Socialist Worker

Tanks terrorise the West Bank

Issue No. 1772

ARIEL SHARON, the Israeli war criminal prime minister, has launched a new offensive against the Palestinians. He is using the aftermath of the assassination of far right Israeli politician Rehavam Zeevi by Palestinian militants on Wednesday of last week.

Sharon has sent tanks to take control of six Palestinian cities in the West Bank-Jenin, Ramallah, Tulkaram, Qalquilia, Nablus and Bethlehem, as well as the satellite towns of Beit Jala. Israel has murdered over 24 Palestinians since the killing of Zeevi, Sharon's tourism minister. Zeevi was a vicious racist whose support for Israel's policy of assassinating leading Palestinian activists came back to haunt him.

'It is not murder to get rid of potential terrorists or those who have blood on their hands,' he said. 'Each one eliminated is one less terrorist for us to fight.' Israel has assassinated over 30 Palestinians since the beginning of the new intifada, or uprising, in September of last year. Israel had assassinated two Palestinians in the days before the killing of Zeevi.

Zeevi's death was in retaliation for the assassination two months ago of Abu Ali Mustafa, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Zeevi spent his life persecuting the Palestinian people. He fought in the Jewish terrorist groups that expelled 750,000 Palestinians from their homes in 1948, which led to the creation of Israel.

He served in the Israeli army in the 1967 invasion of the Palestinian areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israel has illegally occupied these areas ever since. He was promoted to general, and led the hunt for Palestinian fighters resisting the occupation.

Zeevi wanted to see Palestinians ethnically cleansed from the West Bank and Gaza, and the creation of an exclusively Jewish 'Greater Israel'. He saw himself as the 'guard dog' of this 'Greater Israel'. He referred to Palestinians living and working in Israel as 'lice' and 'a cancer in our midst'. He called Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat 'Hitler'.

He had just resigned from Ariel Sharon's hard right government because he felt it was too soft on the Palestinians. Zeevi was killed at a luxury hotel in East Jerusalem. This is situated in an Israeli conclave in Arab East Jerusalem that has been illegally occupied since 1967.

Zeevi stayed there whenever the Israeli parliament was in session to show supposed Israeli superiority over the Palestinians, and assert that Jerusalem should always be in Israeli hands. The hypocrisy of the Israeli government is stunning. It has assassinated hundreds of Palestinian politicians throughout its 53 years of control. Now that the first Israeli politician has been assassinated Israel has gone berserk. It wants to use the US 'war on terrorism' to increase its control over the Palestinians.

'This is an enormous escalation in the war of terror against Israel,' said Benjamin Netanyahu, former right wing Israeli prime minister.

'We must crush the forces of terror. Did the US restrain itself in Afghanistan?' Sharon has described Arafat as 'our Bin Laden'. He declared last week, 'As far as I am concerned, the era of Arafat is over'.

'We have to stop this attempt to see Arafat as a partner for peace,' said right wing housing minister Natan Sharansky. 'His organisation must become a target for military action.'

This means more assassinations of Palestinian activists, rolling tanks into Palestinian towns and killing innocent civilians. Tank shrapnel killed Rania Kharafa, aged 23, in Beit Jala as she tried to cross a road last Saturday. Israeli troops shot dead Musa Abu Eid, a young man, on Friday of last week.

They said they had killed a 'terrorist', but his family say he was fetching belongings from the first floor of his house for his family. Israeli tanks killed a 10 year old girl, Reham Ward, on Thursday of last week.


US racist round-up

THE US government has rounded up and detained over 800 people under the cover of 'fighting terrorism'. The FBI even says it is prepared to use torture to force those detained to give information, or hand them over to police in countries renowned for torture. Yet so far less than ten of those held have been charged with anything relating to the events of 11 September.

Most of those detained are of Middle Eastern origin and immigrants. The Washington Post reports, 'In a high security wing of Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Centre, an unknown number of men with Middle Eastern names are being held in solitary confinement on the ninth floor, locked in eight by ten foot cells with little more than cots with thin blankets. They have no contact with each other or their families, and limited access to their lawyers. Their names appear on no federal jail log available to the public. No records could be found in any court docket in New York showing why they are detained, who represents them or the status of their cases.' Mohamed Abdi was held for three weeks on suspicion of pocketing his landlord's rent cheques.

Khalid al Draibi was picked up because he was driving with a flat tyre. Abdallah Yassine was held for two weeks for working for the wrong employer. Activists The government is also using the cover of 11 September to detain people critical of its policies.

On 10 October the US border patrol arrested two activists against the School of the Americas-the camp where the CIA trains right wing soldiers and terrorists from across Latin America.

German citizen Hendrik Voss and Eric LeCompte were arrested on their way to Canada to give talks about the US-sponsored war in Colombia. Eric was banned for life from entering Canada.


War cause

MANY commentators characterise the Israel-Palestine conflict as a religious war between Jews and Muslims. But there are many Palestinian Christians living throughout the Occupied Territories.

Israel occupied the Arab Christian city of Bethlehem after Zeevi's assassination. Johnny Thaljieh, a 19 year old, was shot dead a few yards from the Church of the Nativity, the traditional birthplace of Jesus.

'We are not two tribes,' said Khader Abu Abbara, one of the leaders of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. 'This is a struggle about politics, between a people under occupation and the occupiers.'


Israel's brutal brothers in arms

DESPITE REHAVAM Zeevi's right wing politics, many on the Israeli left rushed to mourn him and attack Yasser Arafat. 'I am totally destroyed by this murder. This is horrible news,' said Yossi Said, leader of the supposedly left wing Meretz party. 'Even though there may not have been anyone more distant from us in politics, we did have moments of personal closeness and affection. This is a test for Arafat to deal with right away. If he fails the country will be put on fire, and no one can put it out.'

The Israeli left has as bad a history as the Israeli right in their repression of the Palestinians. It was in government for the first 30 years of Israel's existence. It illegally occupied the West Bank and Gaza in 1967.

Ehud Barak was the Labour prime minister until earlier this year. He oversaw the slaughter of hundreds of Palestinians during the first months of the new intifada.


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News
Sat 27 Oct 2001, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1772
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