Of Guns, Children, and the Maelstrom: Determining
Purposive Action in Israeli-perpetrated Firearm Deaths
of Palestinian Children and Minors1
Frank M. Afflitto
“La rabia … imperio, asesino de niños”
Silvio Rodríguez, Cuban songwriter, “Días y Flores”2
Guns and their victims form intersecting, dialectical discursive frameworks of power, control, anxiety and resistance. The world was awakened to the gunfireperpetrated victimization of Palestinian children by the Israeli military in October 2000, several weeks after the commencement of the period known as the Al Aqsa Intifada, or rebellion. This awakening occurred through internationally disseminated visual imagery of the death of twelve-year-old Muhammad Al Durra, in the Gaza Strip sector of the Illegally-Occupied Palestinian Territories (IOPT) when the boy, already wounded, was shot in the stomach with an explosive bullet by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) (Abdel-Nabi 2001), lay in the arms of his screaming, pleading father, and expired approximately one half-hour later (2001). The ambulance driver from the Palestine Red Crescent Society (an ICRC affiliate) who came to take the boy and his wounded father to the hospital was also shot by IDF troops upon arrival (2001), in clear violation of the rules of medical neutrality.
The theme of children in war is nothing new, and has been treated in depth in earlier social science and public health/medical literature. In addition, many international relief agencies and human rights monitoring organizations have, in recent years, focused mainly on children's roles in violent conflict (Anonymous 1999; Breen 2003; Singer 2001-2; United Nations, n.d., accessed 3/11/2005), in addition to disseminating the plight of refugee and displaced children within the, albeit fractured, family and community eco-system (Giacaman et al. 2002; Taylor 2004). A third main area of research and writing, perhaps the most flourishing by far, has been conducted with child victim-survivors of lethal conflict, and involves documentation of traumas and post-traumatic psycho-social conditions, in Palestine and elsewhere (Albina 2002; Anonymous 2002; Arafat 2003; Beauchemin 2004; Dickson-Gomez 2002; El-Sarraj 1996; Garbarino et