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A statement by Palestine Solidarity Committee

The illegal Israeli military occupation and ongoing dispossession of Palestinians are the causes of violence in Israel/Palestine.

Israeli violence 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.

Legitimate armed struggle does not include the deliberate targeting of civilians.

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 civilians.

We 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 rights:

• 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.

The targeting of civilians, both by Israelis and Palestinians, must end.

It 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.