07 January 2009

Why are Palestinians still Refugees?

In yesterday's Wall Street Journal, Natan Sharansky opines in How the UN Perpetuates the 'Refugee Problem' that the Palestinian Authority, and then Fatah and Hamas have actually prevented the Palestinians in Gaza from moving into the settlements from which the Israeli government forcibly evicted its own Israeli citizens as part of a peace process. This is being done because the Palestinian leadership views the suffering of the "refugees" as essential to their broader political struggle to eliminate Israel. He quotes both Palestinian and European diplomats in support of this thesis.

It would be nice to see a map or a satellite mosaic that could confirm or disconfirm whether Palestinians have occupied former Israeli settlements, but best map I could find was in this BBC article. The only conclusion I can draw is that it's been 60 years: its time to build out the camps into cities, with real functioning infrastructure, and stop granting refugee status to their second and third generation inhabitants. They aren't refugees from anywhere anymore. They are living on the land of their birth, and their parents' births. Rather than build up the land and its people, the Palestinian leadership insists on engaging in behavior that repeatedly bankrupts their economy, squandering the foreign aid they receive.

But Sharansky also alleged that the Palestinians engage in the "most shameful military tactic: pimping the suffering of their civilians as a weapon of [propaganda] war." That accusation is easily corroborated. Further in this post, Yaacov Lozowick notes that,

Sometime this afternoon we killed dozens of Palestinian civilians in a school. The Palestinians claim more than 40 dead civilians, the BBC says it was 30. The IDF says mortar shells were fired from within the school, and even names the two Hamas men doing the firing; both were killed and must be counted among the dead. (I continue to be amazed by the level of micro-intelligence the IDF is working with). These dead civilians are added to the many dozens, perhaps even a few hundred who have been killed so far. Which is horrifying, and terrible. I'm a father, my children now all responsible adults, but I can remember fondly when they were younger. I think I can imagine the terror of the Palestinian parents in Gaza, and I can feebly feel the pain of those losing children. So can any Israeli. Contrary to what the Guardianistas tell you, we're human beings, not monsters.

See also this article.

The point I'd like to extract is that two Hamas men were firing mortar rounds at Israeli troops from within the school while it was full of civilians! Don't people normally call off school in a war zone? What on earth were the civilians doing in the school during a shooting conflict? Or, consider the opposite question, if civilians were in the school, why on earth would Hamas gunmen draw fire onto the school by launching mortar rounds from it? Understand that one sets a mortar down on a hastily prepared position and then fires it - shooting a mortar is not an impulsive act, it is done with planning, execution and intention. Only one conclusion is possible - for whatever reason, the Hamas gunmen wanted Palestinian civilians to be killed by Israeli counter-battery fire. There is no way the choice of a school full of civilians as a firing site could have been accidental on their part. [Note added 1/9/08: More corroboration - see this.

And Pope John Paul II called Western secularism a "culture of death." I think that epithet applies much more strongly to what passes for culture in Gaza.

While we're at it, see this little video I found at Perpetua of Carthage.


Shuttermecki said...

Re. whether kids were in school actually studying, or what - per several sources, the building is a UN school, but functioning as a shelter for displaced women/children. UN has been providing shelter coordinates to the Israelis.

Where the dispute seems to be right now is whether or not Hamas has been launching attacks near the schools/shelters. News is beginning to lean more heavily towards "not."



(Jan 6) http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99038800

(Jan 10) http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=81490&sectionid=351020202

Scooper said...

Since Blogger won't let me edit Shuttermecki's comment in order to put in links, here they are"




Definitely alternate points of view.

Scooper said...

Also please note that the .ir in the last link above indicates that the website presstv.ir is hosted in Iran.