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For the Third Time in a Month, Israeli Forces Have Seriously Injured or Killed an International Activist in the Occupied Territories

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A 21-year-old British peace activist is in a coma after being shot by Israeli forces in Gaza on Friday. The man, Tom Hurndall, became the third British or American activist who was killed or seriously injured by the Israeli army in the last month. A week earlier, 24-year-old Brian Avery of New Mexico was shot in the face in Jenin. He remains in critical condition and may never speak again. And just under a month ago, 23-year-old Rachel Corrie of Seattle was crushed to death in Gaza as she attempted to block a bulldozer from demolishing the home of a Palestinian doctor.

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Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: A 21-year-old British peace activist is in a coma after being shot by Israeli forces in Gaza on Friday. The man is named Tom Hurndall. He became the third British or American activist who has been killed or seriously injured by the Israeli army in the last month. A week earlier, 24-year-old Brian Avery of New Mexico was shot in the face in Jenin. He remains in critical condition, may never speak again. And just under a month ago, 23-year-old Rachel Corrie of Seattle was crushed to death in Gaza as she attempted to block a bulldozer from demolishing the home of a Palestinian doctor.

We’re going to begin right now with Alice. She doesn’t want to give her last name. She is an international peace activist in Rafah who witnessed both Rachel Corrie’s death and the Israeli military shooting Tom Hurndall.

Alice, welcome to Democracy Now!

ALICE: Hi. Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Thank you very much for being with us. And if you could speak as loudly as possible? Can you describe what happened to Tom Hurndall on Friday?

ALICE: We were walking down a wide residential road, because it’s one of the few places where there is actually space. There were lots of children playing on the street. There was about 10 or 11 internationals, some Palestinian friends of ours, and lots of children playing, when shooting, Israeli shooting from a sniper, began landing in street that we were on. The children, the Palestinians, most of us dove for cover behind — into a side street. However, Tom and another international and a couple of Palestinian men saw that there was a few children who were kind of frozen with fear and weren’t moving from a large mound of earth in the middle of the street. And Tom, first of all, carried one of the boys to safety over the other side of the mound. And he was reaching forwards to help two girls, when he was shot directly into the head by the sniper.

AMY GOODMAN: Where were you watching from?

ALICE: I was around the corner. I had taken shelter with the Palestinians off the main street.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you tell us a little about Tom Hurndall? He had been in Iraq — is that right? — just before —

ALICE: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: — he had come to the Occupied Territories?

ALICE: Yeah, he spent some time in Iraq trying to act as a human shield. He then spent some time in Jordan in a refugee camp, working as a volunteer erecting tents for the refugees as they poured out of Iraq. And then he came to Palestine to also try and do whatever he could to try and help the people here. He was an incredibly passionate, kind, intelligent man who knew what was going on in the world around him, and wanted to do whatever he could do to try and alleviate the huge amount of suffering, especially in this part of the world.

AMY GOODMAN: He had just come five days before to Gaza?

ALICE: Yeah, he had arrived in Rafah five days before. He had been — he had received the two-day training that we provide in the West Bank, and then had come to Rafah, where had also given him a briefing about the special situation in Rafah, because it’s very different in the Gaza Strip from the West Bank. And he had been with us for five days when he was shot.

AMY GOODMAN: Did he see what he was doing as risking his own life?

ALICE: He knew. We all know that this is not a holiday camp, that people are killed around us. People are killed around us, I mean, daily. There’s pictures on all the walls of the towns with the martyrs, with all the people who have been killed in this occupation. Two hundred and five have been killed just in this one town, Rafah, alone. And of those 205, 42 of them were children who have been shot and killed in Rafah. So it’s inescapable, and we’re all very aware that when we come here, we’re coming to a war zone. We’re coming to somewhere where people are shot and killed by unseen, unaccountable soldiers, if not daily, then weekly. He didn’t want to die here, but he knew what he was doing.

AMY GOODMAN: Alice, what about your own safety?

ALICE: Sorry, I didn’t hear you.

AMY GOODMAN: What about your own safety?

ALICE: My own safety? After seeing Rachel killed in front of me, of course, the awareness that this would happen — this could happen to any of us was brought to the front. I’ve always — before I left for Palestine, before I came here, I did my rounds with all my friends and all my family and talked to them and spent time with them and said, “I’m going to somewhere where I can’t get medical insurance, where people are killed, where there are very real bullets flying around.” I don’t want to die here, but I think it’s very important to be here, to be here in solidarity with the people of Palestine. And I do try and minimize my own personal risk, but being in Palestine means that you’re constantly at risk, as all Palestinians are here. So, I mean, as I said, at the time when Tom was shot, I, as most people had done, had run around a corner to get out of the line of fire. The shots were landing all around us. Another international had a minor shrapnel wound to his arm. When I saw the shots were landing around us, as all Palestinians do by instinct, and if anyone who’s been here, as soon as you hear this firing, you run to safety, because it’s such an everyday occurrence here that you’ll be walking down the street and shots will enter the street you’re walking on. It’s unavoidable in Rafah. And as I said, 205 people have been killed in this one town, so there is a very, very real, real danger and real risk here.

AMY GOODMAN: Alice, what has it been like there since the U.S. invasion of Iraq? Have things changed? Has the violence intensified?

ALICE: Just before the invasion of Iraq, Rachel was killed, and there was an increase in the embassy’s concern about us before Rachel was killed. There had been occasions when I was being shot at, and I phoned the embassy to ask them to inform the IDF that they were shooting at a British national while I was taking cover behind mounds of earth or whatever. And they just reiterated their travel advice, wishes that we weren’t here, to which I reiterated to them that I have to be here because they’re not here and because there’s a crime happening that I have to do something as a citizen to stop.

After the Iraq War, there was a quietening for a while, for a week or so. The situation actually seemed to slightly improve and that there was less daily assaults upon people, which we interpreted as the American government putting some pressure on Israel in order that there would be less, less people against the war and against America. However, a couple of weeks into the war in Iraq, the situation intensified again. And there’s been, of course, less international coverage of what’s happened here. Brian Avery was shot. And then, of course, Tom was shot. And there’s been — again, it’s returned to the nightly shootings. There was an invasion of Rafah when tanks came all the way in. Four boys were shot in the street that night. A number of houses were demolished, one house — or several houses. One house that we had stayed in previously was raided by soldiers who used one of the girls at the house as a human shield, who destroyed the kitchen and destroyed a number of the other rooms and searched the house and terrorized the family. And this all happened a couple weeks ago.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Alice, we’re going to break for stations to identify themselves, and then we’re going to come back. We hopefully will be joined by Tom’s father. We’ll also be joined by Rachel Corrie’s mother and father.

ALICE: OK.

AMY GOODMAN: And we will stay on the line with you, as well. Alice is an international human rights activist, has come to Gaza to bear witness. She watched Tom Hurndall shot by Israeli military and also was with Rachel Corrie when she was crushed to death by an Israeli military bulldozer. You are listening to Democracy Now! We will also be going to some of the voices of protest this weekend across the United States, particularly in Los Angeles, as people protested against the invasion of Iraq. Stay with us.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: “Jerusalem,” Steve Earle, here on Democracy Now!, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. We’ve been speaking with an international activist in Gaza who witnessed both the killing of Rachel Corrie by an Israeli military bulldozer and the shooting of Tom Hurndall, 21 years old, by the Israeli military. He’s from London. He now lies in a coma in a Rafah hospital. Alice, if you could tell us what happened to Rachel, what you saw a month ago?

ALICE: Sorry?

AMY GOODMAN: Yes, if you could tell us what happened to Rachel, what you saw a month ago?

ALICE: OK. We’d been in the area for three hours. The bulldozers were clearing an area of land very close to houses, and they’re very unpredictable when they operate. Sometimes they destroy houses. Sometimes they just destroy farmland, or, in this case, they were destroying some grazing land and some plants.

When I saw Rachel was on her own, me and another activist called Will were walking towards where she was, and a bulldozer was driving towards her. She standing in the way of the bulldozer. This is what we had been doing for three hours, standing in front of the bulldozer. And the bulldozer would come. I mean, we’d have to kind of climb in order to stay where — stay in the same place as the bulldozer pushed its sand in front of it.

When Will started shouting and screaming, I looked up — I was about 10 to 20 feet away from her — to see that she was at this point covered up to her chest in sand. And we ran forward and were screaming and shouting and indicating to the bulldozer driver that he must stop. But he carried on driving for several meters and stopped for a few seconds and then reversed, and leaving Rachel on the ground in a curled-up position. She then said, “My back is broken.” And I held her head to stabilize her spine and was monitoring her airways, breathing, circulation. And a few minutes later, an ambulance arrived, and she died later.

AMY GOODMAN: The Israeli army investigation into the death of Rachel Corrie has concluded that its forces were not to blame for her death. It accused her of illegal, irresponsible and dangerous behavior, along with other members of the International Solidarity Movement. It said, quote, “The finding of the operational investigations shows that Rachel Corrie was not run over by an engineering vehicle but rather was struck by a hard object, most probably a slab of concrete which was moved or slid down while the mound of earth which she was standing behind was moved.” And it says that Rachel, quote, “was struck as she stood behind a mound of earth that was created by an engineering vehicle operating in the area and she was hidden from the view of the vehicle’s operator who continued with his work.” Is that possible, that the operator did not see Rachel there?

ALICE: I haven’t seen that report. We cooperated fully with the military investigation. We gave what happened. We told them exactly what happened. That version of events is not one that I in slightest bit recognize as in any way close to the truth. As I said, the bulldozer driver approached her from a long way away. He could see exactly where she was. She didn’t move. We’d been continuing those tactics for several hours, so they were well aware of what we were doing. And again and again, they stopped when they came up. At one point my leg was trapped, and I wasn’t able to climb. And at that point the bulldozer stopped, when he saw that I wasn’t able — you know, that I was about stuck. Another point, Will was trapped between the sand that was being pushed and a large amount of rocks, and raised awareness. At that point, the bulldozer stopped. So, the bulldozer drivers were all completely aware of what we were doing.

As you can see from the photographs, where me and will and Greg are giving first aid to Rachel, there’s no mound of earth. There’s no concrete. She’s on her own, lying in the path of the bulldozer. And the bulldozer absolutely killed her. I wasn’t aware that the report had come to those ridiculous conclusions. It’s a cover-up, like the Israelis continue to cover up for the Israeli military. I mean, it’s the most ridiculous thing. I don’t know quite what they’re accusing us there, apart from lying to them.

CRAIG CORRIE: This is Rachel Corrie’s father.

AMY GOODMAN: Craig Corrie, with us on the line, Craig and Cindy Corrie, the parents of Rachel Corrie. Thank you very much for joining us.

CRAIG CORRIE: And all I would like to say is it’s my understanding that there are two reports being generated. And there was a report by the command investigation report of the Israeli occupying army. And that, I think, is what you’re quoting from. And I’m not aware that there are any interviews done in that report. So, I wouldn’t say that that was a result of an investigation. There’s also an investigation that we’re told that is going on by the Advocate General’s Office of the Israeli occupying army. And that report and investigation has not yet been released, to our knowledge.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, first off, I want to thank you very much for joining us. I know this is very difficult for you now. And is Cindy Corrie on the line, as well, Rachel’s mom?

CINDY CORRIE: Yes, I am.

AMY GOODMAN: Hi. If you could tell us first what the Israeli government has said to you and what you’re calling for right now?

CINDY CORRIE: We’ve had — we’ve really had no communication with the Israeli government at all regarding the incident. I did speak with the — I believe he’s called a consul in San Francisco last Friday. I called because I was just so very upset when I heard about Tom. And at that point, we were hearing that — the initial reports were saying that he was brain dead. And I felt like I was having to go through the same experience once again. And that was really the third time, because of Brian Avery’s situation. But my comments with him were just to say to him that I have a great deal of empathy for the Israeli people, but that I was really so terribly upset by what had been happening, had happened to these three peace activists and also to the Palestinian people during that week. I had just read that, I think, five more children died last week in the Occupied Territories.

AMY GOODMAN: The video that the Israeli military has released, have you seen it?

CRAIG CORRIE: We have not. This is Craig Corrie speaking. We have not seen those videos. My son saw the video. He said that it was grainy, they were shot apparently from a long distance away and that all you could see was specks and a kind of a larger thing that was the bulldozer. So he didn’t think that they could be enhanced enough to see anything that was going on.

CINDY CORRIE: I was told by someone in our State Department that the video showed activity of the bulldozers prior to the incident and after the incident, but not the actual incident itself.

CRAIG CORRIE: Actually, I think Chris said that it appeared to show throughout that time; you just couldn’t tell what was going on. Our son.

ALICE: Yeah, we were shown the video after we had to struggle quite hard to actually force them to show us the video so that we could comment on it. We were shown it once, and then we managed to get them to show it to us again. We couldn’t recognize what was going on in the video at all as anything close. But as I said, they didn’t really try very hard to get our version of events from the video, and they certainly were quite obstructive about allowing us to see the video at all.

AMY GOODMAN: Craig and Cindy Corrie, on the line with us right now. Can you talk about what your daughter told you before she was killed, why she had gone to the Gaza Strip?

CINDY CORRIE: Rachel had started preparing us for her trip to the Occupied Territories sometime last fall. She had — after 9/11, really. Her response to 9/11 was to become a peace activist. And she had spent a lot of time, because she had connected with four or five different groups in the Olympia community in Olympia, Washington, that were working on peace and social justice issues, and specifically on peace in the Middle East. And so she had spent a lot of time learning about the issue and talking with others. Last summer, I think that there were ISM people that went from Olympia to the Occupied Territories, so she had talked with people that had been there. She did a great deal of reading and preparation.

She came to us and just basically said one day that she was going to go and that she felt this was such important work and that she just knew that she needed to do it. And on the way — actually before, she said to me, “I’m afraid, but I just know I need to do this.” And knowing my daughter, there were certainly — it was hard for us. And at first I know I spent a little time on the internet trying to see if there wasn’t some other place that she might be able to go to do something that would — that she would feel was as important. But knowing her, I knew that once she had made up her mind to go, that that’s what she was going to do.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Craig and Cindy Corrie, parents of Rachel Corrie. What has the U.S. government told you?

CRAIG CORRIE: I’ve talked to the State Department. But, essentially, they are awaiting the report of the Israeli Advocate General’s Office before they go into any investigation. That’s what they’ve told us. They’ve also said that the president of the United States has spoken to Sharon about that, about the incident, but we don’t know what was said. So, as far as that’s concerned, from our president’s office, I guess, and from the State Department, that’s all that’s going on. And then, we, of course, have gone to Congress and asked that they ask for an independent investigation. And there is a bill that has been introduced in the House.

CINDY CORRIE: It’s a concurrent — House Concurrent Resolution 111. And one thing I’d like to say about that is that the third point on the resolution encourages the government of the United States and the government of Israel to work together to determine all the circumstances that led to this incident and to ensure that an incident of this kind never occurs again. And last week we just felt like we were two incidents too late, because we haven’t — you know, as a government, haven’t moved ahead on this. And now we’re really hoping that both the United States government and British government will get involved.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to the parents of Rachel Corrie, Craig and Cindy Corrie. In a minute, we’re going to talk about the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the state of them, but we are joined on the line by Mark Regev, who is a spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. And before we talk about the latest news of negotiations and where they stand, I wanted to ask you about the killing of Rachel Corrie and the latest shooting of the international activist Tom Hurndall, who is lying in a coma now at the Rafah hospital, Mark Regev.

MARK REGEV: Good morning. The Rachel Corrie incident is extremely tragic, and the Israeli side is investigating it thoroughly. If anyone on the Israeli side acted in an improper way, in a negligent way or in a criminal way, they will be dealt with by the law. We are a country of law. If anyone was criminally negligent, I’d expect the full force of the law to be administered. We are investigating ourselves. And I hope — I hope, just as Israel looks at itself, that the International Solidarity Movement will itself look at its own matters of behavior, because is there not a possibility that they are endangering young, idealistic people?

AMY GOODMAN: Alice? Let’s put that question to one of the International Solidarity Movement members, who is on the ground in Gaza right now.

ALICE: I would like to say that the activities of the Israeli army in Rafah are actually illegal under a number of international conventions and also even under Israeli law, which states that houses must be given 15 minutes’ notice, that the occupants, under Israeli law, have 15 minutes to clear themselves out of the house before it’s demolished. That is frequently not even the case. Even the 15 minutes is denied to people. But it is actually illegal under international law to attack civilian property. Israel has broken a number of U.N. resolutions with regard to the Occupied Territories in their activities within the Occupied Territories. In Rafah, on the 30th of January, it destroyed two civilian water wells that supplied over 50% of the water to the population of Rafah. And it’s continuing to pump water from the Gaza Strip into Israel, which is illegal under international law. And, of course, killing of civilians is illegal. The area that we were in was — is a housing area, wasn’t an international — wasn’t a military area.

And we are far from being idealistic, are very realistic about what was going on here. We don’t take some kind of idealistic position that Israel will unilaterally decide to pull out of these territories. But we understand that it’s the duty of every citizen, everybody who knows what is going on, to try and oppose a crime. And that’s why we are here, because there is actually a crime going on here, with, as I’ve said, 205 Palestinians have been shot in Rafah in the last two years. And these are extrajudicial assassinations, or just accidents, from soldiers who know that they will not be held accountable for their actions. And we do take every precaution while we are here to make sure that the Israeli military know that we are here, because we don’t want to die here. And this includes wearing the orange reflective, absolutely unique jackets that both Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall were in when they were killed.

CRAIG CORRIE: This is Craig speaking. And I, of course, can’t speak from the ground or having been an eyewitness. But I was a combat engineer for the American forces in Vietnam, so I have some experience in directing, for instance, bulldozers across open ground. And a bulldozer pushing earth moves fairly slowly. It’s inconceivable to me that in open ground there’s any way that a bulldozer operator and responsible people around that bulldozer operator don’t have time to lift the blade, change the direction, stop, do something like that. So I very much am interested in seeing a full and fair and, I would like, independent investigation of this.

AMY GOODMAN: Mark Regev, spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy?

MARK REGEV: There is a fully independent investigation going on. That’s terribly important. And there’s total transparency. We presented our preliminary findings both to the American authorities in Israel and here in Washington to members of Congress, to the various departments. Israel does not target innocent civilians. That’s not our policy. We have no intention of doing so.

We want peace with our neighbors. We want other than peace with our neighbors. I think anyone who looks at the polling in Israel knows that that’s a fact. Our prime minister spoke only yesterday about his willingness for compromises, for painful compromises, for giving up settlements for peace. I’d remind everyone that it was only two-and-a-half years ago that, for example, we offered to pull out of the entire Gaza Strip. And unfortunately, the Palestinian side didn’t pick up that possibility to move forward. It was Prime Minister Barak who offered to pull out of 97% of the West Bank and Gaza. I think it’s the Arabs themselves are critical of, and the Palestinians, too, are critical of Chairman Arafat for turning away the chance of peace, for tolerating these terrible suicide bombings, which Israelis have had to deal with on a daily basis. I think we can all do more to move forward for peace. The Israeli government, if we make mistakes, it’s our job to do better.

And I would ask the International Solidarity Movement. I mean, there was a quote in The Washington Post by one of the leaders of the Solidarity Movement, which I found very, very troubling, because it says, “We send” — I’m quoting directly — “young women off to operations, and some of them die.” It’s almost as if they’re knowingly sending young Americans off to be killed. And once again, just as I ask the Israeli side and I demand of my own side that we investigate ourselves when these terrible incidents happen, is the Solidarity Movement really so sure that they’re not endangering, knowingly endangering, young people?

ALICE: If the Israeli Embassy is really suggesting that by being in the Palestinian territories we are endangering our lives, they must surely be admitting that innocent civilians are being killed here every day. As I said, Tom Hurndall was walking down a residential street when he was shot. This is like hundreds, thousands of Palestinians that are killed in Palestine. They are just going about their normal everyday business. The British Embassy travel advice, as we are continually told whenever we phone up, is: “Do not be in these territories. These are not safe for anyone to be.” We have the option of being here or not being here. The Palestinians do not have that option.

With regard to the second one, I would like to say that as Israel is with one hand offering up a few choice settlements that it’s prepared to pull out with, it has been continuously building more settlements, as it was throughout the Oslo process, and is at the moment in the process of building a wall that will take a large amount of — 40% of the West Bank is going to be taken away by this wall that it is currently building through the West Bank, well away from the Green Line 1967 border with Israel. And it’s stealing a large quantity of the water that is in aquifers underneath the West Bank. People are shot at when they go and try and pick their olives.

Unfortunately, the Israeli occupation is killing hundreds of Israelis, as well as killing thousands of Palestinians. I have Israeli cousins. I am Jewish. And one of the reasons I’m here is that I want my Israeli cousins to have some chance for a future. And I as well as they are aware that as long as the Palestinian occupation continues, young people will feel — young Palestinian people will feel they have no choice, that they have suffered so much pain that they don’t care about their lives anymore, and that when they want to die, they don’t care how many — they want as many people as possible to be killed with them. This is an absolute tragedy that 18-year-old boys feel they have nothing left to live for, that they’ve suffered so much pain and trauma and are so traumatized and brutalized, and the other side has been so dehumanized. I mean, I, as a Jewish person here, believe that I am attempting to bring some kind of peace and hope to Jewish people everywhere by showing to these children here that not all Jews hate them and all Jews come to them in tanks and humiliate and kill their parents. I feel everybody — I mean, a third of the International Solidarity Movement are Jewish. And we all feel that we are the ones that are actually trying to save Jewish lives by offering a hope and offering an olive branch to these people that we have so horrifically treated.

MARK REGEV: Well, to be fair, even the the peace activists in Israel are very critical of the International Solidarity Movement. They question why it is that you don’t demonstrate against the offices of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, why you don’t complain publicly about the suicide bombers, why you only target Israel. I mean, if you really were a peace movement, why aren’t you publicly condemning the suicide bombing? Why aren’t you demonstrating against Hamas and Islamic Jihad there in Gaza? I’d also — I’d also raise the issue: Are you really pro-Palestinian? Because I’ve visited your website, and I’ve seen pictures of International Solidarity Movement members meeting Chairman Arafat and smiling and shaking his hand. By supporting the current Palestinian dictator, are you in fact being pro-Palestinian? Is it not in the Palestinian interest?

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to have to put that question to Alice when we come back from our 60-second break. You’re listening to Democracy Now! Our guests are Mark Regev, spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy. We’re also joined by Alice of the International Solidarity Movement, the parents of Rachel Corrie, Craig and Cindy Corrie. Stay with us.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: Sweet Honey, “We Shall Not Be Moved,” here on Democracy Now!, The War and Peace Report, as we continue with our discussion, joined by Alice of the International Solidarity Movement, on the ground in Gaza. She witnessed both Rachel Corrie’s being crushed by an Israeli military bulldozer. She also was with Tom Hurndall when he was shot in the head by the Israeli military on Friday. Craig and Cindy Corrie are on the line with us, parents of Rachel Corrie. And Mark Regev just made the comment that Israeli — that the International Solidarity Movement is not supported by the peace movement in Israel and has not condemned suicide bombings. Alice?

ALICE: That’s not true, first of all, about the Israeli peace movement. I have a lot of friends in the Israeli peace movement, and we work very closely together. As I said before, I believe that the long-term future of the Israeli people is reliant on stopping the atrocities in the West Bank, because an oppressed people will never stop fighting. And when they feel they have nothing left to offer, then you have the absolute tragedies of the suicide bombings.

I’ve been in Palestine, for both the Haifa and the Netanya suicide bombings, and the people around me were crying. The people around me were saying this is haram. Under Islam, it is haram to kill civilians. There is a difference between the armed resistance that is fighting the soldiers and the killing of innocent civilians in Israel. And obviously, with Israeli cousins myself, I am terrified, every time I hear about a suicide bombing, they might have been killed.

However, the fact remains that thousands of Palestinians have been killed here, and hundreds of thousands have been seriously wounded, have been injured, are starving, hungry. Seventy percent of the children in Rafah are anemic, not because they can’t get food but because they’re too terrified to eat. I’ve slept in houses for the last two months I’ve been in Rafah, and I’ve been sleeping in houses, normal civilian houses, along with frontline people who are too poor to move away and are subjected to nightly shootings. The house — the shots hit the house. Two days before Tom was shot, two boys were shot while they were in their own house. One of them was in the bathroom drinking some water when he was shot in the neck. I mean, this is happening daily.

The suicide bombings are terrible. But unfortunately, there is one side that has power. There is only one side that has the power to make peace in this conflict. And that is the Israeli side. The Palestinian side has no opportunity to make peace, because even when there are no suicide bombings for months on end, the atrocities continue in occupied Palestine. And this, of course, provokes a response from people who feel that they have no choice, they have nothing left to live for.

I was in a place called Nazat Issa in the north of Israel when 62 shops were demolished. The bulldozers came, and they demolished 62 shops. I spoke to a woman — she was perhaps in her fifties or sixties — who built up the shop all her life. It was her life’s work. And she was in tears. And she was saying, “I don’t care anymore. I want to go make bomb in Israel.” And her friends were talking her out of it. I’ve been in — I’ve seen children who just say, “When I grew up, I want to make suicide bombs.” That’s the problem here. The people are witness to daily humiliation. They have no future. The boys here can’t get married, because they haven’t got enough money to have a wedding, because they have no work, because the work has been taken away from them, because nothing can be exported from the Gaza Strip at the moment. They used to export flowers. It was one of the major sources of income in the Gaza Strip, was exporting carnations to Europe. But since the Intifada began, the Israelis basically just demolished, destroying the airport in the Gaza Strip, held the flowers for weeks at the checkpoints, which meant that the flowers were useless when they reached Europe. There’s no money here. There’s no food here. The people here have nothing to live for.

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Israeli Diplomats Head to Washington to Outline Opposition to Bush’s “Road Map” to Peace: The U.S. Israeli Embassy and a Chief Palestinian Negotiator Debate the Current Proposal

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