ABC Australia’s Stone Cold Justice report misses the mark

A friend shared this report on my Timeline yesterday. It talks about the IDF’s arresting of young Palestinian children in the West Bank and two lawyers – one Australian and one Israeli – involved in their defense, and towards the eventual lobbying and end of this practice.

I watched the report with a critical eye and despite certain sections being disturbing, I wasn’t convinced by neither its angle nor its execution. I’ve been researching lately for a piece to be posted soon here about the latest Gaza war and from reading outside the main news channels, I’ve started to develop an awareness of the intricacies of the overall Israel-Palestine question.

My critique of the report follows.

Although the contents of it cannot be disputed and the fact that children are being targeted for both arrest and systematic abuse is fundamentally objectionable, this report suffers the same problems of many Western reports. It lacks nuances and stops at the emotional appeals rather than delving into the details.

Firstly, other than a few cursory reports from the Israeli international spokeperson, there’s no comment by analysts or the like from the Israeli IDF or government. IDF and Shin Bet (Israel’s homeland security) do not engage in any operation without a motive and a meticulous plan behind it. There is more than 99% possibility that these children are being targeted for a specific reason. The report doesn’t tell you what parts of the West Bank they’re targeting the children, whether their families have indirect or direct links to Hamas or other political and militant Islamist groups, and whether these children are on some watchlist by the Israeli authorities. The report just glosses over all that nuance.

Secondly, deep within the report – approximately around the 37th minute – you suddenly hear something about children being either coerced to be informants or collaborators. Why didn’t the journalists and the producers press to find out more about this? I’d say this is pretty key to the whole report, that is, the *motive* behind the surge against the children. Does the IDF want to recruit these children to be double agents or moles inside PLO or Hamas or other groups?

Just as Hamas and other political Palestinian groups recruit young for their cadres, the IDF and Shin Bet may want to counteract that initiative by scaring or scarring the children. Whether this is moral or not is not the question here. It’s the why. So many why’s are unanswered and frankly ignored in this report to score emotional points against Big Bad IDF.

Finally, I picked up in the one of the last interviews with the children that the boy wanted to go back to Amman. This may mean that these are displaced Palestinians from Jordon, now living in the West Bank. And that opens up a whole line of questioning; could the IDF be targeting Jordanian Palestinians?

There’s just too much gray area in an otherwise fairly conventional report about Palestinian victim vs. Israeli bad guy. The nuances that could have been explored, developed, and explained would have lent to a report that shows the complexity of the geopolitics, history, and social realities of the conflict.

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