OPINION

Commentary

The recent Palestinian suicide assaults were in many ways similar to the US terrorist strikes on September 11. They were well-organized, they sought to portray the suicides as heroes and they left behind a huge death toll, while their architects made sure they were captured by television cameras. It seems we are at the beginning of a new type of warfare in which being the stronger or the weaker party is of minor importance, parties to a conflict discard all sense of international law, and civilians are turned from being a protected section of the population into a key or collateral target. In the old days, the weaker party employed guerrilla tactics to undermine the stronger party, bend its arrogance and achieve a compromise solution. In this type of conflict between unequal sides, human life was the highest value. The weak and oppressed party displayed greater courage and was more thoroughly imbued with the idea of self-sacrifice. This self-denial, however, most often had a defensive character. It was more an act of desperation and less an act of fanaticism or blind retaliation. In our days, the weaker side does not fight in a defensive but rather in an offensive mode. It does not aim to undermine and enfeeble the enemy, but to eliminate him. In addition, it tries to offset its numerical and military weaknesses with two new elements. First, its fighters see the value of human life – and above all, their own lives – as being subordinate to the goals of their people, race or creed. Second, they have access to hi-tech equipment that also include weapons of mass destruction and they are prepared to use them without any moral or legal constraints. This relentless use of weapons of mass destruction by the weaker party clearly no longer ensures the balance of terror that accompanied humanity for some 40 years. The right of the mighty has always been an unacceptable element of interstate relations which distorted the essence of international legal principles. However, the pursuit of the right of the weak, backed up by type of warfare, may well bring far greater evils upon the human race.