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Coup de Grace: A Twist of the Knife in Palestine PDF Print E-mail
Peace News
Tuesday, 27 June 2006 13:05

Coup de Grace: A Twist of the Knife in Palestine

RO - Genevieve Cora Fraser - Each week the Palestinian Center for Human Rights posts a summary of events for the preceding week. For the week of June 8-14, 28 Palestinians, including 7 children, were killed by Israeli occupation forces. Seven of the victims were members of the Ghalya family, who were picnicking at a Gaza beach once reserved for Israeli settlers only. Though the evidence points to an Israeli gunboat opening fire on the victims, Israel denies it -- a theme and variation repeated countless times over the 39-year occupation -- except for a new twist. Israel blamed Hamas.


'We Cannot Bear that Anymore'

Genevieve Cora Fraser

Ramallah Online
June 27, 2006

[Republished at PEJ News without express author permission]

Israel's endless war on Palestine has a new twist -- of the knife

During the same week, 76 Palestinian civilians, including at least 20 children, were wounded by Israeli forces. There were 40 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, and 49 Palestinian civilians, including 12 children, were arrested. Israeli forces "continued to impose a total siege, to close border crossings of the Gaza Strip; the north of the West Bank has been separated from the south." Eight Palestinian civilians, including a girl, were arrested at checkpoints in the West Bank, according to the center.

If any of these events had played out in America, European Union countries or in much of the Third World, they would have made headlines across the globe. With some notable exceptions, such as the Gaza beach killings, most of the horrors inflicted on Palestinians on a daily basis go unnoticed, except by Palestinians and the human rights groups that attempt to assist them.

Since the Jan. 25 election that brought Hamas to power, tens of thousands of shells have slammed into Palestine, hundreds of Palestinians have been killed and injured, Israel continues to construct the racist Apartheid Wall, and Israeli settlers continue to attack Palestinian civilians and property in Occupied Palestine. The Palestinians are blockaded, starved, denied vitally needed medicines, denied taxes due them and salaries owed them, banks are threatened if they dare to serve them, and they are vilified throughout the world. International law has been turned on its head.

And the world demands that Palestine, and in particular Hamas, renounce violence!

Any government that participates in the Israeli-led attempted genocide of the Palestinian people should be put on notice. They are in violation of Article 33 of the fourth Geneva Convention prohibiting collective punishment. And along with their heads, they should have their hearts examined.

Since the truce brokered with Israel in February 2005, the so-called "terrorist" organization Hamas has refrained from retaliations (except for rockets fired after the recent Gaza beach killings). Meanwhile, President Abbas' Fatah militants have unleashed a steady barrage of Qassam rockets to which Israel responds -- and blames Hamas.

Now we come to the cruelest twist of all -- President Abbas' collaborations with Israel and the West in an effort to destroy the Hamas government.

As Palestinian Authority funded hospitals collapse due to the monetary freeze imposed by the international community, Hamas' clinics still manage to provide medicine and other services, though at a fraction of what they once offered. Hamas is also busy feeding the poorest of the poor and providing educational opportunities -- and they hope to pay government salaries in the future. This is made possible due to the generosity of ordinary Arab and Muslim citizens as well as donor nations. But because of the stranglehold placed on Hamas, the money must be smuggled into the territories. President Abbas is not pleased and has had at least one Hamas official arrested and the money seized.

Israel, Western powers and Abbas express concern that some of the money may go, not to charity and to pay overdue salaries, but to arm Hamas. Whether or not that is true, there is no doubt that Israel is arming Abbas and the Fatah militants against Hamas.

Based on the level of violence between the factions since the elections, which appears to be mostly instigated by Abbas-led Fatah militants, some believe Palestine is on the brink of civil war. Certainly, America and Israel are rooting for it -- helping to fund it -- and providing conditions of starvation and upheaval almost guaranteed to create it. Divide and conquer is a tried and true tactic they hope will break the back of Palestinian resistance. Now is the perfect time, with Arafat no longer there to unify them. Israel also believes that extrajudicial assassinations can ensure that no leader will ever emerge to take Arafat's place. But there is one concern remaining -- Hamas.

Israel and the West fear Hamas, not because they are about to drive Israelis into the sea as Zionist forces did to Palestinians in Jaffa and Haifa in 1948, but because the Hamas agenda is to demand rights guaranteed to Palestinians under international law. Chief among these is the right to return. Equally valid is the right to resist.

Palestinian-American businessman Sam Bahour lives outside of Ramallah and views the situation from an economic and business perspective. In his opinion, current U.S.-led economic sanctions on the Palestinian government and people need to be viewed in the context of today's U.S.-led globalized world.

According to Bahour, since the signing of the Oslo peace accords, Palestinians have availed themselves "of the financial and technical assistance of the entire world -- led by the U.S. -- to open their economy and become part of the global economic order of our time."

"Despite all the progress that was made in liberalizing the Palestinian market, our yet-militarily-occupied market came tumbling down in no time when the results of our democratic elections did not fit the U.S. liking," Bahour said recently, pointing out that this fact was even noted by the World Bank.

"Not only do the current sanctions highlight U.S. hypocrisy, but they dangerously interfere with internal Palestinian politics and have moved a political crisis into a humanitarian one. The long-term lesson for the entire developing world may be to be much more cautious -- not to fall into the trap of a globalization that can be wielded as a big stick when the U.S. wishes a regime change without military intervention," he said.

"This boycott very much reminds me of the sanctions imposed on Iraq after the first Gulf War," Palestinian Basem Khader said. "I saw the results of the Iraq sanctions first-hand. It was the children, the elderly, the sick and the poor who suffered most. And so it is now in Palestine."

Khader currently lives in retirement in New York, after a 36-year-long career with the United Nations.

"One needs to recall that draining liquidity from any economy, including that of the U.S., would result in a deflationary environment that would hit the poor hardest -- as it is, the poverty level in the West Bank and Gaza was already intolerably high even before the boycott. The boycott has meant above all draining liquidity from a very vulnerable economy," Khader continued.

"Our attention span in the West may be measured in minutes, but people in Iraq, Palestine and indeed the Arab and the Third World generally are not going to forget our 'civilized' behavior any time soon.

"If Khomeini's revolution was 'blowback' for Mossadegh's overthrow 26 years earlier, I wonder what the blowback for the wanton and state-inspired murder of children in Iraq and Palestine is likely to be a generation down the road," Khadar said.

As a case in point, I have a friend living in America in close touch with a man from Gaza. She shared excerpts from their instant messages, dated June 16, 2006:

American: "Is there food now?"

Palestinian: "Nobody buy cuz no money and no market lend anything anymore / It is getting worse day by day /I believe ppl will explode soon / We cannot bear that anymore."

American: "Yes, people must eat and feed their children."

Palestinian: "Today my daughter asked for one shequle to buy candy / I said there is no money at all / She cried and started to curse the whole world especially Israel and America."
But perhaps there is some hope.

In a remarkable reversal, The Daily Star out of Pakistan reports that after Saturday's meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Abbas stuck up for Hamas and "vowed to continue a 16-month-old ceasefire with Israel -- denying Hamas ever broke it." Instead, he described the strikes as "violations."

If Fatah can learn that Hamas is not the enemy, as an alternative to falling into the trap of a civil war, Palestine will be the winner -- despite Israel and its allies.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 June 2006 13:05

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