Socialist Worker

Justice for Palestinians

Issue No. 1790

Children ripped apart by tank shells as they play. Women shot dead by army snipers in their own homes. Houses smashed to rubble by F-16 fighter jets. A doctor deliberately shot dead in his own ambulance as he rushes to help the injured. This is the reality of Ariel Sharon's massacre of Palestinian civilians. It is the reality that the British media try to ignore. They concentrate on reporting only the Israeli casualties.

For every Israeli killed in the intifada, four Palestinians have died. And the Palestinians have been suffering at the hands of Israel for 50 years. The Israelis and the Palestinians are not two tribes at war. The Palestinians are resisting the occupation of their own country. Sharon has declared war on all Palestinian men, women and children. Last week Israel ignored the possibility of a peace plan for the region. With tanks and Apache helicopters, it steamed into the Batala and Jenin refugee camps.

The UN reported 30 Palestinians killed in the Batala camp alone, including three girls under ten, and hundreds injured. The refugee camps are at the heart of the Palestinian struggle. They are filthy, poverty-stricken slums. In Batala 20,000 people are crammed into just one square mile.

They were driven out of their homes in 1948 when Israeli militants used violence and terror to grab 77 percent of Palestine. Four fifths of the Arab population were driven out of Palestine. They were forced into exile in surrounding countries. Today, more than 50 years later, millions of Palestinians are still living in exile.

More Palestinians came under Israeli occupation in 1967. Armed to the teeth by the US, Israel seized Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. Israel has since built thousands of militarised settlements, even in areas where the Palestinians are supposed to have some control. Funerals of murdered relatives and friends, the experience of military aggression, and crushing poverty are the everyday reality for the Palestinians.

Life is so appalling that more and more of them are prepared to risk their lives in the desperate struggle against Israel's military might. Sharon wants the Palestinians to 'suffer heavy losses'. He wants to crush Palestinian resistance. Sharon's popularity is plummeting inside Israel. His only answer is to step up the repression, and draw more and more people into the cycle of killing and revenge.

Without justice for Palestine there is no possible solution to the crisis. Everyone who wants peace and an end to all the killing should demand as an absolute minimum the return of all the Occupied Territories, that the US stops arming Israel, and that the Palestinians are given the full right of return to the areas where they were driven from.

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Sat 9 Mar 2002, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1790
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