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‘No retaliation!’
By Ali Abunimah

In the wake of the ghastly Tel Aviv bombing, there ‘has been no retaliation yet’ from Israel. This is utterly false. There has as yet been no violent reprisals by Israel, though these will probably come. But Israel has retaliated with unprecedented measures of collective punishment against the entire Palestinian population in the occupied territories.

In addition to tightening the closure of the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, Israel tightened the siege of Palestinian towns and cities, and closed the international borders with Egypt and Jordan, and the airport in occupied Gaza.

Israel reportedly cut off fuel supplies, international mail, and more seriously money transfers to the occupied territories. Because of the devastating economic impact and the mass unemployment caused by the occupation, thousands of Palestinian families fend off complete destitution and even starvation only with remittances transferred from relatives outside the country. The decision to cut off money transfers, therefore, is a deliberate, targeted act of retribution against Palestinian civilians and can have no other purpose than to cause misery.

Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that ‘No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation and terrorism are prohibited.’

Despite the imposition of these measures, Simeone said only in passing that ‘on the political front the West Bank and Gaza remained closed’ and that Israel had indeed cut off fuel supplies. But she followed this with the astonishing statement that Israel ‘took no action against the Palestinians today.’ (Simeone's comments were followed by a report from Jennifer Ludden about the funeral of one of the teenage victims of the bomb attack.)

How is it that measures of collective punishment which only a few months ago in an albeit less stringent form were the subjects of entire reports by NPR are today so invisible that NPR declares that Israel ‘took no action?’

The colonizer mentality that operates in Israeli society as in all similar situations views any act by any native against members of the ruling group with the utmost gravity and holds all natives responsible for the action of any of their number, while at the same time being completely inured and oblivious to the misery caused to the natives by the colonizer. The natives on the other hand feel their own pain directly, and are then made to feel the pain of the colonizer. It seems that many observers have absorbed this mentality and view anything short of an all out military assault against an occupied population to be admirable restraint on Israel's part, or in today's case ‘no action’ at all.

One thing is clear: notwithstanding any ‘ceasefires,’ as long as the occupation continues some Palestinians will retaliate for Israel's violence against Palestinians with violence against Israelis, even though three million Palestinians endure the daily assaults of the occupier without ever resorting to violence. Israel's collective punishments merely ensure that the next such response will occur sooner rather than later.

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