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Assassination A Step Towards All-Out War After

GUSH SHALOM - pob 3322, Tel-Aviv 61033 - http://www.gush-shalom.org/

Press release - August 27, 2001

Assassination of Palestinian leader - another step towards all-out war
Gush Shalom: President Bush has encouraged Sharon to this escalation

The assassination this morning of Abu Ali Mustafa, Secretary-General of the PFLP is a deeply worrying escalation of an already perilous situation. The policy of "targeted killings" undertaken by the Sharon Government is a serious violation of international law, and a very dangerous provocation.

Today's new development - turning Palestinian political leaders into "legitimate" targets of assassinations - is part of an overall escalation, together with the by now already regular incursions by Israeli tanks and armoured columns deep into Palestinian cities, and the ongoing daily bombardments of populated areas, punctuated by the use of fighter planes with heavy bombs.

All this comes in addition to an increasingly tight blockade of Palestinian towns and villages, and the explicit exclusion of Palestinian motorists from main highways, making such highways the exclusive preserve of Israeli settlers and military.

Such measures are taken not so much as retaliation for specific acts on the Palestinian side, but rather as part of an ongoing offensive, indiscriminately directed against all Palestinians. For example, the town of Salfit in the Nablus area was subjected to bombing by US-made F-16 planes, following which Salfit's one remaining access road was closed, leaving tens of thousands of inhabitants completely cut off. These measures seem unconnected to any specific event in the Salfit area.

PM Sharon last week declared that he had "found the way to fight terrorism" which according to him is "to conduct commando raids."

This outlook may be no surprise, coming from a man who started his carreer as a commando officer leading brutal cross-border raids in the 1950's. But it can only lead - indeed, has already led - to increasingly sharp retaliations from the Palestinian side, until the line seperating "low intensity conflict" from full-scale war is imperceptively crossed.

Gush Shalom this afternoon sent a protest to the US Emabassy in Tel- Aviv, regarding President Bush's unbalanced statements of the past days which have encouraged Sharon to further escalate his attacks on the Palestinians and inflame the situation.

"As Israeli citizens, we are far from happy to see the President of the United States lending unqualified public support to a highly dangerous and irresponsible policy undertaken by our government. Placing the entire blame for violence on the Palestinian side, and ignoring its underlying causes, would not calm the region but alienate the Palestinians and strenghten their most radical factions. Israelis and Palestinians alike, we are all threatened in the widening cycle of bloodshed. Your unbalanced position, Mr. President, is threatening us and undermining our future in this country and this region."

For further details: Adam Keller, Gush Shalom Spokesperson, 972-3-5565804 / 056-709603

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