1) Democracy Now! (New York, USA)
A Report on the State of Siege, from Hebron to Bethlehem to Tel Aviv: Israeli forces invade the West Bank city of Hebron, killing seven Palestinians; International activists force their way through the barbed wire around the Church of the Nativity; and thousands of Israeli Jews and Arabs gather in Tel Aviv to protest Ariel Sharon's government.
1) Destruction of Palestinian Civil Institutions (Palestine Monitor, Palestine)
2) WHY IS ISRAEL AFRAID OF THE UN FACT FINDING MISSION? (BADIL Resource Center, Palestine)
3) West Bank 'Evacuations' -- Prelude to Ethnic Cleansing? (Pacific News Service, USA)
4) Israel Ends Arafat's Confinement (Assoicated Press)
5) Signs that Mideast situation leading to possible danger for Americans, less cooperation against terrorism (Assoicated Press)
6) Amnesty questions Israeli demolition in Jenin camp (Reuters)
7) Noam Chomsky Looks at U.S. Middle East Policy (Between the Lines, USA)
On the 24th of April, Dr. Mustafa Barghouti gave a press conference
offices of HDIP, which were vandalized, with most of the equipment and
contents destroyed as a result of the Israeli invasion to Ramallah on the
29th of March and the subsequent occupation of the offices by Israeli
The press conference had two main threads: the actual destruction
the Israeli army, in particular the attacks on the health system, and
secondly the overall Israeli policy of systematic invasion and destruction
of Palestinian areas.
Throughout the past month the Palestinian health sector and
have come under unrelenting attack. For example Israeli soldiers used Dr.
Muhammad Iskafi as a human shield while attacking and breaking into
buildings on the fourth day of the Israeli invasion of Ramallah. This
happened on more than one occasion with different health workers in
different areas. Dr. Barghouti also explained how the Israeli army attacked
and humiliated emergency health workers, forcing them to crawl on the
ground, hit them with mud, removing them from their vehicles and holding
them for hours at a time and forcing them to strip naked in public places.
Dr. Barghouti stated that since the beginning of the invasions
on the 29th
of March there have been 128 attacks against medical teams. This also
included attacks against governmental and non-governmental health
organizations and hospitals, such as the Medical Care Hospital in Ramallah,
five UPMRC clinics and centers, the Palestinian Red Crescent in Al-Bireh
and the Al-Razy Hospital in Nablus, which was shelled by an Israeli tank
which resulted in the killing of a female patient. The soldiers also banned
the Al-Razy medical team from rescuing an injured man, who was less than
two meters away from the hospital's gate. He died as a result.
"Among the other systematic attacks is abandoning the injured
to let them
bleed to death. This is a clear evidence that the atrocities committed by
the Israeli army can only be described as massacres", Dr. Barghouti argued.
He pointed out that the army also prohibited the burial of the
Consequently, 25 corpses were buried in a common grave in the yard of
Ramallah Hospital. In addition, in Nablus, for six days the Israeli army
did not allow 67 injured people to be moved from the field hospital in
Al-Baiq Mosque in the Old City of Nablus, to hospitals where they could
receive life saving treatment. As a result dozens of people died.
Dr. Barghouti also pointed to the dangers of diseases spreading
Palestinians; especially as restricting Palestinians freedom of movement
has lead to children being deprived of receiving the necessary
vaccinations. In addition, 260 governmental and non-governmental clinics
stopped working, which means 73% of Palestinians in rural areas have been
left without medical care. The curfew and closure of all of the West Bank
towns and villages has also had a negative effect with the prevention of
access to medical treatment. "We have monitored many death cases as a
result of restricting the movement of Palestinians. For example, the son of
Ali Sha'ar from Nablus died a few hours after he was born when the Israeli
army denied him access to hospital. Tabarak Odeh, from Dair El-Hatab, died
when the Israeli army refused, for 10 days, to let medication get to her.
In Al-Walajeh in Bethlehem province, Halima Al-Atrash gave birth to a
stillborn baby when she was not allowed to pass the checkpoint to take the
ambulance, which was only ten meters away" Dr. Barghouti said.
The second theme covered by Dr. Barghouti in the press conference
invasion and the destruction wrecked upon Palestinian institutions,
buildings and the population as a whole.
He considered the latest invasion of Palestinian cities, towns
camps as a part of a systematic operation aimed at inflicting a great deal
of destruction upon governmental and non-governmental organizations thereby
destroying any potential to establish an independent Palestinian state.
"This systematic approach is apparent in the attacks undertaken
Israeli army. In all the areas they invaded, they broke into houses, stole
from the people, attacked private property, shot at civilians and used them
as human shields, dug up roads, stole and destroyed data, just all-round
destruction" Dr. Barghouti added.
"For ten years, since the beginning of the Oslo process,
invested in and developed the areas under the rule of the Palestinian
Authority. Hundreds of millions of dollars have flowed in from Palestinians
in the Diaspora and international aid and development agencies. Roads were
made, buildings sprung up, private schools were established, kindergartens
and nurseries were opened, internet cafes abounded, cafes, NGOs, private
banks, restaurants and shops -- all the trappings of city life had been
established. The Authority too began to develop, ministries were set up --
education, health etc. We have a Central Bureau of Statistics. This is what
was attacked. The very essence of what Palestine was developing into -- the
institutions that would one day be the state and civil society institutions
of an independent Palestine. The financial aspect of the destruction is
difficult -- and we will need help rebuilding. But it is not just the
expense of the hardware and broken glass and destroyed offices that we have
to meet. The loss is incalculable in dollar terms, because it has taken us
years to build up to this point. It is the human effort and intellectual
work that that has gone into the years of research, planning and
development to build our future that we have lost, to improve our health
system, our education system, to promote private enterprise -- these are
the things that were sabotaged, putting back the efforts for Palestinian
In addition, Dr. Barghouti talked about the effects of the Israeli
on the other aspects of Palestinian life. "The Israeli invasion has
paralyzed the social, economic, health and educational aspects. Israel has
also attempted to create a security vacuum by targeting the Palestinian
security institutions. Moreover, the Israeli army has imposed curfew on
some villages for 25 successive days and is attempting to create isolated
cantons that are much worse than the apartheid system that was prevailing
in South Africa."
Dr. Barghouthi also spoke of the Israeli claims that they had
from Palestinian cities, characterizing these claims as "a big lie because
the tanks are still present, and can, and have, reinvade whenever they
When discussing the role of the Palestinians in the current
Barghouti stated that "we have to enhance our national unity and not allow
Israel to achieve political gains from its attack, or to create new
political facts on the ground". Also, Palestinians have to form national
and grass roots revival committees to rebuild what the occupation has
demolished and to distribute aid in a fair and transparent way in order to
prevent corruption. In this regard, he asked donor countries to announce
the amount of funds they would distribute to the Palestinians and the
receiving organizations. He called upon Palestinians to enhance the
popular, non-violent nature of the Intifada since it is considered as a
national liberation movement that aims to end the occupation. He also
called for strengthening the Palestinian grass roots organizations and
civil society institutions since they constitute the base for the
establishment of the Palestinian state.
Dr. Barghouti praised the steadfastness of Palestinians, saying,
happened during the last weeks has also shown the limitation of the ability
of the Israeli military power to achieve political goals. Israel might have
been able to destroy infrastructure, roads and buildings -- but they have
failed, and will continue to fail to destroy Palestinian hopes to be free
from the occupation and oppression."
He also praised the role of the international solidarity groups
here in thousands and at their own expense, with the GIPP, to provide
protection for the Palestinians, including the group who managed to break
the siege around President Arafat, and managed to stay with him."
+972 (0) 67 325418
+972 (0) 2 2985372
At least 52 dead - 26 of them civilians, more than 200 injured, a yet
unknown number of persons considered missing, and 4000 - 5000 Palestinian
refugees again made homeless by the destruction and damages (sources:
Palestinian National Monitoring Committee of Israeli War Crimes; UNRWA) -
these are some of the hard facts in the Jenin refugee camp as of today,
while we have yet to see the arrival of the UN Fact Finding Mission
appointed by UN General Secretary Kofi Annan in accordance with UN Security
Council Resolution 1405 of 19 April 2002.
Following a week of official protests and efforts to re-negotiate the terms
of reference of the UN Mission, the Israeli cabinet is to decide tomorrow,
Sunday, whether it will accept to cooperate. A negative Israeli decision
would return the ball into the yard of the United Nations.
Since the onset of the strong international criticism about Israel's
military conduct in the Jenin refugee camp, official Israeli spokespersons
and the media have missed no opportunity to underline that they have
nothing to hide. "The destruction caused there was an unavoidable result of
the tenacious fighting by the Palestinians who had dug in there. As far as
it is known, no massacre occurred in the camp, nor are there signs that the
IDF soldiers engaged in irregular conduct" (Uzi Benziman, Ha'aretz).
Israeli army spokespersons volunteer maps which show that in fact only a
minor portion of the camp (10 percent) was destroyed and hold that all
those killed, except for three civilians, were "wanted terrorists" or
Palestinian combatants. So what is Israel's problem with a UN Mission that
should do no more than "develop accurate information regarding recent
events in the Jenin refugee camp" (UN Resolution 1405)?
According to Israeli political analyst Aluf Benn (Ha'aretz, 25 April),
shift in Israel's stance from initial agreement to suspension of its
cooperation with the UN Fact Finding Mission was prompted by the
intervention of Daniel Bethlehem, an expert in international law at
Cambridge University and Israel's external legal advisor on the UN inquiry.
In the past, Bethlehem helped Israel compose its submissions to the
Mitchell Committee of inquiry into the violence between Israelis and
Palestinians. He also helped Israel draw up plans for cease-fires and the
re-start of the peace process that would guarantee that none of the latter
would materialize. As in the past 50 years, US-backing in the United
Nations and expert advice helped Israel to overcome initial international
sympathy with the Palestinian people also at the beginning of the current
Palestinian uprising, and UN activity was eventually diverted into the
Mitchell plan. Israel was able to rebuff the immediate international
pressure to have its conduct investigated, and the Sharon government even
managed to effectively shelf the Mitchell plan and empty it of political
However, Israel's legal advisor Bethlehem was alarmed by the terms of
reference of the current UN Fact Finding Mission into the events in the
Jenin refugee camp. "Unlike the Mitchell inquiry," he writes, "this
exercise is not focused on finding a pathway back to negotiations. It is an
exercise inquiring into allegations of war crimes." He goes on to warn, "If
the committee's findings uphold the allegations against Israel - even on
poor reasoning - this will fundamentally alter the dynamics of the
Israeli-Palestinian leadership and may make it impossible for Israel to
resist calls for an international force, the immediate establishment of a
Palestinian state and the prosecution of individuals said to have committed
the alleged acts... Israel has already lost the public relations battle.
Whether or not there was a massacre in Jenin as the Palestinians contend,
there is a widely-held perception in the international community that
Israel's use of force in Jenin was excessive, disproportionate and
indiscriminate and that this was compounded by a failure to provide, or
allow provision of, humanitarian assistance in the aftermath of the
conflict. Even assuming that all the facts are in Israel's favor, it will
be difficult to redress the balance."
Given the United Nations' 54 year-old record of non-enforcement of its
resolutions vis-a-vis Israel, the Palestinian refugees of Jenin might well
never see the honorable members of the UN Mission set foot in their squalid
camp, or they might find a Fact Finding Mission whose report will
eventually whitewash the conduct of Israel's army during "Operation
End Israel's Privilege: "Above the Law" and "Immune"
Only a sustained International Campaign of Solidarity with the Palestinian
People, including education about root-causes of the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict and a broad Israel- Boycott Campaign, can bring about the
enforcement of international law and UN resolutions vis-à-vis Israel,
including not only of UNSCR 1405 (2002, Jenin), but also UNSCR 242 (1967,
Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories) and UNGAR 194 (1948,
Right of Return of Palestinian Refugees). It can end Israel's 54 year-old
privilege of "being above" international law and UN resolutions.
A sustained International Campaign of Solidarity with the Palestinian
People can end Israel's impunity for war crimes, including those committed
in the Jenin camp in 2002 and in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in
1982. The UN Commission on Human Rights has considered Israel's continued
grave breaches of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention as rising to the level
of war crimes since 1972 and affirmed this view during a Special Session of
the Commission in October 2000. Since 1948, Israel's record of grave
breaches, war crimes and crimes against humanity includes: forced
displacement and consequent denial of return of some 6 million
Palestinians; illegal expropriation/control of some 90 percent of
Palestinian-owned land in Israel and in the 1967 occupied Palestinian
territories; construction and population of illegal colonies (settlements);
and, denial of the Palestinian people's right to self-determination.
For action plans, resources and information about ongoing campaigns see:
"End the Ongoing Nakba" - Campaign against Israel's Brand of
Israel's March-April 2002 Military Campaign and War Crimes
Palestine Right to Return Coalition: http://www.al-awda.org
BADIL Resource Center aims to provide a resource pool of alternative,
critical and progressive information on the question of Palestinian
refugees in our quest to achieve a just and lasting solution for exiled
Palestinians based on their right of return.
3) West Bank 'Evacuations' -- Prelude to Ethnic Cleansing?
PACIFIC NEWS SERVICE
Monday, April 22, 2002
By Robert Blecher, Pacific News Service
As Ariel Sharon's military operation in the West Bank ends its first stage
and Palestinians return to destroyed streets and homes, PNS contributor
Robert Blecher asks if forced evacuation could in time lead to permanent
expulsion -- an ethnic cleansing of the West Bank.
The recent assault on Palestinian cities and refugee camps may be an
ominous harbinger of Israel's future strategy in the Occupied Territories.
After issuing calls for the complete evacuation of the Jenin refugee camp,
the Israeli army launched a massive attack that flattened entire
neighborhoods, leaving thousands homeless and an untold number of dead.
Might the forced exodus of Palestinians from Jenin and other areas of the
West Bank be preparing the ground for mass expulsions?
The sight of Palestinians streaming by the thousands into neighboring
villages and cities is not unprecedented. Israeli calls for Palestinians to
evacuate, followed by ferocious attack and panicked escape, are chillingly
reminiscent of the war of 1948, when approximately 700,000 Palestinians
While the media continues to be flooded with distorted accounts of the
war, the debate among credible academics has largely been settled: Between
November 1947 and the summer of 1949, Zionist and Israeli troops forced
large numbers of Palestinians from their homes and subsequently blocked
their return. It is still a matter of debate whether the expulsion resulted
from inevitable wartime occurrences or from a premeditated Israeli plan.
But it is indisputable that by the end of the 1948 war, more than 400
Palestinian villages had been destroyed and their residents turned into
Does the destruction in Jenin, Balata and Nablus herald the resumption
forced migration? Since the beginning of the second Intifada, Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon has gradually escalated the level of violence.
Methods that were unacceptable in world opinion and provoked an outcry just
months ago now go unnoticed. The use of F-16s in populated areas and
"targeted assassinations" now seem tame in comparison with attacks on
entire cities. The siege of Bayt Rima in October 2001 -- when Israeli
forces first pushed into a Palestinian-controlled area, denying medical
care to the wounded -- seems a bland prelude for the recent massive assault
on the West Bank, its first "stage" now over, according to Sharon.
The justification for the Israeli assault was the need to "crush the
terrorist infrastructure." But in attacking electric generators, water
lines, hospitals, independent television facilities, public buildings and
roads, it was in fact the civilian infrastructure that Israel crushed. In
the words of one correspondent, Nablus looks like Beirut in the 1980s.
Today, on the pretext of heightened militancy in a particular area, entire
communities have been forced to flee. Will future calls for evacuation
expand to other "hotbeds" of insurgency? In a year, will Sharon's operation
"Defensive Shield" pale in comparison with an assault that displaces
hundreds of thousands?
On the very day that the Israeli army called for the "evacuation"
Jenin camp, Sharon welcomed Brigadier General Effi Eitam into his cabinet.
Long known for his extreme views, Eitam does not mince words. As he
explained in an interview with Ha'aretz on April 6, Eitam hopes to
"encourage" Palestinians to seek "an alternative of residency. Of course,
whoever does not accept will have to be told: Your place is not with us." A
war would make Eitam's aim much easier to achieve: "If a war is forced on
us, then in war, (we will) behave as in war. I can definitely see that as a
consequence of a war, not many Arabs will remain here."
Eitam is right: A war is being forced on Israel, but not by the
Palestinians. With the launching of his "war on terror," Sharon has created
the conditions to continue the work of 1948 in a maelstrom of panic,
uncertainty and chaos. In 50 years, will scholars describe the expulsion of
the Palestinians from the remaining 22 percent of Palestine as a
regrettable yet understandable product of war?
The competing explanations that historians have offered for the 1948
Palestinian refugee crisis -- that it was either an inevitable part of the
war or the product of an intentional Israeli campaign -- have in fact
turned out to be compatible. Over the last few weeks, Israel has attempted
to orchestrate a war in the Occupied Territories that could "inevitably"
lead to a Palestinian exodus. Calls for Palestinians to "evacuate" their
homes and neighborhoods must be labeled for what they are: a potentially
ominous precedent for ethnic cleansing.
Blecher (email@example.com) is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department
History at Stanford University, where he is completing a dissertation on
medicine and public health in Syria and Lebanon. He lived for several years
in Jerusalem and Damascus, doing archival research and working with human
Copyright © 2002 Pacific News Service
RAMALLAH, West Bank (April 29) - Israel said Monday that a breakthrough agreement had set Yasser Arafat free after five months confined to his compound, but the Palestinian leader stayed put for fear Israeli forces would storm the building and seize wanted militants inside.
Still, if the agreement sticks, one of three tense confrontations should be resolved in the coming days.
And in the latest Israeli military incursion, tanks and troops poured into West Bank town of Hebron in search of militants, leaving nine Palestinians dead, including six civilians.
A U.N. fact-finding to the Jenin refugee camp is stalled. Israel is effectively keeping the team from arriving, saying it fears an anti-Israel bias that will produce a highly critical report on Israel's military operation in the camp. Palestinians called on the United Nations to send the team immediately, claiming Israel is trying to cover up the killings of large numbers of civilians, something Israel strongly denies.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Monday that was ``very urgent that we go in, find out what happened, and put all the rumors and the accusations behind us.''
U.N. officials said the Israeli Cabinet was expected to make a decision on Tuesday. Israel is seeking changes in the team's composition and mandate.
Meanwhile, at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, an Israeli sniper killed a Palestinian militiaman when he walked into a courtyard of the compound, the army said. Talks there were deadlocked Monday on the crisis at the church, where more than 200 Palestinians are holed up inside, many of them armed.
Israel had rejected a Palestinian offer that 30 gunmen in the church be sent to the Gaza Strip and the Palestinians turned down an Israeli proposal that the men be tried in Israel or exiled abroad.
Late Monday, Palestinian negotiator Imad Natshe said the two sides would meet again on Tuesday, and Secretary of State Colin Powell said in Washington that he expected the standoff could end soon.
``I think there is a solution,'' Powell said, providing no details. U.S. and Israeli officials said privately it probably would be based on Israel's proposal to offer the terror suspects holed up in the Church of the Nativity a choice of exile or trial in Israel. ``I think it will be resolved in the near future,'' Powell said.
In Ramallah, the crisis at Arafat's headquarters appeared near conclusion, but final details were still being worked out. Israeli tanks and armored personnel carriers remained parked inside Arafat's compound, and sealed off city streets for several blocks in every direction.
Israel and the Palestinians both agreed Sunday to a U.S. proposal that restores Arafat's freedom of movement, and in exchange, six wanted men inside the compound will be imprisoned in a Palestinian jail, watched over by U.S. and British officials.
Under the plan, the six would be transferred to the West Bank town of Jericho, said Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo. The minister said Monday the six would be moved within 48 hours.
A makeshift Palestinian court has convicted four of the men of killing Israeli Cabinet Minister Rehavam Zeevi last October. The fifth man is the leader of the political faction that claimed responsibility for the killing and the sixth is an Arafat aide suspected of orchestrating a large arms smuggling operation.
Israel and the U.S. State Department both said Arafat was now free to go where he likes, including trips outside the Palestinian territory.
``Today, Arafat can go where he chooses,'' said Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher issued a similar statement: ``He's free to go when and wherever he wants to go.''
The Palestinians, however, said Arafat was not actually free and that if he tried to leave before the prisoners were transferred, Israel would seize the six men from the building.
The exact details of how the deal would work were sketchy. However, it appeared the first step would be to move the six wanted men to Jericho. Then, the Israeli troops are expected to withdraw, and finally, the Palestinian leader would emerge from his battered compound.
Israel clamped down on Arafat at the beginning of December, barring him from leaving Ramallah until he handed over those accused of Zeevi's killing. Arafat made a couple brief trips out of his compound and into the city, but worked and slept at his office building.
Israel gave its consent to ending Arafat's confinement with the understanding that the United States, in turn, would stand by Israel's side in an increasingly tense showdown with the United Nations over the fact-finding team, government officials said.
Israel's deputy defense minister, Dalia Rabin-Pelossof, said she believed ``some sort of agreement was reached, some sort of deal, according to which (Prime Minister) Ariel Sharon gave up on his insistence that Arafat be isolated in his headquarters ... and we win U.S. backing concerning our reservations on the issue of the U.N. committee.''
Israel has said it fears the team harbors an anti-Israel bias and has effectively kept them from arriving from Switzerland. Israel wants the inquiry to concentrate on the Palestinian terror infrastructure in the Jenin camp and demands that team members have expertise on military issues and anti-terrorism.
Israel says it waged eight days of heavy fighting in the camp to root out militants, estimating that about 50 Palestinians were killed, most of them hard-core fighters.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces took over Hebron early Monday, with tanks and armored personnel carriers driving in from all directions.
Nine Palestinians, including six civilians, were killed by Israeli fire, Palestinian witnesses said. In the bloodiest incident, a missile fired from an Israeli helicopter hit a one-story house, killing a gunman and four civilians. Two more civilians who rushed to the scene to try to help were killed by helicopter fire, witnesses said.
In downtown Hebron, Israeli troops lined up dozens of Palestinian men against a wall, handcuffing and blindfolding them. Several of the men knelt on the pavement, as Israeli troops stood guard. In previous incursions, Israel detained large numbers of people for questioning, and released most after several days.
Ben-Eliezer said troops arrested 17 Palestinians in Hebron, including several high on Israel's wanted list, and found two suitcases filled with explosives, as well as a car bomb ready for detonation.
Ben-Eliezer said troops wouldn't stay long. ``We went there to hit that infrastructure (of terror groups) and to get out quickly,'' he said.
The Hebron incursion followed the weekend attack on the nearby Jewish settlement of Adora, in which four Israelis, including a 5-year-old girl, were killed. The militant Islamic group Hamas claimed responsibility for that attack.
Palestinian Cabinet Minister Saeb Erekat said Israel acted in bad faith by sending troops into Hebron. ``The moment we accepted the American proposal (on Arafat's confinement), we have an incursion into Hebron,'' Erekat said. ``Every time we show good will ... Israel slaps us in the face.''
04/29/02 22:09 EDT
(04-27) 11:40 PDT (AP) --
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush's stepped-up pressure on Israel to halt its military offensive in the West Bank may not calm growing Arab anger. Already, there are signs the hostility is leading to possible danger for Americans, and less cooperation in the war against terrorism.
After a two-week lull, guerrillas again are attacking Israel from another front, Lebanon. In Egypt, long allied with the United States, young people have tried to sneak into Israel to join the fight and there are worries they could turn their wrath on Americans as easily as Israelis.
U.S. officials say privately that Yemen is stalling plans to deploy U.S. military counterterror trainers because of the situation in the Mideast. In addition, Arab nations' cooperation in any potential U.S. plan to attack Iraqi President Saddam Hussein seems stalled.
"What Arab countries were telling us nine month ago was, `We won't support you unless you tell us you'll finish the job"' and overthrow Saddam, said Antony Blinken, a former National Security Council official in the Clinton White House.
"Now they're saying, `We won't help you at all,"' Blinken said.
Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, at his meeting Thursday with President Bush in Texas, warned that the escalating Israeli-Palestinian fight has grave consequences for the United States, his spokesman said.
It "makes it more difficult for friends of the U.S. to stand up with the U.S.," said spokesman Nail Al-Jubeir. "It's going to antagonize both ends. It's going to radicalize both ends."
Abdullah and Bush reached no agreement on an eight-point plan presented by the prince that suggests an armed international peacekeeping force and other steps that conflict with U.S. policy.
Bush on Friday bluntly told Israel, "It's now time to quit it altogether,"
meaning its incursions into Palestinian towns.
The president's repeated urgings are losing effect, said Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., chairman of the House International Relations Committee. "I think it's unfortunate because it does diminish the impact of the president's wishes over in that part of the world," he said Saturday on CNN.
But he said Prime Minister Ariel Sharon cannot be expected to "lay down or to take orders from us when his people are under such direct attack, so repeatedly."
The president did persuade Congress to delay a vote on a symbolic statement of support for Israel. "I also hope and believe that Congress recognizes we've got interests in the area, as well, beyond Israel -- that we have good relationships with the Saudis and the Jordanians and the Egyptians," Bush said.
He made clear to Arabs, however, that U.S. support for Israel is unequivocal, saying: "We will not allow Israel to be crushed."
Israel says its offensive in the West Bank is necessary to destroy Palestinian terrorists responsible for suicide bombings against Israeli civilians.
Many in Congress, sympathetic to Israel's situation, are certain to protest if Bush were to decide to apply any stronger pressure on Israel.
Yet not doing so might cause people in Arab and Islamic countries to become even angrier at the United States, and thus increase their illicit support for Palestinian extremists, many analysts believe.
Arab states and Iran are more likely to allow arms smuggling to the Palestinians, for example, said Anthony Cordesman, a Mideast military analyst in Washington. He predicts longer-range rockets, more sophisticated explosives and timing devices now will flow into the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Even moderate Arab nations such as Egypt and Jordan probably are hampered politically in their efforts to take strong action to block arms smuggling, Cordesman said.
In Egypt, there have been several recent reports of young Egyptian men trying to sneak into Israel to join Palestinians fighting against Israel. An Israeli army spokesman confirmed Friday that on April 15, soldiers shot one young man who had crossed the border from Egypt. He later died.
Such youths also might turn their anger toward Americans, predicted Ivo Daalder, a military analyst at the Brookings Institution.
"We're regarded as basically being complicit in Israel's actions," said Daalder. "So hitting an American becomes as strategically useful as hitting an Israeli."
©2002 Associated Press
JENIN, West Bank, April 28 (Reuters) - A British military adviser to Amnesty
International said on Sunday the Israeli army's demolition of part of Jenin
refugee camp did not seem militarily justified.
But Reserve Major David Holley dismissed Palestinian allegations that a massacre had taken place there, predicting that no evidence would be found to substantiate them.
He told Reuters information he had gleaned so far suggested the army bulldozed the camp centre after fighting abated to avenge heavy casualties exacted by Palestinian gunmen. The army has said it razed houses that were booby-trapped.
Holley said the destruction probably entombed some civilians who were too frightened to emerge from their homes.
He was part of an Amnesty team led by the London-based human rights group's secretary-general Irene Khan in the camp, where refugees were still scrabbling in the ruins for belongings.
"We have found credible evidence of serious violations of international humanitarian law and we want the U.N. fact-finding team to focus on that to bring out the truth," Khan said.
The Amnesty team said it was investigating both the Israeli assault on the Jenin camp and Palestinian attacks on Jewish settlers and wanted to produce a balanced reckoning.
The army's sweep through West Bank towns launched after suicide attacks that killed scores of Israelis has stirred international calls for investigation, especially in Jenin.
Israel, seething over what it sees as outside interference in its fight against terrorism, on Sunday again delayed a U.N. fact-finding mission to Jenin.
The cabinet decided "conditions are not ripe" to admit the team, which has been waiting in Geneva since Wednesday.
Israel denies Palestinian allegations that its helicopter gunships and tanks killed hundreds of people in the camp, normally home to 13,000. It says about 50 Palestinians died, most of them militants, and 23 Israeli soldiers were killed.
Holley said credible accounts from residents he had interviewed, as well as comparisons with other battlefields he had studied, suggested the centre of the camp was pulverised after serious Palestinian resistance had subsided.
"This is not a battle scene so much as an earthquake scene. My interpretation is that the battle had been won, the (militants) killed or captured for the most part, then came punishment in the form of bulldozers," he said.
Holley said Israel had often demolished Palestinian homes in towns and camps in the past in reprisal for militant violence.
Some 5,000 refugees lost their homes in the Jenin camp, which Israel says was the launch-pad for 23 suicide attacks.
Holley said military discipline may have broken down after Palestinian fighters ambushed and killed 23 soldiers.
"It seems that any so-called 'law and order' in the camp broke down at that point. I've seen it in war -- when you see your best friend die as half a company is wiped out, a red mist comes down and soldiers go mad," he said.
He said accounts collected from residents indicated that after the ambush Israeli forces had given people little or no chance to leave their homes before bulldozers flattened them.
He said the army had used loudspeaker warnings, especially early on in the fighting, but in some cases the messages were not heard because of their poor Arabic and the noise of battle.
Amnesty investigator Elizabeth Hodgkin said 54 bodies had been recovered since fighting ended and 21 of them appeared to be civilians. The latest was an infant found on Friday with the umbilical cord still attached, according to the death registrar at Jenin's main hospital. Its mother remained missing.
Hodgkin said combat zones usually yield about three badly wounded people for every death. The absence of such casualties at the hospital suggested they had died in demolished buildings.
Khan said Amnesty wanted a balanced reckoning and was looking into Palestinian attacks on Jewish settlements, such as one that killed four people, including a five-year-old girl, on Saturday.
Her delegation planned to meet settlers as well as members of the Israeli Knesset (parliament) on Monday.
04/28/02 13:56 ET
Israel's continued military occupation and assault on West Bank cities
has enraged Palestinians, inflamed tensions in many Arab states and
turned public opinion in much of the world against Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon. Although investigations into the assault on the Jenin refugee
camp has just recently gotten underway, it is clear that Israeli troops
destroyed much of the city during more than a week of intense fighting.
The number of Palestinian civilians killed during the battle is a matter
of bitter dispute, but with aid workers, human rights officials and
journalists barred by the Israel military from Jenin for many days after
the conflict ended, the truth may never be known.
The Bush administration has been criticized by observers on both the
left and right, for what many characterize as an incoherent foreign
policy in the Middle East and elsewhere. Because of the regional
tensions produced by the Israeli Palestinian conflict the White House
was forced to temporarily put on hold its very public plan to launch a
new war against Iraq. But administration officials continue to make the
case that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein remains necessary because the
Iraqi leader is said to possess biological, chemical and nuclear
Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Noam Chomsky, Massachusetts
Institute of Technology professor of linguistics, author and political
analyst, who examines the continuing violence in the Middle East and the
reasons why the U.S. is planning to launch a new war against Iraq.
Noam Chomsky: Right in the middle of these new invasions of Palestinian
cities the president hails Sharon as a "man of peace," never suggests
that he should renounce terror and violence, but insists that his
adversary be imprisoned effectively in a dungeon where he can't flush
the toilet and must once again renounce terror -- although everyone
knows that that statement is totally meaningless, its just a way of
again humiliating the Palestinians. Meanwhile the U.S. continues to
provide arms for the attack and to give diplomatic support for it and to
block moves towards a diplomatic resolution of the conflict.
Bush's support for Sharon is not very different from Clinton's support
for Barak. Their policies are not all that different, and in fact the
current actions have been fully supported by the political opposition,
the Labor party in Israel which is represented in the Cabinet by Shimon
Peres. There are differences of course, personalities differ, the
policies differ but they're within the same framework.
It's worth mentioning that U.S. policy is not only opposed by the people
of the region, it's also opposed by the majority of the population of
the United States. They may not be aware of it, but in fact, the policy
advocated by most of the population, according to polls, is the one that
the United States has been blocking for 25 years and continues to block.
People can't know that because the facts aren't presented to them, but
it's easy to discover if you do a little bit of research and avoid the
picture presented in the main doctrinal institutions.
So right now, according to the latest poll, the majority of the
population supports the Saudi peace initiative which was accepted by the
Arab League last month. But that's exactly the policy that the U.S. has
been blocking in international isolation since 1976 when it was proposed
at the U.N. Security Council and vetoed by the United States. And it
continues consistently right in between. As long as the population isn't
made aware of that, they can't know that they're opposing Washington's
policies, but they are.
Between The Lines: Professor Chomsky, what is the role of oil in the
U.S. plan to attack Iraq? It seems to be a central theme throughout U.S.
policy in the Middle East, but specifically what are the priorities for
the U.S. in its plan to attack Iraq and the oil reserves which Saddam
Hussein's nation possesses?
Noam Chomsky: Yeah, I think that's exactly it. Iraq has the second
largest oil reserves in the world after Saudi Arabia. It's been pretty
clear all along that one way or another the United States will try to
act in such a way as to regain control over those immense reserves and
to deny them -- at least privileged access -- to adversaries. At the
moment that's mainly France and Russia.
The pretexts that are offered for the attack cannot possibly be taken
seriously. It's remarkable that people can present them with a straight
face. So what's claimed by the Bush administration, by Tony Blair, or by
Madeline Albright and others is that we have to overthrow Saddam because
he is such a complete monster that he even descended to the ultimate
depths and used chemical weapons to massacre his own people. All of
which is entirely true, but what's missing are three crucial words,
namely, "with our support." You know he did that (massacred his own
people), and we knew all about it and the U.S. and Britain continued to
support him. In fact, continued to provide him not only with badly
needed agricultural and other assistance but also with the means to
develop weapons of mass destruction consciously. And this was at a time
when he was far more dangerous than he is today. So the charges are
completely correct, but they can't be the reason for the planned attack.
The reason is, I think just what you suggested, and the reason is, that
Iraq does have the world's second largest oil reserves and naturally the
U.S. wants to maintain control over them.
There are problems. One problem is the one that's on the front pages,
the difficulty of gaining regional support for any such attack and
that's not that serious. Even Kuwait at least officially, refuses to
support it. But I think a much more serious problem, and more difficult
to resolve is what the successor regime might be. So it's hard to
imagine that the United States could agree to any successor regime
replacing Saddam that even has a semblance of democratic participation
and the reasons for that are pretty well known. The majority of the
population is Shi'ite and if they have any voice, if there's any
functioning democracy they're very likely to press Iraqi policy towards
closer accommodation with Iran, also Shi'ite, which is the last thing
that the United States would tolerate.
**This transcript is an excerpt of a longer interview conducted on April
22, 2002 where professor Chomsky comments on how the world views U.S.
policy in the post-Cold War era, the growing international movements for
social justice and the continuing trend of giant media mergers and
concentration of ownership. Between The Lines will post a complete
transcript of the interview on our Web Site during May 2002.
Read professor Chomsky's papers and articles by visiting the Z Magazine
Web site at http://www.zmag.org
See related links and listen to an excerpt of this interview in a
RealAudio segment or in MP3 on our Web site at: http://www.btlonline.org
for the week ending 5/3/02.
BETWEEN THE LINES Q&A
from the nationally syndicated radio newsmagazine
"Between The Lines"