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.
The diplomats say that shots were fired even though a long line of civilian cars were traveling past the children at the time. They also think that one of the children was injured, because shortly after the shooting, the group of children gathered around one youngster. Sources in Qalandia, however, say that they have no reports of anyone being injured that day.
The diplomatic convoy was slowed near Qalandia refugee camp by an IDF roadblock set up a couple of hundred meters from the entrance to the camp. One of the diplomats told Ha'aretz that the children hid behind garbage containers and threw stones at an IDF lookout, at the edge of the nearby Atarot airfield. He says the soldiers were well protected in their high post, but in any case one of the soldiers shot at the children. The diplomats believe that live fire was used.
The diplomat says that he saw a second soldier in the observation tower clapping and raising his hands as if in victory after his colleague fired at the children.
Photo: T-shirt printed for members of an IDF
elite unit who had completed sniper training, reads "The smaller they
are - The harder it is!".
Source: Dead Palestinian babies and bombed mosques - IDF fashion 2009 (Ha'aretz); via Mondoweiss.