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Israel, Palestinians Must Outlaw Children Toy Guns
Israel News Agency ^ | February 18, 2006 | Joel Leyden

Posted on 02/17/2006 4:23:41 PM PST by IsraelBeach

Israel, Palestinians Must Outlaw Children Toy Guns

By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency

Jerusalem----February 18.....Nothing can be more tragic than to witness a child die. Whether from cancer or a car accident, a young son or daughter should naturally live out their lives for many decades. But for children living in a war zone, death has become a way of live - and it shouldn't.

For 12-year-old Mujahed Al Samadi, life ended quickly with a bullet to his chest from an Israel Defense Forces sniper who mistook his toy gun for the real thing. Was the IDF soldier wrong in pressing the trigger? Heck no. In any army you learn a survival code very quickly: "shoot first, ask questions later."

The logic for this is basic. Questions and hesitation in uniform is dangerous. If one spots a threat, take it out. War is no game. So then, what are plastic toy guns doing in an arena of stones, bullets and grenades?

First, many Palestinians encourage their children to hold weapons in demonstrations and even go for weapons training. This young boy or girl being used by Hamas or Islamic Jihad would then qualify for the title "child soldier."

According to Human Rights Watch children have become direct participants in war. Some 300,000 children are serving as soldiers in current armed conflicts. They wield AK-47s and M-16s on the front lines of combat, serve as human mine detectors, participate in suicide missions, carry supplies, and act as spies, messengers or lookouts. Palestinians have openly called for their children to carry arms.

But there are cases where Palestinian children suffer not from politics but rather from negligent parents who are totally blind to the risk their kids wear as they play with toy guns in areas where Palestinian terrorists are operating from. But I do not place sole blame on the parents, but rather on the commercial importers and stores which sell these plastic M-16's.

One 15 year old mentally disabled Palestinian boy carrying a broken toy rifle was shot dead by Israel troops during an arrest operation in the northern West Bank town of Qabatia, near Jenin, yesterday. A Palestinian security officer who saw the boy, Mujahed Al Samadi, struck by a bullet said last night that he had been on his own 300 metres from a house on higher ground which was occupied by IDF troops when he was shot. Local residents said that the boy was harmless and well known throughout the town, and had been shot after other teenagers in the vicinity of the occupied house started to throw stones at the troops who had been searching for Islamic Jihad militants operating in the area. The residents of the town said stones were thrown at troops seeking Yassin Aburob, an Islamic terrorists who had taken over the next door house of Mousa Aburob since the night before and confined his family to one room.

Mohammed Aburob, 36, a Preventative Security officer, was in his own house - about 300 metres down a hill from the one where troops from the elite IDF Maglan unit had been conducting the operation. He said: "Mujaheb was on his own and was no danger to anyone. I saw him hit by a bullet from a distance. He was covered with blood. I don't think anyone could have confused the gun for a real one. "Everyone in the town knew he carried this thing-even the army did. Snipers usually have binoculars. "I think the troops may have been confused because they had been discovered after they had been hiding in the house and kids were throwing stones at them."

No, those IDF snipers were not confused. They spotted an automatic assault rifle and before bullets from that small war machine tore threw their heads, arms and stomachs, they knew they had to take immediate action without sending a UN officer hiding behind a white flag to examine if the weapon was made of plastic or metal.

The boy's mourning family last night produced the toy gun which was about 60 centimetres long with the barrel and shoulder butt wrapped in black tape, apparently holding them together. The imitation cartridge case was decorated with home sprayed green and blue aerosol stripes. Witnesses said Mujahed had habitually carried the toy gun round with him and that it had been hanging from his neck yesterday. If that was the case, again I ask where were the parents? Where was the community in seeing that this young Palestinian boy was a walking target?

The parents of the dead boy did owe up to society and to themselves when they donated his organs to three Israel patients desperately waiting for transplants. Ismail Khatib said his decision to donate his son Ahmed's organs was rooted in his memories of his own brother, who died at 24 waiting for a liver transplant, and in his family's desire to help others, regardless of their nationality.

"I don't mind seeing the organs in the body of an Israeli or a Palestinian. In our religion, God allows us to give organs to another person and it doesn't matter who the person is," said Khatib, who added that he hoped the donation would send a message of peace to Israelis and Palestinians.

On Sunday, three Israeli girls - two of them Jewish and the other Druse - underwent surgery to receive his lungs, heart and liver. Twelve-year-old Samah Gadban had been waiting for a heart for five years when doctors called her family late Saturday and told them of the donation. By Sunday afternoon, the Druse girl had a new heart and was recovering at Schneider Children's Medical Center in the Israeli town of Petah Tikvah. Samah's mother sat by her bed holding her hand, while her father, Riad Gadban, juggled phone calls from friends and relatives in the cardiac intensive care unit's waiting room. Gadban called Khatib's decision to donate his son's organs a "remarkable gift." "This morning, I did not know anything about the boy. I only knew that the doctors said they had a heart," Gadban said. He heard Ahmed's story while his daughter was in surgery. "I don't know what to say. It is such a gesture of love."

Khatib said he hoped to meet the recipients of his son's organs to ensure that they were healthy. "The most important thing is that I see the person who received the organs, to see him alive." Samah's family will invite Khatib and his family to a party they plan to throw when she leaves the hospital, Gadban said. "I want to thank him and his family. With their gift, I would like for them to think that my daughter is their daughter," Gadban said.

The national transplant center reported that a 14-year-old Jewish girl received Ahmed's lungs and a 7-month-old girl was in surgery Sunday evening receiving his liver. The family of the 14-year-old girl declined to be interviewed and the baby's parents were awaiting the outcome of their daughter's surgery and unavailable for comment. Israel has a chronic shortage of donor organs that many medical officials attribute to Jewish religious taboos against such donations. Esty Katz, a spokeswoman for Rambam Hospital in Haifa, which harvested Khatib's organs, said Khatib's decision was unexpected and appreciated. "Sometimes you think for sure they won't agree, they won't donate. But then we have surprises," she said.

But again, we must go back to the beginning of the story. This young Palestinian boy should never have been out on the street carrying a toy weapon. How many toy weapons have been used to rob banks and be accessories to other crimes around the world?

I do not allow my children to play with toy guns. What educational purpose would it serve? And when they insert a violent, bloody military war game DVD such as Doom into their computer to interact with, I get nauseous.

It was not the IDF sniper who killed this Palestinian boy, it was his parents who allowed him to carry the fake weapon, the Palestine community, Hamas and Islamic Jihad which encourages child soldiers and finally the importer of that toy gun.

If Israel is to blame at any measure for the killing of any young Palestinian children, do not look at the Israel Defense Forces as the guilty party. Rather take a look at the Ministry of Trade and the Knesset for taking a blind eye for an accident just waiting to happen. Toy guns must and should be outlawed by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority until we reach a true and lasting peace.

The problem of toy guns is not just limited to the Holy Land. Alan Newsome never thought his BB gun would kill anyone. When he brandished it in the hallway of his Harlem apartment building, it was just something to help scare some cash out of a burger joint deliveryman. But the deliveryman turned out to be a cop, and when Newsome pulled the fake gun, the cop's partner shot the 17-year-old three times in the chest, killing him. Though it was just a prop to Newsome, the BB gun could look just like a 9-mm handgun to a frightened deliveryman or a detective faced with a life-or-death decision.

Deaths caused by toy guns passing for real ones are rare, but often high profile. In 2000, budding actor Anthony Dwain Lee (who had roles in "Liar, Liar" and "ER") was shot while holding a rubber toy gun by an LAPD officer at a Beverly Hills, Calif., Halloween party. In January 1997, a 26-year-old Long Island woman was shot and killed by an officer who mistook a toy gun she carried for a real one.

"We don't think that the US government has any business regulating toys, especially guns," said Angel Shamaya, executive director of the guns rights organization Keep and Bear Arms. "Banning toy guns is just another feel-good anti-gun maneuver, and we oppose it." But for supporters of the ban, that's partly the point. Beyond preventing crimes committed using gun replicas, the New York councilmen simply want to keep guns of any sort out of the hands of youngsters. Said Vann, "If they use toy guns there's a greater chance they'll graduate to the real thing when they grow up."

Canada Mayors from the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton are being asked to endorse a ban that would force children to surrender their toy guns or at least play with them only in private, behind closed doors.

Scientists have long noted that, when young animals play, they mimic violent behavior. Kittens bite, stalk, scratch and pounce on a ball of string, reproducing the motions of attacking and killing a small animal. Young deer chase each other, practicing the charges, feints, leaps and quick turns that will one day help them elude and fight off predators. Humans are the same.

Children playing hide-and-seek will scream in mock terror when their hiding place is discovered, exactly as they would scream in real life, if found by a stalking predator or foe. Scientists say that all this chasing and fighting stimulates the nervous system, building up important neural connections in a young animal’s brain. Mock fights also teach animals to interact with others of their species. “Through play bouts, an animal’s aggressive tendencies are socialized,” says Dr. Stephen J. Suomi, an expert in primate play, who is Chief of the Laboratory of Comparative Ethology at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, MD. “The animal learns when to submit and when to pursue, and it will learn how to lose a fight gracefully.”

Indeed, Suomi observes that monkeys who play less when they are young tend to be awkward and ill-at-ease in their mating and socializing as adults. As beneficial as play fighting seems to be for young animals and humans, I say do it out of a war zone. Keep toy guns and real weapons out of the hands of all children living in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.

Israel Prime Minister Golda Meir said it best when she addressed Egypt President Anwar Sadat on his peace mission to Jerusalem saying: "I can forgive you for killing my boys, but I can never forgive you for making my boys kill yours."

The author served as a combat soldier and humanitarian officer for over a decade in the Israel Defense Forces.

To contact the editors of the Israel News Agency, please click here.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Government; Israel; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: authority; child; children; commercial; defense; forces; hamas; humanitarian; humanrights; idf; iran; islamicjihad; israel; palestine; palestinians; police; security; snipers; syria; terror; terrorism; toyguns; war

1 posted on 02/17/2006 4:23:47 PM PST by IsraelBeach
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To: IsraelBeach
I don't believe in allowing toy guns (sic. 'rifles' would be a better term. Ed.). I suggest age-appropriate real weapons. A 5 year old can be taught to shoot a Chipmunk with consumate safety. A Ruger 10-22 is a great firearm for the 8-12 crowd, if the parents are willing to put out the effort to customize it.

I did so with my kids.


2 posted on 02/17/2006 4:56:11 PM PST by JRandomFreeper (D@mit! I'm just a cook. Don't make me come over there and prove it!)
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To: IsraelBeach
This incident is just another awful event in the ungoing, pathetic low threshold war between the Israeli's and the Palestinians.

Both of these groups, Israeli's and Pali's, are hardheaded SOB's.

The Israeli's bulldoze neighborhoods and use helicopter gunships against civilians. The Palestinians use men, women and children as suicide bombers and children as street fighters.

Both sides are reprehensible to me.

3 posted on 02/17/2006 5:58:01 PM PST by DeaconNoGood
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To: DeaconNoGood

To say that "Both sides are reprehensible to me" is the same as equating the policeman with the criminal.

Israeli's want peace and unilaterally left Gaza for it, while Hamas and Islamic Jihad continue to blow up children on buses, in shopping centers and in restaurants.

Israel will continue to use helicopters and every means it has to combat terrorists. And those "civilians" you mention are not "civilians" but rather terrorists wearing street clothes. Same as those who attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon - wearing street clothes!
The fact that you just read an article by an Israeli advocating to reduce violence by eliminating toy guns should reflect which side wants peace, stability and commerce.
Lastly, the Palestinians have just elected Hamas to run their government. Hamas is backed by Iran. Hamas does not believe in democracy. All those who are not Islamic are infidels and deserve beheading.

If you equate Hamas and Israelis it illustrates that
you have no understanding of reality in the Middle-East.

4 posted on 02/17/2006 10:55:40 PM PST by IsraelBeach
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