For many decades Muslims have become victims of forced occupation and have suffered severe brutalities at the hands of the western powers. Palestine, Afghanistan, Kashmir and Iraq are solid proof of this. While they consider themselves justified in their actions but the way Muslims respond is believed to be wrong, and Islam is projected as a religion of aggression and fanaticism. Now referring to a fairly recent onslaught on Muslims, the world witnessed that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) wreaked havoc on the people of Gaza for 22 days. Thus reducing thousands of buildings to rubble, ravaging hundreds of families and leaving countless crippled for life. An action replay of what happened in the attack against Lebanon in 2006, which was reportedly in response to the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier The Israelis have always believed that the Muslims resistant groups are terrorists and that jihad is basically a cover for terrorist attacks, and top of their list is Hamas (especially since they took control of Gaza in 2007 after a landslide victory in the elections). That over the years the Islamic militants have victimised innocent Israeli civilians and the defence forces. Having said that, they seem to forget that there was no Hamas when they slaughtered innocent and unarmed Palestinian refugees residing in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps Or when they killed thousands of Palestinians during the first Intifada (a low scale non-violence uprising of civilians), especially by opening fire on young boys who only had sling shots and stones as armaments (Hamas was established after that). What possible excuse do they have for such deeds? The second Intifada that began in 2000 also resulted in a massacre. In 2001 Israeli tanks, helicopters and bulldozers made their way to camp Younis Khan in the night, and opened fire so that the refugees would vacate the camp. While in another incident in response to firing by Palestinians on an Israeli post, they attacked with heavy machine guns and rockets on the camp consisting of 65,000 Palestinians. They also shot gas canisters, but this was no ordinary gas. Whoever inhaled it suffered from a severely and many would go from a comatose state to convulsions after every 5-6 minutes. No one knows what sort of gas it was and there has been no accountability, because there is virtual silence when something is done to Palestinians Similarly, the 2002 re-occupation of Palestinian cities witnessed more widespread murder by Israeli forces using American weapons, abuse of unarmed civilians, and the reckless demolition of economic and social infrastructure. Therefore when the Muslims are deprived of their homelands, basic rights, suffer from hunger, grief and degradation what should be their course of action? While it is true that suicide bombing is not permitted in Islam, yet this can be expected when the last fibres of endurance have been stretched to an unbearable level. However the term jihad has been misinterpreted and besmirched by the Western media. Jihad actually means, "to strive" in the path of Allah, to attain personal excellence and for justice, peace and order to prevail in the society. It is also a lifelong struggle of a believer against immoral ways of life as prohibited in Islam. On the other hand, jihad can also be referred to a battle (fought in special circumstances) such as self-defence to protect Islam or by those who have been expelled forcibly from their homes. So don't the Muslims have the right to defend themselves? Or is that a privilege reserved only for others? Hence it is of no consequence that thousands of Muslims have perished so far. Nevertheless if we react, we are deemed as terrorists, because we are supposed to be silent spectators when other Muslims die or are treated inhumanly for our lives are of no value The writer is a freelance columnist