Unhappy Eid for Palestinians

Today should have been a happy day for Palestinians – both in Israel and the Occupied Territories – as they celebrate the end of Ramadan.

However, more Israeli carnage in Gaza has left at least seven Palestinians dead. Haaretz says that at least four of them were civilians. So who were the other three? Militants? Terrorists?

It is interesting how to be an armed member of a Palestinian group makes you a legitimate target in the eyes of the media. If only three militants are bumped off, it’s deemed an acceptable move by Israel. Besides, in such a case, they would have avoided “civilian casualties”.

Who is a civilian anyway? It may sound like an uncomfortable question, but if it’s a major cornerstone of international humanitarian law then it’s quite important that we get it clear.

I’m assuming that to be a Palestinian civilian you have to be unarmed and not a member of a militant group. So that means you have to effectively ignore the occupation around you – with it’s 24-hour curfews, incursions, roadblocks, checkpoints, house occupations – and just keep your head down while you wait for some international pressure to force Israel’s hand.

The alternative is to do something about it, but what does that mean? Over here in peaceful Europe that might mean joining a political party or writing a letter to your MP.

If Palestinians want to write letters to their MPs, many of them won’t be able to. That’s because 40 of them are in Israeli prisons, including four cabinet members. Yes, these are democratically elected geniune political representatives of the kind we so yearn for in Iraq. Israel swiped them from their houses and offices and holds them without charge while we turn a blind eye.

So what are Palestinians meant to do? Wait for the next election while the occupation and all it’s sickness continues? Of course not, you resist. It’s ridiculous to suggest otherwise.

What offends me is when resistance is branded as terrorism. The Israelis would want us to believe that fighting in your own refugee camp is terrorist activity. Shooting at an armoured personnel carrier that is pouring soldiers into your friend’s house – simply because it has a good vantage point [pics/vids/story to come later] is also terrorism.

These seven Palestinians were killed in their own city by a foreign army. When Hezbollah carried out its cross-border raid and kidnapped two Israeli soldiers and killed three more, there was universal condemnation of the act, even if Israel squandered the initial sympathy by it’s disproportionate response to the attack.

But where is this story in the news? It’ll never be a major story in the places that count. Just imagine if these were 7 Israelis in Tel Aviv, it would be on the frontpage of every major paper.

Bush and Blair it’s this straightforward: you’ll never win a “war on terror” when Palestinian blood is so cheap.

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As if the killing were not bad enough, Yisrael Beytenu just joined Olmert’s coalition government. For those of you who don’t know, Yisrael Beytenu is an ultra-rightwing party, headed by Avigdor Lieberman, a nasty piece of work who has some seriously unsavoury views.

Lieberman advocates a transfer of a predominantly Arab part of Israel to a Palestinian state, and stripping those Israelis (Arabs, of course) of their citizenship. It’s not an exaggeration to say that this amounts to ethnic cleansing.

Certain Israelis, including the Labour part of the Kadima-led coalition, are unhappy with having Lieberman in the cabinet. However, when the left is led by the Defence Minister Amir Peretz, their moral high ground doesn’t seem very high.

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Finally, on maybe a better note, Gilad Shalit‘s father had some constructive words to say.

Over a phone call with WAFA, Noam Shalit expressed his grief that thousands of Palestinian prisoners are not celebrating the Eid al Fitr (Lesser Bairarm) with their families.

He expressed hopes that the efforts made by President Mahmoud Abbas will lead to an agreement to release all the Palestinian prisoners from Israel’s jails.

“My son’s arrest made me aware of the sufferings of thousands of Palestinian prisoners. I really share their families the feeling of sorrow of not enjoying their freedom,” Shalit told WAFA.

If only they’d listen to him.

1 Response to “Unhappy Eid for Palestinians”


  • I so worry about the effects of all this bloodshed on Palestinian children. They so deserve to have a normal childhood. The plight of the Palestinian people is nothing less than shocking.

    -Another half Iranian

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