Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey:Middle East madness

By raising the stakes in the fever-pitch climate in the region, Israel again adopts its classical approach of matching violence with violence. However, for a country to use its armed forces against civilian targets, as well as military ones, is an act of state terrorism, which would cause an international incident if it were practised by any other country.

If, for example, the British Armed Forces had launched missile attacks on the citizens of Belfast after one of the many atrocities carried out by the IRA (backed with money from NORAID, the North American Aid organisation which for years raised funds for the IRA to fight the British), the incident would have reached the UN Security Council. Similarly, whenever the Russian Army attacks Chechen terrorists hiding in civilian areas, there is a wave of concern that human rights are not being respected.

However, when it is Israel, there is a wall of silence. Israel has systematically violated UN Security Council Resolutions and declares openly that it is not interested in adhering to them. Israel occupied Palestinian territories and forced the residents to move out of the country. Israel has built colonies on these occupied lands. Israeli soldiers shoot stone-throwing Palestinian youths in the eyes with rubber bullets. Israeli security forces have on more than one occasion left pregnant women to die in the street, laughing, as the baby and mother die through not having been allowed to cross the border to get to a hospital.

If Yasser Arafat is the spokesperson of the moderate Palestinians, as claimed by the internationally respected Hanane Ashrawi, the hostile acts by the Israeli Armed Forces against his person – he was metres away from being killed on Tuesday in a missile attack – make sense only in the context that he is to be eliminated, only for there to be an implacable war against the extremists in the wake of his death.

It is more and more apparent that Ariel Sharon, himself indicted for acts of terrorism in the past in the massacre of Palestinian civilians in the Lebanon in the 1980s, can only remain in power in a climate of war. It is more and more evident that the policy undertaken by Israel is the elimination of the Palestinian Authority, and its people, from the Middle East.

How there can be talk of a serious commitment to peace when one side unilaterally steals territories, refuses to give them back to their rightful owners, kills civilians and refuses to adopt UN Resolutions defies logic.


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