilians, and children, who carried the weight of the cynicism from the Israeli and US governments.

The noise, the stress and the danger of the war take its toll on children. UNICEF’s Communications officer in Gaza, Sajy Elmughanni says, “My one year old son Kamal has not been the same since the air strikes started. He used to be a happy baby, but now he sits and stares blankly. It makes me feel powerless.” Meanwhile, in a classroom in Gaza, children gather for their first day. Desks have been left empty for the dead. One desk has a sign. It reads: The Dear Martyr Sarah al-Dalou. She came too close to a terrorist.

Vijay Prashad’s most recent book is Arab Spring, Libyan Winter (AK Press). On December 8, in Boston, he will moderate the first ever meeting of Angela Davis and Noam Chomsky. For more info, http://criticalresistance.org/angela-davis-and-noam-chomsky-in-conversation-for-the-first-time-ever/.

 

More articles by:

Vijay Prashad’s most recent book is No Free Left: The Futures of Indian Communism (New Delhi: LeftWord Books, 2015).

October 18, 2018
Erik Molvar
The Ten Big Lies of Traditional Western Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lockheed and Loaded: How the Maker of Junk Fighters Like the F-22 and F-35 Came to Have Full-Spectrum Dominance Over the Defense Industry
Lawrence Davidson
Israel’s “Psychological Obstacles to Peace”
Brian Platt – Brynn Roth
Black-Eyed Kids and Other Nightmares From the Suburbs
John W. Whitehead
You Want to Make America Great Again? Start by Making America Free Again
Zhivko Illeieff
Why Can’t the Democrats Reach the Millennials?
Steve Kelly
Quiet, Please! The Latest Threat to the Big Wild
Manuel García, Jr.
The Inner Dimensions of Socialist Revolution
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ Over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Adam Parsons
A Global People’s Bailout for the Coming Crash
Binoy Kampmark
The Tyranny of Fashion: Shredding Banksy
Dean Baker
How Big is Big? Trump, the NYT and Foreign Aid
Vern Loomis
The Boofing of America
October 17, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
When Saudi Arabia’s Credibility is Damaged, So is America’s
John Steppling
Before the Law
Frank Stricker
Wages Rising? 
James McEnteer
Larry Summers Trips Out
Muhammad Othman
What You Can Do About the Saudi Atrocities in Yemen
Binoy Kampmark
Agents of Chaos: Trump, the Federal Reserve and Andrew Jackson
David N. Smith
George Orwell’s Message in a Bottle
Karen J. Greenberg
Justice Derailed: From Gitmo to Kavanaugh
John Feffer
Why is the Radical Right Still Winning?
Dan Corjescu
Green Tsunami in Bavaria?
Rohullah Naderi
Why Afghan Girls Are Out of School?
George Ochenski
You Have to Give Respect to Get Any, Mr. Trump
Cesar Chelala
Is China Winning the War for Africa?
Mel Gurtov
Getting Away with Murder
W. T. Whitney
Colombian Lawyer Diego Martinez Needs Solidarity Now
Dean Baker
Nothing to Brag About: Scott Walker’s Economic Record in Wisconsin:
October 16, 2018
Gregory Elich
Diplomatic Deadlock: Can U.S.-North Korea Diplomacy Survive Maximum Pressure?
Rob Seimetz
Talking About Death While In Decadence
Kent Paterson
Fifty Years of Mexican October
Robert Fantina
Trump, Iran and Sanctions
Greg Macdougall
Indigenous Suicide in Canada
Kenneth Surin
On Reading the Diaries of Tony Benn, Britain’s Greatest Labour Politician
Andrew Bacevich
Unsolicited Advice for an Undeclared Presidential Candidate: a Letter to Elizabeth Warren
Thomas Knapp
Facebook Meddles in the 2018 Midterm Elections
Muhammad Othman
Khashoggi and Demetracopoulos
Gerry Brown
Lies, Damn Lies & Statistics: How the US Weaponizes Them to Accuse  China of Debt Trap Diplomacy
Christian Ingo Lenz Dunker – Peter Lehman
The Brazilian Presidential Elections and “The Rules of The Game”
Robert Fisk
What a Forgotten Shipwreck in the Irish Sea Can Tell Us About Brexit
Martin Billheimer
Here Cochise Everywhere
David Swanson
Humanitarian Bombs
Dean Baker
The Federal Reserve is Not a Church
October 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Climate Crisis is Upon Us
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail