By Tony Sayegh
For a number of years, western and Arab pundits alike advised the Palestinians to end suicide bomb attacks inside Israel. The Palestinians were told that these attacks were costing them dearly in public support and sympathy in Europe and in the U.S.
All the self-righteous voices in the West, long advised the Palestinians to end corruption in the PA, have transparency, accountability and rule of law and have democratic elections.
Fair enough. For about one and a half years, Hamas and the other resistance groups declared a total cease fire, not just against civilians but against all Israeli targets. Six months ago the Palestinians held the most transparent and fair elections to elect their representatives in the Palestinian Legislative Council (Parliament). Those elections were monitored by observers from all over the world, including Europe and the U.S., who validated the fairness and accuracy of the results. Hamas won a majority of the seats in the Parliament and, accordingly, formed a government that was approved by the Parliament and the President.
You would think that the western world and Israel would welcome these two major developments, since both fulfilled what the Palestinians were asked to do. But the opposite happened. Israel, with open support by the U.S., never reciprocated in the cease fire but continued its campaign of assassinations and kidnappings of Palestinian activists. Instead of Palestinian prisoners (some 10,000) being released by Israel, as promised earlier to Abbas, more were imprisoned.Instead of the U.S. and Western Europe embracing the first truly democratic government in the Arab world, a total embargo against this government and all the Palestinian people was imposed. Banks were blackmailed not to allow the transfer of any money inside the occupied Palestinian territories. The Palestinian's own tax money was withheld by Israel. Shipments of food and medicine were disallowed and the border crossings were kept closed most of the time. Simply, the occupied areas with 3.5 million Palestinians were turned into real concentration camps with no outside source of support. Laws were enacted in the U.S. and Europe that disallowed any contacts with the Palestinian government.
When the effort to starve the Palestinians and turn them against their elected government did not produce the intended results, the signal was given to Israel to escalate. Daily bombardment of Palestinians in Gaza increased dramatically. There was a deliberate effort to target civilians in large numbers to spread panic. The most notable example was the Israeli shelling of the Gaza beach that obliterated an entire family on the beach, except for one little girl.Through all of this, Hamas and the Palestinian government did not respond in kind.
Two weeks ago, the response by Hamas was to attack a forward Israeli military position that was involved in the shelling of Gaza. Two Israeli soldiers were killed and a third was taken as a prisoner of war.Using the release of this prisoner of war as a pretext, Israel, with the full backing and complicity of the U.S. and the E.U., launched a massive military campaign against the inhabitants of Gaza with daily kidnappings and killings of Palestinians in the West Bank as well. The whole civil society and infrastructure were targeted: roads, bridges, electrical generation and transmission, water distribution and pumping stations, sewage systems, homes were shelled and destroyed, agricultural land was bulldozed and crops destroyed and all along an air-tight blockade against the entry of people, fuel, food and medicine was maintained.
Where is the public opinion in Europe and the U.S.? Where are all those voices who told the Palestinians to not jeopardize the sympathy for them in the West? Where is that sympathy? Over the past two weeks over 70 Palestinians were killed and hundreds wounded and a large percentage of these are civilians. Israel says that this genocidal campaign will continue for months! The whole world is watching as if this is happening on another planet or during an earlier century.
The Palestinians have remained restrained through all of this horror. However, as the pressure and frustrations build up and as the Palestinians see their women and children killed and wounded, it is only a matter of time before someone decides to resort to suicide bombing inside Israel. Who will have the moral authority at that time to tell the Palestinians that this is wrong? Certainly not the U.S. nor the E.U. nor their servile Arab regimes. The Palestinians having experienced the double standards of the world, yet again, are beginning not to care about what the world thinks. Do you blame them?