In the occupied city of Jerusalem, Hussein Qaraqe responded to a spate of violent attacks against Palestinians by ramming his car into a number of Israeli settlers at a bus stop. Two were killed, according to Israeli officials, and six were wounded, one of whom died later of his wounds.
Two of the dead were reported to be young brothers; the third was a man in his 20s. Qaraqe was 31 years old, and he was shot and killed by an armed settler while he was trapped and motionless within his car after the incident. Israeli police claimed that the armed settler who killed him was an off-duty policeman. It was an extrajudicial execution by an Israeli official, and not for the first time.
A former spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Ofir Gendelman, went crazy when he saw Palestinians celebrating the attack and hailing the driver.
“Palestinians are celebrating Friday’s ramming attack in Jerusalem, in which 2 small children, aged 6 and 8, and a young man, were killed when a Palestinian terrorist ran them over… This is what Palestinians are celebrating,” he tweeted in English and Arabic. In the Arabic tweet he added, “The one who celebrates the killing of children is not a human like us.”
Gendelman should have checked the records of Palestinian children being killed by Israelis before making such a comment. Even children in the womb have not been safe from Zionist thugs, Israeli troops and fanatical Jewish settlers. He needs a lesson in morality, and to look at the evidence that it is usually Israelis, not Palestinians, who kill and celebrate the killing of children.
Israel and Israelis killed at least 53 Palestinian children in 2022 alone, Defence of Children International – Palestine (DCIP) has reported. According to DCIP, 36 of them were shot and killed during the year, while 17 were killed in just two days of heavy bombing of Palestinian homes and basic infrastructure in Gaza.
Since the start of this year, Israeli occupation forces and settlers have killed 47 Palestinians, including several children. Qusai Radwan Waked, 14, was the latest victim of an Israeli sniper, who shot Waked while he played on the rooftop of his house in Jenin.
In April 2018, Israeli rights group B’Tselem published a video on YouTube showing Israeli soldiers laughing after shooting a Palestinian boy whom they called a “son of a bitch”. The soldier and his superior officer discussed the right position to hit the Palestinian boy, who was helping to remove an Israeli roadblock at the entrance of his village, Madama in the occupied West Bank, near Nablus.
That was the second known video to be shared online by the Israeli rights group showing how Israeli occupation soldiers shoot peaceful young Palestinians, apparently just for fun. The first showed an Israeli sniper shooting and injuring a Palestinian protester near the eastern Gaza fence, while a voice is heard to say: “Wow, what a video!… YES! That son of the bitch.”
During the 51-day Israeli offensive against the Palestinians in Gaza in 2014, the Guardian reported that illegal Jewish settlers from Sderot near the besieged enclave gathered on a hilltop to watch the bombing of Palestinian homes in Gaza and celebrate the death of Palestinians and their children.
“The thud of shellfire, flash of an explosion and pall of smoke are greeted with exclamations of approval. ‘What a beauty,’ says one appreciative spectator,” reported the Guardian. Shimrit Peretz, 19, apparently went to the town with her off-duty soldier boyfriend, Raz Sason, to watch and celebrate. “We came to look at the bombing,” Peretz told the newspaper. It was the couple’s fourth such visit to the hilltop. “It’s interesting,” said Peretz. She and her boyfriend had a backpack with them filled with bottles of water and bags of crisps.
Israelis not only celebrate the killing of Palestinian children, Mr Gendelman, but also view their death and destruction as a spectator sport worthy of their interest. So much so that they even take a picnic along with them.
Sderot, by the way, is built on the ruins of the Palestinian village of Najd which was ethnically cleansed by Jewish terrorists in May 1948.
While Israeli settlers from Sderot were cheering the killing of Palestinians, including, no doubt, children, Israelis in Tel Aviv also celebrated the killing spree. In a video published by the Times of Israel, a huge Jewish gathering is seen to chant: “There is no school tomorrow; there are no children left in Gaza.” They also chanted: “I hate all the Arabs” and “Gaza is a cemetery”.
In November 2021, the New York Times published a short documentary, Mission: Hebron, directed by former Israeli soldier Rona Segal. The film sheds light on some of the daily suffering of Palestinians in occupied Hebron and how Israeli soldiers inflict pain on them for fun or to appease Jewish settlers. One of the soldiers told the director that, “It is fun [to shoot children]. Everyone high fives.”
Back in 2004, a group of Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian boy in Gaza just for fun, Al Jazeera reported Yedioth Ahronoth as saying. “Seven bullets pierced my son’s head,” said the boy’s father, “so you can’t talk here about a mistake or random gunfire. This was an act of direct and clear sharpshooting.”
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child said in a June 2013 report that the “Palestinian children arrested by [Israeli] military and police are systematically subject to degrading treatment, and often to acts of torture, are interrogated in Hebrew, a language they did not understand, and sign confessions in Hebrew in order to be released.” It also said they were used as human shields.
“Israeli soldiers repeatedly used Ahmad Abu Raida, 17, as a human shield for five days while he was held hostage,” during the 2014 Israeli offensive against Gaza, said UNOCHA.
On 13 May 2022, Israeli occupation soldiers used 16-year-old Palestinian girl Ahed Mereb as a human shield in front of an Israeli military vehicle while deployed in the northern occupied West Bank city of Jenin, the DCIP reported.
Numerous incidents confirm that killing children is an accepted norm for the supposedly moral IDF; for Palestinians it is an exception, and an unfortunate one at that. The Palestinians did not celebrate the killing of the boys at the bus stop; they celebrated the fact that pain had been inflicted on the Israeli occupiers and their leadership.
Every battle has unintentional impacts, but unlike the Israelis, the Palestinians do everything possible to avoid targeting children and women. Nobody, and no international law and convention, can deny the Palestinians their legitimate right to fight the Israeli occupation, but they must make every effort to avoid harming children and civilian targets. And they do.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.