Thursday, March 14

MCC Palestine Update #41

MCC Palestine Update #41

Lenten greetings from Jerusalem! Sonia and I returned two days ago after two weeks in the United States doing some speaking for MCC in Ohio and Indiana.

The worsening situation in Palestine/Israel weighed heavily on our hearts as we spoke in various fora. It was appropriate, we felt, to be speaking about Palestine/Israel during Lent, the liturgical time when we approach the shadow of the cross with a heightened sense of our sinfulness. Since our return two days ago, we have heard terrible stories of destruction, of death, of humiliation from friends and partners throughout the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Simply going to work, school, or the hospital becomes impossible and/or dangerous for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.

We were asked repeatedly during the past two weeks if we saw hope in various things: the Saudi initiative; the US-sponsored UN resolution calling for a state of Palestine alongside Israel; the growing number of Israeli soldiers refusing to serve in the occupied territories. Briefly: yes, we do see hope in these things. At the same time, however, we must report that what we hear from our Palestinian friends and partners is despair and hopelessness: the Saudi proposal and the UN resolution are seen as yet more rhetorical gambits with little chance of effecting the reality of occupation.

In our next update we will write more about MCC programs. This present note--a long one--includes several pieces written in the storm of the past two weeks. We hope that you find some or all of them useful.

--Alain Epp Weaver

1. A massacre that covers the whole nation
Ghassan Andoni
The Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement between People

Started at Balata refugee camp and still moving. Today it is Bethlehem. The message is clear: if you do not accept our occupation and domination you will be destroyed. Sir, we cannot accept your occupation and domination because it had already destroyed us.

It is almost the same Scenario everywhere. F16, bombarding the PA buildings and adjacent neighborhoods; Tanks invade cities and towns but mainly refugee camps; dozens of innocent civilians killed and hundreds injured; Ambulances are not allowed to evacuate casualties. 50 Palestinians killed in one day and hundreds injured most of them were kept bleeding in the narrow streets of refugee camps. Ambulances were not allowed to evacuate the casualties. To encounter the seen of Israeli tanks hitting two ambulances in the narrow streets of Tulkarim refugee camp, the army commander of the Tulkarim area identified Palestinian ambulances and
medical teams as legitimate targets for the Israeli army.

The Israeli army generals are so proud of their ability to move inside the Palestinian refugee camps through cracking down the cement walls between the heavily crowded and adjacent
Palestinian homes. Right now and in Tulkarim refugee camp no family can close the door and shelter inside home.

The best that the Israeli foreign Minster and Nobel Prize winner Shimon Peres could do was to refuse to comment. While he publicly reminded Israelis that there is no need to reoccupy Palestinian areas because already those areas are occupied, he failed to raise a voice against the war crimes conducted by his Prime Minster and the elected leader of his Party, defense
Minster Ben Eliazer.

The calls from inside the Israeli society for more Palestinian blood and the complete silence from the side of the International community will stay for long deep inside Palestinians. Palestinians
will trust no one. Each mourning mother, each confused little kid, and each homeless family will always ask: where were you when all of this happened?

Can any of you look directly to their eyes and provide an answer?

The Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement between People
64 Star Street, P.O. Box 24
Beit Sahour - Palestine

The center is a non-profit making NGO, started in 1988 during the first Intifada. PCR runs community service programs, youth empowerment and training programs. PCR is also very much involved in the non-violent resistance against the Israeli Occupation of Palestine.

2. Sir, It’s the Wrong War!

After the invasion of the Balata refugee camp by a regular brigade of the IDF, the brigade commander appeared on television and said that he had expected the Palestinians to fight like tigers, but that they behaved like pussycats.

This is a frightening sentence, because it discloses a startling fact: the Brigade commander does not understand in what kind of campaign he is engaged. He has to be told, with all due respect: “Sir, you are fighting the wrong war!”

Clearly, he believes that he is engaged in a conventional war between armies. The enemy is supposed to stand up and fight like men, assault rifles against tanks and fighter planes.

The commander and all his colleagues, including the Chief-of-Staff and his deputy, would be well advised to read a good book about guerilla warfare, such as Mao Tse-Tung’s treatise, which tells the guerilla fighter: Never confront the regular army. When the army attacks, you disappear. When the army is not ready, you attack.

For example: The army surrounds Arafat in Ramallah, Destroy a Merkava tank in Gush Katif. A whole brigade invades Balata; Get out and send a single fighter to kill the team of a check-point near Ofrah. A brigade attacks Jenin; Get out of their sight and infiltrate Atzmona settlement.

The statement by the brigade commander indicates that the IDF is fighting on a front that does not exist, and is not prepared for fighting on the front that is there. it’s like a general setting out to conquer Syria and holding a map of the Sudan in his hands.

Since Chief-of-Staff Mofaz and his senior officers don’t even understand the nature of this struggle, they are failing. Out of frustration and anger they shoot in all directions and commit a small massacre every day, without any purpose or chance of success. Since they were not trained for this kind of struggle and do not understand it, they are condemned to commit every possible mistake. One after another, they use all the methods that have already failed in Algeria, Kenya, South Africa, Vietnam and a dozen of other countries.

They try to starve the inhabitants into submission (“closure”),and inadvertently turn them into potential suicide-bombers with nothing to lose. They assassinate the chiefs of the fighting groups (“targeted prevention”), and clear the way for younger, more efficient and more energetic commanders. The kill massively (“you have to strike them”) and turn the relatives of the victims into avengers.

If this is the way of the generals, the “political echelon”, composed of pensioned generals, is worse. They imprison Arafat in Ramallah in order to prove that he is “irrelevant”, and turn him into the most relevant person in the entire Middle East. As a result, all internal criticism of Arafat has ceased. Practically all Palestinians admire their President, who is taking part in their lot, suffers like them and is risking his life like them.

And beyond that: tens of millions of Arabs, who see rousing reports from beleaguered Palestine every hour on al-Jazira TV, compare the courageous Palestinian leader to their own rulers, who are now very worried indeed. In response they sounded the alarm in Washington and have compelled President Bush to do something.

Sharon and Ben-Eliezer declare that if the Palestinians are made to suffer more and more, they will eventually surrender and agree to live in several Ghettos, as proposed by Sharon. In
practice, the opposite is happening: the more the pressure on them mounts, the more their unity grows, their methods of resistance improve and their readiness to suffer and not to surrender

Thousands of Palestinians are ready to undertake actions leading to certain death, and their number is growing. How many Israelis are ready to go into action if there is no chance at all of
coming out alive? Palestinians know full well that they are fighting for their very existence; Israelis know that they are fighting for the settlements and bankrupt politicians.

The Israeli government cannot win this struggle. After paying a terrible price - slaughter and destruction - this will become clear to the public, the government will fall and we shall make peace according to the Saudi Crown Prince’s excellent proposal.

3. A Call For International Action: END THE OCCUPATION NOW!
Jeff Halper
Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), 6 March 2002

This is the moment of decision. The Israeli army today opened its widest campaign against Palestinian "targets" ever non-stop bombardment from the air, sea and land, invasion of large Palestinian areas (especially in Gaza), house demolitions, killings, arrests and the declaring of a virtual halt to Palestinian traffic on all the roads of the Occupied Territories. This is the time when all of us -- NGOs, faith-based organizations and citizens, Palestinians, Israelis and members of the international community -- must arise and focus our efforts on one goal, and one goal only: To bring an end to the brutal Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East erusalem and Gaza NOW.

During the seven years of Oslo, Israel pursued a particular vision of "peace:" a non-viable and only semi-independent Palestinian mini- state that would relieve Israel of the three million Palestinians residing in the Occupied Territories but would leave it in control. Israel's ferocious response to the Intifada came from a fear that the Palestinian Street would break the PA out of the Oslo framework and lead it to a true dismantling of the Occupation, to a viable and truly sovereign Palestinian state.

That is the battle being waged now, between an Israeli-controlled Palestinian Bantustan and a viable, sovereign Palestinian state. Couching Palestinian resistance as mere "terrorism" (and thereby cynically exploiting the simplistic "anti-terror" approach of the post-September 11 Bush Administration), Israel is using its entire military arsenal (except its nuclear weapons) to suppress Palestinian aspirations "for once and for all." Sharon, who believes that there can be only one "victor," has declared that the current offensive, escalated daily, will not cease until the
Palestinians "surrender."

The only force preventing the defeat of Palestinian aspirations for independence is the Palestinian Street. This is the force that rose up against an Oslo process that was leading it to apartheid. This is the force that appealed to the international community for support in its struggle against a vastly superior military and political oppressor. But how long the Palestinian people can hang on is a matter of question. People speak bravely of fighting for as long as it takes, but military strikes, invasions of refugee camps, impoverishment, house demolitions, severe restrictions on movement and psychological fatigue all take their toll. Israel's smooth, well-oiled machine of public relations and diplomacy has succeeded in isolating the Palestinians internationally and delegitimizing Arafat's leadership.

This is the time when an international Intifada is called for, when members of the international community must stand up and demand that their governments end the Occupation NOW. This must be the focus of our actions. All else, no matter how well intentioned, has been rendered irrelevant by the events of the past weeks.

What must we do?

* International NGOs, faith-based organizations and political groups must join their extensive but scattered and poorly-focused networks into a coherent, adamant Campaign Against the Occupation. Each country must form a campaign team and those teams must develop a working framework of cooperation and joint ction. The international and country-based teams should then establish contacts with Palestinian and Israeli organizations for purposes of -- articulating our immediate concerns and demanding an end to the occupation now;-- coordination;-- the development of informational and campaign materials

-- the dispatching of local delegations (Palestinian, Israeli and joint) for the purposes of lobbying, media work and appearing in public forums abroad. Effective lobbying in the American Congress, the European Parliament and in European capitals is essential. I would urge that joint Palestinian-Israeli delegations be sent with a simple, compelling message: we are on the same side, the side that aspires to a just peace that addresses the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people while bringing security, stability and economic development to the entire region;

-- the dispatching of international delegations to Palestine to engage in resistance actions, and to develop with them effective follow-up actions back home.

We also need more effective means of raising funds for our work, and of focusing our funding on campaigns and actions that bear directly upon the urgent task of ending the Occupation.

* Palestinian organizations must focus their efforts on a Campaign to End the Occupation Now, pulling together the agendas of their many organizations into a coordinated and effective effort. In my opinion, a close working relationship between Palestinian NGOs and those Israeli organizations that share in their agenda of ending the Occupation is essential for effective advocacy.

* Israeli peace and human rights organizations must also develop a more effective framework of action. Besides our scattered protest activities, we must find ways to effectively communicate with the Israeli public, and we must be much more involved in international networking and campaigns, including production of better informational materials. We must also seek ways to support Palestinian organizations.

All the pieces are in place. We have the organizations and the world-wide networks. Some of us have the information, others the funding, still others the skills at putting together an international campaign, working with the media, gaining access to decision- makers. Some of us are here, on "the ground" in Palestine/Israel, with all we can contribute; others are abroad, in key positions to influence public opinion in their countries and their governments' policies. We now all share the responsibility the collective, urgent responsibility of bringing all our resources to bear on the only issue before us: ending the Occupation now.

People and organizations at the center of international networks have to decide how to proceed. You all know each other. Network, discuss, develop mechanisms of coordination and suggest to us "on the ground" how to link up effectively. Palestinian organizations perhaps through PNGO should declare a common Campaign For Ending the Occupation Now in order to focus their attention and interact effectively with organizations abroad, with all the contact information. Again, I would urge a meeting with partner Israeli organizations to strengthen the cooperation. ICAHD will work to create better forums of cooperation among Israeli organizations, and to augment the present emphasis on activism with effective international advocacy and campaigning.

We should not underestimate our power, the power of the international civil society, which is growing in strength and organization. This is the moment in which we must arise and assert our collective will…...End the Occupation NOW!

4. Witness to destruction
Adam Shapiro

The first thing you notice at the entrance to the Balata Refugee Camp is the overturned, burned out car stuck in a huge man-made crater in the ground. But this was the battleground of the previous three days, as the Israeli Army sacked the camp and destroyed homes, cars, property, and lives with wanton abandon and without much purpose. Other than to attack and terrorize a people who have nothing in this world and who have already been made homeless – and who have remained refugees for over 50 years.

Inside the camp, this alleged “hotbed of terrorism” the group of us eight internationals were met and greeted by the residents with inquisitive looks, “salaam aleikum” shouted from time to time, and lots of little kids running up to us to see who were these strangers. All tried to make us feel welcome and when they learned that we were there in solidarity with the people of the camp and wanted to take pictures to show the world, we were pulled in many different directions at once to witness what the Israelis had done.

What they had done was obvious, and it was all over the camp. Immediately noticeable, at eye level, was the black spray paint on the walls – arrows, numbers, Hebrew writing and stars of David, markings the soldiers made to allow themselves to navigate through the crowded camp. Permanent markings of the three days of hell the camp endured. We later found these markings inside people’s homes as well, painted on the walls.

Thirty homes were destroyed in the camp, but hundreds more effectively ruined and damaged. The camp is densely populated and some alleyways between the buildings are barely wide enough for me – an average sized male – to pass through. Other structures are just built wall-to-wall. When the Israeli army took down a building – allegedly looking for weapons or rockets (no evidence of any found) – it meant that the neighbors’ buildings also were damaged. The first place I visited was a destroyed home. Next door, the building was still standing, but upon walking in, I discovered that the neighbor had lost his wall. The home was also damaged by the demolition and the home utterly unusable. If each house demolished results in the two or three neighboring buildings also being damaged beyond use, then the result is between 90 and 120 structures affected. Each structure contains at least two (and usually more) apartments, housing anywhere from 10 to 40 people. Therefore, at minimum, 900 people were left homeless by the home demolitions in the camp – this is the calculus of Israel’s war on the Palestinian people. Walking through the streets of the camp, destruction was all around us. Peering down alleyways, we inevitably spotted the chunks of stone, the twisted metal and the broken piece of furniture that indicated a home was demolished. Cars had been set ablaze and riddled with bullet-holes – the carcasses lay in the streets as added testimony to the siege. Every house we visited had a story to tell. Some were simply shot up, others had tear gas thrown inside, while others were invaded and occupied by the soldiers.

We visited one home that had been occupied during the entire siege by Israeli soldiers. Upon entering the house, the soldiers offered to allow the family to leave, but promised them they would never come back to the house. The family stayed – three children (aged 4 to 9), two young women (one pregnant) and an elderly woman. The man of the house – PLC member and leading figure in the camp, Hussam Khader – was not home for fear of his life. The soldiers forced the family into one room – approximately 8x10 feet – and made them stay there the entire three days. For the first twenty-four hours, not a single person was allowed to leave the room at all – not for the bathroom, not for food, not for water. The soldiers ransacked the entire place – taking money and computer disks, breaking furniture and emptying drawers, ripping apart passports and overturning children’s beds. We knocked at the door of the home when we arrived. As we entered the sitting room, we heard child whimper – little Ahmed (four years old) was afraid we were the Israelis coming back to the house. He is traumatized by the experience and needs to be near his mom and aunt constantly. But he is tough, and before long he was playing with my camera. He told me to follow him upstairs and there he showed me how the soldiers had ransacked his room. He was amazed by the sight and asked me why the soldiers did this to him.

The last home we visited in the camp was located on the main street, near the cemetery. A ground floor apartment was located adjacent to a store. The main gate of the store was blown apart and the glass from the window lay in the street. The back wall of the small store was torn down and you could see directly into the apartment behind – but there was not much to see. Walking into the house we were unable to step on the floor directly – it was covered with clothing, broken dishes, broken furniture, etc. The electricity was cut, so we had to poke around in the diminishing light until a portable fixture was brought in. The lit room revealed the full destruction – even the washing machine was not safe from the brutality of the soldiers. A fully veiled young woman (only her eyes showed) boldly came up to me and asked if I spoke English. I replied that I did and that she could speak to me in either English or Arabic. She explained that she was the oldest of four children in the house – 14-years old – and that her father was dead. She led me over to where the kitchen had been and searched in the broken glass for something. Finally, she pulled up a picture frame with a photo of her father in it and explained to me that Israeli spies had killed him in 1994. In a flash she was back in the pile on the ground looking for another photo – that of her grandfather, also dead. Now holding both pictures, this young Muslim woman, proud to know English and proud of her family, calmly explained what had happened when the soldiers came – how they had to flee and spend the night outside the camp in the nearby fields. For more than fifty years they had been refugees, and now Israel wanted to attack them again. But, she told me, struggling with her emotions and her sense of dignity, “they must know we are strong children and we won’t leave this land, my grandfather’s land. We will return to the land which they occupied in 1948.”

These refugees, like those in the other camps, have lost everything and live with virtually nothing. Now, day after day, the Israeli army is going after them in a pogrom deliberately designed to provoke and to strike terror in the hearts of an entire people.

Like little Ahmed Khader, the world must ask, why are the Israelis doing this?

5. The view from Beit El
Gideon Levy
Haaretz, 3 March 2002

Most Israelis, it is safe to assume, have never and probably will never visit the settlement of Beit El. They therefore have no idea what an inhabitant of that large settlement sees when he opens his window. To the east, the settler sees nothing but the military. The road leading to his community currently crosses through a huge Israel Defense Forces base that was once Training Center 4 and is now the headquarters for the tremendous forces guarding Beit El and environs. The road home thus passes through tanks and armament stores, which is in itself a dubious experience.

To the west, the settler sees a desolate road, strewn with stones and earthwork obstacles. This is the old Ramallah-Nablus road, the highway that became an abandoned road when all traffic on it was prohibited. If the settler looks into the distance, he will see yellow blotches on the sides of the road in the valley spread out below him. These are Palestinian taxis, traveling on dirt roads to transport the handful of inhabitants who skirt the checkpoints on foot. In wind and cold, in all weather, they make their way from checkpoint to checkpoint. They have no choice.

Slightly to the north, on the edges of the abandoned road, is a large group of horribly crowded, shabby houses, surrounded by a fence as if it were a prison. This is home to about 6,000 Palestinians, residents of the Jalazun refugee camp who for months have been trapped inside their camp. Occasionally they can sneak out of the camp on foot, through the wadis, but the soldiers are liable to shoot at them as has already happened more than once. Leaving by car is just a distant dream, of course.

Hapless and hopeless, people who have already been dealt blows by fate twice before, in 1948 and in 1967, have now also been deprived of their freedom of movement and of their miserable livelihoods. Trapped in their camp, they can only look yearningly at the spacious and thriving mega-settlement that sprang up near their home.

Slightly south of Jalazun, the settler can see the Surda checkpoint, where about two weeks ago an IDF soldier was killed while protecting Beit El. Southwest of there, though no longer in his range of sight, is the Ein Ariq checkpoint, now more closed and dug-in than ever; this is where six IDF soldiers, stationed at the checkpoint to protect the handful of residents of Dolev and Talmon, neighbors of the Beit El settler, were killed.

To the northwest lies the campus of Bir Zeit University. The dream f thousands of youngsters, the same dream that the youngsters of Beit El dream - of acquiring education and a vocation - has been shelved. The university is closed and reopened frequently, the last two academic years have been disturbed as a result of the checkpoints, and when it is possible to reach the campus it can be done only on foot.

A look to the east: Near the military court and the bases the settler can see a long line of Palestinians walking silently alongside the fences, in the shadows of the tanks. Children and old people, pregnant women and the sick, carrying their bags and baskets, terrorized by the tank turret. These are the inhabitants of the surrounding villages, who can reach the closest city, Ramallah, their source of life, only by foot. They walk the six to seven kilometers in either direction for work, shopping or the clinic. The settlers' cars pass by on the road that is open to Jews only.

The justice-loving journalist Yoav Yitzhak wrote in Ma'ariv, with a certain degree of fiendishness, that it is a serious oversight that these wretched villagers are permitted to walk near the settlements and thereby to endanger their security, while the settler Emuna Elon, who lives in Beit El, said on Dan Shilon's television program that her heart was stirred by these pilgrims. Maybe the horrific plan of her husband, Tourism Minister enBenny Elon, to expel all of these villagers from their land will solve the problem. But apart from these sanctimonious statements, it appears that the fate of her neighbors does not affect her or her friends.

Tanks, checkpoints, refugees, racially separated roads, long lines of people on foot, ambulances bouncing along rocky roads and terrible suffering can be seen every day from the window of the
settler in Beit El, and he lives comfortably with it all.It is difficult to comprehend how, among the nearly 5,000 inhabitants of Beit El, there is not a single righteous man in Sodom, no one who will stand up and admit wholeheartedly that his settlement, and all others like it, is the cause of all this suffering. How is it that there is not a single settler in Beit El who is losing sleep over the women in labor who cannot get to the hospital, the sick people who die along the twisted dirt paths, the children who must walk to pay a holiday visit to their grandmother?

It must take a large degree of cold-heartedness to drive on the paved road leading from your house and see the large numbers of people who are forced to walk in the mud and rubble just because of the existence of your settlement - and to keep on believing in the justice of that distorted path; to see all that suffering through your window without batting an eyelash. The dispute with these settlements cannot be a political discussion only, but also a deep moral dispute because of the human suffering they impose on their neighbors.

Now, however, it is not only the suffering of the neighboring Palestinians that is on the heads of the residents of Beit El, but also the blood of the soldiers killed defending them.

The truth must be said: If Beit El, Talmon and Dolev were not there, the checkpoints of Ein Ariq and Surda would not be there either. They have no connection to the security of the state and the seven soldiers killed there up to now would not have been killed. Does the fate of these Israeli soldiers not give rise to any second thoughts in Beit El, either?

6. Saying No to Israel's Occupation
Ishai Menuchin
Yesh Gvul, 9 March 2002

JERUSALEM - In this past week of madness and carnage, hope for peace between Israel and the Palestinians appears impossible. After 35 years of Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, the two sides seem only to have grown accustomed to assassinations, bombings, terrorist attacks and house demolitions. Each side characterizes its own soldiers as either "defense forces" or "freedom fighters"
when in truth these soldiers take part in war crimes on a daily basis. Daily funerals and thoughts of revenge among Israelis tend to blur the fact that we, the Israelis, are the occupiers. And as much as we live in fear of terrorism and war, it is the Palestinians who suffer more deaths hourly and live with greater fear because they are the occupied.

Twenty years ago, when I was first inducted into the Israeli Army, to serve as a paratrooper and officer for four and a half years, I took an oath to defend Israel and obey my commanders. I was young, a patriot, probably naïve, and sure that as a soldier my job was to defend my home and country. It did not occur to me that I might be used to carry out an occupation or asked to fight in military engagements that are not essential for the defense of Israel.

It took me one war - the Lebanon war - many dead friends, and some periods of service in the occupied territories to find that my assumptions were wrong. In 1983, I refused to serve in acts of occupation, and I spent 35 days in military prison for my refusal. Today, as a major in the reserves of the Israel Defense Forces, I still defend my country but I will not participate in a military occupation that has over the decades made Israel less secure and less humane. The escalating violence is evidence of this truth.

Being a citizen in a democracy carries with it a commitment to democratic values and a responsibility for your actions. It is morally impossible to be both a devoted democratic citizen and a regular offender against democratic values. Depriving people of the right to equality and freedom, and keeping them under occupation, is by definition an antidemocratic act. The occupation that has now lasted a generation and rules the lives of more than 3.5 million Palestinians is what drives me, hundreds of other objectors in the armed forces, and tens of thousands of Israeli citizens to oppose our government's policies and actions in the West Bank and Gaza.

My commitment to democratic values caused me to act against the occupation - to sign petitions, write ads, and take part in demonstrations and vigils. But those acts of opposition were not enough to absolve me of having to make a moral choice about participating in the occupation as an officer and ordering others to do so. So while I continue to serve in the defense force, I selectively refuse military orders if they require my presence in the territories outside the pre-1967 Israeli borders. I will not obey illegal orders to execute potential terrorists or fire into civilian demonstrations. (Since October 2000 more than 850 Palestinians have been killed by my army: 178 were minors, and 55 were executed.) And I will not take part in "less violent" actions like keeping Palestinians under curfew for months, manning roadblocks that prevent civilians moving from town to town, or carrying out house demolitions and other acts of repression aimed at the entire Palestinian population.

As our government prepares to increase military action in the West Bank and Gaza, Israelis need a true debate about the nature of Israel's presence in these territories. Israeli and international human rights groups have raised their voices about the persistent violation of Palestinian human rights. I believe it is my duty as a citizen of a democratic nation to protest this conduct, which cannot be justified.

I and others who serve in the defense forces cannot by our actions alone change government policies or make peace negotiations more likely. But we can show our fellow citizens that occupation of the territories is not just a political or strategic matter. It is also a moral matter. We can show them an alternative - they can say no to occupation. When we begin to see Israel's situation in that light, perhaps we will be able to let go of our fear enough to find a way forward.

Ishai Menuchin is a major in the Israel Defense Forces reserves and chairman of Yesh Gvul, the soldiers' movement for selective refusal.

7. Special Report: Intifada Update Palestinian Human and Material Losses Inflicted by Israel during the Intifada (Uprising) September 28th, 2000 - March 14th, 2002
The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH)

Number of Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces and settlers
Palestinians in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and east Jerusalem: 1,201
Palestinians in Israel: 14 Palestinians
In southern Lebanon (killed in clashes on Israeli northern borders): 2
Total (including 234 deaths inflicted among children aged 18 and below): 1,217

Gender Distribution of Deaths
Total number of Palestinian men killed: 1,170
Total Number of Palestinian women killed: 47

Number of Palestinians injured by Israeli security forces and settlers
Live ammunition: 4,231
Rubber bullets: 5,400
Tear gas: 4,988
Miscellaneous: 3,825
Total (including 6,000 injuries inflicted among children below the age of 18): 18,444

Number of olive trees uprooted form Palestinian land: 112,900
Area of Palestinian cultivated land destroyed: 3,669,000 m²

Since 1967, Israel has confiscated almost 750,000 acres of land from the 1.5 million acres comprising the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Since 1967, almost 200,000 tress have been uprooted by Israeli forces from Palestinian land. Since 1967 only, more than 7,000 homes have been demolished on the basis that they were not supported by the required construction permits (permits for Palestinians are almost impossible to obtain from the Israeli authorities). Please refer to MIFTAH's fact sheet on Home Demolition and Land Confiscation at

Israeli attacks against doctors and ambulance drivers:
Number of ambulance drivers killed: 4
Number of doctors killed: 1
Number of doctors and ambulance drivers injured: 122
Number of ambulances hit: 165
Number of cases in which ambulances were denied access to rescue: 350
Number of Palestinian schools previously shut down due to Israeli siege: 174
Number of Palestinian students previously deprived from attending school: 90,000
Number of Palestinian school children killed, injured, or attacked to date: 435

Impact of Israeli closures on Palestinian economic life:
Number of Palestinians unemployed due to the closures: 257,000
Avg. unemployment rate in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip: 53%
Total income losses for Palestinian workers previously employed inside Israel: $ 3.6 million/day Actual losses: Shortfall in GNP between Sept.-Mar. $ 1.5 billion
Decrease in per capita income: 47%
Percentage of Palestinians living below poverty line: 64%
Estimated loss if closures continue in 2001: $ 1.7 billion
Daily overall economic losses (according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics): $ 11 million

Sources: *Palestine Red Crescent Society
*The World Bank (West Bank and Gaza Strip)
*Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator (UNSCO)-Gaza
*Ramallah Hospital
*Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza
Public Information Department
Public Affairs Unit
The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH)
Jerusalem office Tel: +972-2-585 1843
Ramallah office Tel: +972-2-298 9490

8. Balata has fallen
Ze'ev Sternhell
Haaretz, 8 March 2002

There was something surreal about the television appearance, last Saturday night, by the commanders of the two brigades that operated in the refugee camps of the northern West Bank. The commander of the Paratroop Brigade declared: Balata camp has surrendered. Indeed, the refugee camp was "conquered" by elite forces, using state-of-the-art weaponry, and backed up by tanks, armored personnel carriers and helicopters. If the whole thing were not sad and grotesque, it would be amusing.

But this is a story that is characteristic of the road that has been followed by heroic little Israel, which was admired by the whole Western world, until this terrible period. There were times when the paratroopers were known as the fighters of the Mitla Pass, Ammunition Hill and the Chinese Farm. The Golani Brigade used to be famed for breaching the fortifications of Rafah, as the fighters of Tel el Faher and the Hermon outpost. Their sons and grandsons have fallen to the level of breachers of walls in shacks built of blocks and boards. And they are no longer ashamed to speak of war when what they are really engaged in is colonial policing, which recalls the takeover by the white police of the poor neighborhoods of the blacks in South Africa during the apartheid era.

There was a time - on the first day of the 1967 Six-Day War -when the commander of a tank company in 7th Brigade, Avigdor Kahalani, stopped his tank column in the midst of advance to contact near Rafah so he wouldn't run over two frightened Bedouin children. He waited until their mother came to collect them. Later that day, Kahalani's tank was hit and he suffered extensive burns. To the division commander, Major General Israel Tal, the behavior of the young officer, and not just his fighting, was exemplary.

Today, again in Rafah, army men of a different generation watch as children play next to a booby-trapped bomb that was placed there by the IDF and don't lift a finger. It must have been clear to all of them that if the children touched the bomb it would explode, with loss of life.When the military advocate general finally decided to launch an investigation into the incident - in which five children were killed – the division commander did everything in his power to prevent the probe from taking place.

In colonial Israel, and more especially the Israel in which advocates of "transfer" sit in the government, human life is cheap - and therein lies the most serious danger to our future A society in which dozens of children are killed as a result of army operations can easily lose its last remaining moral inhibitions. The fact that the Palestinians are also killing indiscriminately cannot absolve us of responsibility for what is going on in the territories. The killing of innocent people is gradually becoming a norm, and that norm is being implemented in the service of a goal that seeks to deprive another people of its freedom and its human rights: The Sharon government is turning the territories into one huge jailhouse, and is turning its citizens in warders who are called upon to suppress a prisoner uprising. That was not quite the purpose of Zionism.

If the army is dominated by shamelessness, and if purely military actions by the Palestinians, such as successful attacks on army outposts and checkpoints, are included under the rubric of terrorism, the settlers' camp is doing all it can to label our inability to cope with the Palestinians' war of independence as the "Rosh Hashanah War." This half-baked attempt to create symmetry between a just war and a campaign of colonialist suppression is not merely a curiosity: It is the desecration of the memory of those who fell in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. It won't be long before we are told that the battle in which tank crews risked their lives on the banks of the Suez Canal and the effort in which an Israeli tank destroys a Palestinian car containing a mother and her three children is the same war.

We should take note here of an interesting phenomenon. The number of Israeli civilian casualties in the past year is far greater than the number of soldiers who have been killed or wounded. When all is said and done, the army is waging a deluxe war: It is bombing and shelling defenseless cities and villages, and that situation is convenient for both the army and the settlers. They are well aware that if the army were to sustain casualties on the same scale as occurred in Lebanon, we would now be on our way out of the territories.

We perceive the death of civilians in shooting attacks or at the hands of crazed suicide bombers in the heart of our cities, including the extinction of whole families, as a decree of fate or as a kind of act of nature. However, the death of soldiers immediately poses the critical question: What are the goals of the war? For what end are the soldiers being killed? Who sent them to their death? As long as the conscript troops do not pay too heavily, as long as the reservists are not called up in massive numbers to protect and defend the occupation, the question of "why" does not dictate the national agenda.

However, the atmosphere in the country is rapidly approaching the boiling point. More and more people are beginning to understand that the Israeli reprisal operations only engender despair, and despair gives rise to suicide bombers. Today, when the whole political system is paralyzed, it looks as though it will be possible to bring an end to the madness that is raging here, only if people take to the streets en masse and demand an immediate start to negotiations.

9. ‘So, are you going to shoot me?’
Amira Hass

AL-AMARI REFUGEE CAMP - Tuesday, March 12, 2:30 in the afternoon. Amal Abu Radwan was in the kitchen cooking a dish of rice and lentils. About 14 hours earlier, the Israel Defense Forces took control of Ramallah and encircled Al-Amari, where she lives with her family. Some of her children were at home, some of them were roaming the alleys. Her husband, Jamal, who works in maintenance at the UNWRA center in the camp, was somewhere outside. Suddenly she heard noises on the other side of the eastern wall of her narrow kitchen.Narrow, but renovated: Only four months ago, after slowly accumulating the needed sum, the renovation was completed - ceramic tiles, a new refrigerator, a new sink, a lighting fixture. Within minutes, the sink and the pipes were destroyed and a huge hole gaped in the wall. Two of her children fled the house in alarm. Another daughter went into shock and would not speak for two days afterward. The kitchen filled with soldiers."Silence," said one of the soldiers in Hebrew. "Ruhi," (Leave), he said in Arabic and aimed his rifle as if to say, "If not, I'll shoot you." In any case, this was how Amal Abu Radwan interpreted his gestures. She pointed at the new refrigerator and asked them not to harm it. And then she saw that they intended to break through the opposite wall, into the neighbors' bathroom. "I begged them to make the hole in the corridor, not in the kitchen. But they were holding a map [on which the houses of the camp were indicated], and the soldier told me that was impossible, because according to the map they had to cut through here."Jamal Abu Radwan hurried home when he heard that soldiers had broken in. In the small camp, where 8,000 people crowd into about 10 square dunams on the main road between El-Bireh and Ramallah, news spreads fast, even when the place is surrounded by tanks. His daughter Jamila relates that the soldiers found a green flag in the house and told her father, who is clean-shaven and dresses in jeans: "You are Hamas." They beat him on the back with a rifle, the members of his household relate, and put him into a room together with his brother, who would later be arrested (and then released). "They told Mother that she was not Hamas, because she doesn't have a veil and her hair is exposed and she wears trousers."In the apartment, eight people live in two rooms. The soldiers took everything out of the cupboard, found nothing, and took the door along with them. Amal laughs as she tells about the suspicious door that was taken away under arrest (and never returned).Her mother-in-law also hastened to the house, to be with the family, who were told to crowd into the hall. A soldier aimed his rifle at Amal, and she fainted. "What happened to her? Why did she faint?" the soldier asked the mother-in-law in astonishment.Three-year-old Hussein crept up to another soldier and grabbed for the rifle. The soldier smacked him lightly on the hand and made gestures the family interpreted as "Do you want to shoot me?" Until 5 A.M. on Wednesday, they were held in one room and heard the soldiers going in and out through their kitchen on their way to their missions in the camp. When they were finally able to move freely in their home, they discovered that the contents of the pot of rice and lentils had been spilled out, the new lighting fixture had been smashed and a toy rifle the son had received on the Feast of the Sacrifice had disappeared.Some of the children slept over at the home of their 65-year-old grandmother, a native of the destroyed village of Jimzu. She calculates her sons' ages by the number of years that elapsed between 1948 and their births. On Tuesday, she walked around in the alleys and approached the main road near her son Jamal's home. "Suddenly a soldier appeared and aimed his rifle at me. I said to him: "So are you going to shoot me? Aren't you ashamed to act like this?"Claims of lootingFrom the Abu Radwan home the soldiers entered a somewhat larger house, where on that night between Tuesday and Wednesday several of the soldiers slept. Three of the young men of the house were arrested, and the women and children were rounded up into a single room. The girls' bedroom was broken into, and a hole was made in the wall that leads to the neighbors' bathroom. During the search for weapons, which were not found, everything was overturned - clothing, mattresses, closets, blankets, the contents of cupboards - an all-too-familiar picture.And as in other homes in the camp, the inhabitants will claim that money was taken from trouser pockets and wallets, as were video and still cameras, mobile phones and regular phones, gold jewelry and computers. In one home they displayed an empty chocolate box: The soldiers found it, related the homeowner, and gleefully ate all the chocolate as the family looked on. Similar claims have been heard during the past year from nearly everywhere Israel Defense Forces soldiers have broken in, throughout the West Bank. The IDF Spokesman's Office always says that it has no knowledge of these claims and that complaints must be filed at the coordination and liaison office.Apparently most of the destruction at Al-Amari was to the home of Nabil Anabi, on the third floor above the camp's coffee shop. The soldiers entered it through the window, on Tuesday at about 7:30 P.M. after they had failed to break down the thick concrete wall between his home and his mother's. The soldiers rounded up the family in the kitchen, and one soldier stood facing them with his rifle aimed. They wanted to sit in the chairs but they were ordered to sit on the floor. As they sat, they shrank every time they heard the sounds of crashing and breakageAfter pleading with the soldiers, the family was allowed to go downstairs to the family's grocery and sleep there. On their way down they had to pick their way over fragments of broken glass and tiles, furniture that had been smashed and used as barriers on the staircase, and the television set that had been flung down the steps to the first floor. "They even broke the name of Allah," mourned Nabil, 40, pointing at a gold-colored paper rolling on the stairs in a frame the glass of which was smashed.At least five of the houses built on higher ground were taken in this way to become observation and firing posts.Frightening momentsNabil Anabi had undergone an operation, and he has documentation to prove it. Therefore, he did not report for arrest. His brother did. On Tuesday morning, when the shooting had died down a bit, over the loudspeakers came the call to men between 15 and 45 to report to the girls' school. Um Mohammed, who is about 70, and her daughter tried to persuade her 15-year-old grandson, R., to run away. "They are mindless, the soldiers. Who knows what they will do to him? They will beat him up," said the grandmother. But R. decided to go, "Because after all, what could they do to me? They have nothing against me." Gradually all the men of the camp (those who were left after the wanted men, activists in Fatah and other organizations and members of the security forces had slipped away), arrived at the entrance to the school, along with R. at about 10 A.M. They were all held there until 7 in the evening, some of them handcuffed, some of them not. "And we didn't know what was happening to them, 10 meters from here," related the grandmother.At 7 in the evening, military Jeeps took all 169 of the detained men from Al-Amari to the Ofer army camp southwest of Ramallah. There they were made to sit on the ground. At 11 P.M. tents were brought, and later mattresses, but no blankets. There were 47 people in the tent with R. "The older ones argued among themselves all the time. They don't all like each other. They also took their anger out on us," relates R. "On Wednesday we ate for the first time."What did they bring to eat? "Ice cream. Chocolate ice cream."It was not just for the youngsters, he said, but also for the adults. Later they were given regular food and blankets.On Thursday about 90 of them were put into buses, with their hands cuffed in front of them. They were kept this way in the buses, with the motors running, from 10 A.M. until 4 P.M. Meanwhile, another group of detainees was taken for interrogation. What is your economic situation, the men in this group were asked. They answered: "Thank God, everything is fine, we have plenty of everything," so that the interrogator would not think that he had a candidate for enlistment as a collaborator in economic distress. On Friday, of the 169, 10 remained under arrest.At 4 P.M. the buses drove as far as the gates of the Ofer camp, a distance of a few meters. There, the detainees were taken off the buses after they were given a "detainee release" form. The entire area was under IDF control, but nevertheless they were told to disperse on their own on the streets of Bitunya, which were under curfew. These were perhaps the most frightening moments."A sharpshooter in a building can't see your release form," said R. Somehow they got to the headquarters of the Preventive Security in Bitunya, where they spent the night. From there they heard the IDF tanks on their way out, to the entrances to the city. In Ofer camp and in the school, R. was not afraid. "It's the first time I've seen Jews, and the army, up close. I wasn't afraid. To me, it was the soldiers who looked afraid."

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