- On June 6, four days after the Mideast peace summit in
Jordan, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades launched an attack
on the Israeli military in northern Gaza. The groups managed to kill four
Israeli soldiers and wound four others. Their actions were in response
to the June 5 assassinations of two Hamas militants by the Israeli military,
along with the IDF's continued house demolitions of families of Palestinian
militants. Despite the fact that in the June 6 attack the Palestinian militant
groups focused their attacks on the Israeli military, rather than attacking
civilians as they have in the past, Israel responded by launching what
can only be defined as a "terrorist" attack. On June 10, Israel
fired missiles into a crowded street in Gaza, missing their main target
but killing and wounding innocent bystanders. The following day, a Palestinian
suicide bomber responded with a "terrorist" attack against Israel,
exploding on a bus in Jerusalem, killing 16 people and injuring more than
a hundred more. Shortly after, the Israeli government was directing helicopter
attacks in Gaza.
- While it claims otherwise, Israel has been fighting "terror"
with "terror." It is impossible to suggest that Israel is worried
about Palestinian civilians when it launches raids like the one on June
10. Authorizing helicopter gunships to launch missiles into crowded Palestinian
streets? Only a ruthless government would authorize such attacks. Furthermore,
as many others have stated, the target of Israel's June 10 attack was not
a suicide bomber packed with explosives on his way to blow up a bus or
a café. No, that target was Abdel Aziz Rantisi, the well-known Hamas
political leader who was merely driving down the street at the time; Rantisi
barely survived the attack. It is a highly dubious assertion for Israel
to claim that this extreme level of force was needed.
- Such heavy-handed and careless attacks by Israel are
making it harder and harder for the Jewish state to claim the moral high
ground. In order to defend its occupation of what the U.N. has labeled
Palestinian lands, the Israeli government is using similar tactics that
its enemies use: not distinguishing between militants and civilians. The
only difference between the opponents is that Palestinian militant groups
admit they are uninterested in peace; the Israeli government, on the other
hand, claims that it is interested in peace, while at the same time ordering
massive military attacks meant to bring terror and death to the Palestinian
- It seems that the Israeli government, and the Israeli
populace, still believe that they can break the will of the Palestinians.
This explains why they continue their harsh repression of the Palestinian
population, along with their massive retaliatory attacks anytime Palestinians
defend themselves either justly or unjustly. But the past 55 years have
shown that such actions merely further radicalize the Palestinian population,
resulting in more terror and death for the Israeli people.
- Palestinians from 1948 would be shocked at the current
methods of Palestinian resistance. What used to be a civil disobedience
movement has now been radicalized into one that largely approves of the
use of suicide attacks on civilian populations. So, too, would Jews from
the 1940s be shocked at what is now considered "self-defense":
occupying a land whose population does not wish to be occupied, continuing
to build illegal settlements on that land, following a policy of assassinations,
and firing rockets and missiles into crowded streets or apartment buildings.
- And now with these latest attacks, it looks as if the
conflict will radicalize even further. According to Joel Greenberg of the
Chicago Tribune, in the June 10 attack, Israeli Apache helicopter gunships
fired seven missiles at Rantisi, who was driving on a busy street in downtown
Gaza. Greenberg writes, "The explosions sprayed metal fragments across
sidewalks and buildings, shattering windows. A woman who stepped out of
a taxi was killed, and an 8-year old girl was critically wounded in the
head." Does the Israeli population still believe that such careless
attacks are actually helping the peace process? The frequency of these
attacks force any honest analyst to wonder if the current Israeli government
wants peace at all.
- The coming months will decide whether these latest incitements
by the Israeli government and Palestinian militant groups will further
radicalize the conflict. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has already
said that such strikes by Israel will continue. And Hamas spokesmen have
made even harsher statements. "The Israelis will never enjoy security
or stability as long as they occupy our territories," Abdel Aziz Rantisi,
the target of the June 10 attack, said from his bed in Shifa Hospital.
"We are going to retaliate by all means," another Hamas spokesman
stated, as quoted from Greenberg's article in the Tribune. "Every
person in Israel should condemn the policy of their government because
they are going to pay the price."
- So, once again, we seem to be back at square one with
the Mideast peace process. This time the Israeli government is as much
to blame for derailing the peace process as Palestinian militant groups
are. If the Israeli government and its people truly want to live in peace,
then they will have to stop fighting terror with terror; their current
harsh policies towards the Palestinians have to come to an end, otherwise
they are no better than the "terrorist" groups they are fighting.
- [Ash Pulcifer is a U.S. based analyst of international
conflicts and is also a human rights activist. While he does not justify
or accept the killing of civilians in warfare, he attempts to understand
why groups or governments resort to such means in order to achieve their
- Ash Pulcifer encourages your comments: apulcifer@YellowTimes.org
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