Talking peace and drumming up support for his realignment plan of settlement, Ehud Olmert's 8 weeks in power proved to be the bloodiest, deadliest and the most criminal period of the 58-year-old state of Israel.

Since he was sworn in as the 12th prime minister of Israel on April 14, the Israelis have killed more than 50 Palestinians and injured around 200 almost at a rate of 1 killed and 4 injured per day. The new prime minister has set a record, surpassing the one established by his predecessor Ariel Sharon during the bloodiest days of the Palestinian uprising or intifada.

Olmert, who may want to create an image for himself as a tough and iron-fisted leader, has crowned the launch of his criminal record a prerequisite for Israeli leaders to be considered as capable by wiping out 8 members of the Ghalia family on Friday last week.

The Ghalia family, who were spending a day on Gaza beaches, did not return home from their short picnic because the Israeli Army decided to kill them. Eleven-year-old Huda, who survived the massacre, was left with consternation and could not believe her eyes that within seconds her family members were no more.

Necessary credentials

If Israeli leaders believe that by acting tough against the Palestinians is a necessary criteria to earn the respect of their people, Huda has no idea why the picnic for which she had waited for a year was converted into an unforgettable tragedy that will live in the minds and hearts of all those who watched the tragic events on TV channels around the globe.

The scenes of Huda crying for her father, whose body was blown up along with her brothers and sisters, including her 18-month brother in his picnic cottage, failed to move Olmert's heart.

Instead, the man's first statement after his army committed the Friday crime was: he was not concerned about Mahmoud Abbas's referendum on the prisoners' document and that the whole issue was just a political manoeuvre between two rival parties that should have no implications on Israel's plans.

In his own way, Olmert's statement was clear and sincere. In other words, he told the Palestinians that he has no intention of giving peace a chance and would unabashedly appropriate Palestinian land by drawing the borders on his own and killing whoever he wants to without any remorse.

The Palestinians should carefully scrutinise Olmert's words and deeds before answering Abbas's referendum question scheduled for next month. The answer to the referendum should be in a clear and sincere tone.

For many Arabs, it is still hard to digest how the world leaders can tolerate a heart shattering crime such as the one committed by the Israelis against a happy family in Gaza and refrain from calling it by its true name: a cold-blooded crime.

Sad turn of events

The Ghalia family of Bait Lahia village in the north of the Gaza Strip was not a weekly picnicker and does not have the luxury to make a weekly trip to the free beaches. They decided to go on a picnic to celebrate little Huda's excellent achievement in her school examination.

The picnic ended with an Israeli barrage bombarding the family from the sea and killing all its members, except Huda who was a little late in answering her father's call to join the family for lunch.

Huda's childlike desire to play in the sea water for a few extra minutes changed her life. Those precious minutes that she was away from her family saved her life and gave her an opportunity to burst out her emotions in front of shocked television viewers.

Olmert's rhetoric about peace and realignment plan of settlement should not deceive the world and the Palestinians who will go in for the referendum to sanction the plan for peace and recognise Israel's right to exist. Instead, Palestinians should call on the world to force Israel to recognise their right to live and swim peacefully off the beaches in Gaza, if not weekly, then once in a year.