< link rel="DCTERMS.isreplacedby" href="http://bokertov.typepad.com/ btb/" >

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Deutsche Welle Opinion

Israel Faces a Growing Barrage of Criticism
DW-World.DE: Israel is facing an increasing barrage of criticism that cannot be overlooked. But Israeli officials continue to act as though they have nothing to worry about. The "operations" in Rafah are forging ahead. The death of innocent civilians is "regrettable."

Denial, indifference

Government spokespeople tried to deny that demonstrators were attacked. A warning shot accidentally hit the crowd, they said. Then, we were told that Palestinians were to blame for allowing gunmen to mix in with a civilian crowd. Another official simply said that civilians who hang around in warzones should know they're taking a risk.

That must sound like sheer mockery in the ears of the Palestinians. Civilians weren't just "hanging around" there -- they live in the area, and were demonstrating against the destruction of hundreds of homes, and against the restrictions they face in their daily lives because of the occupation.

Many of these restrictions run contrary to the Geneva Convention, and to most international agreements. In Israel's official circles, one frequently hears the opinion that such conventions don't apply when they stand in the way a state's own military and political strategy. For decades now, Israel has insisted that the West Bank and Gaza Strip aren't really "occupied territories" and for that reason, the Geneva Convention doesn't have to be obeyed there.

Understandable motive

The reason for the army's incursions? Weapons and explosives are being smuggled from Egypt into the Gaza Strip through underground tunnels. Israel says the offensive will continue until it can be sure that these tunnels are cut off for good.

It's an understandable motive, but it in no way can it or should it justify the random killing of civilians, especially children. In the most macabre of ways, parallels are being drawn between Israel's actions in Rafah, and those of the U.S. in Fallujah -- between the shooting of demonstrators, and the U.S. bombing of a wedding party in western Iraq. There, just as in Israel, soldiers become extremely thin-skinned, and find themselves making knee-jerk reactions in certain situations. First, they fire, and only then -- sometimes -- do they ask.

Still, there are voices in the Israeli public, and in the government, who are drawing the only appropriate conclusion from this current situation. The occupation has to end. In the case of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, those voices have yet to be heard. But Washington's decision to abstain from the Rafah question points to the first stirrings of change.

Peter Philipp (dc)

If you scroll down to the very bottom of this webpage, there is a question asked, under the heading "Feedback" -- Is Israel justified in its actions in the Gaza Strip?

I beg you to answer the question. I did.
I don't understand why you even ask this question: "Is Israel justified in its actions in the Gaza Strip?"

Did you ever hear of Tali Hatuel? Eighteen days ago, she was driving with her four young daughters from Gaza to Jerusalem. Palestinian terrorists shot at the car and it spun off the road. The terrorists then approached the car and shot the mother and four little girls at close range, including Hila, who was 11 years old; Hadar, who was 9 years old, Roni who was 7; and little Merav, only two years old. The terrorists then videotaped them bleeding to death.

Tali Hatuel was a social worker who counseled terror attack victims and their survivors. She was eight months pregnant.

Rafah (and Gaza in general) is used by Arab terror groups to smuggle, procure and produce weapons, with which the terrorists seek to murder more Israelis. You can see photographs of terrorist weapons attempted to be smuggled into Gaza at http://www1.idf.il/SIP_STORAGE/DOVER/files/5/31365.pdf.

There is an utter disconnect between this opinion piece, "Israel Faces a Growing Barrage of Criticism" by Peter Philipp, and Israeli reality. I am shocked and appalled that the German people do not seem to understand the threat to Jewish existence that this war of terror represents.

You should be ashamed. Doubly ashamed.