Ayman missed his second birthday. Mohammad did not pass the age of 4. Diana was only 5. And Mona was killed with her children, 4-year-old Subhi and 6-year-old Mohammad. What on earth did they do wrong? They were not allowed to live in freedom, not allowed to live at all.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called Monday’s bombing in which 15 Palestinians were killed “a great success.” He added: “We, of course, have no interest in striking civilians and are always sorry over civilians who were struck.”
The statistics suggest otherwise. With so many Palestinians dead and injured, most of them civilians, who on earth can believe him?
All countries that still supply Israel with arms are complicit. The United States, Britain, the Netherlands and other countries supply Israel with the support and the arms to erase the existence of Palestinians on their own land. Will the perpetrators face trial? Did Sharon and Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer, by ordering these killings, expose themselves to criminal prosecution? Will the pilot who fired the missile that leveled the five homes in a Gaza City neighborhood be served arrest warrants? No. There is nowhere Palestinians can turn, no jurisdiction. The European Union condemns this and that - but the result is zero.
It’s nice of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to call on Israel “to halt such actions and to conduct itself in a manner that is fully consistent with international humanitarian law,” but who will ensure this is done? Who will guarantee that a nation under occupation will be protected against its colonial occupier?
Gideon Meir, a spokesman for the Israeli government, called the Gaza bombing “self-defense,” justifying the terror. But expanding territory is not self-defense. Oppressing a nation is not self-defense. Depriving children of the right to education and life cannot be called self-defense. No, Gideon Meir, this was not “a precise Israeli air strike against a known terrorist.” The Gaza bombing was an act of state terror.
The key point about terrorism, on which almost everyone agrees, is that it is politically motivated. This is what distinguishes it from, say, murder or football hooliganism. Terrorism is calculated to frighten the public or a particular section of it.
Denying that states can commit acts of terror is generally useful because it gets Israel and its allies off the hook in a variety of situations.
Western countries, particularly those that support Israel, tend to define terrorism in such a way that it applies mostly to resistance groups and rarely to states. According to Israel, all acts of resistance by the Palestinians are forms of terrorism, including acts against Israel’s occupation forces.
Israel’s use of terror has been qualitatively and quantitatively much higher than that of the Palestinians. The number of civilians killed as the result of actions by Israel, both before its creation and after, has far exceeded the number of Israeli civilians killed by Palestinian groups.
With the Gaza bombings, the level of what has been tolerated has moved a step further - as it will every minute the world remains silent and inactive. Someone has to stop it. But who?
Arjan El Fassed lives in the Palestinian territories and is affiliated with the Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights.