Expectation Doesn't Make It Less Horrifying
GUSH SHALOM - pob 3322, Tel-Aviv 61033 - http://www.gush-shalom.org/
We expected it - which doesn't make it less horrifying.
The interpretations of who started the 14 months-old round of ever more violence may differ (was it the Palestinian stone throwers in Temple Mount the day after the unwanted visitor in September 2000, or was it the overreaction by Israeli sharpshooters which set into working the chain reaction from stones to bullets to bombs) but about one thing all can agree: every new round of blunt aggression is more cynical and blind.
Ten innocent Israeli youngsters being killed in a Hamas suicide attack in Jerusalem won't increase Israeli sensitivity towards the innocent death of five Palestinian children who walked into a boobytrap placed by the army on their way to school at the Khan Yunes Refugee Camp.
And 15 innocent bus passengers in Haifa, blown to death in another horrid explosion, don't open the eyes of Israelis for the fact that by killing Hamas leader Mahmoud Abu-Hunud a week ago, our army was actually putting an end to a tacit understanding between Arafat and Hamas, which had prevented this kind of suicide bombing over the past few months. (The possible implications of assassinating Abu Hunud were quite frankly discussed in the media just a week ago, but the size of today's horror seems to have caused in our society a sort of collective amnesia.)
As we just heard, as an immediate step of retaliation all Palestinian inhabitants of the West Bank are now expressly forbidden to use the roads - the logical culmination of travel restrictions which became increasingly tight over the past year. Collective punishment of a whole people. Millions of people are to be completely imprisoned in their town or village, with going to the next community becoming a criminal offence - an offence which, as enforced by soldiers, may come in daily practice to be punishable by death.
Further harsh measures are expected as soon as Sharon gets back from the US. Will any of these increase Palestinian sensitivity to Israeli pain? Will it deter the next suicide bomber and the one after? Or will it make even more young Palestinians destitute and angry and desperate enough to take up the explosive belts proffered by Hamas?
Meanwhile, what does an Israeli peace activist do on such a day? You watch the non- stop emergency broadcasts on both channels of Israeli TV, the terrible scenery, the all too predictable reactions of politicians - until you get sick and tired and turn it off. You find an excuse to phone to friends or family members which you know to be living near the place where the latest outrage happened. And you reiterate - also on such a day, especially on such a day - that it is the occupation which is the root cause, that the cycle of bloodshed cannot be broken without an end to the occupation, or at least a clearly visible step in that direction.
Tel-Aviv, December 2, 2001
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