The front page of the Monday New York Times featured a story on a popular "hobby" among young Palestinian boys: throwing rocks at Israelis.
The Times’ Jodi Rudoren refers to the "hobby" as a game and describes it as "an act of defiance and a rite of passage" that can be seen as a caricature "of Palestinian pushback against Israel."
Rudoren touches on the amount of jail time served by a boy caught throwing rocks, even charting the years spent in jail from members of a Palestinian family on which the article focuses. She complains of the treatment of arrested Palestinian youth during the arrest process and the difficult fight lawyers have when defending those caught.
Barely mentioned in the nearly 2,000 word article, however, is that unlike other hobbies such as stick-ball and hopscotch, throwing rocks can have deadly serious consequences.
Multiple deaths have resulted from rock-throwing incidents.
In 2001, 5-month-old Yeshuda Shoham was seated in the back seat of his family’s car when a large rock crashed through the windshield and struck him in the head. He suffered severe brain damage and was attached to a respirator for nearly a week before passing away.
In 2011, 25-year-old Israeli Asher Palmer and his infant son Yonatan were killed when a rock hurled at Palmer’s car went through the windshield and fractured his skull, causing the fatal accident.
The Palestinian rock thrower was convicted of murder.
That same year, a girl just 20 months old was pelted in the face with rocks thrown at a car, leaving her covered in blood from facial lacerations.
The incidents have been occurring for decades:
- In 1983, 21-year-old Esther Ohana died after a rock put her in a coma.
- In 1989, Stf. Sgt. Benny Meisner was killed after being struck in the head by a slab of concrete.
- In 2000, 54-year-old Bachor Jean was in the passenger seat of a car when rocks shattered the windshield and caused a fatal chest wound.
- In 2001, 13-year-old Koby Mandell and 14-year-old Yosef Ishran were found beaten to death in a cave, their bodies covered with stones.
In Israel, throwing a rock at a vehicle is now considered to be a hate crime.
But mobs playing the rock throwing "game" don’t only target cars. They also throw large rocks aimlessly into Israeli settlements.
Additionally, the rock throwing can be dangerous for all involved.
Years ago, a young Palestinian boy charged at a car being pelted by rocks and was struck hard.
Not even three months into the year 2013, there had already been 1,195 reported incidents of rock throwing attacks in the Judea and Samaria region of Israel, where the attacks have become part of everyday life.