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Sharon harvesting Palestinian casualties

Sharon harvesting Palestinian casualties

GUSH SHALOM - pob 3322, Tel-Aviv 61033 -

Press Release 8/3/2002

A few days ago, Prime Minister Sharon called upon the army to "increase the number of Palestinian casualties", in order to "teach them a lesson". The army is doing its best to oblige. After an already bloody week, today's figure of Palestinians killed - as given by CNN - stands at forty seven. (The Israeli radio repeated from the morning to the evening the number fourteen.)

Sixteen alone got killed during a single hour of military rampage at a single Palestinian village in the southern Gaza Strip, a place named Hirbat Ichtiza'a of which none of us heard until this morning, but which the army now instists is "a major terrorist center".

The raid on that village was conducted last night as an immediate retaliation for the killing of five young settlers at the settlement enclave of Atzmona in the Gaza Strip. Colonel Imad Fares of the Givati Brigade, who commanded that raid and who told Israeli Radio about it this morning, claimed that all sixteen Palestinians killed had been armed militants killed in battle.

Since no journalists or other impartial observers were present, there is no easy way to confirm or deny this claim - but in other locations where Palestinians were killed and where the international media is present, there is clear evidence that the Palestinian casualties included many civilians, part of them children, that ambulances were targeted and doctors and medical crews killed and wounded. Right now some of these facts were "explained" and thereby admitted by a military spokesperson on the Israeli 1st Channel TV news. And still no end in sight...

While we had to endure the army's self appraisal for their "great successes" it is becoming clear that Sharon suffered a setback in the diplomatic scene. President Bush seems to have at last realized that the conflagration set off by Sharon may put vital U.S. interests at risk and decided to send the US envoy back to the region.. The question is now whether mediator Zinni be given this time a mandate sufficient to stand up to Sharon. Meanwhile in the same broadcast appeared several former activists of the Four Mothers' Movement which played such a crucial role in bringing back the soldiers from Lebanon and who now work for withdrawal from the Palestinian territories - under the name "The Seventh Day".

This morning members of the Women's Peace Coalition used the International Women's Day to visit more than forty embassies in Tel-Aviv, delivering letters calling upon the international community to immediately send an international observer force to the Occupied Territories. This action had been prepared in advance and was in the present circumstances extremely meaningful. From reports which we got, the women's delegations were received most respectfully and they got ample chance to emphasize the urgency.

The coming days give peace activists many moments where they can join and express similar demands - Yesh Gvul's demonstration outside Military Prison 4 (Athlit), in solidarity with four soldiers imprisoned for refusing to take part in all this; the Arab Monitoring Committee Protest Demo at Shaknin; and the Peace Now vigils in Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem, tomorrow night and during the coming week.

Further information: Adam Keller phone: +972-3-5565804 / +972-56-709603 / +972-56-709604


NB: Full transcript of the war crimes panel available on the Gush site For Hebrew For English French available at request.

Also on the site: the weekly Gush Shalom ad - in Hebrew and English the columns of Uri Avnery - in Hebrew, Arab and English
(and a lot more)

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