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"The 35 year-old Israeli military occupation, illegal by
international law, and its oppression of each man, woman, and hild,
has gone on for too long, and the Palestinian people resolved to end
it .."
Palestine Chronicle - Two Years of Human Tragedy in Occupied Palestinehome
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Two Years of Human Tragedy in Occupied Palestine

Saturday, September 28 2002 @ 06:51 PM GMT

"The 35 year-old Israeli military occupation, illegal by
international law, and its oppression of each man, woman, and child,
has gone on for too long, and the Palestinian people resolved to end
it .."

By Haithem El-Zabri

Two years ago, on September 28, Ariel Sharon, walked through the
holiest Muslim site in Jerusalem - Al-Aqsa Mosque - accompanied by
1,000 soldiers. This is the same man found responsible for the Sabra
and Shatila massacre in 1982, and subsequently elected as Prime
Minister of Israel. When unarmed Palestinian worshipers protested,
seven were shot dead, leading to a spiraling conflict of misery,
violence, and death.

Although there was supposedly a "peace process" underway, it was
nothing but a sham; Yasser Arafat and his cronies were basically
subcontracted the task of keeping the Palestinian population under
control, in exchange for limited self-autonomy (e.g. being
responsible for garbage collection and sewage). Israeli Prime
Minister Ehud Barak's "generous offer" turned out to be immensly
ungenerous; Palestinians would live in unconnected enclaves similar
to Indian reservations, without control over their borders,
airspace, or even water, and without economic viability or
territorial sovereignty - see www.wrmea.com/html/faq.htm for more on

The 35 year-old Israeli military occupation, illegal by
international law, and its oppression of each man, woman, and child,
has gone on for too long, and the Palestinian people resolved to end
it. The "Intifada" - their struggle for national and human rights,
literally means "shaking off" and is aimed at ending the occupation.
The Israeli army has responded with yet more brutality.

In the past two years, more than 1,900 Palestinians have been killed
by the Israeli army and armed settlers. Converting this relative to
U.S. population makes it equivalent to 166,000 American deaths - or
55 World Trade Center bombings. In the words of Seattle musician Jim
Page "everyone knows someone who had to die." The vast majority were
unarmed civilians, including almost 400 children. Some were killed
in demonstrations, others while sleeping in their homes; some by
snipers, others by inhaling tear gas.

More than 90 Palestinians have been assassinated, along with 70
bystanders. Targeted political leaders include Abu Ali Mustafa, who
was sitting in his office when two missiles fired from an Apache
helicopter shredded him into pieces. Another target was Salah
Shahada, who was sleeping in his home in Gaza, with his family, when
an Israeli jet dropped a one ton bomb on his building, killing him
and 15 innocent Palestinians, including 9 children. According to
Ariel Sharon, this was "a great success."

Mass arrests are common, as is the use of torture, including being
bound completely, having toes broken, psychological abuse, and sleep
depravation. B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization, reports
"mass detentions of people whose only sin was being at the wrong
place at the wrong time, holding them in appalling, inhuman
conditions; a complete ban on communication... and torture during

Curfews are another means by which the Israeli occupation army
imposes collective punishment on the Palestinian people. In
violation of international law, a population of 2 million is being
held hostage in their homes, unable to move to work, attend school,
or live normal lives. Nablus, for example, has been under consistent
curfew since June 21 - 121 days ago - with less than 100 hours of
free time during that period. Checkpoints severely restrict
Palestinian movement, even from one village to the next.

While the Israeli army often claims "purity of arms," it has not
spared medical workers and facilities. At least 15 medics have been
killed and 200 injured. According to the Red Crescent, 80% of its
ambulance fleet has been damaged, and 10 ambulances completely
destroyed. Ambulances and medics are held up at checkpoints,
sometimes denied passage, and patients have died waiting. Injured
Palestinians number 41,000 (proportional to 3.6 million Americans),
including 2,500 permanently disabled.

Since medics are unable to receive or deliver necessary vaccines,
diseases are rampant, as is malnutrition. Among children 5 and
under, 30% suffer from chronic malnutrition, and 21% of acute
malnutrition, and almost half suffer from moderate to mild anemia.

Although difficult to measure, psychological trauma has affected
everyone, young and old. One of my young relatives in Nablus resists
going to sleep because his friend woke up to find his father killed.

Another form of oppression has been the demolition of family homes;
over 1,500 homes have been bulldozed these past two years, leaving
more than 100,000 people homeless - proportional to 9 million

Olive trees - a symbol of peace - haven't been spared either; the
Israeli army has uprooted 34,000 olive trees, destroying Palestinian
livelihoods. Israeli settlers have set entire orchards on fire,
documented in photos at www.lawsociety.org/Intifada2000/images.

The Palestinian infrastructure has been destroyed to such an extent
that, according to the United Nations may be impossible to repair,
regardless of when or if peace is achieved. The inevitable economic
collapse has resulted in unemployment surpassing 65%, and half the
population living below $2/day. And Yasser Arafat is confined to one
building surrounded by Israeli tanks, bulldozers and Sharon's
threats, while being held responsible for Israeli security.

With all these grave human injustices occurring on a daily basis, is
it any wonder that individuals are driven into the tragic despair of
suicide attacks?

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An IDF investigation committee, headed by Major General Yitzhak Harel, absolved the IDF this week of any responsibility for the death of innocents in the last three incidents, in which altogether 13 Palestinians were killed, including six children and a mother. The incident in Bani Naim was also included in the investigation. The central conclusion of the committee is that "that there were no defects in the procedures for opening fire."

In fact, the IDF doesn't need additional criteria. As Operation Defensive Shield progresses and completes its "pinpoint" missions by assassinating the political, operational and organizational leadership of the Palestinian struggle, the IDF is increasingly positioned in a frontal war against civilians. "The absence of a security record doesn't interest us," said the officer. "Too many terrorists today have no security history."