[What follows is a post that I just sent to a peace list focused on Israel/Palestine —

Each morning I read the papers over there.  These report incident after incident such as the following.  Imagine the feelings of Palestinians who are constantly being targeted in such ways.  I sent to C____ the Bishop Tutu (“Apartheid in the Holy Land”) piece which also hits hard the conditions that he found in the West Bank.  I think it is a mistake to attack those distressed by such happenings which are inevitable when a people is occupied by a hostile force.  Also the Uri Avnery: “Sorry, Wrong Continent” was illuminating as it helped to explain the competing narratives.  I leave it to C____ to post what she pleases, but I think those who care must inform themselves in far greater detail and with more imaginative outreach than I see here in the U.S. where the right wing Israeli propaganda machine is dominating news reports.  Where else have you seen such as Tutu or Avnery reported in our media?  Best to all, Ed


Last update – 14:47 24/12/2006
West Bank platoon commander dismissed over killing of girl, 14
By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent

The IDF dismissed a platoon commander from his post on Sunday, five days after a soldier in his unit mistakenly shot dead a 14-year-old girl, Doaa Abd al-Qadr, near the West Bank city of Tul Karm.

The case had received particular attention because the girl’s father, Nasser Abd al-Qadr, was in custody in Israel at the time of the shooting, and a court refused to allow him to attend his daughter’s funeral or be at home in Tul Karm for the mourning period.

On Sunday, overall West Bank commander Major-General Yair Naveh conducted an investigation into the incident. The probe was carried out at the site of the shooting, beside the separation fence by the Tul Karm-area village of Faroun. A parallel investigation by Military Police detectives is continuing.

The Naveh investigation ordered the dismissal of the platoon commander. It also instructructed that the commander of his company, a part of the Nahshon infantry battalion, receive an official reprimand. The soldier who shot the girl has been suspended from duty until further notice.

Nasser Abd al-Qadr was freed on bail on Friday, two months after he was arrested on suspicion of being in Israel illegally and of stealing a vehicle.

On Saturday, Abd al-Qadr visited his daughter’s grave and met his three other children, whom he last saw two months ago. “I wanted to see her for the last time, to kiss her for the last time,” he said of his dead daughter.

Nasser Abd al-Qadr will return to the lock-up on Tuesday morning and will remain there until his trial begins. He said he has no intention of trying to flee, and that he was merely seeking work in Israel.

“I hope that Israel will look at my family. I had four children, and now I have three. I hope they will set me free,” he said.

An initial investigation into the Tuesday incident showed that the girl and a 12-year-old friend were in the area of the fence when they were spotted by a force of soldiers, who reported two “suspicious figures” west of the barrier. The force’ platoon commander then fired into the air. As the two girls tried to flee, a soldier who served as a marksman fired two bullets, hitting the 14-year-old Doaa.

The investigation further showed that the marksman had acted on his own, had received no permission to open fire, and had ignored the presence of the officer, who was a meter away from him. The marksman said that he believed that the figure was a terrorist, mistaking the girl’s backpack for a combat vest. He admitted that he saw no weapon, and was unable to explain why he opened fire on people escaping away from the fence and toward the village. He said that he had shot at their legs, although in fact he hit the girl’s forearm.

Father first denied bail
The Tel Aviv District Court last week had refused the father bail on the grounds that the law did not provide for this, after the prosecution objected to his release. On Thursday evening, his lawyer petitioned the High Court of Justice, but Justice Asher Grunis postponed the hearing until Monday, which would have been after the mourning period concluded.

On Friday morning, however, the state prosecution changed its mind about the father’s release. His attorney, Rami Othman, received an offer from the prosecution to release him. The Justice Ministry explained the change of heart by saying the petitioner had originally approached the wrong court, and that the matter had been reconsidered after the petition was submitted to the High Court.

Abd al-Qadr was ordered to post NIS 5,000 bail and to bring two people to sign a guarantee of his return. The money was transferred by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. Othman found one person to sign but spent many hours searching fruitlessly for a second. On Friday afternoon, MKs Ahmed Tibi (Ta’al) and Zahava Gal-On (Meretz) announced they would serve as the guarantors. Tibi then drove with Othman to the Abu Kabir lockup and signed.

The police refused to set Abd al-Qadr free at Abu Kabir, where the media was waiting, and insisted on driving him in a police van to the Taibeh roadblock, saying otherwise he would again be in Israel illegally.

“The judicial system displayed a total lack of sensitivity, and the girl was killed a second time when her father was not allowed to participate in the funeral,” Tibi said.

Abd al-Qadr was set free at the roadblock but his waiting relatives on the other side were dispersed by soldiers who said they feared a crowd would gather.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent  718-951-5324 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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