Editorial |

One Week, Four Palestinian Deaths, All in Unjustified Circumstances

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Israeli troops deployed during clashes at the funeral of 12-year-old Mohammed al-Alami near Hebron, last week.
Israeli troops deployed during clashes at the funeral of 12-year-old Mohammed al-Alami near Hebron, last week.Credit: Emil Salman

When he started his job as Israel Defense Forces chief of staff two and a half years ago, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi said, “Our goal is fielding a lethal army.” Kochavi kept that promise, and last week was especially lethal.

On Tuesday, IDF soldiers shot and killed a 41-year-old Palestinian. According to the army, he was shot because he was moving quickly toward a group of soldiers with an iron bar in his hand and didn’t stop even after the soldiers shot in the air. But it turns out the dead man was a plumber, and he frequently came to that area to open the main valve. The IDF said, “The incident will be investigated.”

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On Wednesday, IDF soldiers shot and killed a 12-year-old Palestinian. The boy was killed while sitting in a car. The IDF Spokesperson’s Office said the soldiers had fired at the car’s wheels after the driver ignored their shouts to halt. The boy’s uncle said his brother and three of his children were on the way home after doing some shopping. The next day, at the boy’s funeral, soldiers shot and killed another Palestinian, a 20-year-old man, during the clashes that erupted. The IDF Spokesperson’s Office said, “We’re aware of the claims of a dead Palestinian. The incident will be investigated.”

A week and a half ago, soldiers shot and killed a 17-year-old Palestinian. His mother said at the funeral that his son had left home in his holiday clothes and was buried in them. The army said that he threw stones at the soldiers, that they shot him in the process of arresting him and that the incident would be investigated.

One week, four deaths, all in unjustified circumstances. A 12-year-old boy, a 17-year-old teen, a 20-year-old man and a 41-year-old man, none of whom endangered the soldiers who killed them.

IDF soldiers’ quick trigger fingers are a badge of shame for the army and the lethal chief of staff who heads it. The IDF has proven to be a thug against people smaller and weaker than itself. Only utter contempt for Palestinian lives could explain such a bloody harvest.

And if Palestinian lives are cheap in the West Bank, they aren’t worth anything in the Gaza Strip. On Monday, Yaniv Kubovich reported in Haaretz that in the view of this lethal army, there’s no such thing as “uninvolved” civilians. Not women, not the elderly, not even babies. A 9-month-old baby, a 17-year-old girl, three women and one man were killed by errant artillery fire during May’s fighting in Gaza. The guns were aimed at the homes of Bedouin farmers who were never supposed to have been targets. But don’t worry. The IDF Spokesperson’s Office said that “the details of the incident are being looked into ... The incident will be investigated ... Professional lessons were learned and have already been assimilated.”

But judging by the recurrence of such incidents, the number of uninvolved people who have been killed and their ages, the only thing the IDF under Kochavi has assimilated is his order to field a lethal army.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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