Assassinating Peace

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Israels policy of political assassination underwent another dangerous escalation with the shooting to death of Dr Thabet Thabet (49) outside his home in Toulkarm on Sunday, December 31, 2000. Secretary General of Fatah in his district, Dr Thabet was a political leader of credibility and foresight. Among the first to support the peace process launched in Madrid in 1991, Dr Thabet was effective in legitimizing the pursuit of peace among his constituency as well as among the Palestinian public at large. He was also the founder of a Palestinian peace group called The Committee for Dialogue and Coexistence with the Israeli People. Soft-spoken, gentle, humane, and with a total commitment to the cause of his people and to the pursuit of peace, Thabet was the latest victim to be brutally mowed down by the Israeli occupation army and undercover units.

No longer secret, Israels adoption of a lethal and systematic policy of willful murder, more than anything else, has destroyed any credibility or confidence in Israeli intentions and in the peace process as a whole. It has generated a pervasive sense of victimization among the Palestinians and resuscitated Israels history as an outlaw state that systematically resorts to extra judicial killings with impunity. State-sponsored terrorism has become an operative arm of Israeli policy.

According to Gideon Levy (Under sentence of death, Haaretz, Dec 24, 2000), nearly 20 Palestinians have been intentionally killed by Israel during the past month and a half. Such a policy of eliminating Palestinians is not only despicable but is also inflammatory and dangerous both to the peace process and to Israel itself. To sum it up, Israel has again been prowling through [Palestinian] hunting grounds in a way that is pointless and immoral, unwise and illegal. This is how underworld gangs operate, not to mention death squads in the most evil regimes.

In his article on the same subject (The Independent, Dec. 17, 2000), Phil Reeves also raised the issue of Israels policy of assassination from the point of view of international law and human rights. His report includes some descriptions of the manner in which some of the Palestinian victims were mowed down in a hail of bullets or blown up by tank shells. More sinister is the reaction of Israeli politicians (such as that of deputy defense minister Ephraim Sneh who had declared himself happy at the death of a Palestinian activist) or of senior army officers (who describe Israels adoption of a systematic policy of assassinations as being extremely effective. Haaretz, Dec. 21, 2000.

Peace Now (Peace Now on the Thabet Assassination, Jan. 1, 2001) also quotes Baraks reaction to the assassination of Dr. Thabet (as reported by Yediot Aharonot): The IDF has complete freedom of action to act against those that harm us. In response, Peace Now directed the following questions to Barak:

Peace Now (Peace Now on the Thabet Assassination, Jan. 1, 2001) also quotes Baraks reaction to the assassination of Dr. Thabet (as reported by Yediot Aharonot): The IDF has complete freedom of action to act against those that harm us. In response, Peace Now directed the following questions to Barak:

Has Israel officially adopted an assassination policy?

Does the list of targets now include political figures?

Does the Defense Minister think that after the assassination of Thabet, a more moderate leader will replace him?

Even before the creation of the state of Israel, assassination was a constant instrument of the Jewish militias, later to become a policy of the Israeli government and army. From the assassination of Count Bernadotte and the blowing up of the King David Hotel, through the murders of the three Palestinian leaders in Beirut (Kamal Nasser, Kamal Udwan, and Youssef Najjar) by Barak himself and the assassination in Tunis of Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad) and later of Abu Iyad and Hayel Abdel-Hamid, to the assassination of Islamic leaders such as Yahya Ayyash and Fathi Shiqaqi, the latest assassinations come as no surprise to the Palestinian people. What is surprising is the belated questioning of such a policy by the Israeli peace camp. The above examples are but a small sample of a constant and unquestioned aspect of Israeli policy against the Palestinians that betrays a total disregard for human life. The legal, moral, and political ramifications of such systematic violence and violations are horrendous.

Now that Barak has openly espoused his punitive and racist plan of unilateral separation, compounded by a multiple siege of the Palestinian territories and an escalation of military force, he has given orders to the army to expand its operations to include political leaders and PNA members (Haaretz and Maarev, Jan. 3, 2001). Having failed to pound, shell, besiege and starve the Palestinians into submission, Barak still seems to suffer from the misguided notion that more of the same can produce acquiescence. By attempting to destroy Fatah and the PNA, Barak is destroying any chance of peace with the Palestinians. His faulty logic is obvious to anyone who uses his/her head rather than the gun in conflict resolution.

Once Barak finishes off his interlocutors and peace partners, then maybe he can prove the post hoc veracity of his hitherto vacuous claim that there is nobody to talk to on the other side. The physical elimination of the Palestinian field and political leadership will not only ensure the termination of the peace process and any other prospects for peace; it will also send a clear message to the Palestinian people that entertaining any illusions about negotiating with the Israelis is indeed a lethal exerciseas Thabet and many others have demonstrated. If Barak enjoys talking only to himself and to his military and intelligence officers, then he should declare his preference publicly. But to complain about the silence of his victims and to wonder why they fail to engage in his peculiar type of peace negotiations or dialogue is beyond ludicrous. Beating the war drums will not drown out this deafening silence.

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