Start with this: a stone can be a deadly weapon. Same goes for a “simple” fire bomb. “Though the Israeli military does not disclose details about its rules of engagement, citing security concerns, standing orders are said to limit the use of live ammunition by soldiers to situations that they deem to be life-threatening,” nytimes.com reports. Seems clear enough. Only when is stone and/or bomb throwing a nuisance and when is it a “deadly threat”? And how could new “rules of engagement” make that distinction clearer? I reckon they can’t. But that isn’t stopping the Israelis from taking action, in light of increased attacks in Palestinian neighborhoods (autoplay video after the jump) . . .
On Wednesday, Israeli firefighters and police and border officers rescued Palestinian residents atop a burning building in Issawiya in East Jerusalem. As the firefighters and officers left the scene, they were attacked with stones, according to the police, and an Israeli woman was injured last month when a firebomb set alight a car in which she was traveling close to Route 443. Nine Palestinians from Beit Hanina — four of them minors — were charged in the firebombing . . .
Palestinian officials and human rights groups denounce what they view as an already excessive use of live fire by Israeli forces. Al-Haq, a human rights organization based in the West Bank city of Ramallah, has said the killing of Palestinian civilians is the result of a “climate of impunity granted to Israeli soldiers.”
An Israeli brigade commander came under scrutiny in July after he fatally shot a Palestinian, 17, who threw a rock at the windscreen of the commander’s jeep, smashing it. At first the military said that the commander had opened fire because his life was in danger. But surveillance footage released later by Btselem, an Israeli human rights group, appeared to show the boy being shot as he ran from the jeep.
According to Btselem, 12 Palestinian minors were shot and killed by Israeli forces during protests and clashes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 2014. Several Israelis, including children, have been killed or injured as a result of rocks or firebombs thrown at cars on West Bank roads in recent years.
The big difference here is accountability. Despite the implication of a coverup (the video was released after the investigation), Israeli soldiers are held accountable for their actions – in extremely difficult situations. The Palestinian authorities have no qualms about attacks on Israeli citizens or soldiers. You might even say they encourage them.
Still, the headline here should be that the Israelis are “creating legislation that would impose minimum sentences on youths convicted of such actions.” Whatever else you want to say about the only democratic government in the Middle East, there’s no doubt that they strive to live according to the rule of law. Remember that the next time you hear of a terrorist attack or ISIS atrocity.