ARE NOT LEGITIMATE TARGETS
A statement by Palestine Solidarity Committee
illegal Israeli military occupation and ongoing dispossession of Palestinians
are the causes of violence in Israel/Palestine.
is employed to maintain the ongoing dispossession and occupation;
Palestinian violence is employed to resist both. Occupation and
dispossession must end before violence can end.
Both the 4th Geneva Convention and the United Nations Charter affirm
the right of occupied people to employ armed struggle against military
targets. Although Palestine Solidarity Committee strongly supports
non-violent resistance as both strategically and morally preferable
in the current struggle for Palestinian rights, we neither condemn
nor deny the right of oppressed people to meet occupying force with
legitimate armed struggle.
armed struggle does not include the deliberate targeting of
The 4th Geneva
Convention does not allow the targeting of civilians under any circumstances,
nor does it allow collective punishment. The targeting of civilians
cannot be justified by labelling them as criminals, hostages or
collateral damage. We reject all these dehumanizing categories.
Neither Palestinian children walking to school nor Israeli children
riding schoolbuses are legitimate targets for resistance, self-defense,
or retaliation. All acts of resistance and defense should abide
by the Geneva Conventions and other international humanitarian laws.
The failure of one conflicting party to respect the laws of war
does not relieve the other of its obligation to abide by those laws.
We oppose the
continual targeting of unarmed Palestinian men, women and children
by the Israeli military and Israeli settlers.
The great majority
of civilian casualties in this conflict have been Palestinian victims
of Israeli military and settler violence. This has been documented
by the Israeli human rights group B’tselem, along with Human Rights
Watch, Amnesty International and other human rights groups. The
continual attacks by Israeli military and Israeli settlers on unarmed
Palestinian civilians are doubly illegal and immoral: both because
the victims are unarmed civilians, and because Israeli violence
maintains an illegal and immoral military occupation.
We call on the Israeli military to stop all targeting of civilians,
all acts of mass arrest and all collective punishment.
We call on all those who condemn Palestinian acts targeting civilians
to condemn also the vastly greater number of Israeli acts targeting
oppose all targeting of Israeli civilians by Palestinians.
[Note: The "suicide"
aspect of suicide bombing is not the issue. We oppose any and all
kinds of bombing which attack civilians instead of military targets.]
A bomb attack in a civilian center creates random and indiscriminate
casualties, thus criminalizing all civilians and constituting collective
punishment. Such an attack has no legitimate part in a struggle
for human and political rights.
To the moral and legal arguments against the targeting of civilians,
we add strategic arguments with regard to the struggle for Palestinian
• If the targeting of civilians is meant to demoralize a people,
it fails. Instead, it unites them, hardens their resolve, and confirms
the worst fears of many.
• The targeting of civilians undermines legitimate resistance by
enabling the occupying power to apply the label “terrorism” falsely
and indiscriminately to all forms of armed struggle.
• The targeting of civilians by Palestinians is used by the Israeli
government to justify further Israeli attacks. In fact, there is
considerable evidence that the current Israeli regime has been actively
timing its assassinations and military attacks to stimulate retaliatory
suicide bombings, which the Israeli government then uses as pretext
to justify continued military occupation and further assaults on
the Palestinian people.
targeting of civilians, both by Israelis and Palestinians, must end.
is unlikely that violence -- both legitimate armed struggle and the
targeting of civilians -- will end as long as the illegal, immoral
and unjust Israeli military occupation continues.