Today is the four-year anniversary of the shooting of Mohammed al-Dura, who was "killed by Israeli security forces live gunfire to the abdomen and chest" (B'Tselem's description) . The death of 12-year-old Mohammed became an icon of the al-Aqsa intifada, after his last terrifying moments were captured by a French film crew.
In the intervening four years, Palestinian bombers have killed these Israeli 12-year-olds [Footnote 1]:
1. Lidor Ilan, of Rishon Lezion, one of eleven people killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber in Jerusalem. Lidor was attending the bar mitvah of a family friend, with his parents, siblings and cousins. The dead included Lidor's sister Oriah (aged 18 months), his aunt, his uncle, and three cousins. (Date of death: 2 Mar 2002)
"My only consolation is that there is death at the end, [an end to] the suffering over their having gone. I sometimes ask myself whether it would have been better if I hadn't had them at all, if I hadn't enjoyed them. I have no answer."
-- Ronit Ilan, mother of Lidor and Oriah Ilan, Cited in Ha'aretz: Mothers Without Borders, 31 Mar 2004
2. Kamar Abu Hamed, of Daliat al-Carmel, killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber on a bus in Haifa. (5 Mar 2003)
Eight of the 13 named victims of Wednesday's suicide bombing were of school age and three others were under 22. Sitting among them at the back of the bus was the bomber, Mahmoud Kawasme, 21, a student from the distant West Bank town of Hebron. Israeli police have no idea how he got from Hebron to Haifa but say he was sent by the Islamist militant group Hamas.
The force of the explosion ripped off the roof of the bus and sent body parts flying.
Two of the victims were father and son, Motti and Tom Hershko, 16. Tom's mother, Ruth, said she spoke to her only son, who had taken the day off school to spend time with his father, a few moments before the explosion.
Also sitting on the bus was Kamar Abu Hamad, 13 [sic], who was a Druse, a breakaway Muslim tribe found in Israel and Lebanon. Her cousin, Osama Abu Hamad, said she was the pride and joy of her family. "She was very bright and her parents invested all they had in sending her to a private school. This was a cruel tragedy. She was the future of her family. All this killing leads nowhere," he said.
-- The Guardian; Mother Tells Of Last Call As Families Mourn Bus Bomb Children.
3. Avraham Bar Or, of Jerusalem, one of 23 people killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber on a bus returning from prayers at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Avraham's parents and six of his siblings were wounded in the same blast. (19 August 2003)
And Israeli soldiers have killed these Palestinian 12-year-olds:
1. Sami abu Jazar, of Rafah, shot through the head and left clinically dead on 10 October by an IDF sniper as he threw stones. (Date of death: 12 Oct 2000)
IDF bullets killed 231 Palestinian children. That is, 85 percent of the children who were killed were shot. An accusation that has been appearing in all the reports published by human rights organizations in Israel and internationally is that IDF soldiers are "trigger-happy" and that during the suppression of demonstrations and various kinds of protest actions, in which children also participate, the IDF "employs exaggerated force that is deadly and disproportionate."
For example, the Amnesty report cites testimony by members of its delegation who witnessed a demonstration in Rafah on October 10, 2000, in which about 200 people participated, most of them elementary school students, who threw stones. According to the Amnesty representatives, even though there was no danger to the lives of IDF soldiers, the soldiers used unjustified deadly force, firing live ammunition at the demonstrators. The shooting injured Sami Fathi Abu Jazar (left) in the head; he died the following day of his injuries. Six other children were also wounded.
-- Crimes, No Punishment; Ha'aretz, Oct 2002
2. Mohammed Arja, of Rafah, shot through the neck by an IDF sniper. (1 Dec 2000)
These are the deaths that Dr. Abdel Razq Masry awake each night. The only pathologist in the Gaza Strip, Masry records each of the intifadeh's victims. On Dec. 2, he went early in the morning to the morgue at Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis. Laid out on the stainless-steel dissecting table was the small body of Mohammed Arja...
Arja had been shot while he walked with his father to buy fruit, according to family members. The boy peered around a concrete barrier near the border fence and, as he turned, was hit by a large-caliber round through his neck. The exit wound tore out the boy's throat.
-- Fields Of Fire, TIME Magazine, 11 Dec 2000
3. Yehya Eid, of Rafah, killed when an Israeli forces exploding mine lacerated his abdomen. (28 Mar 2001)
At approximately 10:30 local time, there was an explosion near the border in Brazil refugee camp in Rafah. Residents hurried to the location of the explosion, finding a child lying on the ground with his chest and abdomen torn, his bowels on the ground and his face deformed. The body of the unidentified child was taken, along with another three wounded children, to Al-Joeneina hospital in Rafah. Later, the child was identified as Yahaia Fathi Mohammed El-Sheikh ‘Eid, a 12-year-old from ‘Amer housing project in the east of Rafah. The other wounded children were: Mohammed Jaber ‘Abed, 12; ‘Ammar Mohammed El-Kurd, 12; and Walid ‘Abdel-Fattah Mansour, 12.
According to PCHR’s investigation and eyewitness and wounded testimonies, the explosion resulted from an explosive object left behind by the Israeli occupation forces, positioned at the border in Rafah... [T]he four children were on their way to school, when a civilian living near the border asked them to help him carry two household gas jars home. The children carried the two jars into the house. After they noticed a cylindrical metal piece, an iron hammer and a colored leather glove, the children entered the border area through a hole in the border fence. The child Yahia El-Sheikh ‘Eid picked up the metal piece and the hammer, and ‘Ammar El-Kurd picked up the glove. Then, the four children left the area. Approximately 10m away from the border, the child Yahia started to fidget with the metal piece and the hammer, which exploded between his hands.
4. Suleiman Masri, of Rafah, killed by Israeli gunfire to various parts of the body. (16 Jun 2001)
It is still. The camp waits, as if holding its breath. And then, out of the dry furnace air, a disembodied voice crackles over a loudspeaker. "Come on, dogs," the voice booms in Arabic. "Where are all the dogs of Khan Younis? Come! Come!" I stand up. I walk outside the hut. The invective continues to spew: "Son of a bitch!" "Son of a whore!" "Your mother's cunt!"
The boys dart in small packs up the sloping dunes to the electric fence that separates the camp from the Jewish settlement. They lob rocks toward two armored jeeps parked on top of the dune and mounted with loudspeakers. Three ambulances line the road below the dunes in anticipation of what is to come.
A percussion grenade explodes. The boys, most no more than ten or eleven years old, scatter, running clumsily across the heavy sand. They descend out of sight behind a sandbank in front of me. There are no sounds of gunfire. The soldiers shoot with silencers. The bullets from the M-16 rifles tumble end over end through the children's slight bodies. Later, in the hospital, I will see the destruction: the stomachs ripped out, the gaping holes in limbs and torsos.
Yesterday at this spot the Israelis shot eight young men, six of whom were under the age of eighteen. One was twelve. This afternoon they kill an eleven-year-old boy, Ali Murad, and seriously wound four more, three of whom are under eighteen. Children have been shot in other conflicts I have covered—death squads gunned them down in El Salvador and Guatemala, mothers with infants were lined up and massacred in Algeria, and Serb snipers put children in their sights and watched them crumple onto the pavement in Sarajevo—but I have never before watched soldiers entice children like mice into a trap and murder them for sport.
-- Chris Hedges: A Gaza Diary (entry for 17 Jun 2001). Published in Harper's Magazine, Oct 2001 edition.
5. Ali Abu Shaweish of Khan Younis, shot through the heart by an Israeli sniper. (17 Jun 2001)
Three other Palestinians, all of them children, were also killed by Israeli army soldiers in Khan Younis (Gaza Strip), leading the indignant Palestinian public to question the wisdom of maintaining a cease-fire... The children are 12-year-old Ali Murad Abu-Sahawish, shot dead by an Israeli sniper near the Tuffah junction south of Gaza town, and Suleiman Al-Masri, also 12, killed by Israeli soldiers in Rafah at the southern tip of the strip. A third boy, identified as 16-year-old Adel Hassan Muqanan, died on 18 June of wounds he had sustained on 16 June near the Tuffah junction.
-- Let Us Not Fool Ourselves; al-Ahram Weekly, 21 Jun 2001
6. Bilal Abu Khader, of Jenin, "collaterally" killed by a helicopter missile, when the IDF carried out an assassination in the street where he was playing with his younger brother, Ashraf. Ashraf was killed in the same incident. (31 Jul 2001)
7. Mohammed Zurob, of Khan Younis, shot through the chest by an Israeli sniper. (23 Aug 2001)
NABLUS, West Bank, Aug 23 (News Agencies) - Israeli troops shot dead an 11-year-old (sic) Palestinian boy, while its army moved into Hebron on Thursday.
Mohammad Jaber Zorob was shot in the heart by Israeli troops, who also injured 10 other people when they opened fire on a crowd of youths who had been throwing stones at an Israeli army position, his family and Palestinian hospital sources said. Medical officials said two of the injured were in a serious condition. The shooting erupted when a crowd of young people demonstrated at the Khan Yunis refugee camp, close to an Israeli army post, following the funeral of a Palestinian policeman shot dead by Israeli forces in Rafah on Wednesday.
Zorob's killing brought the death toll in 11 months of conflict in the region to 734, including 566 Palestinians and 146 Israelis.
-- Islam Online, Israeli Troops Kill Palestinian Boy
8. Mahmoud Sawwaf, of Gaza, killed by Israeli gunfire to upper body. (29 Sept 2001)
Near Al-Mentar Outlet, east of Gaza City, demonstrators threw stones while 200m away from Israeli occupation forces, positioned at the entrance to a settlement road leading to the Green Line. Israeli soldiers responded with firing live ammunition and rubber-coated bullets at demonstrators....
Mahmoud Khamis Husni El-Sawaf, from Al-Tuffah neighborhood in Gaza City, was killed by a live bullet in the chest. According to eyewitnesses, El-Sawaf was sitting on the back of an ambulance, approximately 150m away from the Israeli forces. He did not participate in clashes when he was shot by an Israeli sniper from a gun equipped with a silencer. Additionally, 20 demonstrators, mostly children, were wounded...
-- PCHR: Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, September 27-03 October, 2001
9. Riham Ward, of Jenin, killed by an IDF tank shell as she sat in her classroom at the Ibrahimiya Elementary School in Jenin. (18 Oct 2001)
Riham was rescued from her classroom by a young homicide investigator, Yusuf Sweitat (left, click to enlarge), who was on duty at a nearby Palestinian police station when the IDF shelled Ibrahimiya Elementary School. He tried to rush her to hospital, but she died as he was carrying her there.
Yusuf talked obsessively to his friends about Riham's death. "The girl changed his life," one recalled. And Yusuf's father, Hamad, also noticed an immediate change in his son, who became more placid, more resigned, and more prayerful. In the days immediately following Riham's death, Yusuf asked friends to help him get a gun. He assured them it was just for target practice, but none of them would help him. So he quietly spread the word among Jenin's militant organisations that he needed a gun to carry out an attack on behalf of the dead girl, and that he would allow any group that would arm him to claim responsibility for his actions.
A local member of Islamic Jihad took Yusuf up on his offer. In return for weapons, Yusuf and his next-door-neighbor, Nidal al-Jibali, taped a farewell message (right, click to enlarge) for Islamic Jihad. The videotape shows a visibly uncomfortable Yusuf stiffly reading a farewell message: "To my brothers, my family and all my loved ones, don't be sad. It is a sacrifice." The child pictured in the poster on the wall behind his right shoulder is Riham Ward, whose life he had been unable to save.
On 28 October 2001, Yusuf and Nidal drove a red Mitsubishi into the center of the Israeli town of Hadera, and opened fire on a group of Israeli women waiting at a bus stop. They murdered four people before they were themselves shot dead by Israeli police.
10. Omar Astal, of Khan Younis, one of five children from a single family killed by an IDF booby trap. (22 Nov 2001)
Last Thursday, an undercover unit of the Israeli army buried a mine in the sand that flows around Abdullah Siyam Primary School in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip. A few hours later, as Palestinian children headed to school, the mine exploded. Five school children were instantly reduced to broken flesh. The youngest was aged just six.
All came from the same extended family: Akram Naim Astal, 6, and his brother Mohamed, 13; Omar Idris Astal, 12, and his brother Anis, 10; and their cousin, Mohamed Sultan Astal, 12. Their young bodies were mutilated beyond recognition. The limbs of one child were found 50 metres away. Some of the children could only be identified by their school bags, brightly coloured and spattered with blood...
Initially, the Israeli army denied any guilt, alleging instead that the children had played with an old unexploded (Israeli) tank shell. But after left-wing Israelis like Meretz leader Yossi Sarid accused the government of a cover-up, the occupation army at last admitted "indirect responsibility."
A statement issued by the army on 26 November accepted that the bomb that killed the five children had been planted by an undercover unit and that it "might have been activated" by an officer.
-- Al Ahram, Israel's Morning Class
11. Muhammad Marsa, of Shati refugee camp, dismembered by a missile fired from an Israeli helicopter, on his way home from school. (4 Dec 2001)
The IDF bombed targets throughout the territories yesterday, in Tul Karm, Salfit and Ramallah in the West Bank and in Gaza City, Jabalya and Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip. Two Palestinians died in the attack on a Preventive Security Service building in Gaza City - Mohammed a-Siyam, 25, a member of the Preventive Security Service who was in the building at the time, and Mohammed Abu Marsa, 15 [sic], a student at the school next door who was hit by shell fragments. Fragments also wounded dozens of other children at the school, Palestinians said, as the bomb hit at about 11:30 A.M., just as first-shift students were leaving and second-shift students were arriving.
The IDF Spokesman denied that any children were hurt, saying this was "another lying claim in the network of Palestinian lies and incitement." In order to ensure that no civilians would be injured in the operation, "before every attack, the air force conducted low-altitude flights so that the noise would drive people away from the area before the shooting," the spokesman said.
But independent observers, including foreign correspondents, said it seemed that children had been hurt in the street outside the school, though not in the school itself.
-- Israel halts bombing of PA targets; Ha'aretz
12. Muhammad Hunaydek, of Khan Younis, shot in the chest by an Israeli sniper. (16 Dec 2001)
Palestinian mourners carry the body of Mohammed Houmeduk, 12, who was shot and killed by Israeli forces, December 18, 2001 during his funeral in Khan Younis, the Gaza Strip. Palestinians allege that he was shot by Israeli soldiers as he was playing with a toy gun in his front yard. (Photo: Roger Lemoyne/Getty Images)
13. Yasser Kussba, of Qalandiya refugee camp, killed by Israeli rubber coated bullet fired close-range to head, (16 Dec 2001). His brother Samer, 15, was killed in similar circumstances forty days later.
Two boys who threw stones at soldiers and were shot to death. The soldiers shot both in the head, at close range, with rubber-coated bullets, against all orders about when to open fire.
These orders prohibit the firing of rubber bullets at children from close range, and prohibit lethal fire at anyone who is not endangering soldiers' lives. It's impossible to believe that Yasser and Samer endangered the soldiers' lives. It's also hard to accept the terrible killing of the two brothers in light of the fact that, as far as is known, Samer hurled the rock at a tank and, according to witnesses, little Yasser was shot in the head after he'd already fallen to the ground while fleeing the soldiers.
...Two brothers, children of refugees who grew up in one of the bleakest refugee camps, shot to death for the crime of throwing stones. Did anyone order the soldiers to shoot at these children's heads, or did the soldiers act on their own initiative? Does it make any difference? Can such incidents still be called anomalous? Or has this become the norm - shooting to kill at stone-throwers, be they children or adults? And this is another thing that we don't consider a war crime? And does anyone in the IDF care that its soldiers are behaving this way? No investigation of either of these killings was launched - as if to say that all is well and proper about the horrifying killings of these two children. And who really cares about the lives and deaths of Yasser and Samer Kosba, two children born without a chance and killed for no reason?
- Ha'aretz, Sami Kosba's 40 Days
14. Amani Awawdah, of Deir el-Balah, killed with her widowed mother, two siblings and a cousin by an Israeli landmine. Another sibling, Ibrahim, is the sole surviving member of the family. (15 March 2002)
16h00 – On entend une explosion de grande intensité sur un chemin de terre menant aux terres cultivées du Wadi à l’est de Gaza ville... ZEINA AL AWAWDEH, 39 ans, veuve, 3 de ses enfants TEHANI, 17 ans, SALIM, 10 ans et AMANI, 12 ans ainsi qu’un de ses neveux TARIQ, 10 ans, qui roulaient sur une petite charrette tirée par un âne venaient d’être déchiquetés par une mine. Ils se rendaient sur un terrain agricole dont la maman était propriétaire situé à quelques centaines de mètres du lieu de l’explosion qui a creusé un cratère de 6m de large sur 3m de profondeur. Les premiers secours ont été bloqués par un tank stationné à proximité. Ils ont été obligés de rebrousser chemin. Les corps n’ont pu être récupérés que le lendemain. Le matin de l’explosion, à 06h30 l’occupant investissait le poste de la sécurité palestinienne situé non loin de là. Il l’avait démoli puis s’était retiré par ce chemin laissant derrière lui des mines pour empêcher la résistance palestinienne de le suivre.
(Translation mine) At 1600 hours, there was a huge explosion on a dirt track leading to the farmlands in Wadi, east of Gaza city... ZEINA Al AWAWDEH (39), a widow, was blown apart by a mine, along with three of her children (TEHANI, 17; SALIM, 10; and AMANI, 12) and a 10-year-old nephew, TARIQ. They were riding a small donkey cart on agricultural land owned by the mother, and situated a few hundred meters from the place of the explosion which left a crater 6m wide and 3m deep. First responders were blocked by a tank stationed in the vicinity, and were obliged to turn back. The bodies could not be recovered until the following day. At 0630 hours on the morning of the explosion, Israeli soldiers attacked a nearby office of the Palestinian Security service. They demolished it, then withdrew along this road, leaving behind landmines to prevent the Palestinian resistance following.
-- PCHR Weekly Report, 14-20 Mar 2002.
15. Qusay Abu Aisha, of Nablus, shot in the chest in an IDF attack on Askar refugee camp. (16 Apr 2002)
[S]eventy-one Palestinians [have been] killed in Nablus during the Israeli sweep since April 3, according to Nablus's Rafidia Hospital records obtained by Reuters...
The military curfew imposed on the more than 100,000 residents of Nablus has grisly implications in a city where tradition calls for mass public burials and three-day condolence visits. The dead are being lowered into shallow temporary graves, covered in palm leaves in the Islamic tradition. Three corpses have been buried in the hospital garden.... The bodies of the Shabi family and 25 other Palestinians are kept in a refrigerated dairy truck in a parking lot behind the hospital because the mortuary is overflowing with even more corpses.
In the old quarter of Nablus, stone steps lead up a narrow alley toward a wooden door between houses with arched windows their residents say are centuries old. The door swings open onto a lilac-scented garden. Under the shade of lush almond and peach trees, two indentations in the ground mark the spot where 13 Palestinians have been buried in a temporary mass grave. "We buried them here,'' said Nafez Eissa, whose home opens up onto the garden. "We will dig them up when the Israeli army withdraws and give them a decent burial in the cemetery.''
And in the Askar refugee camp near Nablus, the Abu Aisha family buried their 11-year-old [sic] son Qusay near their home. He was shot dead with two bullets in his chest during the Israeli army incursion into the camp on Tuesday.
The Israeli army said it had no figures for Palestinian fatalities in Nablus, and added it was checking the policy on burials.
-- Children's Corpses Legacy of West Bank City Fight, Reuters, 16 Apr 2002
16. Rafat Awwad, of Nablus, crushed under an Israeli tank. (20 Apr 2002)
On Saturday (20 April) an Israeli military vehicle deliberately hit a Palestinian car driven by Basam Awad, 50, from Awarta, killing three children on board. The Israeli vehicle pushed the Palestinian car off the road and into a nearby valley. The victims were Awad's two children and grandchild:
· Ahmad and Rafat Awad, 14 and 12
· Faraj Odwan, 4
· Khairi Awad, 13, was wounded in the incident.
17. Izzeddine Hilu, of Gaza City, shot through the head while throwing stones, by Israeli soldiers manning the Erez checkpoint. (11 May 2002)
18. Anwar Abu Sa`eed, of Hujor Al Deek, killed by Israeli forces gunfire to various parts of the body. (25 May 2002)
26/5: Nella zona di Deir Al-Balah la sig.ra Kamlah Abu Said, di 40 anni e la sua nipotina Anwar Abu Said di 13 anni, sono state uccise dall'esercito israeliano mentre lavoravano nella terra di famiglia. I soldati presenti nella zona hanno poi ostacolato l'arrivo delle ambulanze che avrebbero portato via le vittime.
(translation mine) - 26/5: In the Deir al-Balah area, Mrs Kamlah Abu Said (aged 40) and her niece Anwar Abu Said (aged 13 [sic]), were killed by the Israeli Army while they were working on their family land. Soldiers at the scene then blocked the arrival of the ambulances that had come to take away the victims.
-- Centro Internazionale Crocevia (Italian NGO); May 2002 bulletin
19. Jamil Ghazzawi, of Jenin, killed by shrapnel from Israeli tank fire to left leg and right thigh on June 21. (23 Jun 2002)
The IDF maintained that Jamil and his six-year-old brother, Ahmad, were killed because they were part of a crowd that threateningly approached a tank. Footage aired by the BBC showed that they were killed instead as they rode away on their bicycles from a tank that had surprised them as they played in the street, and fired on them at pointblank range as they tried to flee. (BBC News: Jenin deaths video implicates army).
20. Muhammad Shteiwi, of Farah refugee camp, hit in the chest by an Israeli tear gas canister. (29 June 2002)
At approximately 14:00, two Israeli military jeeps moved into al-Fara’a refugee camp in the northern Jordan Valley. A number of Palestinian children gathered and threw stones towards the two jeeps. Immediately, Israeli occupying soldiers fired tear gas canisters at the children. A 12-year-old child, Mohammed Ahmed Mubarak Eshteiwi, was wounded with a tear has canister in the chest, and disappeared. Approximately an hour later, his family discovered his body on an agricultural road leading to the refugee camp.
-- PCHR Weekly Report: June 27- July 03, 2002
21. Ayman Abu Mugheiseb, of Deir el Balah, shot in the head on 7 Aug 2002 by Israeli troops while she was standing on the roof of her home. (10 August 2002)
During the funeral of Ayman Abu Mughaseb, unseen, her mother Jamilh Abu Mughaseb (left) and sister Mareem (right) weep in the refugee camp of Deir Al Balah south of Gaza, Saturday Aug. 10, 2002. Ayman died in hospital from head wounds after being shot by Israeli forces on Aug. 8, officials in Gaza and relatives said. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
22. Abdel Salam Samreen, of Ramallah, shot six times in the chest while trying to hide from a tank. (19 Sept 2002)
A 12-year-old Palestinian boy, breaking curfew to buy cigarettes for his father, was killed by Israeli army fire in the West Bank last night, a witness said. The army said it was looking into the shooting.
Abdel Salam Samreen, 12, was killed by several shots to the chest as he was walking on the street near his home in Ramallah. His mother, Wafiqa, said her husband had sent him to a nearby grocery store to buy cigarettes. She said five minutes after her son left the house, someone came to tell her he had been shot. “He was there, lying on the street with six shots in the chest,” she said, crying.
Amar Samir, a witness, said the boy was crossing a street when he saw an Israeli tank nearby. “He ran away and tried to hid behind a wall, and they started shooting at him,” Samir said.
-- Israeli Army Shoot Boy Who Breaks Curfew; TCM News (Ireland).
23. Rami Barbari, of Nablus, killed by Israeli tank machine-gun fire to the back of the head. (30 Sep 2002)
A 12-year-old Palestinian schoolboy was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers Monday and 22 other children were wounded by Israeli gunfire while throwing rocks and debris at army tanks in the besieged West Bank city of Nablus, local officials reported. Five adults were also wounded... A doctor at Al Ittihad Hospital said the dead boy, Rami Barbari, had been shot in the back of his head.
The Israeli military said it had no information about the incidents.
The killing came as the London-based human rights group Amnesty International issued a new report [Footnote 2] saying that more than 250 Palestinian children and 72 Israeli children had been killed in the two-year Palestinian uprising against Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Amnesty was particularly critical of incidents in which children were killed while stoning tanks, and other incidents in which Israeli soldiers allegedly randomly opened fired at, shelled or bombarded residential neighborhoods, saying the shootings often occurred "in circumstances in which the lives of the soldiers were not at risk."
The report added that, despite promises of investigations, "no investigation is known to have been carried out" into any of the killings of children by members of the Israeli military. None of the Israeli soldiers responsible for the incidents are known to have been brought to justice, Amnesty said.
-- Israeli Tank Kills Schoolboy; The Washington Post, 1 Oct 2002
24. Maisa Zannoun, of Rafah, killed by Israeli heavy machinegun fire to the chest when she went out to the balcony of her home. (8 Oct 2002)
Hearing gunfire outside, the Palestinian girl took a break from her homework on Tuesday and went out to the balcony of her home in Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip to see what was happening. A heavy machinegun round slammed into her chest, killing her.
Maisa's home faces the Israeli army's Termit outpost, a frequent target of Palestinian gunmen in a two-year-old uprising for statehood. Palestinians call the stronghold "the position of death" because several Palestinians have been killed near it. Maisa's family said the gunfire that killed her came from the Israeli post. Asked about the girl's death, Israeli military sources said they had no specific information about her...
At least 2,000 people marched in Maisa's funeral procession on Wednesday, her body draped in a Palestinian flag. "I need my daughter back. Bring her back to me," her mother cried.
-- Gazans Mourn Rafah Girl Killed Near Israeli Post; Reuters, 9 October 2002
25. Thair Hout, of Jibna refugee camp in Rafah, killed by Israeli heavy gunfire as he fled from raiding tanks. (10 Oct 2002)
Going to school after a night of an intense military invasion into your neighbourhood is unheard of - except somewhere like Rafah, on the southern part of the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. That's what Tha'er was doing the morning he was killed.
When Tha'er and his schoolmates discovered that their Rafah A prep school was closed after the heavy night of shelling on October 9, 2002, he and a friend turned back for home. On their way back there was another round of firing on the city by soldiers in their Israeli Merkava battle tank. Tha'er was shot in the right eye and killed instantly. "Tha'er's parents are devastated. I'm sure his sponsor is grieving too," said Dan Simmons, director of World Vision's work in Jerusalem. "No words can assuage their pain; nothing can justify his death."
It was the second time in five months that Tha'er had been hit by Israeli fire. In May, soldiers near a mosque in the Rafah refugee camp in Gaza opened fire near a group of Palestinian schoolboys. Tha'er, a sponsored child in World Vision's Al Amal Rehabilitation Society, was hit by shrapnel. Large pieces of glass embedded in his right eye, and he lost his sight. "I know the doctors aren't optimistic," said Tha'er. "But I believe in destiny. This was God's plan."
When Palestinian doctors couldn't help him, World Vision arranged for Tha'er to receive medical help in Egypt, which restored his vision. He once told us, "I want to be able to do things that kids my age do in other countries. I would like to feel safe instead of feeling pain and seeing destruction".
26. Muhammad Bilalweh, of Jenin refugee camp, killed by Israeli gunfire to the left eye while throwing stones. (22 Nov 02)
By consistently emphasizing the suffering of Israelis, and downplaying or ignoring the killings of Palestinians, the media convey a false impression that Palestinian "attacks" are the principal feature of the conflict. Statistics unambiguously clarify that this impression is the exact opposite of the reality on the ground.
EI looked at the one-month period from 31 October to 2 December 2002 in detail. According to our research, forty-three Palestinian civilians were killed during this period and dozens wounded or permanently maimed. Fifteen of those killed and several dozen of those injured were children. A summary of the circumstances of the killing and injury of this group appears below....
...November 22, Jenin: Muhammad Bilalweh, 12, was shot dead by Israeli occupation forces with a bullet to the left eye. The occupation forces opened fire on a group of children who began stoning them after an Israeli armored bulldozer had demolished a building that was home to six families. Earlier the army had entered the camp in force, firing indiscriminately. Three other children suffered serious injuries from gunshots and shrapnel.
-- Invisible Killings: Israel's Daily Toll Of Palestinian Children, by Ali Abunimah
27. Iyad Abu Shaer, of Deir el Balah, died of wounds suffered during IDF incursions into Deir el Balah on 20-21 December 2002. (13 Jan 2003)
GAZA CITY, Dec 20: A Palestinian man was killed and three others injured during an Israeli army incursion into the Gaza Strip, Palestinian security sources said today. Six tanks and two bulldozers rolled into Deir el Balah under cover of two attack helicopters firing automatic machine gun rounds, the sources said. (AFP)
GAZA CITY, Dec 21: A Jewish settler and a Palestinian militant were killed in fresh Gaza Strip violence, while the "quartet" of diplomatic powers trying to end the 26-month conflict met at the White House but failed to adopt a "peace" roadmap. Violence continued to rock the occupied territories, as a Jewish settler rabbi was shot dead when gunmen opened fire on his car. A Palestinian was killed in an Israeli tank and helicopter raid on the town of Deir El-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, in which six Palestinians were also injured.
28. Anas Kahlout, of Jabaliya refugee camp, died of wounds he suffered when an Israeli tank fired into a crowd watching Palestinian firefighters at work, following an Israeli incursion into Jabaliya Refugee Camp on 6 March. Eight other civilians, including four children, were killed in the same incident. The children were decapitated. (8 Apr 2003)
The image was indelible. The Palestinian fireman who a moment before had stood fearlessly in the open as the gunfire echoed, aiming a hose at a building in flames, crumpling to the ground as shrapnel burst all around him. That was the unforgettable scene of yesterday's Israeli incursion into the Gaza Strip, the death of Naji Abu Jalili as he tried to douse a burning building.
Most witnesses told the same story: that the first burst of shrapnel that cut down the fireman, Mr Abu Jalili, came from an Israeli tank. They said it fired a shell packed with flechettes, arrow-shaped pieces of metal designed to inflict mass casualties, straight at the fireman, and that the flechettes and shrapnel ripped through a crowd watching from an alley opposite. And that the tank fired its machine-gun on crowds of people trying to rescue the wounded.
The Israeli army admits there was a tank two streets away and that it fired a shell at about that time. But the military claims the shell was aimed at "a couple of men about to fire rocket propelled grenades" and it landed nowhere near the crowd. There were also Israeli claims that the Palestinian casualties were caused by a booby trap in the furniture store intended to kill Israeli soldiers. The Israelis said every care had been taken to avoid civilian casualties.
However, from the television footage it was clear that the shrapnel which killed the fireman did not come from the furniture store, but from an entirely different direction. Nor was there evidence of a large blast at the furniture store: the large iron doors were still intact and hanging from the hinges. What the television footage appeared to show was that the tank had fired in the direction of the fireman and the civilians near him. Slowed down, you could see how the shrapnel flew in one direction, over, around, through the fireman, bursting as it hit the road. Then the machine-gun fire began. All the fire came from the same end of the street as the first burst of shrapnel, and Palestinians fled from it – which meant it was almost certainly Israeli fire.
-- The Independent: Indelible Image of Palestinian Fireman Killed by Shrapnel; and
-- The Guardian: The Only Question Was When Revenge Would Come. At Dawn, It Came To Jabaliya;
-- The award-winning (World Press Photo Awards for 2003) photo of the aftermath of the killing of Naji Abu Jalili was taken by Ahmed Jadallah, who was himself seriously wounded shortly after taking the picture.
29. Muhammad Zaanin, of Beit Hanoun, shot through the head by Israeli gunfire while throwing stones. (15 Mar 2002)
Continua la massiccia incursione di reparti corazzati israeliani nel villaggio di Beit Hanun, nella zona nord-est della Striscia di Gaza, cominciata in nottata e che ha provocato finora la morte di tre palestinesi, tra cui un bambino di 12 anni e il ferimento di almeno altri 15.
Tra i palestinesi uccisi, figura anche bambino di 12 anni, Mohammed Zaanin, colpito alla testa da un proiettile sparato da un blindato. I medici dell'ospedale Al-Shifa di Gaza hanno riferito che i soldati non hanno permesso alle ambulanze di raggiungere il bambino che è rimasto sanguinante sul terreno per tre ore prima di poter essere soccorso. Mohammed Zaanin è spirato poco dopo il ricovero in ospedale.
Il colonnello Yoel Strik, comandante di divisione dell'esercito israeliano a Gaza, ha però dichiarato "di non avere alcuna informazione" sull'uccisione di un bambino palestinese.
(Translation mine) The massive incursion by Israeli armoured detachments into the village of Beit Hanun in the northeastern part of the Gaza Strip continues. The operation began overnight, and has so far resulted in the deaths of three Palestinians (including a twelve-year-old child) and the wounding of at least 15 others.
One of the Palestinians killed was Mohammed Zaanin, a twelve-year-old child who was struck in the head by a bullet fired from an armoured vehicle. Doctors at the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza said that the soldiers did not allow ambulances to reach the child, who remained bleeding on the ground for three hours before he could be treated. Mohammed Zaanin died shortly after reaching hospital.
Colonel Yoel Strik, commander of the Israeli Army division in Gaza, maintained however that he "had no information" about the killing of a Palestinian child.
-- The Israeli Incursion Into Gaza Continues; RAI 24 News
30. Ahmad Abu Latifah, of Kalandia refugee camp, shot in the chest and abdomen by Israeli soldiers while throwing stones. (14 Sep 2003)
A few days before 12-year-old Ahmed Abu Latifeh was shot dead by an Israeli soldier, his father beat him and told him he would burn him with his cigarette if he ever caught him throwing stones at the soldiers again. "He was bold. He was too bold," his mother, Ghalia Abu Latifeh, said, sitting in the family living room, a perfect picture of grief in her black mourning clothes. "He worried me."
Nearly 400 Palestinian children have been killed by the Israelis during the past three years of violence. Many of them died because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time: on the street when an Israeli missile hit a car carrying a militant, for example, or inside their homes where they caught a stray bullet.
But many others, like Ahmed, have been killed while engaged in low-level resistance to the Israeli soldiers who occupy their communities. For these children -- most of them boys, many of them frustrated with the impotence of their elders -- it is part liberation struggle and part childhood game, like cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians, except that the other side is using real guns.
-- Toronto Globe and Mail; Boy Dies, Like Many, For Minor Resistance Toward Israeli Army
31. Bahaa Zubeidi, of Balata refugee camp, shot in the stomach by Israeli troops when he threw a rock at an armored vehicle. (29 Oct 2003)
32. Ahmed Meri, of Jenin, died of wounds inflicted by Israeli forces using illegal exploding bullets on 8 November. (9 Nov 2003)
33. Tareq Sousi, of Gaza, "collaterally" killed in the course of an Israeli assassination while leaving school for home. (7 Feb 2004)
In a three-story house deep inside a crowded neighborhood in Gaza City lives the Al Sousi family. Majdi Al Sousi, the father, works as a butcher and used to support a family of nine children, now eight after the loss of his 12-year old child Tareq.
Tareq Al Sousi was leaving his school on February 7, 2004 when an Israeli combat helicopter fired two missiles at a car traveling down the street near him, killing the three passengers of the car and seriously wounding him. Tareq died of his wounds before reaching the hospital. Nearly 20 other Palestinians were wounded in the same air strike.
Israelis have often targeted Palestinian militants and prominent figures of the resistance groups, killing 340 (sic; should be 140?), of them 90 were just passersby. Israelis consider those civilians killed in the attacks as "collateral damage", and refuse to pay any compensation to the bereaved families.
"I don't want any compensation from the murderous Israelis. I just want one thing; to bring back my Tareq to me. If they could bring him back to life again, I will forgive them. All the money in the world cannot replace one smile or one hug Tareq gave me," says Mr. Al Sousi, as he folds his son's clothes and put them back into his closet.
34. Mohamed Amer Abu Zuraiq, of Gaza, shot dead by Israeli gunfire during an IDF incursion into Nusseirat refugee camp. (7 Mar 2004)
El Ejército israelí entra en tres campos de refugiados palestinos y mata al menos a 15 personas
GAZA.- Al menos 15 palestinos han muerto en una incursión del Ejército israelí con carros de combate y vehículos blindados, que duró varias horas, en tres campos de refugiados de Gaza. Entre los fallecidos, hay siete milicianos y cuatro menores: Mahmud Abdulá Yunis, de 11 años; Mohamed Amer Abu Zuraiq, de 12; Mohamed Ali Bedawi, de 15, y Haitham Mohamed Al Isawi, de 16. Otros 80 palestinos resultaron heridos, nueve de ellos graves. El número de menores entre los heridos asciende a 26. Las operaciones israelíes se han producido en los campos de refugiados de Nuseirat y El Bureij, separados por una calle, y se han extendido a un tercero, el de Al Mughazi.
(Translation mine) Israeli Army enters three Palestinian refugee camps, killing at least 15 people
GAZA.- At least 15 Palestinians have been killed in an incursion by Israeli tanks and armoured vehicles into three Gaza Strip refugee camps. The incursion lasted several hours. The dead include 7 militants and four children: Mahmud Abdulá Yunis (11), Mohamed Amer Abu Zuraiq (12), Mohamed Ali Bedawi (15), and Haitham Mohamed al Isawi (16). Another 80 Palestinians were wounded, nine of them seriously. As many as 26 of the wounded are children. The Israeli operations took place in the Nuseirat, Bureij and al-Mughazi camps.
-- Israeli Army Enters Three Refugee Camps, Kills At Least 15 People; El Mundo Internacional, 8 Mar 2004
35. Ahmad Abaid, of Gaza, killed by Israeli gunfire. One of 15 Palestinians killed during the IDF invasion of the al-Zeitoun neighborhood in Gaza, 11-13 May 2004. (11 May 2004)
On Tuesday morning, 11 May 2004, Israeli occupying forces invaded al-Zaytoun neighborhood in the south of Gaza City and intensely shelled the area. This operation continued until Wednesday night, and left 15 Palestinians dead, including 4 children, and injured at least 200 others, including 35 children. The four children killed were:
Ahmed Salem al-Swairki, 16, hit by a live bullet to the head;
[Ahmad Obaid, 12], hit by a live bullet to the head;
Yousef Kamal Hijazi, 13, from al-Shojaeya neighborhood, killed by shrapnel from a missile fired by a helicopter gunship;
Rami Mohammed Ja’far, 16, from al-Shojaeya neighborhood, killed by a live bullet in the head.-
Israeli troops destroyed a number of houses and razed large areas of agricultural land. One of the victims was hit by a live bullet in the head and bled to death as ambulances were not able to reach him. This operation came as an action of collective punishment following the destruction of an Israeli military vehicle, which left 6 Israeli soldiers dead.
36. Mohammad Tarek Mansour, of Rafah, one of six children killed by missiles from Israeli combat helicopters and tank shells during a protest march. (19 May 2004)
Israeli troops have opened fire during a protest by Palestinian demonstrators in the town of Rafah in southern Gaza. At least 10 people were killed and 60 injured, though some reports put the number of casualties higher.
Reuters news agency quoted the UN special human rights envoy in the Palestinian territories, John Dugard, as saying that the strikes were "war crimes" and amounted to collective punishment violating humanitarian and international human rights law.
-- BBC News: Israelis fire on crowds in Gaza
37. Nagy Abu Kamar, one of six children killed by missiles from Israeli combat helicopters and tank shells during a protest march. (19 May 2004)
Nagy Abu Kamar lies on the floor of a makeshift morgue in Tel Sultan, Gaza Strip. The IDF initially claimed that he and seven other Palestinians were killed on 19 May 2004 when their own makeshift bomb detonated prematurely. It then acknowledged that it had fired tank shells in the vicinity of the dead, but insisted it had hit only empty buildings and open fields. Israel's ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman, then falsely told the Security Council that, even if the IDF had killed the eight Palestinians, "four to five were armed terrorists". The IDF later scaled back its claim, asserting that there was only one gunman among the dead (and Israeli officials acknowledged to the Guardian that even that one was doubtful).
The reality, captured by an AP camera crew (featured in Fox News: Attack on Rafah Camp), was that the eight were killed when the IDF fired four tank shells and a helicopter missile into a crowd of protestors, none of whom - on review of the video footage - turned out to be armed. The protestors were demonstrating against the IDF invasion of nearby Rafah refugee camp and, according to Israeli journalist Amira Hass, were trying to deliver food and medecine to residents trapped there. (Photo: Johannes Abeling)
38. Sara Mahmoud Zu'roub, of Khan Younis, struck in the chest by gunfire from an IDF watchtower as she played outside her home. (26 Jul 2004)
ISRAELI troops killed a Palestinian girl of 13 [sic] as she played football near her home in southern Gaza, relatives and medics said. Sara Mahmoud Zorob was shot in the chest and died on the way to hospital. Her cousin said: "After she got shot, the other kids started screaming. 'What did she do, a kid like this? She was just playing'." Witnesses said a boy of 12 and a 56-year-old man were also wounded after both being hit in the leg.
The Israeli military said it had been warned of possible rocket attacks on a nearby Jewish settlement and had fired into the air near the Khan Younis district to deter Palestinian militants.
-- The Mirror, 27 July 04
39. Monir Anwar Aldqus, of Jabalia, shot in the chest by Israeli forces. (9 Sep 2004)
Israelis live in fear of random attacks, principally the suicide bombing of buses and cafes, and shootings in the occupied territories. But they are generally safe in their homes and are more likely to be killed in a road accident than by a bomb. In southern Gaza and parts of the West Bank there is often no sanctuary from the seemingly relentless, indiscriminate Israeli shooting.
Israel classifies Gaza Strip towns such as Rafah and Khan Yunis, and Nablus and Jenin in the West Bank, as war zones. That, the army says, justifies the firing of powerful sophisticated weapons into residential areas or the bulldozing of scores of homes each month, ostensibly in search of rarely discovered tunnels for smuggling in weapons.
...Munir al-Daqas left his home in Jabalya refugee camp to visit his grandparents' house five minutes' walk away. Israeli tanks were on the far side of the camp, but no one saw any danger in the heart of Jabalya, around its bustling market, in daylight.
"It must have been a sniper," his mother, Kifah, said. "People told me as I was shopping in the market. I couldn't believe it. Munir was just there with me and now they were saying he was dead." Mrs Daqas unfolded a picture of the semi-naked body of her son in his grave. There is a bullet wound in the chest and another in the groin.
In four years of intifada, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights says, the army has killed 136 children in Rafah and Khan Yunis, a quarter of all the Palestinian children who have died during the uprising, because of its "indiscriminate shooting, excessive force, a shoot-to-kill policy and the deliberate targeting of children".
The army... frequently says that child victims are caught in crossfire during Palestinian attacks on the army or Jewish settlers. There were no such battles when Raghda Alassar and Munir Daqas were hit.
Mrs Daqas said her other children could not comprehend Munir's death. "Munir's younger brother doesn't understand he is dead. He thought he would come back after the funeral and kept asking why Munir hasn't come when we've had 'the party' for him. His four-year-old sister asks every day if we can search the market because Munir must be lost," she said.
-- The Guardian: The Death And Disorientation Of The Children Of Gaza.
Left - The sister of Monir al-Dekis, name not given, touches his body at the family house before his funeral in Jebaliya refugee camp, outside Gaza City, Thursday Sept. 9, 2004.
(Both photos: AP/Khalil Hamra)
I originally intended to list without comment the names and circumstances of each child's death, thinking that the names and faces of the dead on both sides would speak for themselves. But the utterly disproportionate toll on Palestinian children , and the manner of their deaths, demands comment.
The news reports we hear in the US about the deaths of Palestinian children - if we hear about them at all - tend to give the impression that child victims of the IDF are accidental, or at least incidental, casualties. That they are killed "collaterally" in extra-judicial executions, or by errant tank shells. The stories of the twelve-year-olds recorded here attest to the quite different reality that over two-thirds of all Palestinian children killed in the last four years were in fact shot dead by the Israeli Army . Half of those shot dead were shot through the head; many by IDF snipers , often while they were throwing stones at tanks or armoured vehicles, to which they pose no danger .
Not one of these 39 dead Palestinian children was a threat to Israel. None of them were attacking Israel when they were killed. None of them were armed with anything more than a rock, and most were not armed even with that. Every one of them was killed by Israeli soldiers, not in defence of Israel, but only to perpetuate Israel's illegal occupation and creeping annexation of the Palestinian Territories.
1. The reported ages of the children featured in this post tend to vary from news report to news report. To avoid inflating the number of twelve-year-olds, I have used a single source as the authority for the age of child casualties, specifically Remember These Children.
2. Amnesty International - KILLING THE FUTURE: Children In The Line Of Fire, 30 Sept 2002
3. A 2001 survey of the San Francisco Chronicle's coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict found that the Chronicle covered 150% of Israeli children's deaths and only 5% of Palestinian children's deaths, giving readers the impression that approximately equal numbers of youths had been killed on both sides.
4. Palestininian Intifada - Fourth Anniversary Statistics by Palestine Monitor.
5. I blogged in an earlier post about the rules of engagement for IDF snipers targeting Palestinian protesters. In short, "Twelve and up is allowed".
6. Read the testimony of an Israeli soldier recently returned from service in Nablus. He describes how the IDF "retards" who fire stun grenades at stone-throwing children do so even though they know that the children cannot possibly harm the soldiers in their armored vehicles. He also reports the complete lack of legal repercussions facing soldiers who, instead of shooting stonethrowers in the legs (as they are officially supposed to), shoot children dead. This soldier's unit earned an exemplary reputation for its treatment of Palestinian civilians, because it killed "only" four or five children during its tour of duty in Nablus.
6. This post was inspired by Anomalous' Use of Fiction, 1 Jun 2004.