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stop barak!
by Tanya Reinhart
Wednesday Oct 25th, 2000 10:42 PM
The second stage in Israel's assault on the Palestinians has started already. They waited for the Arab League summit to end and then, away from the cameras, Barak started executing the big plan...But he can still be stopped. This time it is not like Iraq or Kosovo. Opposition to Israel around the world is enormous.
Tanya Reinhart
October 25

STOP BARAK!

The second stage in Israel\'s assault on the Palestinians has started already. They waited for the Arab League summit to end and then, away from the cameras, Barak started executing the big plan.

There is hardly any media coverage of what is actually happening. The propaganda technique for this week is to keep the issue in the news, creating an impression of coverage, but in fact, provide no actual information, or keep us busy with trivia -like the Israeli coalition negotiations (as if there is any difference between Barak and Sharon). Another smoke-screen is the heated discussion of Barak\'s plan for \'unilateral separation\' - a recycled motive which has been brought up many times already in the past. As disgusting as this plan is, it has nothing to do with what is actually going on now, beside giving the impression that business is, essentially, as usual.

But the picture which emerges from Palestinian (and other) electronic reports of the last two days is different and terrifying.

Already since last week \"The West Bank and Gaza Strip is under complete siege. Every village and town has been cut off, making travel between regions impossible. The closure has gravely impacted health service delivery to Palestinians. Patients with serious injuries requiring referral to Jordan, Saudi Arabia, or Egypt for specialized care are unable to be transported. UPMRC\'s and other health organizations\' medical teams are facing incredible difficulties reaching sick patients. The Primary Health Care system in Palestine has become paralyzed since doctors cannot access clinics and patients in rural areas cannot access city hospitals\". (Report of Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, The Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees).

In the last two days the siege was severed. \"In a highly dangerous step, the Israelis have been enforcing the siege imposed upon the Palestinian population centers especially the cities of Bethlehem and Hebron in the West Bank. This morning the belligerent Israeli Occupation Forces have blocked the entrances of the two cities by cement walls. The imposition of siege upon the Palestinian cities and blocking the roads connecting them together leads to separating them from each other\" (AL-MEZAN Center report, 23.10).

The Israeli army prevents any movement in or out of the sealed areas. There are reports on people going to work in the fields and getting shot on their way. It is now up to Israel whether the locked people will have food and water in the coming days, when the diminishing supply ends. Planes carrying aid are denied entrance. Israel controls also their electricity and telephone lines. Their disconnection is being discussed in Israeli media.

With the majority of Palestinians locked defenseless in their towns, israel can turn undisturbed to the job of \'evacuation\' (transfer). They started with Palestinian neighborhoods in the vicinity of Jerusalem. Beit Jala is already a ghost town. Hundreds have fled. There is no telephone contact. Same with the neighboring Aida refugee camp. Those who resisted Israel\'s earlier call to evacuate \"for their own protection\" had to flee when their homes got bombarded.

On Monday, Col. Raanan Gissin, an Israel army spokesman, promised proudly that \"Beit Jala, Beit Sahour and other (Palestinian) places will turn into Beirut\" (AP, 23.10). Beit Sahour, then, is probably next. As for the \'other Palestinian places\', Israel is now bombarding several residential areas with rockets from attack helicopters, tanks, heavy machine gun ammunition, and \'launched\' grenades. \"Israeli helicopters shelled Bethlehem in the West Bank and ordered the residents of the eastern parts of the city to evacuate their houses because they were to be shelled\". (AL-MEZAN Center report, 23.10). It appears that in Hebron, they are trying to expand the \"Jewish quarters\" and drive residents out of neighboring areas.

Still, they view all this as just the beginning. Dan Halutz, commander of the Israeli Army force \" has threatened to bring the weight of the air force down on the Palestinians if the current unrest escalates\" And he provides a detailed reasoning for sending the air-force against unarmed civilians: \"So far, Halutz said,the risks of using the air-force have not outweighed the benefits. No helicopters have been at risk. He added that the IAF has no information that the Palestinians have shoulder-held anti-aircraft missiles\" (\'Jerusalem Post, 24.10). Safe and clean slaughter -lots of benefits. That\'s how they talk now in power drunk Israel.

Trying to figure out the full picture, it is hard to avoid comparison to 1948, when the Israeli army, under Ben Gurion\'s orders, drove hundreds of thousands of Palestinians out of their homes, and confined the remaining to closed, restricted areas, governed for years by military rule. Barak declared many times that his role-model has always been Ben-Gurion. Perhaps we are beginning to get a glimpse of what he meant.

1948 is already \"in the air\" in the public discourse in Israel. The pervert Israeli self image, guided by massive propaganda, is that it is the Israelis who are being under siege, fighting for their independence, threatened by the Palestinian empire and the whole Arab world, just like in 48. And we already hear main stream commentators saying that \"The Palestinians are using the same tactics as in 48\" (Zeev Shif to Amikam Rothman in radio B morning program, 24.10).

Even the shamefully little that the Palestinians got in the Oslo accords is too much for Barak. If we let him, Barak will carry out his Ben Gurion vision. And it won\'t necessarily stop in one front. Assured of US support, fascinated by his own power, he may drag the whole area into a horrible war. Some analysts have always warned that world war III - the final one - may start in the Middle East. Israel is led now by a lunatic, megalomaniac general, who keeps his plans secret even from his government. And it is this general who is authorized to unleash Israel\'s nuclear arsenal. This is not a risk the world can take.

But he can still be stopped. This time it is not like Iraq or Kosovo. Opposition to Israel around the world is enormous. The US has not managed to mobilize even the Western world around this new crusade, as it did then. They didn\'t prepare it carefully enough. The propaganda machine did not start on time, and even if it had, it is difficult to sell the world that it is the Palestinians who are committing atrocities against the Israelis. Empires fell in history precisely when they started to believe they are omnipotent.
Tanya Reinhart is a professor of linguistics and cultural studies at Tel- Aviv University and the University of Utrecht.


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