Tragedy and re­gret

The Jewish Chronicle - - Comment&analysis -

On Mon­day morn­ing, as they sat down to break­fast in their Gaza home, Miyasar Abu Meatak and her four chil­dren — Salah, four, Mu­sad, 18 months, Hanaa, three, and Rudey­nah, six — died in a mas­sive ex­plo­sion. The dust had barely set­tled on this night­mar­ish scene be­fore claims and coun­ter­claims be­gan fly­ing over just who was re­spon­si­ble. The IDF at first in­sisted that the fam­ily was killed when ex­plo­sives car­ried by wanted men det­o­nated af­ter they were struck by an Is­raeli mis­sile. The Pales­tini­ans claimed that Is­raeli troops had fired a tank shell which hit the fam­ily’s build­ing. In the midst of ur­ban, asym­met­ri­cal war­fare, the pre­cise se­quence of events is not al­ways im­me­di­ately clear. So what should Is­rael do at a time like this — ad­mit re­spon­si­bil­ity, deny in­volve­ment, ex­press “re­gret”? An ini­tial Is­raeli prom­ise to show jour­nal­ists footage to back up its ver­sion of events was quickly re­tracted af­ter the IDF ad­mit­ted this ev­i­dence was in­con­clu­sive. It seems al­most dis­taste­ful to men­tion has­barah in this con­text. Yet it took 24 hours for a mea­sured, hu­man re­sponse to emerge from the Is­raeli side and for Prime Min­is­ter Ehud Olmert, to say, quite sim­ply, that Is­rael felt deep re­morse for the tragic in­ci­dent, that the ex­act cir­cum­stances were still un­clear, and that the IDF would carry out an in­ves­ti­ga­tion and pub­li­cise its find­ings. From the Is­raeli per­spec­tive, this in­ci­dent only lasted for one do­mes­tic news cy­cle, and pri­vately is not be­ing seen as an in­ter­na­tional de­ba­cle. The truth of the events of Mon­day morn­ing has yet to emerge. But what is in no doubt is that this event was a tragedy. And if spectators to this con­flict have reached the point where the death of four chil­dren and their mother in one sin­gle, bru­tal mo­ment no longer moves them, then that is an­other.

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