Targeting civilians has no justification

Targeting civilians has no justification

By Bill Fletcher, Jr.


The news concerning the murder of five Israeli Jews in a synagogue sent shockwaves across all media.  Alleged claims of support for these murders from some Palestinians cannot be countenanced under any conditions.


Yet what is particularly striking in most coverage of these murders is how little mention is made of the murders of Palestinian citizens that have been carried out by the Israeli authorities and by the Israeli settlers.  The outrage at the inexcusable murders in the synagogue have in no way been matched by anything close to such outpouring of emotion when it comes to the deaths of so many Palestinians.  The horrific Israeli war against Gaza and the calculated use of weaponry to punish the entire Palestinian population was treated with some level of satisfaction, not only by the Israeli authorities but by many in the political class here in the USA.  This has been a reality despite the indisputable fact that this was not simply collateral damage in an otherwise sound military operation, but rather a form of collective retribution against the Palestinian people.


The murder of the 5 Israeli Jews does not come as a surprise, though with every such tragedy one is awakened from a sense of stability.  These murders are more than anything else representative of the dead-end that has become the so-called peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians.  There is a feeling of absolute powerlessness on the part of the Palestinians as they watch more and more of their land seized, their people jailed, and little outrage on the part of the so-called advanced and civilized world.


I fear that the situation will worsen and, as it does, the Israeli authorities will point their fingers at these individual murderous acts and use them to further displace and suppress the Palestinians.  The Israeli authorities, in their hubris, are leaving no way out for the Palestinians; that is, no way for them to achieve a just and peaceful recognition of their basic right to self-determination and other human rights.  Instead the Israeli authorities are cornering the Palestinians, backing them against a wall, just daring them to do something which they—the Israeli authorities—can then use to justify another military retaliation.


Under no conditions are the attacks on civilians justified.  There are no caveats.  There are no explanations.  There are no games, whereby one side pretends that civilians were never the targets.  Targeting civilians obscures the objectives of a struggle and turns any battle away from right and wrong and, instead, towards vendettas and senseless blood-letting.


Yet history does demonstrate one undeniable fact.  As we saw in the case of Native Americans in North America, in the face of overwhelming power that was determined to remove them from their land—if not from the planet—they were prepared to take any step that they believed might, for even a brief moment, stop the onslaught of the invaders.


There are no two equally sized, resourced or supported antagonists in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.  The Israelis hold most, if not all of the ‘cards.’  Given that reality, the tragedy of the murders in the synagogue will, more than likely, be repeated until and unless the fundamental source of the violence—the Israeli occupation and denial of internationally recognized human rights—is addressed by the international community.

2 thoughts on “Targeting civilians has no justification

  1. While no killing of civilians is justified, the double standard practiced by the US media and the State Department begs a larger response.
    Why aren’t these institutions upset by the thousands of civilians killed in the Israeli attacks on Gaza? And, more recently, the synagogue killings were likely provoked by the killing of a Palestinian bus driver by settlers this past week, yet there was no mention of that murder . Clearly, Palestinian deaths don’t count!

    • That was the point of the essay. But the other point is that under NO conditions should one accept the targeted killing of civilians.

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