Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Children of war

Gideon Levy writes about the IDF and their "humane" targeting of children:

"The IDF explains that the Palestinians make a practice of sending children to collect the Qassam launchers. However, in this case, the children killed were not collecting launchers. The first two were killed while collecting carob fruit and the next three - according to the IDF's own investigation - were playing tag. But even if we accept the IDF's claim that there is a general trend of sending children to collect launchers (which has not been proven), that should have brought about an immediate halt to firing at launcher collectors.

But the IDF does not care whether its victims are liable to be children. The fact is that it shoots at figures it considers suspicious, with full knowledge - according to its own contention - that they are liable to be children. Therefore, an IDF that fires at launcher collectors is an army that kills children, without any intention of preventing this. This then is not a series of unfortunate mistakes, as it is being portrayed, but rather reflects the army's contempt for the lives of Palestinian children and its terrifying indifference to their fate.

A society that holds ethical considerations in high regard would at least ask itself: Is it permissible to shoot at anyone who is approaching the launchers, even if we know that some of these people may be small children, lacking in judgment, and thus not punishable? Or are we lifting all restraints on our war operations? Even if we accept the IDF's claims that its sophisticated vision devices do not enable them to distinguish between a 10-year-old boy and an adult, the IDF cannot evade its responsibility for this criminal action. Even if we assumed a completely distorted assumption that anyone who goes near the launchers is subject to death, the fact that children are involved should have changed the rules. Add to this the fact that the firing at launcher collectors has halted the Qassams, or even reduce their number, and you arrive at another chilling conclusion: The IDF shoots at children to wreak vengeance and punish."

And Levy lets the cat out of the bag that it is mere retaliation that is the missing context from all of this violence:

"Anyone who takes an honest look at the progression of events during the past two months will discover that the Qassams have a context: They are almost always fired after an IDF assassination operation, and there have been many of these. The question of who started it is not a childish question in this context. The IDF has returned to liquidations, and in a big way. And in their wake there has been an increase in Qassam firings."

The cycle just continues until someone is big enough to stop the temptation of vengeance.

Levy also unveils the reality of the environment of Gaza's children and their "playground":

"Yes, the children of Gaza gather around the Qassams. It is practically the only diversion they have in their lives. It is their amusement park. Those who arrogantly preach to their parents "to watch over them" have never visited Beit Hanoun. There is nothing there, except for the filthy alleys and meager homes. Even if it is true that those launching the Qassams are taking advantage of these miserable children (which has yet to be proven), this should not shape our moral portrait. Yes, it is permissible to exercise restraint and caution. Yes, it is not always necessary to respond, especially when the response ends up killing children."

Shouldn't it be the "humane army" that resists the siren call of revenge for symbolic glory? Isn't this expected behaviour of "terrorists"? Or is there no moral equivalence here?

Do Palestinians matter in this context at all? Or is their fate left in the cesspool of total annihilation or martyrdom?

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