Opinion |

Israel’s Border Police, Murderers Among Us

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
Israeli border police officers outside Damascus Gate, Jerusalem, May 31, 2019.
Israeli border police officers outside Damascus Gate, Jerusalem, May 31, 2019. Credit: Mahmoud Illean,AP
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Murderers dwell among us. Nobody is hunting them down, nobody is investigating them, they aren’t wanted and they never get shamed.

They have shot fellow human beings with evil intent, killed them, and they are seen as innocent of any wrongdoing. They go on with their routine, family, friends, career and money. They have nothing to hide or anyone to hide from, because nobody is going after them. They have nothing to be ashamed of, because they have done their duty and they’re even proud of that.

At home they're surely regarded as heroes who have defended their country. In Israel they’re even seen as people with values, because they’re fighters. They stand behind you on line and sit alongside you in traffic, in restaurants, on airplanes and at theaters. Innocent blood is on their hands. Israel’s unseen murderers are everywhere.

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Such is the border policeman who shot the youth Abdallah Gheith on May 31. Youth? Actually, a boy; he was 15. As his Uncle Halaf says: “He never even saw the sea.”

Abdallah dreamed of praying at the Al-Aqsa Mosque with his cousin on the last Friday of Ramadan. They were both too young to get an entrance pass. His father dropped them off near a hole in the fence and Abdallah was shot to death as he was trapped between two fences. An undeclared Israeli death zone, like in North Korea. Anyone who crosses it is sentenced to death. Back in the day, how that shocked everyone when it happened in East Berlin. How irrelevant it is when it happens in Bethlehem.

After the Haaretz article about the killing of the youth came out the other day, the Border Police spokesman drew my attention to a few errors in it. As he put it, the youth was shot while climbing the fence, not while he was on the ground, and the border policemen shot him from an ambush and didn’t run toward him.

Wallah Gheith, Abdallah’s mother, last month.Credit: Alex Levac

So now the picture is complete, in case there’s still any doubt. The boy was erased: He was murdered. You could also say that he was executed.

A boy, unarmed – look at the pictures of him, the innocent look – climbing a fence to fulfill a dream and pray at a holy site on a holy day. Border policemen shot him with a deadly weapon, a Ruger rifle, that the military advocate general considers live fire. They did this while lying in ambush while the youth was climbing a fence. Only one person was in danger in this scene: the boy.

A few hours earlier, the Border Police shot a young man who tried to cross through the same fence, and he was seriously wounded. This is their language, they know no other: to shoot at unarmed youths who don’t endanger anyone, whose only desire is to reach a place they have an inalienable right to see and which the rules of natural justice should let them do. They’re trying to flee to freedom, just like the people who fled East Berlin, and there’s no way to describe such a shooting – of an unarmed boy at a fence from an ambush – but as murder.

These border policemen are considered “fighters,” but they’re the most cowardly of soldiers or police. How miserable and cowardly it is to shoot at a boy climbing a fence. How can they not be ashamed of their deeds, these border policemen? Not, perish the thought, from a moral standpoint – let’s not overdo the expectations – but from an operational standpoint.

And how outrageous it is that this killing isn’t even considered a mishap. No investigation, no arrests, no trial. The spokesman said in his statement that “the police are protecting the citizens of Israel,” and what does more to protect them than to aim live fire at the heart of an innocent youth climbing a fence who falls to his death in front of his father, leaving behind a shattered family? It’s been a while since I’ve seen a bereaved father as broken as Luai, the father of Abdallah, his eldest son, who was his entire world.

The murderer of the Gheith teen lives among us. He’s a very dangerous person. Nobody thinks of stopping him. Of course, he’s far from being the only such person among us.

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