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Sunday, April 10, 2005


May Flights of Angels Sing Thee To Thy Rest: Ashraf, Khaled, and Ahmad

Three Palestinian boys from Rafah, Ashraf Mussa, Khaled Ghanam, and Ahmad Al-Jazzar, ages reported as fourteen and fifteen are dead. According to Xinhunet "Witnesses and Palestinian security forces denied the allegations [that the kids were smugglers], saying that they are not smugglers and they are playing football."

"I saw a group of youths playing soccer in a playground about 50 meters from the fence," said Wael Barhoum, 26. "Suddenly there was gunfire toward the youths from the Israeli side. I ran towards the playground and we saw two of the youths were dead and a third was wounded." In the same story, Ha'aretz reports an Israel radio report that Palestinian security services "notified Israel that they had two boys who were not hit by the IDF and that the group of five were smugglers."

Ali Abu Zeid said that the boys were playing soccer when "the kids ran after it [the ball], and that's when we heard fire."

In an early AP story by Ibrahim Barzak he reported, "The Israeli army said a group of youths had entered an unauthorized area near the border and ignored warning shots to stop. The shots were fired by forces patrolling the area in an armed vehicle, the army said."

In a later story by Barzak he reports, "An Israeli commander at the scene said the youths were spotted crawling on their stomachs deep inside a closed military zone. He said three of the youths got to their feet and began running toward the border. The teenagers were about 250 yards into the closed area when they were shot on a military patrol road, he said."

AP ran a picture of young boys (see earlier post on this blog) brandishing weapons along with Barzak's earlier story. In addition a video showing a Hamas march was on the page as well as another photo showing militant Palestinians. The unrelated picture of the young boys was dropped for the later story; it was replaced by one of Ahmad on the operating table. A yahoo news search for "rafah killing" has pictures of an April 5 shooting of an Israeli with a place to click beneath the two pictures for "Other Rafah killing images." The two pictures were unrelated to the stories. Perhaps the editor of the page was confused. Some stories of the murders carry a picture of a rather unpleasant faced old woman whom we are informed supports Hamas.

At this point I have not been able to gather any information [I have not accessed any alternative news sites] that humanizes the boys other than their names and the reports from the Palestinian eyewitnesses that they were playing soccer in a field on the outskirts of Rafah. The ball got away from them. They ran after it. The doctors said that they were all fourteen. Ashraf, Khaled, and Ahmad may not have been princes; they lived in one of the most poverty stricken places in the world. My father used to say, "It's a shame what happened to those people." Ashraf, Khaled, and Ahmad, all that we have right now are your names and a place. Ashraf, Khaled, and Ahmad, I have a fifteen year old boy, and he is a prince to me as you were to your mothers, but to Israeli soldiers you were "as flies to wanton little boys so are we to the gods; they kill us for their sport." Ashraf, Ahmad, and Khaled, may "flights of angels sing thee to thy rest."

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