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Israel Escalates Palestine Military Offensive

Israel Escalates Military Offensive against Palestine as Iraqi Resistance Builds

By Genevieve Cora Fraser

Armed to the teeth by the American Congress, Israel once again has escalated the occupation into a full-scale military offensive against the Palestinian population. Not to be outdone by America in it's all out war against Iraq; Israel has upped the ante in an attempt to destroy the farmlands, businesses, infrastructure and homes of the Palestinian people. Most recently Israel launched a full scale 37 day assault on parts of the Gaza Strip, demolishing areas that would be of most benefit to the Palestinian economy, the breadbasket of the region that the governor of Beit Hanoun City, Dr. Abdul Rahman Hamad described as the only remaining source that brought vegetables to Gaza Strip's markets. Along with homes and factories within the city of about 30,000 people, Israel demolished Beit Hanoun's agricultural plots which need at least 10 years to replant, the governor of the city explained. He estimated the loss caused by Israel's military incursion to the city to be 110.57 million in US dollars.

By the end of July reports were surfacing that Israeli forces had completed the encirclement of Beit Hanoun in the Northern Gaza strip, "closing all access points and digging up roads to prevent residents fleeing the pending onslaught. With apache helicopters flying overhead, large forces emerged from the Elei Sinai settlement in a move to expand military operations entering Izbat and moving towards the outskirts of Beit Lahiya and Jabalya refugee camp," according to the Palestine Monitor. Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, of the PNGO network called for urgent international pressure to pre-empt a massacre from taking place - similar to "Operation Rainbow" which saw more than 62 Palestinians killed in Rafah by the Israeli army.

"In contradiction to Sharon's supposed plans for a complete withdrawal the Israeli army are expected to continue operating in the northern Gaza Strip on and off for the next few months and, indeed appear to be preparing for a major campaign. The head of the Shin Bet intelligence service, Avi Dichter, reportedly backs a large-scale attack which could see an operation similar to the systematic reoccupation of West Bank cities two years ago," the Palestine Monitor warned. The Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated tracts of land in the world, home to 1.3 million Palestinians, about 33% of whom live in refugee camps.

Two months after the fall of Baghdad, the American military launched the first of its major assaults on areas outside of the Iraqi capital in a bid to suppress mounting resistance to the US occupation. During the same period Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon outlined his objections to the "road map"- the plan drawn up by the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations that is meant to bring an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and set up a Palestinian state by 2005.

Over a year ago, Sharon's actions made it clear that he had no intention of seeking a negotiated settlement-even one which offered nothing to the Palestinians but continued repression. In May 2003 in an interview given by Sharon to the right-wing Jerusalem Post he insisted that existing Jewish settlements would not be dismantled, but instead would continue to expand. Since then Israel has escalated its attacks on Palestine as the world's primary focus remains on Iraq. The major difference is that though the current armed resistance in Iraq relies on outmoded and inadequate equipment, Iraq is a country that has maintained a well armed and trained military through the years despite sanctions, an advantage Palestine has never had. So despite attempts by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Al Aqsa Brigade, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine to mount resistance to the Israeli occupation, their home-made rockets and bombing devises and smuggled rifles are no match for the armored tanks, helicopter gunships, fighter jets, state-of-the-art surveillance equipment and assault rifles of the 4th best equipped military in the world. The Israelis also enjoy an additional advantage that the Americans do not in Iraq. Israel has spent years incarcerating Palestinians in an intricate maze of holding cell communities surrounded by settlements and outposts, an electrified razor wire fence, the Apartheid Wall, roadblocks, checkpoints and the highly secured network of Israel-only roads within the occupied territories.

According to Jeff Halper, coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, "The Oslo process, capped by the July 2000 Camp David summit and the Taba meetings in January, offered a form of occupation-by-consent. But when the occupation policies of settlement, closure and military control did not break Palestinian resistance and led instead to the second intifada, the broad moderate left-centre-right 'consensus' in Israeli politics decided to reassert more direct authority. Sharon's 'national unity' government represents a closing of ranks around the rock-bottom refusal of Zionism and Israel to entertain the possibility of truly sharing this land with the Palestinians - either in one state or in two."

Halper postulates, "Since Israeli control of the Occupied Territories is virtually the only issue upon which 'national unity' can be based, it is not surprising that Sharon's 'national unity' government has no political program other than to engineer the surrender of the Palestinians."

Israeli historian Benny Morris clarified the issue further in a January interview with Haaretz, "If the end of the story turns out to be a gloomy one for the Jews, it will be because Ben-Gurion did not complete the transfer in 1948. Because he left a large and volatile demographic reserve in the West Bank and Gaza and within Israel itself."

"If he was already engaged in expulsion, maybe he should have done a complete job. If Ben- Gurion had carried out a large expulsion and cleansed the whole country - the whole Land of Israel, as far as the Jordan River," Morris stated. "If he had carried out a full expulsion - rather than a partial one - he would have stabilized the State of Israel for generations."

Is Israel's current military offensive against Palestine meant to be the beginning of the end of any remaining hope for the Palestinians and lead to their ultimate expulsion from the land of Canaan? If one is to believe the chatter coming out of Israel, the average Israeli is in favor of completing the job whether through starvation, dehydration, military killings, transfer, and by assaulting the social, political and physical infrastructure to create a state of chaos so the "Arabs will kill one another off," as some are fond of saying. And what of Iraq, as a Neo-Con Israeli Zionist inspired "adventure"? Winning the peace has failed, or was that simply a ruse to engage America in an active partnership with Israel in the 21st Century Crusade against the Semite people from the Nile to the Euphrates. If so, despite his flaws Arafat's assessment is spot on and the only remaining hope is for the emergence of an International and Inter-faith Peace, Justice and Reconciliation Movement powerful enough to stop the madness from engulfing the world.


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