Few Have Heard of Baby Mohammed. Fewer Will Hear About His Killers
By the age of two and a half, children can already speak a little. They aren't weaned yet. At two and a half, they still need a hand when navigating stairs. At two and a half they still have no fear, which is why you can't take your eyes off them for a minute. At the age of two and a half, they start remembering. At two and a half they can't use a booster seat yet. The law says they need to use a baby car seat until the age of three.
Mohammed Tamimi is only two and a half years old, and he may never make it to three. On Friday afternoon he was lying in critical condition at the intensive care unit at the Safra Children's Hospital at the Sheba Medical Center, his physicians waiting for his condition to improve, so they could operate on him. Israeli soldiers had shot him in the head, wounding his father as well.
The two left their house in the village of Nabi Saleh on Thursday evening, on their way to a family visit. They got in their car, turned on the lights, with soldiers immediately firing four or five bullets in their direction.
The military has confirmed that the soldiers shot the baby, and it's not ashamed of the fact. The military spokesman said only that he "regrets" the incident – that restrained, stingy, blood-curdling, forced word saved precisely for such occasions. The army always "regrets" that "uninvolved" people are hurt. The infant Mohammed was not involved. The case will be "investigated."
The photos of protest activist Moshe Redman, who was slightly injured at a demonstration in Caesarea, in the hospital evoked more shock in Israel over the weekend than baby Mohammed, with his eyes covered, his head bandaged, tubes stuck in his mouth and body.
In another photo, taken minutes after he was hit, one sees a curly light-haired infant, with a baby face and a deep gunshot wound in his right temple, blood flowing onto the pavement. His father was still in the al-Istishari Hospital in Ramallah on Friday, with a gunshot wound in his chest and shrapnel in his neck. His mother and uncle were beside the baby. And the military expressed "regret."
Right after the infant and his father were shot, the veteran protesting village of Nabi Saleh was roiling, naturally. And what did the army do? It decided that the only logical thing would be to take over the village by force to teach it a lesson, to injure more villagers and possibly kill a few. Two villagers were wounded on the roof of their house.
The last time I visited the Nabi Saleh was right after the killing of 19-year-old Qusay Tamimi. At the house of another Mohammed with the same name as the injured infant, an 83-year-old beekeeper, I heard how soldiers had killed Qusay for setting fire to a tire.
The elderly Mohammed Tamimi and the eponymous infant live in houses close to the watchtower. Nabi Saleh is an imprisoned village, with a fortified tower that guards its entrance. From time to time, young people rebel and throw stones or shoot at the humiliating and exasperating tower which has been besieging their village for the last 15 years. The soldiers on the tower then open fire, wounding and killing people. This is the routine under the occupation, which will celebrate its 56th anniversary on Tuesday.
It's doubtful that Mohammed will be the final victim by then. Many long hours are ahead of us, and there are only few days without victims under this occupation. It's doubtful that he will overcome his serious injury; the soldiers’ bullets hit his small head.
Mohammed is not Shalhevet Pass, the baby who was shot to death in Hebron in 2001, so few people have heard about him. Fewer will hear about his killers. The Palestinians who killed Pass were described as cruel terrorists, bloodthirsty, human animals, baby killers. The soldier who shot little Mohammed in the head is a soldier in a moral army, the most moral one in the world, an army whose only goal is to defend its feeble country which is under attack.
The soldier didn't mean to kill the infant, only to shoot indiscriminately at his father's car which was parked outside their home. After that, que sera sera. The IDF expressed "regret" like no other army does. A salute to the soldier who shot Mohammed Tamimi in the head. He is an Israeli hero.