Great minds think alike. Last Monday, I blogged about how Palestinian civilians like Dalal al-Sabagh - shot during an IDF incursion into her east Jenin neighborhood on 9 March - are never "killed by Israelis" but only "caught in crossfire". Yesterday, Gideon Levy discussed Dalal al-Sabagh's death, and explained for Ha'aretz readers what it really means when their army tells them that another Palestinian has been "Killed During An Exchange Of Fire".
His article begins with a statement from the IDF Spokesperson's Office, acknowledging that Dalal Abu al-Hassan** was killed during an exchange of fire between Palestinians and security forces, when the IDF and Border Police were operating in eastern Jenin in order to arrest a wanted man from Islamic Jihad. It concludes, however, that it is not possible to determine whether Dalal Abu al-Hassan was killed as a result of IDF or Palestinian fire.
Levy went to the Jenin neighborhood of Wadi Az-Adin, to see for himself the spot where Dalal died, to talk to surviving family members and local residents about the day's events and to ascertain how hard it really would have been to determine who killed her, if the IDF had actually carried out an investigation into her death. He starts out on the roof of the house where Dalal was hanging out washing until she was hit in the back by a single bullet: a perfect shot, square between the shoulder blades, exiting through the front of her neck.
From the al-Hassan house, he walks to the neighboring street, to a new apartment building with a red awning, from where the fatal shot came. On the morning of 9 March 2004, the IDF positioned snipers on the roofs of local buildings, to provide cover for the armored vehicles in the streets below. The apartment block with the red awning was one of the buildings requisitioned. Its roof directly overlooks the roof of the al-Hassan house: Levy stood on the spot where the shooter apparently stood, and wonders what on earth was going though his mind:
One bullet from an Israeli sniper, who was apparently on a roof some distance away, about 200 meters as the crow flies, interrupted everything all at once. Why did he shoot? Is it possible that on a clear day he didn't see that he was killing a woman doing laundry? Is it possible that he didn't mean to kill her, and yet was right on target - with one bullet that pierced her back and exited from her neck? Why should a soldier want to kill a woman doing laundry?
Gideon Levy didn't find it at all difficult to recreate the circumstances of Dalal al-Sabagh's death, or to ascertain that a Palestinian housewife, killed by a single bullet fired on a clear day from an overlooking IDF sniper position was in fact targetted by an Israeli sniper. Isn't it odd that the IDF with all its resources - your tax dollars at work here - is completely stumped, and finds it not possible to determine whether Dalal Abu al-Hassan was killed as a result of IDF or Palestinian fire?
** In the IDF statement, Dalal al-Sabagh is referred to by her husband's surname (al-Hassan).