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July 30, 2006
Palestinians: We're Not Hezbollah

The Palestinians in Gaza have begun to resent the linkage made between their conflict and that in Lebanon, the Washington Times reports. In their objections, they point out the key flaw in Hezbollah's claims of self-defense and resistance:

As fighting between Israel and Hezbollah continues to rage in Lebanon and northern Israel, Palestinians find themselves at the margins of a regional conflict that has shifted attention away from their six-year uprising for the first time.

The war between Israel with the radical Shi'ite Hezbollah also has highlighted the Hezbollah-Iran alliance as a major Middle East flash point that has overshadowed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

To the chagrin of many Palestinians, a resolution to the Gaza clashes often is linked to a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hezbollah.

"The Palestinians have to prove that they are not in the same basket and that they should not be punished for the Lebanese cause," said Omar Shaban, a Gaza-based political analyst.

"We have our own political agenda. We need a political solution. What is going on in Lebanon is different. Hezbollah has no political agenda. Lebanon is not occupied by Israel."

Although the Palestinians use terrorism to gain political advantage over the Isrealis in the same manner as Hezbollah, in the West Bank they still live under occupation and do have the right to resist. That's not true in Gaza, as Israel has withdrawn from that territory, or at least they had until Hamas committed an act of war against them. And it certainly isn't true in Lebanon, where Israel ended its occupation six years ago -- which made their attack an act of war against Israel, a war which Hezbollah had not expected.

The Palestinians have suffered from the lack of global attention. They had counted on world leaders to force Israel into more concessions, including the same kind of prisoner swap that they had extorted from Israel in the past. Instead, Israel has attacked the leaders of the various terrorist groups to drive home the message that everyone suffers when people start wars. The latest attack, this morning, came on the home of a leading member of the Palestinian Resistance Council, one of the groups believed to be responsible for the Gilad Shalit kidnapping. The IDF called the man and told him to get his family out of his house immediately -- and then leveled the three-story house with a 500-pound bomb shortly after they evacuated.

Israel sent a message: We know who you are and where you live, and the next time we won't bother to call.

The Palestinians can't wait for the Hezbollah initiative to play out. The Israelis keep getting better intelligence, and they will soon start picking off all of the terrorist leaders if Shalit does not come back alive. The Gazans need an intervention -- and they're unlikely to get it while everyone's focused on Lebanon.

UPDATE: A couple of comments in this thread talk about "occupation" and whether the West Bank qualifies, but from two different perspectives. I agree that Israel conquered the land in response to a war declared on their nation by Jordan and others. That, however, doesn't make it part of Israel for the simple reason that Israel has never annexed it, nor do they want to do so. That would make the residents Israelis, and they would have the right to vote -- and to destroy the Israeli democracy. In fact, Arafat threatened to declare both West Bank and Gaza part of Israel and demand the vote for that very purpose. In legal terms, the West Bank is occupied territory.

That does give the Palestinians the right of resistance, just as it would anyone else. However, two points have to be kept in mind. First, the PLO predates the occupation (1964 vs 1967), and the aim of the PLO and other terrorist groups has always been the destruction of Israel, not an end to occupation as defined by the global community. Second, the right of resistance does not extend to the deliberate targeting and murder of civilians. A "legal" resistance would have to limit its targets to military, police, and government assets and personnel. The PLO, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the other assorted lunatics have never limited themselves in that sense, and therefore have earned the sobriquet of terrorist.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 30, 2006 10:47 AM

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