By Charles Krauthammer, June 16, 2006.
It was another one of those pictures that goes instantly around the world. A
young Palestinian, wailing in wretched sorrow, grieving over her dead father,
stepmother and five siblings who had been killed by an explosion on a Gaza
beach. Then came the blame. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
(he’s the moderate) immediately called the killings an act of Israeli “genocide”
and, to dramatize the crime, legally adopted the bereaved girl.
The sensational coverage and sensational charges raise the obvious question:
Why would Israel deliberately shell a peaceful family on a beach?
The Israeli government, clumsy as ever, seemed to semi-apologize by
expressing regret about the deaths, implying that perhaps they had been
caused by an errant Israeli shell targeting a Palestinian rocket base. But then, a
few days later, an army investigation concluded that it was not Israel’s doing at
First, because the shrapnel taken from the victims (treated at Israeli hospitals —
some “genocide”) were not the ordnance used in Israeli artillery. Second,
because aerial photography revealed no crater that could have been caused by
Israeli artillery. And, third, because Israel could account for five of the six shells
it launched at the rocket base nearby, and the missing one had been launched
at least five minutes before the one that killed the family.
An expert at a local chapter of a human rights group disputes the Israeli claims.
Okay. Let’s concede for the sake of argument that the question of whether it
was an errant Israeli shell remains unresolved. But the obvious question not
being asked is this: Who is to blame if Palestinians are setting up rocket
launchers to attack Israel — and placing them 400 yards from a beach crowded
with Palestinian families on the Muslim Sabbath?
Answer: This is another example of the Palestinians’ classic and cowardly
human-shield tactic — attacking innocent Israeli civilians while hiding behind
innocent Palestinian civilians.
For Palestinian terrorists — and the Palestinian governments (both Fatah
and Hamas) that allow them to operate unmolested — it’s a win-win: If their
rockets aimed into Israeli towns kill innocent Jews, no one abroad notices and
it’s another success in the terrorist war against Israel.
And if Israel’s preventive and deterrent attacks on those rocket bases
inadvertently kill Palestinian civilians, the iconic “Israeli massacre” picture
makes the front page of the New York Times, and the Palestinians win the
But there is an even larger question not asked. Whether the rocket bases are
near civilian beaches or in remote areas, why are the Gazans launching any
rockets at Israel in the first place — about 1,000 in the past year? To get Israel
to remove its settlers, end the occupation and let the Palestinians achieve
dignity and independence?
But Israel did exactly that in Gaza last year. It completely evacuated
Gaza, dismantled all its military installations, removed its soldiers, destroyed all
Israeli settlements and expelled all 7,000 Israeli settlers. Israel then declared the
line that separates Israel from Gaza to be an international frontier. Gaza became
the first independent Palestinian territory ever.
And what have the Palestinians done with this independence, this judenrein
territory under the Palestinians’ control? They have used their freedom to
launch rockets at civilians in nearby Israeli towns.
Why? Because the Palestinians prefer victimhood to statehood. They
have demonstrated that for 60 years, beginning with their rejection of the
United Nations decision to establish a Palestinian state in 1947 because it
would have also created a small Jewish state next door. They declared war
Half a century later, at the Camp David summit with President Bill Clinton, Israel
renewed the offer of a Palestinian state — with its capital in Jerusalem, with not
a single Jewish settler remaining in Palestine, and on a contiguous territory
encompassing 95 percent of the West Bank (Israel making up the other 5
percent with pieces of Israel proper).
The Palestinian answer? War again — Yasser Arafat’s terror war, aka the
second intifada, which killed a thousand Jews.
This embrace of victimhood, of martyrdom, of blood and suffering, is the
Palestinian disease. They are offered an independent state. They are given all of
Gaza. And they respond with rocket attacks into peaceful Israeli towns — in
pre-1967 Israel proper, mind you.
What can Israel do but try to take out those rocket bases and their crews?
What would the United States do if rockets were raining into San Diego from
across the border with Mexico?
Now look again at that terrible photograph and ask yourself: Who is responsible
for the heart-rending grief of that poor Palestinian girl?