Heinous Killing on Both Sides of the Israeli-Palestinian Divide

Tears have poured in Kiryat Arba, Sa’ir and elsewhere. The motives are different, but the results are identical and horrendous.

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Relatives of Hallel Ariel at her room in Kiryat Arba, June 30, 2016.
Relatives of Hallel Ariel at her room in Kiryat Arba, June 30, 2016.Credit: Olivieh Fitoussi
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Hubb, they called him, love, and took him with them everywhere. He was their son and brother and they showered him with affection. He was helpless. He was born with Down syndrome.

The soldier shot him in the stomach at close range. The soldier then took off with his buddies without checking Hubb’s condition or calling for help. They left him to bleed on the stony ground. A few weeks later he died of his wounds. Arif Jaradat from the West Bank village of Sa’ir died at the age of 23.

The IDF spokesman said "the force spotted a Palestinian who was about to throw a Molotov cocktail" and the soldiers fired “to remove the threat.” This statement is embarrassingly fallacious.

First of all, the eyewitnesses said Arif only shouted at the soldiers out of fear, as he always did when he encountered the military. And whether or not the soldiers could see they were facing a young man with Down syndrome, it was clear that if it had been a firebomb, the soldiers would have arrested Arif after wounding him. But they shot him and got out of there.

A few kilometers from Sa’ir, in Kiryat Arba, the shocking murder of Hallel Yaffa Ariel in her sleep was committed over the weekend. She too was helpless, she too was young and innocent. “How do you mourn a 13-year-old?” her mother shouted out. She’s right. And how do you mourn a young man with Down syndrome? The hearts quivered, the tears poured and the throats choked, both in Kiryat Arba and Sa’ir.

Mahmoud Rafat Badran, a youth of 15, was on his way home with friends a few days ago after a visit to a water park. Israeli soldiers riddled their car with 15 bullets, thinking its passengers had thrown stones on Route 443. Rafat was killed and four of his friends were seriously wounded from the indiscriminate shooting. The army said the firing was “mistaken.”

The Mark family was driving south of Mount Hebron in the West Bank on Friday. Palestinians sprayed their car with 19 bullets, killing the father, Michael, and seriously wounding his wife and two of his children. The first to rush to their aid were Palestinian passersby, one of them a doctor who resuscitated the mother, and a Red Crescent ambulance. Again life was cut short, again tears poured.

Arif Jaradat.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum (reproduction)

All these killings are different, yet similar. To most Israelis, these cases can’t be compared. The very mention of similarity moves them to holy fury. But the truth is, a helpless person is a helpless person, whether it’s a girl sleeping in her bed or a young man with Down syndrome. Killing them is heinous.

Riddling a car with bullets is also heinous. True, the Palestinians who fired at the car from Otniel intended to kill its passengers, while the soldiers who fired at the car from Beit Ur al-Tahta said they killed by mistake, but their mistake appears unacceptable.

Fifteen bullets by mistake? They fired indiscriminately at a car without intending to kill the passengers? The Palestinians shoot as part of their resistance to the occupation. The Israelis shoot as part of their resistance to the resistance. The motives are different, the results identical and horrendous, even if many more Palestinians are killed.

Most Israelis live in denial as a result of the brainwashing they’re subjected to. Terror exists only on the Palestinian side, only they act with brutality and inhumanity. The parallel reality is hidden from the eye – whoever heard about the killing of the helpless young man from Sa’ir? What’s worse, there’s no willingness to consider the incident from the Palestinian point of view.

Behind all this hides the most deeply rooted assumption in Israel – that the Palestinians aren’t human beings like us. Their blood isn’t our blood, spilling their blood isn’t as bad as our blood being spilled.

The day more Israelis are willing to compare the killing of Arif Jaradat to the killing of Hallel Yaffa Ariel, the day more Israelis recognize the injustice and crimes their country is committing, the first step will be taken to reduce the bloodshed. Until then, it will go on. Nothing will stop it.

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