Sharon's War

Paul Flewers hatchet.job at
Wed Dec 5 12:07:45 MST 2001

Moshe Machover sent this to me, list members may be interested.

My own feelings are that Sharon is targeting Arafat because he wants to
destroy any moderating elements amongst the Palestinian leaders, permit
Hamas to get the upper hand -- and their suicide raids play right into his
hands -- and then go in for a massive pogrom against the Palestinians,
destroying Hamas and thus eradicating their remaining political leadership,
and generally terrorising the Palestinian population as a whole. Leaderless
and subjected to continued military attacks, general harassment and
scorched-earth policies (destruction of olive groves, houses, wells, etc),
the Palestinians can then be cornered into ghettos, and possibly even
expelled from the borders of Israel. Sharon has been immeasurably helped by
the 'war against terrorism', as anyone who wishes to rid himself of a
'terrorist threat' now has the full moral backing of the big powers. After
all, if the USA can bomb Afghanistan and depose its government, and give
consent to its local allies as they massacre prisoners-of-war, Sharon will
know that the big powers will not object to his repression and terror
getting worse. I reckon that the attacks upon the Palestinians that have
been going on for some years will not only continue but intensify greatly
over the next few months. This depressing spectacle is another part of the
fall-out from the events of 11 September.

Paul F


Adam Keller

A War Of Sharon's Making

For more than a year it has been  discussed in the media and the political
and military system: is what is going on between Israel and the Palestinians
a war, or is it just "fighting"? Early this morning, the question has been
resolved: it is war indeed. The government of Israel has officially and
formally declared the Palestinian Authority and its president Yasser Arafat
to be enemy, and instructed the armed forces under its command to actively
and agressively pursue the war by land, and sea.

This is not a random happening. In fact, it is the logical culmination of
the policies undertaken by Ariel Sharon ever since he assumed power in
February; and in fact, these are a direct continuation of Sharon's policies
as Defence Minister in the early 1980's, when he initiated a disastrous
invasion of Lebanon for the purpose of destroying the PLO and expelling

Since becoming Prime Minister, Sharon has been edging closer and closer to
this all-out war. Measures of oppression were steadily piled on top of each
other, yesterday's outrageous innovation becoming today's routine. The
"strangling closure" imposed on Ramalla at the very first week of Sharon's
tenure and which aroused then many international protests was, in fact, far
less severe than the siege at present imposed on each every West Bank town
and village.

And the same process of familiarization had gone on with regard to the
bombing of Palestinian cities - first by helicopter gunships (as already
started by Barak), then by F-16 fighter planes; and with the more and more
widespread assassination of Palestinians suspected of terrorism; and with
armed incursions into Palestinian-held areas - first for days, later for
weeks, then months.

Mediation efforts and plans there had been in plenty throughout Sharon's
term. The PM hardly ever rejected any of them openly. Rather, he used what
so far seems a fullproof method: making a rigid demand for seven days of
"complete and absolute cease-fire" before any substantive negotiations can
take place, and then making a gross provocation,  just before the newest
cease-fire is about to go into force.

What happened a bit more than a week ago was a particularly effective use of
the technique: a few days before the latest mediator, the ex-US General
Zinni, Sharon authorized the assassination by helicopter gunships of Mahmud
Abu Hunud, a Hamas leader prominent and popular enough to ensure that his
death would be avenged in Hamas' brutal fashion - particularly since the
assassination took place when Palestinian public opinion was already
inflamed by the death of five Palestinian children from an explosive charge
set up by Israeli army sappers (which was, apparently, an accident).

The ploy was, in fact, quite obvious. It was commented on in the media at
the time;  the knowledgable Alex Fishman pointed in Yedito Aharonot (Nov.
25) that the Abu Hunud assassination broke the tacit agreement between
Arafat and Hamas not to carry out suicide bombing -- an agreement which had
been in force for several months, and whose existence may well have saved
dozens of Israeli lives.

Without access to Sharon's confidential records, there is no way of
conclusively proving that the PM actually desired what followed. There is no
doubt that he and his military and intelligence advisers knew full well what
would result from assassinating Abu Hunud and nevertheless ordered the deed
to be done. Nor can there be a doubt that Hamas' grisly revenge, causing the
death of  26 randomly chosen Israelis, was of an inestimable profit to
Sharon. It gave him the perfect pretext for the declaration of war upon
Arafat, effectively scuttling the Zinni mission and letting the Pentagon
hawks gain the upper hand over the State Depratment in the adminstartion's
infighting. As a the result Sharon's onslaught upon the Palestinians got an
unprecented open backing from Washington.

With that kind of backing, Sharon could afford to adopt an openly
contemptuous attitude to his Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, whose
international prestige as Nobel Peace Prize laureate and supposed peacemaker
were hitherto vital to the Sharon Government. Now, the PM could afford to
ram his declaration of war through the cabinet and brush aside Peres'

Sharon has been trumpeting his new campaign as "a war on terrorism" . But
how can anybody seriously claim that the cause of "fighting terrorism" can
be furthered  by bombing and destroying Yasser Arafat's personal
helicopters, which anyway never could fly without the Israeli Air Force's
approval? Or by sending tanks and bulldozers to wreak the runways of Gaza
International Airport - the airport which was inaugurated three years ago by
President Bill Clinton in person, and which had been closed down ever since
the outbreak of the Intifada? Or by again invading Ramallah, a large portion
of which was just recently occupied by Israeli tanks without in the least
diminishing the intensity of the Palestinian rebellion? Or even less, by
systematically targetting and destroying the installations of the
Palestinian Police and security services - the very apparatus with which
Arafat had just begun the difficult and delicate task of confronting
Palestinian militants.

Seen in the perspective of an Israeli Prime Minster who is determined to
maintain Israeli occupation of and settlement in the West Bank and Gaza
Strip, and to smother any emergent  Palestinian statehood, Sharon's campaign
of the last days makes all too much sense. In which case Sharon seems to be
getting the Bush Adminstrations' support in destroying what Secretary Powel
described, just two weeks ago, as the United States' vision for the region's
future: a viable Palestine living in peace side by side with Israel.

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