Is Israel A Terrorist State?
by heathlander, Wed Aug 02, 2006 at 05:04:06 PM EDT
[Cross-posted at The Heathlander]
Israel's war on Lebanon has seen hundreds of civilians die, billions of dollars worth of damage to infrastructure and repeated violations of international law.But is the Israeli assault on Lebanon an act of state terrorism?
In November 2004, a UN Panel defined as terrorism any act "intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants with the purpose of intimidating a population or compelling a government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing any act."
The US definition can be found in the Federal Criminal Code:
"..activities that involve violent... <or life-threatening acts>... that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State and... appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and ...<if domestic>...(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States...<if international>...(C) occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States...".
For the Department of Defence, terrorism is the "calculated use of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or intimidate governments or societies in pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological."
Lastly, for the British Terrorism Act 2000, terrorism is any act of violence "(a) designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public or a section of the public, AND (b) be done for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause".
(all definitions found at Answers.com)
They're all pretty similar, really. Essentially, terrorism is an act of violence against civilians or civilian property designed to create fear in the population in order to advance political, religious or ideological goals.
That is a good definition of terrorism. It's not scientific, but that would be impossible. According to that definition, al-Qaeda is a terrorist organisation and its attacks on the World Trade Centre on 9/11 were acts of terrorism. Why? Because they targeted civilians and civilian property with the aim of creating fear in the American population.
Of course, if the term is to have any meaning at all, it must be applied universally. That means we cannot just apply it to groups of Islamic fundamentalists that we don't like - we must also apply it to our allies, our friends, ourselves.
Israel constantly brands Hamas and Hizbullah "terrorist" organisations. This branding is correct: both Hamas and Hizbullah carry out attacks on civilians with the intention of furthering their own political causes.
The next question, inevitably, is: "Is Israel a terrorist state?". Bearing in mind the previous definitions, that question shouldn't be difficult to answer. We could go back years and years, but let's try and keep it recent, restricting ourselves to the current crisis.
Has Israel commited terrorism in Gaza and Lebanon since June 25th?
Well, the absolutely unavoidable answer is "yes". Let's just take a few examples. On June 28th, seven sonic booms from Israeli jets shattered the Gaza air, starting from 2:30 am. Apart from constituting a war crime under the Geneva Conventions, this was an act of terrorism. Sonic booms serve no purpose other than to intimidate and frighten and so by using them over a refugee camp in Gaza, Israel was deliberately inflicting terror on the civilian population.
Let's take another completely uncontroversial example: the Israeli bombings of six transformers at the power plant in Gaza. That power plant provided electricity to over 40% of Gaza - around 850,000 people. They relied on that electricity for power, for hospitals, for the sewage system and for drinking water. The plant was unquestionably a civilian target, and hitting it just before the hot summer was criminal. The bombings were a deliberate attempt to cause suffering for the Palestinian population - they served no other purpose. The Israeli government obviously hoped that by putting pressure on the population, they would turn them against Hamas. They have been trying that strategy ever since Hamas were elected into power last year, and of course it has failed miserably. The point here is that the bombing of the power station was an attack on the civilian population for the furtherance of Israeli political goals regarding Hamas. As such, it was undeniably an act of terrorism.
Or let's take, again, the most uncontroversial example in Southern Lebanon: the ethnic cleansing south of the River Latani. Israel has told the entire population of Southern Lebanon to, effectively, leave or die. As a result, over 800,000 Lebanese have become refugees, homeless in their own country. That's almost 25% of the population. Obviously, this is intentional civilian suffering on a massive scale. Israel can't use the excuse that it's in self-defence, because Israel has been refusing a ceasefire for weeks. Instead, they are fighting for, and so ordering mass evacuation for, a favourable political settlement. Blackmail is one word for it, terrorism is another.
So there we have three completely uncontroversial examples of Israeli state terror. The logical follow-on from that is that Olmert, Halutz, Peretz and all the other members of the Israeli government responsible for planning and authorising these acts are terrorists, no different from Hassan Nasrallah and Osama Bin Laden.
On Monday, President Bush linked Israel's assault on Lebanon to the `war on terror':
"The current crisis is part of a larger struggle between the forces of freedom and the forces of terror in the Middle East," Mr. Bush said in a speech at the Coast Guard command center in Miami."
Perhaps someone should inform him that if combating terrorism is his goal, he's fighting on the wrong side.