The aftermath of Palestinian terror:
British politicians witness it first-hand

London - published on 6 December 2004
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This Briefing describes the reaction of British politicians who were visiting Tel-Aviv when a Palestinian suicide bomber attacked the city’s main market. Their reaction upon witnessing the aftermath of the attack bears out the Israeli claim that outsiders need to understand the reality of Palestinian terror, rather than criticising Israel’s policies “from a distance”.

Israelis routinely claim that the country’s critics don’t understand what it is like living in a society facing Palestinian terror (involving 21,000 attacks and 122 suicide bombings in 4 years – see Briefing 78).

Occasionally, Western politicians experience the reality of terror. This happened recently when, on 1 November, a delegation of British conservative politicians witnessed the aftermath of a Palestinian suicide bomb attack on Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market. Three Israelis were killed in the attack and dozens wounded. The politicians arrived on the scene minutes after the attack, witnessing the carnage and the desperate efforts of rescuers to help those seriously injured. Here were two quoted reactions from the delegation:-

George Osborne, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury

“What I saw will stay with me for the rest of my life… To see these things with your own eyes brings home the threat that Israelis face every day…”

Theresa Villiers, Conservative MEP

“You see these things on TV but it really brings home the magnitude of the terror when you see it for yourself….”

Our comments: Israelis claim that the country’s critics do not understand the reality of the terror which Israel faces: the scale of the violence, its randomness and cruelty, and the enormous suffering caused to those left behind.

On 1 November a small group of British politicians glimpsed that reality – but they then flew home. But for Israelis, Israel is their home. They face the prospect of terror attacks every day, and ask themselves a single question: if British society experienced the terror which Israel has experienced these last four years, or if politicians like Osborne and Villiers had witnessed what they witnessed in Tel-Aviv, in Trafalgar Square or Piccadilly Circus instead, how would the British Government and people react?

Israelis do not ask the world at large to be vocal enthusiasts for the security fence or the military checkpoints. These are tough measures with a clear detriment to Palestinian society. But Israelis do ask that its critics at least understand the context against which Israel’s policies are formed. In Tel-Aviv’s Carmel Market, a group of British politicians witnessed that context.