This week’s suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, which took nine innocent Israeli lives and one innocent Palestinian life, was the most predictable act by any novice observer of the ongoing conflict.
A Palestinian in his late teens, early twenties, possibly the youngest suicide bomber ever, from a small, besieged village near the Palestinian city of Jenin in the northern part of the Palestinian Authority, entered a restaurant in Tel Aviv, Israel and used his body, strapped with explosives, as a weapon to kill as many patrons as possible. Horrifying indeed, but, no more or less horrifying than what this Palestinian probably faced since his birth, while living under Israeli military occupation every single day of his life.
Suicide bombings feed modern media, whereas, a decades old military occupation feeds on the occupied.
The White House press secretary wasted no time in issuing its statement, as has become the callous routine. The statement said, “The burden of responsibility for preventing terrorist attacks such as this one rests with the Palestinian Authority (PA).” The sentence, I’d bet verbatim, has been repeated dozens of times in past White House press releases every time a Palestinian perpetrates an act of violence against Israelis. No link is made between this unachievable demand from the Palestinian Authority and the international sanctions the U.S. is leading to collapse this very same Authority.
Strangely enough, or maybe not so strange, is the total silence from Washington over the past months and years as Israel battered the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza and across the West Bank, in cities like Bethlehem, with armament and actions ranging from F- 16 fighter jets to fully armored brigades rampaging Palestinian homes. Add to this non-stop collective punishment, travel restrictions, home demolitions, arbitrary imprisonment for months on end, uprooting of olive groves, the apartheid wall, land confiscations -- the list is endless. For those who want to understand the cause of suicide attacks it is not too difficult.
Are the Palestinians not allowed to ask why military occupation is allowed to continue unabated for 39 years?
Is it out of line for Palestinians to view the military siege and bombardment of their cities as state terror?
When, on average, for the last 24 months, a dozen Palestinian men are hauled away in the middle of the night, nearly every single night, to the dungeons of Israeli prisons, without charge, trial, or lawyer; are the Palestinian children left behind, expected to remain childlike?
When, since September 28, 2000, at least 67 women have given birth at Israeli checkpoints and as a result, 39 newborns died or they were delivered stillborn, are Palestinians expected to accept this as their fate without crying out?
When, in less than five years, over 740 children, some infants are killed by Israeli gunfire, many while in their homes, several at point blank range, and the White House brushes away the issue as if nothing happened, are Palestinians expected to remain sane?!
The questions are endless; as endless as the lack of official moral outrage at this state terrorism and the responsibility the Israeli government bears for its continuation.
No media outlet, so far, has linked this latest restaurant bombing with the declaration in the Israeli newspaper, Jerusalem Post (April 13), only a few days before by Israeli Major General Yitzhak "Haki" Harel, head of the Israeli military Planning Directorate and a senior member of the military’s General Staff, where he said, “We are at war.” Major General Harel went on to boast that, nevertheless, Israel's security situation has never been better during its soon-to-be 58 years of statehood.
When asked should Israel be severing all ties with the Palestinians, Major General Harel was quoted as saying, “The entire border with them needs to be hermetically sealed… We should stay on our side, they on their side and that is it.”
A Palestinian inside this hermetic sealed open-air prison should just accept his fate, which is equivalent to a human animal put in a cage by a foreign army. So it seems, this Major General would wish. The Jewish people should know, far better than any other that such a policy could never result in the collective submission of the Palestinian people.
God only knows what Major General Harel has in mind for the one million Palestinians living on the Israeli side of the apartheid wall that are Israeli citizens.
Suicide bombings are wrong, period. They do not serve a purpose and they will not bring an end to Palestinians nightmare of ongoing Israeli occupation. But in order to get them to stop, we must address the root causes of why they happen and not the horrifying symptoms that they reflect.
The international community should not remain statement-pushing observers to innocence killing innocence, but rather it is past time that every country, especially the U.S., use their leverage to bring a legal and moral baseline to this conflict. That baseline must be Humanitarian and International Law. Otherwise, all we have left is the Law of the Jungle, as we have today, and then, who are any of us to set the rules.
Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American businessman living in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian city of El-Bireh, the sister city of Ramallah. He is co-author of HOMELAND: Oral Histories of Palestine and Palestinians (1994) and may be reached at email@example.com.
Other Articles by Sam Bahour and Michael Dahan
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