UPDATE (12:10 am Saturday): Terrorist rocket fire on southern Israel continues as at least one Qassam rocket strikes the northern Negev.
UPDATE (7:25 pm): Two more terrorist rockets strike southern Israel–both in the Eshkol region (at 7:12 pm and 5:45 pm).
UPDATE (5:29 pm): Terrorist Grad rocket fired by Hamas at the men, women, and children of southern Israel strikes near Ashkelon.
Your humble servant reported in the update section of this blog yesterday that “a horrific accident” had occurred in which a truck driven by an Israeli-Arab had struck a schoolbus carrying Palestinian children–killing 10. Thankfully, that information turned out to be partially incorrect; 5 children were killed along with a teacher.
The children, mostly four to seven-year-olds from the Nour al-Huda primary school in the Shufat neighborhood of Jerusalem, were on a field trip to a park in Judea near Ramallah. The weather was atrocious with heavy wind and rain (leading many Palestinians to ask this morning why the school principal allowed the field trip to proceed).
The facts of the accident emerged during the day: the truck driver attempted to brake and skidded into the bus; the truck hit the bus head on and flipped it over; the bus caught fire trapping the five children and teacher inside the bus.
The facts of the attempted rescue also emerged: commuters driving along the road (both Israelis and Palestinians) were the first to try to get the children out; IDF soldiers were the next on the scene to offer assistance; finally, Israeli and Palestinian emergency personnel arrived (within 20 minutes) and did what they could.
Reactions were immediate: PM Netanyahu offered his condolences from Cyprus where he is on an official visit; President Peres expressed his sympathy; and numerous other leaders, both Israeli and Palestinian, expressed their sorrow for the children and their families.
Other reactions were predictable: Iranian TV said that “an Israeli truck” had caused the accident; Iran’s Radio Islam’s World Service headlined that “Zionist regime truck kills ten Palestinians in accident”; and a leading Hamas newspaper (the Palestine Times) said that a “Zionist truck” had caused the accident.
While on the one hand thanking Israeli authorities for their condolences and help, PLO President Mahmoud Abbas immediately tried to turn the tragedy into a political event, announcing three days of mourning, ordering Palestinian flags to fly at half-mast, and declaring “We consider the victims martyrs of the Palestinian people.”
Martyrs of the Palestinian people?
As you know, dear reader, Palestinian culture is immersed in the glorification of death, and “martyr” is a specific term used by Palestinians to glorify those who have died fighting against “the Zionist entity” of Israel. Is that what the children on the bus were doing?
The Palestinian Maan News Agency included in its report yesterday the account of a five-year-old named Muhammad Baker Shihadeh: “We were shouting, dancing and singing as we were excited about our school trip, when suddenly I saw a fire and felt heat like our teacher’s description of hell.”
Your humble servant is not going to speculate here about why a kindergarten teacher would be describing “hell” to Palestinian children, nor will he speculate about why children were dancing on a moving bus or what they were singing about–it’s sufficient to know that they were having a good time and that the tragic deaths of five of them should not be turned into a political statement.
THIS DATE IN ISRAELI HISTORY
On February 17, 1994, Yuval Golan, a civilian employee of the IDF, died after being stabbed by 17 year old Palestinian terrorist Lufti Darbia at Adarim near Hevron.
Darbia had been previously arrested and found guilty of stealing a pistol and had admitted to being a Fatah operative. He had been released from prison 10 days before he stabbed Golan–as part of an amnesty arrangement for Fatah prisoners arranged between Israel and the PLO.