Thomas Hamill, an American contractor kidnapped three weeks ago during an attack on a convoy in which several others were killed, has escaped from his captors. He heard a convoy passing not far from the building in which he was being held, pried a door open, ran a half mile to catch up with the convoy, and then led soldiers back to the house where he was held, where two armed Iraqis were apprehended. Way to go.
In other Iraq news, questions are being raised about the photos published in the Daily Mirror, purporting to show an Iraqi captive being abused by British troops. British Army sources have questioned some of the details in the pictures, saying that they depict uniforms and equipment not used by British soldiers in Iraq. There are dubious aspects, too, of the depiction of the Iraqi.
There is no doubt, of course, of the authenticity of the pictures showing abuse of Iraqi captives by American soldiers that have recently surfaced. Such abuse cannot be justified or tolerated, and it will not be. Still, it should be said, I think, that the widespread description of the pictures as showing the “torture” of Iraqi prisoners is overstated. The prisoners are shown being humiliated, not tortured; while I haven’t seen all of the pictures, to my knowledge none of them document any physical harm being inflicted. This is a far cry from feeding people into a plastic shredder. I also haven’t seen any information about who the Iraqis were; if they were terrorists, they got off easy.
Publication of the pictures in the Arab world is, I guess, a public relations fiasco. But I’m not sure it’s worse than the perceived climb-down in Falluja. In the Arab world, it is a lot better to be perceived as strong and cruel than as weak. And in general, I am not much impressed by Arab outrage. Here is another story that has provoked no outrage whatsoever: “Pregnant mother and four daughters killed in Gaza terror attack:”
An Israeli woman in her eighth month of pregnancy and her four daughters were killed this afternoon when two terrorists opened fire at Israeli cars traveling on the Kissufim-Gush Katif road in the Gaza Strip. The attack occurred when the two gunmen, apparently residents of Dir el-Balah, began firing at Israeli cars on the road. Police said the mother was shot, causing the Hatuel’s white Citroen to swerve off the road. The attackers approached the vehicle and shot the mother and her children with “killing shots” at close range.
The most popular Palestinian organization, Hamas, claimed credit for the attack, but two other organizations, Islamic Jihad and the Fatah’s Popular Resistance Committees, also tried to get credit for the murders.
The photo below shows Tali Hatuel, and her four daughters, Hila (11), Hadar (9), Roni (7) and Merav (2). When photos of these victims are as widely disseminated in the Arab press as those of the still-alive-and-well Iraqi captives, and when their murders are denounced with equal fervor, I will be more impressed by “outrage” in the Arab press.