Israel has been the target of an unprecedented Palestinian terror offensive since September 2000. As of the end of July, 2002, some 410 civilians, and an additional 179 soldiers, have been killed during this period. These figures include the murder of 89 infants, children and teenagers - from the age of four months to 19 years.
In addition, another 809 children have been seriously wounded - their lives, and the lives of their families - forever changed by the evil of terror.Each victim has a name and a face. Each victim was filled with the joy of life, with promising talent, with love and friendship - all snuffed out in one deadly moment by cowardly murderers deliberately targeting children.
We present here the victim's names and faces, and a brief description of their young lives and tragic deaths.
Israel struggle for peace with its neighbors:
"In the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months ...We extend our hand to all neighboring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighborliness." This unequivocal Israeli statement is not new. It is taken from Israel's Declaration of Independence, read out when the state was established on May 14,1948. It is as relevant today as it was 54 years ago.
Since its very inception, Israel's existence has been threatened by Arab countries and organizations refusing to recognize its right to exist, and which have repeatedly tried to use violence to defeat it.
Finally, in 1993, it appeared that Israel's untiring effORTs to reach an understanding with the Palestinians were starting to bear fruit. In Oslo, the frozen capital of Norway, representatives of Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization held secret talks during which they agreed to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through peaceful means.
In the Declaration of Principles signed by Israeli and Palestinian Liberation Organization representatives, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat committed himself to the following:
"The PLO recognizes the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security. The PLO commits itself to the Middle East peace process, and to a peaceful resolution through negotiations. The PLO renounces the use of terrorism and other acts of violence and will assume responsibility over all PLO elements and personnel in order to assure their compliance, prevent violations and discipline violators."
However, the longed-for peace and quiet did not materialize. Within two years, Palestinian violence returned, killing scores of people and terrorizing Israeli cities.
In its yearning for peace, however, Israel responded with restraint and moderation. At the Camp David summit in the summer of 2000, Israel made an offer - recognized throughout the world as unprecedented in its generosity - to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
All of Israel's governments, including the present one, have always placed the twin goals of peace and normalization with the countries of the region at the top of their priorities. Successive governments have expressed a willingness to make "painful compromises," even on territorial matters, which is clearly reflected in the peace agreements Israel signed with two Arab countries: Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994).
Yasser Arafat refused Israel's offer, presenting Israel with a new set of demands that Israel could not accede to, since to do so would undermine the very foundation of Israel as a Jewish state.
Immediately following Yasser Arafat's return from the failed Camp David summit, the Palestinian Authority set out on its current path of violence. Since September 2000, the Palestinians - who forswore terror as a legitimate tool when they signed the Oslo accords - have again turned to terror to try and attain their goals.
The result: By the end of July 2002, 410 civilians and 179 soldiers were killed in brutal acts of terror. These figures include the murder of 89 infants, children and teenagers - from the age of four months to 19 years.*
These deaths were not accidental; they were not the collateral damage of battle; they were not children caught in the cross fire.
No, these children were deliberately targeted by terrorists who are cynically exploiting Israel's sensitivity to the lives of children, and Judaism's view of the sanctity of human life, to extract concessions.
Human society, in its long voyage from barbarism to civilization, has formulated clear rules about how to resolve the problems and conflicts that emerge between nations. One of these most basic rules - indeed one of the basic principles of international law - is the absolute prohibition against attacking unarmed civilians.