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The Qana massacre: others commit crimes, Israel only makes ‘mistakes’

Khalil Marwan

If the Qana massacre of April 18, 1996 was a tragic ‘mistake’, have the Zionists made any effort not to repeat such mistakes? Their three-year record shows that the Zionists have continued to kill innocent civilians. The excuse of a ‘mistake’ is simply parroted to provide some justification for its apologists, especially in the west, to come to Israel’s defence when its record is debated on television or in the press.

Even though the details of what happened in the quiet Lebanese village of Qana on that fateful afternoon are well-known, the salient points merit repetition. Some 1,000 Lebanese civilians - men, women and children, Muslims and Christians - had taken refuge in the UN compound of the Fijian contingent at Qana in the mistaken belief that it would be safe from Israeli attacks. They were wrong. Israeli gunners fired directly into the compound. Their fire was directed by a pilotless plane for 12 minutes to cause the maximum number of casualties.

“Human error,” and a “tragic mistake” was how the ‘dovish’ Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres described the massacre at the time, trying to deflect international criticism. Nobody should question Israel’s purity of intentions. Others perpetrate crimes, Israel only makes ‘mistakes.’ But its list of ‘mistakes’ is endless. On December 22, 1998, Israeli planes fired two air-to-ground missiles at the tent-home of shepherd Mohamed Othman in Janta village, burning to death his wife and six children. They were one-year-old Sobhi, Ali (4), Aida (9), Soad (11), Amin (16) and Amini (17) as well as their 40-year-old mother Nadwa. An Israeli spokesman David Bar-Ilan called it a ‘mistake’ and the western world immediately accepted it. In its eagerness to project how “beleaguered” the Israelis are, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) showed the Hizbullah shelling of Israel instead of the funeral of the seven civilians killed by Israeli missiles. Had seven Israeli soldiers been killed, much less civilians, experience tells us that the CBC, BBC, CNN and all other American channels would have gone into a frenzy of grief at this blatant act of ‘terrorism’.

A grief-stricken US president Bill Clinton would have been on television telling the world that Israel would be fully justified in retaliating for this crime. And his administration would have authorised another billion dollars or more in aid to “our strongest ally” and “partner for peace” in the Middle East. But Israel can kill other people and it is always justified as a ‘mistake.’

When Israeli general Erez Gerstein and three others were killed by a roadside bomb on February 27, western television gave graphic footage of grief-stricken Israeli families mourning beside the graves of the fallen soldiers. As is often the case, a reference to the holocaust is also made to reinforce the myth of Israel as victim.

Israeli officials say Hizbullah has a permanent force of some 600 highly experienced guerrillas, whose skills are improving all the time. Of the 21 Israeli soldiers killed in south Lebanon last year, 16 were killed by roadside bombs. A week before Gerstein’s killing, three Israeli commandos were ambushed and killed. Immediately, the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened to teach the ‘terrorists’ a lesson.

Netanyahu huffed and puffed like the big bad wolf, but in truth, the Israelis are impotent in the face of the Islamic Resistance’s determined operations. In fact, when Israeli troops surrounded the village of Arnoun with tanks and then sealed it off with barbed wire, Lebanese students stormed it a day later and tore it down with their hands. The Zionists did not dare come back. The number of Hizbullah operations has increased sharply over the past three years, rising from 460 in 1996 to 1,200 in 1998. The army, conscious that casualties increase the calls in Israel for a unilateral withdrawal from south Lebanon, has tried to keep deaths and injuries low, with little success. There is another side to the Israeli mentality. When heavily-armed Jews murder Palestinians, zionist officials immediately declare them “insane.” Given the number of Jews who have murdered Palestinians in cold blood, it seems the zionist State has a propensity for producing madmen. Baruch Goldstein slaughtered 48 Palestinians while they were praying in the Ibrahimi Mosque in Al-Khalil on February 25, 1994, in the month of Ramadan. Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin declared Goldstein a ‘madman’. Yet a shrine has been erected at his tomb visited by thousands of Israelis every year. Nobody has gone to demolish his home or disturb the neighbourhood. Goldstein is revered as a ‘prophet.’

Had a Palestinian killed even five Jews in such a manner, it is a safe assumption that he would have been lynched. The Israeli army would then have gone with tanks and artillery to destroy the house where he live as well as a number of nearby houses. This the Israelis have repeatedly done even to Palestinians accused of building structures without a permit from the occupiers!

Take the case of Ami Popper, another ‘madman’ who shot and killed seven Palestinian labourers as they waited at a bus stop in Tel Aviv in April 1990. Popper was initially sentenced to 40 years in jail. Earlier this year, his sentence was reduced to 12 years by the (presumably sane) Israeli president Ezer Weizman. Popper will soon be freed.

Popper was not the only lucky one. A number of other ‘madmen’ have also had their sentences reduced once their cases had dropped out of public attention. These include a settler who lynched an injured Palestinian youth whose hands had been tied up and who was blind-folded after he was arrested in the West Bank.

The very act of hanging a tied, blindfolded and injured man seems somehow symbolic of the larger Israeli presence in Palestine.

Muslimedia: April 16-30, 1999

Article from

Crescent International Vol. 28, No. 4

Dhu al-Hijjah 29, 14191999-04-16

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