Cold Hearts, Blind Eyes, and Israeli High Court Justices

A freak cold front blew through Florida Saturday night and the thermometer on my porch read 54 degrees, but what chilled me to the bone on Sunday morning was reading Nurit Peled Elhanan’s report of the cold-hearted Israeli High Court Justices when “members of the Combatants for Peace movement, women of Mahsom (Hebrew for “checkpoint”) Watch, members of the Forum of Bereaved Families for Peace attended a hearing (on October 14) at the High Court of Justice on the matter of the killing of ten-year-old Abir Aramin.”

On January 16, 2007, 10 year old Abir Aramin was walking home from school with her sister and two friends, but instead of having milk and cookies that afternoon; she was shot in the head with a rubber bullet by the Israeli Border Police and after three days on life support Abir’s struggle ended but not the struggle for justice her parents have been seeking ever since.

In 2007, I reported that Avichay Sharon, of Combatants for Peace stated, “Over the past 2 years, the Israeli Border Police and IDF forces have been creating provocations near the school district of Anata [which] has become a part of the daily routine for the children. Ever since construction started on the separation barrier surrounding Anata, the jeeps have been roaming the streets especially near the schools and shooting grenades and tear gas along with rubber bullets.

“Many children have been injured in the past by these brutal actions of the soldiers and on January 16th it became deadly. As in many other cases the police replied that the soldiers were shooting in response to stones thrown at them by children. Even though all the evidence and witnesses stated that no stones were thrown that day” the prosecution dismissed the Aramin family’s case, claiming lack of evidence.

Bassam Aramin, Abir’s father and co-founder of Combatants for Peace said, “I’m not going to lose my common sense, my direction, only because I’ve lost my heart, my child. I will do all I can to protect her friends, both Palestinian and Israeli. They are all our children.”

When Bassam Aramin was 17 he was sentenced to 7 years in an Israeli prison for belonging to the then-outlawed Fatah movement. Although he had been beaten by soldiers in prison, he decided that he would not become a prisoner of hatred.

The “Combatants for Peace” are Palestinians and Israelis, who had all been involved in perpetuating the cycle of violence; Israelis as soldiers in the Israeli army (IDF) and Palestinians as part of the violent struggle for Palestinian freedom. All decided to put down their guns and work together in the good fight for peace through nonviolent actions and by raising voices of conscience as they seek to create political pressure on both Governments to end the violence and end the military occupation of Palestine.

Elhanan wryly reported that Abir’s parents “live under a cruel occupation and they have experienced all it has to offer: exile, imprisonment and the killing of their small daughter Abir by a rubber bullet that was allegedly fired from the rifle of a Border Guard soldier who was sitting in an armoured jeep and thrust the barrel of his rifle through the opening that was allegedly designed for that purpose and allegedly aimed and fired at the head of the girl who was standing beside her sister at a kiosk, allegedly buying candy during the break between the first class and the second.

The projectile was removed from under the girl’s body and transferred to the authorities. The eyewitnesses, as well as the Border Guard soldiers, testified that there was no alleged danger to their lives and that the shooting was done – if it was done – in contravention of instructions. Two pathologists testified that it was probable that the fracture in Abir’s little skull could allegedly have been caused by a rubber bullet. The attending physician at the Hadassah hospital said that it was not a live bullet. The video of the reconstruction of the incident was not given to the defence counsel or to the court, because the soldiers who allegedly carried out the shooting, that is, who thrust the barrel of the rifle through the opening that had been made especially for that purpose, aimed and fired at the head of the girl Abir, were featured in the recording.

Counsel for the State, stammering, unprepared and unkempt, stood like a platoon commander in charge of new recruits with her back to the public and refuted the allegations: So they found a projectile. So what? Who knows how long it had been lying there? So people gave testimony, so what? They (those Arabs) can say anything, does that make it testimony? So nobody was throwing stones at that spot, so what? On a nearby street stones were thrown. If you were in my place, she laughingly says to Michael Sfard, Aramin’s attorney you would have made morsels of them by now.

Judge Beinish reminds Sfard – twice – that there have been such incidents in the past and that soldiers have rarely been put on trial or even indicted, so it would be best to just forget it… But Salwa and Bassam Aramin have no choice but to seek justice in an Israeli court. They demand that the truth come to light in a court of the occupiers – of the killers.

I nearly shouted for the drowsy judges – Beinish, Arbel, Frocaccia – to find a spark of humanity, of motherly feelings, within themselves and to look into the eyes of Salwa, who never stopped crying, and at Bassam’s ashen face, and to say: the High Court of Justice sympathizes with you over the death of little Abir. They didn’t.

Elhanan also noted that Jean-François Lyotard wrote that the perfect crime is not only the killing but also the suppression of the testimony and the silencing of the voices of the victims. And the greatest injustice is to compel the victims to seek justice in the court of their tormentors.

In March of 2006, I visited Anata refugee camp and have been tormented by my memories ever since.

Israel erected their thirty foot high concrete apartheid Wall at the boys high school where 780 Palestinian adolescents, share a slab of cement about the square footage of a basket ball court; their only ‘playground’.

A resident refugee informed me that on a daily basis, “The Israeli Occupation Forces show up when the children gather in the morning or after classes. They throw percussion bombs or gas bombs into the school nearly every day! The world is sleeping; the world is hibernating and is allowing this misery to continue.”

A moment later, a teenage boy approached me as I was taking photos and asked me my name and where I was from. I cringed admitting I was American, for “financed with U.S. aid at a cost of $1.5 million per mile, the Israeli wall prevents residents from receiving health care and emergency medical services. In other areas, the barrier separates farmers from their olive groves which have been their families’ sole livelihood for generations.”1

On July 9, 2004, the International Court of Justice/ICJ, ruled 14-1 that The Wall was illegal and it must come down and also that compensation should be paid to all who had been affected.

The ICJ Judges also decided 13-2 that signatories to the Geneva Convention were obliged to enforce “compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law” and the U.N. General Assembly also passed a resolution 150-6 supporting the ICJ’s call to dismantle the wall.”2

Less than five minutes by car from Anata, one can enter into the Orwellian Disney Land of lush green grounds called the Pizgat Ze’ev settlement.

All the settlements/colonies in the West Bank are illegal under international law.

I was sick at heart as I traveled through the colony and counted three playgrounds and a swimming pool.

I wondered how many USA tax dollars helped to build them, and outraged over the injustices of Walls and military occupation that American money provides against the indigenous people of that land.

Within fifteen minutes after leaving Anata, as I stood next to a playground in Pizgat Ze’ev, a barrage of gunshots issued from the refugee camp and my guide informed me that the Israeli soldiers were showering the refugees with gun fire and terror- another normal daily occurrence for them.

I lost it and sobbed uncontrollably, and imagined the Magdalena when she could not find her Lord.

And then I thought how Jesus cried buckets of tears over Jerusalem when he “saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘If you had only known what would bring you peace but it is hidden from your eyes.'” — Luke 19:42

Lady Justice, the Roman Goddess of Justice, an allegorical personification of the moral force in judicial systems, is depicted wearing a blindfold to indicate that justice should be meted out objectively, not based in favor of- or against- ethnicity, power, or weakness, but on blind impartiality.

Perhaps it is a case of cold hearts in 21st century Jerusalem that has rendered the Justices of the Israeli High Court with eyes blind to their injustices.

  1. Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Jan/Feb. 2007. []
  2. Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, July 2009. []
Eileen Fleming is the author of Keep Hope Alive and Memoirs of a Nice Irish American Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory and the producer of 30 Minutes With Vanunu. Email her at Read other articles by Eileen, or visit Eileen's website.

8 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Shabnam said on October 20th, 2009 at 10:45am #

    {The perfect crime is not only the killing but also the suppression of the testimony and the silencing of the voices of the victims. And the greatest injustice is to compel the victims to seek justice in the court of their tormentors.}

    The Zionists not only have committed war crimes against the indigenous population in Palestine but have STOLEN their land and properties. The Zionists have extended their crimes against their ally, the United States, using their Zionist agents in the US to transfer many confidential documents to Israel. The Zionists not only have high jacked the foreign policy of the empire but their agents are looting America of their scientific knowledge. The Zionists strike anyone including their ally who has concealed their crimes against Palestinian and the Islamic world for so long.
    {Stewart Nozette, 52, a former White House expert who helped discover evidence of water on the Moon, was arrested at his home in Maryland yesterday after a sting operation involving an undercover FBI officer posing as an Israeli agent.
    The Justice Department said that Mr Nozette was charged with attempting to communicate, deliver and transmit classified information. Officials said there was no wrongdoing on the part of Israel.
    The Justice Department said that from 1989 to 2006 Mr Nozette had held security clearances as high as top secret and had frequent access to classified information relating to US national defence, including nuclear weapon technology.
    From 1998 to 2008, the complaint alleges, Mr Nozette was a technical adviser for a consultant company that was wholly owned by the Israeli government and was paid about $225,000 over that period. }

  2. eileen fleming said on October 20th, 2009 at 11:45am #

    Yes and thanks Shabnam,

    I also read the article in Times Online today.

    But the issue I raised is that a 10 year old child was assassinated by Israeli occupying forces and there is no justice in Jerusalem.

    But as the article you sited brought up the nuclear card- and the attorney for the Aramin parents just so happens to be the same lawyer fighting for Mordechai Vanunu’s right to leave the Jewish State, I am hoping that this beautiful child who was denied the right to life by the IOF will help wake up the US to just how unjust the Justices of the High Court in Jerusalem are.

    But, as Vanunu told me, “There is no justice in Israel…Israel is only a democracy if you are a Jew.”-

  3. John S. Hatch said on October 20th, 2009 at 11:49am #

    The ‘most moral army in the world’ revels in murdering children. Sadism is a mental illness that inflicts Zionist Israel through and through, and will eventually destroy it. One would hope sooner rather than later, but that sick nation is doomed.

  4. eileen fleming said on October 20th, 2009 at 12:06pm #

    Here’s some hope for “that sick nation” from within the IOF:

    On July 16, 2009 Times Online reported:

    A group of Israeli soldiers who fought in the recent war in Gaza have testified that the military allowed them to use reckless force…in a booklet compiled by Breaking the Silence, an Israeli soldiers’ organization.

    They describe the Israeli army’s use of human shields and deliberate targeting of civilian structures.

    The soldiers’ descriptions confirm information first published by The Times during the offensive that soldiers were given orders to shoot first and ask questions later.

    In one typical account, a soldier said that in pre-invasion briefings his officers said it was better to hit an innocent than hesitate to attack an enemy. “If you’re not sure, kill. Fire power was insane.”

    “You felt like a child playing around with a magnifying glass, burning up ants,” another Israeli soldier said. “A 20-year-old kid should not be doing such things to people.”

    Several Israeli soldiers described the use of white phosphorus in Gaza. One soldier described walking on the beach in Gaza and discovering an area covered in glazed sand from a white phosphorous bomb.

    He said it was upsetting because “in training you learn that white phosphorus is not used, and you’re taught that it’s not humane”.

    A soldier from the Golani brigade said: “Sometimes a force would enter while placing rifle barrels on a civilian’s shoulder, advancing into a house and using him as a human shield.”

    Another soldier related an incident in which he was ordered not to fire warning shots at a man approaching their position from some dozen yards away.

    When they asked their commander why he told them not to fire warning shots, he said: “It’s night time and this is a terrorist.”

    What the US needs to wake up to is that during the 23 days of Israeli assault on Gaza; Washington provided F-16 fighter planes, Apache helicopters, tactical missiles, and a wide array of munitions, including white phosphorus and DIME.

    The weapons required for the Israeli assault were decided upon in June 2008, and the transfer of 1,000 bunker-buster GPS-guided Small Diameter Guided Bomb Units 39 (GBU-39) were approved by Congress in September. The GBU 39 bombs were delivered to Israel in November (prior to any claims of Hamas cease fire violation!) for use in the initial air raids on Gaza.

    In a 71-page report released March 25, 2009, by Human Rights Watch, Israel’s repeated firing of US-made white phosphorus shells over densely populated areas of Gaza was indiscriminate and is evidence of war crimes.

    “Rain of Fire: Israel’s Unlawful Use of White Phosphorus in Gaza,” provides eye witness accounts of the devastating effects that white phosphorus munitions had on civilians and civilian property in Gaza.

    “Human Rights Watch researchers found spent shells, canister liners, and dozens of burnt felt wedges containing white phosphorus on city streets, apartment roofs, residential courtyards, and at a United Nations school in Gaza immediately after hostilities ended in January.

    “Militaries officially use white phosphorus to obscure their operations on the ground by creating thick smoke. It has also been used as an incendiary weapon, though such use constitutes a war crime.

    “In Gaza, the Israeli military didn’t just use white phosphorus in open areas as a screen for its troops,” said Fred Abrahams, senior emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch and co-author of the report. “It fired white phosphorus repeatedly over densely populated areas, even when its troops weren’t in the area and safer smoke shells were available. As a result, civilians needlessly suffered and died.”

    During the 23 days of attack on Gaza, the UN Security Council, Amnesty International, International Red Cross, and global voices of protest rose up and demanded a ceasefire, but both houses of Congress overwhelmingly endorsed resolutions to support a continuation of Israel’s so called “self defense.”

    The US is the largest arms supplier to Israel and under a Bush negotiated deal with Israel; the US also agreed to provide another $30 billion in military aid to Israel over the next decade.

  5. Shabnam said on October 20th, 2009 at 1:58pm #

    Thank you Eileen:

    I agree with you hundred percent. I brought the issue of spying and theft of US scientific knowledge up for the same reason that you are reporting about assassination of a 10 year old child to inform American people of a crime committed by an apartheid state where is supported by their tax money and their government. We want Americans to wake up and stop the crimes committed against Palestinian people and end the occupation. According to Goldstone report genocide has been committed in Gaza where international community has a responsibility to hold Israel accountable.

    I wish the Iranian opposition groups were fair as you are Ms. Eileen to view Israel as a racist and an apartheid state not a ‘democratic’ state. Unfortunately, many Iranian opposition groups who are close to intelligence agencies of the West view Israel as a democratic state and have no problem with Israel illegal WMD because they think it is OK for a ‘democratic’ state to hold such a weapon. These agents are blind to assassination of a 10 year old child by Israeli soldier and massacre of Palestinian toddlers by cluster and phosphorus bombs. It is for this reason that the West has given these individuals many Awards and Prizes including ‘Noble Peace Prize’ to facilitate Western influence around the world when they kill civilians in the process. One of these Noble Peace Prize winners said:

    {Ms. Ebadi suggested that the nature of Iran’s regime is more crucial to U.S. security than any specific deals on nuclear energy. Iran’s people are not as wedded to the nuclear program as the regime wants outsiders to believe. A democratic government would be unlikely to build a nuclear bomb, she said, and even if it did, the weapon would not be a threat in the hands of a government that would not view America or Israel as enemies.}

    Shirin Ebadi, received a “Noble Peace Prize” in 2003. To support Palestinian cause and demand for justices is a responsibility of all who wish to be considered HUMAN. The slogan of Iranian opposition, ‘green wave’ No to Gaza, No to Lebanon – I will devote my live to Iran – is in violation of humane society since we are all human. We support humanity; therefore, we demand a just peace for people of Palestine and the rest of human community.

  6. eileen fleming said on October 20th, 2009 at 4:06pm #

    Thanks again Shabnam,

    If THAT DAY, we call 9/11 taught US anything, it should be that America’s nuclear arsenal cannot defeat ‘terrorism’ or provide security from the actions of a few violent mad men who target and murder innocent ones.

    I believe we are at the crossroads; human kind will either wake up and abolish war, nukes and learn to share this planet as equal beings;

    Or mad men will destroy it-by accident or design.

    From Ashkelon prison in 1987, Mordechai Vanunu asked:

    “Any country, which manufactures and stocks nuclear weapons, is first of all endangering its own citizens. This is why the citizens must confront their government and warn it that it has no right to expose them to this danger. Because, in effect, the citizens are being held hostage by their own government, just as if they have been hijacked and deprived of their freedom and threatened…when governments develop nuclear weapons without the consent of their citizens – and this is true in most cases – they are violating the basic rights of their citizens, the basic right not to live under constant threat of annihilation…Is any government qualified and authorized to produce such weapons?”

    I also hope Americans of conscience are -or will be-connected to:

  7. Mulga Mumblebrain said on October 20th, 2009 at 9:46pm #

    Israel specialises in killing and maiming children because Judaism, as interpreted by many Judaic religious authorities, not only condones the killing of innocents, but revels in it.

  8. kalidas said on October 21st, 2009 at 7:35am #

    So then, are the adherents to this “Judaism” innocent or not?
    Are they to be compared to the German citizens (Nazis) or not?

    Since there are these “good decent Jews” who protest against evil Zionism, (at least in theory), should all Jews be castigated for the actions of the majority?
    And let’s not kid ourselves that these evil Zionist/Talmudists and their silent majority aren’t exactly that… the majority.

    Anyone who has ever questioned or slightly suggested to one of these kind and decent Jews that there is any defect in Judaism, no matter how slight, had better wear spit guards and earplugs.
    How dare you?

    Does Judaism = Ponerology?
    George Santanaya, among thousands and millions upon millions of others might have something to say about that.