Monday, April 15, 2024 -
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Minor (lethal) Offenses

The teenagers had been jailed for minor offenses like throwing stones.” This sentence, penned by the AP when a hostage-prisoner exchange between Hamas and Israel was being negotiated, appeared in news stories in print, on air and online.

“Minor offenses like throwing stones.”

As if pebbles were tossed against a window pane by a teenage romantic.

In the West Bank, stone-throwing has been lethal.

In Jefferson County, Colorado, too.

When Alexa Bartell, 20, was killed in 2023 by teenagers throwing boulders from the side of the road, the metro area was shocked. There was something malignant about these three teens, who this year are going to trial for murder.

I acknowledge this isn’t a one-to-one parallel. Alexa Bartell wasn’t a military target. But stone throwers in the West Bank target more than soldiers. They, like the Jefferson County teens, target civilians in motor vehicles.

And let us not forget that up until very recently, stoning remained a legal method of execution in many Muslim countries (UAE), and continues today as extrajudicial punishment in some of those same countries (Pakistan).

The three Lakewood teens don’t “only” face murder charges. Assault and attempted murder with extreme indifference are also on the charge sheet. Because throwing stones is not inherently a “minor” offense, contrary to AP. It depends on the weight of the stone, the velocity at which it is thrown and the intent of the perpetrator.

That wasn’t the only Colorado crime that drew a parallel with events in Israel. Almost at exactly the same time as Hamas invaded Israel and brutalized thousands of innocents, decaying bodies were found in a Colorado funeral home, Return to Nature. The public was horrified, and devastated for the surviving loved ones.
The process of identifying these victims was reminiscent of what Michal Peer, a forensic anthropologist, described to the IJN about identifying Hamas victims.

At a preliminary hearing earlier this month, Abby Swoveland, whose mother was one of the funeral home victims, told Pueblo’s KRDO news: “Bodies blocking doorways and windows blacked out so that nobody could look. It is just unconscionable that people, human beings could do this.”

For Coloradans who may discount Israel’s pain in the face of Palestinian suffering, consider these two local crimes, whose depravity — murder by stone throwing and disfigurement of the dead — shook our community to its core.

Now imagine Israelis, so many of whom have a connection to a person brutalized on Oct. 7 by Hamas, being told to move on, worse, being told that it never happened or, worst of all, that 1,200 innocents deserved it.

Did Alexa Bartell deserve it?

Did the victims of Return to Nature?

Shana Goldberg may be reached at [email protected].

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