In This Edition: The Bombing Of Bethlehem
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Sludge Report #97
The Bombing Of Bethlehem
Bethlehem is the birthplace of Jesus, recognised around the world almost universally as a great prophet, and revered by hundreds of millions as the only Son of God. Today it is has become the scene of a provocation tipping the Middle East peace process to the very edge of the abyss.
Israel has committed an enormous error of judgment if it believes that a policy of unilateral imposition of further buffer zones, under the pretense of a response to a motor bomb fired in response to an act of its own - that can only be considered an international war crime - is either proportional, appropriate or for that matter even sane.
If indeed Hamas militants were choosing Bethlehem to plot a suicide bombing - it would be a truly heinous, however thanks to Israeli Defence Force actions we will now never know.
They may have even been praying for peace. Certainly this is far more likely to be believable by an Arab audience.
Furthermore, if what the Israeli forces allege were true, then those committing the offence of plotting a suicide bombing in Bethlehem, ought to consider themselves answerable to a far higher level of sanction, than that provided at the hands of IDF helicopter gunship pilots.
In earlier reports this month (see.. Sludge Report #92 – A Winter Of Discontent and Sludge Report #94 - Macho Instincts Take Over ) Sludge commented on events almost exactly similar to those over the last 48 hours. Namely an extra-judicial assassination by Israeli forces followed by an attack within Israel by Palestinian militants.
On both occasions the Israeli’s assassination attacks took lives. On both occasions, so far anyway, the response from the Palestinian side has not been fatal.
In the circumstances the Palestinian response might even be seen as “proportionate”, to use the jargon invented by Israel and the US to justify punitive (illegal) military activities against other people’s citizens. i.e. one non fatal mortar bomb in exchange for the helicopter bombing of Bethlehem.
This time round the situation differs significantly from the events at the beginning of the month however.
Israel is now using the excuse of this one mortar bomb to impose a new level of offensive activity – which it claims to be defensive - inside the Palestinian Territories.
The Israeli military – for whom Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is clearly responsible - is in the process of committing a grave offence against not only international law, but against faith and hope.
The fact that this has happened twice in three weeks would tend to indicate that this is an orchestrated plan of Israel’s, rather than a result policy driven stupidity.
This is, if you like, proof of what the Palestinians have been saying all along, that Israel’s Government and its PM Ariel Sharon do not want peace.
As Israel steps up its occupation activities in the Palestinian Territories there is now a clear path ahead to further escalation in this conflict. This is a path that PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat could almost certainly not prevent even if he wanted to.
Ask yourself, if someone from a neighbouring country bulldozed your village, in the name of self-defence after first bombing Bethlehem, would you fight back?
There is an alternative to this and it involves a sudden and immediate U-Turn in Israeli policy.
It was just such a U-Turn in policy that narrowly prevented a regional war following the June 1 bombing of a nightclub in Tel Aviv (See … Sludge Report #89 – Turning Of Things Upside Down).
And if Israel proceeds down the path it appears to have planned now, then there can be little doubt that regional war will closely follow. Indeed it would appear that this is in fact Israel’s intention.