Socialist Worker

Death squads make Palestinians prisoners in their own land

Issue No. 1780

Ariel Sharon, Israel's prime minister, is holding Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat hostage in his own home. And the US backs this to the hilt. Israeli tanks surrounded Arafat's headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah on Thursday of last week. They were still keeping him trapped as Socialist Worker went to press.

Sharon is using the language of the US's 'war on terror' to justify intensifying Israel's attacks on the Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority (PA). 'Now is Arafat's time to perform,' said Bush last week, urging Arafat to clamp down on radical Palestinian groups. But the people who want to derail any hope of peace sit in Sharon's cabinet. Israeli bulldozers destroyed the transmission post of the highly popular Voice of Palestine radio station.

Sharon's troops then occupied the flat of Marwan Barghouti, Arafat's deputy, holding his wife and four children captive. This came after Palestinian radicals attacked a bus carrying Israeli settlers on Wednesday of last week, killing ten people. In response to this attack the Israeli state has decided to punish Arafat and all the Palestinian people, killing at least 16 Palestinians in three days. Sharon declared that the PA was 'an entity which supports terrorism and should be dealt with accordingly' after the suicide attacks on Jerusalem three weeks ago.

'From our point of view, Arafat no longer exists. Period,' Sharon said last week. The US has constantly condemned Palestinian attacks on Israelis while refusing to comment as Israel slaughters hundreds of Palestinians. Bush blames Arafat for the violence.

US support for Israel was also shown in the veto of a United Nations Security Council resolution that set out the PA's 'essential role' in any peace talks. Even Tony Blair is concerned at the US's total support for Israel. US-supplied Israeli jets killed at least one Palestinian man in air raids last Thursday.

Israeli troops shot dead two boys, aged 13 and 15, in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli army invaded four Palestinian villages with tanks and helicopter gunships last Friday-Hebron, Dura, Salfit and Assira Ashmalia. They killed eight people and arrested 40 others.

While searching for militants Israeli troops flattened houses and security buildings in the Gaza Strip last Saturday. They took over part of the town of Beit Hanoun, raising an Israeli flag at a girls' high school.

Israel killed five Palestinians, injured 50 and arrested 15. Arafat has pledged to crack down on radical Palestinian groups, like the Islamist Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and the secular Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

The intifada is a revolt against the betrayals of the peace process that offers ordinary Palestinian people nothing. They would continue to live in poverty in small enclaves surrounded by Israeli troops. The new Palestinian state would have little power.

It is difficult for Arafat to clamp down on Hamas and other groups, as they have such mass support. Attacks on Hamas could provoke a civil war. The only solution for Israelis and Palestinians that offers any hope for peace is giving the Palestinian people justice, not more violence. Israel has carried out violence on the Palestinians since its birth in 1948 involved the ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Arabs.

Over the last year Israeli leaders have assassinated around 50 Palestinian leaders and thrown thousands of militants into jail. But for every person killed or imprisoned ten more spring up, willing to go even further in their fight.

It is the desperation of 53 years without a homeland, and 34 years of illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian areas, that creates the suicide bombers. Since Sharon was elected in February of this year Israel has intensified its war on the Palestinians. Israel has killed over 900 Palestinians since the intifada began, compared to the deaths of around 250 Israelis.

Figures in Sharon's cabinet are calling on the Israeli army to destroy the Palestinian Authority, and reoccupy the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Regardless of what occurs, everybody should continue to support the Palestinian rising against Israeli oppression.

Clampdown can't deliver peace

Israel's idea of 'clamping down on the terrorists' was seen in the Palestinian West Bank town of Salfit last week. An Israeli undercover death squad entered the town at around 2am on Friday of last week.

They killed six members of the Palestinian security forces, including Dia Nabil Mahmoud, 19, and Abdul Ashour, 22. Mrs Herzala said:

'The two boys came and knocked on my door, and told me that the Israelis were invading the town. I opened the door and asked them to come inside, but they refused and walked up the street. The Israeli soldiers came up to them and asked them to put down their weapons-they only had one-and put their hands behind their backs. They put down the gun. The Israelis asked them to lie on the ground, which they did. Then they started shooting them with machine-guns.'

The Israeli government's official explanation of this cold-blooded execution stated:

'Israeli soldiers came on armed Palestinians who came out of targets for detention. They stormed the terrorists and killed them.'

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Sat 22 Dec 2001, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1780
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