Tuesday, November 24, 2009

On whose hands?

During the Gaza War, in January this year, the IDF forces attacked the compound of the extended Samouni family in the Zaytoun neighbourhood of Gaza. Twenty-nine members of the family, all of them civilians, were killed - 21 during the shelling of a house where IDF soldiers had gathered some 100 members of the family a day earlier.

Salah Samouni told Amira Hass of Haaretz: "I asked Judge Goldstone to find out why did the army do this to us. They have taken us out of the house, one by one. The officer talked in Hebrew with my father, and confirmed that we were all civilians. Why, then, did they shell us? Why did they kill us? That's what we want to know".

He recounted that his father Talal – one of the 21 killed - "had been employed by Jews" for nearly 40 years. Whenever he was sick, "the employer would call, ask after his health, and forbid him to come to work before he had recovered."

On January 4, under orders from the army, Salah Samouni and the rest of the family left their home, which had been turned into a military position, and moved to the southern side of the street. The fact that it was the soldiers who had relocated them, had seen the faces of the children and the older women, and the fact that the soldiers were positioned in locations surrounding the house just tens of meters away, instilled in the family a certain amount of confidence - despite the IDF fire from the air, from the sea and from the land, despite the hunger and the thirst. Nothing prepared him for the three shells and the rockets the IDF fired on the house which they thought safe.

"My daughter Azza, my only daughter, two and a half years old, was injured in the first hit on the house," Salah told Haaretz. "She managed to say, 'Daddy, it hurts.' And then, in the second hit, she died. And I'm praying. Everything is dust and I can't see anything. I thought I was dead. I found myself getting up, all bloody, and I found my mother sitting by the hall with her head tilted downward. I moved her face a little, and I found that the right half of her face was gone. I looked at my father, whose eye was gone. He was still breathing a little, and then he stopped."

From this horrific story alone, there are a lot of people in the State of Israel with blood on their hands. The soldiers who pulled the trigger, and their commanders, and the commanders of the commanders, and the minister who sent the soldiers and called the Goldstone report a lie. At least under Israel's criteria all of them have blood on their hands. According to such criteria Marwan Barghouti and Ahmed Saadat (to mention a few conspicuous examples) were sent to multiple terms of life imprisonment,.

Had any of those involved with the killing of the Samouni family fallen into the hands of Hamas, the State of Israel would have firmly demanded their release and spared no effort to get them free. After all, they are “our boys.”

If you did not read Amira Hass' articles when they were published, it is still very worthwhile – though far from pleasant - to do it now: