Kevin Doyle Blog

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The Child They Killed

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Dima Asaliyah, aged 11

In July I attended a protest in Cork to remember the children killed during the bombing of Gaza a few months earlier – in May 2021. About a hundred and fifty people attended the gathering. Posters of the children who had been killed had been made in advance by the Cork Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Each displayed an image, as well as the name and age of a child who was killed. In all there were sixty-six posters and by chance I ended up carrying that of Dima Asaliyah, an eleven year old – the poster erroneously said she was ten – who died on May 19th. Afterwards I thought it would be a good idea of find out more about Dima.

According to the New York Times, Dima lived with her parents in Jabalya in the northern part pf Gaza, an area close to the border with Israel. She was returning from her aunt’s house, located close by, when the lane she was walking along was struck by a missile. Apparently she had been running an errand to her aunt’s and was returning with a small counter-top oven (for baking bread) in her arms when she was blown up. The organisation, Defense of Children International (Palestine), said this happened at around 8 pm in the evening. Dima was taken to the Indonesia Hospital in Gaza but was pronounced dead on arrival. Her body and the oven she had been carrying were reported to be peppered with shrapnel from the missile that exploded near her.

Collateral Damage

In an article titled Who killed 11-year-old Dima Asaliah?, Matt Gutman from ABC News reported that Dima died close to her home and that her body had been ‘torn apart’ by the missile. The day after Dima’s death, Gutman and his team filmed Dima’s funeral, reporting that the child’s “shroud-covered body was carried on a stretcher through tight alleyways and placed on the floor of Dima’s pink-painted bedroom …”. 

Matt Gutman at site of the missile strike that killed Dima Asaliyah

The Asaliyah family was convinced that Dima had been killed by by an Israeli shell, however it was not immediately clear if this was the case. Doubts arose in part due to the blast site. Large bombs had been pounding Gaza during the May hostilities but as Gutman wrote “typically [an] Israeli bomb punched swimming pool-sized craters in the earth, obliterating buildings”. Whereas the blast scene around where Dima died was much smaller in comparison (see photo). There was collateral damage, however it was relatively compact in nature. The possibility that Dima had been struck by a Palestinian rocket was also explored. As mentioned, Jabalya is close to the Israel-Gaza border and occasionally rockets directed at Israel from Gaza have fallen short of their intended targets and have dropped on Palestinian residential areas. However the nature of Dima’s injuries and the damage to the surrounding area didn’t support this possibility. A related theory surfaced suggesting that Dima might have been (unknowingly) transporting an IED (Improvised Explosive Device), hidden inside the bread oven. This was also quickly discounted, again due to the evidence at the blast site.


Tungsten cubes designed to kill and maim …

The type of missile fragments that were found in the vicinity suggested to Gutman and others that Dima had died in a targeted strike originating with the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Gutman contacted the Israeli military and they replied saying that “that no drone or Israeli air asset had ever targeted that location” (where Dima was killed). However Gutman was not satisfied and eventually with assistance from an (anonymous) Israeli pilot and an ordnance expert (Steve Draper), he succeeded in identifying the round that killed Dima. A significant factor in this breakthrough was the type of shrapnel that was recovered from the blast area and the little oven Dima was carrying: small dense metal cubes made from tungsten.

Known by the alfa-numeric, L62 HE-PFF IM84, the missile that killed Dima is designed mainly for use by naval craft. It is powerful enough to destroy fast moving enemy missiles, small aircraft and speedboats utilising the principle of high-powered detonation/ fragmentation to achieve its objectives. In essence the L62 HE-PFF IM84 is a fragmentation type missile that sheds a concentrated load of dense metal objects (cubes) at high-velocity once detonation occures. Draper informed Gutman that this type of ordnance forms part of the arsenal of Israel’s new Sa’ar 6 class corvettes and is normally fired from a 76mm Melara deck gun.

Gutman approached the Israeli military again with this new information and after a delay the IDF replied that “A preliminary investigation indicated that a Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative was targeted at the location on May 19, 2021. The details of this incident are under review.” The IDF went on to say that it operates “in accordance with international law and takes as many precautionary measures as possible in order to reduce harm to civilians during operational activities …”.

Currently, it is believe that Dima was targeted by drone circling over Jabalya. It has been suggested that the item (the bread maker) that Dima was taking back to her mother’s caused ‘suspicion’ and this led whoever was monitoring the camera on the drone to call in a strike on the lane where Dima was hurrying along to get home. It is not clear to me at this point if the missile that killed Dima was fired from the drone that was hovering over Jabalya or if the drone was ‘the eyes’ for a Israeli navy ship located off the coast of Gaza that targeted the precise lane that Dima was walking along.

For now that is what is known about the death of Dima Asaliyah. What, of course, is impossible to understand or accept is how a young child carrying a small item in her arms could have been annihilated in the way that she has. Dima was walking towards home and, in fact, was almost there. In the videos (links posted below) you can get a sense of what the area that she lived in was and is like. It is entirely urban. What is sadly plausible, and quite likely to be the case, is that Dima was killed because it is easy to kill anyone given the weaponry and resources that Israel now has at its disposal, and has deployed around and over Gaza. The small oven that Dima was holding may have looked “suspicious”, but it is equally plausible that Dima’s death was (despite the claims of the IDF) simply an act of retribution by Israel intent on punishing those in Gaza for the outbreak of hostilities. It that context it is extremely doubtful that those involved in her death will ever be identified or brought to justice. Hell is likely to freeze over first.

Who Was Dima?

Dima Asaliah was by all accounts a dance-happy 11 year old. In the links below there is some footage of her singing and dancing at home. It is very sad to look at it knowing what happened to her. Her father and mother are briefly interview in the clips that follow. Make of these images and clips as you wish.

> Facebook Video (16 Oct Group): Wafaa Aludaini reporting here.

> YouTube video (16 Oct Group): Wafaa Aludaini reporting here.

> ABC News video: Matt Gutman ABC News reporting here.

Making Money from Death – the EU Connection

Some of the 66 flowers floating in the River Lee, Cork

The missile that is believed to have killed Dima is a type produced by Simmel Difesa, an arms manufacturer located in Colleferro, Italy. At one time owned by the Fiat Group, Simmel Difesa is now part of the French arms manufacturer Nexter Systems which is wholly owned by the French state.

An informative post by US Citizens for Justice and Peace, explains that Simmel Difesa is no stranger to charges of profiting from death. It was under spotlight many years back due to its role in the manufacture of cluster bombs and has been involved in the sale of these munitions in to conflicts in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon. Israel, it should be noted, used cluster bombs in the 1982 and 2006 conflicts in the Lebanon and the U.N. estimates that there are still large amounts of this type of unexploded ordinance in existence there. On its website, Simmel Difesa describes its mission as follows. The word ‘death’ does not feature anywhere on its site or in any of its product information bulletins: Simmel “has developed its know-how in the design and manufacture of all ammunition components, from powder and explosives to fuses and metal parts. Thanks to its experience, Simmel Difesa is able to optimize the integration of various elements in order to design first class products.” Nexter Systems, of which Simmel Difesa is a part of, has consistently been in profits in the last fifteen years reporting cumulative profits of approximately €1 billion for the period 2006 and 2016.

So there we have it. Not only was the death of Dima, aged 11, a product of Israeli war crimes in Gaza, it was in addition a consequence of the profit hungry EU arms manufacturing industry.

Campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)

5 most effective things YOU can do to fight Israel's war crimes

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) calls for a boycott of Israeli and international companies that are complicit in violations of Palestinian rights. Virtually all Israeli companies are complicit to some degree in Israel’s system of occupation and apartheid. We focus our boycotts on a small number of companies and products for maximum impact. We focus on companies that play a clear and direct role in Israel’s crimes and where we think we can have an impact.

Written by Kevin Doyle

October 13, 2021 at 12:49 pm

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