It is virtually impossible to erase the image of four Palestinian boys lying dead on a beach in Gaza. Their mangled bodies, one moment full of the vigor and the optimistic energy of youth, the next laying motionless on the hot sand. In the midst of the horror of Israel’s inhuman assault on a captive population of 1.7 million people with no army, no air force, no navy, and no means of escaping a densely populated gulag, four boys played football and graced this misery with the normality of human inertia. But that was all shattered by an Israeli shell.
Israel is usually quick in justifying virtually every crime it commits. Regurgitating the same stale line that Hamas is using civilians as human shields, it repeatedly gets a free pass for brutality and murder in both the press and from the US government. The human rights organization Amnesty International completed an exhaustive review of these claims after Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2009 (see below). They found no evidence of Hamas using any civilian as a human shield. They did, however, find that the Israeli military used Palestinians as human shields on several occasions.
But like the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, the Palestinian boy who was kidnapped, tortured and burned alive by Jewish extremists, this crime too will likely be submerged in the morass of propaganda that surrounds every news story that comes out of the region.The mainstream media is expert at burying these kind of stories, like ignoring or downplaying the angry Israeli lynch mobs marching through the streets of Jerusalem chanting “death to Arabs, death to leftists,” and attacking any one who appeared to be a Palestinian or an Israeli peace activist. And sure enough they are doing the same here. Quick as lightening, one of the journalists who witnessed the carnage first hand, Ayman Mohyeldin of NBC News, was removed from his post after he reported accurately about the massacre. He witnessed it, after all. Regardless of this, he has been replaced with a reporter far more friendlier to the Israeli establishment, Richard Engel, who was in Tel Aviv at the time of the attack, over 70 kilometers away.
Mohyeldin told us their names; Ahed Atef Bakr 10 yrs old, Zakaria Ahed Bakr 10 yrs old, Mohamed Ramez Bakr 11 yrs old, and Ismael Mohamed Bakr 9 yrs old. He showed us their parents anguish. He humanized a people who have been consistently dehumanized for decades by a colonial, apartheid regime. And now he has been removed because of it.
The brutal murder of three Israeli settler teens in the West Bank was plastered on every headline around the world and received condemnations from every world leader. The murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, 18 members of one family, at least three disabled women, dozens of children, and the four boys on a beach in Gaza, barely register in the mainstream press. All of these deaths should be mourned and condemned, but to the elite of the world, Palestinian lives are treated as less valuable and a mere consequence of a “complicated situation.”
But it really isn’t that complicated. Four boys are dead for the crime of playing football on a beach in Gaza on a warm summer day. And to their parents, as it would be for anyone, an entire world of hope and promise has been destroyed in a split second of utter barbarity.
Kenn Orphan 2014
Note: I have decided not to post the photos of the massacre in deference to their families.
(Photo: boys playing football on Gaza beach/China Daily)