Murder of Shalhevet Pass

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Murder of Shalhevet Pass
Part of the Second Intifada militancy campaign
Israel outline south wb.png
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The attack site
Location Avraham Avinu neighborhood in Hebron, West Bank
Date March 26, 2001
4:00 pm (GMT+2)
Attack type
Shooting attack
Weapons Sniper rifle
Deaths a ten-month-old Israeli infant (Shalhevet Pass)
Perpetrators Lone Palestinian assailant (Mahmud Amru), member of the Tanzim militant group[1]
Shalhevet Pass with her mother.

The murder of Shalhevet Pass was a shooting attack which was carried out on March 26, 2001 in Hebron, West Bank, in which a Palestinian sniper killed the ten-month-old Israeli infant Shalhevet Pass. The event shocked the Israeli public, partly because an investigation ruled that the sniper had deliberately aimed for the baby.[2] The murder became a "potent Israeli symbol as an innocent victim of the raging violence".[3]

The murder[edit]

On March 26, 2001, at 4:00 pm, Shalhevet was shot in her stroller while her parents were accompanying her from a parking lot by the Avraham Avinu neighborhood in Hebron, where she and her family lived.[2][4][5] A Palestinian sniper resumed firing, after a ten minute lull, from the Abu Sneinah neighborhood on the hill opposite.[2][5] Shalhevet was killed instantly.[6] The baby's mother grabbed her and ran with her, only to find that blood was running down her hands.[7] One of the sniper's bullets penetrated the baby's head, passing through her skull, and hit her father as well.[8][9] Shalhevet's young father Yitzchak Pass, a student, who had been pushing the stroller, was also seriously wounded minutes later by two bullets.[2][4][10][11][12]

Press accounts indicated that at the time of the shooting: "The ... playground was swarming with children because new sand had been delivered to the sandbox."[2] According to what Human Rights Watch described as "unconfirmed settler accounts", another two girls playing nearby were almost injured when bullets passed through their clothing, while another had her finger grazed by a bullet.[2]

Aftermath[edit]

Tombstone of Shalhevet Pass

The murder of Shalhevet Pass, which occurred during the Al-Aqsa Intifada, produced vocal outrage in Israel and abroad. The nation mourned the killing of the baby.[7]

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon condemned the attack and sent his condolences to the Pass family. Sharon also stated that he saw the Palestinian Authority as responsible for the attack.

The Jewish community in Hebron demanded that the Israeli army reoccupy the Abu Sneineh neighborhood in Hebron, and the Pass family even stated that they would not bury their baby until the IDF would reoccupy the Abu Sneineh neighborhood.[2]

Capture and trial of killer[edit]

The Palestinian Authority initially arrested the sniper but released him after a short while. On December 9, 2002 the Shin Bet managed to capture the sniper – the Tanzim member Mahmud Amru.

In December 2004 a military court convicted the killer and sentenced him to three life terms.[13][14]

According to the Israeli government, an investigation concluded that the professional snipers had intentionally targeted the baby.[2][4] A spokesperson for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said:

The fact that they could pick off the baby and then the father makes this a hideous, deliberate, cold-blooded murder. Snipers are not just gun-toting youth... If Arafat had wanted, the sniper would not have been there.[2]

In the verdict the judges expressed their shock of the brutality of the murder:

"It was enough for one bullet, fired from a sniper rifle, to end the life of the infant Shalhevet Pass, who up to that event was unknown to the wide public, and just lived her life as all other children, until one day as the evening came she was hit in her head, and she died, and Shalhevet whom was still small and in her infant stage, was sentenced to death by a vile killer whom intentionally, using a Telescopic sight, pulled the trigger. The picture of the shot baby is on our table, is engraved in our minds and does not give peace to our souls. We cannot understand and we cannot accept the unbearable ease with which the killer decided to harm a helpless person... We the judges are only humans and we cannot see anything else but the image which emerges in our senses, an image full of hate, blood and bereavement. We must not accept this image and we need to do everything we can to condemn it."

Memorial to Shalhevet Pass, Hebron

The child's father Yitzhak Shalhevet joined the Bat Ayin Underground terrorist group which planned to blow up a Palestinian girls' school in East Jerusalem and was eventually arrested and convicted for possession of 10 pounds of explosive. He served a two year prison sentence.[15]

Reactions in the media[edit]

The Associated Press ran the story with the headline "Jewish toddler dies in West Bank"[16] and was criticized for downplaying the murder.[17]

The Voice of Palestine, the Palestinian Authority's official radio station, reported that the report of the girl's shooting death was a lie, and that instead the girl's mother had murdered her own baby.[18][19][20][21][22]

In popular culture[edit]

A song was dedicated to the memory of "Baby Shalhevet", sung by Avraham Fried at a concert in Hebron, and was written by his brother Rabbi Manis Friedman.[23]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Yonah Alexander (2003). Palestinian secular terrorism: profiles of Fatah, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Retrieved March 16, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Peter Bouckaert (2001). Center of the storm: a case study of human rights abuses in Hebron District. Human Rights Watch. pp. 64–65. ISBN 1-56432-260-2. Retrieved March 16, 2011. 
  3. ^ Deborah Sontag, Israeli Baby's Funeral Becomes Focus of Settler Militancy , at New York Times, April 2, 2001.
  4. ^ a b c "Target: Israeli Children". Israeli Ministry of Education. "In the afternoon,Yitzhak and Orya Pass took a walk with their daughter Shalhevet from their home in the Beit Hadassah neighborhood to the Avraham Avinu neighborhood where Orya’s parents lived. They heard shots when they reached the entrance to the Avraham Avinu neighborhood. Yitzhak fell." 
  5. ^ a b Morey Schwartz (March 26, 2001). Where's My Miracle?. Retrieved March 16, 2011. 
  6. ^ Nechemia Coopersmith, Shraga Simmons. Israel: Life In The Shadow Of Terror. Retrieved March 16, 2011. 
  7. ^ a b Giulio Meotti (2010). A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel's Victims of Terrorism. Retrieved March 19, 2011. 
  8. ^ Charles W. Greenbaum, Philip E. Veerman, Naomi Bacon-Shnoor (2006). Protection of children during armed political conflict: a multidisciplinary perspective. Retrieved March 16, 2011. 
  9. ^ Daniel Gordis (2003). Home to Stay: One American Family's Chronicle of Miracles and Struggles in Contemporary Israel. Random House. Retrieved March 16, 2011. 
  10. ^ Judy Lash Balint (2001). Jerusalem diaries: in tense times. Retrieved March 16, 2011. 
  11. ^ Mark Matthews (2007). Lost years: Bush, Sharon, and failure in the Middle East. Retrieved March 16, 2011. 
  12. ^ Nachman Seltzer (2006). The Link. Retrieved March 16, 2011. 
  13. ^ BBC Monitoring Newsfile, Dec 16, 2004, quoting Ma'ariv web site, Tel Aviv, in English 16 Dec 04
  14. ^ Margot Dudkevitch (16 Dec 2004). "Baby's murderer gets three life sentences". Jerusalem Post. p. 2. 
  15. ^ Ami Pedahzur,Arie Perliger,Jewish Terrorism in Israel, Columbia University Press, 2011 pp.117-118.
  16. ^ "Jewish Toddler Dies in West Bank". Associated Press. March 26, 2001. Retrieved March 19, 2011. 
  17. ^ Joshua Levy (2004). The Agony of the Promised Land. iUniverse. Retrieved January 8, 2013. 
  18. ^ Fiamma Nirenstein (2005). Terror: the new anti-semitism and the war against the West. Smith and Kraus. Retrieved March 16, 2011. 
  19. ^ AMIT magazine. 2001. Retrieved March 16, 2011. 
  20. ^ "Palestinian radio reports Israeli mother killed baby". Jweekly. April 6, 2001. Retrieved March 19, 2011. 
  21. ^ Michael Chabin (June 15, 2001). "Media spawns anti-Semitic propaganda". Jewish News of Greater Phoenix. Retrieved March 19, 2011. 
  22. ^ "News at a Glance". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. April 4, 2001. Retrieved March 19, 2011. 
  23. ^ .. Retrieved March 16, 2011. 

External links[edit]