Salah Shihada's  Assassination (1952-2002)












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The Israeli assassination of Salah Shihada and the massacre of 14 other Palestinian civilians in Al-Daraj neighborhood, in Gaza City, which also resulted in injuring about 170 people, is a very serious incident in the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. First, it came in a week in which Hamas, Jihad, and other Palestinian organizations said publicly that they agreed to stop targeting Israeli civilians in retaliation to Israeli atrocities, but they conditioned that Israel avoid targeting Palestinian civilians. Second, it came during the same day in which an official Palestinian delegation of five cabinet members met with an Israeli government delegation headed by the Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, to discuss easing tensions between the two sides. This was the first official and public meeting since the Israeli military reoccupation of the West Bank. Third, it came after the meetings of the Quartet (US, EU, UN, and Russia) in New York, which announced its intention to move ahead with measures on the ground that would lead to Palestinian elections and a Palestinian state. Finally, it came after meetings between three Arab Foreign Ministers (of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan) with the Quartet Committee and President Bush, which resulted in the commitment of these Arab states to help the Palestinian Authority gain control over the Palestinian territories.

All these developments meant one clear thing: the US, the only supporter of Israel in the world, was going ahead with the efforts of the UN, EU, Russia, and the Arab League to put an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, as a step towards the establishment of the Palestinian state. While this sounded like music for people of the world and their governments, it sounded alarming and very dangerous for Zionist Israelis, who have thrived on keeping the conflict alive so that they continue receiving military and financial aid from the US, in order to continue their settlement activities. It has become a well-known pattern, that every time peace efforts get closer to ending the Israeli military occupation of Palestine, the Israeli government orders the assassination of a Palestinian leader or activist, in order to trigger a Palestinian response, which is used to justify the continuation of the Israeli military occupation and the war of subjugation against the Palestinian people. That pattern was clear when the Israeli government ordered the assassination of Yahya Ayyash in 1996, and Abu Ali Mustafa, in 2001. It was also clear when Sharon himself supervised the Jenin massacre, in April 2002, in response to the Arab League peace initiative, which offered Israel total Arab recognition and normalization in return for withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories. 

Americans of all faiths and creeds, average citizens and government officials, should stand up against the Israeli abuse of the US. After all, it is the US money and military equipment which are used by Israelis to kill Palestinians, and with them to kill peace and poison the US relations with the Arab and Muslim worlds. President Bush has been very vocal to condemn any Palestinian action, big or small. He saved no words of blame and criticism for the beleaguered and besieged Palestinian President, Yasser Arafat. This is his chance to speak out against Israeli terrorism and Sharon's arrogance, ruthlessness, and war crimes. The world is watching.

Hassan El-najjar