Wednesday, January 05, 2011

My Two Cents on Jawaher Abu Rahmah ...

I was all set to try and write a detailed, balanced post on the death of Jawaher Abu Rahmah who was allegedly killed after inhaling tear gas fired by the IDF at a recent demonstration in the West Bank village of Bil'in. Then I saw this article in Haaretz written by Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff and realized they had done a far better job than I ever could.

I've said before (maybe) that these two writers are among the few worth reading at Haaretz. They don't dissapoint in this story which is balanced, thoughtful, and frighteningly reasonable.

They acknowledge that something doesn't makes sense about the claims from the Palestinians while also looking at the IDF claims with an apropriate level of skepticism. They conclude that there are few established facts in the case, and that little hard evidence actually exists.
According to testimonies from villagers and demonstrators, Abu Rahmah was hurt by the gas. However, it's reasonable to assume that this wasn't the sole cause of death. She had some health problem that caused headaches and dizziness, and stained her skin, but in the medical documents this is not described as the cause of death.

It is possible that there was a combination of factors. Beyond this, if it was the gas that killed her, as was claimed, one would have expected that others near her would have also suffered injury. A young woman that was near Abu Rahmah said that she was only lightly affected by the gas.
The thing that bothers me most about this incident is how readily individuals and the media, both inside Israel and internationally, were willing to accept the Palestinians claims without the one thing that would actually support them: an autopsy.

No autopsy was performed. No matter what you believe about Israel or the Palestinians, it is impossible to say one way or another what killed this woman without an autopsy. Especially if we are to believe that she was somehow poisoned by tear gas.

This is one of the things about this conflict that drives me mad. In any other situation the word "murder" is used with the gravity it deserves, but here it is tossed around without a second thought. Why are so many people, so many Israelis, ready to accuse their own army of murder without demanding the same level of evidence that they would expect for even the most well known criminal?

I just don't understand.

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