December 1, 2001 Special Dispatch No. 305

Palestinian Ministry of Information Director-General: We are responsible for the deaths of the five boys

December 1, 2001
Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 305

On his daily column in the Palestinian Authority newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida,[1] Palestinian Ministry ofInformation Director-General Hassan Al-Kashef discussed the deaths of five Palestinian schoolboys in Khan Yunison November 22, 2001. In the article, he called for the establishment of a Palestinian investigative committee toexamine the circumstances surrounding the deaths. The following are excerpts from his article:

"Whatever the type or source of the deadly device that caused the deaths of five of our children in Khan Yunis yesterday morning, it is we who bear the responsibility for the deaths of these innocent children. Yes, we and we alone bear this responsibility. Cries of grief and anguish and the announcements expressing mourning over the deaths of the martyred children are insufficient."

"Whether or not the deadly device was an Israeli shell left over from a previous act of aggression, the presence of this shell and other objects in our territory constitutes negligence and carelessness on the part of the many Palestinian bodies responsible for securing the lives of civilians."

"There is no way to avoid God's will. But the responsibility remains, and it cries out to us, demanding that the relevant military and civilian bodies immediately do their duty – first and foremost clearing the Palestinian areas of confrontation. If we do not organize campaigns to clear these areas of these devices of death, we will lose our children and other civilians, and our losses will be for naught because of our neglect and [because we are] not doing what we must do."

"The government of Israel bears the responsibility for our deaths and suffering no matter what. Nevertheless, the minimum required [of us] is to be exacting in this matter, to safeguard our credibility…"

"Before the martyred children, we lost others in distressing incidents. Many unnecessary accidents are caused by suspicious objects and bring about the deaths of civilians; even more tragic accidents have caused explosions in homes, and the deaths of young people and civilians, who were turned into shredded corpses. All these only increase our responsibility."

"We demand the [establishment] of an investigative committee that will examine the deaths of our five children. The truth must be revealed to the public. There is no way out of placing the facts before us. Society should not view negatively the acknowledgement of negligence, the taking of responsibility, and demands that those who were negligent be made accountable. We call for the organization of a volunteer campaign by the NGOs, the Islamic National Action Committees, [and] the media, particularly television, to raise awareness of the risks [posed by] unexploded shells or ordnance left [in the field], and of the need to immediately report suspicious objects or ordnance…"

"For the sake of saving the lives of its members, the Palestinian family is called upon to arouse the attention of its children and relatives, and to warn them. It is also called upon to follow them and supervise [them]…"

"The lives of our children are the responsibility of us all, as a society, as a family, as the media, as security or educational bodies, and as groups, organizations, associations, and many other well-known bodies that are of little use. This obligation is not limited to merely expressing condolences. May [Allah] have mercy on us, and on you."

[1] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), November 23, 2001.

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