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Victims of Israel's reign of terror

February 15, 2002 | Page 3

ISRAEL LASHED out again at Palestinians as Socialist Worker went to press. Some 50 Palestinians were injured in a string of Israeli jet strikes during two days that left a security compound in Gaza City belching smoke and flames. In one attack, the rocket strikes were spread out so that firefighters and others rushing to help the injured became the next victims.

The Israeli government claimed the air strikes were retaliation for a rocket attack carried out over the weekend by the militant group Hamas--though Israeli officials also admitted that the rockets landed in an open field and caused no damage.

Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer shrugged off the suggestion that Israel should show more restraint. "Certainly because of the security problem alone, we are obliged to take a series of measures, which are sometimes hurtful to innocent people," he told reporters.

This is the Israeli military's standard defense for the daily terrorism that it unleashes against Palestinians. Take the case of an 11-year-old Palestinian boy who was shot in the head at close range after he threw stones at Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers. The IDF issued the following official explanation: "In the course of disturbances, use was made of means to disperse demonstrations against a youth who was identified as the chief inciter. The soldier who fired acted properly."

In the U.S., the White House has backed this horrific repression to the hilt, leveling its criticisms not at the Israeli government but at Palestinian Authority chief Yasser Arafat.

Yet Israel's icy disregard for human life has begun to strike a nerve even among Israelis. "The IDF has totally shaken off any and all moral responsibility for the killing of…children," wrote Gideon Levy in Israel's Ha'aretz newspaper. "[T]he message that trickles down to every soldier is perfectly clear--killing children does not result in any sort of investigation, so no harm will come to a soldier the next time he shoots a child in the head, whether the child is throwing stones or running for his life."

Noam Kuzal is another Israeli troubled by the IDF's violence. But his view carries a special threat for military officials--because he's an IDF soldier himself.

In October 2000, Kuzal became the first soldier to refuse to serve in the Occupied Territories since the Palestinian uprising--or Intifada--began a month earlier. Since then, more than 400 soldiers have also refused to serve, causing anxiety among military brass.

This first stirring of an Israeli opposition since the new Intifada began shows the growing disgust with the killing spree of a U.S. ally that Washington won't even criticize.

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