George W Bush has given Israel the signal to unleash all-out war on the Palestinians. Last week he backed the menacing presence of Israeli troops around the offices of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Arafat is now a prisoner of those forces, his every move tracked and controlled by his enemies.
Bush declared that he is 'very disappointed in Yasser Arafat'. That can only encourage the Israelis to believe they can get away with anything. Now the US government wants to include Arafat's personal security force, and other groups linked to him, on the list of 'terrorist organisations'. US vice-president Dick Cheney wants to sever all ties with the Palestinians. The US is using a shipment of arms intercepted by Israel as an excuse for backing up Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon's campaign to crush Palestinian resistance.
The US claims it has evidence that the Palestinian Authority organised the shipment, which included anti-tank weapons. The Palestinian Authority denies involvement and has even arrested some suspects. But in any case, the only reason Palestinians would want anti-tank weapons is because they face repeated murderous assaults by Israeli tanks. Those tanks have invaded Palestinian territory, and blockaded and strangled Palestinian towns.
It is because the Palestinians have seen their homes, farms, hospitals and schools smashed by Israeli tanks that they want to fight back. It is rank hypocrisy for Bush to express horror at Palestinian attempts to defend themselves while the US hands Israel $1 billion of military aid a year. As Palestinian minister Nabil Shaath said, 'Fifty tonnes of weapons is a miniscule amount of what the Israelis have been targeting against our people every day.'
Three suicide bombings in the last week have brought tragedy to Israel's streets. Those involved did not use anti-tank weapons-they used explosives that will always be obtainable by desperate and angry people. It is the Israeli policies of assassination, incursion and bulldozing of homes which create the breeding ground for suicide bombers. 'The whole thing is a reaction to the policies of Sharon of inviting violence and conducting a campaign of violence against Palestinians. In such an environment, I am not surprised such a thing should take place,' said Marwan Kanafani, an adviser to Yasser Arafat.
Contact the Campaign for Palestinian Rights, PO Box 33619, London N16 0WZ. Email palestinian [email protected] or visit the website: www. palestinian-rights.com
Around 800 people demonstrated in London last Saturday, calling for an end to Israel's war against the Palestinians. They braved heavy rain to picket the Israeli embassy. The protest was called by the Stop the War Coalition, which plans another demonstration on 2 March
Who profits from car bomb death?
ELIE HOBEIKA was blown up by a car bomb in Lebanon last week. He led the Phalangist militia into the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps in 1982. While Israeli troops watched, the militia murdered around 2,000 men, women and children.
Two days before he was murdered Hobeika, a Lebanese politician, had agreed to give evidence against Ariel Sharon at a war crimes trial. Survivors of the massacre are bringing the case in Belgium. Sharon was Israel's defence minister during the killings. Hobeika believed he would prove that Sharon was directly culpable for the massacres. Sharon had much to gain from Hobeika's death.