It turns out that it is possible for the New York Times to publish a long story about a Palestinian shot to death by soldiers. That is, if the soldiers are Arab and not Israeli.
The 23-paragraph story, titled “Desperate Gaza Escape Try Leads to Death, and Recriminations,” tells us all about the life of Ishaq Khalil Hassan, 28, shot to death by Egyptians in the surf trying to wade into Egypt last week, seeking medical treatment. The article was reported by Majd Al Waheidi in Gaza and by Kareem Fahim from Cairo (It surely helps to have reporters with Arab background, if you want your journals to humanize Palestinians).
The story quotes Hassan’s mother and brother about his health problems, saying he had been denied access to Egyptian care three times in the last year before he took off his clothes on the beach and tried to wade to freedom.
his family strongly denied that Mr. Hassan suffered from any mental illness, saying that he was preparing a new apartment and searching for a wife. They also said he had been studying English at an American nonprofit organization that provides education in the Middle East.
But he was frantic to leave Gaza, they said. He was still suffering from gunshot wounds to the leg he sustained in 2007, when he was struck while shopping during clashes between Palestinian factions, relatives said.
The story details Egypt’s authoritarian president’s role in enforcing the siege of Gaza. And it quotes Iyad al-Bozum of Hamas’s Interior Ministry, standing up for Hassan.
The Egyptians, he said, “killed him in cold blood.”
“This is a crime in daylight and a clear violation of international law,” he said, “because the man was completely unarmed and also mentally sick.”
The story is so noteworthy because Israeli soldiers and policemen have now killed 136 Palestinians in alleged knife/terror attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank over the last three months. Almost all these Palestinians lived under occupation; many surely were seeking to advance the cause of freedom for their people by any means in their desperate actions. The political party Hamas has stood up for some of these attackers too.
The New York Times’ Jerualem bureau once did an article seeking to explain how the occupation had fostered the Palestinian violence. We learned a lot about this Jewish victim of the attacks. But I have yet to see a detailed profile of one of the Palestinian alleged-attackers who was killed, making him or her into a human being we can relate to. Where is the profile of Hadeel al-Hashlamoun, the 18-year-old gunned down in cold blood at a Hebron checkpoint? Her family wants the world to understand the circumstances under which they live. The Times isn’t interested.