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From sadanand@mail.ccsu.edu Tue Nov 21 04:54:26 2000
From: Sadanand, Nanjundiah (Physics) <sadanand@mail.ccsu.edu>
To: tcraine@hotmail.com, Ali Antar <antar@mail.ccsu.edu>
Subject: Killing with impunity
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2000 17:33:37 -0500

The cost of weakness

By Khaled Amayreh, 21 November 2000

As the Palestinian uprising entered its seventh week with no sign of abating, the Israeli occupation army continued its murderous repression of the Palestinian populace. This week, as many as 40 Palestinians, among them 10 children, were shot dead by Israeli soldiers and settlers intent on achieving victory over an essentially unarmed populace striving to end 33 years of Israeli military occupation.

The past week has witnessed a significant escalation in Israeli attacks and bombardments of Palestinian population centres. On 9 November, Fatah official Hussein Ibayat was assassinated in Beit Sahur in a from-the-air attack. In addition, the Israeli army stepped up its use of lethal and excessive force, often randomly, against civilian neighbourhoods. Using heavy artillery shells, the Israeli army pounded city centres in Hebron, Tulkarm, Nablus, Ramallah, Beit Sahur and Beit Jala, causing more civilian deaths and inflicting heavier damage to property than ever before.

Since the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa uprising on 28 September, the Palestinian death toll now stands at 220—a quarter of them children below the age of sixteen. As for the wounded, their number is approaching 10,000. Several hundred suffer from irremediable wounds that will leave them with permanent disabilities. On 12 November, Israeli tanks stationed outside the settlement of Gilo, shelled churches in the nearby predominantly-Christian town of Beit Jala, bordering Bethlehem, at a time when worshipers had just ended Sunday mass and were leaving church. Nine worshipers were seriously injured.

Only a miracle prevented the occurrence of a huge massacre. I can't understand why these beasts seem so intent on slaughtering innocent civilians, said Anton Hathweh, a local citizen who escaped the attack within an inch of his life. Where in the world do tanks shell residential areas like this? What do they want from us? Where are human rights organisations—why don't they condemn this barbarity, this murder? he added vehemently.

Earlier, the Israeli army had opened fire on the school of T'kou, injuring a number of students, one seriously. On Sunday, Israeli gunners bombed the Khadouri agronomy college in Tulkarm, inflicting irreparable damage. On Tuesday, the Israeli occupation army imposed a hermetic closure on Palestinian cities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, barring some three million Palestinians from leaving or returning to their towns. The closure comes among a new wave of threats by several Israeli officials against Palestinians in the wake two separate shootings in the West Bank and Ramallah that resulted in the death of four Israelis. Israel's Deputy Prime Minister Benyamin Benalizer threatened to turn the roads into killing fields.

We will retaliate at a time and place of our choosing, Benalizer warned ominously, ignoring the legions of Palestinians killed by Israeli army soldiers and settlers with virtual impunity. Echoing Benalizer's bellicose remarks, the Israeli army warned Palestinian civilians that they could be killed if they attempted to penetrate the security siege. The threats were not to be taken lightly: Israeli soldiers were given clear instructions to give the Palestinians no chance.

Underscoring its determination to keep Palestinians confined to their immediate population centres, the Israeli army began to systematically harass and beat Palestinian civilians, virtually wherever they come in contact with occupation soldiers. School children as young as 10 years old were subjected to sinister acts of harassment and humiliation in the full view of their peers. The tactics were used in the Arroub refugee camp, 10 miles northeast of Hebron, last month. On 14 October, Israeli soldiers forced school children from their schoolbus and began searching their bags and beating them.

The Israeli army has apparently given Jewish settlers free rein to torment and murder Palestinians, particularly in areas adjacent to Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The settlers, armed with automatic rifles and submachine guns, are not only complicit in violence but have whole-heartedly taken part in Israel's bloody rampage. But what is perhaps the most disturbing is their fanatic ideology that dehumanises non-Jews. The head of the settler council in the West Bank was quoted as saying that in war, everything is permissible—and Jews should feel no mercy toward their enemies. Translating this virulent ideology into action, settlers bludgeoned a 50-year-old Palestinian to death in the village of Kufur Malik, near Nablus, on Tuesday. The man, Mustafa Mahmoud Elayan, was repeatedly hit on the head with a large stone until he died.

The Israeli army spokesman brushed the incident aside, saying that if Jews are not safe on the roads, Arabs are not going to be safe either. Earlier the same day, a band of settlers attacked Arab olive orchards in the villages of Abud, Nabi Saleh, and Sinjel, uprooting hundreds of ancient trees and vandalising property. The raid took place in full view of Israeli soldiers, who are deployed to provide protection for the marauding settlers.

The settlers' wanton violence didn't even spare United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, who has just wrapped up a visit to the occupied territories to examine Israeli human rights violations. While visiting the Tel Rumeida neighbourhood—where settler violence and vandalism has reached unprecedented proportions—Robinson's entourage was fired at by settlers on Monday. The group threw heavy objects and iron bars at journalists covering her fact-finding mission.

Dumbfounded by what she experienced, Robinson insisted that the Israeli army arrest the perpetrator, apparently not realising there is no real rule of law under Israeli occupation. Robinson, whose entourage was blocked in the middle of the Gaza Strip by Israeli soldiers, reacted to the incident with tough talk, saying she would make sure that the world community knew and understood everything she had seen and experienced during her four-day visit.