For Palestinians, the killing of their children is not a random act of a military that lacks discipline and fears no repercussions. Palestinians know that the Israeli war on children is an intrinsic component of the larger Israeli war on all Palestinians.
Data collected by international rights groups, however, leaves no doubt that the nature of the killings is part of a comprehensive strategy deployed by the Israeli military. Specifically, the killing of Palestinian children is a centralized and deliberate Israeli military strategy.
When the police or military shoot a child anywhere in the world, though utterly tragic, it can be argued, at least in theory, that the killing was an unfortunate mistake.
However, the killing of children must be deliberate when you see thousands of children killed and wounded in a systematic and routine method in a short time.
Israel kills Palestinian children as a matter of policy. One can easily demonstrate and support this claim by the latest findings of a Human Rights Watch report.
In a recent report, entitled ‘West Bank: Spike in Israeli Killings of Palestinian Children’, HRW reaches a strong conclusion based on an exhaustive examination of medical data, eyewitness accounts, video footage, and field research — the latter pertaining to four specific cases.
One is that of Mahmoud al-Sadi, a 17-year-old Palestinian boy from the Jenin Refugee Camp, killed last November, 320 meters away from any clashes in the camp between invading Israeli forces and Jenin fighters.
Mahmoud was on his way to school and carried nothing that could be seen, from the soldiers’ point of view, as threatening or suspicious.
The story of the Jenin boy is typical and people often repeat it throughout the West Bank, sometimes daily. As of August 22, the killing of thirty-four Palestinian children in the West Bank added, more tragic numbers to a foreboding year that promises to be the most violent yet, since 2005.
This year ‘already surpasses 2022 annual figures and the highest figure since 2005,’ in terms of casualties, reported Tor Wennesland, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East, during a UN briefing on August 21.
These numbers, among other factors, including the expansion of illegal Israeli Jewish settlements in the West Bank, ‘threaten to worsen the plight of the most vulnerable Palestinians’, according to Wennesland.
Those most vulnerable Palestinians however, exist beyond the realm of numbers. When Israeli soldiers killed 2-year-old toddler, Mohammed al-Tamimi on June 5, the little boy’s name also came on an ever-expanding list of numbers.
The memory of the infant, however, like the memory of all other Palestinian children is alive in the collective consciousness of all Palestinians. It deepens their pain but also compels their struggle and their resistance.
Mohammed al-Tamimi was the youngest of the 27 Palestinian children killed in Gaza and the West Bank this year. Hundreds of Palestinian mourners gathered in Ramallah to bury two-and-a-half-year-old Mohammed al-Tamimi who died in a Tel Aviv hospital after being shot by Israeli forces.
The funeral procession started at Ramallah Hospital and wound its way to his home in the village of Nabi Saleh, with the grieving marchers raising Palestinian flags and banners, while also chanting angry slogans denouncing Israel’s crimes against children and the Palestinian people.
The problem for Palestinians is not just that of Israel’s violence, but also the lack of international will to hold Israel accountable.
Accountability requires firmness of will. This task should be a priority for all countries that genuinely care about Palestinians and about universal human rights. Without such collective action, Palestinian children will continue to die and in the most brutal ways, a tragedy that will continue to pain us — in fact, shame us all.