From Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom:
It seems that forever WILPF Palestine Section has been trying to convey to our WILPF sisters throughout the world the horrific situation that prevails in Palestine, truly a catalogue of horror and abuse of human life. Over the past months the Section has received a terrific response, and we are aware that amongst you are souls who grieve for us. We receive many E-mails from those among you who agonize and who we know spend many a working hour writing on our behalf. We are indebted to many individuals. Now we have entered a spiral of deterioration which demands that we renew our efforts, and further clarify our thoughts. Against the background of the Palestinian’s legitimate struggle against Israel’s military and civil Occupation, there now exists the most horrendous abuse of the Palestinian people by Israel, so intricate in detail, so mind blowing in its ingenuity.
Since 1967 and Israel’s military Occupation of Palestine, but especially since the onset of the second Al-Aqsa Intifada in September 2002 successive Israeli governments have done everything in their power and given their military strength and that is a great deal, to destroy and obliterate everything that is Palestinian. But perhaps no past Israeli leader excels the efforts of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to brandish on the hearts of every Palestinian the knowledge that they are a captive and conquered people through his barbaric policies of indescribable cruelty, both collective and individual in nature. Given September 11th 2001Palestine’s legitimate resistance has been labeled ‘terrorism” and Israel’s State terrorism described as legitimate acts. Every Israeli atrocity conceived is sanctioned particularly by the United States and anything and everything that the Palestine National Authority established since its inception in 1993, and initially welcomed by the White House, has been physically destroyed. Ministerial offices blown up; security and intelligence headquarters lie in vast piles of rubble, offices stand as empty shells- employees sit at home-there is no business of the day. A one-day Conference takes place in some comfortable hotel in London to sort out more than fifty years of conflict. It calls for ‘ reform’ of the Palestine National Authority while President Arafat holds his own sit-in demonstration amongst the ruins of what was once a beginning.Over 2,8000 Palestinians summarily shot dead, countless young lives sacrificed; 5,100 Palestinians in Israeli prisons; over 1,100 in administrative detention without the benefit of the rule of law.
America promotes a “road map” which despite its severe limitations the Palestinian leadership has accepted as a means of breaking the ice. General Kofi Anan offers some benign reminder to Israel to ease the economic burden imposed by Israel’s checkpoints, and closures but no mention made of its military and civil illegal Occupation. No clear dress that shows a clear position. No address by the United States, the Quartet, or any Arab State to the fundamental issue of Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinian people and its unprecedented abuse of human rights.
This beautiful rock strewn land, the lesser of the piece of the cake now once again controlled by Israeli military jeeps, and tanks. Personnel carriers roar through narrow streets, star strewn skies shudder at the sound of American funded fighter jets; helicopters hover over sleepy villages with their steel cyclopic eyes. On the ground Israeli soldiers strut through the streets of towns, rifles cocked. Palestinian land is being confiscated to establish a ‘security fence” well beyond the boundaries of the 1948 ‘green line’, running from north to south, forever encroaching and when completed yet another possible 10% of Palestinian land gorged upon by Israeli bulldozers. The land of entire villages is disappearing, fertile land heavy with olive trees are uprooted leaving the Palestinian villager devastated. Imagine a billion-dollar wall and supplementary fences fitted with motion sensors, observation towers and ditches that surround the northern villages of Palestine in order to prevent any freedom of movement, and in turn throwing thousands of men who once worked in Israel, onto the employment heap. Such walls and fences will make the Berlin wall look like the perimeters of a doll’s house! The infamous illegal Jewish settlements that at one time caught world attention, remain in place, and what is termed ‘dismantlement’ of so called ‘illegal’outposts’ (whereas in truth all settlements are illegal) means in effect moving a few metres to another hillside. What Palestinian territory currently remains is being suffocated by roadblocks and checkpoints.
Women have died at these checkpoints- some 17 babies still born because of the closures and curfews-the elderly and those in need of urgent medical treatment denied free passage have died in transit. The handicapped with crutches ungainly plod their way along muddied tracks, and always the muted sound of footsteps like the rustle of autumnal leaves. And from the necklaces of muddied horses the jingle of bells as they pull wooden carts from one checkpoint to another, transporting the sick and the elderly, all human dignity denied. Streams of people weaving their way around tanks and an Israeli soldier in full battle dress with a license to take pot shots at human heads. Journalists fired at or beaten up, human rights activists' tear-gassed, United Nations observers shot in the back, UNRWA ambulances attacked. Anyone who attempts to offer a public record to the rest of the world, is targeted. Human rights and peace activists are being deported, Palestinians with American passports are being turned away at Israel’s Ben Gurion airport and put back on the next plane.
Amongst the most inventive of Israel’s policies possible to assuage the boredom of the soldiers at the various checkpoints is to place scraps of paper in a jar and request the hapless Palestinian captive to chose his method of punishment-a Vietnam equivalent of roulette-either breaking a right hand, a left hand or both; a beating to the head, a hand and a leg or both legs, alternatively removing a tooth, or breaking a nose using a rifle butt. A less painful choice for the lucky few, breaking a car owner’s windscreen, to blowing the tyres, taking the car keys to confiscating the vehicle or being allowed to walk home without your vehicle and withoutyour clothes. At the same time it is so normal to pass a checkpoint and view Palestinian men on their knees, their noses breathing in the dust, hands strapped behind their back and held for hours. At these checkpoints Palestinian men are taken off into desert areas and beaten to a pulp. A barber’s shop in Hebron is invaded by Israeli soldiers-clients head forcibly shaved, one smacked in the mouth, another forced to drink shampoo (and not celebratory champagne as was envisaged by Oslo). A private car on a road is mounted by an Israeli army personnel carrier- the driver and passenger desperate to escape, the driver’s head and shoulders out of the window-his screams falling silent against the roar of the military engine. The carrier sits on the car for some ten minutes while the driver is literally squashed to death. This is Israel’s war against ‘terrorism’?
Every ethical and moral code known to civilisation is being violated and abused by Israel. Israeli snipers literally target any Palestinians human being who walks the roads-it doesn’t matter- a child in school uniform- -a shepherd dreaming amongst olive groves tending his goats and sheep-there is always a soldiers manning a tank armed with flashlight and rifle that decides your fate. Without the right to personal security, without the right to wake up to an environment that respects above all your right to life, there is no chance to exercise any other human right.
Iraq’s alleged defiance of UN Resolutions has to be sorted. At the same time Israel has defied every UN Resolution ( see 242,338, 1397 and 1402 among others). Israel violates every article of the 4th Geneva Convention and implements practices that Geneva could not imagine at that time, practices that excel-shootings, assassinations, obscene torture of prisoners, and civilians. The US Arms Export control strictly forbids the government from giving military assistance to any country that violates internationally recognize human rights. Yet with American military weapons of war Israel bombs Palestinian residential areas and use live fire against Palestinian children. Now America may grant Israel’s intelligence services, the infamous Mossad permission to enter and hunt so called enemies of the State on American soil; that is murder by no other name.
Now as we brace ourselves for America’s war against Iraq who could not defend its people in 1991 and certainly cannot do so now, the all encompassing effort of the the States to gain control over oil resources. It’s a wonderfully brilliantly orchestrated agenda, devoid of any humane consideration. Alongside the attempt by George Bush, supported by his satellite echo, British Prime Minister Tony Blair to take control of the Region. Even though arms control inspectors have found no evidence of a “smoking gun” weapons of mass destruction have to be there because America needs them to be there, they simply have to be there. There is no alternative- this is an orchestrated war.
All this suits Sharon perfectly. As Bush implements his megalomaniac quest for control unrefined oil glistening from his forehead and as Palestinian olives dies on the bark-and forget North Korea-it just wants attention but watch out Indonesia. Bush and Sharon were born for each other- they are both insane. Neither carries belief in peace: one holds the belief that he can make America great through world domination, the other believes Israel can only exist through its domination of the Palestinian people. For both it is war to the bitter end, and the Israelis have voted for more of the same.
In order that one people are able to exist on exclusive terms unilaterally laid down in 1948 with the establishment of the State of Israel, Palestinians continue to pay a terrible price. Successive Israeli governments vent their rage upon an indigenous people-like the proverbial elephant they seem not to have forgotten one iota, but with a more wide ranging and detailed agenda. Every conceivable atrocity is meticulously planned. But Israel’s brilliance carries the seeds of its own eventual downfall. Is the nature and degree of the atrocity committed shaped by the historical context in which it occurs? The purpose and motive behind successive Israeli governments is the ‘disappearance’ of the Arab population of Palestine; their methods barbaric, systematic, slow, methodical, determined and very public. Every surviving Palestinian carries a living heritage of 1948 onwards, and today a memory of yesterday as thousands of lives are sacrificed. Before Israel’s military might, thousands of dunums of fertile land despoiled, thousands of olive trees uprooted, hundreds of homes demolished, thousands rendered homeless,thousands of lives impoverished, a million tears shed.
The very existence of Palestinian society, its people, its culture, is threatened with extinction in order that a brutal, totallyinhumane regime survive. Thetransfer of the Palestinian population is being seriously debated and the methods used by the Nazis to extricate the Jewish population from the Polish ghettoes studied by Israel’s military hierarchy, as a useful illustration to follow. Rains now fall on Palestine watering a thirsty land. No normality, no dreams left for the people who now further fear America’s war against Iraq and its consequences, as they fear to leave their own homes. Yet despite literally impossible conditions and in the absence of any quality of life, there is always a welcome for the visitor, always a smile. Despite the daily scenes of devastation the Palestinian people are determined to maintain the fabric of their civil society, andequally determinedtofree themselves from Israel’s Occupation. They will resist whatever the cost, whatever the sacrifice, and however dark the horizon. For without hope the heart will break The Palestinian people deserve a Nobel Prize for Courage.
The Palestinian leadership did its utmost to achieve peace, and the Palestinian people want peace. Throughout this struggle we need your continued support, solidarity and action through talking to people, to your colleagues, to your friends, and writing to your leaders and Embassies. The blood letting must stop. In the closing words in a recent article “When Will We Resist” by Edward Said he asked I hope someone is listening! We would add soon will there be anybody left to listen?
WILPF Palestine Section,
~Did You Miss These?~
Just a Reminder - Tuesday, Nov. 04, 2003
Ravyne Is Moving - Friday, Oct. 17, 2003
The Mission - Sunday, Oct. 12, 2003
Siege Heil - Thursday, Oct. 09, 2003
Litany Of Lies - Wednesday, Oct. 08, 2003
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