January 19, 2005 - A loud siren sounded in Sderot as the Sabbath came to a close. Ella Abukasis, 17, dove in front of her 9-year-old brother Tamir. A Qassam rocket crashed near them barely 300 feet from their home. Shrapnel from the exploding rocket penetrated Ella's head, wounding her severely. She was taken to a hospital in Beer Sheva, where she was declared clinically brain dead.
The attack was nothing new for the people of Sderot. In Southern Israel, close to the Gaza Strip, Sderot has been the target of 600 rocket attacks over the past four years. A number of these attacks have been lethal.
The following Tuesday hundreds of Sderot residents turned out for a march toward the Palestinian town of Beit Hanun, from which many of the Qassams originated. They did not cross the Gaza border, but ended the march on a hilltop overlooking the town. From there some of the protesters threw a mock Qassam made of cardboard in the town's direction.
The citizens of Israel have responded with remarkable restraint as the Palestinians continue to prosecute their cowardly war.
The demonstrators of Sderot were crying out for justice. Where is the world's response? Why does so much world opinion consider justice due only to the Palestinians? The International Court of Justice has chosen to condemn the Israeli security fence, whose purpose is to save lives - which it has done. The same Court has been silent on Palestinian violence intentionally targeting civilians, the very nature of the Palestinian terror war and the clearest possible violation of international law.
Article 3 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states:
Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.
Ella Abukasis took no active part in the hostilities.
According to some, international law does not apply to the Palestinians because they have no state. This merely justifies judging Israel by a double standard. Israel is condemned for going after the planners and perpetrators of violence, while the Palestinians, presumably because they have no state, are given a free pass to attack anyone they wish.
The Palestinians aspire to a state of their own, and must show they are prepared to live as a responsible member of the world community. Would Israel's critics be happier if, instead of the Israeli Government going after terrorists, renegade bands of Israeli citizens blew up Palestinian homes and buses and fired rockets into Palestinian cities with the express purpose of killing noncombatants?
The fact that this has not happened, especially after so much provocation, tells us something about the difference between the two sides.
Hasson, Nir. "Seventeen-Year-Old Wounded by Qassam Clinically Dead." Haaretz, January 18, 2005.
Krieger, Hilary Leila and Tovah Lazaroff. "Sderot Residents Throw Mock Kassam Rocket into Gaza." Jerusalem Post, January 18, 2005.
Jerusalem Post Staff. "Doctors Lose Battle to Save Sderot Teen." Jerusalem Post, January 18, 2005.
Peace with Realism