After Friday’s attack in Tel Aviv which killed 3 and injured 38 Israelis (according to Israeli police), the American media has been quick to repeat the Israeli claim that Palestinians have ‘shattered the truce’ established February 8 when the two sides met in Sharm al-Sheikh, Egypt. But from February 8th until February 25th, when the Tel Aviv attack took place, 8 Palestinian civilians (5 adults and 3 children) have been killed and 36 injured (according to the Red Crescent Medical Society – RCS). Just to point out the obvious, this is higher than the number of Israelis killed on Friday — but where was the media when the Palestinians were killed? Why is it suddenly a ‘shattering of the truce’ when a bomb explodes in Tel Aviv, but the deaths and injuries of these Palestinians don’t count at all in the question of how, and by whom, the truce was really broken?
The daily atrocities against the Palestinian people didn’t cease or desist on February 8th — the very next morning, February 9th, saw a large-scale military invasion of the West Bank city of Nablus. There was no ‘relative calm’ for the people of Rafah refugee camp as they faced the almost daily demolition of homes and the shooting of high-velocity bullets and tank shells at their homes and neighborhoods. The Israeli military constructed additional checkpoints and brought in more troops during the ‘cease-fire’ period, without dismantling any of the over 400 checkpoints already in place. And just try talking about the Israeli ‘cease-fire’ to the family of Hani Khaleel Mohammad, 15, who was shot in the head and killed on February 15th, or that of Sabri Fayez Al-Rajoub, 16, killed while walking to a mosque the day before.
On Friday, the day the bombing took place, Mazin Ahmad Bin Hasan, 16, was killed in Rafah, and two other teens were injured. Also Friday, Kerin Kayemit, the Permanent Israeli Fund, announced that they will be constructing tens of thousands of new homes this year in settlements built on Palestinian land in the West Bank. Maali Adumim settlement east of Jerusalem will erect 21,000 new units, and over 5600 units will be constructed in ten other West Bank settlements, in a plan reportedly approved by Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz. The settlement expansion, as well as the construction of the Israeli annexation wall have continued throughout this supposed ‘cease-fire’, even despite an additional ruling against the wall this week at the International Court of Justice in the Hague. In fact, on February 8th, the day the ‘cease-fire’ was being negotiated in Egypt, the Israeli High Court issued a ruling allowing for the construction of the wall around Ariel settlement, 16 miles into the West Bank.
Nearly all Palestinians agree in the counter-productiveness of suicide bombings, which target mainly civilians, and most Israelis oppose the targeting of civilian populations in the Palestinian occupied territories. Yet the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian land and the sporadic suicide bombings against Israelis both end up killing civilians. Since the beginning of the current open conflict in September 2000, 3,587 Palestinians (RCS figures) and 1,042 Israelis (Israeli military figures) have been killed. It is estimated that 2/3 of the casualties on both sides are civilians.
While the American public, until Friday, has been reading rose-colored headlines about ‘prisoner releases’ (in a month when more Palestinians were arrested than released) and ‘cease fires’ in Israel and Palestine, the Palestinian civilian population was living a very different reality — a reality in which, from February 8th until today, the Israeli army has not for one minute ceased its fire against them.