Beyond Images Challenging myths and presenting facts about Israel 
The “cycle of violence” between Israelis and Palestinians
London - published on 18 December 2003
Beyond Images Ref: 75

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Statement: “ Israel and the Palestinians are caught in a tit-for-tat cycle of violence….”


  • For Israel the use of military force is a last resort. Its purpose is to defend Israeli citizens, intercept terrorists, and disable the terror infrastructure, when all other means of preventing attacks have been exhausted.

  • Israel endeavours to minimise civilian Palestinian casualties (see Briefing 7 and Briefing 9).

  • For the Palestinian terror groups, the use of violence is a first resort – the strategy of choice. They use it to terrorise Israeli civilians, to wreck negotiations, to prompt Israel to retaliate in a way which they hope will attract international condemnation of Israel , and to win the Arab “street” as part of the political in-fighting in Palestinian society.

  • The terror groups seek to maximise Israeli casualties and suffering.

  • Israel did not initiate the violence in 2000, and has entered into unilateral ceasefires to try to bring it to a halt. Isreal has also repeatedly appealed to the Palestinians to halt the violence so that diplomacy has a chance to resume.

  • The Palestinians have not complied with “ceasefires” which were agreed. During the first six weeks of the so-called ‘ceasefire' ( hudna ) of Summer 2003, Israeli experienced 120 shootings. 40 Palestinian attacks were intercepted. Suicide bombers killed 26 Israelis while the ‘ceasefire' was supposedly still in place.

  • Israel 's tangible steps to meet legitimate Palestinian needs have frequently been frustrated by Palestinian terror (for illustrations see Briefing 49).

  • This is not a “cycle of violence”, but a pattern of Palestinian sabotage.

  • Palestinian society and politics have embraced a culture glorifying terror, with blood-curdling calls for killing uttered at funeral marches, and school summer camps and football matches used to honour suicide bombers and incite hatred. There is no equivalent to this whatsoever in Israel .

  • Mr Sharon has called for “painful concessions” by Israel and says he “plans to begin working with a Palestinian state” once a real agreement has been reached (see Briefing 32).

  • Mr Arafat calls Israel 's creation in 1948 an “accursed day” and praises Palestinian suicide bombers for “improving the land with their blood” (see Briefing 70). Which view can lead to coexistence between peoples?


Summary: Palestinian terrorism and Israel 's response are not part of a cycle of violence. There is no moral equivalence between Israel 's use of force on the one hand, and the terror carried out by Palestinian groups on the other hand. The motivations are different, the underlying culture is different, the methods used are different, and the political attitudes are different. If you insist on characterising the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a “cycle of violence” then Mr Arafat is pushing the pedals, while Israel is squeezing the brakes ….