When the women came and told her to leave what she was doing and come and sit in front of the house with them, my grandmother knew what was to come. They sat outside and didn’t talk much. My uncle had been shot in the chest by the IOF that afternoon, and was at that moment being operated. He was in a critical condition, the doctors had told the men who had brought him to the hospital. Some were sent back home to prepare the family for the news and to prepare the refugee camp to welcome the hero, in case the worst happened. Although hope dies last, it was a necessity to prepare everything for a quick funeral and a quick burial. The Israeli army had been known to take bodies of Palestinian martyrs and steal their organs without the Palestinian family’s consent. The organs would then be given to Israelis who needed them. So a Palestinian killed by the IOF, mostly for no reason at all or for defending his country, would be labelled as terrorist by Israel and the biased media, while his organs would be used to save Israeli lives. In other countries, stealing the organs of dead people is considered a crime, but as usual, it doesn’t apply to Israel.
The office at the Adiv fabric-printing shop in south Tel Aviv handles a constant stream of customers, many of them soldiers in uniform, who come to order custom clothing featuring their unit’s insignia, usually accompanied by a slogan and drawing of their choosing. Elsewhere on the premises, the sketches are turned into plates used for imprinting the ordered items, mainly T-shirts and baseball caps, but also hoodies, fleece jackets and pants. A young Arab man from Jaffa supervises the workers who imprint the words and pictures, and afterward hands over the finished product.
Dead babies, mothers weeping on their children’s graves, a gun aimed at a child and bombed-out mosques – these are a few examples of the images Israel Defense Forces soldiers design these days to print on shirts they order to mark the end of training, or of field duty. The slogans accompanying the drawings are not exactly anemic either: A T-shirt for infantry snipers bears the inscription “Better use Durex,” next to a picture of a dead Palestinian baby, with his weeping mother and a teddy bear beside him. A sharpshooter’s T-shirt from the Givati Brigade’s Shaked battalion shows a pregnant Palestinian woman with a bull’s-eye superimposed on her belly, with the slogan, in English, “1 shot, 2 kills.” A “graduation” shirt for those who have completed another snipers course depicts a Palestinian baby, who grows into a combative boy and then an armed adult, with the inscription, “No matter how it begins, we’ll put an end to it.”
Is Palestine enough of a state? This is what the International Criminal Court (ICC) must determine before it can consider charges of war crimes brought against Israel after its recent onslaught in Gaza. The scale of Israel’s 22-day military attack which claimed more than 1,300 lives, including hundreds of children, led to widespread accusations by international observers that Israel had committed war crimes. In February alone, the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC, Luis Moreno Ocampo, received over 200 appeals from Palestinian, Israeli and international NGOs to investigate latest attacks in Gaza. The large number of Palestinian deaths, vast destruction of infrastructure and population centres, testimonies about indiscriminate attacks, and the use of experimental weapons created a humanitarian catastrophe which called into question the legality of the military operation. The ICC deliberations could potentially pave the way for putting IDF officers and military commanders involved in the operation in The Hague for crimes against humanity, setting an important legal precedent for the international court over the types of cases it addresses.