A brutal massacre carried out by a death squad. That is the only way to describe the Israeli army's attack on the Palestinian village of Beit Rima last week.
Tanks surrounded the village while soldiers went in and murdered five people. Israeli soldiers then blew up people's homes, and prevented journalists and ambulance crews from entering the village for over 24 hours.
The killings came after Israel again crossed into Palestinian-controlled areas. It has murdered over 110 Palestinians since 11 September, when Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon used the events in New York to go on the offensive. The US state claims it is 'restraining' Sharon from attacking Palestinians. But following a meeting last week with US vice-president Dick Cheney and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres said, 'I didn't hear a word of criticism. I heard a good deal of understanding.'
Hard right wingers in the US government agree with deputy defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz. He believes the US should not even criticise Israel, its staunch ally in the Middle East.
Judith Kipper of the Council of Foreign Relations in Washington says that mild criticisms of Israel from people like Colin Powell are merely designed to win over Arab regimes. She says of a recent Powell speech, 'In the end it is just a speech. It is just words, and it is not going to have much effect on Sharon. The administration doesn't have the stomach to use the big guns. The relationship between the two countries is so deep, so intertwined.'