Thursday, December 28, 2006
A Child is shot in Bethlehem
Here is a Xmas story for 2006.
On the afternoon of December 8th 2006, Miras Al Azzeh, a 12 year old boy was shot whilst playing at home in Aida Camp, Bethlehem.
The Israelis claim that "IDF (Israeli Defense force) troops identified several armed Palestinians in the Al Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem. The troops fired and hit one of the armed men after clearly identifying him as an armed adult Palestinian"
In contrast, a Western volunteer who has been working in the camp for the last two years reports:
What the IDF in fact saw was a group of children aged between 3 and 12 years old playing in a room. The children had been playing in that room for over two hours when the shooting occurred. It was morning so light and visibility was good. The assorted Al Azzeh children often play here so that was nothing unusual, it is after all their house. The watchtower from which Miras was shot is clearly visible from the house, probably about 70 metres away.
Anyone standing next to the Watchtower is clearly visible from the room with the naked eye, and the same is true in reverse. That said, soldiers do not look with the naked eye. Soldiers are equipped with high powered binoculars and have equally high powered sights on their weapons. Miras had been playing with a toy gun but was not holding it when he was shot. At around
midday, in good visibility, it is inconceivable that from this distance highly trained soldiers using high-tech viewing equipment mistook a group of children aged between 3 and 12 for "armed men". Miras is the oldest child that was there. At 12 years old he is about 130cm tall and weighs around 45kg.
The IDF boldly lie and say: "It is important to note that in the past three months there has been a large increase of terror activities against IDF troops from Al Aida refugee camp area, including the hurling of dozens of explosives and the shooting onto the roads between the refugee camp and city of Bethlehem."
Our British witness contradicts this: "Having been living in Aida Camp until two months ago I can personally testify that this just was not happening whilst I was there. In the first half of this year there were more IDF incursions into Aida Camp than there had been from August onwards. Sometimes during these incursions some children may throw stones at the IDF jeeps as they race around the camp or fires may be lit. The children believe they are trying to protect their camp and their families. There hasn’t been any armed resistance in the last couple of years whilst I have been there and people say it has been this way since 2002/3. People in the camp tell me that nothing has really changed in the camp recently and things have still been relatively quiet. There have been IDF incursions, mainly on a night time into the camp, but there haven’t
been the often daily incursions, shootings and tear gas that there was earlier this year. And there is still no armed resistance coming from the camp."
In fact my own personal observation is that one of the most remarkable things about the West bank is how relaxed the IDF soldiers are, this is certinly a marked contrast to the nervy vigilance that we saw in Brit soldiers in the 6 counties while the war was going on in Ireland. There simply is hardly any armed resistance to the occupation, becasue the retaliations are too brutal, and the balance of military force too uneven.
Fortunately Miras is doing well. His uncle says: "He is amazingly recuperating very fast and his family is cooking a big meal on Sunday, they have invited many friends and family, and all the neighbours, and the doctors and staff at the hospital where Miras spent his time after the surgery. We all wish that you too, our friends, are present at this time of celebrating life and hope for the future of Miras and all children of Palestine and everywhere."
On Tuesday this week there was another disgusting reminder of this continued
IOF policy of targeting children, it sounds all to familiar.
A 13 year old girl, Do'a Nasser Hamid, was playing with friends near the Apartheid Wall in the village of Far’un, near Tulkarm. She was shot by an IDF sniper from one of the Watchtowers in the Wall. Do’a was not as ‘lucky’ as Miras. Her funeral was on Wednesday…
For the sake of Miras and D’oa, for all other Palestinian children, and for all children of the world, please continue to spread these stories and work for justice.