Amira Hass: What Cease-Fire?

By Amira Hass

Talking about making and breaking a cease-fire spares the Palestinians from having to admit the failure of their Qassam missile publicity stunts. Proposals to widen the cease-fire to the West Bank sidestep any need for an inter-Palestinian debate on the destructive uselessness of a suicide-based "armed struggle."

"Cease-fire" is yet another hollow term, showing that the Palestinian representatives – elected or not, Hamas or Fatah or Palestine Liberation Organization-Tunis, from Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to the last spokesman of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ "Brigades" – keep falling into the traps set for them by the politics of Israeli occupation.

Talking for and against the cease-fire fits in with the distorted picture of reality that Israel has been constructing since September 2000, of two symmetric, fighting sides – in which the Palestinians are the aggressors and Israel, attacked, defends itself and retaliates.

On the Saturday and Sunday before the Palestinians "broke the cease-fire," Israel Defense Forces soldiers killed nine Palestinians. Among them was a 17-year-old girl, a 15-year-old boy and a policeman who was on the roof of his house and was not involved in any "battle."

At 5 A.M. on April 21, an IDF force attacked Kufer Dan, near Jenin. The force took over a few houses and turned them into shooting posts. Most of the fire was aimed at a certain house in a western neighborhood. Mohamed Abed, 23, was shot and killed on the roof of another house. The soldiers said they had detected an armed man and shot him. Palestinian sources say Abed was unarmed and merely wanted to check what was happening outside.

Between 9 P.M. and 10 P.M. on Saturday, an IDF force attacked the Jenin refugee camp – a routine activity. Military vehicles surrounded the Bargheesh family’s house. One member of the family, who is an Islamic Jihad activist, is wanted by Israel. According to media reports, the IDF said its forces had called on the family to come out of the house and "for un unclear reason the girl remained inside."

This is not true, people in the refugee camp say. The parents and their daughter, Bushra, were all at home when she was shot in the head and killed. Camp residents believe the soldier who shot the schoolgirl dead had fired from a distant shooting post. The wanted brother was not found.

On Sunday at 10 A.M., an IDF force raided the village of Deir Abu Masha’al, north of Ramallah, blocked all the entrances and imposed a curfew. Youngsters, including Khaled Zahran, 15, threw stones at the soldiers. The soldiers fired back. Zahran was wounded in the abdomen and died later.

Five of those killed were Islamic Jihad and Fatah gunmen. They were killed in Jenin and Nablus, in routine raids. Nobody bothers to check any more when exactly these raids took place and whether they were intended to effect an arrest or to carry out a death sentence without trial.

The sixth person killed was a Gaza municipal employee, aged 43, who was in his car in Beit Hanun when it was struck by an Israeli missile on Saturday night. According to Palestinian sources, he was not a "military" activist. Half an hour earlier, another missile missed three Islamic Jihad activists.

But even if none of the nine had been killed, there would have been no cease-fire on Saturday and Sunday, just as there was no cease-fire last week and in the weeks before that. Because the military occupation, even when it does not kill, is Israeli fire, which has not ceased for 40 years – regardless of the Palestinians’ reactions or lack thereof.

Israeli fire includes the Civil Administration’s every refusal of a permit to build a Palestinian house, every person who is denied passage from Gaza to the West Bank, every shekel of tax money that is not transferred to the Palestinians, every roadblock in the West Bank, every dunam of land stolen since June 1967, and every settlement – old or new, big or small, within the Israeli consensus or not. Neither the Qassams nor any negotiations process has managed to stop this Israeli fire.

(Haaretz:, April 25, 2007) 

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