I have made no contribution to the furious discussions about the tragic death of Jawaher Abu Rahmah, first and foremost because I have no information beyond what everybody else sees. It also seems callous to be making political points out of the death, whether the points are being made by the top Palestinian leaders or furious Israeli bloggers.
The description in the NYT strengthens the feeling of distaste. The woman was standing with her mother and others outside their home, watching the weekly demonstration at Bil'in. At one point some tear gas fired by the Israelis wafted in their direction, harming no-one except Ms. Abu Rahmah, who collapsed, was taken to the hospital, and later died. Since no postmortem operation was done (or will ever be done) we'll never know what caused her death, but even if it was connected to the tear gas it was clearly a rare, freakish sort of accident. There's no plausible way it can be construed as an Israeli intention to kill, or even a foreseeable accident that should have been avoided by taking necessary precautions. You'd need a large dose of malice to charge otherwise.
The Palestinian leaders had that malice, and we've taken note, but we don't expect much better from them anyway. It's not as if they're our eager partners in negotiations towards peace. On the contrary. As Steven Rosen points out, they are non-partners to such an extent that the main question is why the Obama administration is letting them get away with it.
You can however see the problematic dynamic of the official Israeli response. The lesson learned from the Muhammad Al-Durra case in September 2000, and then from other examples since, is that Israel's enemies often blatantly lie about complex cases so as to create an irrevocable public perception of Israeli guilt, and by the time the Israelis complete their careful examination and can exonerate themselves, the story is long over and the damage is done. Hence the need to respond quickly - the problem being, however, that responding quickly can often be sloppy, and Israeli inaccuracies are as damaging as the enemy's lies.
I don't see how this can be rectified. Especially since there's a large market for stories of Israeli malice, irrespective of their veracity.
What has however been striking in this story is the alacrity, indeed, the overt and obvious need of certain far-left Israeli figures -journalists, NGOs, bloggers, they all know who they are - to convict Israel of a crime. I can understand, and even appreciate, Israeli observers who wish to hold our military to a high moral standard. Yet it would be reasonable to expect that when such observers detect wrong-doing, they'd try to get it fixed, out of a feeling of shame at what our side sometimes does. What's not defensible is the way some of them go out of their way, and bend over backwards, to make certain the IDF is guilty; indeed, they're at the forefront of casting doubt on any official attempt to clarify the facts. For these home-grown enemies of Israel, if there's any doubt whatsoever, there's no doubt: the Israeli troops are criminals, the investigating organs are liars, their defenders are thugs, and of course sooner or later the criminals will have to be brought to trial and if they're not it will be further proof of Israeli culpability.
The sense of revulsion these people call forth eventually creates misguided responses, such as the decision in the Knesset this afternoon to investigate some of the NGOs. Not one of our finest hours, even if the NGOs earned the opprobrium with the sweat of their brows.