Intifada II - Year 2

John Cox hazel_motes52 at hotmail.com
Sun Sep 30 10:40:20 MDT 2001


 ONE YEAR ON: PALESTINIANS TAKE STOCK

 PALESTINIAN CHILDREN EXPRESS THEIR VIEWS OF THE INTIFADA


 "Israeli closure policy has planted the
 seeds of hatred for a long time to come
 Palestinian analyst, Khalil Shikaki



[BBC News Online, UK, 28 Sept, by Fiona Symon]: A year since the
outbreak of the intifada, living standards among Palestinians have
fallen dramatically.

Israel's stranglehold over the Palestinian economy is virtually
complete and takes the form of over 150 military blockades erected in
the West Bank and more than 40 in Gaza.

To these must now be added the new buffer zone, established this week
along the border between Israel the Palestinian areas.

All entry and exit points to the West Bank and Gaza - even mountainous
paths and dirt roads - have been closed.

 Daily humiliation

Palestinians experience daily humiliation, and sometimes intimidation,
at these checkpoints.

B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights group that monitors army activities
in the occupied territories, says it is aware of at least six cases in
which soldiers have shot and killed Palestinians "without provocation"
at roadblocks during the uprising.

The Israeli army denies this, but what is not in dispute is the impact
the checkpoints have had on the economy.

 Palestinians face long waits at border crossings

This has virtually ground to a halt, according to a report by the
Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction. It
puts the total loss in all economic sectors at $4.25bn dollars during
the period between September 2000 and September 2001.

Tourism, which previously accounted for 11% of the Palestinian gross
domestic product and was an important source of hard currency, has
come to a complete halt as a result of the closure.

Farming, trade and industry have all been severely hit - PECDAR
estimates that around 150,000 fruit trees alone have been
uprooted. More than 4,000 homes have been destroyed, in addition to a
large number of public buildings and projects, says PECDAR, which puts
the cost of infrastructure losses at $165m and transport losses at $5m
during the period.

 Airport closure

The closure of Gaza International airport - the site of today's
long-delayed meeting between Yasser Arafat and Shimon Peres - has had
a disastrous effects on tourism and investment.

The Palestinian Authority has spent millions of dollars on attracting
investment and upgrading tourism, but the airport closure has resulted
in large numbers of investors taking their money elsewhere.

 Meeting took place amid a hardening of attitudes

The siege has been particularly damaging because of the extent to
which the Palestinian economy is dependent on Israel, says PECDAR,
noting that 85% of trade is done through Israel, and Palestinians buy
their electricity, water and telecommunications from Israeli
companies.

Before the intifada the number of Palestinian workers was 651,000, of
whom 133,000 worked inside Israel. As a direct result of the closure,
unemployment has risen from 12% to 51% of the Palestinian workforce.

"A natural consequence of unemployment is poverty. As a result of the
Israeli closure, thousands of Palestinians lost their jobs and
consequently their main source of income," says PECDAR

 Business paralysed

Palestinian analyst Khalil Shikaki said Israel's closure policy "has
planted the seeds of hatred for a long time to come".

The blockades have not provided security for Israel, but have
radicalised moderate Palestinians whose businesses have been
paralysed, he says.

This view is reflected in the latest public opinion poll conducted by
the Jerusalem Media and Communication Centre.

 Palestinians saw Mr Sharon's visit to the holy site as the final
 straw

It surveyed Palestinians last week and found that attitudes towards
the peace process have hardened. Support for the peace process fell
from 38% last June to 29% this month and the percentage of
Palestinians who regard the peace process as dead has risen to 42%
from 27%.

Ghassan Khatib, director of the centre, says Palestinians are in no
mood to compromise because they believe the one achievement of the
intifada so far has been to prevent Israel from imposing its blueprint
for a final settlement. "Palestinians believe that Israel initiated
the violence, and that they are simply reacting and resisting Israeli
aggression," said Mr Khatib.



 ANNIVERSARY STRAINS MIDEAST TRUCE

 By Jamie Tarabay

[Associated Press - 28 September - RAMALLAH, West Bank] -- Thousands
of Palestinians on Friday marked the anniversary of their uprising
against Israel with marches, rock-throwing and three minutes of
silence. Three Palestinians, including a 10-year-old boy, were killed
by Israeli troops in confrontations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Forty-five Palestinians were wounded, two of them critically, doctors
said. Six Israelis, including three civilians, were also hurt.

In another incident, a Palestinian man was killed in the West Bank
town of Hebron when a bomb he was putting together exploded
prematurely, Palestinian security officials said.

Despite the bloodshed, both sides said they remained committed to a
fledgling truce arranged at the urging of the United States. Senior
security commanders from the two sides met to work out the next steps,
such as an easing of Israel's blockades of Palestinian towns.

Washington has been pressing for calm in the Middle East as it tries
to bring Arab and Muslim states into an international anti-terrorism
coalition.

Rallies were also held in Arab nations, where the public has been
outraged by images of Palestinian deaths. In the Iraqi capital, a
crowd of about 20,000 waved Palestinian and Iraqi flags.

In several rallies and mosque sermons, speakers urged Palestinians to
keep fighting Israel. However, Palestinian officials said they were
determined to make the truce stick.

"It's a matter of life and death for our people, and for the
Israelis," Palestinian Planning Minister Nabil Shaath said of the
cease-fire.

Yarden Vatikay, a spokesman for the Israeli Defense Ministry, said
that the Palestinians had not lived up to their promises, but that
Israel was not walking away from the truce.

The truce was affirmed Wednesday in a meeting between Arafat and
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres. Israel has said it would ease
its security blockade of Palestinian towns in the coming days, while
the Palestinians said they were considering Israel's request to arrest
suspected militants.

Despite the truce, there has been sporadic fighting, with seven
Palestinians killed by Israeli fire since Wednesday. The U.S. State
Department has criticized Israel for what it said was a "provocative"
military strike in the Rafah refugee camp Thursday, scene of most of
the violence this week.

Israeli-Palestinian fighting erupted Sept. 28, 2000, after Ariel
Sharon, now Israel's prime minister, visited a contested holy site in
Jerusalem's Old City, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims
as the Haram as-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary. Since then, 649 people
have been killed on the Palestinian side and 177 on the Israeli side.

Across the region, Arabs rallied Friday to mark the start of the
uprising.

In Syria, about 1,000 people marched through the capital in silence
out of respect for the dead, while in south Lebanon, more than 1,000
people marched through the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein el-Hilweh
to protest Israeli policy. In Baghdad, demonstrators chanted slogans
calling for President Saddam Hussein to "liberate Jerusalem" and "blow
up Tel Aviv," the commercial capital of Israel.

In Egypt, however, security forces turned out to deter demonstrations,
and mosque preachers -- who mention the intefadeh nearly every week --
made only brief references to the anniversary.

In the West Bank and Gaza Strip, sirens wailed in several towns,
including Jenin and Qalqiliya, as residents observed three minutes of
silence in public squares to mark the anniversary.

Thousands joined a march in Gaza's Nusseirat refugee camp, streaming
into the street after prayers at two local mosques. Marchers carried
banners reading: "The uprising will continue until we uproot the
Zionist occupation from our land."

A member of Arafat's Fatah movement, addressing the crowd through a
loudspeaker mounted on a truck, said the fighting would continue "with
all means," despite Arafat's orders to stop attacks on Israelis.

In the West Bank town of Ramallah, traffic stopped as Palestinians
observed three minutes of silence. In the city's central Manara
Square, masked men burned a cardboard model of a Jewish settlement.

After the rally, a procession made its way to an Israeli checkpoint,
where dozens of youngsters threw stones at soldiers. Three
stone-throwers were wounded by live Israeli fire and 24 were hurt by
rubber-coated steel pellets, doctors said.

However, Palestinian police kept gunmen away from the area,
traditionally a scene of firefights during Friday marches.

In the West Bank town of Hebron, Palestinian gunmen opened fire on
Israeli troops, drawing return fire that killed a 25-year-old man and
wounded 12 other Palestinians. In two nearby villages, two boys, ages
10 and 17, were killed by Israeli troops dispersing stone throwers
with live ammunition, Palestinian doctors said.

The army said that troops briefly entered one of the villages _ Al
Khader -- to chase Palestinians who had thrown an explosive device at
an Israeli outpost. The army said a gun battle ensued, and that troops
eventually left the village.

In Rafah, a Palestinian was critically wounded in what Palestinians
said was an unprovoked shooting from an Israel tank parked at the
outskirts of the refugee camp. The army said it had no reports of
shooting in Rafah.

Many Palestinians said they were skeptical about truce prospects.

Some said they had sacrificed too much during the past year to end the
uprising now. Others said there was little point in returning to
negotiations because they felt Israel's hard-line prime minister,
Ariel Sharon, had little to offer them.

"We have given a lot for this land," said Walid Ifha, a 35-year-old
Ramallah school teacher. "To end the uprising without results is not
fair. We should continue until we get what we want."

Israeli security forces in Jerusalem's Old City barred Palestinians
under the age of 40 from attending prayers at the Haram as-Sharif.

In his Friday sermon, the top Muslim cleric in Jerusalem, Mufti Ikrema
Sabri, called the uprising a "holy war" and said it would continue
until Israel no longer controlled the holy city, which he said was
under "military siege."

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