[News] Palestine - One Week in July

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Aug 1 12:20:37 EDT 2007

One week in July
Sonja Karkar, The Electronic Intifada, 31 July 2007

As the Western media focuses on the conflict between Fatah and Hamas, 
Israel continues its brutal occupation of the Palestinian 
territories. In Gaza, 22-year-old Hamas activist Mahmoud Abu Daqa was 
killed by shrapnel during an Israeli missile strike. Mourners pray at 
his funeral in Khan Younis, 27 July 2007. (Hatem Omar/MaanImages)

One could be excused for thinking that Israel's human rights 
violations against the Palestinians stopped since the Palestinian 
factions began fighting each other. Just about every report and 
article written in the Western media these past weeks have focused on 
the rift between Fatah and Hamas and US overtures to broker a peace 
deal that may finally allow the Palestinians a state of sorts. Any 
mention of Israel is in the light of urbane diplomatic discussions 
between it and the other main players minus, of course, Hamas with 
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert showing a most remarkable 
willingness to agree to a peace settlement that would see the 
Palestinians getting back around 90 per cent of the West Bank. If 
only there was reason to believe that the leopard has changed its spots.

The truth of the matter is that nothing has changed on the ground for 
the Palestinians. Israel is rolling into the occupied Palestinian 
territories with its tanks and armored vehicles and using its war 
planes to fire rockets on an already severely beleaguered people in 
Gaza. Only last week, there were at least twenty-nine such military 
incursions that ended up with four Palestinian resistance fighters 
being executed by Israeli soldiers while a fifth Palestinian ended up 
dying from tank shell wounds. Palestinian civilians always bear the 
brunt of such incursions and eleven people were seriously wounded 
including five children and an elderly woman. The daily arrest of 
civilians has been routine for decades, but certainly the seventy-two 
civilians arrested this week make a mockery of the 250 prisoners just 
released as Israel's goodwill gesture to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

These are specific attacks on people that will be recorded as 
statistics. However, we do not hear about the personal agony of 
families as they see their fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons 
and daughters die. Neither do we hear about the suffering these 
families must endure if any of them survive crippled physically and 
emotionally for life. These human details disappear into the 
homogeneous whole of the conflict, with so far no promise that 
tomorrow or next week, there will not be new victims. Such is the 
terror endured for forty years of Israel's unrelenting occupation. 
And that is not counting the horrendous ethnic cleansing that Israel 
engaged in over a twenty year period before that.

As for the recently promised easing of restrictions on movement in 
the West Bank, Palestinians have only seen more checkpoints erected 
with ever greater severity in who can go where and if they will be 
allowed to go at all. Similarly in Gaza, Israel refuses to lift the 
siege on this tiny strip of land with its burgeoning population and 
is refusing to allow European observers to open Rafah crossing. This 
has left some 6,000 Palestinians stuck for weeks now on the Egyptian 
side of the border unable to return home. More than a dozen 
Palestinians have died when their health deteriorated fatally in the 
harsh conditions. The commercial crossings are being opened only long 
enough to allow in the bare essential food aid that will just keep 
the Palestinians from starving to death.

Perhaps the most tendentious of Olmert's promises is the "land for 
peace" deal with promises made and nothing delivered. Just more of 
the same. Sharon was a master at such dissembling tactics -- going 
along with the Quartet's Road Map for peace while he furiously and 
illegally engaged in new and expanding Jewish settlement building in 
the West Bank. The settlers he pulled out of Gaza in his much-lauded 
unilateral disengagement project are even now being re-settled 
illegally in the West Bank. Olmert's own propensity for such deceit 
on the settlement project was exposed last month in a Jerusalem Post 
news report that quoted a senior Israeli diplomat stating: "We are 
being sent abroad, quite simply to lie" and Peace Now 
Secretary-General Yariv Oppenheimer said that Olmert's government 
"had built more settlements than any previous government."

It is the ordinary people who are suffering nearly every human rights 
violation imaginable at the hands of Israel's army, the fanatical 
Jewish settlers and Israel's policy makers and spin doctors who have 
never seen the Palestinians as human beings. The world media fail to 
report Israel's crimes although it is absolutely clear that Israel 
has breached and continuous to breach international law. For the 
Palestinians living this cold and brutal reality, Israel's true 
intentions are very apparent. If Olmert has indeed had a change of 
heart, then a bona fide way of showing that would be to immediately 
commit to a timeline and begin easing the restrictions on movement as 
he has promised Abbas and to stop all settlement building and 
expansion as he falsely claims has been done. There is little cause 
for hope, though, if the last fourteen years of peace games are 
anything to go by. Yielding absolutely nothing for the Palestinians, 
these peace games have only resulted in Palestinians losing even more 
of their land to Israel and suffer more bloodshed and destitution at 
the hands of Israel's minions. With nothing being said about Israel's 
violations during last week of July by those talking peace, that is 
reason enough to worry that the welfare of all Palestinians is not 
what is priority in the minds of those negotiating this so-called peace.

Sonja Karkar is the founder and president of 
<http://www.womenforpalestine.com/>Women for Palestine in Melbourne, 

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San Francisco, CA 94110

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