December 25, 2006 - This past Thursday a rocket crashed through the living room of a home in northern Gaza and exploded in the bedroom where three children were sleeping. Samir al-Masri, two years old, had both his legs broken. His four-year-old sister and three-year-old brother were also injured by the blast.
The rocket that nearly killed these children was fired by Palestinians. It was meant for Israel.
There was supposed to be a ceasefire since November 26. Israel has observed it, stopping the interventions it had taken in Gaza to prevent the firing of rockets. But the rockets continue to fly. Since the so-called ceasefire began, Palestinians have fired nearly 50 rockets and counting into Israel. Those rockets have already killed several people. They have destroyed homes and businesses. The people of Sderot, Ashkelon, and the western Negev, especially the children, suffer from traumatic stress. Yet the press minimizes this story, to the extent it reports the story at all.
The Qassam rockets are called "home-made." People seem to think the Palestinians are shooting firecrackers. But those rockets are deadly, and the Palestinians keep trying to improve them. Even if Israel continues to observe the "ceasefire," the death toll will certainly increase. Rockets have slammed into schoolyards. It may just be a matter of time until a rocket hits a school while children are present.
The Palestinians have it both ways. They expect Israel to behave, but they can do whatever they want. If rockets continue to menace Israeli civilians, they say, "Oh, don't blame the Palestinian government. The trouble comes from Islamic Jihad, or the "military wing" of Hamas, or some other bunch of extremists." Israel is supposed to continue taking fire without doing anything to defend itself. No country in the history of the world has ever accepted such terms.
The Palestinians' excuses are nonsense. They expect Israel to act like a responsible nation state while they follow the rules of the jungle. People have always defended the Palestinians this way: Israel is a state, the Palestinians aren't, so don't expect as much from them. Such excuses for terrorism were never acceptable. This is especially true today, because now the Palestinians have their own government. They must meet the same standards they expect of Israel. If "extremists" are violating Palestinian government policy, then the Palestinian government must put a stop to it. But the Palestinian government is Hamas, a terrorist group, so of course it does nothing. Not for one minute would the Palestinians accept such a dereliction of responsibility from Israel.
But why should the democratically elected Palestinian government try to restrain the terrorists, when it sympathizes with them and has said so?
The Palestinian "firecrackers" have already destroyed lives and livelihoods:
- A marketplace in Sderot was demolished. Ten stores were damaged, five completely obliterated. The streets were littered with pieces of merchandise.
- A single mother who owned a children's clothing store had to clean up what was left of her 30-year-old business, now destroyed. She wonders how she is going to make money to feed her children.
- In Sderot, a family of Ethiopian Jews continues trying to live in a home in ruins, with some rooms uninhabitable. They have no money to make repairs.
These are just a few of many similar incidents. This is life under a Palestinian "ceasefire," with terrified people running for cover when they hear the missiles coming. What will life be like when the Palestinians call off their "ceasefire"?
All during these acts of aggression Israel has acted with remarkable restraint. But no ceasefire can hold if only one side observes it. Israel has the moral obligation to protect the lives of its citizens. Eventually it will have to act. But when it does, because these Palestinian offenses have been trivialized and under-reported, Israel will no doubt be portrayed as the bully and the Palestinians will win even more sympathy. And that will only perpetuate the conflict, since excusing terrorist attacks only encourages more of them.
The Palestinians excuse their brutality by claiming to resist an "occupation" or, to use the slogan du jour, "apartheid." This is a lie. The last thing Israel wants is sovereignty over the Palestinians. Israel withdrew from Gaza over a year ago with no intention of ever returning, and its only involvement with Gaza since then has been to try to stop terrorist attacks originating there. In addition, the Olmert government had plans to withdraw from most of the West Bank settlements, but had to put those plans on hold since Israel finally learned the hard lesson that every concession of land is met with an increase in Palestinian violence. If the Palestinians truly want an end to this "occupation," it is hard to fathom why they appear to be doing everything in their power to prevent that from happening.
The lenient double standard by which the Palestinians continue to be excused is absurd. It must be condemned if there is to be any chance of peace. Imagine the outcry if Israel fired missiles into populated areas with the intent of killing innocent people. The Palestinians demand self-determination. When will they be held to the same standard as any civilized nation? They are in fact guilty of a double war crime: firing from civilian areas into civilian areas. When will they be held to account?
It is way past time to strip the Palestinians of their claim to victim status. The claim has no moral justification whatsoever; it is both a deception and a self-deception the Palestinians use to make the destruction of a neighboring state acceptable. All too often, there is no greater abuser than a self-proclaimed victim.
Associated Press. "Errant Palestinian Rocket Wounds 2-Year-Old Boy Sleeping at Home." International Herald Tribune, December 21, 2006.
Barzak, Ibrahim. "Behind the Headlines: Kassam Fire Goes On Despite Ceasefire." Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, December 21, 2006.
Bedein, Noam. "On the "Ceasefire" Front." Sderot Media Center, December 5, 2006.
"Gunbattles Rage Between Hamas and Fatah." Washington Post, December 21, 2006.
Peace with Realism