Palestinian Suffering Boils Down to Travel Restrictions

Category: Middle East, World Affairs Topics: Conflicts And War, Occupation Views: 5282

A Palestinian woman passes goods through a gap in a concrete barrier separating the Arab inhabited suburbs of east Jerusalem from the West Bank.

I strongly resent those who speak of peace in the Middle East by urging Palestinians to end terrorism and call on Israel to "ease travel restrictions".

Even Terje Roed-Larsen, the senior United Nations envoy to the region often falls into this trap.

Following a suicide bombing in northern Israel, where four Israelis were reportedly killed, Roed-Larsen described suicide bombings, as "senseless acts that are unjustified on any moral or political grounds".

Sure, no one expected the UN Special Coordinator to distance himself from the line of thinking that sees such acts as if they were born in a vacuum, without any relations whatsoever to the desperate, often bloody reality under which Palestinians are forced to live. But why shouldn't we expect Roed-Larsen, or any other, to speak out with the same clarity against the state-sponsored Israeli terrorism?

Once finished outlining his position on the deadly bombings in Israel, Roed-Larsen, 'turned the heat' on Israel, but just a little. He said that Israeli roadblocks and checkpoints were "the single largest impediment to the Palestinian economy."

To those who most often receive only half of the news from the Middle East, Israel's checkpoints must make good sense. What else can the violated state of Israel do in the face of these heinous crimes but to restrict the movement of Palestinians with the hope that such limitations on travel reduce the frequency of the bombers' penetration of the hapless Jewish state? 

Since the beginning of May, 2003 until the bombing in northern Israel on May 19, 47 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli army, that's over 10 times the number of Israeli victims in the Palestinian suicide bombing. Few of those Palestinians killed, as we were informed, attacked Israeli army or civilian targets, including my former neighbor in the Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza, Mahmoud Annani. He was killed on May 08.

I hold no expectations on "experts" or "officials" to examine the enduring years suffered by Mahmoud, to study the reasons that led a promising young man to detonate himself, wounding four Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip, while he was just stepping into manhood at the age of 21. But it pained me to see that those who felt no hesitation in condemning Mahmoud's "senseless", "heinous" and "abhorrent" crime, kept mute while scores of Palestinians were killed, including 8 children, in the first two weeks of May alone.

Kofi Annan, the UN's chief, is a prime example of how officials around the world labor to undermine Palestinian suffering while emphasizing that of Israelis. The three months of March, April and May 2003 witnessed a killing extravaganza by the Israeli army, mostly focused in the Gaza Strip. March 07, was a day in which eight Palestinians, including a one year old baby-girl (Hanan al-Assar) were killed in Nuseirat refugee camp; March 31, four Palestinians were killed in the village of Beit Hanoun village; April 03, four Palestinians were killed in Rafah; April 08, seven Palestinians were killed in Gaza; April 09, five Palestinians were killed in the refugee camp of Jabalia; Apri1 19, three Palestinians were killed in Rafah; May 1, 13 Palestinians killed in a crowded neighborhood in Gaza City; May 14, three Palestinians killed in the Nuseirat refugee camp; May 15, five Palestinians killed in Gaza ..

During the period, extending from the beginning of March to May 19, 196 Palestinians were killed in the occupied territories, the great majority were civilians.

The pathetic reaction around the world to the killing of Palestinians shows how human life is measured in terms of politics, not by numbers or by the basic principal of the sanctity of human life. 

But while many understand the scheme of the mainstream media, which is either ignoring Palestinian losses or packaging the news so carefully, to absolve Israel from any liability, a greater number fail to see where someone like Kofi Annan fits in to all of this.

Annan, whose credibility has dwindled to unprecedented levels, following the botched Jenin war crimes investigation and the Iraq war, utters hardly anything when Palestinians are killed. Cornered by the embarrassingly high number of casualties in the recent Gaza carnage, he expressed "deep concern" for the Middle East's violence, and simply urged both sides to adhere to the Road Map as a way out. His words were generic and his blame included both sides. However, his touching sermons following the killing of Israelis, even illegal Jewish settlers, who are armed to the teeth, are often the bolded headlines of the United Nations news service.

But the most troubling of it all, is the method that these supposedly even-handed politicians chose to call on both sides to adhere to peace: Palestinians must end their terror campaign and Israelis must ease travel restrictions. So this is what the Middle East's conflict boils down to: the removal of a few checkpoints?

I beg to differ. Israel is killing Palestinians, young and old on a daily basis; Israeli bulldozers have destroyed thousands of homes; the Israel army has been deliberately targeting mosques, churches, schools and civilian facilities, including the United Nations' own food warehouses; thousands of Palestinian prisoners are rotting in Israeli jails with no courts, trials or due process; the policy of assassination is a routine Israeli army procedure, sanctioned by the High Court, the same High Court that allows for the torture of Palestinian prisoners; Palestinian land is being confiscated, villages swallowed up by the Israeli apartheid wall and thousands of Palestinians have lost their only source of income; thousands of Palestinians have been displaced and a whole generation of Palestinian children suffer from malnutrition and lack any sense of hope for a better future.  

I am not calling on officials to reiterate the above oracle every time they wish to renew their call for peace, but I find it insulting to strongly condemn suicide bombings, while responding to state-sponsored Israeli terrorism by calling on Israel "show restraint" and "ease travel restrictions".

Checkpoints are indeed provoking and frustrating, but Mahmoud Annani of my refugee camp didn't choose to blow himself up near an Israeli military base in Gaza because he couldn't stand the long wait in a taxicab near an Israeli army checkpoint. It's unfair to watch Mahmoud being condemned, while the four wounded Israeli soldiers who pushed him to such a fate, receive medals of honor and loving wishes of a speedy recovery.

Many problems are indeed plaguing the Middle East, but lack of conscience is undoubtedly the worst.

Baroud is the editor-in-chief of, and the editor of the book entitled "Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion", which can be purchased via

  Category: Middle East, World Affairs
  Topics: Conflicts And War, Occupation
Views: 5282

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Older Comments:
The only long-term solution to the suffering of the Palestinians is for those who understand the issue to organize politically in the U.S. Only when (generally speaking) Muslims and Arab-Americans are a viable political force to be reckoned with in the American electorate, will we be able to negate the tremendous power of the Zionist and pro-Israel lobby. That lobby is the basic force supporting Israeli intransigence, arrogance and genocide in Palestine/Israel and MUST BE STOPPED before any meaningful change in Palestinian suffering can occur.
I would also like to add that this fundamental change may take years. Perhaps the best source for this change will be demographic, i.e. a higher birthrate among Arab-Americans. Until this occurs, I am very pessimistic and fear for the survival of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Territories.

Is there anything like the Palestinians? If yes, let's them act like a man would. Stop the Hamas and other such assassins. Follow the Road Map, get a state, a government, a political system. And then, fight Israel, if you still feel like.

I really liked it. because its the reality that we are talking about which our news media seem to hide this from people

Although I believe in patience as a virtue which only few possess, I feel deep sorrow and pray to Almighty for peace and prosperity for the patient Palestinians who have endured the double standards and hypocrisy of western nations when it comes to having a compassionate heart to their suffering.
Tyrant and injustice may very well have its hold on innocent suffering, but a day will come when the prayer from a mother's heart who lost her 1 yr old baby will surely be answered and the in-humane and barbaric creatures will be destroyed.

Assalaamu Alaykum,
I just find it ironic that the Jews, who suffered so much at the hands of the Nazis, have the guts to say "never again" when they themselves are repeating the same attrocities and using the same methosd in dealing with Palestinians. They said it would never happen again--back them in Germany they were called Nazis, now in "Isreal" they are called Zionist. Both had the same goals to "clean" the land of the undesireables.

I can feel the plight of the suffering palestinians. What they are going through right now is even worse than apartheid and is truely a blessing in disguise. Shame on all those Arab countries who instead of helping, feeling and sharing the burden of the palestinians, became the puppet of the united states and also indirectly the puppets of israel. God has given and provided the Arab countries with a beautiful history, a beautiful country, an endless supply of resources like oil, wealth and power and yet they seem to be thinking that they're nobody to stand up against the aggressors. MOst importantly, god has given us the beauty of brains, natural intelligence not only to the muslims but also everybody in this world. Use it and be in control of it, don't allow anybody tell you what to think. The plight and the sufferings of the palestinians is also the plight of the muslims and also to the human race. The Israelites are hitlers, so instead of wiping out the jews, they r trying to get rid of islam. This is the time for us muslims to stand up for our faith and struggle together.

It is ironic, that, while children in USA and around the world, who are abused and molested are treated as patients of psychological and physical abuse; adults committing crimes of rape and incest are empathized on the bases of childhood abuse; the children of Palestine (young suicide bombers) are treated as criminals with all disregard of their mental state. The politicians seem incapable of aknowledging the abuse of war that a Palestinian child faces everyday. There is no worse dementation of an innocent mind than to see parents, siblings, friends, and relatives, brutalized, ashamed and killed infront of them every day. Indeed it is a time of test from Allah for the Muslims of Palestine, and I pray, Inshaallah, Allah shall be merciful if we all stay steadfast on siraat-e-mustaqeem. Amen.

To Akbar Khan and anyone else who may have misunderstood my comments about this article. Abu Mazen is one of the "reasonable people" I referred to, who we need to help bring about peace. I have Palestinian friends here in the US who still have family in Ramallah, and they tell me more about what is really going on there then I can get in the news. I would never describe anyone who kills himself in an effort to help his fellow man, a "crazed fundamentalist", but I do not agree that this is right. Every human life is valued, in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. The horrific treatment and slaughter of the Palestinians is shameful, and must be stopped. Targeting innocent Israelis must also be stopped. Who is stopping this you ask, that is a good question. What can I do about it, other than speaking out whenever I can, writing protests to my politicians and sending in editorials, is also a good question. I would honestly welcome any suggestions. I am sorry if I offended you or anyone else with what I wrote. I found Islamicity while I was searching for a good translation of the Quran, which I am now studying. All the great Prophets of the Bible and Quran, have told us how we are to treat our fellow man; too bad most of the politicians seem to have forgotten.

I used to think that the issues in Palestine were too complicated to figure out that it was all politics so I would not understand it. Now though I can see what is happening more clearly (Alhumdulillah)! I was always hidden from truth whether because no discussions about politics or religion over dinner or because the media lies so much (that is there job isn't it?). But truth is hard to ignore and hard to cover up after a while , the more they talk about palestine the more people will realize what is happening Insh'Allah.

in my opinion, as i come from palestine (beerNibala) in exact, i have seen my grandfather die in my eyes because of the jewish army killings. i am very dissapointed in what is happening now in the middle east, and if i had the powers to do somthing about it i would.... but the only person on this earth who does is ahlla (god). oh and before i go ... i dont think you can answer this question... but if PRESIDENT BUSH SAYS THAT HE WONT KILL INNOCENT PEOPLE ...THEN WHY ON EARTH IS HE DOING IT?????


I agree with this article 100%. Thank god someone has touched on the source of the problem. I hate the fact that only the palestinians are singled out to look like terrorists, and the Israeli's go around unchecked. Bias news reporting and having people who hate each other to the extreme as national leaders, (Sharon vs. Arafat)doesnt help bring an end to this problem either. I think that if Israel is regarded as a democratic state by the rest of the world, it should actually FOLLOW DEMOCRATIC IDEAS.

Palestinians have left Islam in great deal since Israeli occupation. They should stay firm on Sunnah and Quran 'in their daily life'. I know lot of people from Palestine who don't pray and don't fast and so forth. ALLAH will test u in ur easy life and in ur hardships, so we should stay firm on Islam and never give up. Mohammad Salaho Alihe Wasallam sai whosoever abondons sunnah, there wl be great coruption on eath, Turkey and Arabs, and so many other places. Sunnah is the key noways for Muslims in respect to statements such as 'we should also do other stuff' ALLAh doesn't care if we do other stuff as whatever we gota do, practice sunnah and ask ALLAh for fogiveness who is still giving us chance to rise up. But all Muslims should always pray for Jihads in Chechnya and Kashmir Bosnia etc too we need Sunnah in our lives, instead of whining and talking trash about the west or jews for corrupting us. ALLAH says I won't cange ur situations unless u change whatis within urselves, and we don't hav sunnah anywhere, people give definiions of 'don't have to, not important' to Sunnah when they should read Quan where ALLAh sauys again and again that all have to practice sunnah in daily basis...
Althought I still suport suicide bombing, because we have to do all we have, to drivethe hypocrites out of Holy Land. but Sunnah and having firm Faith in ALLAH is the key 100% sure about that!

I hear what your saying and i feel your pain. I wonder what makes others feel they can live side by side with their neighbours and exercise injustice. It seems that if people don't learn from history, it surely repeats it self. It hasn't been a century yet since some European countries colonized and dehuminized most part of the world. And now it seems the same is being repeated by Israel. Despite the fact that they too faced this treatment. What makes one state think they can live in peace and harmony while not allowing the same to thy neighbour sounds rediculous to me. May be a simple thing that the state of israel can learn is that "if you practice injustice you will never live comfortably let alone in peace". So wake up and smell the coffe!

Do not worry Palestine, thousands times military might Israeli will not change Alloh will to help you from those oppressions. Be patient. Just remember Alloh has promised in 94:5-6, with every difficulty there is relief.
Brave men and women will not surrender under the pressure of those military and political criminal power. If no weapon, use you body to defend. Insya Alloh, Alloh will reward you for fighting against those kaafirun. You go to Jannah and they go to Hell fire, forever.
Though I am far from you, but my heart is with you Palistine and I am always praying for you. Amiin.

Palestinians were making peace, even to the extent where they put peace on hold within their own ranks, by branching from Arafat's command, ever heard of Mahmoud Abbas? Have you been keeping up with world events or are you personally justifying why you say "suicide bombings" are such a senseless act? Ariel Sharon is allowed to supply the IDF with the most sophisticated weaponry in the world to go into Palestinian villages and shoot children? If you are going to go on the record and say NO to "suicide killings", then why don't YOU act and do something about stopping the theocratical ways being implemented by the Likud party, in their calculated eradication of Palestinians?

Who gave you the authority to label every single human sacrifice into one big lump group of crazed, Islamic fundamentalist, calling them "suicide bombers"? Do you know the circumstances that lead up to every single individual person who did what you dubb a "suicide bombing?" What is the identification of the suicide bombers, how come we never know their names!? some are staged. WOW something to think about for you.

Why is medical aid and general humanitarian aid denied by Israel on numerous occasions from entering into Palestinian controlled areas? Let's call this "starving people to death," or how about "bleeding people to death because you do not have proper medical care," and let's not forget how Palestinians are "tortured to death", or on the brink of death by Israeli's in their jails. WHO IS STOPPING ALL THIS MR. MEBROCKY!! I have no alternative opinion, this is the reality. I am working in the field, I do not need to go around bragging about it just so I can prove to people like yourself that I am doing so. I know for myself what is in my heart, don't judge the intentions of others. If you cannot be partial and fair, myself or someone else will remind you by including the numerous more atrocities committed by Israel Gov. on Palestinians.

Suicide bombing is a senseless and pointless act, and has accomplished nothing for the Palestinians. In fact it gives Sharon a way to "justify" chasing terrorists and slaughtering innocents. Send Arafat and Sharon on a very long vacation and get reasonable people who know that the only way to peace is to stop killing each other. The Palestinians have suffered far too long under repressive Israeli rule, and far too many innocent Israelis have died. The world is a dangerous place, just look at the tragedy in Algeria. All living things are at risk of dying from any number of nature's tragedies, it is only human beings that go out of their way to kill each other. This article offers nothing in the way of a solution, only the usual "my killing is more justified than your killing - oh poor me", PLEASE, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!