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

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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
 their lands.

 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”.

 One-sided war

 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
 assault.

 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
 terrorist attack.

 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
 the morning.

 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
 Palestinian children.

 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.

 Diplomatic offensive

 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
 November 26.

 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
 Timorese people.

 Mass mobilisation

 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
 this.

 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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