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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

IDF Murderers: Be They Innocent and Proud

Not surprisingly Israel has cleared the IDF in the deaths of Reuter's camerman Fadel Shana and eight others who were struck by fire and murdered from an Israeli tank in April. When was the last time we witnessed Israel bringing to justice ANY of their IDF soldiers when either killing or wounding Palestinians?

Today in the LA Times the following article was published, "Crime and Israeli Army Punishment" concerning the point blank shooting of Ashraf Abu Rahmeh. (video of the incident can be seen HERE)

In the Israeli military, injuring a handcuffed Palestinian is 'conduct unbecoming' a soldier -- but less so than tying cardboard wings to an antenna.
By Etgar Keret
August 13, 2008
Afew weeks ago, I saw a short news interview of a man who killed his wife with a kitchen knife. "Are you sorry for what you did?" the interviewer asked, and the murderer shrugged and said, "A little." His answer was only two short words, but they contained a ton of subtext. As if the murderer had said, "OK, I accept the fact that slaughtering my wife in front of my kids wasn't really right, but to handcuff me for it, to take me to court and send a TV crew? Don't you think you're overdoing it a little?"

An Israeli military court last week held a hearing about an incident captured on videotape that allegedly shows a regiment commander holding a bound, blindfolded Palestinian man, arrested at a demonstration, while a soldier shoots a rubber bullet at his leg. There is some disagreement between the soldier and the officer as to whether the soldier was ordered to do so. The two were indicted on the charge of conduct unbecoming to members of the Israeli army. The prosecution apparently is not even seeking any prison time, and some reports say that a plea bargain is likely.

There are many charges that could be brought against soldiers and commanders who fire at a handcuffed detainee, and the army's choice of conduct unbecoming carries the same tone as the statement made by the man who murdered his wife: We don't think it's really right to shoot at a handcuffed detainee who poses no threat. But, guys, let's keep things in perspective. The bullet was rubber, not steel; the kid didn't die, he was just wounded; and let's not forget that we're talking here about a pain-in-the-neck demonstrator and not someone strolling innocently along the beach promenade eating ice cream.

Years ago, when I was still in high school, my older brother was brought up on the charge of conduct unbecoming to a soldier in Israel. During one of his guard-duty shifts, out of boredom, he decorated the antenna he was guarding with huge cardboard wings and a sharp-featured face, turning it into a totem pole. His commander, who showed up for a surprise inspection, claimed that he found my brother worshiping the antenna.

Because there is no way the Israeli Defense Forces can prosecute a soldier for paganism, my brother was charged with conduct unbecoming and found guilty. Unlike the soldier and officer who were involved in a shooting, my brother actually did find himself in the brig for 30 days.

In retrospect, there is no doubt that it would have been better for my brother to relieve his boredom by shooting bound detainees. Because shooting bound detainees is not only more exciting and entertaining, it is also -- so it turns out -- a much less serious offense. After all, although both acts are conduct unbecoming, there is some kind of scale, and the IDF system of punishment testifies to it: Tying huge cardboard wings to an antenna is conduct unbecoming, but shooting at a bound person is also conduct unbecoming, but less so. Or, to use the language of the man who killed his wife, "Conduct a little unbecoming for a soldier in the IDF."

Etgar Keret is the author of, most recently, "The Girl on the Fridge and Other Stories." This essay was translated from Hebrew by Sondra Silverston. (source)

The following is the response from Reuters concerning the murder of their cameraman and eight others:

FACTBOX: Death of Reuters Gaza cameraman

Wed Aug 13, 2008 8:39am EDT
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(Reuters) - Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana was killed by Israeli troops four months ago, while filming in the Gaza Strip. An Israeli army investigation, which was concluded this week, found that the troops' actions were justified.

Following are key facts established by Reuters:

-- Fadel Shana, 24, was killed by several darts, known as flechettes, which burst from a shell fired by an Israeli tank on April 16 about 5:30 p.m. The tank firing and shell bursting were the final images on tape before Shana's camera was destroyed.

-- Eight other civilians aged between 12 and 20 were killed, six of them aged under 16. At least seven other bystanders aged from 10 to 18 were also hit. None was armed or was a militant. Reuters soundman Wafa Abu Mizyed, 25, was wounded in the wrist.

-- Shana and Abu Mizyed were wearing blue body armour marked "PRESS" and stood next to a car bearing "TV" and "PRESS" signs in the middle of a country road some 100 meters southeast of Gaza's main highway. Two Merkava-4 main battle tanks stood on a ridge about 1.5 km (a mile) to the southeast, facing northwest.

-- In the preceding half hour, the Reuters crew had driven past a point 700 meters from the tanks, filmed the aftermath of an Israeli air strike that killed several children and returned by the same route. Shana stopped, set up his tripod and filmed a panorama of the area, including the tanks, for several minutes.

-- Twenty or more children, some on bicycles, were present between Shana and the main Gaza highway 100 meters behind him.

-- An Israeli observation drone was circling over the area.

-- A tank fired a flechette shell, typically containing 5,000 1.5-inch (3.75-mm) metal darts. Their purpose is to kill over an area 300 meters wide. In 2003, Israel's Supreme Court said that under IDF rules "use of the flechette is restricted to areas in which the danger to innocent civilians is not actual". Continued>>>>>>>>

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