On Thursday, 16.02.2010, Palestine woke up to a terrible tragedy. 5 children between the ages of 5 and 6 (Marwa ‘Amirah, Milad Salameh, Lamis Hamdan, Abdallah Al-Hindi, Zeid Jawabreh), and one of their teachers (‘Ula Al-Julani), were killed in a tragic traffic accident. As we followed the news, we couldn’t stop our tears; little children, some of them burnt beyond recognition, others injured badly and struggling to survive, others crying out of pain, fear and shock, traumatized maybe forever. The minute I heard of the tragic accident, I started clicking on local Palestinian news sites, looking for the latest news, hoping against hope that there were no victims, that these children were merely injured. The night before, I had received a late call from a comrade informing me of the martyrdom of Khader Adnan. After many inquiries, it turned out it was only a rumour, but upon hearing that news, I had felt helpless, angry, sad, and although I don’t know Adnan personally, I felt that I’ve just lost a very close and dear family member. So, this morning, when I was told that at least 6 children were killed in a car accident, I hoped, prayed, for this to be nothing but a rumour. I clicked on a number of websites and alas! It was the sad truth. And as the hours passed, and after the rescue operation was almost over, the dead and the injured taken to hospitals, the first images started appearing on some local websites. Looking at them, I couldn’t help remembering something I learned during my media training in Germany: Even if you report “objectively” on an issue, there are always ways to influence the reader and the viewer, with the images you use or with the way the camera focuses on an interviewee. Through images, you could indirectly convey a certain message other than that in your “objective” report, and thus influence how the reader or the viewer reacts to a certain issue. This was a terrible accident, and the victims were children, little kindergarten children. I noticed that on some Palestinian sites, particularly those based in the areas occupied in 1948, all images were of Israeli ambulances, Israeli medical and rescue teams with their unmistakable Magan David slogan and their kippas. These images were mostly close-ups to leave no room for speculation or doubt as to “who was doing the rescue”. And this despite reading on Palestinian and Israeli sites that Palestinian medical or rescue teams were on the scene rescuing the children.
Anyway, trying to figure the source of the images, I noticed that they were published together with a press release from the Israeli police spokesperson. The same press release was clearly distributed to these Palestinian sites, and I suppose to Israeli and international news agencies. The same images accompanied the press release, so it is safe to assume that it was the Israeli police that distributed these pictures. I kept checking these sites every now and then, and with time, more pictures were being published: now they were receiving images from Palestinians present at the scene, and these were mostly general pictures taken from the scene of the tragic accident: general images of ambulance, rescue workers, fire fighters, medics, ambulances, ordinary people trying to help, and images of crying parents and bewildered faces. Looking at one of these local websites, no comment is needed: Images were listed one after the other with names of those who shot/sent the pictures, and it is clear that those taken by Israelis concentrate mainly on Israeli teams, while those taken by Palestinians are general random images with no discrimination as to who is doing what (Unfortunately despite several tries, I was unable to take a full screenshot of the whole page because it is too long).
Then, one local Palestinian site reported that Israelis were writing racist comments on the facebook page of an Israeli site. So, I checked Israeli sites to see the comments there. One article on the English page of a prominent Israeli site found it necessary to list 3 or 4 (don’t remember anymore since it was edited less than an hour later and this info was removed) examples of accidents in which Palestinians and non-Palestinians were involved. The message was clear: before you blame the Israeli truck driver (before it turned out he is Palestinian), know that it is Palestinians who cause the accidents. This was later removed. The Hebrew version of the article was no better. I understood from the comments that there was criticism of the language of the article and that the article was edited and reedited. One commentator for example questioned the language of the Hebrew version of the article, asking whether there was a division between Palestinians and humans. A Doctor no less replied that Palestinians are a fiction and there is no such thing as Palestinians since they are all Arabs. Anyway, most comments on this site, whether on the English or Hebrew pages, were of sympathy and condolence, but there were much more racist comments on the Hebrew pages, and these sites didn’t find anything wrong in publishing these racist comments. This was the trend on all Israeli sites I checked. While many Israelis expressed their condolences, and while some had the decency to say that this is in fact a very dangerous road, whether for Palestinians or Israelis, others thought they could camouflage their hate and racism with some sympathy. Some blamed the PA for not enforcing law and order in that area and for the bad infrastructure, leaving out the fact that this is the so-called area C, which is under full Israeli control. Others said that it was Palestinians who drive like madmen, another asking them to “act like humans on the roads” (just think of all the car accidents in which Zionist colonists ran over and killed or severely injured Palestinian students and workers in open areas of the West Bank, where a car has enough space to avoid hitting a house, but nonetheless they fail to avoid hitting Palestinians). Some even went to the extent of claiming that it was Arabs drivers who cause accidents. I suppose if the Zionist entity ethnically cleanses Palestine completely, and not a single Palestinian is left, then the Zionist entity will have no more traffic accidents, no more thefts, no more domestic incidents, no more deaths, since we are accused of everything bad that takes place in this racist terrorist entity. Well, and all this time we thought immortality is nothing but a myth, it seems we are the ones who prevent it with our “bad driving”.
Some, who conveyed their condolences, found it necessary to stress that Palestinians don’t know how to act, bragged that Israeli rescue workers were the first on the scene, but failed to mention the Israeli checkpoints that delayed Palestinian rescue teams, and chose to forget the numbers of times Palestinian rescue teams actually helped save the lives of settlers involved in traffic accidents on the roads of Hebron and Nablus. Benzion Oring, head of ZAKA’s Jerusalem office, told Ynet that that the Disaster Victim Identification teams had trouble finding the scene at first, as the area is close to Palestinian villages. “… “ We arrived at the scene after we made sure to get the necessary permits. Red Crescent teams and local volunteers were in the midst of a rescue operation and we were told that the bodies of several children had already been evacuated.” One commentator thanked the civil administration that allowed the injured to be transferred to Hadassah. Yes, thanks to the occupation that leaves our roads and villages in area C lacking the basic infrastructure, separates us from hospitals and medical centres through checkpoints and walls, but is kind enough to allow a few to be transferred to Hadassah, while hundreds of patients have died because of the siege on Gaza and others in the West Bank died at checkpoints because they were not allowed to go to hospitals to get medical treatment. And one was saying that with these racist comments they (the Israelis) were becoming like us. So, even when they are trying to act sympathetic, they are still superior and we are still the bad guys, they are the victims, etc.
And not a few found that the tragic accident and the racist reaction to it received more publicity than it should, that it wasn’t newsworthy (I suppose racist comments on the page of a prime minister that are not deleted or condemned by that prime minister, are okay), and tried to make little of the racist comments and were telling others not to pay attention to them, and even sometimes accusing those who criticized these comments as being instigators and aiming to tarnish the image of Israel. One comment went:
Those doesn’t mean anything, just some silly kids’ rants just like on YouTube (Litl)
I suppose the racist laws and discrimination by the government don’t mean anything either! they are just some stupid ministers supported by the majority of the citizens who are responsible for perfidious acts and are encouraging such behaviour by the population at large… (Sealy)
Funny how a Palestinian, even a child making the slightest comment, saying as much as Palestine will be free, is attacked and accused of being a terrorist, an anti-Semite and God knows what. It was only some days ago, that Yasser Al-Munayyer, from Wadi IlJoz, was kidnapped by Israeli special forces, who beat him savagely at an interrogation centre. He was dragged from his home, beaten and abused in front of his wife and children, and his crime was that he said that the Zionist entity was doomed to vanish. Did any of the racists who celebrated the death of Palestinian children, and prayed for more dead Palestinians receive any visits from Israeli special forces, get assaulted and beaten in front of their children? After accusing the Palestinians of celebrating the murder of Israelis, one Israeli wondered why Haaretz was making a “major incident of a few nuts who sprew hatred?” and goes to asks: “Why not mention how many of the children are being healed and cared for lovingly in Hadassah and other Jerusalem hospitals”. Again, I suppose we should be thankful for the occupation that kills us with one hands and “lends help” with the other. Another justified the hatred because of what he called “60 years of terrorism”, forgetting that they are the terrorist, they are the ones occupying our land, they are the ones who expelled 80% of the Palestinian population, demolished and erased 80% of Palestinian villages, committed countless massacres and still do. And then has the audacity to talk about living “in a world of double standards and hypocrisy where getting mad at a murderer is considered a greater crime. Some went even as far as to claim that those who wrote the comments were not Israelis, but from other nationalities hiding behind Israeli names.
I do not believe Jews would make such remarks it is Israel haters in a pr campaign. (Harzion)
It seems the “light unto nations” is so bright, they can’t even see their own racism, or don’t want to see it or see the fact that Israeli media, Israeli education system, Israeli religious schools, Israeli officials, Israeli political parties, Israeli army officials, Israeli rabbis, Israeli colonists incite against us all the time, day and night, summer and winter, spring and autumn, call directly or indirectly for expelling us or even killing us, issue one racist law after the other, issue one racist statement after the other, attack Palestinian villages, schools and religious buildings. And I suppose all the Israeli polls we keep reading about, that show that racism and hate is in fact deep-rooted and is a distinct mark of the Zionist society, are all conducted by non-Israeli institutions and human rights organization hiding behind Israeli names. Considering the results of all these polls, the Zionist society knows exactly what it is built on and on what ideology it thrives, and is proud of that, except maybe for a very very very very very tiny minority.
According to Haaretz: “Satisfaction that “only Palestinians” were the victims and slogans such as “Death to Arabs, why do we help them?” were posted on the Facebook pages of Netanyahu, Wallah and the Israel Police. “ … “Relax, it’s Palestinian children,” someone wrote on Wallah’s Facebook page. Others wrote “Great! Fewer terrorists” and “May there be such buses every day.” Similar comments were posted on the police’s Facebook page, including “When they grew up they’d be terrorists …. God nipped them in the bud.”” Akkanet.net quotes one comment left by an Israeli on the Walla.co.il Facebook page: “Don’t worry, this a bus carrying Palestinian children, pray that there be only dead and very few injured, there is no better news than this to start the weekend.” Another commentator wrote: I hope the bus carries only Palestinians. Bokra.net published an image of Netanyahu’s facebook page with comments from Israelis on the tragic accident. According to bokra.net: “but…. (this) racism is blatant and public too on the page of the Israeli prime minister Netanyahu…. And no one cares to delete these racist comments!“ Bokra added that one Israeli commented that Netanyahu should offer Palestinians baqlawah (Arabic sweets distributed in happy occasions) instead of help, in reference to Netanyahu’s offer of help to the Palestinians (yeah, right, kill them with your right hand and offer help with your left!). Another wrote: can we send them another truck (in reference to the truck that caused the accident, so to kill more of them). One reply was: if possible, send two and not one! Another comment was: “I’d send a double-trailer to wipe out all those shits”. It should be added that neither were the comments on Netanyahu’s page removed nor denounced by him or his aides. No surprise there.
Here are some of the comments I came across: some comments were in English, others in Hebrew, I tried to translate to the best I could.
Oh, please! Stop blaming Israel. Everything that Israel did in terms of infrastructure in the areas controlled by the PA has been allowed to fall into disrepair and ruin. Do you REALLY think that Abbas and Erekat would give up their private Gulfstream jets just to fix a few roads? Well, since they have Gulfstream jets and since the roads in areas controlled by the PA have been allowed — by that selfsame PA — to erode, I’m guessing the answer is “No.”
The only reason you are surprised that Israeli police arrived at the scene and sent ambulances is because you are accustomed to the not-so-benign neglect exhibited by the PA in similar circumstances. Why can’t you just express some gratitude for the prompt response of Israeli police and rescue services? Why can’t you just express some thanks that the injured were transported to a REAL hospital in Israel, instead of what passes for hospitals in areas controlled by the PA?
You wanted autonomy; now you have it! Don’t come complaining to us because autonomy hasn’t worked out all that well for the ersatz “Palestinians.” You have what you wanted; deal with it
Sarah B, USA/Israel (notice the ersatz “Palestinians”. As for “real hospitals” and “expressing gratitude”, I think this Zionist believes that killing Palestinian patients through siege and checkpoints is humane, and I suppose she doesn’t find anything wrong with the murder of Mohammad Abu Jreiban, a 35 year old Palestinian victim of traffic accident, who was taken to an Israeli hospital. and despite his critical condition and his need for treatment, the hospital decided to “release” Abu Jreiban to police custody, who in turn left him lying on the ground and dying on a side road in the West Bank.
I know this road and this junction, the road is in good condition but as another writer points out, Arab driving habits are terrifying. I have seen many accidents at that spot, all involving Arab drivers – summer and winter….. Of course Israeli ambulance teams and rescue personel were on the scene, this is normal, and the PA officials couldnt have handled it with such efficiency…
Who were the first at the scene, who saved Arab lives, who transported Arabs to Israeli hospitals. Israeli “settler” paramedics go out on calls for Arabs every single day- mostly traffic accidents because the Arabs here drive like maniacs.
Judah, Shomron (Actually, Palestinians eyewitnesses said that not only did the Israeli occupation soldiers try and prevent them from rescuing the children, Israeli rescue teams arrived after Palestinian rescue teams, considering that Israeli rescue teams would have been quicker to arrive to the scene)
Moreover, the Arab population educates their sons and daughters to eliminate the State of Israel and therefore I cannot feel empathy for the deaths of Arab children (even if no crime yet), because of the high potential to grow and become terrorists and enemies of Israel.
Sorry, not buying condolences (…). We didn’t mourn German children who were killed in Dresden and Hamburg when U.S. was bombing us. All game of sorts. Consolers know a great many of these children had thrown stones at Jews and if they were old enough would fire at us and killing us.
When one Israeli said that after reading all the racist comments, he decided to donate money to Palestinian children, an Israeli commented:
Oh! so you tar all Israelis with the same brush, These idiots who write those awful comments are not mainstream Israelis and I’m sure you know that. But by all means give a large donation to Palestinian children if it makes you feel better. By the way when Palestinians (the Mainstream) cheer when Jewish Israeli children are killed please don’t forget to donate to them as well.. Lynn Sharon (“idiots who are not mainstream Israelis”, when the whole entity is based on racism and the superiority of one ethnicity/religion over others? When every year, new racist laws are passed? And while she accuses the man of tarring “all Israelis with the same brush”, she has no problem tarring all Palestinians with the same brush)
In various interviews, eyewitnesses, including Ibrahim Rifa’i, the mayor of Anata, described the terrible scene. Palestinian men and women, had rushed to the scene, and tried with their bare hands and simple car fire extinguishers and buckets of water to extinguish the fire in the bus, while others went into the burning bus and came out carrying crying and scared children, some badly burnt. The Israeli occupation soldiers from the nearby Jaba’ checkpoint had tried to prevent the Palestinians from rescuing the screaming children and even beat some of those who rushed to save the children. When I first heard of the accident, and I think every Palestinian, every human being with a conscience, felt the same way, my thoughts went to the children and their pain, and I wished I was there to save the children, embrace them, protect them and calm them. So imagine those who were there, imagine those who heard the cries of the children, cries I don’t think anyone will ever be able to forget. But what the Israeli soldiers did was to try and prevent people from providing help, despite the cries of agony of little children. Did the soldiers expect the Palestinians to just stand and watch as the children burn to death? If they don’t want to help and don’t have an ounce of humanity, why prevent others from helping? Would they have stood and watched were these Israeli children? All that day, on TV, on local radio stations or on local websites, eyewitnesses repeated over and over how the Israeli soldiers prevented people from providing help! What excuse do the Israeli occupation soldiers have for preventing help to children, children no less!! But those who aim to kill children and women and elderly, won’t mind standing aside and watching while children of 4 years scream while burning to death! I think any person with a conscience would do whatever they can to help, not prevent help! I think anyone with an ounce of humanity would jump into that burning bus to save the children, not caring about their own safety, but thinking about these crying children, screaming for help. We are talking about kindergarten children, screaming for their parents, screaming for help! Rifa’i also said that the six Palestinian communities in the area, which are historically part of the Jerusalem governorate, but have been separated from the city by the Israeli wall, have applied through a joint services council for an emergency centre several times, but the Israelis had refused to give permission, and it prohibits the establishment of vital centres in the so-called area C, which makes up 60% of the West Bank. Wouldn’t a fire brigade in the area have had saved lives and reduced the losses? This road is well-known for its accidents, but being in area C, it is under full Israeli control, and while the parts of the road that serve the Zionist colonizers are in excellent shape, those serving Palestinians are totally ignored by the Israelis works and Palestinians are not allowed to built or repair these roads to make them safer. Rifa’i said: ”the Israeli soldiers prevented us from evacuating the injured (….) Palestinian ambulances were delayed in arriving, because the area where the accident happened is classified as C, and there are no Palestinian emergency centres there.” Not only is the road under Israeli control, but there is also a military checkpoint in its middle, which often causes traffic jams, in addition to the traffic jams caused by the nearby Qalandia checkpoint. Yes, the cause of the accident was a human error, the bus was overloaded, the children were sent on a trip on a rainy day, but the Zionist entity is also responsible, the occupation is responsible. This is not the first accident in which Palestinian lives are lost because fire fighters and medical teams were not allowed into Area C, or were delayed at Israeli checkpoints. Many are the lives lost at checkpoints, because of the wall, because of curfews, because of closures…. and many are the lives that could have been saved.
A video clearly is taken minutes after the tragic accident took place, and uploaded to you tube, confirms what many eyewitnesses said on Palestine TV, local radio stations and on Palestinian sites. It is a very painful video to watch, but it confirms the following: Among these cries of children, the sounds of Palestinians shouting and cursing and demanding ambulances are recognizable. One can see that the only people present are Palestinians, people who had rushed to the bus to try and do what they can to save the children, not caring about the fire. Some are seen trying to rescue the children from the bus with their bare hands, some are carrying children to cars to take them to hospitals, others are comforting the children, and others trying to extinguish the fire with their car fire-extinguishers or with buckets of water. Some are clearly shocked, others are crying, grown up men and women crying, some men are seen slapping themselves, hitting their heads as a sign of despair because they can’t do much. And where are the Israeli soldiers? Keeping away from the scene. One can hear people in Arabic asking about ambulances and fire fighters, and the first ambulance to arrive to the scene is in fact the ambulance of the Red Crescent, contrary to what many Israelis were bragging about when spreading their racist comments. Then later, Israeli ambulances and rescue teams arrived. By that time, the fire in the bus had been extinguished, visible in the video. It is at the end of the video, after the fire was extinguished and the children rescued from the bus that one sees the “courageous and humane” Israeli occupation soldiers walking near the bus. I suggest those who were bragging about their “help” to watch the video. The heroes are the Palestinians who despite the danger, risked their lives to save the children. They didn’t think about their own safety and they didn’t stop in front of cameras and wait for reporters to take their pictures and write epics on their heroism. Here, I would like to point out, that it was revealed after talking to little children who survived the terrible accident, that ‘Ula Al-Julani, the teacher who died in the accident, had actually saved a number of children by carrying them out of the burning bus, but was surrounded by fire and died when she returned to save more. The children had been asking about their teacher and told their parents that it was her who carried them out the burning bus. To every single Palestinian who was present that day, and courageously risked their lives to save the little children: Thank you! You are our heroes! May the injured recover quickly and may the dead rest in peace.
Click to watch the video (viewer discretion is advised)
In the description of the video, probably written by the eyewitness who filmed the accident, it is mentioned that while the closest Palestinian ambulance and fire station is 20 minutes away from the scene of the accident, an Israeli ambulance and fire station is only less than 3 minutes away, nonetheless Israeli authorities refused to send any rescue team to the scene despite it being Area C and under full Israeli control. It also mentions that Israeli ambulance arrived after the Palestinian ambulance.
This tragic accident shows us again the racist nature of the Zionists. In addition to pure racist comments praying for more dead children and more similar accidents, other comments were “bragging about the help provided”, indirectly saying that Israelis are superior in everything; they help the enemy, they have better medical services, they don’t cause accidents. This tragic accident and how it was handled by the Zionist entity, its press releases with images showing only Israeli medical and rescue teams, and offering help while allowing racist comments to flood websites and facebook pages of Israeli officials, reminded me of the Haiti earthquake, when the Israeli occupation army established a field hospital to “provide help”, while it was besieging over one and a half million Palestinians in Gaza, or like setting up a field hospital for Gazans while bombing their homes and massacring them. In other words: killing directly, or indirectly, with your right hand and “offering help” with your left hand. Also, this accident reflects the situation in many communities in the so-called Area C, where the so-called PA has no power, and where Palestinian construction is prohibited by the Zionist entity. Houses, schools, clinics and other facilities are being demolished on a regular basis, while illegal Zionist colonies are built and expand on Palestinian land. How many illegal Zionist colonies built on Palestinian land lack basic infrastructure, lack a health centre or a fire brigade? While illegal Zionist colonies built on Palestinian land have well-constructed roads, safe roads, Palestinians are left to deal with worn-out infrastructure, with no permission to repair or build anything, left with death traps, and later be accused of being “crazy drivers”. While writing my Masters thesis, I read about the road leading to Anata. The residents had received funds or collected funds to repair the worn-out road. They didn’t have the permission of the Israelis, who wouldn’t give such a permission, despite the catastrophic state of the road. After the road was repaired by the residents, the Israeli bulldozers came and destroyed it, just like that! Last week, while visiting a Palestinian community that is encircled with illegal Zionist colonies, the residents pointed out to me the huge school buildings in the Zionist settlements and remarked how their small school received a demolition order together with demolition orders for over 20 houses in the village. Not only are these Zionist colonies built on the lands of this community and strangling it, the indigenous Palestinians are not allowed to build on their very own land, not even a much-needed health centre. This is a tragic accident, and I know that every human being with a conscience who heard of this incident would cry for these children, little children, dying in this terrible way. But when you have an entity built on the land stolen from its indigenous people, built on massacring these indigenous people, built on a racist ideology, built on celebrating ethnic cleansing and making heroes of war-criminals, an entity that feeds and grows on hate, racism and terror, you shouldn’t be surprised to see racist comments, or sugar-coated racist comments. You shouldn’t be surprised to see these comments ignored by the officials of this entity, or by the heads of states that support them and turn a blind eye to their crimes, but are quick to accuse us of anything and everything because we are Palestinians. An entity built on racism, infested to the bone-narrow with racism will find nothing wrong with racist comments when all its actions are of a pure racist nature, and will accuse others of being racist, while celebrating its own racism.