July 31, 2008

Israeli war crimes and traffic offences

And which are worse where the Israeli army top brass is concerned? Here's Gideon Levy in today's Ha'retz:
Brigadier General Moshe "Chico" Tamir is a devoted and loving father who let his 14-year-old son drive a military all-terrain vehicle. Being the law-abiding organization that it is, the Israel Defense Forces probed the incident, calling it "serious." As a result, Tamir's promotion may be put on hold and he may be indicted. Certainly, a brigade commander who tried to cover up his son's accident by lying deserves to be punished. But the commander of the Gaza Brigade deserves much more for acts considerably more serious - acts that the world defines as war crimes and for which no one has been held accountable.

I would like Tamir, the dedicated father, to meet a girl the same age as his beloved son whose world fell apart when she was 14 years old. I saw her in mourning in November 2006, in the courtyard of her destroyed house in Beit Hanun. Islam Athamneh lost eight family members: Her mother, grandmother, grandfather, aunts, uncles and cousins. They fled their house when it was struck by a shell and were killed by another onslaught. The legs of Abdullah, her three-year-old brother, were blown off. Islam, whose father had died years earlier, became an orphan.

The soldiers who fired the 11 shells at houses in Beit Hanun were under the command of Tamir, the dedicated dad who let his son take a Tomcar for a joyride. Some 22 people were killed in the shelling and another 40 were hurt. Most lost limbs or sustained head wounds.

It was the Gaza Brigade commander, Tamir, who was responsible for that atrocity, but the IDF quickly absolved him of blame. Instead, they placed it on a faulty electronic component in the gun barrel. It was the chip, not Chico, who was to blame. In the seven days before the heinous shelling, which violates international law, Tamir's troops managed to kill 80 Palestinians, 40 of whom were innocent civilians, as part of Operation Autumn Clouds. Their blood was let and their deaths pale in significance to the Tomcar affair as far as the army is concerned. After all, what's some unlawful killing en masse next to illegally driving an ATV?
Was there once an SS officer who used to spend his days shooting unarmed Jews and then the same officer got put away for kicking a dog? It's a story I heard years ago. Is it true?

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