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Wed Aug 24, 2016, 04:49 PM


How an IDF general whitewashed the killing of three innocent Palestinians [View all]


On March 10, 1998, at about 6 p.m., a white van carrying 12 Palestinian laborers heading home from work approached the Tarqumiyah crossing, between Israel and the southern West Bank. As the van entered the checkpoint, it veered slightly to the right, hitting one of the soldiers lightly. The soldier would later say that it wasn’t an accident, and that he saw “rage coming out of the driver’s eyes.” The soldiers, apparently aware of an alert issued the previous day of an imminent car-ramming attack, thought they saw one unfolding and opened fire. Three passengers were killed and another two were injured.

The head of the IDF’s West Bank division at the time, Brig. Gen. Yitzhak Eitan, initially claimed that “a preliminary investigation yielded that an attempt was made to run over a soldier, and the checkpoint staff responded accordingly.” However, eyewitnesses told Haaretz reporters Amos Harel and Sami Sokol that the van changed lanes because it had an Israeli license plate, and the driver noticed he was entering the Palestinian-only lane. The very same night, then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu phoned Yasser Arafat and extended his condolences. He later dubbed the incident “an unfortunate mistake.”

A week later, one of the surviving passengers told Haaretz that “the soldiers opened fire after another was waving towards us to move forward. One soldier didn’t see him and, thinking we were about to break through, started firing.” A report by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem the following year quoted an IDF investigation saying that the cause of the incident was faulty brakes.

Over the last few weeks, this case has been vaunted repeatedly by Dayan as an example of how errant shooters should be treated by army commanders. As GOC, Dayan was responsible for the lives of millions of occupied Palestinians, yet repeatedly and unflinchingly showcased the intricate cover-up apparatus of the most moral army in the world. Perhaps unwittingly, he drew the attention to the true culprits: the Dayans and the Ashkenazis, the Sharons and Baraks, and all the other generals (not to mention generations of cabinet ministers).

Palestinian lives are cheap to Israel.

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