Terrorism originally referred to the reign of terror by the government in France during 1793-1794, in which people that opposed to the government, were killed.
While the term originally referred specifically to a state terrorism, currently it’s mainly used to describe the killing of innocent people for political purposes.
The common definition says terror is an attack on civilians, but in every war civilians un doubtedly get hurt. Let’s take for example the bombing on German and Japanese cities by the Allies during World War II, they couldn’t effectively bomb only military bases and they also bombed cities, is that terror? I believe not. Throughout history you won’t find a war in which violence toward civilians didn’t occur.
Another definition, mainly common among leaders of countries, says that terror is a political violence acted by authorities that are not defined as a country. I wouldn’t pick this definition, Can you say that George Washington’s Army during the Independent War were terrorists? Moreover, the term terror originally refers to the French government rules and behavior at the 18th century.
So what exactly is terrorism?
The word terrorism comes from the Latin word terrere that means to frighten, terror is a military strategy that is aimed to impose fear and not just physical damage. Terrorists will try to hurt their enemy by making them fearful, confused and shameful, often they will use violence to do so. The assumption of terrorism is that fear and confusion will make the enemy act in a wrongful way. Take the US and Al Qaeda for example, look at all the money, manpower, time and force the US spends in the attempt to take Bin Laden and Al Qaeda down.
Terrorist try to create a massive political change with very limited power, in a way would seem like it’s almost impossible. It does it by asking the country they oppose to prove to its citizens they can actually provide security to them. The terrorist believes that while trying to prove it and by fighting against the terrorists, the country will focus all its energies to that and it might turn the tides.
According to Dr. Carsten Bockstette, terrorism is defined as political violence in an asymmetrical conflict that is designed to induce terror and psychic fear (sometimes indiscriminate) through the violent victimization and destruction of noncombatant targets (sometimes iconic symbols). Such acts are meant to send a message from an illicit, clandestine organization. The purpose of terrorism is to exploit the media in order to achieve maximum attainable publicity as an amplifying force multiplier in order to influence the targeted audience(s) in order to reach short- and midterm political goals and/or desired long-term end states.
There are different names to the actions some Palestinians organizations take against Israel, some will call those organizations Terrorists, some will call them freedom fighters.
Same goes to Israel, some will call it terror, some will call occupation.
The common ground between two sides is that both of them do injustice.
It is important to remember the result of this behavior is the same. Millions of people – men, women and children that are living in fear in the best case scenario, actually gets hurt or dies in the worst case scenario… just because other people oppose to their reign.