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News from Palestine & Israel

Posted after April 16, 2002

Posted April 16, 2002

Immortal heroes of Jenin
(Uri Avnery, The Guardian, April 16, 2002)
When the international media cannot be kept out any more and the pictures of horror are published, two possible versions may emerge: Jenin as a story of massacre, a second Sabra and Shatila; and Jenin, the Palestinian Stalingrad, a story of immortal heroism. The second will surely prevail. . . . Nations are built on myths. . . . When dozens of wounded people lie in the streets and slowly bleed to death because the army shoots at every moving ambulance, it creates terrible hatred. When the army secretly buries hundreds of bodies of men, women and children, it creates terrible hatred. When tanks destroy houses, topple electricity poles, open water pipes, leave behind thousands of homeless people and cause children to drink from puddles, it causes terrible hatred. . . . A Palestinian child, who sees all this with his eyes, becomes the suicide bomber of tomorrow. Thus Sharon and his chief of staff, Shaul Mofaz, create the terrorist infrastructure. . . . In the meantime, they have created the foundations of the Palestinian nation and the Palestinian state. The people saw their fighters in Jenin and believe that they are far greater heroes than the Israeli soldiers, protected inside their tanks. They saw their leader in the historic TV sequence, his face lit by a single candle in his dark, surrounded office, ready for death at any moment, and compare him with the hedonistic Israeli ministers, sitting in their offices far from the battlefront, surrounded by hordes of bodyguards. Thus national pride is engendered. . . . In the end, only one thing will be remembered: our giant military machine assaulted the small Palestinian people, and the small Palestinian people and its leader held on.

Israel faces rage over 'massacre' - London and Brussels politicians demand UN investigation of Jenin allegations
(Ian Black, Ewen MacAskill, and Nicholas Watt, The Guardian, April 17, 2002)
Israel's international reputation slumped to its lowest point for two decades yesterday, amid condemnation in Britain and Europe of the Israeli army's behaviour at the Palestinian refugee camp in Jenin in the West Bank. . . . Israel must accept a UN investigation of alleged atrocities against Palestinians or face "colossal damage" to its reputation. . . . Britain's most prominent Jewish parliamentarian, launched a ferocious attack on the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, denouncing him as a "war criminal". . . . Mr Kaufman said Mr Sharon had "ordered his troops to use methods of barbarism against the Palestinians". . . . [Sharon's] actions are staining the Star of David with blood. . . . even the foreign secretary, Jack Straw - in recent months a strong defender in public of Israel - joined in criticism. . . . "Israelis can't trample over the rule of law, over the Geneva conventions, over what are generally regarded as acceptable norms of behaviour without it doing colossal damage to their reputation."

Posted April 13, 2002

Israel buries the bodies, but cannot hide the evidence
(Justin Huggler in Jenin and Phil Reeves in Jerusalem, The Independent, 13 April 2002)\
Israel was trying to bury the evidence in Jenin refugee camp yesterday, but it cannot bury the terrible crime it has committed: a slaughter in which Palestinian civilians were cut down alongside the armed defenders of the camp. . . . "I saw them burying the bodies. They started work on the grave a few days ago. I recognised some of the bodies in it. I can give you the names." . . . And he reeled them off: "Mohammed Hamed, Nidal Nubam and Mustafa Shnewa". He said the mass grave he saw was in a neighbourhood called Harat Al-Hawashiya. "They dug a big hole in the ground. I saw them filling it in today. They had a big bulldozer pushing dirt in on top of it." . . . the Israeli army will have [buried the victims] to keep the devastating sight of the carnage away from the eyes of the waiting world. . . . a crime has been committed which Israel is trying to cover up. . . . "It is clear they have something to hide - that is the bottom line," said one senior diplomatic source. . . . Some accounts say that a third of the camp has been flattened. . . . Israel may be able to hide the bodies of the dead but it cannot hide all the evidence. Hundreds of refugees have poured out of Jenin camp, many with harrowing stories to tell. The Palestinians are not going to let these stories be buried under the rubble.

Secret UK ban on weapons for Israel - Blocking of sales mirrors German action
(John Hooper and Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian, April 13, 2002)
Britain has imposed a de facto arms embargo on Israel for the first time in 20 years . . . military equipment that would have been cleared before Israel's offensive against the Palestinians, is now being blocked. . . . London's undeclared policy mirrors that of Germany . . . France had also quietly suspended sales of certain arms, another source said. The parallel moves by European powers emphasise Israel's growing estrangement from its allies and make it more dependent than before on US goodwill. . . . Ministers have demanded an explanation from Israel about its use of British equipment in actions against Palestinians in the occupied territories.

Posted April 12, 2002

US-Israel-Palestine - observations by Noam Chomsky
(Noam Chomsky, Red Pepper, April 11, 2002)
"In colonial Israel...human life is cheap." The leadership is "no longer ashamed to speak of war when what they are really engaged in is colonial policing, which recalls the takeover by the white police of the poor neighborhoods of the blacks in South Africa during the apartheid era." . . . No one can seriously doubt that the US role will continue to be decisive. It is therefore of crucial importance to understand what that role has been, and how it is internally perceived. . . . In the real world, the primary barrier to the "emerging vision" has been, and remains, unilateral US rejectionism. There is little new in the "Arab League's historic offer." It repeats the basic terms of a Security Council Resolution of January 1976 backed by virtually the entire world . . . It was opposed by Israel and vetoed by the US, thereby vetoing it from history. The Resolution called for a political settlement on the internationally-recognized borders "with appropriate guarantee...the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence of all states in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized borders" . . . the guiding principle of the occupation has been incessant and degrading humiliation, along with torture, terror, destruction of property, displacement and settlement, and takeover of basic resources, crucially water. That has, of course, required decisive US support . . . Current modifications of US rejectionism are tactical and so far minor. With plans for an attack on Iraq endangered, the US permitted a UN resolution calling for Israeli withdrawal from the newly-invaded territories "without delay" -- meaning "as soon as possible," Secretary of State Colin Powell explained at once. Palestinian terror is to end "immediately," but far more extreme Israeli terror, going back 35 years, can take its time. Israel at once escalated its attack, leading Powell to say "I'm pleased to hear that the prime minister says he is expediting his operations." . . . Meanwhile the US continues to "enhance terror," to borrow the President's words, by providing Israel with the means for terror and destruction, including a new shipment of the most advanced helicopters in the US arsenal.

Calls begin for war crimes trial for Israelis
(Nicholas Kralev, The Washington Times, April 12, 2002)
Palestinian sympathizers in Europe and the Arab world called yesterday for the Israeli government to be investigated for war crimes, raising the prospect that leaders of the Jewish state could be among the first targets of the new International Criminal Court. . . . With the U.S. seat in the hall empty, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan vowed that "those who commit war crimes, genocide or other crimes against humanity will no longer be beyond the reach of justice." . . . "The Israeli army has indiscriminately shelled refugee camps, using helicopters, warplanes, tanks and heavy artillery, killing hundreds of people. Medical assistance has been denied; hospitals have been shelled," . . . "The population is starving because of the curfew, while water pipes and electricity networks have been destroyed," . . . Lebanese President Emile Lahoud called for the Israeli leadership to be brought before the International Court of Justice for the "massacres" committed by the army.

Posted April 11, 2002

Jenin Refugee Camp a Massacre, Many Killed - the genesis of another holocaust
(Lee Hockstader, Washington Post, April 11, 2002)
Heavy Fighting, Israeli Obstacles Prevent Relief Groups From Reaching Area . . . For a week, virtually no one and nothing has gone into the camp except for Israeli tanks, troops, armored bulldozers and missiles fired from AH-64 Apache helicopter gunships. All that has come out are Palestinian refugees, and reports of death on a large scale. . . . obstacles thrown up by Israeli forces have prevented international relief agencies and journalists from reaching the camp. The number of Palestinians killed in the fighting ranges from Israel's estimate of 150 to 200 fighters to the Palestinians' of 500 fighters and civilians. Independent verification of the death toll has been impossible. . . . some are referring to it as a "massacre," and Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority has declared that Thursday will be Jenin Day, an occasion for solemn remembrance. . . . "It's something unforgettable," . . . On Tuesday morning, the Red Cross sent six teams to Jenin, hoping to evacuate more sick and wounded residents of the camp. But the ambulances and local paramedics that were to accompany them were not allowed in, and heavy fighting forced the teams to turn back.

Posted April 9, 2002

Unholy War
(Robert Fisk, The Independent, 07 April 2002)
The Bethlehem bellringer, the doctor, the mother. The innocent keep on dying . . . I saw black smoke cowling into the air over Amman as more demonstrators screamed their hatred of America and Israel. . . . And this, remember, is friendly, pro-Western Jordan . . . All across the Arab world, local dictators are suppressing their people's anger. In Jordan, you can even find people who ask not only why the late King Hussein signed a peace treaty with Israel. Some of them are asking another question: what is the point of his son, King Abdullah? No wonder that the Arab leaders told US Vice-President Dick Cheney last month that he should forget America's forthcoming screen epic in Iraq and deal with the Palestinian-Israeli war. . . . And as happens so often nowadays - incredible though it seems - the Arabs got it right while the Americans fantasised about the "axis of evil". . . . What the world has so far witnessed - and the Palestinians spotted this from the start - is that the Israelis are meeting resistance they never expected. . . . everyone now knows that the Americans will expect Israel to wrap up its assault by the time Mr Powell arrives later this week. . . . So the military logic is simple. This weekend, the Israeli army has got to batter the Palestinians into submission. And somehow, the Palestinian forces have got to hang on and keep fighting. If they succeed, and the Israelis withdraw their tanks without subduing them, Mr Sharon is forced into a bitter humiliation. If the Israelis do not withdraw at Mr Powell's demand, then the first serious crack appears in the Sharon-Bush alliance. In which case, Mr Arafat will win yet again. . . . The Israeli army, meanwhile, is proving once more - as it did in Lebanon - that it is not the "elite" force it's cracked up to be. . . . Watching the Israelis in Ramallah and Bethlehem last week was a disturbing experience. They were undisciplined, firing like militiamen . . . Three times I watched Israeli tanks jam themselves into narrow streets so hopelessly that their crews had to emerge under fire from their hatches, jump on to the roadside and hand-signal the tank drivers to reverse their vehicle. . . . And of course, the innocent go on dying. . . . No matter that Israeli law possesses no legitimacy in the Palestinian areas it occupies CNN and NBC meekly refused to [offend Sharon]. What happened, one wonders, to that great American journalist's principle of refusing to tolerate censorship? . . . If Israel fails militarily - as it will - then how are the vicious Palestinian suicide bombers to be stopped? . . . The Israelis still refuse to contemplate the arrival of a foreign protection force - the dream of every Palestinian - but the time may come when a Nato-American force will have to be contemplated, to protect Israelis as well as Palestinians. . . . In the meantime, be sure the Americans will go on over-arming the Israelis.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrations held in Europe, Australia, U.S.
(Ha'aretz, April 6, 2002)
Thousands of people took part Saturday in pro- Palestinian demonstrations in European cities and around the world - an estimated 20,000 in Paris alone, with protesters shouting "Bush, Sharon murderers". . . . Several thousand took part in protests in Marseilles, while more demonstrations were held in Nantes, Tours, Nice and Montpellier. . . . Protest organisers claimed 40,000 people demonstrated in Rome . . . Athens police said some 1,000 protesters, from Greece's Arab community as well as Greek peace activists, rallied first outside the Israeli embassy before marching to the U.S. mission . . . Thousands of pro-Palestinian marchers took part in demonstrations in two German cities . . . Similar protests took place across the border in neighbouring Switzerland, where some 9,000 demonstrators gathered peacefully in the capital Berne . . . Demonstrations in support of Palestinians were also held Friday in New York and New Jersey. Thousands of demonstrators marched along Broadway, carrying Palestinian flags, and Israeli flags with swastikas on them.

Beware the Cyclops
(Wole Soyinka, The Observer, April 6, 2002)
[Editor's Note: Wole Soyinka visited a ravaged Palestine last week, he was struck by parallels with an ancient myth - one that sends out a dire warning to humanity.]
I had an instant flash: Ulysses trapped in the cave of the one-eyed Cyclops Polyphemus. Several aspects of Homer's tale began to take on sobering parallels. . . . With his usual guile, Ulysses had not given his real name to his host but had introduced himself as No-Man. When the fiery stake sizzled in the giant's eye in the dead of night and he bellowed out his pain, his fellow Cyclopes ran to his aid, demanding who or what had caused his anguish. "No-Man is the villain," replied Polyphemus. . . . Once seaborne, Ulysses could not resist taunting his foe, screaming abuse at the giant. In thwarted fury, Polyphemus flung huge lumps of rock in the direction of the needling voice, setting off a virtual tsunami that nearly swamped his tormentors. . . . Ulysses, had he so chosen, could have returned and stung the blinded Polyphemus again and again. And Polyphemus would have uprooted all the rocks - a prominent feature of the Palestinian terrain, dazzling white - and flung them blindly in the direction of his assailant, missing him completely but provoking one deluge after another that would threaten to inundate the world and drown all its innocent inhabitants. . . . What I saw last week made me truly afraid for the Israelis - it reinforced my view that many of those who believed that their political leader was treading the right political path had simply never taken the trouble to project their minds into the refugee camps of the Palestinians, into their daily existence - much less visit the physical reality, experience at first hand the daily humiliation and the scars of memory that characterise the condition of nearly all Palestinians today. . . . The sense of humiliation in Palestine was just as palpable - you could touch it, measure it and weigh it. . . . There were numerous accounts of women who gave birth at checkpoints because of the inflexible control that was exercised over the movements of ordinary people; of deaths that occurred within ambulances trapped in convoys or at checkpoints. . . . These instances of dispossession, and their chilling methodology, have been meticulously recorded by UN agencies, foreign embassies and external visitors. The evidence was overwhelming, indisputable.

Posted April 8, 2002

Since US soldiers are blindfolding and gagging Muslim prisoners, why should Mr Sharon worry?
(Robert Fisk, The Independent, 08 April 2002)
Why should [Sharon] worry about the scandalous number of civilian casualties among the Palestinians? After all, didn't America wreak its own revenge - killing thousands of innocent civilians in one of the poorest countries on Earth . . . Sharon is the man who then sent Israel's vicious Phalangist allies into the Beirut refugee camps of Sabra and Chatila, after which they massacred 1,700 Palestinian civilians. . . . So why should Mr Sharon stop now? . . . what has happened to the more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners who have disappeared into Israel's hands over the past two weeks? What happened, for example, to the five men, blindfolded and trussed up like chickens whom I discovered in the Jewish settlement of Psagot? What happened to the masses of young men I saw being taken in a bus with its windows wired over, a bus that made its way around Jerusalem and headed west on the Tel Aviv highway. How many of these young men are now being tortured either in interrogation centres or in the Russian Compound, the main torture compound in West Jerusalem? . . . But since Mr Bush's soldiers are experts in blindfolding and gagging Muslim prisoners - and putting them in front of drumhead military courts - why should Mr Sharon worry? . . . So this week will be a crucial one in the American-Israeli relationship, a real test of the Bush presidency. We shall find out who - the US or Israel - runs America's policy in the Middle East.

Sharon's Wars: How The News Gets Through
(Alexander Cockburn, Counterpunch, April 3, 2002)
Reporting in the mainstream corporate press here was horrifying tilted into putting the best face on Israeli deeds. Mostly, it still is. But the attempted news blackout by the Sharon government and the Israeli military simply isn't working. . . . As always, there are the courageous witnesses. These days we have the enormously brave young people in the International Solidarity Movement sending back daily e-mails and phone calls to the United States that flash their way round the internet and even translate into important interviews in the mainstream press, or on tv news shows. . . . [Editor's Note: There follows several first-hand accounts with links to their postings.] . . . Brzezinski went on, "It's absolute hypocrisy to be claiming that Arafat can put a stop to the terrorism - and it's -- let's put it mildly -- poor information on the part of the President to be maintaining that. This guy is sitting isolated. Sharon is trying to repress the Palestinians and terrorism is not stopping. How is Arafat supposed to put a stop to it? but the fact of the matter is that his ability to control the situation would be greatly increased if there was serious movement towards political process, towards a political settlement and that the United States took the lead." . . . Between this brisk statement of the obvious and the eloquent courage Adam Shapiro and his brave fellow internationalists, the truth is getting out, not fast enough, not loud enough, but better than twenty years ago.

Posted April 7, 2002

Get out now, US tells defiant Sharon
(Julian Borger, The Guardian, April 8, 2002)
The US responded with mounting anger yesterday as Ariel Sharon stepped up Israel's military offensive against Palestinian cities on the West Bank, in open defiance of an appeal from President Bush for an immediate withdrawal to begin. . . . [Bush] expected Mr Sharon to start it "now, not tomorrow", in some of the sharpest language the Bush administration has used towards Israel so far. But Mr Sharon's office simply promised to "expedite" the 10-day-old offensive, and issued a statement justifying the assault. . . . In a speech on Saturday underlined by a 20-minute phone call to the Israeli prime minister from the presidential ranch in Crawford, Texas, Mr Bush called for withdrawal "without delay". . . . The national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, made it clear that Israeli defiance was taken as a direct affront to the administration's credibility. . . . US officials stressed that the intervening period should not be used by Israel to continue its offensive.

Posted April 6, 2002

Oil Embargo Effort Against Israel and Its Ally
(Mariam Fam, Associated Press, April 5, 2002)
Iran on Friday became the second OPEC country to call for an oil embargo against Israel's allies, while thousands of Arabs across the Middle East protested Israel's offensive into Palestinian territories. . . . "I suggest, only for one month, as a symbolic gesture, that Arab and Islamic countries switch off oil to all countries who have close relations with Israel," Khamenei said in a Friday prayer sermon at Tehran University. . . . During a visit to Moscow, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi suggested his government would support Khamenei's suggestions. . . . "If other Islamic countries join in this call, it will be a very strong instrument against America and Israel," Kharrazi said. . . . World markets initially were alarmed by Iraq's earlier boycott call, as crude futures surged to six-month highs Tuesday, pushing prices at U.S. pumps higher. . . . In Manama, Bahrain, about 7,000 demonstrators massed outside the U.S. Embassy, with some hurling rocks into the compound and burning an embassy satellite dish and a sentry box. . . . At Egypt's top Islamic institute, the Cairo-based Al-Azhar Mosque, some 2,000 protesters called for Arab military intervention, chanting: "One, two, where is the Arab army?" . . . In Jordan, riot police used batons against about 4,000 demonstrators converging on the Israeli embassy in Amman. . . . Some 2,000 protesters also attacked about 50 riot police with shoes and stones following prayers at Amman's al-Husseini mosque. . . . "I tell them (Palestinians) that their steadfastness and their heroism is a source of pride to the whole Arab nation," Abdullah said.

Defiant Israel snubs Bush peace plan
(Justin Huggler, Andrew Buncombe, and Colin Brown, The Independent, 06 April 2002)
Israel defied President George Bush yesterday in the most bloody and belligerent fashion, continuing its week-long military assault, assassinating two prominent Palestinian militants and sending its tanks roaring into another West Bank town. . . . Israel's military assault continued unabated as polls in the country showed a rise in support for the tactics being employed by the Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon. . . . General Zinni was allowed through the cordon of Israeli tanks and soldiers that surround the compound, the first foreign official to be given access to Mr Arafat in eight days. . . . Israel did not want journalists to witness the meeting. Soldiers threw stun grenades at a convoy of reporters who were trying to reach the building and trained the barrels of their tanks at their vehicles. . . . As the two talked, Israel pushed home its military advantage, sending its tanks into Tubas, home to 20,000 Palestinians

Posted April 5, 2002

Photos of Israeli soldiers murdering a civilian
This series of photographs (view from right to left as numbered) clearly depicts the cowardly and criminal actions of the Israeli army. Notice in the last picture that this cold-blooded murder was covered up to look like the capture of a suicide bomber, when in fact it was an act of criminal inhumanity. This is justice and law as practiced by the Zionist state of Israel. Civilized people call it terrorism.

Posted April 4, 2002

Israeli Police Brutalize Jews At Peace Rally

Events Around the World In Support of Palestinian Rights
Demonstrations and rallies demanding an end to Israel's occupation and the current Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people are being planned worldwide. Readers who are interested in participating in the various demonstrations, sit-ins, and other events are urged to immediately contact local groups in their respective cities and/or countries that are organizing such solidarity events.

The will be posting the contact information of different solidarity groups worldwide. The list below is a start, and will be updated as more information is gathered. Please email them if you know of any solidarity group that they should list, or any upcoming solidarity events that they should post.

Please send your e-mails to
[Editor's Note: Rallies are currently planned for the following U.S. cities: Atlanta, Ga, Detroit, MI, Los Angeles, CA, New Jersey, NJ, New Orleans, LA, New York, NY, Philadelphia, PA, San Francisco, CA, Washington, DC, Seattle, WA, and Youngstown, OH. Details and contact information about these events is available on the Palestine Chronicle's website.]


Posted April 3, 2002

Journalists protest at Israeli press ban
(Jessica Hodgson, The Guardian, April 3, 2002)
Journalists' groups have united in their condemnation of the Israeli authorities for failing to protect press freedom in the West Bank town of Ramallah. . . . The CPJ expressed its "alarm" at the "mounting press freedom crisis" developing in the Middle East as Israel's offensive against West Bank towns gathered pace. . . . "Barring journalists from conflict areas constitutes censorship," . . . We are deeply disturbed by Israel's evident desire to prevent journalists from witnessing its current activities on the West Bank," . . . "Allowing the Israeli occupation of Ramallah to take place without media witnesses is to foment rumours and disinformation," . . . One France 2 reporter told the Committee to Protect Journalists that soldiers threatened them, hurled a bottle, and fired a shot in their direction.

Posted April 2, 2002

Statement: Birzeit University's "appeal to end Israeli Occupation Army violence against the Palestinian people"
Birzeit University students, staff and faculty living in the Ramallah, Al Bireh and Birzeit area have been greatly affected by the "state" terrorism being perpetrated by the State of Israel. On Friday March 29, 2002, all male residents between the ages of 15 and 45 in one section of Al Bireh were told to assemble in a nearby school. . . . The majority of them were forced to remain in the school throughout the day and night. . . . others where placed on busses and taken away. Their whereabouts are yet unknown, and there is no information as to the number of those arrested although estimates have reached 500 . . . On Saturday March 30, 2002, the Israeli army entered several homes, randomly destroying belongings, arresting individuals, and shooting others in cold blood. . . . students were arrested, their books torn up and their computers smashed. . . . The students have been living for the past three days without food, electricity or water. . . . The women are unable to step out of the hostel due to the presence of snipers on the adjacent buildings. They are being held hostage with only a few loaves of bread to sustain them. . . . there is no way of assessing the number of individuals killed, wounded or arrested or the number of homes that have been entered and the extent of damage done.

Posted April 1, 2002

Israeli Press Silenced! - The war looks different abroad - and maybe so do the facts
(Aviv Lavie, Ha'aretz, April 2, 2002)
A journey through the TV and radio channels and the pages of the newspapers exposes a huge and embarrassing gap between what is reported to us and what is seen, heard, and read in the world - not only in the commentaries and analytical pieces, but also in the reporting of the dry facts. . . . Israel looks like an isolated media island, with most of the reporters drafted into the cause of convincing themselves and the reader that the government and army are perfectly justified in whatever they do. . . . An Israeli citizen interested in a more complex picture of reality has to rely on the remote control and the computer mouse. "I've been here many years but I don't remember such a dark period in the Israeli press," complained one foreign correspondent . . . Since the journalists aren't on the ground to see firsthand, the soldiers become their eyes, which explains the huge difference between what is reported and broadcast to us, and what the rest of the world sees, particularly the Arab world. . . . Foreign television networks all over the world have shown the images of five Palestinians from the National Security forces, shot in the heads from close range; one was apparently the manager of the Palestinian Authority orchestra. Some of the networks have claimed they were shot in cold blood after they were disarmed. . . . The entire world has seen wounded people in the streets, heard reports of how the IDF prevents ambulances from reaching the wounded for treatment. The entire world has heard Palestinian residents saying they can't leave their homes because "they shoot anyone in the streets." . . . Israeli journalists have no way to investigate to find out the truth, whether to deflate the stories, or confirm them. . . . Both in New York and Tel Aviv, when journalists cease collecting facts and asking questions, and instead turn to beating the war drums it's time to say good-bye, at least in the meanwhile, to a free press.

Killings Raise Questions About Israeli Tactics
(Daniel Williams, Washington Post, March 31, 2002)
The bodies of five Palestinian police officers lay on their backs and sides. They had been shot in the head or neck, yet most of the blood on the wall near them was splattered no more than two or three feet high, according to a reporter who saw the scene. . . . The killings at the British Council have struck particular fear in Palestinians because they suspect the men were assassinated. . . . Shalabi said the five men had been hiding and were executed or shot when Israeli soldiers rounded the corner into the hall. There were no signs that the Palestinians had fired from their last position. . . . In El Bireh, a town near Ramallah, soldiers dispensed with the searches and instead rounded up men and boys between the ages of 15 and 45. Jeeps and armored cars with loudspeakers traveled the streets, calling out for male Palestinians to gather at a school by the main mosque. They streamed in. "If I don't go, they will think I am a terrorist," said Ahmed Hamad, a laborer who answered the call. "The ones the Israelis want won't come.

The Big Lie: Palestine, Palestinians and International Law
By Francis A. Boyle, March 31, 2002
It can be fairly said that U.S. Mideast Foreign Policy has not shown one iota of respect for international law. Of course the same can be said for the rest of American Imperial Policy around the world. . . . Right after General Sharon instigated the Al Aqsa Intifada on 28 September 2000, the United Nations Human Right Commission condemned Israel for inflicting a war crime and a crime against humanity upon the Palestinian People. The Nuremberg crime against humanity is the historical and legal precursor to the international crime of genocide as defined by the 1948 Genocide Convention. . . . Historically, Israels criminal conduct against the Palestinians has been financed, armed, equipped, supplied, and politically supported by the United States. . . . legal facts have never made any difference to the United States when it comes to its criminal mistreatment of the Palestinian People. . . . As a matter of fact, in the case of Israel genocide has paid quite handsomely to the tune of about $5 billion per year by the United States government, the U.S. Congress, and the U.S. taxpayers, without whose munificence this instance of genocide would not be possible. . . . Oslo has run its course! Therefore, it is my purpose here to sketch out a New Direction for the Palestinian People and their supporters around the world to consider as an alternative to the Oslo process.

  • First: We must immediately move for the de facto suspension of Israel throughout the entirety of the United Nations system
  • Second: Any further negotiations with Israel must be conducted on the basis of Resolution 181(II) and the borders it specifies; Resolution 194 (III); subsequent General Assembly resolutions and Security Council resolutions; the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions of 1949; the 1907 Hague Regulations; and other relevant principles of public international law.
  • Third: We must abandon the fiction and the fraud that the United State government is an "honest broker" in the Middle East.
  • Fourth: We must move to have the U.N. General Assembly adopt comprehensive economic, diplomatic, and travel sanctions against Israel
  • Fifth: The Provisional Government of the State of Palestine must sue Israel before the International Court of Justice in The Hague for inflicting acts of genocide against the Palestinian People in violation of the 1948 Genocide Convention.
  • Sixth: We must pressure the Member States of the U.N. General Assembly to found an International Criminal Tribunal for Palestine (ICTP) in order to prosecute Israeli war criminals, both military and civilian, including and especially Israeli political leaders.
  • Seventh: Concerned citizens and governments all over the world must organize a comprehensive campaign of economic disinvestment and divestment from Israel along the same lines of what they did to the former criminal apartheid regime in South Africa.

These seven steps taken in conjunction with each other should provide the Palestinian People with enough political and economic leverage needed to negotiate a just and comprehensive peace settlement with Israel.

Posted March 31, 2002

Palestinians have found a weapon Israel can't counter
(Peter Preston, The Guardian, April 1, 2002)
Arafat and Sharon have long waged undeclared war. Hundreds more die. The Israelis use their heavy-duty kit to blast the remnants of PLO authority. The Palestinians wrap teenage girls in Semtex and send them, smiling sweetly, to devastate supermarkets and cafes. . . . Kids enfolded in explosive, human bombs, don't feature in any of Jane's catalogues. We shudder and shrink from the reality. . . . Yet there is also another reality. The IDF has its jets and tanks, weapons of conventional war built and used to kill. The Palestinians possess no such weaponry; they are completely outgunned and outclassed. No one - apart from Arabs bearing wan words - comes to their aid. But they have, nevertheless, found a weapon at last that the Israelis cannot counter. . . . There are some wars conventional soldiers can't win. . . . And so, time and again, it goes. Could the might of the French army, 45 years ago, quell Algeria? No . . . While there are kids who will put on their Semtex coats, there is and can be no peace. This is the low-tech world's solution to hi-tech: sickening, but sickeningly effective. . . . This debate isn't about ends, but means. . . . Margaret Thatcher couldn't solve or subdue the simmering Irish. De Gaulle couldn't worst the Algerians or his own blood-soaked rebels. Sharon is making absolutely no headway along the same path. American power drifts inertly, incapable of bringing a resolution. . . . There's a message here for us, and for Blair and Bush. Some wars aren't there for the winning. . . . Israel isn't the sideshow here. Israel is the main event. If they can't settle that, then they can settle nothing.

Latest Update from The Palestine Chronicle
[Editor's Note: The following are highlights from a more detailed account you can read by following the link.]
(March 31, 2002 - 11:38 PM GMT)

  • Israel is invading the Palestinian city of Bethlehem
  • Israel declared an "extended war" on the Palestinians
  • The war has in fact begun.
  • An American journalist is in a stable condition after being shot by the Israeli army
  • The West Bank city of Qalqylia has been invading by hundreds of Israeli soldiers and columns of tanks
  • Number of Israelis killed in the earlier suicide bombing went up to 16.
  • The Israeli army has reportedly entered al-Jazeera TV station in Ramallah.
  • Top Palestinian official Gibriel Rjoub said that Israeli soliders in Ramallah have executed thirty Palestinian men. Eyewitnesses say that mass killing is taking place in various parts of the city.
    Its still unclear how many Palestinians were thus far executed.
  • Ten international civilians and three Palestinian medics have just been arrested and taken to the Beit El Israeli Military compound.
  • Two states in Belgium including Brussels cut their diplomatic ties with Israel as mass protests continued to swamp the country.
  • Israeli tanks are moving toward Qalqilia as other Palestinian areas were invaded today.
  • Israeli tanks are also closing on the following Palestinain areas: Jenin, Nablus, Bethlehem and Qabatia.
  • Suicide bombing in Haifa kills 14 Israelis and wound many more.
  • Israel called on 20,000 reserves to join the largest military assault in the history of Israel launched against the Palestinian people.
  • 12 internationals, mostly French joined President Arafat in his besieged headquarters in Ramallah after confronting Israeli tanks. The internationals, refused to leave.
  • Israel called on all journalists to leave Ramallah immediately.
  • Al-Riyia hospital in Ramallah was assaulted twice today by Israeli troops.
  • 80,000 students protested in Egypt and despite the thousands of Egyptian police who rushed to prevent the marches from leaving universities campuses, they made it to the centers of Cairo and Alexandria.
  • Mass protests in various Arab countries continued to take place.
  • Two Palestinian men, members of the Palestinian movement Islamic Jihad were assassinated by Israel in the village of Saida in the West Bank.

Britons join 200 in human shield
(Peter Beaumont and Martin Wainwright, The Guardian, April 1, 2002)
More than 200 international volunteers, including some 50 Britons, deployed themselves in Ramallah and two refugee camps at Bethlehem last night in an attempt to form "human shields" for Palestinian families. . . . Israel ordered all foreign volunteers and journalists to leave Ramallah yesterday, as another media worker was shot and wounded while covering the fighting in the city. . . . an American reporter for the Boston Globe, was wounded in the back and shoulder after being shot near the city's main square . . . he was hit from behind by a single sniper shot. Israeli soldiers denied that he had been shot by their forces. . . . "I decided to use my Easter holidays to come out with a group to dig up roadblocks and block tanks in the occupied territories," . . . "The British public has no idea what is going on here. We decided we should come and try and stay with families to protect them." . . . Most of the British volunteers travelled to the Middle East with the International Solidarity Movement, a coalition of groups concerned about the plight of the Palestinians.

Posted March 29, 2002

Israeli Troops Storm Arafat Compound
(Hadeel Wahdan, Associated Press, March 29, 2002)
Israeli troops stormed Yasser Arafat's headquarters Friday and shelled a building where the Palestinian leader took cover in a windowless room - the opening shot in a large-scale military campaign . . . With a submachine gun placed next to him on a table, he spoke by phone to world leaders and demanded immediate international intervention. "They want me under arrest or in exile or dead, but I am telling them, I prefer to be martyred," Arafat said in a telephone interview with Al-Jazeera, the Arab satellite television channel. "May God make us martyrs." . . . Israel's "endgame is to kill Arafat," said Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat. . . . The assault was launched after Israel's Cabinet declared Arafat an enemy and approved an extended military operation, agreeing to call up thousands of reserve troops. . . . Police also stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, using stun grenades to disperse stone-throwing Muslim worshippers. . . . Israel's Cabinet met for an all-night session Thursday. Sharon announced Friday that Israel now considered Arafat an enemy and would completely isolate him.

Arabs Denounce Attack On Arafat
(The Guardian, March 29, 2002)
Arab politicians denounced Israel's attack on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's West Bank compound Friday as a rejection of a new collective Arab call for peace. . . . The Lahoud statement said the Israeli action ``confirmed once again that Israel is a terrorist state that rejects peace.'' . . . Ahmed Maher, the Egyptian foreign minister, said Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's action is ``foolish, illegal and a message of war and aggression to the Arabs as a response to their message of peace.'' . . . Emotions were running high throughout the Arab world as TV images of Israeli troops and tanks entering Ramallah were broadcast Friday, the Muslim day of prayer. . . . the imam of Baghdad's al-Qailani Mosque, Sheik Bakir Abdul-Razak, urged Arab leaders to adopt a united stand against ``the criminal Sharon.'' . . . Arab leaders, meanwhile, urged the international community to intervene. . . . Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri telephoned French President Jacques Chirac who told him that ``the French leadership condemns this attack'' and was ready to help . . . France's Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine criticized Israel's effort to ``asphyxiate Arafat.''

Posted March 26, 2002

Secrets, smoke and lies
(Gideon Samet, Ha'aretz, March 27, 2002)
It is most important to know if America wants to postpone the political discussions until it finishes with Iraq. If this is so, until it finally turns to deal with us, it cannot offer the Palestinians, and Arab capitals that support them, any form of political horizon. And without such a view, no real cease-fire is possible. It's doubtful that even for the honor of meeting Cheney, Arafat can give the emergency order to cease the violence. Arafat's lie is that during the entire period he was unable to give the order. The American lie is that even if Arafat does give it, he won't get a solid promise for a political quid pro quo that he could sell to his people. . . . Was Jane's Foreign Report, the respected journal, accurate this week in its report about Sharon's intentions? There was something familiar in the story: the prime minister has a "grand plan" for war with the Palestinians. It will break out at the same time as the U.S. attack on Iraq, about which Israel will receive advance warning. After defeating the Palestinians, Sharon will make them a generous political offer. Is there secret coordination between Sharon and the Bush administration over such a horrifying scenario, like there was over Lebanon 20 years ago? We may never know.

Posted March 24, 2002

Conspiracy of silence — The World Does Nothing to Save the Innocent
(Khader Shkirat, The Guardian, March 15, 2002)
Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are currently experiencing a huge military offensive by Israel. We are a largely unarmed and defenseless civilian population facing the force of a major military power. The human rights abuses committed by Israel in the towns, villages and refugee camps of the occupied Palestinian territories are breathtaking both in their scale and brutality, yet the states which call themselves the international community are leaving us to the mercy of the Israeli army. . . . Children, women and refugees have been indiscriminately attacked, in contravention of international law which provides them with special protection. . . . Inhuman and degrading methods routinely used during these arrests and detentions include blindfolding, strip-searching, and [reminiscent of the Holocaust] writing numbers on detainees' arms. . . . These acts are in direct violation of the fourth Geneva Convention 1949, which is legally binding on Israel. . . . There can be no doubt that the world is fully aware of Israel's war crimes, that Israeli war criminals are acting with impunity and that we face a real risk of mass transfer. A quarter of those killed by Israel during the intifada have been under 18. Why is no effective action being taken to protect Palestinian civilians? All states have an express legal obligation to ensure Israel's respect for the fourth Geneva Convention. . . . What we are witnessing is a conspiracy of silence. As well as violating legal obligations to civilians under occupation, this refusal to take effective action against Israel ignores the boost to peace that would come from a halt to Israeli human rights violations.

Posted March 22, 2002

Dershowitz Seems To Have Lost His Mind Along With His Humanity
Editorial Encourages Sharon to Commit More War Crimes
(David Villarreal, The Harvard Crimson, March 18, 2002)
Holding signs and passing out flyers, about 30 members of a group called Harvard Law School Justice for Palestine protested outside Dershowitz's "Tactics and Ethics" class last Thursday afternoon. . . . They were objecting to a recent article Dershowitz wrote, entitled "A New Way of Responding to Palestinian Terrorism," . . . Dershowitz called for the organized destruction of a single Palestinian village in retaliation for every terrorist attack against Israel. . . . "By arguing for the arbitrary destruction of Palestinian villages, Dershowitz marginalizes Palestinian lives and perpetuates the cycle of violence," Khoury said.
[Editor's Note: We received the following comment on the above article and believe it is worth noting.]

“Article 6 (b) of the 1945 Nuremberg Charter for the Trial of the Major Nazi War Criminals defines a Nuremberg War Crime in relevant part as follows: "(b) War Crimes: namely, violations of the laws or customs of war. Such violations shall include, but not be limited to,...wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages...." By publishing this article in the Jerusalem Post, Dershowitz deliberately and maliciously attempted to incite the Israeli government and the Israeli People to commit repeated Nuremberg Crimes against the Palestinian People. I call for all people of good faith and good will to refuse to have anything whatsoever to do with Dershowitz.”
Francis A. Boyle
Professor of International Law
Board of Directors, Amnesty International USA (1988-92)

The question of Iraq is also the question of Palestine
(Martin Woollacott, The Guardian, March 22, 2002)
The old kind of linkage, relating Palestine directly to Iraq, has forcefully reasserted itself. President Bush's words of reproof last week for the Sharon government may seem mild, but they were harsh by the syrupy standards of most American-Israeli exchanges, and accompanied by a US-sponsored security council resolution on the Middle East that for the first time spoke of a Palestinian state. Then Richard Cheney had to rewrite his agenda during his tour of Arab capitals, as he found that he could not skirt the Palestinian problem by referring to General Anthony Zinni's concurrent mission to Israel and the territories. . . . Bush gave the green light to Sharon so that he could run berserk in the Palestinian territories . . . the simple message, intended for the Israeli public as well as for the rest of the world, that no peace is available unless all of the land, or nearly all, is returned. The US has not of course endorsed that proposition. If it ever began to move in that direction, that could have a transforming effect. . . . It may be that peace in Palestine and war in Iraq are as inextricably linked today as they were in 1990.

Posted March 20, 2002

The army has changed - Vandalism appears to be the new norm for the Israeli Army
(Amira Hass, Ha'aretz, March 21, 2002)
But Batrawi, like many residents of Ramallah, found it difficult to understand why the soldiers and their commanding officers left behind such scenes of vandalism, and he wonders if the doctor simply did not have the moral strength to prevent the soldiers from behaving that way in the clinic. . . . These kinds of reports are coming in from residents of dozens of buildings that the IDF has occupied in the past year in places like Hebron, Beit Jala, Tul Karm, refugee camps and Ramallah. Refugees who had a few hundred shekels in a wallet or pocket discover it disappeared during a search; computer company executives of Palestinian-American background, Christian and Muslim, workers in Palestinian Authority offices, and executives from private consulting companies that work with Israeli companies all have similar tales. Is everyone lying when they report the thefts and vandalism? . . . The Palestinians have concluded that the IDF has gone through a major change. Human rights activists and ordinary people say they never encountered soldiers who stole out of homes during the first intifada. . . . the topic of the day was what kind of army allows its soldiers commit vandalism. After all, a tank bumping into an electric pole or even running over a car is not the same as a soldier deliberately smashing a television owned by a family with four children. Damage caused by shooting is not the same as that done by a group of soldiers (in al-Amari refugee camp, they left behind graffiti on the wall saying "it's Nahal, not Golani") who vandalize a home, or, in one case, smashed two pairs of spectacles owned by an elderly man in front of him and then walked out with a video camera owned by his daughter, who pays for her schooling as a photographer at parties. . . . it's compensation for the soldiers' fear and frustration, and their commanding officers allow it to let the soldiers blow off steam. Others read somewhere that there are a lot of poor soldiers. Some say that the IDF is now a "rabble," with soldiers from many countries

Posted March 17, 2002

Sharon plays into PLO's bloody hands
(Phil Reeves in Jerusalem, The Independent, 17 March 2002)
Sharon has strengthened the PLO leader's hand - albeit while killing scores of his countrymen. The massive military assault into the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Israel's largest since it illegally occupied the land in 1967, was launched on the pretext of rooting out "terrorists". It was a failure, diplomatically, politically and militarily. . . . The cruelty of the raids, in which 17 people were killed in Gaza's Jabaliya refugee camp in a matter of a few hours, and the widespread and often deliberate damage, has provided further incentive to young and desperate Palestinians contemplating taking up arms. Such sledgehammer tactics always backfire, say military experts, as it is impossible to eradicate them all - it only takes a few hundred determined guerrillas working amid a sympathetic population to create havoc - and brutality against civilians only expands their ranks. . . . the Americans provided the Palestinians with another UN Security Council resolution to tuck into its dog-eared dossier of neglected rights - the first explicitly to refer to a state called Palestine, living side-by-side with Israel.

'The Israeli soldiers came in their tanks and put a gun to my niece's head. It was terrible. How could they do that to us?'
(Simon O'Hagan, The Independent, 17 March 2002)
Khaled Hourami is a 38-year-old artist who lives in Ramallah and has relatives whose homes are in the Hanina. His account of what happened to them and to other residents - echoing experiences reported elsewhere - offers a glimpse of the terror and suffering that is the reality of Palestinian life under siege from Israeli forces. . . . Mr Hourami's sister-in-law, Hala Hourami, her daughters Dema, six, and Delia, four, were all in bed when the tanks arrived and soldiers began using explosives to break into the building. "My sister-in-law ran upstairs to one of my brothers," Mr Hourami said. "By the time she went back down the soldiers were at the door, ordering everybody into one apartment. To begin with they wouldn't let her back in to where her children were. She picked up Dema and brought her out of the apartment, and an Israeli soldier pointed his gun at the child and was threatening to shoot. Dema did not speak for two days. She was in shock."

Israel ignores US demand to leave Palestinian territories
(Jack Katzenell-AP, The Independent, 15 March 2002)
Israel withdrew from three West Bank towns today, but failed to comply with a US demand that its troops all Palestinian-controlled areas ahead of truce talks. . . . Israeli tanks began a gradual pullout from the West Bank towns of Ramallah, Tulkarem and Qalqiliya. . . . Residents inspected damage caused by Israeli troops. Tanks had flattened parked cars and knocked out the corner of a building near central Manara Square. In a high school, soldiers had punched large holes in several inner walls, leaving the floors covered with rubble. . . . Israeli troops remained in Bethlehem, the adjacent town of Beit Jalla, and tanks ringed the nearby refugee camps of Dheisheh and Aida. . . . The United States has exerted strong pressure on Israel to leave Palestinian-controlled areas. "We want to see a full withdrawal," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher. . . . "What is the meaning of leaving Ramallah and they are still in all the other cities, towns and camps?" Palestinian leaderr Yasser Arafat said in Ramallah. . . . Some 20,000 Israeli soldiers had been deployed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in recent days in the largest military operation since the 1982 invasion of Lebanon.

In the name of us all
(Gideon Levy, Ha'aretz, March 17, 2002)
Last week, thousands of Palestinian men throughout the West Bank, from Jenin to Bethlehem, were subjected to this kind of mass false arrest. How many were arrested? Who's counting? The spokesman of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said, after checking the matter, that he does not know the exact number. He only made sure the humiliation marches were photographed, so that the Israeli public could see the bound, half-naked detainees. . . . Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared that the Palestinians had to be treated roughly. "They need a bashing," Sharon asserted at the beginning of the month in the Knesset cafeteria. The result was that approximately 170 Palestinians were killed, about 10 a day on average. . . . Most of the suffering was experienced by the entire population: Hundreds of thousands of residents were kept under terrifying house arrest. Many were evicted from their homes to forced to spend long days with dozens of neighbors who are half-strangers in the same apartment. There were tanks in the streets, bombers and attack helicopters in the skies, frightened children held captive in their homes, old people and the ill who were denied any type of medical assistance, no stores and in some cases no electricity or running water, and violent searches conducted by soldiers in the houses. It was all inflicted on an entire nation - collective punishment on a scale not previously known. [Shades of Kristallnacht!]

Posted March 13, 2002

U.S. Endorses Palestinian State
(Edith M. Ledere, Associated Press, March 12, 2002)
The United States endorsed a Palestinian state late Tuesday for the first time in the Security Council, introducing a resolution that also calls for a cease-fire in the escalating Mideast conflict. . . . The council convened shortly before midnight and was expected to vote on the U.S. resolution. . . . As a result of intense negotiations, the United States decided late Tuesday to amend its text by "affirming a vision of a region where two states, Israel and Palestinian, live side by side within secure and recognized borders." . . . President Bush and other administration leaders have already called for a Palestinian state, but this was its first mention by the United States in a Security Council resolution, diplomats said. . . . The United States, Israel's closest council ally, also welcomed Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah's peace initiative and encouraged diplomatic efforts.

Posted March 12, 2002

Bush is doing nothing to stop Israel's immoral civil war
(Robert Fisk, The Independent, 09 March 2002)
So what we have now in the occupied territories and Israel is also a civil war; a Muslim-Jewish war, a shameful, revolting struggle that mirrors, more and more, the Algerian war of independence of 1954-62. There, too, guerrilla destruction turned into assassination, murder into reprisal slaughter, and massacre into mass killing. Only last Christmas, the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, told the French President, Jacques Chirac, that the Israelis were "like you in Algeria'', the only difference being that "we [the Israelis] will stay''. . . . And there you have it. Israel, in Mr Sharon's own words, is fighting a colonial war. Not the "war against terror'', which he tries to mimic in miniature with the United States, but a war to colonise Arab land with colonies for Jews and Jews only, as the colonised (the "terrorists'', of course) rise up against them. . . . Mr Powell and his minions were not attacking Mr Sharon because the Israeli policy was immoral. It was the military ineffectiveness of killing Palestinians, not the abuse of human rights that this embodies, to which the Americans took objection. . . . Yes, of course, the Palestinians have crimes to answer for. Who decided that Israeli civilians should pay the price for the war against occupation, as Hanan Ashrawi has bravely asked? Who gave them the right to slaughter Israeli kids in pizza parlours? But Israel is America's ally and President Bush is doing nothing to end this monstrous war.

Posted March 10, 2002

Israelis despair at never-ending cycle of hatred
(Eric Silver, The Independent, 09 March 2002)
Although Israelis still enjoy a far better lifestyle than the Palestinians - they can still attend a concert or a football match, dine out, dance at a disco or go to the beach - they feel under siege after a year and a half of blood and cordite. "You're afraid to walk in the city," said Channy Maayan, a Jerusalem paediatrician. "You don't know what can happen from minute to minute." . . . It used to be said that what distinguished the Israeli left from the right was that the left were optimists, the right pessimists. The doves believed it was possible to make peace with the Palestinians, the hawks never did. Now you find only degrees of pessimism, the fuzzy line between depression and despair. . . . Ariel Sharon was elected Prime Minister a year ago because he promised to bring back security. Since the turn of the year, Israelis have been losing faith in the portly old warrior's capacity to deliver. The leadership is seen as impotent on both sides. . . . Ms Kirschen said: "I don't think Arafat wants to, or can, stop the terrorism. I don't think Sharon wants to make any kind of stand, in any direction."

Posted March 4, 2002

The Palestinian Authority believes full-scale war is coming
(Danny Rubinstein, Ha'aretz, March 5, 2002)
Palestinian commentators said yesterday that the Sharon government had practically forced Fatah and the PA to take active roles in the violence. Every terrorist attack was followed by Israel pointing a finger at Arafat and his people, and the IDF bombed and destroyed police stations and installations used by the PA security forces. The Israeli attacks on Arafat and the PA legitimized them in the eyes of the Palestinian public, immunizing them from the anger and bitterness of the street, which is suffering distress and looking for the guilty parties. . . . The Palestinian media is broadcasting with a dramatic atmosphere of total war. Palestinian radio broadcasts yesterday were anchored by veteran broadcaster Abu Firas, who only goes on the air nowadays under special circumstances.

Archive of items posted prior to February 26, 2002

Posted February 26, 2002

Saudi plan impossible for Israel to ignore
(Bradley Burston, Ha'aretz Correspondent, February 26, 2002)
Reducing an ineffably complex conflict to one simple equation, a Saudi prince has managed what no one else has done, drawing the bottom line of Mideast strife, and in the process, forcing Israel to confront peace terms it has quietly feared for decades.
full recognition and normalization of ties with the entire Arab world at the price of return to the bare-bones borders that existed before the 1967 Six Day war. . . . 'Under the assumption that what has been published is correct, it must be said that we're speaking of a positive trend,' Cabinet Secretary Gideon Saar said in a broadcast interview Monday. . . . Peres left little doubt Monday that he had hopes the Abdullah formula could serve as a basis for attempts to revive peace contacts. . . . Calling it a 'fascinating, interesting new opportunity', Peres said Israel should immediately respond favorably to the Saudi peace initiative, while reserving the right to negotiate over the provisions of the plan.

US puts pressure on Israel as futility of Sharon's policy becomes apparent
(Phil Reeves, The Independent, 24 February 2002)
American diplomacy - or the lack of it - has become the focus of the latest chapter in the Middle East dispute as the Europeans press for effective action after the worst sustained bout of Israel-Palestinian violence since the start of the intifada. . . . Mr Powell - often at odds with President Bush and his security hawks - has sent a frosty signal to Israel by talking positively about a Saudi Arabian offer to recognise Israel if it agrees to a full withdrawal from the occupied territories, including east Jerusalem. These terms are, as the Saudis know, anathema to Mr Sharon, who has always opposed an Israeli pull-back on this scale. But Western diplomats see them as an important change in stance. . . . The Americans and European leaders have publicly stated the need for the Palestinians to have a "viable state", and continue to see Mr Arafat and his Palestinian Authority as the only option. Suspicions abound that Mr Sharon has no intention of agreeing to a ceasefire, but is steadily consolidating Israel's hold on the occupied territories. He has systematically blocked the Mitchell peace plan - still seen by the international community as the only path back to negotiations - by imposing a precondition of seven days of total calm. Such terms are regarded as wholly unrealistic by the international community. . . . Israeli forces have also damaged or closed down institutions of fledgling statehood, such as Gaza's airport and European-funded sea port, the PLO headquarters in east Jerusalem and a national statistics bureau in Ramallah.

Sharon must go: Israel's leader is now an obstacle to peace
(The Guardian, February 23, 2002)
His year in office has brought a steady deterioration in Israel's security situation, the very opposite of what he promised voters. . . . Mr Sharon's unimaginative, heavy-handed tactics in the occupied territories have brought a rising toll of Israeli army and Jewish settlement casualties, while the civilian population of Israel itself has become increasingly vulnerable to suicidal attacks. One result has been a groundswell of vocal opposition among army reservists and middle-ranking officers to the mindless immorality of what they are being asked to do in the West Bank and Gaza. . . . Another outcome, evident in recent weeks, has been an overdue faltering revival of the peace movement . . . Half of Israelis, according to a recent poll, believe the prime minister's policies are bankrupt . . . Mr Sharon's 12 months of mayhem have also shaken and deeply distressed Israel's supporters abroad while hardening the resolve of the country's enemies. Fears about a rising tide of anti-semitism in western European countries, including Britain, stem in part from an over-defensiveness among non-Israeli Jews who dislike what Mr Sharon does, but resent the current torrent of inter national criticism even more. But as people such as the leading academic, Avi Shlaim, rightly point out, the root of the problems facing Mr Sharon and the Israeli nation is no mystery. It is the continuing occupation of most of the Palestinian territories captured by force of arms in 1967. . . . Sooner or later, Israel will have to surrender most of the lands it seized in 1967, just as, rightly and voluntarily, it surrendered its Lebanese fiefdom in 2000. This will happen graciously or it will happen bloodily. It is still, just, Israel's choice. But Mr Sharon is clearly not the man to make this leap. His feet are of clay, his shoulders burdened by his own sorry history. He has had his chance. He should stand aside before yet more damage is done.

Israelis desert Sharon as credibility dives
(Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, February 23, 2002)
A poll conducted for the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, Israel's largest Hebrew daily, showed that 61% of Israelis were dissatisfied with Mr Sharon's performance, and just 38% would give him a passing grade for his handling of the 17-month Palestinian uprising. . . . His credibility score fell to 54%, a staggering drop from his approval rating of 70% in December and 77% last July. . . . There was little credit given to Mr Sharon's plan to establish buffer zones between the West Bank and Israel. . . . Political sources told Israeli Radio that the zone, which would be miles deep in places, would be set off with trenches and minefields, in effect creating a death strip for Palestinians.

Israeli cabinet backs greater use of death squads
(Phil Reeve, The Independent, 21 February 2002)
Plans by Israel's Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, to use yet more military force in the occupied Palestinian territories were yesterday approved by his security cabinet as the violence in the Middle East conflict accelerated still further. . . . spokesman, Ranaan Gissin, said Israel would increase its use of "counter-terrorism" methods - a euphemism to describe the work of its death squads, which have assassinated more than 70 Palestinian suspects during the conflict despite widespread criticism. . . . But [Sharon's] his spokesman, Ranaan Gissin, said Israel would increase its use of "counter-terrorism" methods - a euphemism to describe the work of its death squads, which have assassinated more than 70 Palestinian suspects during the conflict despite widespread criticism. . . . By last night, 18 Palestinians - mostly security personnel - had been killed in the reprisals. In all, 40 people - 10 Israelis and 30 Palestinians, including two suicide bombers - have died since Monday, making this one of the worst periods of the conflict. Israel fired a missile into Yasser Arafat's compound in the West Bank town of Ramallah, where he has been trapped for weeks by Israeli tanks.

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