Op-Ed: The slaying of Sadallah

Posted Nov 19, 2012 by Paul Iddon
Four-year-old Mohammed Sadallah is another child whose life has been stolen by war. On top of this his death has been cynically used for political purposes.
Rocket fired from militants in Gaza towards Israel.
Rocket fired from militants in Gaza towards Israel.
Civilian casualties, collateral damage, whichever shallow empty euphemism you prefer to use to describe the killing of innocents in war, we use these terms to try and describe the thing that makes war utterly detestable. We, as citizens of the world strive to avoid war, make it the ultimate last resort, because the killings of innocents is something that most of us find utterly reprehensible. What makes war extra sickening is the killing, accidental or otherwise, of children. The slaying of young children in combat is something that turns ones stomach as well as induce one to vomit in disgust.
In the present escalation of violence between Hamas and the State of Israel children have been killed. Whilst the Israeli military strives to avoid hitting innocents with its munitions it sometimes, unfortunately, does. Many of Israel's detractors like to try and paint a grossly distorted and one-sided picture that displays Israel as a cold, ruthless, wanton, serial killer of children. On the other hand many critics of Hamas soberly point to that organizations use of human shields to deter Israeli strikes against its rocket launching sites. Needless to say, when a child gets killed under such circumstances one questions the taste of using that dead child to forward a particular political agenda.
During the Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil's visit to the Gaza Strip over the weekend (an event that Israel, unlike its opponent, observed a ceasefire for) he was filmed outside of an ambulance clutching the lifeless body of four-year-old Mohammed Saddalah. Standing beside Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh the Egyptian Prime Minister shed a tear, clearly moved by the unjust sight before him, a child whose life had been stolen by war. “The boy, the martyr, whose blood is still on my hands and cloths, is something that we cannot keep silent about,” Kandil declared.
A moving scene, and certainly a powerful political one whose purpose served to conjure up in a lot of peoples minds the image of an oppressed people suffering the brunt of an aggressive military attacker, that even took the lives of children like poor Sadallah. What better way to make a point. The conflict is certainly something one “cannot keep silent about.” And something, I'd also add, we shouldn't keep silent about.
However, with more facts coming to light we're seeing more clearly the true nature of this conflict, and how indiscriminate one sides methods are. Whilst civilians have been killed by IDF fire during the course of these ongoing round of hostilities their deaths were clearly unintentional. However Sadallah was, as an investigation into the circumstances of his death discovered, not killed, as initially believed, in an Israeli air strike. But by a Hamas rocket.
In an attempt to indiscriminately kill Israelis -- be they soldiers, civilians, women or children, doesn't matter to Hamas – a stray rocket fired by Hamas killed Sadallah in an indiscriminate manner. While one could argue that it doesn't matter who or what exactly killed him, he is after all dead at the end of the day, this incident does serve in aptly shedding some light on how many people view this conflict.
It is tasteless, as I've said, to use the corpse of a child to further ones political agenda. Which is exactly what Hamas did, with a child whom they killed with their characteristically indiscriminate terrorist means. This is what they 'intend' to do to Israeli civilians but, fortunately, don't have the means to, in part because the Israeli Air Force has succeeded in destroying a large part of that militias missile arsenal.
Whilst civilian casualties which has been incurred on Palestinian citizenry by the Israeli military is something that should be scrutinized, it is essential to remember that these casualties were unintentional. Hamas on the other hand was seeking to intentionally kill anyone they could on the other side of the Northern Gaza frontier.
None of this will change the fact that Mohammed Sadallah is dead. However the manner in which it has been used politically make his slaying even more sickening and nauseating.