Wednesday 18 June 2003

Children Of Death

by Uri Avnery

A week after the ship of peace was solemnly launched on its perilous voyage from Aqaba harbor, it was hit by a torpedo. It is not yet clear whether it is wrecked or can continue on its way in spite of the damage.

The story of its voyage so far: An Israeli helicopter gunship tried to kill Abd-al-Aziz al-Rantisi, one of the leaders of the political wing of Hamas. He miraculously survived. Immediately afterwards the gunships killed other Hamas leaders. Clearly, this was the beginning of a campaign to kill the leaders of all the wings of Hamas - military, political, social, educational and religious.

Such a campaign is, of course, the outcome of long preparations, which take weeks and months. It was evidently planned even before the Aqaba summit conference convened, but postponed by Sharon in order to afford President Bush his moments of photographic glory on the shore of the Red Sea . Immediately after the President and his entourage went home, radiant with success, the machinery of death went into action.

In establishing intent, all courts around the world act upon a simple principle: a person who carries out an action with predictable results is held to have intended that result. That is true for this campaign, too.

The killing of the Hamas leaders (together with their wives, children and casual bystanders) is intended to attain the following results: (a) acts of revenge by Hamas, i.e. suicide bombings, (b) the failure of the Palestinian Authorityís efforts to secure the agreement of Hamas to a cease-fire, (c) the destruction of Abu Mazen's political standing right from the start, (d) the demolition of the Road Map, (e) compensation for the settlers after the removal of some sham 'outposts.'

All five objectives have been achieved. Blood and fire cover the country, the media on both sides are busy with funerals and mutual incitement, the efforts to establish a hudnah (truce) have stopped, Sharon called Abu Mazen a chicken without feathers, the Road Map is tottering, Bush has mildly reproached Sharon while directing his wrath at Hamas.

The 'dismantling' of the phony settlement-outposts, a joke to start with, has been stopped. Construction activity in the settlements is in full swing, and so is the building of the ìfenceî that is establishing a new border deep inside the West Bank . (Both Bush and Blair have demanded that it be stopped, a boost to the campaign we started months ago). The closures and blockades have been tightened. The situation in the occupied Palestinian territories is back to what it was before, as if the entire performance in Aqaba had never taken place.

The decision to kill Rantisi was, therefore, a decisive point in the history of Israel . And the first question must be: Who was it that took this decision?

It is easy to say who did not take it.

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