By now we have all heard the news of the Palestinian man who strapped explosives to his body and blew himself up at a Pizza restaurant on King George St. in downtown West Jerusalem and, in the process, killed 18 Israelis including at least 2 children, and injured 100 others.
While most of the world will take the time to once again use this incident as an excuse to hurl more abuse on the Palestinian people, we must ask the question of what would drive someone to commit such an act?
An Israeli police sapper searches in the debris of a pizzeria which was the scene of a suicide bomb attack in Jerusalem 09 August 2001. At least eighteen people were killed when a suicide bomb blast ripped through a crowded street of Jerusalem.
In my opinion, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon bears sole responsibility for this incident. The on-going indiscriminate Israeli killing of Palestinian civilians has brought about this reaction from the Palestinian people. It is Sharon's government which has initiated unprecedented state terrorism against the Palestinian people and has imposed a devastating economic and infrastructural siege on the Palestinians, which has brought more than 3 million people to the verge of starvation in the last 10 months. Let's not forget that it was just last week that eight Palestinians were killed in Israel's ongoing assassination campaign, which included two Hamas political leaders, a journalist and two children.
Given this fact, can we realistically expect that a nation of people placed under such conditions would not try to defend itself by whatever means it has at its disposal? What would we do if we lacked the very basic needs necessary for human survival like food, water, shelter and jobs? The answer to this question is that when people confront a threat on the most basic essentials of life, they will defend themselves in order to survive, and they will do so by any means possible.
In the past several months, the Palestinian people have had to endure a string of Israeli attacks and extra judicial executions which have killed over 600 of their people, including children, and has maimed thousands of others. In addition, they have witnessed their homes being demolished, their land being confiscated and their economy left in shambles due to a continual Israeli blockade.
Their very existence hangs in the balance. The Palestinian people have reached the outer limits of their frustration because of Israel's unprecedented brutality against them, which has the full cooperation and financial backing of the most powerful nation on earth--the United States.
Don't expect the Palestinian people, many of whom have had children or relatives killed by Israeli forces, to simply be docile and quietly accept their miserable condition. They will fight back, and they will fight back hard because, as it is right now, they have no other options.
Of course, the Israelis do not see the situation quite the same way. Robert Fisk, commenting on this incident in the UK's Independent writes: "But since Israel does not regard the seizure of Arab land as aggression, since it does not see Jewish settlement building on occupied land against international law as aggression, since it does not believe that the demolition of Palestinian homes or torture in the Russian compound interrogation centre - only a few hundred yards from the scene of yesterday's atrocity - is aggression, it's not difficult to see why many Israelis fail to comprehend what this terrible war is about."
Given this fact, it is expected that the Israelis will continue with its murderous policy against the Palestinian people. But if the Israelis expect to see any peace and calm in the region, it will have no choice but to end its illegal occupation of Palestinian land and respect Palestinian rights.
Several months ago one Palestinian man responded to a question from a reporter about violent Palestinian reactions against the Israeli occupation. He stated that "If a person squeezes a cat, that person will get scratched." The Palestinian people are currently being squeezed into an impossible situation, so don't be surprised when they respond accordingly.
Yahya Abdul Rahman is editor of the Islamic News and Information Network.