Remembering The Dead: All Of Them


The 'Palestinian question' is dead. The days of Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin putting forward solutions to the conflict have been replaced with a deafening silence on the issue.

Naturally one might think that this silence is brought on by the inactivity of the Israeli Defense Force or Hamas, but this is not the case.

Who really cares about an argument over some land in the Middle East, it's old news right? 

Well, it’s only old news until someone important dies. Different rules apply if you’re technically a stateless person – ie. a Palestinian.

Sadly, and horrifically, three Israeli children were killed last week. The event placed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict back in the news; where it should have been in the first place.

The death of these three innocent Israelis is a sad event, and it is an act over which the international community should be outraged.

However, there’s an elephant in the room; this has been happening weekly to Palestinian children.

Official statistics released by the Ministry of Information in Ramallah reveal the bitter reality of this “Israeli-Palestinian question” (sounds more like a war to me) where 1,518 innocent Palestinian children have been murdered by Israel’s occupation forces from September 2000 to April 2013.

To put that into perspective, if those statistics are not enough to make your blood boil, that’s the equivalent of one Palestinian child killed by Israel every three days for almost 13 years.

These statistics are important to note; not to devalue the lives of the Israeli children who were kidnapped and killed, but to provide a context behind what is, in fact, happening.

The deaths of these Palestinian children garner little media attention. They’re followed by scant international outrage, and near silence from international leaders and politicians.

Multiple reports conducted by the United Nations and other independent bodies show that Israeli defense forces have not complied with the clear legal standards in the Fourth Geneva convention.

Additionally, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) report on the rights of a child, published last month, established many breaches and repeated several recommendations to which the Israeli Government has refused to comply.

These children whose basic human rights are being denied will become the future of Palestine.

The circumstances they face create the right ingredients to form a social time bomb of alienated, desperate and rebellious adults into the future.

The current Israeli Prime minister says that the Palestinians accused of murdering the three Israelis will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Ordinarily, this would be comforting, as the law usually coincides the notion of justice; however this is arguable if you are a Palestinian criminal.

On Monday, an Israeli court concluded that one of the punishments for convicted Palestinian criminals could be the demolition of their home.

Although this issue has not been fully decided, the Israeli Defense Force had already set combustibles on timers and exploded two second floor units in the homes of Palestinian men.

These criminals did not live in these homes alone; they have families who are now displaced.

This activity not only deprives the innocent Palestinians of access to shelter and basic services, it also runs counter to international law.

The revenge attack by Israeli extremists on a Palestinian youth who beat him and burnt him to death does not bring back the three Israeli youth, nor does the senseless act by the Israeli policeman who handcuffed a 15-year-old American Palestinian, held him to the ground, and then kicked and beat him.

The child was released under house arrest conditions and his parents had to pay a fine. Luckily for him he is an American Citizen otherwise the question stands: would the outcome have been different if he wasn’t?

According to the B’Tselem official statistics, (the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories) as of the end of May this year, 244 Palestinian children were held in Israeli Prisons as detainees or prisoners.

Compassion cures more sins than condemnation. That is precisely what’s needed from both sides, and should be preached by world leaders.

But so far, their speeches have missed the mark, further igniting the fuel to this old flame.

We should support the notion that the law should run its course on these criminals, however, it’s hard not to question the equality of the law in these cases, and the possible repercussions of such inequality.

There should be no difference between those who murdered the Israeli children and those who murdered the Palestinian children.

But even with the whole world watching, it’s doubtful this fundamental notion of the law will be upheld.

While it is a fact that children on both sides of the conflict have suffered from the violence, there is no doubt that Palestinians make up a disproportionate amount of the victims.

Sadly, three innocent Israeli teens were kidnapped and killed. That’s three families grieving for lost sons, brothers, friends.

Let’s not devalue these lives, or push their deaths aside because they are from the Middle East.

But in the memory of these three children, let’s also remember the nameless, faceless, stateless 1,518 Palestinian children killed in the past 13 years and spare a thought for their grieving families.

May they all rest in peace, and may every life taken become worthy of the same attention, which they all deserve. 

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.