Destruction of Beit Hanoun

The Politics of Suicide Bombing

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Photo of Palestine, Gaza Strip. Zionists attacked the village of Beit Hanoun in 2015. Source: pxhere. 

Update: I find it interesting that while Harry’s Place is on about Shaykh Al-Qaradawi supposedly being antisemitic, some anti-Zionist Orthodox Jews make a point of supporting him, as in this example here.

Update 2: Here is an interesting discussion of scholarly opinion, which holds that suicide bombing is unlawful in Islam, period.

by Lenna

Harry’s Place has posted an article discussing their everlasting outrage over the Shaykh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi’s endorsement of suicide bombings.

I would like to state from the outset that I’m opposed to suicide bombings. I see them as acts of desperation that are morally repugnant

Nevertheless, Harry’s Place is a Neocon-Zionist cheerleader for endless war. These are not pacifists who are criticizing Al-Qaradawi, nor are they especially blessed with the truth.

Suicide Bombings and International Law

It will likely surprise many to discover that suicide bombings are legal under certain circumstance according to the principles of the Hague International Convention of 1907 and confirmed in the Nuremberg Tribunal after World War II.

These principles were meant to protect Jewish resistance fighters Germany had alleged were “terrorists.”

Occupied people have the right to employ force against their oppressors, both inside and outside the occupied territories. When Palestinians under occupation target Israeli soldiers, they have international law on their side.

In other words, the Palestinians have a “right to defend themselves.”

Israel has a “right to defend itself.” Of course, every nation has not only a right but an obligation to defend its territory and people.

The Palestinians are not a foreign nation attacking Israel. They are an occupied people. Israel must protect them. This obligation is enshrined in international law, including Article 2 of the four Geneva Conventions of 1949.

Israeli Terrorism

Instead, we see Israel imposing draconian blockades and indiscriminately bombing schools, hospitals, mosques, homes, ambulances and other civilian infrastructure with impunity. All under the guise of “self-defense.”

It’s worth noting that the Palestinians have no army.

As such, all of Israel’s Palestinian victims in the Occupied Territories could arguably be classified as civilians. Israel has no trouble convincing many in the West that Hamas and other groups of fighters should are not civilians.

Given their paramilitary role in the conflict, but by logical extension, they are strengthening their opponent’s counterclaim that West Bank settlers are not civilians for similar reasons. Al-Qaradawi was referring the “not really civilians” logic to with regard to Israeli women, who serve in the military.

I don’t agree with this broad definition. With regard to suicide bombing and other attacks on Israeli soldiers, Al-Qaradawi’s ruling is consistent with international law.

This is so even if other parts of the same ruling are legally and morally dubious. Don’t expect Harry’s Place to make such distinctions.

For them, Western imperial violence is “good violence” and Muslim violence is “bad violence.” By definition, no further distinction necessary.

Numbers Speak

In practical terms, Israel doesn’t fare well against Hamas with regard to killing civilians in any case.

Many Muslims will never forget the terror campaign Israel launched during Ramadan in July of 2014. According to the UN, Israel killed 2,251 Palestinians, 65% of whom they classified as civilians. Palestinian fighters, including Hamas, killed 66 Israeli soldiers and 6 civilians.

Let’s give the UN the benefit of the doubt in their classification of Palestinian civilians.

Only 35% of those Israel killed were classified as military, as compared to 91% for Hamas! Israel doesn’t need to resort to suicide bombing. We can see the results of this lopsided conflict, as Israel killed more than thirty times as many people, at least two-thirds of whom were classified as civilians. 

Israel killed mostly innocent civilians (65%). Hamas killed mostly soldiers (91%).

Those numbers speak for themselves.


In the past, I may have ventured over to Harry’s Place to share these inconvenient observations in comments. Except I know from experience it would be pointless.

Muscular liberals are fierce, cruel, and immune to facts. As neocon luminary Karl Rove once said with pride, “we create our own reality.” Indeed.

Here is a haunting clip of Israel acting in “self-defense” by killing Salem Khalil Salem Shammaly. He was an unarmed 23-year-old man who was looking for his family in the Gaza rubble. (WARNING: Graphic Violence):

This post is part of the Talking Points initiative.


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