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Israel To Use Photos of Slain Baby to Show PA's True Colors
Israel's Foreign Ministry has instructed its missions abroad to make extensive use of photographs of the 10-month-old Jewish baby girl killed by Palestinian sniper fire in Hebron on Monday to show the world the brutal campaign of violence and terrorism Israel is facing.
Several photos of the slain infant, Shalhevet Tehiya Pass, and her parents are circulating in the press and by Internet. "Now the job of our information efforts is to unveil the real face of the Palestinian Authority," said Gideon Meir, deputy director-general for public affairs. "It's worth noting the cruelty of the cold-blooded murder of the infant [when dealing with Israel's] traditional critics, who exhibit such great concern for Palestinian human rights, yet ignore Israeli citizens' right to live," his directive stressed.
Citing the inevitability that the highlighted incident will lead to comparisons with the filmed death of 12 year-old Muhammed al-Dura in Gaza, Meir said that the difference is that while al-Dura was killed in a crossfire - in which there is no proof that he was killed by IDF fire - "here you have a situation in which someone targeted the baby, put the poor baby directly in the crosshairs."
Meir said that since many networks did not prominently show a picture of the baby on their news shows, designated spokesman Minister without Portfolio Dan Naveh, went on news programs and displayed the picture himself. "Most of the networks did not cover the story," Meir said. "If it was a Palestinian Arab boy or girl, they would have shown it every hour on the hour, with promos every five minutes. This time some of them did not even show the picture."
In answer to the charge that the use of the photograph is a cynical use of a tragedy, he said that the Palestinian use of violent television images to score points forces Israel to go "places where we would rather not go." He added: "We have to use this picture so the world sees what they are doing."
Israeli diplomats were told to emphasize that the Palestinian sharp shooter deliberately targeted the baby's head. Rifles of this sort "are ordinarily possessed by Palestinian security forces," the Foreign Ministry message said.
Commander of the Israel Defense Forces in the Hebron area Col. Noam Tibon said Monday that "a Tanzim sniper had the baby's head in his telescopic sights, then pulled the trigger." Tivon noted that the sniper's first bullet grazed a three-year-old girl playing in the Avraham Avinu playground, and tore her shirt. The details emerged after experts concluded their examination. The same sniper then fired two or three more bullets, hitting Shalhevet and her father Yitzhak. Two other little girls miraculously were not injured when a bullet passed between them.
Tivon called on members of the Jewish community to maintain restraint and not take the law into their own hands, saying, "I promise we will lay our hands on the murderer." Nonetheless, Jews in Hebron burned at least five Arab shops and seven cars out of frustration the IDF was not taking action to immediately retake the Abu Sneneh hillside, where almost daily sniper fire has originated.
Tuesday morning, in the playground where Shalhevet was shot the night before, toddlers and young children played, oblivious to the soldiers and large number of journalists present and to the groups of parents standing and discussing the situation.
Meanwhile, reports indicate the ancient Jewish cemetery in Hebron was desecrated by Arabs prior to the murder. Cemetery tombstones were broken and smeared with excrement and signs were uprooted. The damage was discovered when burial society workers arrived at the cemetery in order to prepare a gravesite for the tiny girl.
However, no date has been set for Shalhevet's funeral, which was postponed in accordance with the wishes of the family, which has pledged to delay it until the IDF retakes the Abu Sneneh hills, renamed the "Shalhevet Hills," from where the shots were fired. Oriyah and Yitzchak Pass came to the decision after consulting with Kiryat Arba's Chief Rabbi Dov Lior and other officials. The bereaved parents explained, "We hope this will help prevent additional funerals." Israeli Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau and other rabbis said they feel the decision is mistaken.
Shalhevet's father, who took two bullets in his leg in the attack, was operated on and is reported to be recovering at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told leaders of the YESHA settlers council that he is planning to wait until after the Arab League summit and the Israeli Arab "Land Day" protests this Friday before taking action. He said that the Israeli reaction will be stronger than a closure, and that he would not wait for another terrorist attack before reacting.
Likud Minister Ruby Rivlin, considered close to Sharon, came out against his policy on Tuesday, saying that if Jews cannot live safely in Hebron, neither should Arabs be able to live safely in nearby Abu Sneneh. "With all our desire not to grant [PLO chief Yasser] Arafat the escalation he so longs for during the Arab League summit," said Rivlin, "but when a playground becomes the murder site of a ten-month-old baby, diplomatic considerations must take a back seat to the need to protect our citizens' lives."
In his own response to the murder, President Moshe Katzav said, "Israel has reached her limit of restraint."
The wider Arab press picked up the defiant tone of Palestinian officials, implying that the implication of Palestinians in Shalhevet's murder was an Israeli propaganda tactic. The JORDAN TIMES reported Tuesday that Israel "blamed" the Palestinian Authority for the death of a "Jewish settler infant," and blockaded Hebron "to punish the Palestinian population of the city."
IRNA reported that, "Jewish mobs on Tuesday went on the rampage throughout the Old Town of al-Khalil [Hebron] following the accidental death of a Jewish toddler during exchange of fire between Israeli troops and Palestinian fighters on Monday." These settlers "fired at Palestinian homes," "set fire" to the Wakf headquarters, and "reportedly sought to carry out a pogrom against the Abu Sneina neighborhood, from which the Israeli occupation army said Palestinians fired the bullet that killed the Israeli child." The report states that "many minors and children" have been "killed by Zionist troops."
Used with Permission from International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.