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The Day In Israel: Fri July 3rd, 2009

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The IDF has found that the 17-year-old palestinian girl killed yesterday in a clash between soldiers and Gaza terrorists was hurt by Israeli fire, after initially saying she was likely killed by palestinian fire. It is not yet clear whether the victim was in close proximity to the terrorists, or that troops erred while aiming their mortar fire.

While this is obviously a tragic incident, it goes to show you the IDF really does investigate such incidences (take note Amnasty International).

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

2:04PM: The palestinian woman carrying the toy gun and acting suspiciously at the checkpoint did, as I suspected, have a death wish.

An officer of the Civil Administration who interrogated the wounded woman asked her why she acted the way she did. She showed him bruise marks on her hands and said she wanted to kill herself after having been abused in her house. The woman is an 18-year-old, married with a child.

10:10AM: Transformers: Moonbats in Disguise? The second Transformers movie has apparently done what Ahmadinejad is trying to do – wipe Israel off the map.

What really caught my attention was how the movie deals with Israel and the Middle East. As with much of what is wrong with how Israel gets reported on in the media, this is a sin of omission rather than commission. The final battle between the Autobots, along with their mostly American allies, and the Decepticons, led by the Fallen (a Monty Python worthy evil villain), takes place around an Egyptian Pyramid, along the border with Jordan. For those of you not familiar with the geography of the Middle East, here is a map of the area in question.

[map provided in post]

As you can see, while Egypt is very close to Jordan, there is a little resort town called Elat separating Egypt from Jordan. I have been to Elat; it is a beautiful place, perfect for anyone with a sense for political humor. From Elat you can look out and see Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia; all this while remaining firmly in the State of Israel. For some strange reason Michael Bay failed to notice that Israel lies between Egypt and Jordan. (This is all the worse as Steven Spielberg is listed as a producer. One would have hoped that he would have jumped on such a mistake.)
This removal of Israel becomes even more ridiculous when the humans put out a call for help to the Egyptian military, whose country they are in, and the Jordanians and several Jordanian helicopters take part in the battle, mainly by getting blown out of the sky. Last I checked the Middle East superpower in the air is Israel, not Jordan. Why couldn’t we have Israel jets shooting it out with the Decepticons to save the world? This could have even been a good opportunity to stick in a peace process message by having Israel fight alongside the Muslim countries of Egypt and Jordan. Particularly since, even in real life, Israel is at peace with both of these countries.

Meanwhile this Arab writer seems to like the idea.

I thought: if only our real-world conflicts could be solved in the same manner, and if only the director Michael Bay were leading the Middle East peace process.

In his movie you can travel from the Pyramids of Giza to the Valley of the Kings and Queens in Luxor and on to Petra in Jordan in a remarkably short period of time. This is the closest Jordan and Egypt have ever been, geographically or politically.

At the same time, Mr Bay appears to have nullified the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which began the process of the establishment of Israel in the Mandate of Palestine; in the movie, Israel appears not to exist, thus facilitating the effortless movement from Egypt to Jordan. Rafah Crossing, who needs it?

While I cannot get inside Michael Bay’s head, it sounds like he deliberately wanted to paint the Muslim countries as the “good guys”, instead of (including) Israel.

From the sounds of this movie, I do not even think Megan Fox could save it.

9:02AM: Aussie Dave’s words for the wise: If you are a palestinian passing through a checkpoint designed to stop terrorists from getting into Israel and killing civilians, if you are holding something that looks like a real gun, you might want to listen when the IDF asks you to stop.

Unless, of course, you actually want them to shoot at you.

8:55AM: Xinhua has an interesting report on Gaza honor killings, albeit one which unbelievably places some of the blame for their increased incidences with Israel!

M.M., a 34-year-old male resident of Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in northern Gaza City never regretted the killing of his sister, who he believed had slept with a stranger.

“I protected the honor and dignity of my clan, and now I can walk down the street holding my head high,” said the man, who spoke on condition of only using the abbreviation of his name.

Having served three years in prison for the murder, M.M. thought it was a proper price to pay to keep his family’s reputation.

His case was ruled as passion killing by the local court and was given a much lighter penalty than first class murders, because it was categorized as “honor killing”, in which a woman was murdered by her male relatives, often her father or brothers, for sex outside marriage.

Honor killing is not entirely rare and insular in the Hamas-ruled Gaza strip of 1.5 million population, where Israel’s blockage since June 2007 has increased people’s poverty as well as ideological isolation.

Seven women were killed by their family members in the name of “honor” in Gaza since the beginning of 2009, while two were killed in 2008, and eight in 2007, according to a report by the Gaza-based Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR).

“The area is a closed conservative community, and the case of honor killing is one of the most complicated cases we have to deal with,” said Mustafa Ibrahim, a researcher in the ICHR in Gaza. “Women victims were too frightened to ask us for help and protection, and people involved in those cases refused to talk.”

Ibrahim said that local women, who developed love relationship with men before they got married, had to keep the whole thing confidential, or their lives would be compromised. Parents would never have their daughters hanging out with male friends alone.

The blockage shattered the dreams of young lovers, who did not get blessings for marriage from their families and would like to seek a new life together outside Gaza.

“I don’t think we will ever be as open-minded as the western world,” said M.M., adding that what he did was out of both family pride and the strict Palestinian norms.

Mona al-Shawa, a female Palestinian human rights activist said the phenomena in Gaza is an old yet new one, and is deeply rooted in the local culture and tradition, “which holds women fully responsible for their families’ honor and dignity.”

“On the contrary, men rarely got penalized for immoral behavior,” she said.

In the Islamic law known as Shari’aa, the punishment for committing adultery should be 80 whips for single man and woman, but if the two were married (to different wife and husband), they would be stoned to death.

Gaza sociologist Dr. Fadel Abu Heen said before people commit honor killing, “they would go through severe mental stress and anxiety.” In many cases, they would choose not to kill and keep the “family disgrace” as a top secret.

Palestinian law is clear about first degree murder cases, and most of the murderers receive life sentences. But as honor killings exist not only in Gaza but most of the Arab world as a “custom”, the killers usually receive 3 or slightly more years in prison.

Al-Shawa has called on the Palestinian legal authorities in both Gaza and the West Bank “to increase the years of the court’s sentence against those who committed honor killing against female family members.”

Xinhua reporters tried to speak to several women in Gaza, who were victimized by their brothers and fathers, but survived their injuries. But they all declined to give interviews, saying “it might harm the reputation of their families.”

Khalil Abu Shamala, director of Gaza-based Al-Damir human rights group, said “honor killing is considered as one of the most serious human rights violations. People who committed the crimes should not get away with light punishment.”

He added that it should be women “who get protected by the law, not those men who tried to murder their sisters or daughters, for suspected love affairs.”

Hassan El Juju, Gaza Chief Justice of Supreme court believed that a person should never be allowed to take the law with his own hands and comprise the legal system.

“Whether it is honor killing or not, the matter should be raised to the judicial system to be taken care of by the justice of law,” said el-Juju.

8:45AM: Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren speaking to The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg.

While I don’t agree with everything he says, he’s certainly articulate.

8:42AM: Another Free Gazan twit tweet:

From a Bahraini kidnapped passenger, “We have achieved our goals from this trip, we broke the siege morally, we are well, thanks be to god”

Which is really an admission that this trip was not about getting actual aid to the palestinians, but rather staging a propaganda event against Israel.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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