Saturday, March 1

Is Palestinian Terror the Result of the Occupation?

This is a question that is provocative and is really a two edged sword. There is no simple answer and much depends on how one looks at the relationship between Palestinians, Israelis and maybe the Middle East as a whole. The answer to this question is a mix of “yes and no”. It also depends on whether one supports Israel or the Palestinians. While it is true that Palestinian terrorism is a result of the occupation, it is also true that Palestinian terrorism is a consequence of an existential problem of Israel's right to exist. Israel's right to exist has been in dispute since the day it was established in 1948. Terrorism against Israel existed even before the occupation of territory because of the Six Day War of 1967. In fact, Hamas and Islamic Jihad and their ilk view Israel as occupied territory since 1948 and they will not rest until Israel is destroyed. Al Naqba – the catastrophe of 1948 resulting in Israel’s establishment on occupied Palestinian territory, which to them, is still unacceptable.

The only solution to this conflict is a negotiated peace settlement and total cessation of hostilities on both sides. A hudna or tahida (temporary cease-fire and calm) will not be the solution as Hamas holds the key to its observation. Hamas does not even want to discuss this directly with Israel as it refuses to negotiate or recognize Israel even though it is prepared to accept this through a third party. Anyway, there is no trust between the two sides. Israel will view a hudna as a period of re-armament of Hamas which could take ten years in order to recoup its losses and renew its armed struggle to destroy Israel.

The violence continues unabated. Ashkelon has now joined Sderot in receiving vollies of Qassam rockets which is causing injury, fatalities and severe damage to property. Now it is not only Qassam rockets, but also Grads that are being fired. The damage is increasing as well as the frequency of mortar fire. It is unacceptable! Nothing can justify this sort of terrorism! The result of it all will be severe Israeli Army retaliations in Gaza which will cause severe tragedy to many innocent people while those responsible – Hamas leadership and their allies - will be deep in their bunkers, planning their next round of attacks. They are not affected by the Israeli Army retaliations! They have their human shields where they hide – Palestinian women, children and babies! Their motivation for carrying out more attacks just increases while at the same time the cost in blood of the Palestinians also increases. What do they hope to achieve by this - Israel’s total destruction “ethnic cleansing and genocide” of the Jewish people? Is this their goal? Hamas and its new found ally, President Ahmadinajad of Iran, have hinted at this ad nauseam.

Hamas intends to harm as many Israeli civilians as possible. It does not differentiate between soldiers and civilians. The Israeli army retaliates and during its retaliatory activities, many innocent Palestinian civilians are harmed and killed as well as a handful of armed Hamas terrorists. Israel’s retaliatory activities are not directed at innocent civilians. Unfortunately, the Hamas terrorists hide behind Palestinian civilians in the hope that Israel will kill Palestinian civilians as well. They have succeeded in this tactic. Hamas are cowards and their leader Khaled Mashal hides behind his vicious, hateful rhetoric in Damascus, Syria where he dictates his wishes resulting in harm to his own people that he claims to represent.

According to South African lawyer, Professor John Dugard, an independent investigator on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a South African lawyer who campaigned against apartheid in the 1980s, says in a report that "common sense ... dictates that a distinction must be drawn between acts of mindless terror, such as acts committed by al-Qaida, and acts committed in the course of a war of national liberation against colonialism, apartheid or military occupation." The report calls for an end to the Israeli occupation, citing the country's checkpoints and roadblocks restricting Palestinian movement, house demolitions and the "Judaization" of Jerusalem. The report says that until the occupation is ended, "peace cannot be expected, and violence will continue." A question arises as to what is the definition of “occupation”. Is it the occupation of Palestinian territory conquered during the Six Day War of June 1967, or is it the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, which according to Hamas, is “occupied Palestinian lands that must be liberated”? If it is the latter, then only the total destruction of Israel will bring peace to the area according to the report. This is not clear.

Professor Dugard has given the most blatant support for Palestinian terrorism to date. It will be interesting to read how he will justify that in the 25 page report he compiled and will deliver at the Human Rights Council of the UN next month. This report will be based undoubtedly on a previous report that he wrote on 26th March 2002. He does mention Israeli abuses of Palestinian rights which cannot be denied. Much of this report is reasonable in its content where he does give a sense of balance:

“The Israeli perception is very different. Israelis see terrorism as the cause of the crisis. Suicide bombers who enter Israeli shopping districts, suburbs and settlements and snipers who shoot at passing traffic, have instilled a sense of fear into all Israelis. There is no guarantee of safety on the streets or roads, in shopping malls and restaurants. Palestinian violence is not seen as a response to Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian Territory but as terror directed at the very existence of the State of Israel.

Since 11 September international support for the belief that terrorism is the main problem to be confronted in the region has inevitably grown. That terrorism is a threat to the present world order cannot, and should not, be denied. That terrorism is a scourge that threatens Israelis and Palestinians alike cannot and should not be denied. Every effort should be made to end violence intended or calculated to create a state of terror in the minds of particular persons or the public, whether it is perpetrated by instruments of the State, by organized non-State groups or by individuals. At the same time it is important not to ignore the main explanation for the acts of terror committed by Palestinians against Israelis - opposition to the military occupation. Or the main explanation for the acts of terror committed by the Israel Defense Forces against Palestinians - enforcement of the occupation”.

The Israeli blockade of Gaza is untenable and the poverty, overcrowding and the total collapse of the economy are factors that strengthen Hamas.

According to Maan News Agency 1st March 2008, 34 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip on since dawn Saturday, including five children and more than 100 wounded in Israeli shelling on the northern Gaza Strip. (The number of Palestinian killed is still rising and stands now at over 50)

Two Israeli soldiers have also been killed and five injured as Israeli forces step up its attacks on the coastal region.

In the latest attack Abdul Rahman Shahab the son of Hamas leader Muhamad Shahab was killed.

Two sisters, 13-year-old Salwa Zedan and 17-year-old Samah Zedan, were killed in an Israeli attack near their house east of Jabalia.

Two resistance fighters from the Al-Qassam Brigades Mu'tasem Abed Rabbo and Abdullah Abu Shahira were killed in clashes with Israeli forces.

Israeli Special Forces backed by tanks penetrated the area east of Jabalia in the eastern Gaza Strip under the cover of Israeli warplanes that showered the region with rockets and missiles early on Saturday morning.

Medical sources confirmed that houses were bombarded with air and ground fire.

According to Dr Mu'awiya Hassanain, director of emergency and ambulance services in the Palestinian health ministry, the dead and injured were transferred to Kamal Adwan Hospital.

Fathi Thabet and Tal'at Darduna were the first to be killed in the Israeli attack. Less than an hour later Ibrahim Az-Zein and Sa'id Al-Hsheim died after being hit by Israeli artillery shells near Az-Zawiyah in the eastern area of the Jabaliya camp. Eyewitnesses reported that Hussein Al-Batsh was also killed.

According to medical sources, a missile fell on the house of Abu Shbak family, killing 12-year-old Jacqueline Shbak and her brother Iyad Mohammed Abu Shbak, along with 45-year-old Bassam Obeid and his son Muhammad. Muhammad Al-Jamal and Abed Faraj were killed in another missile attack. They are reported to be affiliated to Hamas' Al-Qassam Brigades.

On Friday an Al-Qassam Brigades commander was killed in an Israeli airstrike on a car in Jabalia.

The Al-Qassam Brigades told Ma'an that "Iyad Al-Ashram a commander in the Al-Qassam Brigades died when a missile targeted his car in the Al-Zamo area of Jabaliya."

Two Israeli soldiers were killed and five others were wounded in violent clashes between Palestinian resistance factions and the Israeli army east of Jabaliya.

Israeli sources reported that two of the soldiers are in a serious condition. They were air-lifted by helicopter to the Soroka Hospital in Be'er Sheva.

The Al-Qassam Brigades claimed responsibility for targeting an Israeli Special Forces unit in a house east of the Jabaliya camp with two rocket propelled grenades. The brigades claim there were casualties and planes were seen evacuating the wounded from the scene.

The Al-Quds Brigades claimed responsibility for launching two rocket propelled grenades at a group of soldiers inside located the Darduna family's home in east Jabalia.

Moreover, five Palestinian resistance fighters were wounded as they launched projectiles at the Israeli town of Ashkelon on Saturday.

Israeli sources confirmed that five Israeli citizens were slightly injured when a missile landed on a house in the city of Ashkelon.

According to Israeli military sources 18 rockets have landed in the western Negev and Ashkelon since dawn on Saturday.

Hamas is harming the Palestinian people. Their callousness and lack of sensitivity towards their own people is criminal. It is removing their right to peace no less than the damage and terror that it is causing to Israel. It is increasing Palestinian suffering by its criminal behaviour and it does not intend to rule the Palestinian people responsibly. The only people that can rid themselves of the Hamas cancer are the Palestinians themselves. Imposition of the Hamas fantasy of the destruction of Israel through terror on the Palestinian people is irresponsible and dangerous. It will lead nowhere but to further suffering, economic hardship and more Israel army retaliations which will take a tragic toll in blood. They have declared war on Israel and this is a war that they have no chance of winning.

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