20 April 2004

Objects in the Mirror

Palestinian throwing stone at D9

“A Palestinian threw a rock at an Israeli army bulldozer.”

This photo from Abid Katib/Getty Images appeared on the front page of today’s New York Times online. The image and caption linked to the article Israeli Tanks Enter Gaza; 4 Palestinians Die in Fighting.

In the photo, the Palestinian looms large above the bulldozer. He is a lanky, but determined and formidable force — a dark, faceless enemy poised to smash the small, apparently unarmed machine. The force of his attack is accented by patterns in the clouds, and exaggerated by the tilt of the camera (note the horizon line.) The bulldozer does not seem to be attacking the Palestinian or doing anything other than driving by, going about its business. The article reinforces this, making no mention of the purpose of the bulldozer or why it would need an escort of tanks.

From the photo, you’d have no idea that the bulldozer is 13 feet tall and well protected against his rock.

See the entry on the Caterpillar D9 from wikipedia.org:

“Armored bulldozers are a standard tool of Combat engineering battalions, and the IDF has gained some notoriety for their use of armored tractors in the Al-Aqsa Intifada, Operation Defensive Shield, and their involvement in the demolition of orchards and residences and the consequential death of [U.S. college student] Rachel Corrie....

The operator is protected by bulletproof glass to protect against bombs, machinegun and sniper fire. The fitted armor package adds roughly 10 additional tons to the weight to a so-equipped D9. Like many customized packages, individually modified D9s may be found with disparate features, such as crew-operated machine guns, smoke projectors, or grenade launchers....

The Israeli armor kit proved itself well, as no D9 operator was killed during the 3-year long al-Aqsa Intifada.”

The U.S.-based Caterpillar Corporation manufactures the D9. The Israeli Defence Force developed the armor kit. Last year, Israel’s Technion Institute of Technology, announced a remote controlled version of the D9.

The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions reports that the IDF has demolished over 10,000 houses in the Occupied Territories since 1967. The Caterpillar D9 was used to demolish an entire neighborhood in the Jenin refugee camp in April 2002.

These photos show a very different scale:

D9 demolishing orchardD9 and soldier

For more information, see Stop Caterpillar, a campaign to hold the Caterpillar Corporation accountable for the criminal use of its products by the Israeli army.