If Slain Palestinian Teen Had Been a Camel, Israelis Would Be Outraged Over Her Death

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Posters of Samah Abdallah, who died after an errant bullet fired by an Israeli soldier during a terror incident hit the car she was riding in.The photograph shows posters plastered on walls and doors, and an unidentified man with similar posters on his car windshield.
Posters of Samah Abdallah, who died after an errant bullet fired by an Israeli soldier during a terror incident hit the car she was riding in.Credit: Alex Levac

If Samah Abdallah had only been a camel, you would have heard of her by now. Had she been a camel, the soldiers who killed her would be in custody for the duration of the proceedings. Had she been an animal, and not an 18-year-old Palestinian, her killing would have shocked many Israelis.

But Samah was not a camel. She was a cosmetology student from Amuriya, a tiny, remote West Bank village, who dreamed of becoming a teacher and was studying to be a beautician in the meantime. Her father, Abed, also had a dream: for his daughter to return home safely. And so, because of the tension on the roads that day, November 23, he decided to pick her up in his car after class.

It is very dangerous there for the Palestinians, too, and among them are worried fathers like Abed Abdallah. I reported on Friday about Samah’s death: A 16-year-old Palestinian who tried to stab Israelis near the Hawara checkpoint brought the soldiers to kill not only him, as usual, but also to fire with no warning as her family car happened to drive by.

For no reason, a soldier in a fortified concrete watchtower fired a bullet into Samah’s head as she sat in the backseat, between her brother and her sister. The soldiers initially claimed, preposterously, that the car’s passengers had a knife, but they soon admitted to her horrified father that they had fired “by mistake.” Three weeks later, Samah died in an Israeli hospital.

Samah was not a camel, so no Israeli media outlet reported on her death. Samah was not a camel, so there was no real investigation into the circumstances of her death. The body of the camel that soldiers from the Duvdevan special operations force killed for a laugh in November was examined by an Israeli veterinarian; no one took witness statements from Samah’s family, and no one ordered an autopsy on her body.

The Israel Defense Force’s Spokesman’s Office, which rushed to express shock over the camel’s killing, calling it “a serious incident that is not in keeping with what is expected from IDF soldiers,” took a completely different, and rather contemptible, tack, in its response to Haaretz regarding Samah Abdallah’s death: “During the incident in which a terrorist brandishing a knife ran, an IDF force opened fire ... As a result of the shooting, it seems that the passengers of a vehicle that drove behind the terrorist were injured. ... The incident was investigated and the findings are being examined by the military prosecution.”

“From the shooting, it seems were injured” — why not doubt the killing of Samah, maybe it too a lie of Palestinian propaganda and its servants in the Israeli media, even if she was admitted to an Israeli hospital with the approval of the IDF. Of course, no one was arrested, and you can trust the military prosecutor blindly that the investigation will be buried; it’s not about a camel.

The offenses with which the camel-killers were charged — illegal weapons use, animal abuse and obstruction of justice — might have been appropriate for Samah’s killers as well, had she only been a camel. The soldiers who were charged in the camel’s death expressed remorse; nothing has been heard from the soldiers who “it seems” killed Samah. The IDF did not bother, of course, to call the home of the grieving family in Amuriya. Why would they? Did something happen?

Samah died, and was buried in the tiny cemetery across from her home. Last week her family withdrew into its grief. This is what happens when everyone with a knife is executed, regardless of the danger they constitute: The cycle of meaningless killing continues and expands. The policy of the fast draw and the desire to kill have led to the pointless deaths of Palestinian and Jews alike. This is what happens when dehumanization breaks more and more records, going ever lower: The life of an innocent Palestinian woman is worth less than a stray camel, and the story of Samah Abdallah’s death is given the proverbial donkey’s burial in Israel — as befits her, so it seems, in the eyes of most Israelis.

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