Murder and Innocence – II

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Once again, the case of the murdered Palestinian child Hilmi Shousheh as further proof of Israels grievous miscarriage of justice and its continued devaluation of Palestinian lives, particularly when the victims of violence are Palestinian children.

The Jerusalem District Court judge, Ruth Orr, had previously acquitted the settler (armed security agent) Nahum Korman of the murder of Hilmi despite evidence to the contrary, including eyewitness reports.

On appeal, the Supreme Court, however, convicted Korman of second-degree manslaughter and remanded the case to the District Court for sentencing.

Once again, the honorable Ruth Orr intervened and recommended a settlement between the prosecution and defense.

It turned out that the price of Hilmis life is six months of community service for his murderer and fifteen months probation, as well as a fine of NIS 70,000 (around US$ 17,000) in compensation for the family.

One can only wonder, had the killer been Palestinian and the victim an Israeli child would the sentence be comparable? Would the case reach any court, or would Israels death squads exact instant and final punishment?

While this is not a case of total impunity, as has been the norm with Israeli settlers and occupation soldiers who have been killing Palestinians as a matter of course, the very mildness of the sentence adds insult to injury.

It also exposes the travesty of justice that has been normalized when the perpetrators are armed Israelis (settlers and occupation soldiers) and the victims are Palestinian civiliansparticularly children.

Such distortions in the legal and judicial systems in Israelbased on blatant racism and double standardsare the inevitable outcome of occupation without accountability and vigilante violence on the rampage.

Had there been any critical self-examination and assessment of this horrific pattern of legalized injustice, turning the Palestinian territory into the killing fields during the current crisis would not have been possible.

On August 17, 1999, MIFTAH called for such an assessment and pointed out the horrific implications and consequences of such duplicity between Israeli courts and Israeli perpetrators of crimes against Palestinians (see Key Issues, Murder and Innocence: What Price Palestinian Children?).

Peace can be made only between equals, and only when Israel abandons its mentality of occupation that grants its citizens license to kill Palestinians with impunity.

Having been on the receiving end of this worst aberration of the occupation, the Palestinian peoples first concern is, understandably, the lives, property, and safety of the victims themselves.

Only when the Israeli public begins to see itself also as a victim of the occupations institutionalized racism, and begins to discern the fatal flaws in its own judicial, legal and moral systems, will it begin to grasp the urgent need for intervention and rectification.

One can only hope that it will do so before time runs out both on the mentality of occupation and the drive for peace. 

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