Thursday, August 15, 2002

Shooting at cars
“Tomorrow, or the next day, it will happen again, bet on it. After the many bullet-riddled cars we have seen, … seats covered with blood, … drivers and passengers killed or wounded … , it was apparently time for us to be on this side of the bullet, in the first person, first-hand”.

This is not what you think. I know it sounds like a first hand experience of a pigua (terrorist attack) on the roads of the West Bank. It could be. It sounds like it. But I’ve omitted some words. This is how it was written before my omissions:

“Tomorrow, or the next day, it will happen again, bet on it. After the many bullet-riddled cars we have seen, their seats covered with blood, their Palestinian drivers and passengers killed or wounded by soldiers for no reason, it was apparently time for us to be on this side of the bullet, in the first person, first-hand”.

This is Gideon Levi’s account of the incident in which he was shot at, while riding in an Israeli taxi in the West Bank town of Tul Karem.

Now, I’m not justifying the soldiers, although the car they were shooting at was driving in a “sterile” road in the middle of a wartime curfew. Levi did have a permit to be there. The army says there was a coordination failure and was apparently very apologetic. Putting myself in a soldier’s position, the situation does sound suspicious. After all, what would an Israeli taxi be doing there, in the middle of what Levi himself describes as “a curfew the likes of which we have never seen”? Levi says that he travels like this regularly. It’s actually a wonder it hasn’t happened before.

But this is still no justification. I think the army should check this, and all the other similar incidents, fix whatever needs fixing and do the utmost to keep these incidents to a minimum. I’ve never been under curfew, and I’m sure it’s scary as hell. I do feel sorry for ordinary Palestinians, even if they only have themselves to blame.

This is not my point here. My point is that he writes as if the opposite is not possible, that the opposite has never, ever happened. No Israelis have ever been shot driving along the road. Ayelet Dikstein was just making up the murder of her parents and little brother. And all the others too. There have never been “bullet-riddled” Israeli “cars, their seats covered with blood, their” Israeli “drivers and passengers killed or wounded by” Palestinian freedom fighters.

What am I doing? I’m writing as if it’s at all comparable; as if soldiers shooting at suspicious curfew violators, who could very well be up to no good, is the same as the coldblooded slaughter of whole families, with the sole intention of spreading terror and dread.

Levi sums up the article by asking some questions, among them: “Do the soldiers give any thought to the people on whom they fire, with the intent to kill, without prior warning, and thus offhandedly seal their fate? Maybe they are Israelis? Maybe they are Palestinians who got lost? Maybe the car is carrying a dying child to a hospital? Maybe there is a woman in labor in the car? Are they all to be condemned to automatic death?” My answer is: A lot of them probably do, especially the older ones, the reservists, the ones who have pregnant wives and little children waitng for them, worrying about them, at home.

And I ask: Do the Palestinian terrorists give any thought to the people on whom they fire, with the intent to kill, without prior warning, and thus offhandedly seal their fate? Maybe they are Israelis? Maybe they are Palestinians who got lost? Maybe the car is carrying a dying child to a hospital? Maybe there is a woman in labor in the car? Are they all to be condemned to automatic death?

No need to answer.

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