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Tuesday, 16 April, 2002, 08:36 GMT 09:36 UK
Middle East: Your Experiences
Talking Point: your Middle East experiences

At least eight people have been killed in a suicide attack on a bus in the Israeli city of Haifa.

This is the latest in a series of similar attacks which have had a marked effect on life in Israel. Streets, cafes and shopping areas are deserted, and businesses that rely on the tourist industry are suffering.

But the Israeli incursion into the West Bank has also interrupted the day-to-day life of ordinary Palestinians.

Many are too scared to leave home after dark, and the United Nations agency responsible for Palestinian refugees says thousands of people have been trapped with dwindling supplies of food and water.

Have you been affected by the violence in the Middle East? Tell us your experiences.

We have discussed the Middle East conflict in Talking Point, the phone-in programme of the BBC World Service and BBC News Online.

Select the link below to watch the latest edition of Talking Point:

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This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

I have lost a very close and dear friend in the Passover Terror-Attack. This victim of the Attack was a holocaust-survivor from Poland who came to Israel at the end of the British Mandate. This experience made me associate the furnaces of the Nazis in Europe with the furnaces of the Palestinian suicide Bombers - in both cases innocent Jews were burned only because they were Jews. But afterwards I still saw a very fundamental difference between German-Nazi persecution and Palestinian Terrorism: in Europe the Jews were defenceless and had no options open to them but here in Israel the Jews have "privilege" to defend themselves.
Helen, Israel

I am a 16-year old Israeli who has lived in England for eight years now. In a year and a half I am going to join the Israeli army. I am sometimes scared about that when I hear the news about attacks on soldiers, but, since a promise of a Palestinian state two years ago was rejected by Arafat, there has to be protection for Israelis against his terrorism. We just had a small service this morning for a kid from my school who was killed in a suicide bombing in Netanya, and I don't want that to happen to any more of my friends. The terrorist infrastructure must be crushed, in the interests of Israelis and the civilised world, and (with some reservations -- I don't think this latest incursion is justified or has had much success) I hope to be part of that.
Josh, London, England

Why should non-Israeli Jews now be the target of Arab reprisals the world over, paying for the policies of Sharon?

GT, Switzerland
I want to condemn the attacks on Jewish properties and religious sites in France and in other parts of the world (just today the oldest synagogue in Tunisia has suffered from a mysterious "accidental" explosion). Weren't the Arabs the first to demand that not all Muslims and Arabs be criticised and targeted themselves right after September 11 ? Why should non-Israeli Jews now be the target of Arab reprisals the world over, paying for the policies of Sharon? It would be the same as for any American now to go after any Muslim because of the actions of bin Laden.
GT, Switzerland

Terrorism is merely the absence of a decent balance of military power. It is the word used so sneeringly by the great and mighty to describe the efforts of the militarily weak, under- privileged or oppressed. Arm the Palestinians to the same high level currently enjoyed by the Israeli army and we shall see this expression "terrorism" exposed for the lie that it so obviously is. We should not condemn the so-called Palestinian terrorism as being in any way better or worse than the "sanitary" military operations which the Israelis are carrying out. They are both expressions of exactly the same concept. That concept is war. Plain and simple.
Peter Grimes, Gerrards Cross, England

40 years ago I was training pilots from Israel and I asked one student what was the greatest fear in his country and his reply was "Peace". But no matter what our hopes for a meaningful peace, there has never been a way to combat what the Arabs have done by waiting and reacting. Peace can never happen until Arabs clean up their own acts with their own people.
John Pearson, Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA

Judging from some of the comments I've seen here, some will use any justification for the whole-sale slaughter and massacre of a largely unarmed Palestinian population. How many deaths so far? 1600 not counting operation defensive wall, 4000 detained? When will this stop? How would you feel as a 20-40 year male resident of Jenin forced to strip naked and marched in front of tanks and troops as a human shield for the Israeli army? How ashamed are you going to be when the real depths of the massacres get out and will you apologise?
Mark, Australia

Memory of the Palestinians celebrating in the streets after the World Trade Centre attacks keeps repressing any deep sympathy I have for these people during their current crises. I also remember similar Palestinian celebrations after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. It's hard to have sympathy for people who celebrate the death and misfortune of others and this is why most of my sympathy is reserved for the Israelis.
JL Wade, USA

When a culture is faced with oppression, it resists

James Maloney, Abu Dhabi, UAE
When a culture is faced with oppression, it resists. I can't see how you can stop the very small percentage of Palestinian suicide attacks through going into peaceful villages and shooting old men and children, which the Israelis have been doing for years by the way.
James Maloney, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Why will a person go and blow himself killing others? Because his life has been made so miserable by Israelis that he is ready to kill himself in hope of freedom and dignity. No one recognizes the living condition and situation Israel has made for Palestinians. They are in such desperate conditions that they are ready to kill themselves I think there should be an International force in the Middle East and Israel should leave all the occupied territories.
Mansoor, UK

Why doesn't anybody see that the suicide bombers are the only means for Palestinians to fight Israel? Israel has cut off these people's right to live, built up all the land around them with illegal settlements and then came up with slogans like "We are fighting for our survival". Which I guess would be right if these bloody battles were on the streets of Tel Aviv and Haifa.
Yaser Hassanein, Cairo,Egypt

The US Government together with its bias policies to Israel cannot by themselves bring peace. It is time that we the average citizen around the world took control.
Janeen, USA

So the Palestinians want a country. It takes leaders and a desire for a future for your children over desire for revenge, to pull it off. Instead of blaming everybody else for not having a homeland, it's time to look within and change your leaders. Hatred only defeats credibility in the eyes of the world. The Palestinians have an opportunity to live side by side with an industrious and accomplished people. This would translate into a successful country for Palestinians. A model of envy for the rest of the Arab world. Maybe that is what scares your neighbours. Israel is determined to remain. And I believe most of the modern world will see to it. If Palestine is ever to have peace now is a better time to realize this than after you bury your children in vain. Palestinians deserve a country but it's time to find a real leader.
Marc Nieminen, Fort Bragg, USA

Israel's Camp David proposal presented a 're-packaging' of military occupation, not an end to military occupation

Everyone has been talking about Mr. Arafat saying that he did a grave mistake by rejecting the Camp David peace proposal in 2000. Well, has anyone taken the time to find out what are the terms of that proposal? Israel's Camp David proposal, which was never set forth in writing, denied the Palestinian state viability and independence by dividing Palestinian territory into four separate cantons entirely surrounded, and therefore controlled, by Israel. The Camp David proposal also denied Palestinians control over their own borders, airspace and water resources while legitimizing and expanding illegal Israeli colonies in Palestinian territory. Israel's Camp David proposal presented a 're-packaging' of military occupation, not an end to military occupation. And you call the Palestinians unreasonable? Terrorists?

Majority of United States congress and American people support Israel since terrorists have stung U.S. and Bush has labelled Palestinian fighters as terrorists. Most people in US are also sympathetic to Israel since they see them as a country that is defending itself by invading Palestinians just like US did in Afghanistan. And that's where I believe the problem lies. In reality Israel is defending its illegal occupation. It is defending the expansion of its settlers and it is also defending its inhumane treatment of Palestinians. This war will continue until Israel offers a realistic and fair concession toward an independent state of Palestine.
Saeid, Tehran, Iran

Eight Israelis die in a new suicide bombing - why is there little mention of the 300+ Palestinian deaths over the last week or the 1600 up to Operation Defensive Wall? Let's get it straight - if we're going to condemn Terrorism we also have to condemn the massive state sponsored terrorism perpetuated from Israel against Palestinian children (which sparked the intifada), men, women, infrastructure and the total annihilation of its security forces and authority.
Bob, Sydney,Australia

I'd love that Sharon Arafat Bush Blair Saddam and all those behind remember Gandhi's words: "Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man." "

I am shocked by statements made by people like Lennart who wrote "Whatever rights the Palestinians may have had, they have largely forfeited by their repeated acts of terrorism". Are human rights ever forfeited? Do the Palestinians have no right to fight for what is theirs, for the land that was stolen from them 54 years ago with the collaboration of the west and which is until today being given to people from Russia, USA and other parts of world simply because they claim their ancestors lived there over 3000 years ago.
Rifaat, London

Many of us are totally fed up with terrorism

Lennart, Norrkoping Sweden
Not all of us here in Europe are convinced by the one-sided media picture of the Mid East conflict. Many of us are totally fed up with terrorism, including the Palestinian terrorism. I, for one, recognise Israel's right to defend itself. Whatever rights the Palestinians may have had, they have largely forfeited by their repeated acts of terrorism. Lennart, Sweden
Lennart, Norrkoping Sweden

A few years ago I was a new immigrant from former USSR. When I came to Israel I worked with Arabs. They told me that it is a pity that I came to Israel because sooner or later all Israel will be Arabic and all Jews will be in Mediterranean. As simple as that.
Albert Lyubarsky, Israel

The world needs peace, and the conflict between these two nations threatens peace.
Mohammad, Tehran, Iran

Those who say that Israeli military operations are bringing positive results, you should wait and see what happens after they withdraw: violence brings more violence and Israel is not an exception to the rule!
James, Newcastle, UK

I guess if there is one person responsible for all the conflicts in the Middle East, it would be Sharon

Mazen Darwish, Windsor, Canada
Well here we are again back to ground Zero thanks to one thing that Sharon did about 2 years ago. I would like to know how do you explain Sharon's visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque? To me it appears that he is telling Muslims around the world that "here I am - what can you do?" Well, I guess if there is one person responsible for all the conflicts in the Middle East, it would be Sharon.
Mazen Darwish, Windsor, Canada

In answer to Anne Lewis: Would you be happy with being offered 97%'of land in 3 parts, surrounded by your oppressor's settlements and their army? With no control over your international borders? Also part of the land you are offered is currently used by yours oppressors to dump radioactive material.
Omar, London, UK

To Anne Lewis: This is not true! 40% of West Bank was offered to be a natural reserve; Israel was to keep control on the airspace, natural resources, borders! What kind of state is that? It is a pig prison! I also have a question to Albert Lyubarsky : Why do you have the right to immigrate to Israel, and the Palestinians can not come back to their homes that the Israelis have stolen from them?
Palestinian, Helsinki, Finland

Can one Palestinian explain why Arafat turned down all of the Gaza Strip, 97% of the West Bank and East Jerusalem too? Oh, did Barak forget to throw in Tel Aviv and Haifa?
Anne Lewis, Avon, CT USA

During Operation Defensive Wall there have been no suicide bombings and no significant terrorist attacks. Israel has been acting to defend itself, and it has been succeeding. Nonetheless, Israel should respect the wishes of President Bush and leave Area A and try to resume cease-fire agreements. I fear however, that the bombings will then continue, because Arafat clearly does not want to stop them. The Arab world needs to tell the Palestinians that terrorism hurts their cause. If they practiced non-violence, there would have been a Palestinian state 30 years ago.
Jason, New York City, USA

If Israel is made to stop the war against Palestine, does this mean the US will stop their war in Afghanistan?

Dany, France
Easy to criticise Israel. They are only protecting themselves against terrorists. If Israel is made to stop the war against Palestine, does this mean the US will stop their war in Afghanistan?
Dany, France

I have watched the situation in the Middle East getting out of hand. I have heard Bush branding the Palestinians resistance as terrorism. I have seen how such remarks have given the green light to Sharon to wage the so-called 'war on terror' as has been called by the Bush administration. America can not bring a solution and peace to the region. The Bush administration will fall in love with anybody who says he is fighting a war on terrorism even if it meant suppressing the weak and Sharon is just doing that.
Feston Balwa, UK

Whether US is going to intervene or not, one should bear the fact that this war is an endless one. The prophecy of the Bible is fulfilled!
Henry Kala, Solomon Islands

I am a citizen of Israel, I was born and raised as a proud Israeli, knowing that I have a safe place where I can live and raise my children, some day. Now there are some that saying it is OK to kill me in my homeland because they have the right to do so - tell me, would you agree to such a horrific situation? Why no one is asking themselves why the Palestinians are bombing Israeli citizens (Arabs and Jews) and why they are not negotiating instead of killing? Well this is a question that we, the Israeli people, ask ourselves each day and after each suicide attack. After all that we, the Israeli citizens, have been suffering, we realize that only after the terror will end we will be able to achieve peace and not before.
Shuli, Tel Aviv, Israel

The US administration is so far out of line with its attitude to Israel that no peace is possible unless this is changed substantially. That means not just talk - it means no arms, no economic assistance and sanctions imposed on Israel, if necessary. The US has to realize that the world cannot live with America's double standards in this conflict any longer. Finally, when this is all over and God help that it will be, if there is evidence of any kind of war crimes, the perpetrators, and those who harbour them, whoever they are, should be brought to justice.

After five suicide bombings that killed innocent civilians, women and children, should Israel have sat back and done nothing? No, a government has the obligation to defend its citizens. While civilian casualties in Gaza are upsetting, Israel must be able to eliminate the terrorists. Israel made tremendous concessions for peace in Oslo, at Camp David and at Sharm El Sheik. They all failed - Israel cannot continue offering peace when Arafat and the PLO won't even publicly renounce terrorism. If five terrorists blew themselves up in London, Paris, Amsterdam or Moscow the response would be swift and violent. Do not put constraints on Israel that you would not want put on your own government.
Graham, Boston, USA

We watch these horrible scenes on TV everyday, and they fuel us with anger against Israel, those who support it, and those who are silent about its crimes. I used to believe in peace, but no, not anymore. We are human beings, we cannot easily forgive and we cannot easily forget.
Ayman, Damascus, Syria

I am sick and tired of the ongoing mantra - occupation - humiliation- legitimate rights etc, etc. What about Israel's right to live in peace with neighbours that accept her right to exist? The sad fact is that the Arab world is using Israel to divert the world's and their people's attention from their own misery and corrupt regimes.
Ada Gerst, Miami, Florida

I witnessed the suicide bomb in Tel Aviv last week. I also witnessed a car bomb in Dublin. When you are faced with a person who says "Give me what I want or I will kill you" you do not have a basis for negotiation: such is the plight of Israel at this time.
Alexander Honeywell, Tel Aviv, Israel

I believe Sharon never wanted a negotiated peace, but a "peace" on his terms which seem to be the humiliation of the Palestinian people. Sharon has dangerously turned back the clock and this will be a political and economic disaster for Israel and we must also not underestimate the risk of a brutal regional conflict which could end in use of weapons of mass destruction. It is true that the Israelis have been provoked by the terrible suicide bombings but even this does not justify the collective punishment and humiliation of the Palestinians. Sharon may now have destroyed any hope of peace.
David Cutajar, Malta

There are two countries that had a peace agreement with Israel (Egypt and Jordan). I am sure that in the future all the Arabs neighbours of Israel (include the Palestinians) will have a peace agreement with Israel. The only reason for that peace (that is now and that will be with the other Arab countries in future) is the strength of Israel. I am sure that if one of Israel's neighbours (including Egypt and Jordan) will just think that he can beat Israel in a battle, he will immediately start a war with Israel. It took Egypt and Jordan dozens of years, too many wars and casualties to understand that they have no way other than that of peace. I hope that it will take the Palestinians fewer years, less wars and casualties to understand that.
Nathan Wittenberg, Azur, Israel

I believe that what happens there is what we can call 'closed violence circle'

Ahmed, Bristol, UK
I believe that what happens there is what we can call 'closed violence circle'. I would like to summarise my view in the following points: It is a war where Israel deploys its massive force while Palestinians deploy the bombing weapon. We must ask ourselves what leads a person to go and get killed in bombing others unless there is another definition for that. For sure it is not terror. These people are defending their right to live on their ancestors' land.
Ahmed, Bristol, UK

The world must realise that this war is a media war not a conventional one. The whole world is condemning the suicidal bombs, forgetting all about the wave of immigrations coming from all over the world to settle in an already owned land. The world forgets that generation after generation had to suffer only because "God gave the Israeli the right to confiscate other people's land". It would be nice if the native Americans occupied all of the USA and quoted the same argument.
Hisham, USA

I think the best way to end this conflict is to send international forces to the Middle East. These forces should be placed there so that they can control the movement of citizens and check out for suicide bombers. If this cannot be done, then allow Israel to do the job.
Martins, Den Helder, The Netherlands

Humanity is being slaughtered. I can't believe that we are in the 21st century. Why is there still a word called "occupation". Do we all need another world war? Haven't we learned anything from history? Why are we all playing a silent role in this struggle that is tearing human race apart?
Tamer, Cairo, Egypt

Israel has signed up to the UN. Why then does it not adhere to UN law?

Sue Longstaff, London
Israel has signed up to the UN. Why then does it not adhere to UN law? There are two peoples, of three faiths suffering in the 'Holy Land'. The scars of the current conflict may take generations to heal. Are we, as the international community, afraid to address this situation, willing to act with integrity, seek out the truth, and help to find a solution. What fear keeps us from acting decisively? Peace with justice will come to the Holy land; why not today?
Sue Longstaff, London

As human beings we haven't changed from 10,000 years ago. We still kill each other and watch others get killed. Violence has never solved anything. Israel must stop the settlements and give back the West Bank to the Palestinians. I just don't know what kind of people with what moral beliefs is able to take land away from others. And Palestinians need to accept Israel as a nation and stop the threats. Everyone including the Israelis must stop the prejudice and treat people based on values not color and religion. When will we humans ever grow up? Is there any hope for our kind?
Tom Kat,

I still can't get over the timing of the latest Israeli invasion. It seems as though it was designed to overshadow a historic moment which saw Arab leaders unanimously offer Israel land for peace.
Nad, Toronto, Canada

I would just like to point out that resisting to occupation is not terrorism,

Mo, England
I would just like to point out that resisting to occupation is not terrorism, by any means. I would also like to point out that Israelis started the whole conflict 50 years ago by occupying Palestine.
Mo, England

The horrific nature of what is going on in the Middle East is nothing new to people who see the conflict for what it is. The Palestinians live in an economic turmoil. Their women and children are being slaughtered by an army led by someone who sees Palestinians as inferior people. Sharon does not want peace.
Mark Delainy, London

Israel has been facing terror for 18 months already. Citizens including women and children are murdered on Israeli streets on a daily basis by terrorists and suicide bombers funded by the Palestinian Authority. Yet when Israel uses its right for self-defence and hits the terrorists and the terror infrastructure in the Palestinian areas, we hear protests all over Europe. Where were all these protesters when Arafat murdered any chance for peace with these terror acts?
Uri, Kfar Saba Israel

It is disgusting how Israel is using the same misleading slogan of fighting terror that US has created to get rid of anyone that stands against her policies

Rima, Damascus
It is disgusting how Israel is using the same misleading slogan of fighting terror that US has created to get rid of anyone that stands against her policies. Israel, to fool America and shut her up, has reduced the whole national struggle of Palestine, and the whole history of occupation to suicide bombers and Arafat. Well to your knowledge, America has brought people back to their schools, it has not left children in the street, picking shreds of their toys, and pencils and books from under the rabble of their demolished houses.
Rima, Damascus

My six year old son asked me, "Did the man with the bomb die first or did the people he bombed die first?" after he heard a radio report of the Passover Seder Massacre. How do I answer that question? My heart is breaking! There is NO excuse for murder. Thank goodness President Bush clearly stated that suicide bombers are murders. Why don't more of the headlines say that?

The suicide bombing is the only weapon Palestinian people have. They are frustrated because of the Israeli occupation of their land. I ask Israeli: how would have reacted if it were the Palestinians who occupied Israel?
R U Baig, Sweden

I'm tired of people calling suicide bombers evil. This is asymmetric warfare

Shala, Port Orchard USA
I'm tired of people calling suicide bombers evil. This is asymmetric warfare. It has nothing to do with morality or evil. You can use F-16's or helicopters to deliver munitions or if you have nothing you can strap munitions onto the human body and use that as a munitions delivery system. Killing is killing.
Shala, Port Orchard USA

Israel's brutal and humiliating occupation of Arabs for 35 years is a terrorist act in itself. A military helicopter or F16 fighter jets if used against a densely populated city is terrorizing the population, therefore it's a state sponsored terrorist act, and should be condemned worldwide.
IC, Haifa, Israel

Until we (Muslim World) don't act united, as a one nation, we will see the aggression of Israel and other nations against us. This is time to realize it - otherwise it's going to be too late.
True Muslim, Muslim world

Despite the U-turn of Middle East policy President Bush has made on Thursday, most likely for the reason of drumming up the support to get rid of Iraqi Dictator Saddam Hussein, Arab people in the Middle East and the Europeans should be careful not to fall in the trap. The commitments made in Bush's speech to the Palestinians can be reversed anytime or simply denied in the future. The Arab states and most importantly the Arab people should send out a clear united message: no deal on Iraq if no real establishment of a Palestinian state.
Eric, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

If they are so desperate of occupation why did they reject the offer by the late Israeli Prime Minister Barak to end this occupation 18 months ago

John McNeil, Toronto, Canada
One does not have to be an expert in the Middle Eastern conflict to understand that Israel has gone a long way in compromises searching for hope for peace with its Arab neighbours over the last 54 years. Arab propaganda is claiming that the current suicide bombing campaign is carried out by younger people who are desperate because of the Israeli occupation. Well, my simple question is that if they are so desperate of occupation why did they reject the offer by the late Israeli Prime Minister Barak to end this occupation 18 months ago in exchange of a lasting peace with Israel while recognizing it within its secure borders?
John McNeil, Toronto, Canada

The situation in Israel and Palestine is out of control. In order for peace to be established the Arab Palestinians must have their own state. It is sad that those within the Israeli government do not want this to happen. No matter how powerful their military is they will never be able to protect their people while the only foreign policy in use is oppressive occupational force. As a Muslim I pray for peace, the opressed people of Palestine, and all those innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians killed.
Anwar Abdel-Aziz, Athens, Ohio University

Let's get the Oslo Peace Accords/Camp David straight! Oslo was the basis for the implementation of UN Resolutions calling on Israel to withdraw to 1967 and reach agreement on other final issues. Palestinians would get a final state side-by-side with Israel. And yes, PLO did recognize Israel both at Madrid and Oslo. This was supposed to take 5 years maximum. Well, 8 years later and after the largest settlement drive in Israeli history, they come to Camp David. Not only does Israel have 23% more land allotted to it than what it was given in 1947, it wants 10% more land from the Palestinians. If anybody can argue against this, I would like to see you try.
Sensation, USA

Does anyone believe Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades will suddenly cease their campaign of terror and live peacefully with their Israeli neighbours?

Steve, USA
So what happens when Israel, under diplomatic pressure from the United States, withdraws to its 1967 borders? Does anyone believe Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades will suddenly cease their campaign of terror and live peacefully with their Israeli neighbours? I think not. It's apparent that many people (largely outside the US) are inclined to hold Israel solely responsible for the turmoil we now see, and while it is my personal opinion that Israel has been rather rough in the way it has dealt with the Palestinians with regard to new settlements and on a few other issues, the EU and Arab League should be ashamed of how little they have had to say against the suicide bombings.
Steve, USA

What is the likelihood of forming an Allies army (Pakistani, European, and American) to kick out the Israeli army from the Palestinian territories like how the allies kicked out Saddam when he invaded Kuwait? They are both invasions are they not? Or may be no one dares do that?
Anonymous, Pakistan

When I read stories like I read today I have to wonder what is in the drinking water over there in Europe. The Nobel "Peace" Prize committee wants to yank the prize away from Shimon Peres but has nothing to say about good old Yasser? This kind of thinking stuns me. And when I hear all the moaning from "sophisticated" Europeans about how one sided the US is know what... I could not care less. Like Europe really knows a lot about peace.
Glen, God bless the USA

Two wrongs do not make a right

Henry Erhiaganoma, London, UK
Two wrongs do not make a right, the suicide bombings by radicals on the Palestinian side and the disproportionate use of force by the Israeli in response is a revolving cycle where one action feeds on the other, resulting in misery and innocent deaths on both sides. Common sense tells me that if Israel made a declaration this is what it would do in return for peace, and guaranteed this through political negotiations then this crisis can be resolved very quickly, but then who said common sense is common.
Henry Erhiaganoma, London, UK

What would any other country do in the face of such terrorism? When the Palestinians put down their weapons Israel should and is willing to talk peace with them, as they have stated so many times. (And proved at Camp David) - and even make major concessions. But as long as Palestinans are launching daily suicide attacks, killing scores of Israelis, Israel not only has a right, but must defend herself.
Ben, Chicago IL and Sydney, Australia

I totally agree with Stephen Francis. I couldn't have put it any better so I won't! Only to say that I am glad that finally the tide of public opinion seems to be a recognition of the plight of ordinary Palestinians who have been caught up in a war 'not of their own making' but because oppression always meets resistance.
Toni Morris, Manchester, UK

If a teenager in Germany can be convicted of murder for dropping a rock on a car windshield, which killed the driver, why is the Palestinian teenager who uses that same weapon, any different?

Linda, USA
No one who takes up arms can be considered a non-combatant and they make themselves targets by doing so. It does not matter if the weapon in question is a rocket-launcher, a machine gun, a knife or a rock. All of these weapons can and have killed people. In this regard, innocent civilians do not carry sling-shots in their pockets, pick up suitable rocks, and cause them to be propelled at speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour with the obvious and admitted aim of smashing them into a soldier's face or head so as to kill them. If a teenager in Germany can be convicted of murder for dropping a rock on a car windshield, which killed the driver, why is the Palestinian teenager who uses that same weapon, any different?
Linda, USA

As a Muslim, I am frustrated and angry with what is going on against my people who just want to worship Allah and live in peace, much like many other church-going Christians do. In Egypt we feel that Israel State has plans to evacuate the Palestinian land (1967) either by killing or terrorising the Palestinian people.
Kandil, Cairo, Egypt

Exactly at what point does a counter terrorist operation become illegal and ends up with the perpetrator being sent to the Hague for trial? What line did Milosevic cross that the Israelis have not? Is George Washington to be regarded as a terrorist? Are the contra's terrorists? Are anti-Castro agitators in the US terrorists? Who decides?
Robert Norman,

I just want to know only one thing, Do you really believe that this conflict can be solved by us human beings?
Amani, Arusha, Tanzania

I think the biggest sin in this conflict is one of pride; pride in the belief that war can overcome what love has been taken away from both sides

Joya Ganguly, United States
I think the biggest sin in this conflict is one of pride; pride in the belief that war can overcome what love has been taken away from both sides, Israel and Palestine, in this tragic conflict. I submit that all nations around the world as the Holy Father has requested on Sunday, pray in order to ask wholeheartedly for God's forgiveness and his peace in the Middle East. We pray for God's forgiveness, ask for his strength, and seek his guidance for peace in the region soon.
Joya Ganguly, United States

By the way, until Israel's victory in 1967, the territories were under both Egyptian and Jordanian occupation. Palestinians were kept starved and humiliated in refugee camps at the hands of their own Arab brothers. Sure there could be peace, and a Palestinian state, Arafat if he would have continued negotiating rather than resorting to violence would be presiding over one right now. But no, his sense of honour, that is what he calls it would not allow it.
Howard , Israel

I'm a Canadian student attending a University where two students raising awareness on the human rights abuses suffered by the Palestinian people were arbitrarily expelled last August after an alleged scuffle with campus security. In violation of the University's own codes and regulations, and in violation of the principles of natural justice, the students were not given the opportunity to answer the charges against them or bring forward their witnesses. Instead, a media trial was conducted by the University administration's publications, aided by our dear friends at CanWest Global. For nearly two months, this theme dominated local media coverage of the events. It then became fashionable to justify the expulsions for reasons of safety and security and marginalize the denial of the students' rights. Sound familiar?
Leila, Canada

I know many Palestinians who are refugees, and they always pose a question: "Palestinians were forced to leave their homes and are unable to return, and those who are in Palestine are being humiliated, why don't ordinary Americans realise that they are supporting Israel's ambition to completely drive out Palestinians from their land?" I think that this is the time that we should recognise the right of Palestinians for self-determination as we did with Jewish people for their state.
James, Leeds, UK

Nobody focuses on the way the Palestinians treat their own. What can outsiders expect?
Gilbert White, London UK

I live in non-stop anxiety

Iris, Israel
I'm 16 year old girl from Israel. Luckily I live far from its borders. Nevertheless, I live in non-stop anxiety. I stopped going to public places as I fear for my life and that of my family and friends. Israel is liberal country that's against hurting innocents. The Israeli army isn't in the West Bank because we enjoy it - it's the only way to prevent some of the terror attacks on Israeli civilians after several bomb attacks every day for the last couple of weeks.
Iris, Israel

Yury, I quote you: "Wrong! If one knows little history, he should remember that it was the Arab world which started this conflict about 50 years ago. Arab nations did not recognise Israel's right to exist and wanted to "throw all the Jews into the sea" and that's how all that started." I guess you remember when the Soviet Union broke up a few years ago. The stronger states claimed independence the weaker areas/states were swallowed up by the stronger ones. If tomorrow the western part of Belarus decides to unite with Poland what will the existing Belarus government do? Yes exactly what the Arabs did when their countries were carved up.
Eva Liq, Birmingham

Idris: "This conflict is framed by the fundamental injustices that have inevitably followed 50 years of cruel eviction, occupation, subjugation, humiliation and now annihilation of the Palestinian people by the state Israel." Wrong! If one knows little history, he should remember that it was the Arab world which started this conflict about 50 years ago. Arab nations did not recognise Israel's right to exist and wanted to "throw all the Jews into the sea" and that's how all that started. And still the terrorist organizations, such as Hamas and others, want to destroy the State of Israel. The documents where found recently confirming that Palestinian Authority is linked to such terror groups.
Yury, Belarus

Iris: "Israel is liberal country that's against hurting innocents." What hope for peace when a majority of Israeli citizens hold the above opinion? It is clear that Sharon will never be able to make the massive concessions necessary to establish a sustainable peace, and as a democratically elected leader, we can only assume that his people broadly share this tragic inabilty. This conflict is framed by the fundamental injustices that have inevitably followed 50 years of cruel eviction, occupation, subjugation, humiliation and now annihilation of the Palestinian people by the state Israel. Whilst the Palestinian side is not without very many faults, it's cause is totally just, it's stoicism is admirable, and it's courage is heroic. Suicide bombing is not a surprising form of arms to take up when you have no military to defend yourself with, the world has forsaken you and you absolutely nothing left to lose. I pity all the innocents Jewish and Arab, but the culpability for all this murder resides in the immorality of the Israeli state as it currently stands.
Idris, London, UK

Itsik, you are absolutely right. And if people wish to speak of brutality that of Israel's armed forces pales in comparison to that of any other faced with this situation. For example, in this country's war of terror, the hundreds of innocent Afghans killed are never mentioned, yet Israel's army is criticized for every minor event, and its actions scrutinized.
Dekel, Iowa, US

Itsik, Rehovot, Israel, I have seen first hand the IDF soldiers at check points - believe me, they take great pleasure in humiliating the Palestinian Arabs. Most of them are young boys following orders - who seem to forget that they have mothers and sisters at home. Mothers and sisters who should be treated with respect. I have not seen any respect toward the Arabs who are treated like cattle at the various checkpoints. I am ashamed, as a Jew, to be witness to the humiliation of my fellow human beings.
Janeen, USA

To Itsik: The comment you made was the funniest caricature made concerning the morality of the Israeli army if it isn't so outrageous. Probably only Soviets' propaganda machine could rival the incredulity of your remark. How moral is an army that shoot at and violated the rights of peaceful unarmed marchers, foreign journalists, foreign nationals including BBC's own journalist and Israel's own peaceful marchers trying to rush in medicine and food for humanitarian aid? How moral is it to even deny the priests and nuns the right of passage to a religious site? Cosmetic and sanctimonious apologies cannot hide the ugly face of a soulless army led by a ruthless prime minister that is Ariel Sharon.
Eric, Canada

Itsik in Rehovot, you say that your army never hurts unarmed people unless accidentally and if they do they immediately issue an apology. I haven't seen one for the tank destroying that car (the images were carried by numerous papers and television networks around the world), or for the refusal to allow medics out to tend to the wounded, nor has there been one for the refusal to allow European diplomats in to see Mr Arafat. Your army is acting in a far from moral manner at present and appears to be out of control.
Alex Banks, Peterborough, UK

I have my experience with the Palestinians from Hebron city as a soldier there. Most of them want to live their own quiet life. However there is low percentage of radicals who try to create an atmosphere of terror and fear. The Israeli army is the most moral army in the world; we never harm unarmed people unless accidentally and immediately the army publicises an apology.
Itsik, Rehovot, Israel

Dear Uri/People! You only need a fraction of a minute to think how to respond to the killings of innocent people on both sides; Withdraw to the 67's border lines - this is the best security offer Israel would ever have and be able to chose from!
Chadi, Syria

The fear is everywhere

Uri, Israel
I suggest every one to stop for a minute and think how should we respond to the endless killing that started long before the occupation began? It is very easy for the Palestinians to blame Israel for the killing, and taking no responsibility for the suicide bombers attacking the innocents. You can't imagine how it feels to be afraid to get out of your own home; afraid to go on buses; afraid to send your son to school. The fear is everywhere!
Uri , Tel-Aviv, Israel

I am managing editor of the student newspaper at Sussex University, England, and at the moment many of my student friends and work colleagues are trapped in Ramallah, denied the right to leave by the Israeli government. 10 Sussex students left for Israel 2 weeks ago, as part of a peace delegation to try to put pressure on the Israelis to end the occupation. I am worried for my friends, but at the same time I feel tremendous pride for what they are doing. The presence of European protestors has demonstrated to the Israelis that people all over the world are extremely concerned at what they are doing. The stories I have heard from my friends about what they have seen the Israeli soldiers doing to the Palestinians makes my blood boil. The Israelis should not be allowed to get away with such things, I only hope that Mr Blair comes to feel the same way.
Jessica Hill, Brighton, England

On all sides of the conflict mothers still love their children and pray daily for peace

A Smith, UK
I was an Englishwoman living in East Jerusalem, and studying archaeology in West Jerusalem for 2 years. Despite having been a witness to violence on a number of occasions, as a foreigner I learnt an important lesson: although this land has been a cause of violence for over 3,000 years, on all sides of the conflict mothers still love their children and pray daily for peace. Let us hope that this never changes.
A Smith, UK

I was born and educated in this country and had a fairly open mind about what to expect when I visited Israel in 2000. I was very embarrassed at the treatment that my wife and I received at the boarder crossing. I told myself that if this is the way they treat foreign Muslims it is no wonder the Palestinians resort to suicide bombs. Maybe some of those who are so vocal need to go see what actually happens on the ground, there are many parallels with the apartheid regime of SA and we all know what happened there.
Ebrahim, UK

I worked in Jordan in the early eighties with both Jordanians and Palestinians. At this time we would occasionally travel across to Jerusalem. My experience and that of Palestinian colleagues was very different. I would be passed through an air conditioned comfortable checkpoint in about an hour. Palestinians would be strip searched take around six hours to get through the check point and passed though a system designed humiliate them. It did not matter their age, gender or medical condition (one pregnant colleague ended up with Pneumonia as a consequence).

I was always met with hospitality by Palestinians whether in Jordan or the West Bank. However decades of systematic humiliation have created the current situation.
Gareth, Edinburgh Scotland

We in the West have forgotten their plight

Elizabeth, Bethlehem, Palestinian Territories
I am an Australian who's been living in the Palestinian town of Bethlehem since 1997. I didn't know much about Palestinians until then and only thought of them all as terrorists or crazy people who liked violence. I used to think that because the only time Palestinians made it to the TV news was because of a car bomb or something. Nobody ever told me WHY they were resorting to such violence. Over the last four years I've found out why, and it doesn't in any way justify violence, but made me realise that we in the West have forgotten their plight. We've moved on to the next world crisis, the next refugee problem and have forgotten that we never solved the Palestinian refugee crisis first.
Elizabeth, Bethlehem, Palestinian Territories

My sister-in-law was changing buses on her way home from work in Jerusalem. She saw the explosion on the other side of the road and the head of the suicide bomber rolled onto the pavement. Under the circumstances you may consider her the lucky one. I have personally witnessed the people of the Baltic republics win their liberation from the Soviet occupation with quiet dignity, by non-violent means. The Palestinians cannot even formulate coherently themselves what they are fighting for, after they were offered a Palestinian state at Camp David.
Shani, Israel

I can write a book about what we went through in Lebanon during the 1982 Israeli invasion. Now history is repeating itself. 20 years ago, it took the world 3 months to try to end the Israeli invasion, only after the Sabra and Chatila massacres took place. What is the world community waiting to happen before taking any action?
Leila, LB

When my family or I leave our home we fear that something terrible is going to happen to us

Gilad, Israel
I am an Israeli and live about 5km from what is called the 1967 border. One would think that I live somewhere in some outlying area. In fact the coast is only 10km to my west. When my family or I leave our home we fear that something terrible is going to happen to us - a suicide bomber, a shooting spree, a bomb hidden in a rubbish can. Sitting at home I possess a fear that I don't share with my young children. We are in mortar and Kasam 2 rocket range, weapons that are manufactured with simple welding and steel cutting equipment you can find in most backyard metal shops.

When I look at the Palestinians, I don't just see a people acting on their own. I see Iraq, Iran, Syria and Egypt. I see Egypt because I know that this country has many internal problems and leaders are so capable of distracting internal descent to more "worthy" causes. And anti-Semitism has been a convenient tool for thousands of years. Nothing seems to have changed. I look at European countries that continue to support the Palestinians no what they seem to do and then I look back over the past 50 plus years and I see that some countries have never supported any Israeli position. Not in the UN and not in statements to Arab governments do these countries seem all too eager to please in order not to let the oil price rise.

I see ordinary citizens of these countries brainwashed by their tainted media reporting that they must assume Israel is wrong. The above fears are not recent. But I am not foreign in a foreign land. I know, as well as many of those silent Israeli basing countries, that Jews have an absolute right to be here. So I have nowhere to go. My motivation for survival in this land has to endure. There is no other choice. This is part of the Jewish experience.
Gilad, Israel

Shame on the British Government and others whose silence on the Middle East crisis is deafening! Token words are at best all that can be mustered by those who hold power as murder and acts of war are carried out by the terrorist state of Israel. Instead of embracing the leader with garlands of flowers and a determination to settle the conflict once and for all Israeli tanks have smashed and imprisoned the leader of the Palestinian Territories! Actions founded on hatred cannot pave a way to peace. They will only instil further hatred and ill feeling. How can it be otherwise? Israel seems determined to enslave the Palestinians and to crush their resolve. It simply increases the Palestinian determination to survive and these Israeli acts of war spawn more cycles of utter hatred towards them.
Michael, UK

It is now up to Tony Blair to show some leadership and instigate a final settlement

Michael Newbold, Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, UK
It seems to me that George W. Bush doesn't really care about the war between Israel and Palestine - all he is concerned about is attacking Iraq. However, unless something is done soon to stop the violence I do believe other countries will get involved and we will soon have World War Three. I have not heard anything from Tony Blair on the situation in a long while. As Bush has clearly washed his hands of the whole affair it is now up to Tony Blair to show some leadership and instigate a final settlement.
Michael Newbold, Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, UK

See also:

03 Apr 02 | Middle East
Israelis broaden West Bank offensive
12 Mar 02 | Middle East
Eyewitness: 'You can just be fired on'
16 Mar 02 | Middle East
Israel's stay-at-home culture
02 Apr 02 | Middle East
Israel's history of bomb blasts
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