The bombing did kill innocent children - but so have suicide attacks in Israel, as well as the recent gunning down of an Israeli bus (probably) by Palestinian gunmen. So, what about this Hamas leader? Was he a viable enough target to justify the bombing? I think bombing almost always achieves nothing, but in this case I think Sharon has really shot himself in the foot, and it was no surprise to me that there were significant protests by left-wing Israelis in the aftermath. So one of the Hamas leaders is dead. Now he will be paraded as a martyr whose death must be avenged. No doubt some other nutter will step into his shoes and take over his role. So what exactly has Sharon achieved? He's pissed off a whole bunch of Palestinians by killing their kids, and has given Hamas some free PR. More violence will follow as a result. The whole situation is a self-perpetuating stalemate, or in terms of game theory (as Alex pointed out on another thread) it fits the catch 22 framework of the Prisoner's Dilemma.
What is the use of attributing fault, or bandying about labels like 'terrorist'? As it stands, it is impossible to discuss the relative morality of both sides - both sides are to blame. The question we should be asking is, where do we go from here? How do we work towards a secure environment for the next generation of young Israelis and Palestinians? Clearly, nothing is going to be achieved without outside intervention, but with the self-professed 'world policeman' the USA turning a blind eye to Israel's vagrant flouting of UN recommendations, the outlook is decidedly patchy. The onus should be on both sides to act, but the powers that be seem to have other ideas...the day when the USA begins to support the UN is the day when a genuine peace process can begin, because the Israelis and Palestinians are not going to let up if left to their own devices. It's not exactly rocket science either; Israel have to leave the West Bank, Palestine needs to become an internationally recognised viable state and Palestinians have to stop the suicide bombers. Surely, if you give the Palestinians what they want (and what they are owed, many would say), that is the key to ending the suicide attacks? Bombing civilian housing in order to eliminate one man (who will be instantly replaced), that just breeds hatred.
It would be cool if Sharon and Arafat got together and sang Kumbaya and it ended happily ever after...but sadly, this is the real world, where human nature is sovereign. Kumbaya, my lord. Kumbaayaaaaa.
"You can bomb the world to pieces,
but you can't bomb it into peace."