A CONFLICT SINKING TO NEW DEPTHS
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A CONFLICT SINKING TO NEW DEPTHS

March 29, 2001

FIVE CHILDREN KILLED IN THREE DAYS,
VICTIMS OF A CONFLICT THAT IS SINKING TO NEW DEPTHS

By Phil Reeves in Jerusalem

[The Independent, UK, 29 March 2001]: The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has sunk to appalling new depths with several days of intensified violence that left children on both sides to form the bulk of the dead. Yesterday a Hamas suicide bomber killed two Jewish boys, aged 16 and 14, whose only offence was waiting for a bus to take them to school.

And a Palestinian boy of about 12 was killed in the south Gaza Strip. His crime was trying to play with an interesting-looking object. Tragically, the shell blew up in his face.

The day before, an 11-year-old Arab boy was shot dead by Israeli troops in the West Bank city of Hebron. The day before that, 10-month-old Shalhevet Pass, the daughter of Jewish settlers, was shot through the head by a Palestinian gunman as she sat in her pushchair at the entrance to a Jewish enclave, also in Hebron.

These five children died in a three-day spell that has been shocking in its callous brutality, even by the numbing standards of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, which has now entered its seventh month.

In Israel, the deaths of Jewish children played a key part in the build-up of public pressure on the new Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, to retaliate against the Palestinians, and fulfil his election promise of providing the embattled and fearful country with security.

Last night he responded, launching a wave of helicopter and tank assaults on Palestinian police positions in the Gaza Strip. Five helicopter gunships lashed the headquarters of Yasser Arafat's élite bodyguard at Ramallah, and gunfire from Israeli ships struck around the Palestinian leader's office..

The death, maiming, and psychological wounds now being inflicted on youngsters is nothing new to this conflict. At the start of the intifada, the world was appalled by the television footage of the last terrifying moments of 12-year-old Mohammed al-Durah as he crouched at his father's side in the Gaza Strip while bullets thumped into the wall behind him. Now international attention has wandered elsewhere, tuning in only when the sights are exceptionally horrifying.

Yesterday's bomb near Kfar Saba, on the 1967 Green Line, which separates Israel from the West Bank, fell into this category. A suicide bomber walked up to a group of youngsters and blew himself up. Apart from the two dead, three others, aged 12 to 15, were seriously injured. It was the third bomb against Israelis in 48 hours. Two in Jerusalem injured 30 people, including a two-year-old Israeli.

Both sides have shown no compunction in milking the deaths of children for propaganda value, brandishing them as evidence of the ruthless criminality of their opponents. From the start, the Palestinians have been lionising their dead youths, a task they performed so effectively in the case of Mohammed al-Durah that the Israeli army launched a long inquiry to try to prove it did not kill him ­ energy that would have been far better spent reforming the conduct of its soldiers in the field. Israeli troops routinely fire live ammunition or lethal rubber-coated steel ball-bearings into crowds who are attacking them with sling-shots, rocks and petrol bombs.

After the death this week of the 10-month-old baby in Hebron, the Israeli government feverishly circulated the little girl's picture to the world's press. The Ha'aretz newspaper said Israel's foreign ministry instructed its diplomats abroad to convince foreign opinion-makers that this was an example of the Palestinian "cynical and cruel" response to Israeli moves to ease the siege of the occupied territories. No mention, of course, was made of the Israeli army's massive contribution to the juvenile death list, or that the closure of the West Bank and Gaza has remained largely in force, and was even strengthened in some areas.

Yesterday, the Palestinians were trying to counter the widely felt revulsion at the little girl's death by accusing Israeli troops of killing the boy in Gaza by planting a booby trap, a charge denied by Israel. And so it goes on.

Yet the world has grown indifferent, despite the horrifying statistics that show more than 160 of the estimated 440 deaths during the intifada have been under 18 years old. Human and children's rights workers watch with horror and despair.

Yitzhak Kadman, director of Israel's National Council for the Child, responded to yesterday's events by renewing his call for mercy for the young. "Children are children, whatever side of the conflict they belong to. We call on all sides to, please, put the children out of the war game," he said. "They cannot protect themselves. They cannot be part of any fighting or any war. They are so easily endangered and at risk. Even if the two sides cannot agree on anything else, they should have one point in common ­ an agreement, written or oral, gentleman's or otherwise, to get the children out of the conflict. I know this is easier said than done, but this is a terrible situation into which we cannot and should not put our children."

The pro-Israel lobby has tirelessly churned out material saying Mr Arafat and his cronies must bear the primary responsibility for this. They claim the Palestinians deliberately place children in the front lines, where gunmen use them as human shields knowing they will be killed. The promoters of this convenient theory have had stunning success. They have convinced Conrad Black, the proprietor of The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph and The Spectator magazine. They have also won over The Times's editorial writers. Both have trotted out these claims in recent weeks, though they are palpably untrue.

None of the several thousand foreign journalists and photographers, human rights workers or international diplomats working daily at the front lines have produced convincing evidence that Palestinian gunmen are systematically herding Arab children to the riot zones to be used as human shields.

The reality is much more complex. It is true that Palestinians have been firing at Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Gaza from residential areas, angering the local Arab population, who justifiably argue that this endangers them. It is also undeniable that the Israeli army has forcibly taken over the rooftops of Arab houses and fires from them, placing the surrounding Palestinian residents at risk. The Palestinian media, especially the broadcasters, are guilty of incitement, glorifying those who have died in the battle for an end to Israeli occupation as religious martyrs. Yasser Arafat's fractured and incompetent security services have proved either unwilling or incapable of keeping youngsters out of the trouble spots.

But there have been very few reports of gunmen firing from crowds of rioters. By contrast, there is abundant first-hand evidence of Israeli soldiers opening fire without being shot at themselves, sometimes attacking children who present no threat. There is still no explanation for the conduct of Israeli troops, who have continued to fire on the stone-throwers, causing almost daily death and injury.

The military wing of Hamas, el-Din al-Qassam, says it has seven more suicide bombers ready to attack. If and when they do so, the world will doubtless recoil anew in horror at the sight of more dead and maimed civilians, especially if the victims are children. But until Israel brings its wayward army into line, efforts to claim the moral high ground will always be humbug


March 2001


Magazine



SHARON UPSCALES VIOLENCE TO UNPRECEDENTED LEVELS
(March 31, 2001)
Yesterday, on Palestinian Land Day, the Israeli army killed five Palestinians in Nablus and one in Ramallah during civilian demonstrations protesting the Israeli occupation. 150 Palestinians were injured, several of them in critical condition.

CHOMSKY ON THE MID-EAST CONFLICT
(March 31, 2001)
Well, just how dangerous is the crisis in the Middle East? There is a UN Special Envoy, a Norwegian, Roed-Larson. A couple of days ago, he warned that Israel's blockade of the Palestinian areas is leading to enormous suffering and could rapidly detonate a regional war.

FIVE PALESTINIANS KILLED AS WAR OF WORDS FLARES IN MIDDLE EAST
(March 30, 2001)
Clashes raged across the Palestinian territories Friday, killing five Palestinians, as Israelis and Palestinians exchanged fiery rhetoric on the traditionally violent anniversary of a 1976 Israeli crackdown on Arab demonstrators.

CLASHES ERUPT AMID WAVE OF ANTI-ISRAELI PROTESTS
(March 30, 2001)
Israeli troops opened fire with live rounds on Friday to try to halt Palestinians marching in cities across the West Bank and Gaza Strip to demand civil rights and an end to Israeli occupation.

AN ISRAELI OFFERS HOPE AMIDST THE DARKNESS
(March 30, 2001)
In the past two weeks, we are witnessing the beginning of a new phase: Israelis and Palestinians are extending a hesitant hand to each other, across the IDF's barricades and checkpoints.

A CONFLICT SINKING TO NEW DEPTHS
(March 29, 2001)
The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has sunk to appalling new depths with several days of intensified violence that left children on both sides to form the bulk of the dead.

ISRAELIS STRIKE, NOBODY RESPONDS
(March 29, 2001)
The Egyptians and Jordanians could and should totally suspend their relations with Israel; but they do not. The Arabs could collectively demand Israel be suspended from the U.N. General Assembly; but they did not decide to do so at their little summit just ended where they in fact did nothing serious.

ASSAD & SADDAM "ATTACK"
(March 28, 2001)
Lot of rhetoric, more than expected in fact. But mostly a smookescreen for never-ending impotence and inexcuseable weakness. So much for the Arab Summit in Amman. Until those Arab "leaders" who have squandered the wealth and heritage of their countries, and indeed of their once powerful civilization, are replaced; until the "client regimes" of the Arab world are no more; this tragic spectacle known as Arab "summits" will continue to be a deep embarrassment and a historic tragedy.

ARAB SUMMITS - RIDICULOUS SPECTACLES
(March 27, 2001)
Arab "leaders", the "client regimes", and Arab "summits", have been ridiculous spectacles for a long time now. Last time they met like this the American armies were descending on Arabia, getting ready to destroy Iraq and put one of their own, the despicable British-created Emir, back on his oil throne in Kuwait City.

ARAB SUMMITEERS AND CROCODILE TEARS
(March 26, 2001)
"They will talk and talk and talk and look important and remain as always, impotent, indecisive and inactive. They might pledge a few pennies to the Palestinian dying or the mortally wounded, they might voice support of the 6-month-old Intifida, but nothing but pomp and ceremony will come of it all."

TIME TO FORCE A U.S. VETO AND TAKE SERIOUS ACTION AGAINST ISRAEL
(March 25, 2001)
What the Arab States meeting in summit in Amman on Tuesday should do is not a mystery: First they should insist on a U.N. Security Council resolution that has teeth; and if the U.S. vetos so be it.

THE U.N. AND THE ARAB LEAGUE CHARADES
(March 25, 2001)
The U.N. and Arab League charades have gone on for so many years now. Never has either body taken serious action when it comes to Israel. Always the U.S. is there to block the way, to twist things from potentially useful to impotent, to manuever so that the U.S. remains dominant internationally and Israel remains dominant in the region.

ISRAELI ARMY BRUTALLY ATTACKS PEACEFUL CIVILIAN PROTEST MARCH
(March 24, 2001)
Today at 1:00 p.m., the Israeli army fired sound bombs, tear gas, and rubber coated steel bullets at thousands of peaceful protesters at the Al-Ram checkpoint.

SHARON MOVING FAST
(March 24, 2001)
haron and company are now likely to move quickly to further "control" the Palestinians and establish their hegemonic and war-threatening policies in the Middle East.

Today in Occupied Palestine
(March 23, 2001)
Amr Moussa and the Arab political elite representing the "client regimes" have been deceived and acted foolishingly, as well as selfishly, for quite a long time now.

AL-JAZEERA - ARAFAT STILL TWISTS TO ISRAELI AND U.S. TUNE
(March 22, 2001)
Al-Jazeera satellite TV now feeds a hungry Arab world, one starved for so long that even this carefully-controlled Qatari-financed TV news and pictures source has met with considerable success.

WHAT SHOULD BE WITH ISRAEL
(March 22, 2001)
If the Arabs regimes were serious, indeed if they were truly independent, they would institute a Arab and Muslim regional boycott of Israel at this point, at least suspend all diplomatic and economic relations with Israel, and forcefully move to have the U.N. General Assembly suspend Israeli credentials (as was done with South Africa in the days of Apartheid) as soon as the U.S. again prevents the Security Council from acting in the days ahead.

ARAB AND MUSLIM GROUPS IN USA WORSE THAN EVER
(March 20, 2001)
We were wrong in our analysis earlier today. The Arab and Muslim groups did not even manage a few hundred protestors at the White House today -- the number was closer to a few dozen at most, including the handful of fanatical bearded and side-curled Naturei Karta Jews who are encouraged by these groups to show up these days.

WASHINGTON SCENE: ARAB AND MUSLIM GROUPS PROVE IMPOTENCE ONCE AGAIN
(March 20, 2001)
It's depressing, almost pathetic, to watch the Arab and Muslim American groups "protest" these days. Leaderless and strategyless, though as usual feverishly combining all of their capabilities together to create even this, the groups managed to bring maybe five or six hundred persons to the sidewalk across from the Washington Hilton last evening for a carefully self-controlled demonstration.

WHAT ISRAEL IS DOING IS "FORBIDDEN"
(March 19, 2001)
"What is being done in the territories is simply forbidden. To safeguard against such acts, people have established laws and norms; those who wish to return to the norms current a century ago ought not to be surprised when they are treated as pariahs - indeed, as ghosts from bygone days."

ARABS URGE U.N. TO SEND INTERNATIONAL FORCE TO PALESTINIAN
(March 16, 2001)
The Israelis will insist on a U.S. veto of any Security Council resolution involving any serious observer force. And Shimon Peres willingly serving Ariel Sharon as his Foreign Minister makes it much easier for the Israelis to deflect international pressures.

WE DIDN'T SEE; WE DIDN'T KNOW
(March 15, 2001)
The Palestinian people have many symbols, and one of them is Bir Zeit university near Ramallah - the secular intellectual center of the society.

SHARON COMETH
(March 14, 2001)
Monday in Washington the various Arab-American groups will stage a protest demonstration outside the Washington Hilton where now Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will be talking to the lead organization that makes up the Israeli-Jewish lobby in Washington.

U.S. MEDIA ESTABLISHMENT HELPS PREPARE SHARON'S WAY
(March 13, 2001)
Sharon's PR people are working hard preparing his way for a triumphant visit to the USA in a few days. They choose Lally Weymouth, long a "friendly journalist", for one of his first major interviews -- published in Newsweek this week.

ISRAELI CONCENTRATION CAMPS
(March 12, 2001)
If barbed wire were used, the symbolism would be too much like concentration camps of old.

BIR ZEIT UNIVERSITY CRIES OUT FOR HELP
(March 11, 2001)
As usual these days, the Palestinian people are being collectively tortured into submission with still expanding forms of bondage, oppression, and brutal force.

PERES FRONTS FOR SHARON AS ISRAELIS PUSH FORWARD MAJOR PROPAGANDA
(March 10, 200198)
Who is more despicable is debateable these days. But surely Shimon Peres is deserving of nomination. As Israeli army snipers pick off Palestinians and as Israeli army bulldozers dig trenches around Palestinian towns and cities, Peres fronts for the new Sharon regime telling the world the Israelis are going to "make life better for the Palestinians"!

TRENCH AND SIEGE WARFARE
(March 8, 2001)
The words, and the acts, go back before the bible itself -- trench warfare and siege. The Romans built walls and laid siege to Jerusalem and Masada. Trenches, though for a different purpose, became synonymous with World War I.

CRIES FROM PALESTINE AND CRIES FROM ISRAEL
(March 6, 2001)
My sister-in-law just called crying - about 4 hours ago Al-Bireh had about 3 minutes of heavy gunfire..... her neighbor, Aida, was walking back home on the Friends road from Ramallah after shopping for the Eid holiday.

OH MY GOD! CLINTON WON'T LEAVE THE WORLD ALONE!
(March 5, 2001)
They came to Washington -- the two-for-one power couple -- with the campaign promise to bring health care to all Americans; they left (but Hillary is already back on Capitol Hill) with the dangerous corporate for profit HMO's in power and more uninsured than ever despite the economic juggernaunt.

MIDEAST CONFLICT TEARS AT BROTHERLY BOND
(March 5, 2001)
Hostilities engulf West Bank siblings, who remain close despite their split between Jewish and Muslim faiths.

BOMB BLAST IN ISRAELI COASTAL CITY
(March 4, 2001)
A powerful bomb exploded during morning rush hour Sunday in a crowded open-air market in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya.

ISRAELIS LAY SIEGE TO PALESTINIAN CITIES
(March 3, 2001)
Sometime in the future there will be a day of reckoning for the Israelis. But that day is not yet here while the suffering of the Palestinians is, literally, more and more as each day dawns.

FIELD OF THORNS
(March 3, 2001)
The Palestinian uprising in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which in late September 2000 began as a wave of popular protest against Ariel Sharon's belligerent incursion into Jerusalem's sacred Haram al-Sharif, has developed into a full-fledged war of attrition against the Israeli occupation, which rather ironically paved the aggressive right-wing leader's path to power.

REGIONAL WAR PREPARATIONS AND PUBLIC OPINION MANIPULATION ESCALATE
(March 2, 2001)
Iraq responded to U.S. air strikes on Feb. 16 by deploying thousands of troops from six divisions to positions near the Jordanian border, triggering military alerts in Tel Aviv, Washington and in several Gulf capitals.

SHARON AND PERES TEAM UP
(March 2, 2001)
It was a massacre. Not since Sabra and Chatila had I seen the innocent slaughtered like this. The Lebanese refugee women and children and men lay in heaps, their heads or arms or legs missing, beheaded or disemboweled.

SHARON GETS READY TO ACT. ARAFAT GETS READY TO LEAVE?
(March 1, 2001)
Arafat and regime are about collapse -- i.e., the money and capabilities provided by the U.S. and Israel to keep the PA going are being cut off if Arafat doesn't shape up!

BLEAK FUTURE FOR BOTH PALESTINIANS AND ISRAELIS
(March 1, 2001)
Shimon Peres has many secrets to try to keep, and that explains his desperation to stay in power practically at any cost. Ariel Sharon knows this.




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