28 December 2009

More Palestinians killed by IDF

The news overnight is that six more Palestinians have been killed by soldiers of the Israeli Defence Force.

In Nablus on the West Bank three men said to have been long-standing members of the al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigades were killed in a pre-dawn raid on their homes in the old city. They were said by the Israeli Army to have been involved in the roadside shooting of an Israeli settler on Thursday.  An Israeli Army spokesman said that all three had turned down a chance to surrender. In the immortal words of Mandy Rice-Davies, he would say that wouldn’t he.

The relatives of two of the men said that they were killed without warning, and the Israeli Army spokesman acknowledged that none of the wanted men had returned fire.

I have no way of knowing whether or not the men were involved in the murder of the Israeli settler, but in any civilised country the appropriate response to an allegation of murder would be to arrest the perpetrators and try them in court, not send the army out to gun them down. The Israelis do not seem to have too much trouble arresting Palestinians when they want to.

The other incident involved three young men who were killed by shots from an Israeli helicopter.  The Israeli Army story is that they were approaching the southern border of Israel. If they were under surveillance from an Israeli Army helicopter, it is hard to know why they had to be shot dead in their tracks.

Hamas’s story is that the young men were gathering scrap metal. We will probably never know the truth of the matter, but I see no reason to prefer the Israeli version to the Hamas one (or vice versa).

The Israel Defence Force’s credibility problem is that in over forty years of brutal military occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, it has been able to explain away to its own satisfaction the death of every single Palestinian civilian at the hands of an Israeli soldier, even shootings of young children on the balconies of their own homes. No Israeli soldier has ever been brought to account, but the IDF continues to bask in its self-description as “the most ethical defence force in the world”.

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