Friday, July 07, 2006

Targeting Gaza's Children with Sound Bombs

Above palestinian children gather in front of a tent

that rests upon their demolished home.. beit hanina, east jerusalem

In recent weeks we have seen numerous incidents where children were killed or wounded by Israeli bombs or missiles.

“The killing, abduction, and suppression of the Palestinians by the Israeli military forces do not conform to any reason or logic; rather they flout the Jewish beliefs.” Official Statement of the Iranian Jewish Community.
The photographs of bombed-out buildings, burned-down power plants, and blown-up bridges only tell half the story of Israel’s terror-war on the people in Gaza. Absent from the pictures is the screeching sound of the F-16s flying overhead day-and-night producing the explosive sonic booms that shatter windows and terrify children. Israel has been remarkably successful in its psychological war against the Palestinians; exacting a heavy toll against the people for whom it was designed, Palestinian children. As author John Pilger notes in a recent article “The War on Children”:

“Dr. Khalid Dahlan, a psychiatrist who heads a children's community health project, told me, ‘The statistic I personally find unbearable is that 99.4 percent of the children we studied suffer trauma … 99.2 percent had their homes bombarded; 97.5 percent were exposed to tear gas; 96.6 percent witnessed shooting; a third saw family members or neighbors injured or killed.’”

Dr. Dahlan’s findings are consistent with other studies which show that at least 72.8% of children in the occupied territories suffer some form of trauma from exposure to random explosions and violence. The result has been a steady up-tick in the number of children who suffer from long-term effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) a condition which can have a destructive effect on mental development and create adults that are excessively nervous, needy or depressed. As Pilger avers, “These children suffer unrelenting nightmares and ‘night terrors’ and the dichotomy of having to cope with these conditions.”

Israel’s sonic blasts are part of a larger psy-ops war that is aimed at directly at children; it has no other conceivable purpose. The explosions have no military value except to attack the fragile psyche of the most vulnerable and sensitive. As the survey indicates, Israel’s plan has succeeded quite admirably. In fact, Israel is so pleased with the results of its psy-ops terror-campaign that it has developed “sound bombs” which are intended to create widespread fear and trauma.

This new weapon has been successfully deployed in Gaza “inducing miscarriages and traumatizing children”. Israel is aware of these effects and continues to use the weapon regardless of the human suffering it causes.
Just think of the money that could be saved if the Palestinians can just be kept in abeyance by producing a constant state of trepidation.

This appears to be the rationale of the Israeli leadership, who continue to explore the frontiers of psycho-anxiety weaponry.

What other possible reason could there be for sound bombs?

The moral implications of targeting children with mind-damaging weaponry is profound and alarming. To my thinking, it measures up quite impressively with the depraved acts of 9-11. Perhaps, it even exceeds them. After all, is there a more heinous crime than purposefully hurting children?

In recent weeks we have seen numerous incidents where children were killed or wounded by Israeli bombs or missiles. The most widely-publicized of these was the attack on the beach in Gaza where an entire family was killed instantly leaving behind a young Palestinian girl who has become a symbol of Israeli callousness and injustice.

As Pilger notes, “For the Palestinians, a war against their children is hardly new. A 2004 field study published in the British Medical Journal reported that, in the previous 4 years, ‘Two-thirds 621 children killed (by Israelis) at checkpoints…on the way to school, in their homes, died from small arms fire, directed in over half the cases to the head neck and chest—the sniper’s wound.”

Whether the Israeli people support a policy that intentionally targets children is irrelevant. As the “sound bombs” indicate, such a policy does in fact exist. Also, as the “sniper wounds” of over 400 children suggest, the killing of children is, at the very least, tolerated as an unavoidable consequence of occupation.

This is completely unacceptable.

How does a nation wander so far from its founding principles that children are willingly sacrificed as the price for attaining one’s territorial ambitions? This is truly the calculus of human suffering.

Israel should reject the fanatical militarism and racism of its leaders and do what they can to stop this unfolding catastrophe. The “sound bombs” may be an effective tool for subjugating the occupied peoples, but they are also a poignant memento of Israel’s regrettable slide into moral squalor. If “Greater Israel” is to be built on the lives of innocent children, the cost is too high.

It would be preferable for the Israeli people to reassert their commitment to the basic values espoused in their own religion, a religion of peace which teaches forbearance, humanity and justice.

Stop this assault on women and children, withdraw the troops from Gaza and get back to the bargaining table. That’s the only way we can solve this conflict and pull the entire region back from the brink of disaster.

'Masterful prose - a scathing but heartfelt portrait.' Norman G. Finkelstein
By Ramzy Baroud

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