They Can't Assassinate Resistance
by Charlotte Kates
June 10, 2003

To be a Palestinian political leader is a dangerous profession. The organizers of grassroots groups, resistance organizations, political associations - civilian and militant - live as constant targets for arrest, political imprisonment and murder.

The assassination attempt upon Dr. Abdel-Aziz Rantisi, a Hamas political leader and spokesperson, illustrates that Israel is not now, and never was, interested in a path to peace, justice, or independence for Palestinians. Rantisi is the latest in a long line of Palestinians - political leaders, fighters, organizers and community activists - targeted for extrajudicial executions by the Israeli regime. Rantisi survived the assassination attempt, as two bystanders did not; thirty other Palestinians were injured in the attack, coming by way of missiles shot into Rantisi's jeep by a helicopter gunship that fortunately missed their target.

Israel must know, after its string of murderous attack upon Palestinians - civilians, fighters and political leaders - that the killing of this or that political leader will never destroy Palestinians' dedication to their struggle for liberation. The Palestinian people are marching down a road to freedom that is paved with the blood of their martyrs - and with each, they have grown only more determined, never less. Assassinating Rantisi would kill Hamas no more than assassinating Abu Ali Mustafa killed the PFLP, no more than assassinating Abu Jihad killed the PLO or Fatah- and no more than the bulldozer assassination of Rachel Corrie killed the ISM. Instead, the assassinations are a reminder that Palestinian political life means, very often, Palestinian political death at the hands of a Zionist state that desperately wishes to crush Palestinian resistance.

The assassinations and assassination attempts have served as fertile provocations for armed response from Palestinians determined to prove that the targeting of their political leadership will not be accepted quietly. Such attempts have traditionally coincided with the approaches of Palestinian national discussions about possible cease-fires; immediately pre-empting such considerations, they serve as a vicious reminder that Palestinian liberation will not be granted by the oppressor, but rather seized by the oppressed.

This latest attempt comes on the heels of the "road map to peace" that demanded as one of its first principles that the Palestinian Authority and its installed prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, turn its weapons upon its own people to disarm Palestinian resistance groups and suppress Palestinian political organizing. Perhaps designed in an effort to provoke Palestinian civil war, the demand was met with a clear answer from Palestinain resistance groups - they would not disarm themselves in support of the US-Israeli "roadmap". Nevertheless, all remained committed to a clear path of Palestinian national unity. The renewed campaign of Israeli terror highlights the reality of the US demand upon Abbas - to leave the Palestinian people disarmed and disunited in the face of the state which has never been anything but a mechanism for oppression and occupation of the Palestinian people and their land.

The Zionist state has attempted to rule Palestine with assassinations, executions, mass detentions of political prisoners, bombings and shootings, while simultaneously pretending to seek "peace" through the establishment of Palestinian bantustans. Thus, every Palestinian voice that refuses to accept the conditions that forever render Palestinians a subject people is a target for all of the above; it is seen most clearly with the leadership figures targeted for assassination, but the power of the Palestinian struggle lies not in the persons of its leadership but in the steadfastness of the people. There is no killing of Palestinian resistance without the killing of every Palestinian. The power of the Palestinian movement - that has allowed it to withstand decades of oppression, occupation and dispossession - is in its roots; from the land, from the people, arises resistance, arises revolution.

It is not something that may be killed by a missile, an Apache helicopter, an F-16, or a machine gun; it is something that will not rest until Palestinians know, not a Bantustan, not "provisional borders," not "roadmaps", but the freedom to live, to work, to develop as a society, to organize, to speak, to bear children without the expectation that one day they will be martyrs as well, to determine the course of their own lives and their own society.