people dead so far, mostly teenagers, children - over
50 more wounded, some horrifically. A crowded public
bus carrying schoolchildren, with their schoolbags
left behind to identify them.
Sabag was driving in front of the commuter bus at
the time of the blast, the latest in a series of
suicide bombings in a 20-month-old Palestinian uprising
against Israeli occupation. He rushed to help pull
out the dead and wounded.
"Bodies were piled up near the door of the
bus," he said. "I took off the bodies
of two girls and a man. There was one girl I cannot
forget. She had a long braid down her back and she
lay on her stomach."
The bus driver sat dead in his seat, his hands still
on the steering wheel. Blood dripped down the steps
of the rear door. (Michele Gershberg, Reuters)
Israeli reaction is predictable enough: more incursions
into Palestinian areas, more state brutality, more
dead Palestinians. Many people hold the state to a
higher responsibility, put the onus of standards of
behaviour onto the state rather than those struggling
against the state, and in doing so explain suicide
bombings away. But what is guiding the strategy of
suicide bombings? What on Earth is the gain from this
heard the explanation that suicide bombings demonstrate
the weaknesses in Israeli security, that no matter
how many rings of steel are thrown down, no matter
how many curfews, clampdowns, checkpoints, raids and
arrests, the Israeli state is still vulnerable. There
is a logic to that thinking, if one excludes the aftermath
of the bombings themselves. Surely there must be a
way other than blowing up children, teenagers, workers,
women, civilians to breach Israeli security.
exactly do suicide bombings help the Palestinian people?
They only bring more of the wrath of the Israelis
down upon their heads - again, children, working people,
poor people, women, civilians. It creates the desperation
that leads to more young people wanting to kill themselves
in a futile attempt to end the misery they and their
people endure. And it continues, and continues and
is it those who are deciding this strategy want?
talks were held between some of the players in the
Irish peace process with those in the Middle East,
about using what is happening here as a model for
a solution to the conflict.
most important lesson - especially from the Republican
perspective - was likely not even touched upon. The
lesson learned that those who are driven - through
oppression, through despair, poverty, misery - to
fight for their people need not be told they have
limited options in how to do so. They do not have
to kill for their people to gain their freedom. They
do not have to kill themselves. Isnt that what
we have learned here? That all these lost lives need
not have been lost had the political path been taken
from the start? That young volunteers did not have
to choose between jail and death; other options were
and now are available.
we have learned from the Irish peace process is that
leaders lead for all sorts of reasons - not always
in the best interests of those they are leading. Suicide
bombs are not going to move the Israelis. They will
continue to destroy the lives of everyone, Israeli
and Palestinian alike. And for what? 30 years on,
will it all have been worth it?
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