I hoped, I prayed, I implored….to find a spark of
humanity… within themselves …..They didn’t.
Israeli High Court of Justice against Bassam Aramin
14 October, 2009
court does not sympathize
Nurit Peled Elhanan
On Wednesday we – members of the Combatants for Peace movement, women of
Mahsom [Heb. checkpoint] Watch, members of the Forum of Bereaved Families for
Peace and writer David Grossman – attended a hearing at the High Court of
Justice on the matter of the closing, due to lack of evidence, of the
investigatory file on the killing of ten-year-old Abir Aramin about three years
The hearing, which had been scheduled for eleven
o’clock and then for nine o’clock
and then for ten o’clock and then for
one o’clock, began at two.
Journalists ran to and fro in the corridor (Who died? A little girl? Really?
Excuse me, sir, did your daughter die? Yes. Then you are Bassam Aramin? No, I
am Rami Elhanan. Oh, sorry. So where’s that Aramin? And who are you? We are
from Mahsom Watch. From what checkpoint? What are you doing here? And who are
you? I am a friend. Of those Palestinians? Yes. How come? How can it be? Can I
interview you? Did you too have a daughter who died? Really? When? How? What
was her name? And after all that you are on their side?) But at the end of the
day no Israeli reported on what happened.
Salwa and Bassam Aramin are not Jews and they are
not Israelis. They 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. The State Counsel, with a laugh: I had the
pleasure of attending such trials.
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. “So that I can rest and so that Abir can rest,” Salwa says to
the journalists. The perfect crime, Jean-François Lyotard once wrote, 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.
As Judge Beinish implied in her comments to Sfard, the blood of Palestinians
is cheap in this country. No one has ever been punished for killing
Palestinians – children, adults, newborns, old people. The Jewish murderers are
all walking among us, free and happy.
Those who have murdered our Israeli children, the Palestinian suicide
bombers, have at least said “let me die with the Philistines”* and spared us
any questions about their presence in the world. The murderer of Abir Aramin no
doubt spent that very evening in a bar (Shit! What a nasty day! A little girl
walked right into my crosshairs!), and will continue to spend many more
evenings in many more bars, while Abir’s parents seek justice from the
occupier, from the oppressor.
My 17-year-old son Yigal sat in the courtroom all day with a shocked
expression on his face. That night he took off for Auschwitz
with his classmates.
For his sake I hoped, I prayed, I implored, 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.
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