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Why does the world believe that killing Palestinians is necessary for Israel’s security?

April 11, 2022 at 11:10 am

Palestinians attend funeral ceremony of Palestinian Ahmed Nasser Al-Saidi, who was killed in Israeli forces’ raid, at Jenin Refugee Camp in Jenin, West Bank on 9 April 2022. [Issam Rimawi – Anadolu Agency]

In order to achieve its security objectives, Israel has decided that it has to kill more Palestinians. Israeli officials call these killings “pre-emptive strikes” to prevent “terrorism”.

Following Israel’s killing of three Palestinian men in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin on 2 April, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called for Israeli “civilians” with licensed firearms to be able to carry them in public. Most Israeli civilian adults are, of course, trained during compulsory military service to use such weapons. According to the Israeli occupation authorities, the three Palestinians were “terrorists” who were “on their way to carry out a terror attack.”

The killings came two days after three more Palestinians were shot and killed in the same occupied Palestinian city; one of them was a child. They were also killed, said the occupation authorities, to “deter” Palestinian “terrorists” who were “planning to carry out attacks against Israel.”

Killing Palestinians under the pretext of fighting terror has never been condemned by any world leaders or international organisations. This is despite the fact that human rights groups, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Israel’s own B’Tselem, have investigated such incidents and found that on numerous occasions the Israeli occupation security forces carried out extrajudicial killings of Palestinians.

Moreover, such killings have been normalised by the international community, which has accepted the Israeli myth that Palestinians are “terrorists” and their legitimate resistance to the military occupation of their land is reason enough for them to be killed by Israel with no due legal process. Such world leaders go so far as to support the occupation state in its “war on [Palestinian] terror”.

Palestine: Our confrontation of the occupation will not end until we obtain our rights

The Israeli narrative is also accepted, generally without question, by the Western media, which is far from objective in its coverage. For example, the New York Times referred to the three Palestinians killed on 2 April as “militants”, the same terminology used by the Israeli army. It also mentioned unfounded details in the first paragraph of its report, conveying the impression that the murdered Palestinians were in fact “terrorists” killed during Israel’s “war on terror”.

The BBC followed the same editorial line, highlighting the Israeli claims. Both the New York Times and the BBC referred to an Islamic Jihad statement, which identified the victims as members of the movement, and thus hinted strongly that they were “terrorists”.

Apparently random killings of Palestinians after any attack against Israelis always justify provocative comments from Israeli officials. The targets, they say, were under surveillance. This was the model on 2 April — see this report in the Times of Israel, for example — and is nothing new. It has happened before.

“Israel is facing a wave of murderous Arab terrorism,” claimed Bennett following the death of a number of Israelis in Tel Aviv. “The security forces are at work. We will fight terrorism with persistence, diligence and an iron fist.” Only when it is “Arab” terrorism; “Jewish” terrorism by illegal settlers is overlooked.

A Palestinian’s membership of a political faction or its armed wing is not proof that he is a “terrorist”. The right to resist military occupation is enshrined in international law; Israel’s brutal occupation is no exception. “Terrorism” is a convenient slur used by Israel to garner international sympathy and support, and justify its state violence and, yes, terrorism against Palestinian civilians. Meanwhile, Israelis are free to join extreme far-right parties and organisations and commit appalling crimes against Palestinians, and are praised by the likes of Bennet and his government, as well as its allies in the West, for doing so.


Relatives mourn during the funeral of Ghada Sabatin, 47, who died from her wounds after being shot by Israeli soldiers, in Husan village west of Bethlehem city in the occupied West Bank, on April 10, 2022 [Wisam Hashlamoun/Anadolu Agency]

Relatives mourn during the funeral of Ghada Sabatin, 47, who died from her wounds after being shot by Israeli soldiers, in Husan village west of Bethlehem city in the occupied West Bank, on April 10, 2022 [Wisam Hashlamoun/Anadolu Agency]

Israel has form when it comes to planting “evidence” that the victims of its shoot-to-kill policy were intending to attack Israelis. So when Israeli soldiers — the judges, jury and executioners — claim that the victims had a military-grade weapon in their car, I am sceptical. And where is that car? The Israeli army has hidden it in order to undermine any possible investigation that might prove that the official narrative is a pack of lies.

Israeli settlers — each and every one of whom lives on illegal settlements which are classed as war crimes — are armed to the teeth and carry their weapons openly, defended by the Israeli security forces. And they use their weapons to attack, wound and kill Palestinians. Members of the Palestinian security forces also have military-grade weapons, and have been trained to use them by Israel’s main ally, the US. Why do the Israelis turn a blind eye when they fire thousands of bullets in the air at weddings, funerals and pro-Palestinian Authority and Fatah marches? Those bullets have to fall to ground somewhere and are a clear threat to life and limb. Why is this not “terrorism”? The PA’s security collaboration with Israel makes it exempt from Israeli retribution, until the day that it outlives its use to the occupation. That day will come, sooner or later.

After another Israel raid in Jenin on 8 April, the same Israeli “terrorist” narrative was pushed through the compliant media. Bennet described the killing as “a successful pre-emptive strike. We grant full freedom of action to the IDF [Israel Defence Forces], the Shin Bet [internal security agency] and all security forces in order to eradicate terrorism. There are and will be no restrictions in this war.”

According to Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz, the occupation army that he once commanded will work to foil “terrorist attacks” and increase its operations. Following the killing of three more Israelis in Tel Aviv, the army detained around 200 Palestinians. “If necessary,” said Gantz, “we will arrest thousands… Security comes first.”

READ: Will the battles between Israel and human rights groups end?

Palestinian security means nothing, of course. The PA security services are in place to protect Israel, not Palestinians. Its officers are nowhere to be seen when the IDF, Israeli police and settlers are on the rampage. The safety and security of Israelis gets priority over everything else; the occupiers are prioritised over their victims, the Palestinians living under an oppressive occupation regime.

When can we expect Foreign Minister Yair Lapid to warn that Israel’s security forces will “act forcefully against any attempted attack” on Palestinians by Israeli citizens? We should not hold our breath. The apartheid state of Israel does not believe in racial equality.

If we accept, as the international community does, that the Palestinians killed in Jenin were terrorists, who determined that they were, and that they should be killed? Why did the Israeli occupation army prevent paramedics from helping them so that they could at least have the opportunity of treatment and a fair trial? Those soldiers let them bleed to death.

This is a common modus operandi of Israeli “security” forces: they shoot first and shoot to kill, even when their victims are clearly not posing a threat to anyone. Two Palestinian women were killed on 10 April in the occupied West Bank. One of the dead women, Ghada Sbeetan, was 47 years old, partially-sighted and clearly unarmed. Why did Israeli soldiers decide that she deserved to die, shoot her and leave her to bleed to death?

Despite the damning evidence of Israel being an out-of-control rogue state, its “security” and “self-defence” narrative is taken at face value by the West, which pours arms and money into the occupation state while cutting humanitarian aid to the Palestinians. Resistance is a legitimate right. That’s a fact. How much longer do we have to accept the West accepting Israeli claims about Palestinian “terrorism” and the killing of Palestinian civilians purely to appease the Israeli electorate, which is increasingly extreme right wing in its politics? That’s a perfectly reasonable question; unfortunately, it is unlikely to get a reasonable, and legitimate, answer.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.