All sides now committed to escalation
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All sides now committed to escalation

February 6, 2001

Now the real craziness begins. The Palestinians are committed to heating things up to demonstrate their resolve and their capabilities. The Israelis are committed to "stopping the violence" which means clamping the boot down on the Palestinians even more harshly -- and even Shimon Peres has already announced he is eager to join a Sharon "national unity" government. The Americans are tied to the Israelis for good or bad; their military forces are on alert and military supplies, including Patriot missiles, are already flowing into Israel under various covers.

And the Arabs remain too weak, divided, and co-opted to do anything serious; fearing more than loathing Israel. It's all a powderkeg waiting for ignition; and the two articles that follow help set the stage for whatever is now to come:


Palestinian threats help to seal the prime minister's expected political doom

[The Guardian - Suzanne Goldberg in Jerusalem, Tuesday February 6]: Palestinian militants said last night that they were poised to attack targets in Israel on the eve of today's election, which is expected to make Ariel Sharon the country's next prime minister.

The warning came as Israeli soldiers tried to tighten their grip on the West Bank and Gaza Strip before the "day of rage" which leaders of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement say marks the start of an intensification of the four-month uprising.

The army fired rocket-propelled grenades into the Palestinian refugee camp of Rafah, on the border between Gaza and Egypt, after an Israeli soldier on his way to vote in the early ballot staged for the army was killed by a bullet fired from the camp.

Israel also shut down the Palestinian airport in Gaza and the Rafah crossing to Egypt.

Police reinforcements were moved to the northern towns in Galilee, where a call for Israeli Arabs to boycott the election could lead to clashes.

With yesterday's opinion polls showing him leading the incumbent prime minister, Ehud Barak, by as much as 22 points, Mr Sharon could be stepping into a ready-made confrontation.

Yesterday he was challenged not only by the Fatah militias, which have led the protests in the West Bank and Gaza, but also by the militant group Islamic Jihad, which has claimed responsibility for at least two car bombings in Israel in the past four months.

"Our operations will continue and increase. We will carry out powerful blows against the criminal entity within the coming few days," Islamic Jihad said in a statement delivered before yesterday's funeral of a bomber who was shot dead trying to scale the fence sealing off Gaza.

"No barriers, wire fences, or security measures will prevent us from carrying out painful strikes against the enemy."

In the West Bank city of Ramallah, meanwhile, an important Fatah leader declared that the Palestinians would give no quarter to Mr Sharon.

Hussein Sheikh, who commands Fatah's militiamen in the West Bank, said: "The next days and weeks are going to be hard, and the area will witness an escalation in the field.

"We have declared a general state of emergency and we have orders to escalate the intifada."

Mr Barak spent the final moments of his campaign yesterday warning Israelis that the former general Sharon could lead them into a war.

"The Middle East is a powder keg," he wrote in the Yediot Ahronoth, Israel's best-selling paper.

"We are being called to decide whether to give the match to extremists, people who are too extreme for Israel. We are being called to decide whether between us and peace lies another bloody war."

But Israelis seemed to be in no mood to listen. After four months of bloodshed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, people have lost faith not only in Mr Barak but in the entire seven years of negotiations started by the assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, according to research published yesterday by the Israel Democracy Institute.

An opinion survey carried out last month found that only 22% of Israelis believed that a peace deal with the Palestinians would end nearly 53 years of violence. Two years ago the figure was 67%.

"Israelis feel that the track Rabin, and especially Barak, took was leading to an agreement having many concessions but no end of conflict, and no solution to problems of personal security," said Ruth Gavison, from the institute.

"Many Israelis feel that what we now have is not a full war, but it is definitely not peace, and the way Barak is leading could lead into a worse war."

In his place Israelis are expected to choose a man who says he has no intention of negotiating with the Palestinians for years, and who last year called on Mr Barak to crush the uprising by assassinating Gaza's security chief.

How big the turnout will be is another question, however.

In Ramallah Mr Sheikh declared: "If the choice is war, it is better for Palestinians to deal with Sharon .Sharon has a clear vision. It is better for us to deal with someone who clearly wants to fight us and have war rather than deal with someone who raises flag of peace and then wages war."

By Steve Rodan, Middle East Newsline

[TEL AVIV - Middle East Newsline - 6 February] A U.S. Army brigade carrying Patriot anti-aircraft missiles has arrived in Israel as both Israeli and Arab military sources reported heightened regional tensions.

The U.S. brigade from the 69th Air Defense Artillery arrived in Haifa and is preparing for an exercise, called Juniper Cobra. The exercise - beginning Thursday and lasting 14 days - is one component of plans to increase U.S.-Israeli defense coordination amid threats of regional war that could involve Iraq and Syria.

The sources described Israeli, Iraqi and Lebanese military movements over the weekend. In Lebanon, the Hizbullah movement deployed short-range rockets near the Israeli border.

Arab military sources said Israel and Hizbullah have beefed up their forces near the border with Lebanon. On late Sunday, the sources reported intensified Israeli patrols, deployment of additional tanks as well as fortified military and civilian outposts.

For its part, Hizbullah was reported to have brought in new batteries of Katyusha rockets. These include rockets with a range of 70 kilometers, capable of striking the northern city of Haifa.

In Beirut, Hizbullah deputy chief Naim Kassem said Hizbullah was ready to confront Israel. Kassem said Israel was confused and the leadership was under immense strain.

Israeli sources said Iraq continues to bolster its forces near the Syrian and Jordanian borders. They said nearly two Iraqi divisions are near the Syrian border in what appears to be a move coordinated with the regime in Damascus.

The London-based Sunday Times reported that both the Syrian and Israeli militaries are on full alert.

The United States has relayed messages to Damascus not to cooperate with Baghdad's plans to escalate tension. On Sunday, U.S. officials called for restraint, particularly in the Israeli-Palestinian mini-war in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Israeli military source said the arrival of the Patriot battery does not effectively strengthen defense capabilities. The Patriot was developed as an anti-aircraft missile. But since the Gulf war, Raytheon has improved the missile so that it can intercept enemy projectiles.

But defense sources said the Patriot is simply too slow to intercept the more advanced missiles being developed by Egypt, Syria and Iran.

February 2001


(February 27, 2001)
Was it the Likud Party, or the Labor Party, that authorized more illegal settlements in the occupied territories since the Gulf War and the Madrid Peace Conference?

(February 26, 2001)
For those who still needed proof of the cravenness and duplicity of Israel's Labor Party, the party that spawned "Peace Now" and "Oslo" among other gross deceptions, it came today.

Defectors say Iraq tested Nuclear Bomb
(February 25, 2001)
When Iraq was more overtly building nuclear weapons, the Israelis struck in 1981 destroying the Osirak reactor near Baghdad that could have provided the crucial processed uranium fuel.

"Go back, we don't want you"
(February 24, 2001)
General Colin Powell, now combining even more closely than usual the Pentagon with the State Department, was afraid to go to Gaza; and rightly so.

The Hebron MASSACRE - 7 long years ago
(February 24, 2001)
Abraham's dysfunctional family has had unbelieveable historical ramifications for which the focal point today is Hebron, site of Abraham's burial place, a religious site to both Jews and Muslim alike who are today quite literally at each other's throats.

Council on foreign relations help legitimize Sharon
(February 23, 2001)
The Council on Foreign Relations, New York-power elite-based but in recent years integrating more with the Washington government and corporate elite, has been for quite some time, to put it bluntly, a rather tricky and chicanery Israeli-oriented Zionist center when it comes to matters relevant to Israel.

Iraq - The great Cover-Up
(February 23, 2001)
As terrible as what the Israelis, with their superpower American ally (and European connivance), are doing to the Palestinians, what has been and is being done to the Iraqis and the Chechnyans is also truly appauling.

Arab expulsion admitted by Sharon Ally
(February 22, 2001)
One day maybe Israel -- like South Africa and Chile before it -- will have some kind of "truth finding" commission to try to purge itself of the past.

Protests in Jordan
(February 22, 2001)
If it weren't for the Hashemite Regime in today's Jordan, yesterday's Transjordan, and before that the East Bank of Palestine, the Israelis would never have been able to vanquish the Palestinian people in days past and would never be able to do to the remaining Palestinians what is happening today.

Powell and Sharon - Street protests?
(February 21, 2001)
Clearly, the US is rushing to court unpopularity across the world, contrary to expectations that the Bush national security establishment would conduct itself with a degree of sophistication.

"This is only the beginning"
(February 21, 2001)
The crippling is not just physical. Psychologically, culturally, economically, and even morally, the Palestinian people are being twisted and tortured beyond all recognition of their former selves.

Gaza Ghetto, Gaza Concentration Camp, Gaza Prison
(February 19, 2001)
For four months, the Gaza Strip has been effectively isolated from the world. Over 1 million Palestinians are caged in an area of not more than 365km2.

Locked in an Orwellian eternal war
(February 19, 2001)
President Bush Jr didn't seem so confident the other day as he told the world of the newly increased bombing of Iraq. But he made it clear that "until the world is told otherwise" the Americans are convinced they run the world and it is up to them to decide whom to bomb, whom to favor, whom to take out, whom to reward.

Arafat collapsing
(February 16, 2001)
The Arafat Regime is collapsing. Here are some of the details, twisted somewhat of course because the reports are from Israel's best newspaper, Ha'aretz, in view of the fact that Palestinian and Arab news sources are unable and unwilling to provide such insights.

The realization, "perhaps the dream"
(February 16, 2001)
Out of the cycle of violence the gradual, hesitant understanding - perhaps the dream - will grow, that the only way is through a struggle to create a land of Israel/Palestine that is undivided in both physical and human terms, pluralistic and open; a land in which civilized relations, human touch, intimate coexistence and a link to a common homeland would be stronger than militant tribalism and the separation into national ghettoes.

"Collective suicide" or Zionism united?
(February 15, 2001)
If there is a national unity government, it will be evident that the differences between Labour as the main branch of the left and the Likud as the main branch of the right are not that big.

Death and assissination
(February 14, 2001)
It didn't take long for the Israelis, now Sharon-led, to start creating the escalating provocations that will then bring about still more Palestinian rage which will then give the Israelis the excuse they seek to pulverize the Palestinians still harder, possibly destroying the regime they earlier created, and possibly leading to another Palestinian "nakbah" (disaster).

Israelis strike, Palestinians without strategy
(February 13, 2001)
The Israelis have had a long-term strategy for a very long time; and they have pursued it regardless of what party was in power and who happened to be Prime Minister of the moment.

Dozens of Palestinians wounded
(February 12, 2001)
Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinians in the West Bank Monday as Israel's rightwing Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon sought to forge a unity government.

"Holy war" is forever
(February 12, 2001)
Fifty four years ago when an international commission of that day was hearing from Jews and Arabs about what the new U.N. should do about Palestine there was testimony from very credible and very establishment Jewish Zionist sources opposing creation of a "separatist Jewish State" precisely because it would bring about an unending conflict with the Palestinian Arab population.

War preparations continue
(February 11, 2001)
The Arafat Regime, the "Authority", is near collapse -- not just financially, but credibility wise as well. The Israeli government is near "unity" -- with General Sharon in charge.

The PA is about to collapse
(February 10, 2001)
How ironic history can be. After generations of struggle and such suffering the regime that rules the Palestinians is now in the hands of Ariel Sharon representing Israel, the U.S. Congress representing the financial levers of the American Empire, and the European governments which in this situation operate on the pretense that they are better than either of the above.

Rocking Israel to its Biblical core
(February 9, 2001)
Well if King David was a nebbish (modern translation might be "nerd"), one has to wonder how history will record Ariel Sharon, the man with such a past whom the Jews of Israel have just overwhelming elected their leader.

Sharon maneuvers for starting position
(February 9, 2001)
It's time for serious political confusion and disinformation now. As the armies prepare themselves for the clashes likely to come in one form or another, the politicians maneuver for new starting positions.

Clinton pardoned Mossad spy for Israelis
(February 9, 2001)
The Israelis adore Bill Clinton, as all the pollsters know. Deep down even the common everyday Israelis know he was their man in the White House.

The many crimes of Ariel Sharon
(February 8, 2001)
Some incorrigible optimists have suggested that only a right-wing extremist of the notoriety of Likud leader Ariel Sharon will have the credentials to broker any sort of lasting settlement with the Palestinians.

Sharon wastes no time - Arafat bows
(February 7, 2001)
We will give him the benefit of the doubt. If he comes with good ideas that will bring us closer to the peace process, why not? The world has seen many such situations before.

Holy war for Jerusalem
(February 7, 2001)
We're on the way now to a new and expanded struggle, maybe even a religious war, Jerusalem the focalpoint.

The cold logic of Sharon
(February 7, 2001)
Many Israelis just stayed home. Others cast a blank vote. But a considerable minority thrust Ariel Sharon into the greatest electoral landslide in that country's history -- obviously as well an overwhelming majority of those who did vote.

Sharon wins and Peres wants in
(February 6, 2001)
He may be a brutish thug, he may fit the definition of war criminal, he may be a Jewish racist -- but now he is also the Prime Minister-elect of Israel, overwhelmingly swept into power in a way few imagined possible just a year ago.

All sides now committed to escalation
(February 6, 2001)
Now the real craziness begins. The Palestinians are committed to heating things up to demonstrate their resolve and their capabilities. The Israelis are committed to "stopping the violence" which means clamping the boot down on the Palestinians even more harshly.

The legacy of Ariel Sharon
(February 5, 2001)
This is a place of filth and blood which will forever be associated with Ariel Sharon. In Israel today, he may well be elected prime minister.

BBC casts doubt of Pan AM convictions
(February 5, 2001)
In advance of whatever the Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi is going to produce as "evidence" of innocence today, the BBC has published the following story quoting the very Scottish law professor who arranged the trial in The Netherlands casting great doubt about the veracity of the verdict reached:

What's left of Israel's left
(February 5, 2001)
What's left of Israel's left is in a fractured and demoralized state of affairs. Not only is Ariel Sharon about to become Israel's Prime Minister, but in all likelihood he is to be swept into power tomorrow in a landslide unprecedented in Israel's history.

The Pan Am 103 Verdict
(February 3, 2001)
The papers are filled with pictures of happy relatives of the victims of the 1988 bombing of PanAm 103. A Libyan, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, was just found guilty of the bombing by a Scottish court in the Hague, his co-defendant, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, being acquitted... What's wrong is that the evidence against Megrahi is thin to the point of transparency.

Rivers of blood
(February 2, 2001)
The bloodiness and racism of Sharon's past is fact. And these two articles help bring that past forward to the present.

Waiting for Sharon
(February 2, 2001)
They believe a Sharon victory will be a boon for their cause. 'He will expose the true face of Israel,' says an activist in Yasir Arafat's Fatah movement in Nablus, 'and force the world, including the US, to address its real responsibilities to the peace process...

Israeli Arabs boycott Barak, await Sharon
(February 1, 2001)
As the extreme right-wing revolution in Israel nears, as Ariel Sharon and friends prepare to take over political power, the "Israeli Arab vote" will not be enough to save Ehud Barak, and in fact it will not even be mobilized on his behalf this time, though Yasser Arafat and his friends have surely tried.

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