GLW: UN Force needed to end Israel's terror campaign
Green Left Parramatta
glparramatta at SPAMgreenleft.org.au
Mon Nov 27 03:35:18 MST 2000
>From the latest Green Left Weekly
Go to http://www.greenleft.org.au/back/2000/430/430p15.htm
PALESTINE: UN force needed to end Israel's terror campaign
BY NORM DIXON
The Israeli military's massive November 20 air and
sea missile bombardment of heavily populated residential areas in
Gaza which, with the West Bank and east Jerusalem, was invaded
by Israel in 1967 had little to do with retaliation for acts
of terrorism, as spokespeople for the Israeli and US
governments rushed to tell the unquestioning Western mass media.
The dozens of missiles that rained down for more than an hour
after dark, landing on houses, Palestinian Authority (PA) offices
and those of the Fatah party, killing two and injuring 60, are
part of the indiscriminate, collective punishment that is daily
being inflicted on the Palestinian people. It is designed to
terrorise, intimidate and penalise the Palestinian people for
their determined resistance to Israel's 33-year occupation of
It is also part of Israel's longer-term project of ethnic
cleansing of Palestinians from those parts of the occupied
territories that contain, or are earmarked to contain, the
ever-increasing number of Israeli Jewish-only settlements.
More than 12 Palestinians have been killed for each
Israeli death (the large majority of whom have been
occupying soldiers) since the current intifada (uprising) erupted
and Israel launched its one-sided war. The Israeli military has
unleashed hundreds of rocket and artillery attacks on Palestinian
towns and villages. Homes, schools, hospitals, television and
radio stations, even the YMCA's facilities for people with
disabilities, have not escaped the Israeli occupation army's
More than 250 Palestinians have been killed and 10,000 injured,
the vast majority civilians around a third under the age of 18
since September 28 in this Gestapo-style terror campaign. More
than 1000 face permanent disability. If these atrocities were
taking place in Australia, the equivalent toll would be
approximately 1500 killed and 60,000 injured.
Israel's excuse for launching its latest massive bombardment was
a bomb attack earlier in the day on a settlers' school bus in
Gaza that killed two adults and injured five children. The
Western press accounts focused in emotional and grisly detail on
the terrible injuries suffered by three young children, all
siblings. The PA denied responsibility and condemned the
Despite responsibility being claimed by three different groups
two never heard of before the Israeli government immediately
laid the blame at the door of the PA.
The Israeli military waited until after dark, in order to instill
maximum terror and confusion. This has been the pattern
throughout the intifada. Every night, sometimes for most of the
night, tanks and helicopters bombard towns and villages
throughout the occupied territories on the pretext that shots
have been fired from their general direction. Rarely does a night
pass when a half a dozen more funerals must be arranged the next
During the day, Israeli snipers shoot to kill Palestinians who
they deem to be acting suspiciously. Palestinian children are
daily shot dead for the heinous crime of preparing to throw a
stone. While the Western press and Israeli and US leaders shed
tears over the injuries suffered by settlers' children in one
terrible but isolated incident, there has been absolute silence
at the Israeli military's systematic murder of scores of
This was chillingly revealed in an article published in the
November 20 Israeli newspaper Ha'artz. Journalist Amira Hass
spoke to a Israeli Defence Force (IDF) sharpshooter: A
sharpshooter fires a lethal bullet... A sharpshooter's bullet
kills if it hits the body. This is a bullet that is a [full]
metal jacket... If a sharpshooter isn't accurate with the first
bullet with the second it's almost a sure thing... If they tell
a sharpshooter to fire, his intention will be to hit the head...
He fires for certain to kill, unless there are specific
individuals in this war it hasn't happened much whom you're
told to shoot in the legs.
The soldier admitted that the army knows that the Palestinian
[gun] fire is pathetic ... most of it will go in the air... The
IDF knows [it is just showing off] ... [but] if you decide to
wound people, wounding fans anger even more.
The soldier described how the IDF defines children: Twelve and
up is allowed [to be shot dead]. He's not a child any more...
That's what they tell us.
The soldier also revealed that the Israel army has contingency
plans that set out in astonishing detail ... if they decide,
within a few days we occupy the territories we have given to them
[the PA] and set up a military government like in the 1950s...
Even I, a simple soldier, have heard about these plans.
Three million Palestinians in the occupied territories are being
held hostage in an Israeli military siege. Israel is preventing
vital raw materials from entering and the 125,000 or so
Palestinian workers who are employed in Israel from leaving.
Supplies of food, petrol, water and electricity are controlled by
Israel. Refugee camps are being denied food supplies making
starvation a real possibility.
Palestinian leaders have gone on a diplomatic offensive to win
support for a United Nations-backed international protection
force with little success. Palestinian UN observer Nasser
al-Kidwa on November 17 called on the UN Security Council to act
on Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's request for a
2000-strong UN protection force for the occupied territories by
In response, the United States, other permanent Security Council
members France and Britain, and UN secretary-general Kofi Annan
have said that any international force must first win the
approval of Israel. Such a position is at odds with the Security
Council's two key resolutions 242 and 338 unanimously passed
after Israel's invasion in 1967 which demanded Israel's immediate
withdrawal from the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem.
Meeting in Marseilles on November 15-16, European Union foreign
ministers heard PA minister for international cooperation Nabil
Shaath's pleas for an international protection force and a return
to the UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 as the basis
of any peace settlement. The EU ministers stated that the US must
play the fundamental role in the peace process. The EU
ministers stated that they could only play a role if it had the
agreement of both parties.
The PA is keen to involve European governments either directly
or through the UN to break Washington's monopoly over the
peace process. This reflects the views of the Palestinian
people: a recent poll showed just 3% of Palestinians in the
occupied territories consider the US neutral.
That the demand for a UN protection force can be won was proven
by the mass movement that developed in Australia in 1999. It
demanded that an armed UN force be sent to East Timor to stop the
Indonesian occupation army's and its proxies' terror campaign,
force their withdrawal from East Timor and allow the East
Timorese people their right to national self determination.
As with Israel's invasion of the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem,
Australian and US imperialism had accepted and endorsed
Indonesia's continued illegal occupation of East Timor and for
almost 25 years refused to budge on its backing for Indonesian
rule. As with Israel, the Australian and US governments
hypocritically refused to back the sending of an armed force,
even as the liberation movement and its supporters were being
slaughtered, because it would not have the blessing of the
cravenly pro-imperialist generals in Jakarta.
Yet, thanks to the long and determined struggle of the East
Timorese people, and the decisive intervention of the mass
mobilisations of the solidarity movements in Australia and other
Western countries, imperialist governments were forced to reverse
their policies and approve the sending of a UN armed force. That
success shifted the balance of forces in favour of the East
The demand for a UN protection force that is capable of forcing
the withdrawal of Israeli troops from all the lands illegally
seized in 1967 in concrete terms meaning that the US government
is forced to withdraw its support for Israel's occupation
cannot be won if the call is only advocated through diplomatic
channels or argued behind closed UN doors.
When taken up by the movement in the streets both in Palestine
and around the world, such a demand can expose the imperialist
powers' hypocrisy and double standards, as well as their cynical
disregard for the lives of millions of Palestinians held hostage
by Israel's terrorist army.
The sight of Washington refusing to allow the UN to act to
enforce its own resolutions against Israel undermines illusions
that US imperialism is motivated by humanitarianism or respect
for international law. It can therefore help to build a mass
solidarity movement against the US-backed Israeli occupation of
the West Bank and Gaza.
There are moves to defuse the Palestinian leadership's demands
and the Palestinian people's hopes for an effective protection
force. France has proposed the deployment of unarmed military
observers on the condition that Israel gives its consent.
Al-Kidwa, however, said a new Palestinian proposal may take into
consideration some of the French ideas presumably the idea
that the UN force not carry arms.
There is concern among the Palestinian left and most
non-government organisations at the PA's vagueness on the
specifics of the international protection force it is calling
for. While not opposing a protection force, the street-level
organisations fear that if the PA does not spell out precisely
the mandate of the force it may be used to put an end to the
intifada by placing peacekeepers around Palestinian areas to
legitimise the current borders between Palestinian- and
Israeli-controlled areas. They also fear that the PA may agree to
A consensus seems to be emerging among the intifada-aligned
Palestinian organisations that the international protection force
should be of limited duration and have a clear mission of
protecting Palestinian civilians as part of a process of
facilitating the establishment of a Palestinian state in West
Bank and Gaza. The protection force should be deployed along the
1967 borders and not around Palestinian towns.
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