Does Ariel Sharon Deliberately Want to Provoke a Violent Palestinian Response?
- Chronology of Israel's Assassinations and Palestinian Suicide Bombings.
" The escalation of assassinations illustrated by the August 22, 2003 Israeli killing of the major Hamas spokesman Ismail Abu Shanub in Gaza, widely seen as a Hamas moderate, is a clear sign that the Sharon government is concerned more about its own extremist political agenda than it is for Israeli civilian lives.Read HERE full article by Steve Niva "Israel's Assassination Policy : The Trigger for the Lastest Suicide Bombings?"
It is nearly impossible to avoid concluding that current Israeli government has either deliberately provoked a number of them or at least undertaken actions that would clearly risk them.
Either way, Ariel Sharon's government is complicit in the deaths of scores of Israeli citizens.
A nearly certain predictor for a suicide bombing is when Israel assassinates a senior commander or political leader of a militant group, especially when it does so during or in the negotiations for a truce by these groups on attacks on Israelis.
Ariel Sharon and his Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz are touted as among Israel's most acute and ruthless military tacticians, who undertake few actions without thoroughly studying their consequences."
Gilad Atzmon was born in Israel and served in the Israeli military. He now lives in London
Excerpts from Avnery's article:
" The roadmap is dead, because Sharon was against it from the beginning.
Bush saw it only as a photo-op in a nice background and Abu-Mazen did not get from Israel and the US anything that he could present as a Palestinian achievement.
On August 21, the army assassinated Isma’il Abu-Shanab, the fourth ranking leader of Hamas. The man was a well-known political leader. Why was he of all people chosen for assassination?
A military correspondent on Israeli TV made a slip of the tongue: Abu-Shanab was killed, he said, because he was ‘available’. In other words, he was an easy target because he did not go underground after the bus bombing, as did the leaders of the military wing.
This time, at long last, the aim was achieved. The Palestinian organisations announced that they were calling off the hudna. Sharon and Co. rejoiced.
Within hours the Israeli army had again penetrated into the centres of the Palestinian towns, starting an orgy of arrests and house demolitions (more than 40 in a single day). "
Uri Avnery is a leading Israeli writer and a former member of Knesset Excerpts from Steve Niva's article "Israel's Assassination Policy : The Trigger for the Lastest Suicide Bombings?" :
Palestinian suicide bombings are vicious and clearly war crimes under international law.Steve Niva is a professor of international politics and Middle East Studies at The Evergreen State College, Olympia, Washington.
They have driven the Israeli public to embrace the Israeli far right's expansionist agenda and have severely damaged the Palestinian cause in the court of world opinion.
In the past three years, Israel undertook nearly 160 extra-judicial assassinations. And militant groups frequently list assassinations as a key justification for the suicide bombings. Israeli assassinations have also killed over one hundred civilian bystanders in the past three years fueling demands for revenge.
Four out of the five recent suicide bombings came within a week of Israel's recent assassinations or attempted assassination of such high level militant commanders.
All of them came during or in the process of negotiating the three-month truce against attacks on Israeli civilians that was implemented on June 29, 2003.
Palestinian militants group had very clearly stated that they would consider Israeli assassinations to be a violation of the truce and that they reserved the right to respond accordingly.
The Israeli decision to assassinate senior military and political leaders from Hamas and Islamic Jihad during the past three months frequently resulted in a suicide bombing, usually within a week.
In four of the past five suicide bombings, the group whose senior militant was assassinated carried out the attack.
On June 10, 2003, Israel attempted to assassinate the senior Hamas political leader in Gaza, Abdel-Aziz Rantisi, which wounded him. It killed four Palestinian civilians. Hamas had vowed a swift and dramatic response that came earlier than many predicted.
Palestinian militants' response: A day later, on June 11, Hamas responded with a suicide bombing on a bus in downtown Jerusalem.
On August 8,2003 Israel assassinated Fayez Al Sadr, head of Hamas' Qassem Brigades in the Askar refugee camp in Nablus.Three other Palestinians were killed in the raid.
Palestinian militant's response: On, August 12, 2003 near Tel Aviv and near the Israeli settlement of Ariel in the occupied West Bank, dual suicide bombings took place, killing two Israelis. Both the Qassem Brigades and the Fatah-linked Aqsa Martyrs Brigades immediately vowed revenge. Each claimed responsibility for one of the bombings. According to several reports, the young bombers were both from the Askar refugee camp and had grown up within blocks of one another.
On August 15, 2003, Israel assassinated Muhammed Sidr, the commander of Islamic Jihad's Quds Brigades in Hebron. The Quds Brigades issued a statement warning that their response would be swift and would strike at the heart of Israel.
Palestinian militants' response: Four days later, on August 19, a suicide bombing in Jerusalem a bus in which twenty-one Israelis were immolated. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility, but Hamas released videotape of one of its own Hebron activists, Raed Abdel-Hamed Mesk, who undertook the attack. Mesk asserted in the video he would carry out a suicide bombing to avenge the killing of Sidr. Hamas spokesmen claimed it was avenging the assassination of Abdullah Qawasmeh, Hamas' local West Bank chief in Hebron on June 21.
The only exception to this pattern in the past three months is that the July 8 suicide bombing in the Israeli town of Kfar Yvetz that killed an elderly Israeli woman was not precipiated by Israeli assassination. But the Jenin branch of Islamic Jihad claimed the attack was in response to Israel's refusal to release Palestinian prisoners. The Islamic Jihad's official spokesman disavowed the attack.
None of this should be surprising. Nor should anyone believe that Israeli political and intelligence officials who planned and implemented the assassinations were surprised by the ensuing suicide attacks.
Israeli Provocations and Palestinian Suicide Bombing Responses
The FIRST Palestinian suicide bombing actually began with the massacre of 29 Palestinians in Hebron's Ibrahimi by the American-Israeli settler, Baruch Goldstein in 1994.
On February 24, 1994, the American-Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Palestinians in Hebron's Ibrahimi Mosque.
Palestinian militant's response: The FIRST Palestinian suicide bombing inside Israel on April, 6, 1994. began.
In 1994 and 1995, Islamic Jihad's first suicide bombings were claimed responses to the Israeli assassinations of its senior and founding leaders Hani Abed and Fathi Shiqaqi.
On January 5, 1996, Israel assassinated Yehiya Ayash, known as "the Engineer," when a booby-trapped cellular phone exploded in his hand.
Palestinian militants' response: in 1996, Hamas launched its second bus bombing campaign. On Feb. 25, a suicide bomber blows up a No. 18 bus near Jerusalem's central bus station, killing 26 people and wounding 48 others. Hamas claimed responsibility. Less than an hour later, a second suicide bomb explodes at a soldiers' hitchhiking station near Ashkelon, killing one and injuring 31 others. Hamas claimed the two attacks are in retaliation for the Jan. 5, 1996, slaying of Yehiya Ayash in Gaza.
Then the second Palestinian intifada began on September 29, 2000. And Israeli resumed its systematic assassination campaign on November 9, 2000.
Many suicide bombings since then can be directly traced to this pattern of assassination and revenge.
Examples from the past few years include:
On July 31 2001, Israel assassinated two leading Hamas commanders in Nablus. On August 9, 2001,Hamas launched a suicide bombing in a Jerusalem Sbarro pizzeria, which ended nearly two-month Hamas cease-fire.
On November 23, 2001, Israel assassinated senior Hamas militant Mahmud Abu Hanoud, while Hamas was upholding an agreement with Arafat not to attack targets inside of Israel following the September 11 terrorist attacks on the US. Hamas responded on December 1st and 2nd, 2001, with the Jerusalem and Haifa Hamas suicide bombings.
On January 14, 2002, Israel assassinated leading Fatah militant Raed Karmi, during a cease-fire declared by all the militant groups in late December,2001. On January 27, 2002, the Fatah linked Al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade responded with its first suicide bombing n the center of Jerusalem by a female student from Nablus.
On July 23, 2002, Israel launced an air attack on a crowded apartment block in Gaza City to assassinate senior Hamas military leader, Salah Shehada. The air attack killed 15 civilians, 11 of them children, hours before a widely reported unilateral cease-fire declaration by the Fatah-linked Tanzim and Hamas. On August 4, Hamas responded with a Palestinian bombing on a bus near the Israeli town of Tsfat.
On December 26, 2002, Israel assassinated three prominent members from Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade while representatives from Fatah, Hamas and other factions were meeting in Cairo to formulate a cease-fire on Israeli civilians. On January 5, 2003, the Al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade responded with a suicide bombing that killed twenty-two Israelis.
Ariel Sharon's Finger Prints
One could argue that Sharon had already undertaken nearly every action possible, short of a high level assassination, to undermine Palestinian support for the cease-fire and President Bush's Road Map process.
In addition to mass arrests and low level killings, he had refused to dismantle Israeli settler outposts, end the siege and blockades of Palestinian cities and towns, release a significant number of Palestinian prisoners, or cease building a separation wall deep within the West Bank.
There are only two conclusions one can draw:
It appears that the only thing more threatening for Ariel Sharon's government than Palestinian terrorism is a Palestinian cease-fire.
- Firstly, is that Sharon thought it so important to kill these high level militant leaders at this time despite the bloody consequences for Israeli civilians .
- Secondly, that he took these actions precisely because he sought a violent Palestinian response.
Palestinian Militants' Options
By the same token, militant Palestinian groups must be condemned in the strongest terms for seizing upon Sharon's provocations through their myopic preoccupation with revenge through suicide bombing that has brought untold misery upon both Israelis and Palestinians.
Suicide bombings against Israeli civilians are clearly not the only option they could undertake in response to assassinations or any other Israeli provocation.
Palestinian militants have essentially aligned themselves with Israel's expansionist right-wing by providing the crucial pretext for Sharon to reoccupy and lay siege to Palestinian population centers, seize more Palestinian land for Israeli settlements and to build a barrier around Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza that traps them within tiny enclaves.
While Palestinians must do what they can to end suicide bombings, it is past time to rethink Israel's assassination policy. They make it impossible for Palestinian authorities to undertake steps to reign in the militant groups without risking a major civil war and fuel popular support for retaliation.
Given all the carnage that can be traced to Israel's assassination policy, the only remaining question is why more Israelis and their supporters abroad are not in the forefront against it.