How can a toddler’s death be a soldier’s mistake?

Mohammed Tamimi, two and a half, was fatally shot by an Israeli sniper and died on Monday. GIDEON LEVY asks how it could happen.

Eighty percent of Mohammed’s tiny brain was damaged by the lethal bullet that exploded in his head. 

The military released the results of its internal investigation and ruled it was a case of “misidentification.” The snipers were using telescopic scopes but got the target wrong.

Were their state-of-the-art scopes insufficient for them to see that they were shooting a baby’s head?

Couldn’t they have seen the father, a moment earlier, carrying Mohammed and placing him in the back seat, hurrying back to the driver’s seat, and getting shot before he made it inside?

Does a misidentification also mean a total inability to estimate the age of “the enemy”? Did the soldier know at whom he was shooting? If he didn’t, why did he open fire? And if he knew, again, why did he open fire?

Haitham Tamimi, the shell-shocked father, told us that he heard no shots before putting Mohammed in the family’s Skoda. This contradicted the IDF spokesman’s official version, which said there was gunfire before the baby was killed.

Haitham’s cousin, Sameh Tamimi, a San Francisco-based computer engineer, was in Nabi Saleh on a visit. He suggested that the soldier had to be a psychopath. “Because what other soldier would shoot a baby in the head?” he asked.

Israeli media outlets were quick to rule that it was “an accidental shooting.” How do they know? Were they there? For them, it’s enough that the IDF spokesman instructed them to say so.

But something else the IDF spokesman said was that there had been shooting preceding the incident, while nobody in the village heard anything like that. And after all, there’s no way a father would have taken his infant son outside had there been gunfire in the village. 


A wail of pain pierced the silence. Mohammed, two and a half, was fatally shot. To Israel’s army, it’s just a mistake (Haaretz)

Clashes erupt as Palestinians hold funeral for toddler mistakenly shot by IDF (Time of Israel)

Mother of slain Palestinian child calls for justice (Reuters)

Photo: Mohammed Tamimi in hospital last week (Hagar Shezaf)