ISRAEL IS stepping up its assassination of Palestinian activists, ten months into the Palestinian uprising against Israeli brutality. The assassination policy has been endorsed by George Bush's number two, Dick Cheney.
Israeli helicopter gunships destroyed a block of flats in Nablus in the West Bank on Tuesday of last week. They killed eight people, including two leaders of the Islamic group Hamas. The attack also killed Ashraf and Bilal Khader, two young boys aged ten and seven, a local journalist, and three Hamas workers. Some 100,000 people attended the funeral of the eight.
Israel also tried to assassinate Marwan Barghouti, the leader of the intifada in the West Bank, by missile attack on Saturday of last week. One of Barghouti's bodyguards was injured in the attack. Israel has assassinated over 40 Palestinian activists with death squads and missile attacks since the intifada began last September. They have usually been little known activists.
But now Israel is targeting well known Palestinian leaders. It has named seven Palestinian activists as the next targets on its death list. Many Western countries have denounced Israel's assassination policy as illegal. But despite this, US vice- president Dick Cheney came out in support of the policy last week.
'If you are an organisation that is planning some sort of suicide bomb attack, there is some justification in Israel trying to protect themselves,' Cheney said.
The BBC has disgracefully told its World Service newsreaders to call these assassinations 'targeted killings'-the phrase the Israeli government uses for these state murders. Ariel Sharon, the right wing prime minister of Israel, defends the assassinations, saying: 'Israel is exercising its right to self defence. I'm against killing, I wouldn't like to kill anyone.'
But this is a lie. Sharon is a war criminal. He has spent his life in terrorist groups and positions of power brutalising and murdering Palestinians. He led the Israeli invasion of the Lebanon in 1982 during which 20,000 people were killed.
Palestinians have been fighting for justice ever since they were driven from their homeland in 1948. The state of Israel then invaded Arab East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1967. It has controlled them ever since and they are known as the Occupied Territories. The US has always backed Israel because of its need for a strong ally in the oil rich Middle East.
Palestinian resistance forced Israel into the peace process in the early 1990s. But this kept in place much of the Israeli control over Palestinian areas. Life for the vast majority of Palestinians did not change. This is what caused the new intifada. Some 540 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the uprising, many of them children.
Jewish settlers in the Occupied Territories continue to attack and kill Palestinians. And Israeli riot police stormed one of the holiest sites in Islam, the Al-Asqa Mosque, on Sunday of last week to defend right wing Jews who were demanding that the Mosque is pulled down and replaced with a Jewish temple. They injured over 20 Palestinian worshippers. There are also reports that Sharon is preparing to reoccupy all of the West Bank and Gaza.
All those who support the Palestinian fight for justice will have to step up their solidarity in the coming months.