A 10-year-old Palestinian girl was killed when Israel tanks fired at a school during a raid on the West Bank town of Jenin.
October 18, 2001 10:36 AM   Subscribe

A 10-year-old Palestinian girl was killed when Israel tanks fired at a school during a raid on the West Bank town of Jenin. ??? Wtf? Ok, so its the usual retaliatory attacks for the killing discussed yesterday, but this is just nasty, schools, hospitals, red cross compounds, things like those shouldn't be fired at.
posted by Mossy (17 comments total)
First, let me say that I'm not justifying what happened.

But you may be imagining that schools in the West Bank are like US schools, i.e. large buildings special-built for the purpose, surrounded by playgrounds and fences and a big sign out front with a name on it. Actually, a "school" there is just a building, like any other building, and not visibly different from any other. Which means that whoever fired that round may not have realized that the particular building was a school.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 11:02 AM on October 18, 2001

A good way not to hit a school and blow small children apart would be to not fire your tank into a town.
posted by Doug at 11:22 AM on October 18, 2001

While I am saddened by the loss of life on any side of this seemingly endless struggle, the tank went in retaliation of a politically elected offical having been assassinated. And the assassination took place in retaliation for a terror head guy whose work killed 22 young folks in a pizza place.
We now go into Afghanistan and drop many bombs in retaliation for the WTC, no?
The Israelis, frequently dunderhead products of what has become a garrison state, wear uniforms and are clearly military; the forces opposed to them wear and are civilians and hang out in non-military places. And so this sort of stuff happens.
There may come a time when both sides come to recognize it is a no-win game for either side. Then and only then will things get nicer.
posted by Postroad at 11:29 AM on October 18, 2001

Doesn't this constitute a war crime? They should find out who fired at the school and hold a hearing to find out if it was accidental or the soldier just went nuts or what. Instead of throwing arms up and saying "well this happens" this should be investigated further.
posted by bobo123 at 11:53 AM on October 18, 2001

The school was shelled. Several injuries to the sixth grade.
posted by Zurishaddai at 12:10 PM on October 18, 2001

"Investigate" this Israeli military for killing Palestinian children? and prosecute them for it? hahahaha. HAHAHAHAAAHA ....good luck. there would be no one left in their military.
posted by aLienated at 12:11 PM on October 18, 2001

It's not the first time this has happened: Chicago Jews Protest Shelling of School for Blind Girls
posted by cell divide at 12:48 PM on October 18, 2001

Why is it that posts or comments here and elsewhere that include "WTF?" or "???", or sarcastic "HAHAHA" laughter or "ROTFL" are rarely worth reading?
posted by Mo Nickels at 1:03 PM on October 18, 2001

whoever fired that round may not have realized that the particular building was a school. In fact, they may have had no idea what it was.

Anyway, the front page is getting so crowded that I figured I would just post this here, since it is somewhat related:

With the Palestinian assassination of Israel's tourism minister on Wednesday, they shattered a long-standing taboo of the Middle East conflict. It was the first Arab assassination of an Israeli minister since the founding of the Jewish state in 1948 and appeared all but certain to unleash fierce retaliation.
Of course, we are all familiar with Israel's own attitude toward assassination and the possibility of the lone gunman. Who is next ? Arafat? Sharon? There is a cruel irony in the fate of two nations lying in a couple of mass-murderers. Bonus for WTC watchers: only slightly related
posted by fellorwaspushed at 4:08 PM on October 18, 2001

“It is still. The camp waits, as if holding its breath. And then, out of the dry furnace air, a disembodied voice crackles over a loudspeaker.

"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.”

— A Gaza Diary, by Chris Hedges, Harper’s, October 2001.
posted by raaka at 5:13 PM on October 18, 2001

Are there any gambling men/women reading this thread? Anyone care to take a friendly bet?

The assasination of the Israeli Minister was on the front page of my paper today. Who wants to bet that this story, or one like it, will get buried on the inside news pages, if such an item is in there at all?

Name your wager.
posted by hipstertrash at 8:03 PM on October 18, 2001

...guy whose work killed 22 young folks...

We frequently see items like this. Bombs going off public places, and the implication is always that the Palestinans are fighting dirty by hitting "civillian" targets. While there is nothing that will make these acts any less horrific, I do think that people need an occasional reminder of the fact that such targets are not always alltogether "senseless" or "terrorist." In a country where nearly every young person will be, currently is, or has been a member of the military, bombing a disco is an act that strikes directly at the ability of the enemy to wage war.

Assuming for a moment that turnabout is fair play, hitting a Palestinian school seems like less of an atrocity. The line here is a judgement call: personally, I see a big difference between a modern, well funded, organized and governmentally legitimized army and a ragtag assortment of angry and impoerished teenagers, most of whom never graduate from throwing rocks. When they do, its completely voluntary and rarely connected directly to anything resembling legitimate authority or organized force. You can't conscript a suicide bomber, and you can't tell me that every desperate kid out there plotting an act of violence has the smiling face of well-funded and widespread conspiracy lookign over his shoulder. So, for me, there is a difference between that pizza parlor and this school. The distinction doesn't excuse anyone nor mitigate any killings, but it exists nonetheless.
posted by hipstertrash at 8:27 PM on October 18, 2001

This Independent article comparing the funerals of both the general and the little lass who died on consecutive days made some interesting points from both ends.

Turns out the Israeli Minister was a racist bastard, while the death of the little girl (claimed by Palestinians to be via machine gun) is proved false.

Truth. I can't find it anymore. The phrase: "Truth is the first casualty of war" -- who said that??
posted by oddity at 4:08 AM on October 19, 2001

oddity, I’m not of much mind about the Indepedent article but the following is the only evidence Reeves gives for characterizing the Palestinian story as a fabrication.

“I went there with a colleague. We found no bullet marks in its eight-foot high wall, and none near the spot where she is said to have fallen. There was no blood. She may well have been killed by the Israelis... But the story of her death was wrong.”

Depending on when he went to the murder scene there may not be any physical evidence of the event. Who did he interview about the murder? Witnesses or second-hand gossipers? How did he know where to look?

In murder cases the body is often autopsied. Reeves states that he saw very little of the girl. “Poking out of one end of the cloth swaddling her dead body, you could see her childish face, framed in black locks. At the other, a pair of dusty boots.” Which is to say he didn’t see any of the wounds. Did he talk to the doctor or paramedic that treated her? Apparently not.

His article has not “proved false” the Palestinian story, nor has it been verified. He has simply called certain facts into question. It seems he’s really reaching to make a point. It’s probably a perfectly valid point, but his methods in doing so are poor.
posted by raaka at 6:31 AM on October 19, 2001

Do you think that the Palestinians would have called in the plasterers to fix any damage to the compound already, especially if they were looking for press coverage as they were with the funeral?

Unlikely. Why would they?
posted by oddity at 7:18 AM on October 19, 2001

The Israeli Special Forces map showing the locations of recent Israeli-Palestinian clashes:

A map of the recent hot spots in the Israeli-Palestinian clashes ... source: The Israeli Special Forces, www. isayeret .com

[This map may be missing the three incidents in Netanya, Binyamina and Tel Aviv, since those towns are in Israel.]
posted by tamim at 8:31 AM on October 19, 2001

I don’t want to belabor this too much. Had Reeves solely written an article about popular conceptions of Jews toward Palestinians, and vice versa, the article would’ve been accurate. Instead, he decided to impugn the whole Palestinian community as liars for believing gossip he was presumably told at a funeral.

He writes, “Mourners at her funeral insisted that she was shot dead by a machine-gunner in an Israeli tank.” His argument is composed totally of gossip then, since the girl was killed by a tank shell. That he found no trace of bullets at the murder site only backs up the tank shell fact.

When Reeves says “The story of her death was wrong,” he must be referring to “the story” he heard from “mourners” at the girl’s funeral. We’re still in “popular conception” territory, but it’s already getting dodgy.

He impugns all Palestinians for believing the rumor. “Palestinians blurred over crucial details of Reham's death, producing a narrative of their own to suit the occasion.” For honesty’s sake that line should read, “Palestinians at Reham’s funeral blurred over crucial details of her death...” Otherwise you get an article that seems to be saying Palestinians are liars and they’ll believe any story negative of Israelis. The facts, as written in Reeves’ article, do not support this implicit statement. Nor do they generally support stereotypes or generalizations. Everyone should be wary of articles doing so.
posted by raaka at 10:03 AM on October 19, 2001

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