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Israel wages war on Palestinians

Issue No. 1720

News of the world

Israel wages war on Palestinians

EHUD BARAK, Israel's prime minister, had the nerve to announce a "time out" in the peace process this week. Israeli troops have murdered 116 Palestinians over the last four weeks. Thirty three of those Barak's troops have killed have been under 16 years old. By contrast, only nine Israelis have been killed in the clashes.

Despite the supposed "peace agreement" made in Egypt last week, Israeli tanks and helicopters with rocket launchers and machine-guns continued to pound Palestinian villages. Israeli troops killed ten Palestinians in just one day last week. Most of their victims were teenagers.

Yet Barak has the gall to blame his suspension of the peace process on the violence of the Palestinians. Last week's agreement was already heavily weighted in Israel's favour. It called for a "fact finding committee", under the direction of the United States, instead of the international inquiry demanded by the Palestinians.

As journalist Robert Fisk commented, "Israel's greatest and most loyal ally will decide the committee's final report." There is no going back to a peace process which is run by the US, and which is a betrayal of every Palestinian's hopes.

Tens of thousands of ordinary Palestinians have taken to the streets over the last four weeks to protest against their oppression by the Israeli state and the poverty in which they live. Palestinian demonstrators armed only with sticks and rocks have been met with the full might of the Israeli army.

Barak halted the peace process to invite Ariel Sharon and his right wing Likud Party into a coalition government. Sharon is a mass killer who is despised across the Arab world. He was responsible for Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982, and the massacre of up to 3,000 Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps in Beirut. He set up the "101 Commando" units responsible for countless massacres of Palestinian men, women and children in the 1950s.

Sharon also sparked the current Palestinian uprising when, surrounded by 1,000 Israeli troops, he went to the sacred Muslim site of Haram al Sharif in Jerusalem four weeks ago. The British press treats the current clashes as though they were between equal, warring tribes.

It ignores the power and force of the Israeli repression of the Palestinians. Peter Preston in the Guardian this week even claimed that the Palestinians were allowing their children to die to "foment world repugnance".

Does he really believe that Palestininian parents are deliberately sacrificing their children for public opinion? Does he really think that they are prepared to watch their children's bodies being ripped apart by Israeli guns and bullets? The Palestinians have risen up in a new "intifada", or uprising, because they have faced 52 years of repression and injustice at the hands of the Israeli state.

Young boys and girls are demonstrating because they face the reality of living under the tyranny of an occupying force. They are fighting for an end to Israeli repression, and an end to the daily poverty and injustice which blights their lives.

A fight for justice

THIS IS not the first time that the Palestinians have fought back against their oppression. The last intifada took place in 1987. It forced the Israeli government to attempt to make a peace deal with Yasser Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

Life for Palestinians has got worse since the peace deal in 1993. Unemployment is up to 40 percent in some Palestinian areas, and average income has declined. Even if the peace agreement were implemented it would leave Palestinians with very little control over their lives.

Israel would still control 59 percent of the West Bank and a third of the Gaza Strip. It would get to keep areas which it has occupied militarily for 33 years. It is this reality which has driven a new generation to fight back. And it is why there can be no real peace until there is an end to Israeli violence and repression, and justice for the Palestinians.

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Sat 28 Oct 2000, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1720
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