May 24, 2004.
Once again the otherwise fractured “international community” has come
together in one of those rare moments of unity, made possible only by the
time-honored ritual of condemning whatever policy Israel is currently pursuing
to protect its citizens from terrorism.
Last Wednesday, the United Nations Security Council criticized Israel’s
demolition of homes in Gaza but failed to condemn the Palestinian terror that
brought about the offensive in the first place. The U.S. refused to lend its
support to such an unbalanced resolution but didn’t use its veto power to stop
The U.N.’s text must be considered a real showcase of even-handedness when
compared to the statement by the Irish foreign minister who currently speaks
for the European Union. Brian Cowen’s comments came after an Israeli shell
accidentally hit Palestinian demonstrators. Mr. Cowen was so eager to bash
Israel that he didn’t even bother to check Palestinian casualty claims.
“Initial reports suggest that at least 23 people, many of them
schoolchildren, were killed,” he said. In reality, only eight Palestinians died. Mr.
Cowen went on to accuse Israel of “reckless disregard for human life.”
* Part of the fault lies with the international media, who should know by
now that Palestinian reports are not trustworthy, but still reported the
Palestinian figures as facts.]
His words bear no resemblance to reality. Israel takes more care not to harm
Palestinian civilians than the Palestinian Authority, let alone Hamas. In so doing,
Israeli soldiers often risk their own lives, as the death of 13 ground troops
earlier this month shows.
If Israel really had such a “disregard” for Palestinians, it wouldn’t send
its young soldiers in harm’s way but bomb terrorist positions safely from the
In contrast to that, the death of Palestinian civilians caught in the cross-fire
appears to be part of the terrorists’ strategy. The terrorists, who deliberately
hide among the general population, know that every civilian death will be
blamed on Israel, no matter what the circumstances and no matter whether the
bullet actually came from an Israeli rifle.
Mr. Cowen even had the gall to liken the demonstrators’ death to a Palestinian
terrorist attack earlier this month, where members of Yasser Arafat’s Al-Aqsa
Martyr Brigades shot four children, aged 2 to 11, at point blank range before
the eyes of their eight-months-pregnant mother before killing her too.
Neither these murders nor any other of the Palestinian terrorist attacks have
ever prompted a single U.N. resolution. As a matter of fact, the U.N. Security
Council has yet to convene to even discuss Palestinian terrorism.
The Israeli operation in Gaza is designed to root out the arms smuggling in
Rafah, which is at the border with Egypt. The whole area is honeycombed with
tunnels that surface in private homes, built often with the open encouragement
of the PA. Just recently, Arafat called on his people to “terrorize the enemy.”
The terrorists also use the private houses as hiding places to attack Israeli
The problem wouldn’t even exist if the PA fulfilled its obligation to fight terror
instead of colluding with it. Also, the smugglers wouldn’t have it so easy if
Egypt, officially at peace with Israel, didn’t turn a blind eye to this problem.
Maybe it’s time Washington asks Cairo to remind Americans why they are
propping up President Hosni Mubarak’s regime with almost $2 billion a year.
Contrary to popular opinion, international law is on Israel’s side. Art. 53 of the
fourth Geneva Convention indeed prohibits the destruction of private property
by an occupying power. But Israel’s critics as well as the U.N. resolution fail to
quote the text in its entirety. Such actions are illegal, “except where such
destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.”
Preventing terrorists from firing at Israelis from these houses and putting an end
to the smuggling of explosives and rockets appear to us to be “absolutely
necessary” operations. Particularly as Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon seems
determined to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza. It is the use of civilian
structures by Palestinian terrorists for military attacks which violates
Those really concerned for Palestinian welfare should speak these truths instead
of criticizing Israel for trying to defend itself.