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Sol Salbe: No Excuses For Killing Children

No Excuses For Killing Children

By Sol Salbe

This is an unusual media commentary as it conducted to a large degree ex ante rather than ex post. It involves one of the most horrific, objectionable incidents of the four-year Intifada. The killing of 10-month-old Shalhevet Pas has become as symbolic for Israelis as that of Mohammed al-Dura has done for the Palestinians. There are basically no excuses for killing children.

Until last Friday there was only one version of the event being circulated. Here is how an Haaretz article by admittedly right-winger Nadav Shragai is rendered on the AIJAC web site :

"Once more it is apparent that a fierce hatred underlies this atrocity and others like it, such as the lynching of the two soldiers in Ramallah last October, or the more recent murder of the infant girl Shalhevet Pas, from the Jewish settlement in Hebron, by a Palestinian sharpshooter who locked his gunsight on the baby girl's head and fired."

Last Friday, however, the perpetrator, Fatah-Tanzim operative Mahmoud Amro, was sentenced to three life imprisonment for this and other crimes by an Israeli military court. None of the accounts that I have seen mentioned the gunsight locking. But one, Einyan Merkazi ( ) details interesting twist: Shalhevet Pas was killed by mistake. "Amro told the court that he didn't intend to shoot the baby but her father."

"The sharpshooter aimed at the baby's father, a settler who lives in a settlement near Hebron who was went on a stroll with his baby daughter. The bullet hit a nearby rock and a ricochet penetrated the baby stroller who was hit and subsequently died." [My translation -Hebrew original at]

As far as I am concerned this is no excuse: anyone aiming at someone with a baby has to take into account that they would end up killing the child and not the adult. They cannot pretend otherwise.

Members of the Melbourne Jewish Left were up in arms over a similar incident when one-tonne bomb was dropped on a house killing a terrorist but also 15 others including a large number of children. We argued then that it is no excuse that one is aiming at a terrorist when it is very likely that innocent people including children would be killed.

Others justified the killing. To be consistent they now have to justify Shalhevet's killing. Her father is also a terrorist. Since the killing he's actually been charged with terrorism by an Israeli court. The Palestinian would have been aware of his activities beforehand - his views and action are a matter of a public record.

Of course, neither I nor anyone else I know really wants them to justify the killing. I'd much rather they realised that putting civilians at risk is wrong and should be stopped. But one way or they other they ought to be consistent.

In the meantime it will be interesting to see the next reference to this case in the media especially the electronic segment. Would they repeat the story of deliberately targeting a baby?


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