The Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, is widely seen as Israel’s lone mainstream left-of-center daily. It has a low circulation inside Israel, but its English edition is read much more widely by Israel observers outside of the Middle East. It has even been called “The New York Times of Israel.”
That’s why it’s important to draw attention when it stumbles.
In a story published on Tuesday, Haaretz reported on the Israeli military’s claim that 15-year-old Mohammed Tamimi, a Palestinian youth whose cousin, Ahed has recently become a cause celebre for opponents of Israel’s occupation around the world, got his devastating skull injuries not from Israeli fire but from falling off his bike. Read more at LobeLog
Earlier this week, the story broke that Jawaher Abu Rahmeh, the Palestinian woman who died after being injured by tear gas during a weekly protest against the Israeli security barrier in Bi’lin, had died as a result of poor medical care at the hospital in Ramallah.
Case closed, right? Not so fast.
Jawaher Abu Rahmeh
972 Magazine has been on top of this thing from the beginning. And their blogger, Yossi Gurvitz, noticed right off that the reports attributed the announcement of the conclusion of the IDF investigation to unnamed military sources. So, the intrepid Gurvitz called the IDF Spokesman, who immediately denied that any result of the investigation had been arrived at.
Weeks ago, the Central Command brass engaged a whole slew of right-wing Israeli bloggers to spread their initial version of Abu Rahmeh’s death. Now, these bloggers have been embarrassed and thrown under the proverbial bus as they passionately advocated the IDF story, which the IDF later contradicted. Jerry Haber, at the Magnes Zionist, reviews the various stories that the IDF has put out there. Three and counting so far.
Gurvitz describes the game that is being played. It’s worth your time to read it in full. But the short form is that the IDF, in an effort to manage the issue and to try to defuse yet another potential shock to their image is having the Spokesman give the official line, which is that the incident is being investigated, while Gen. Avi Mizrahi’s Central Command office is anonymously putting out one story after another to try to explain Jawaher’s death and why the IDF was not at fault.
There is, of course, a better way to deal with this, and that is for the IDF to obey the order of the Israeli High Court of Justice and move the barrier out of Bi’lin, where it serves to undermine, rather than enhance Israeli security and cuts off the people of Bi’lin from much of their town’s lands, which are needed for grazing and other purposes. But that’s not likely to happen as long as the IDF can thumb its nose at not only international law but even Israeli law with impunity.
Until that changes, we can at least count ourselves lucky that we have 972 and other hard-working Israelis to at least expose these shoddy tactics.
My latest piece for the Meretz USA blog can be read by clicking here. I examine the deeper implications of the appalling video that some IDF soldiers seemed to think was just hilarious when they posted it in YouTube.
Eden Abergil’s photos on Facebook, depicting her having just a wonderful time with bound and blindfolded Palestinian prisoners, are contemptible. Unfortunately, the outrage has done nothing to prevent the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) from depicting Abergil as an aberration, the proverbial “one bad apple” among the wholesome fruit.
One cannot blame the IDF; any military or governmental body would do the same. But one need go no further than to
Eden Abergil in some of her Facebook pictures
read the testimonies from dozens of IDF reservists to find that this is as far from an isolated incident as Israel is from Australia.
Shovrim Shtika (Breaking the Silence) has been spreading those testimonies far and wide for years now, incurring the wrath of the Israeli government. But the ad hominem attacks that have been launched against the group have yet to discredit even one testimonial from one soldier. Not surprisingly, they haven’t really tried, merely calling the soldiers names but never trying to address the substance of their remarks.
We’re letting the face of Abergil become the face of an isolated IDF soldier gone awry. Her actions were deplorable, but Shovrim Shtika, B’Tselem and other Israeli groups have been reporting on the callous and sometimes cruel actions of IDF soldiers for a long time now. Continue reading →
31-year old Bassem Abu Rahmeh was killed in Bil’in on Friday. He was killed because an Israeli soldier fired a long-range tear gas canister at his abdomen, from a distance of a few yards.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) calls this the result of “unauthorized fire.” Fine. But the question is what will be done about it. The result of this instance of “unauthorized fire” was the death of a young Palestinian man. The result of the last
Bassem Abu Rahmeh after being hit by an Israeli tear gas cannister
similar incident was a severe brain injury to an American citizen who remains unconscious.
The latter case, that of Tristan Anderson, remains under investigation and, to date, no IDF action in response has been announced.
I can’t help but be reminded of last summer’s incident, where a soldier, acting under the orders of his commander fired (albeit apparently reluctantly) at and wounded a bound and blindfolded Palestinian man. The IDF charged the soldier and his commander with “conduct unbecoming,” barely a slap on the wrist.
In terms of accountability, the first question regarding both of these incidents is whether arrests will be made in the first place. In general, the IDF is a bit more inclined to bringing charges against their soldiers than is the case with the police, whether they are dealing with their own people or with settlers. But even in the case of the army, the history is not very good. Continue reading →