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The Other Israel - The Thirty-Five Years War

The Other Israel - The Thirty-Five Years War
briefing June 5, 2002.

June 5, 2002, 7:18 AM - thirty-five years to the day (almost to the hour) since the outbreak of the war in which Israel's armed forces seized the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The ongoing occupation of these territories keeps occupier and occupied strangled in a deathly embrace.

Today's victims: thirteen Israeli soldiers and four civilians travelling on a bus which was blown up at Meggido Junction (the place from whose name "Armaggedon" is derived). Responsibility for the blast was claimed by the radical Islamic Jihad faction. With the bomber assumed by the security services to have originated in Jenin, Israeli tanks and troops immediately proceeded to stage another full-scale invasion of Jenin, the fourth reoccupation in a single month - not including the time in April with the horrendous pictures - when the Israeli forces' entry into Jenin encountered stiff resistance, in the breaking of which at least 56 Palestinian residents and 23 Israeli soldiers perished, and whose precise circumstances will now never be investigated by the UN.

As military and governmental speakers emphasized during the day, the invasion of Jenin "is not yet the real retribution" - the full extent of that is "still to unfold" (it is difficult to see what they could think of which the army has not already done in the past month - but Sharon and his generals have again and again proven to have creative imaginations).

Altogether, this was a day serving as a fitting epitome for an occupation which has lasted three and a half decades - nearly two-thirds of Israel's history; which is the only reality many Israelis and many Palestinians had ever known; and which is the root cause of the present conflict and bloodshed.

Also today, the "Administrative Court for Foreign Workers" at Ma'asiyahu Prison upheld the deportation orders against four of the peace activists, citizens respectively of Denmark, Iceland, Australia and Japan, who were detained by the army last Saturday during the invasion of Balata Refugee Camp in Nablus. This followed upon three other deportation orders being confirmed by the court yesterday. Three of the activists intend to appeal the decision to a higher court, though that would mean a prolongation of their detention.

As mentioned in our earlier releases, the activists had arrived at invaded Nablus on Friday, May 30, in order to help inhabitants of the city and its refugee camps to maintain basic medical services and ambulace mobility under curfew conditions, and in order to prevent the army from harming civilians and civilian property.

The activists were represented by Adv. Gabi Lasky of PCATI (Public Commttee against Torture ) who argued that there was no case to deport peace activists who had entered legally and performed a useful public service by reminding soldiers of the need to preserve basic human rights.

"The decision to deport human rights activists runs counter to basic international principles, according to which human rights activists have the right to provide humanitarian help, and raises the question whether the state of Israel is trying to conceal the actions of its soldiers in the territories" said Adv. Lasky.

Meanwhile, a number of other internationals have escaped arrest and stayed several days more in Balata. Now that military pressure is for the moment lessened, they have gone over to Jenin, a few hours after it was invaded. This evening we heard from Annie Higgins of Chicago that they had succeeded once again to bypass the miltary checkpoints and establish themselves in the homes of Palestinian residents. They noticed some tanks in the streets, but so far there had been no large-scale arrests. (You can call Annie Higgins at 972-(0)51-589761).

The following was reported yesterday on the phone by Neta Golan, still from Balata.

"The soldiers came to the house again and again, insisting that there was a 'bomb laboratory' hidden somewhere. Every time our hostess finished making some order the soldiers came again. The first two times, they didn't break anything, but the third time they started overturning furniture. They roughly pushed the computer over and smashed the monitor, plainly frustrated, hitting the wall to try for a place with a hollow sound.

The four-year old child started to cry loudly. One of the soldiers spoke to Jessica and tried to apologize for what they were doing ("You have to understand, we don't like destroying things but this is a terrorist household in a terrorist camp, we have no other choice").

In the end, the soldiers herded all of us - the woman, the children and us internationals - into a single room and continued smashing up the rest of the house. The children talked about their father who was taken by the soldiers three days before. We started singing, to try to encourage them. After several hours the soldiers went away. They had left very little intact in the house, but did not find what they were looking for.

A few hours later there was a loud explosion. The army had blown up another house where they said the bomb laboratory was found. They had not warned inhabitants of the neighboring houses. A friend of our hostess had two children wounded by splinters of broken glass.(...)"

It has been pointed out repeatedly - by Israeli peace activists, by Western and Arab diplomats, also by quite a few prominent Palestinians - that suicide bombings aimed at random Israelis are morally reprehensible and abominable, that they tend to unify the Israeli public around Sharon, legitimize further acts of oppression and alienate international public opinion from Palestinian plight. But when the only alternative visible to Palestinians seems to be a meek acceptance of an ever more harsh occupation, it is inevitable that many among the occupied population will go on regarding the suicide bombers as heroes, the only ones capable of hurting the occupier and asserting an ongoing Palestinian defiance.

The more the army harms and humiliates the Palestinians in their towns, in their very homes, the deeper the hate which will bring new youngsters to the point of blowing themselves up in the midst of Israeli cities - for the sake of a moment of revenge, even knowing that those acts will provide justification for the army's next round.

Meretz leader Yossi Sarid said it today on the Israeli media: part of the blame falls on the Israeli government which frustrates all efforts to bring about a solution and fails to come up with a political plan. It was also understood by US envoy Burns when visiting Ramallah a week ago, where he correctly remarked that terrorism cannot be stopped without providing the Palestinians with some real hope for the future - though it is far from sure that the US administration is willing to do more than paying lip-service to this truth.

The Other Israel - bi-monthly peace movement magazine pob 2542, Holon 58125, Israel; ph/fx: +972-3-5565804; for free sample hardcopy mailto:

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