It took a few agonizing hours for Imad Abu Zahra to die. As I write these lines, I am looking at a photograph of the Palestinian photo journalist, very much alive. His hands are soaked in his own blood as he attempts to stop hemorrhaging from a wound to his right leg. Israeli soldiers shot Imad for taking a picture of their armored personnel carrier. They then left him to bleed to death.
Imad Abu Zahra was murdered on the same week that a Pakistani court gave the death sentence to the killer of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped and executed while covering the war in Afghanistan. At CNN and the New York Times, the murder of this Palestinian journalist went virtually unreported. In Yiddish supremacist circles, it always comes down to the ethnicity of the victim. The Palestinian ethnicity of this particular murder victim, a courageous reporter, did not elicit so much as a brief obituary in the Washington Post.
This murder case does not need Perry Mason. The Israeli occupation army knows the identity of the murderers of Imad Abu Zahra. But the perpetrators of the crime will not get so much as a reprimand for shooting this innocent journalist and denying him life saving treatment. In the last three weeks, forty-three Palestinians have been killed, many of them women and children, many shot randomly by trigger happy Israeli thugs. During the twenty-two month Palestinian uprising, nearly two thousand Palestinians have been killed by the IDF and thousands of others have been wounded. Not a single Israeli soldier has been convicted of deliberately murdering Palestinians. Granted, it would be an act of monumental chutzpah for Sharon to go around pointing fingers at other Israeli war criminals.
To date, the Bush administration has given Sharon and his thugs dozens of green lights to pursue a policy of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians. George Bush is betting that good relations with this Israeli war criminal will pay off in the November elections. There will be no demands of an investigation of the death of any Palestinians, regardless of the documented criminal evidence.
While Sharon has failed to put down the Palestinian uprising, he has managed to make George Bush complicit in every warm crime committed against the natives of the Holy Land. The Congress of the United States subsidizes every Israeli siege against every Palestinian hamlet or village. The West Bank is now divided into 220 penal colonies, every single one of them financed by American tax dollars. Every silent journalist and publisher was responsible for the murder of Imad Abu Zahra. The Israeli lobby, the Evangelical extremists and the neo-conservatives are responsible for the slaughter of every innocent Palestinian child.
The Israeli soldier who murdered Imad was not alone at the scene of the crime. Sharon and Peres were present. George Bush and Tony Blaire were there. Arthur Sulzberger, the publisher of the New York Times, was in on the plot. Thomas Friedman, Charles Krauthammer and William Safire might as well have fired the fatal round. Wolf Blitzer was there for CNN with a mission to ignore the sight of a fellow reporter bleeding to death. The neo-fascists from FOX showed up to applaud the Israeli executioners.
Imad Abu Zahra and Daniel Pearl were technically ‘colleagues’. Both murders merited close scrutiny by their fellow journalists. Unfortunately, Imad Abu Zahra was Palestinian and the blood that gushed out of his femoral artery was Palestinian. As he lay there on his knees, desperately trying to save his own life, pondering why he had been shot, conscious that vital medical aid was being denied, Imad gazed into the camera lens of a colleague. The photo that emerged narrates his final story, his last few hours enduring the brutality of Israeli occupation soldiers who left him to bleed to death. I challenge any journalist with a grain of decency to take a good look at that photo. Pass it by an emergency room doctor and ask him whether the man in the photo, in shock, but still vital and vibrant, could have lived to report another story. Imad Abu Zahra should not have been shot in the first place. He was not wounded in a vital organ. The emergency medical attention that he was denied would have easily saved his life. Bleeding a Palestinian victim to death, by denying medical services, has apparently become the latest ‘fad’ in the IDF.
If the United Nations had investigated Jenin, maybe Imad would be alive today. If the United States government and the mass media had not buried Sharon’s previous war crimes at Qibya and Sabra and Shatila, maybe Imad would have survived to provide us with photos of everyday life and death in a Palestine under siege.
I came across Imad’s compelling photo in the most recent issue of Al-Ahram Weekly which can be accessed on the web at www.ahram.org.eg/weekly. For more details about the details of his murder, read the article written by Khaled Amayreh (In Constant Fear). In the most recent issue (18 é 24 July 2002), Amayreh, Graham Usher and Jonathan Cook all have compelling articles about the nature of Sharon’s re-conquest of the West Bank. As Amayreh reports, a French activist remarked “I wonder how Palestinians can withstand all of this oppression. I am sure no other people on the face of earth could endure what the Palestinians are going through.”
The Yiddish Supremacist crowd always gets bent out of shape when you compare the brutality of the Israeli occupation to Nazi tactics during World War II. But, I would suggest to them that the practices of the Israeli occupation army are far worst than the practices of the Nazi occupation forces in Denmark, Belgium and Holland.
It takes individual Israeli soldiers to inflict war crimes against individual Palestinian victims. The ranks of the IDF are full of political extremists and expultionists who operate without any fear of punishment. The international community must demand a case be case investigation into the random murders of Palestinians by the brutes of the Israeli occupation forces. They can start by investigating the murder of Imad Abu Zahra.