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Israel's dehumanisation of Palestinian children

January 23, 2014 at 4:56 am

Far from the targeting of Palestinian children being a fabrication designed to gain sympathy, this reality was publicly exposed by IDF soldier Mor Ostrovski, who uploaded a photo to his Instagram account depicting a child seen through the cross hairs of a rifle. The photo generated outrage throughout social media, prompting the IDF to state that Ostrovski’s actions ‘are not in accordance with the spirit of the IDF or its values’ and announcing an investigation into ‘the incident’. Ostrovski has denied taking the photo, stating that he found the image on the internet and uploaded it to his account.

The photo cannot be classified within the parameters of an isolated incident. The targeting of Palestinian children has been integral to consolidating Israel’s illegal occupation, as soldiers attempt to quell the resistance of younger generations. Constructing the image of ‘the enemy’ by callously disregarding the universality of protecting children’s rights dehumanises Palestinian children, to the point where torture and killings take on the deceptive semblance of routine. Israel’s narrative once again is void of any reference to the occupation and Palestinian resistance. The repetitive discourse of security for Israeli citizens serves to alienate the public from an alternate reality – in silently acquiescing to official statements of terror threats from children throwing stones, impunity for the soldiers committing these violations is strengthened with a culture of enforced oblivion.

Within this oblivion simmers a culture of hatred against Palestinians. Besides rabbis declaring the targeting of children as legitimate and a deterrent against the probability of future ‘terrorist attacks’, Israeli soldiers have displayed a blatant callousness when it comes to targeting children. Threats to shoot children, or actual shootings, do not seem to constitute a crime within the parameters of Israeli law. The violence creates a cycle of helplessness as families are either left to bury their children, or else live with the realisation that adequate medical care for the injuries inflicted upon their children are resolutely out of reach, both demographically and economically.

Palestinian children have been killed by live ammunition for attending protests, or even for venturing close to the apartheid wall or to Israeli territory. Israel’s all-encompassing definition of ‘terrorism’ has provided an excuse to repel any accountability for such atrocities. Investigations into torture and killing of children are not carried out by an independent body; testimony is usually restricted to the soldiers’ version of events without obtaining additional information from witnesses. Furthermore, Israeli law has incorporated torture practices and advocates the killing of ‘terror suspects’, even if they are not on the verge of committing any terrorist activity.

Such contempt for human rights is only exacerbated with a glimpse into how Israeli soldiers devalue the lives of Palestinian children. The macabre reality is transfixed into an obscene flaunting of military power at the expense of helpless victims. Whether the photograph was taken by the soldier or uploaded from another site does not detract from the fact that it offers an unfortunately candid glimpse into the terror network of the occupying state.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.