In Israel, a Dead Arab Evokes Just One Big Yawn

No one bats an eye over Friday's killing of an innocent man by an Israeli soldier. It's not terror, or apartheid, or racism or dehumanization. It's only killing a subhuman.

Palestinian residents of Silwad village attend the funeral of Iyad Hamed, 38, an unarmed man who was killed by Israeli troops who claim he appeared to be a Palestinian assailant running towards them on August 26, 2016.
Abbas Momani / AFP

It was late in the morning. In Israel people were completing their preparations for Shabbat. The military reporters bought challahs, the soldiers left their bases for the weekend. At the Yabrud checkpoint in the West Bank their colleagues saw a man. Actually, they didn’t see a man. They saw a subhuman. They shot him as they were taught. The military reporters reported also as taught: “A terrorist fired a weapon at a pillbox post in Ofra. Nobody was hurt. The force fired back and the terrorist was killed.”

Routine. There is no contradiction between “nobody was hurt” and “the terrorist was killed.” Only Jews can be hurt. An update followed: “The Kfir squad commander, who saw the terrorist throw a firebomb at an IDF pillbox in Silwad, shot and killed him. Nobody was hurt.” Now the shooting had turned into “a firebomb.” A short time later, it was reported: “Apparently, he was mentally unstable. A search on his body resulted with no findings.” In other words, murder.

This is what Channel 10 reporter Or Heller tweeted on Friday, as did some of his colleagues, including Alon Ben-David. Heller is far from the worst of the military reporters, who recite automatically whatever the army spokesman dictates to them without attributing the quote to the spokesman, and consider themselves journalists.

There is no other coverage area in which journalists can act like that. They buy blindly, fervidly, what the ruling authorities dictate to them. The lies about what happened on Friday at the Yabrud checkpoint were spread by the IDF, of course. Afterward the IDF corrected itself, and only after that did the reporters follow suit and report: “the Palestinian didn’t try to attack the soldiers.” Good evening and Shabbat Shalom.

It was late in the morning. Iyad Hamed, of Silwad, was on his way to Friday prayers in the mosque. Years ago he hurt his head in a traffic accident and since then had been mentally unstable. He was 38, a father of three, including a baby. A witness who testified to B’Tselem Saturday, Iyad Hadad, said Hamed had lost his way, panicked when he saw the soldiers at the checkpoint and ran. He ran for his life. He wasn’t armed, he endangered no one.

Paramedic Yihia Mubarak believes he was shot in the back as he ran. He saw an entry wound in the victim’s back and an exit wound in his chest. Hamed died on the spot. Shortly afterward his body was returned. Israel’s lust for bodies was satiated this time, after it transpired that Hamed had been killed although he had done nothing wrong.

A dead Arab. Oh well. We’ve moved onto other, more interesting and important matters. When a single Qassam rocket from Gaza lands, without hurting anyone or causing any damage, Israel launches a revenge campaign of bombardments and shelling, sowing devastation and horror. It’s allowed to do anything. The disappointed military reporters provoke the defense minister, asking, “why only real estate?” And what about Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, whom Avigdor Lieberman had promised to assassinate?

Israel is allowed to do anything. Are the Palestinians allowed to take revenge for the killing of their friend? What a ludicrous question. Are they allowed to try to “deter” IDF soldiers, as Israel does with Hamas, so that they don’t kill innocent passersby again? Another ludicrous question. Will anyone be punished for this killing? An even more ludicrous question.

If an Israeli dog had been killed by a Palestinian assailant, Israel would have been much more shocked than by Hamed’s killing. A thousand reports are published about every West Bank settler who is murdered, yet Friday’s killing of an innocent man evoked one big yawn. It’s not terror, or apartheid, or racism or dehumanization. It’s only killing a subhuman.

I was in Silwad about nine months ago, after Border Policemen killed Mahdia Hamed, a 40-year-old mother of four. The Border Policemen claimed she had tried to run them over with her car, but eyewitnesses testified she had been driving slowly. At home, her 10-month-old infant was waiting to be breast-fed.

They shot her several times and the bullets pierced and ran through her body. Nobody was put on trial. The widower, Adiv Hamed, asked me then, in his naivety: “Do the Israelis know what happened? Was there a public debate in Israel after she was killed?”

I was silent with shame.