I feel it is necessary to respond to my colleague Larry Derfner's column, "Shimshon Cytryn and other 'innocents'" which he wrote in response to my Tuesday column "Shimshon Cytryn and Aharon Barak." It is odd to have my reporting questioned in my own newspaper.
To set the record straight, the fighting between Israelis and Palestinians on the Mowassi from 26-28 June 2005 was instigated by Mowassi resident Halil Mejeida. Mejeida organized a group of Palestinian youths to attack a group of Israeli youths who had squatted in an Arab house on the Mowassi.
Contrary to Derfner's claim that the Israelis "chased the [Palestinian] family out [of the house] and took it over," the structure had been long abandoned. The youths who squatted in the structure were engaged in refurbishing it. Both the residents of Shirat Hayam and the guests in the hotel in Neveh Dekalim nearby repeatedly beseeched the IDF to intervene as the Palestinian attacks involved rock-throwing against both the youths in the abandoned home and all Israelis who walked on the coastal road joining Shirat Hayam and the hotel. The IDF refused to intervene.
On June 28, the day Mejeida was supposedly "lynched," the Israeli and Palestinian youths had been throwing rocks at one another for the third day in a row. The IDF finally responded to the pleas of the residents of Shirat Hayam and the hotel and intervened to end the attacks.
In the days following the fight, Mejeida told Israel Radio that he received a head wound when he was hit by a soldier with an M-16 rifle butt as the soldier tried to restrain him. He further stated that his wound was not caused by "the settlers."
There is no doubt that there was a prolonged fight between the Palestinians and the Israeli youths in the abandoned house in which both sides pelted one another with rocks. There is also no doubt that Mejeida did not suffer any serious wounds from the fighting. There is certainly no doubt that there was no attempt to murder Mejeida on the part of the Israeli youths.
Derfner wrote, "I'm writing about this because I was one of the reporters on the Moassi beachfront on that June 28." Yet separately he acknowledged, "I got to the beachfront a little after the incident for which Cytryn is standing trial, so I didn't see it with my own eyes."
Derfner has a right to speculate regarding the thoughts and desires of the youths who participated in the rock fight. He is free to believe that they wished to kill one another. Yet, there is no evidence from the events of the day that would support the charge of attempted murder for which Cytryn was indicted, and Derfner offers none.C.B.G.