Israel Makes Mahmoud Abu Samra A Shaheed

by James M. Wall

Mahmoud Abu Samra was killed August 19 in an Israeli air raid near Gaza City. He was 13 years old. The Palestinian news service, Ma’an, tells the story of Mahmoud’s death:

Renewed air strikes across the Gaza Strip late Thursday killed a Palestinian teenager and injured more than a dozen others amid an escalation in violence that left some 20 people dead throughout the day.

Just after midnight Friday, Israeli warplanes launched a series of raids targeting Gaza City, the northern towns of Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahiya, and Khan Younis in the south.

Gaza medical official Adham Abu Salmiya said an air strike on a home near the former intelligence services headquarters in Gaza City killed 13-year-old Mahmoud Abu Samra and injured 18 others.”

Mahmoud (at left in the picture above) is number 150 in the list of 173 men, women and children who have been killed  this year by Israeli forces.

Each person who dies in the struggle against the Occupation, is identified by Palestinians as a Shaheed, the Arabic word for “martyr”.

Some of the men killed are identified as members of the Gaza-based Al Quds Brigade, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad. The women and childen are all civilians. They are, also, all Shaheeds.

The website, Occupied Palestine | فلسطين | iRemember… | الشهداء  prints the names of the 173 Shaheeds who have been killed between January 1, 2011, and August 25. The site further indicates that this list includes only those deaths confirmed by media sources. The 173 are recorded in the order in which they died. The list grows as other deaths are recorded.

The site reports that Mahmoud died on April 19, after midnight, which would suggest he was killed in his sleep. The media stories that recorded the deaths may be accessed by clicking on each name listed on the site.

Israel, of course, does not launch air strikes on the spur of the moment. The Israeli air attack that killed Mahmoud after midnight, August 19, had the earmarks of another of those Israeli military strikes already on the drawing board, waiting for a trigger event to justify the action.

Israel’s December, 2008, Operation Cast Lead invasion of Gaza, was obviously a long planned military assault. At the time, Israel claimed the military assault was a “retaliation” against Gazan rocket fire.

On August 18, 2011, Israel was quick, once again, to blame Gaza “terrorists” (falsely) for the Eilat bus attack. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the Israeli news agency, Ynet, “this terror attack originated from Gaza. We will exhaust all measures against the terrorists.”

The Guardian quoted Israeli officials flatly asserting that the PRC was responsible.  The officials even had a scenario that explained how “militants” traveled 125 miles from Gaza into Israel to carry out the attacks.

The Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) was responsible for the attacks near the Red Sea resort of Eilat. A large squad of militants crossed through tunnels from Gaza into Egypt, and then travelled 125 miles (200km) south through the lawless Sinai peninsula before crossing into Egypt north of Eilat, according to officials.

This scenario quickly collapsed, except in US media and political circles, where Israel’s initial cover story was adopted as the Gospel according to Ehud Barak.

American Jewish blogger Richard Silverstein does not believe in that Gospel. He has been tracking the phony Israeli scenario from the outset. He wrote in his Tikun Olam blog:

Al Masry Al Youm, an independent liberal Egyptian newspaper, reports “Egyptian authorities have identified three of the people responsible for carrying out a terrorist attack in Israel, just north of Eilat, on Thursday [August 18], in which seven Israelis were killed, according to an Egyptian security source.

The same source added that one of the men identified is a leader of terrorist cells in Sinai, while another is a fugitive who owns an ammunition factory.”

What is intriguing about this story is that it would explain many things which appeared to be discrepancies when the theory was that Gazans were involved. First, the Israeli bus driver said the attackers wore Egyptian army uniforms. Now, it might be possible for Gazans to get such uniforms, but it would be much easier for Egyptians to do so.

Second, the Israelis themselves have disagreed about the authors of the crime, with [Prime Minister] Netanyahu claiming the Popular Resistance Committee was behind it and the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) spokesperson specifically rejecting her boss’ claim.

All of which leads one to believe that the Israelis don’t have a clue who was behind it.

Israel’s neighbors also rejected the Ehud Barak version. They know the deceptive nature of their enemy. In the August 24, The Palestine Chronicle, Tammy Obeidallah, writes:

Of course, the Israeli spin machine claims the bombardment of Gaza was in response to the [August 18] Eilat operation, although there is no evidence that Hamas or the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) perpetrated the attack.

She adds:

Israel’s 63-year campaign of mass murder and ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people is neatly packaged as ‘retaliation’ against ‘mortars fired by Palestinian militants’ or the hackneyed ‘homemade rockets.’ Mysteriously, the media never reports on these mortars or rockets until Israeli forces “retaliate” for them; then it serves as an excuse for continued genocide.

If Israeli strikes are ‘retaliation’ we are left to wonder just what the Israeli military was ‘retaliating’ for during the first four months of 2011, when 49 Palestinians in Gaza were murdered during Israeli raids, including a missile strike that killed three children in the same family, all under age 16. A fourth family member also died in that strike and 13 others, mostly children, were wounded.

Obeidallah further ponders whether or not the US main stream media would ever be interested in publishing the names of those Palestinians listed on the “I remember” Palestine Chronicle page. He assumes they would not.

After all, Mahmoud Abu Samra is just another Arabic name which the majority of news anchors could not pronounce correctly. At 13 years of age, his bright eyes and infectious smile were memorialized momentarily on a few social network pages, then joined the sea of images of dead Palestinian children, all victims of a 63-year genocide endorsed by most of the world’s nations.

One week after the launching of Israel’s phony “retaliation” cover story, which led to the death of Mahmoud Abu Samra, Ha’aretz reported that on August 25 that Israel and Egypt had agreed to conduct a joint investigation “of the events surrounding last week’s terror attacks in southern Israel which left eight Israelis dead.” 

Having reached a political arrangement with its powerful neighbor, the newly unpredictable Egyptians, Israel continued its attacks against Palestinian “militants” in the Gaza Strip, still claiming the strikes were “retaliatory”.

This time, Israel claimed it was attacking Gaza in response to the firing of more than 20 rockets at southern Israel since Wednesday. Five Palestinians have already been killed in this latest Israeli “retaliation”.

When a nation’s foreign policy is based on a platform of lies, deception becomes that nation’s constant obsession. Without the support and help of the nation it loves, the USA, that obsession becomes increasingly difficult to sustain.

What would Israel do without the constant presence of journalists like the New York Times’ Ethan Bronner? Bronner can always be depended upon to serve as a conduit of Israeli spin to American readers.

Bronner, the Times Jerusalem correspondent, writes from the rarefied air of Israel’s government offices. He is always a reliable source of the latest Israeli spin. In his latest weekend update, published August 27, nine days after the Eliat bus bombing, Bronner examined the interaction between Middle East regional powers.

His conclusions are rather obvious: The current Egyptian government is not as Israeli-friendly as Egypt’s deposed dictator, Hosni Muburak, had been.  That would explain why Benjamin Netanyahu and his Congressional pals in Washington, were so upset when President Obama finally faced the inevitable and called on Muburak to step down.

We also learn another obvious fact: Turkey is not happy with Israel for reasons related to Gaza and Mavi Marmara. Bronner cannot bring himself to admit (he is writing an analysis, not a news story) that Israel has no qualms about killing Palestinians.

Turkey does not like to see Israelis randomly killing Palestinians and then telling the lie that radical Palestinians made us do it.  This is the tortured analysis Bronner offers to “explain” the big lie:

Last weekend, [Israeli] officials were contemplating a major military assault on Gaza. But that plan was shelved by the crisis that emerged with Egypt, by the realization that Hamas itself was uninvolved in the terrorist attack and by the worry about how such an assault would affect other countries’ views during the United Nations debate of a Palestinian resolution in September.

Those “other countries” include Turkey, of course.

The plan to create more Shaheeds (martyrs) in Gaza was “shelved” for political expediency? Bronner is finally given the freedom to write that Hamas was not involved (an admission slow to arrive in Israel’s ruling circles). He also was freed up to write that killing Palestinians would “affect other country’s views” when the UN vote is taken September 20?

Amira Hass, Ha’aretz‘ West Bank/Gaza correspondent, does not spend her time in Israeli government offices. She writes from Gaza where she finds persuasive circumstantial evidence that there were no Palestinians involved in the Eilat bombing.

It has been one week since the terror attacks near Eilat, and there is no sign of the traditional mourners’ tents for the relatives of militants killed by the Israel Defense Forces, or indeed any reports of Gazan families who are grieving as a result of IDF actions near the Egyptian border last Thursday. Nor were there reports of families demanding the return of their loved ones’ bodies for burial. A longtime social activist told Haaretz that even in the event that families were instructed to conceal their grief, news like that is difficult to hide in the Strip.

The absence of mourners’ tents reinforces the general sense in the Strip that the perpetrators of the attack were not from Gaza, contrary to Israeli defense establishment claims. Gazans also doubt that members of the Popular Resistance Committees and their military wing (the Nasser Salah al-Din Brigades ) were behind the attack. Support for this view can be seen in a report on Monday by the Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm, according to which Egyptian security forces had identified three of the planners as Egyptians.

Bronner ignores the absence of mourners’ tents in his analysis. Instead he clings to the Israeli spin:

Israeli officials say they are certain from detailed intelligence that the Aug. 18 infiltration that killed eight Israelis was planned and carried out from Gaza by Palestinians associated with a small radical group.

Bronner also writes that “in its pursuit of the killers into Sinai and its assassinations of the group’s leaders in Gaza, Israel found itself with less room to maneuver than in the past.”  In short, Israel is not prepared to stop the killing, just bring it down to pre-August 18 levels.

Not much in the way of progress, but it is a reminder that Israel cannot depend forever on America’s vetoes to clean up the mess it creates for itself.

The social network picture (at the top of this posting) of Mahmoud Abu Samra and two of his friends, originally appeared in The Palestine Chronicle. 

Correction: An alert leader points to an error in earlier versions of this post in which I referred to Tammy Obeidallah of  The Palestine Chronicle,  as an “he”. That was an error. Tammy is a “she”.  My apologies, and my thanks, to my alert reader.  Jim Wall

About wallwritings

From 1972 through 1999, James M. Wall was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, lllinois. He was a Contributing Editor of the Century from 1999 until July, 2017. He has written this blog, wall, since it was launched April 27, 2008. If you would like to receive Wall Writings alerts when new postings are added to this site, send a note, saying, Please Add Me, to Biography: Journalism was Jim's undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. He is an ordained United Methodist clergy person. He served for two years in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF reserve. While serving on active duty with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years. James M Wall died March 22, 2021 at age 92. His family appreciates all of his readers, even those who may have disagreed with his well-informed writings.
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8 Responses to Israel Makes Mahmoud Abu Samra A Shaheed

  1. Pauline Coffman says:

    Jim, Thank you for lifting up this story. I can’t help but wonder if the destruction of cisterns in the Sinai since June 2011 (Israel is trying to oust the Beduoins) has anything to do with this attack or raid. I haven’t seen anything that connects them, but I can’t help but wonder.

  2. Don Wagner says:

    Jim, well done once again. This should receive wider circulation, if not the usual pro-Israel press (Chi. Tribune, NY Times, W.Post) try the LA times or British press, Beirut Daily Star). This is another case of cold blooded murder and killing innocent children. Don

  3. Noushin Framke says:

    Thanks for covering this Jim. Take a look at this:
    How Israel takes its revenge on boys who throw stones
    Video seen by Catrina Stewart reveals the brutal interrogation of young Palestinians

  4. Bill Gepford says:

    Well done, Jim. It reaffirms the consistent falsifications by Israel of “attacks” on Israel that I have heard over the past some fifty years, beginning in 1953 when I began working in Lebanon. I talked to many Palestinians in camps that told the story accurately, becaue they were the victims. Is our on-going support of Israel a house “built on sand” that will begin to fall once the storms begin to blow? And is Obama capable of bringing the moral courage needed from that high office to make the proper political structural changes based on the truth? I have my doubts. I hope I’m wrong.

  5. Fred says:

    If you’re waiting for our government to stand up against Israeli actions, you are waiting in vain. Even during a non election period, our government kow tows to all Israeli policies, however brutal. As an election year approaches, especially a presidential; election year, it only gets worse. Obama, or any other president will do and say nothing. If they allienate Jewish voters they will lose millions in donations. That’s our sysem, plain and simple.

    To do something positive, send this article, and others like it, to your lists, and ask them to forward it if bothers them. Write letters to your local papers and call and meet with your Congressional Reps. That’s what we can and have to do if we want to try and change things.


  6. Fadwa says:

    Well done Jim and all respondants. One wonders why President Obama, president of the greatest power on earth
    does not practice what he wrote in his bestselling books, and above all in his addresses to the Arab and Muslim world. If only there is a clear conscience
    among those politicians who play musical chairs, then the US can also make good allies with not only “Israel” but with the Arab and Muslim countries as well. I hope 63 years of occupation and blindfolding the world will come to an end, by the US succumbing to the fact that America comes First, and not Jewish vote and $$$$ that dictate how this country should be one sided, even
    if it hurts the US image. The UN is to blame also since it’s member states see and know every injustice done to the Palestinians and leave this issue on the backburner. The UN therefore is a culprit because Palestine is the only country that is under occupation in this day and age. The UN should not always be ready with shelters, if any, or some relief, but a an out right resolution to the Palestinian conflict,and act on it’s resolutions equitably and the world will not witness anymore brutal occupation

  7. Ed McCarthy says:

    What is the lesson here? For me, it is that there must be an end as quickly as possible of Israeli occupation of unambiguously Palestinian territory, and establishment of a Palestinian State based on the 1967 borders. It further means that Israeli ability to assault Palestinian areas must be curtailed, AND that a prospective Palestinian Government must have the ability, and the will, to suppress, ruthlessly if necessary, assaults on Israel from its territory. There is more needed, but that is the core. Only the US can bring about the required result, and by itself the US can obstruct it. All that is not directed toward getting the US to do the right thing is largely a waste of energy.

  8. Awad Paul Sifri says:

    Many thanks for revealing the false Israeli refrain to “Blame Gaza First”.
    My explanation is that there is a “standing Israeli policy” to destroy normal life in Gaza on a periodic on-going basis.
    Israel simply awiats any incident as a pretext to continue implementing its plan of ethnic cleansing, genocide, and usurping more Palestinian lands.

    It may also be a method for Israel to measure any “progress” in Palestinian resistance, particularly rockets, or missiles, that can wreck havoc in the next war, or battle between Israel and iran.

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