Palestinians resist annihilation

The Palestinian resistance faces a severe challenge as the Zionist state accelerates the construction of the Apartheid Wall on the West Bank. ROBERT CLOUGH reports.

Zionist prime minister Ariel Sharon has recently spelled out his strategy for defeating the Intifada: ‘disengagement’. It involves a complete Zionist withdrawal from areas of the West Bank that will be enclosed by the Wall when it is finished. Zionist settler outposts in these enclaves will be removed, and their inhabitants relocated to settlements elsewhere in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. There will be a similar withdrawal from most of Gaza, leaving a buffer zone on the border with Egypt which will remain under Israeli military control. Sharon will then describe this and the 44% of the West Bank that is left to the Palestinians as the ‘provisional Palestinian state’ that was an interim goal of the Bush roadmap. The Zionists will construct connecting tunnels, bridges or roads to meet the roadmap requirement of ‘contiguity’ – but these will be entirely under the control of the Israeli army, which will be able to close them at a moment’s notice.

Sharon sees a window of opportunity with the start of the US presidential election. Reasoning that no candidate, whether Democrat or Republican, will dare criticise Israel for fear of losing votes, the Zionists aim to complete the principal elements of the wall over the next six months. Sharon himself will talk about peace, and about the need for ‘hard and painful concessions’. Behind this, however, the Israeli army will continue its drive to hammer the Palestinian people into submission. In this the Zionists will have the tacit support of the British government, whilst the imperialist media will ignore all the war crimes of the Israeli army and condemn every sign of Palestinian resistance.

The first suicide attacks for two months, one on 24 December and the other on 14 January, drew forth the usual racist vitriol from the British press. The first, undertaken by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, killed three soldiers and a civilian near Tel Aviv. The Israeli army deliberately withheld names of the casualties to give the impression that civilians had been targeted. The second was carried out by Hamas member Reem Rayashi, a 22-year-old mother of two; three soldiers and a security guard were killed at an army installation in northern Gaza.

The prelude to the suicide attacks was a series of Israeli operations in Rafah and Nablus. On 11 December, the Israeli army murdered five Palestinians in Rafah, four of whom were civilians, and demolished nine houses. After Islamic Jihad fighters killed two Israeli soldiers outside a settlement in southern Gaza on 23 December, the Israeli army swept back into Rafah refugee camp and over a 36-hour period killed ten Palestinians; as they withdrew, a helicopter gunship killed five more, three of whom were civilians. Meanwhile, on 18 December, an invasion of Nablus left four dead including one man executed in cold blood; a week later the Israeli army re-entered the city, occupying its centre and the historic Kasbah. In a two-week frenzy of destruction, 20 Palestinians died, several of them school children shot in cold blood by Israeli snipers. Overall, in 2003:

• 882 Palestinians were killed (91 Israelis)
• 117 Palestinian children were murdered (20 Israeli children)
• 37 resistance fighters were assassinated by Zionist missile attacks or death squads

The bourgeois press deliberately obscures this disproportional casualty rate. Hence when Liberal Democrat MP Jenny Tonge made some quite anodyne and reasonable comments about why Palestinians are driven to become suicide bombers, the British press demanded her head on a plate – and Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy duly obliged. There was not the slightest attempt to explore the condition of the Palestinian people, or to set out the facts about the murderous Zionist occupation of the West Bank. Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin said that Palestinians were being forced ‘to choose between annihilation and ourselves’ and that ‘we see the world is just watching passively while Israel is slaughtering us and demolishing our homes’. The Zionist response was to declare him a legitimate target for assassination.

In fact Sharon faces many difficulties in achieving his goal, not least of all the fact that he may be indicted on corruption charges from when he was foreign minister, involving kickbacksfrom a business friend who solicited his support for a construction project in Greece.

There is also resistance from within his Likud Party and from the settlers who will be removed from the Palestinian enclaves. This is expressed through a debate on the Zionist state’s ‘demographic problem’: the fact that Jews may become a minority within a Greater Israel which stretches to the River Jordan. Within this debate, Benny Morris, a Zionist historian who has written candidly about the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1948, has suggested that such steps may be necessary again in the future.

Meanwhile a leading Likud Knesset member Uzi Cohen has called for the ‘transferring’ of Palestinians to Jordan, and Likud leader Benyamin Netanyahu complained that ‘if there is a demographic problem, and there is, it is with the Israeli Arabs who will remain Israeli citizens’. Backing him up, Dr Yitzhak Ravid, a senior researcher at Rafael, the Armament Development Authority, argued that the state should implement a stringent policy of family planning in relation to its Muslim population, saying the ‘delivery rooms in Soroka hospital in Be’er Sheva have turned into a factory for the production of a backward population’.

With the Israeli economy still in deep crisis, Sharon faces serious problems in achieving his objectives. However, the seriousness of the situation facing the Palestinian people is such that we must redouble our efforts in their support.

Victory to the Palestinian People!
No to the separation wall!

Labour government defends Separation Wall

The British government has challenged the right of the international court of justice in the Hague to hold hearings into the legality of the Separation Wall. The UN General Assembly referred the construction of the wall to the court by 90 votes to eight with 74 abstentions (including Britain) for an advisory opinion on its legality . The hearing is due to start on 23 February. Now Britain has joined Australia in opposing the referral. Foreign Minister Lady Symons says it would ‘serve to politicise the court in a way for which it was not intended’. This is obvious nonsense – any international court of justice is bound to arbitrate on political questions; there would be little other purpose for its existence.

FRFI 177 February / March 2004


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