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The Israeli Justice (by Latuff)
by Latuff (latuff [at] uninet.com.br)
Tuesday Aug 6th, 2002 5:56 PM
Article from The New York Times. Copyright-free artwork by Brazilian cartoonist Latuff, on behalf of brave Palestinian people and their struggle against U.S. backed Israeli terror.
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Israel Court Upholds Right to Destroy Homes Without Warning

Tue Aug 6, 9:18 AM ET
By JAMES BENNET with TERENCE NEILAN The New York Times

JERUSALEM, Aug. 6 — The Israeli Supreme Court today upheld the military's right to demolish the homes of Palestinian terror suspects without warning, in the face of an assertion by a Palestinian official that the practice would only "widen the cycle of violence."

In new military action today, Israeli forces killed two Palestinian militants on the West Bank, including one suspected of plotting a suicide bombing last month.

The Supreme Court rejected a petition by 35 Palestinian families whose homes are scheduled for demolition that they be given 48 hours' notice, allowing them time to try to stop the actions with a court order.

In recent days, reviving a practice abandoned several years ago, Israeli troops demolished nine homes on the West Bank, and Israel is preparing to banish the relatives of suicide attackers from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian labor minister, Ghassan Khatib, said the practice of demolition violated international law and that the ruling supporting it widened the scope of Israel's punishment of ordinary Palestinians.

"This is only going to deepen the hatred and consequently widen the cycle of violence," he said.

A three-judge panel ruled that allowing court challenges to the demolitions could put soldiers' lives in danger because Palestinians would be able to booby-trap the houses or set up ambushes. The ruling leaves it up to the military to decide whether or not to allow hearings in some cases.

One of the militants killed today, Ali Adjuri, had been hunted by the Israel military for weeks. The Israelis believe he masterminded a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv on July 17 that killed five people, including a Romanian and two Chinese workers.

"There was a routine arrest operation in Jabaa village," an army spokeswoman said, without giving details. "Two suspects escaped. A chase ensued and the two were killed."

Both men were believed to belong to the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, an armed group with links to Yasir Arafat's Fatah faction.

The killings came against the backdrop of Israeli-Palestinian security talks to discuss ways to end the current 22 months of violence..

At the talks late Monday, the Israeli defense minister, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, met with the Palestinian interior minister, Abdel Razzak al-Yahya, the intelligence chief Amin al-Hindi and Mohammed Dahlan, a security adviser to Mr. Arafat. There was no immediate official comment on the talks' outcome.

The court ruling and the new violence came after three Palestinian attacks on Sunday and early Monday killed 13 people. In response the Israeli government banned Palestinian travel through the northern West Bank, further tightening already stringent restrictions.

"Nobody enters, and nobody leaves," Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer said of West Bank towns and villages.

The stricter controls followed a study financed by the American government reported significant malnutrition among Palestinian children.

As violence flared again, Israeli helicopters fired rockets Monday night at a metal factory in Gaza City that the army said was used to make bombs. Palestinian officials reported that at least three teenagers had been injured in the raid.

Earlier Monday the Israeli Army sealed off the southern end of the Gaza Strip, near the turbulent Rafah refugee camp.

With the government under sharp criticism from Israelis for not doing enough to stem terrorism, Mr. Ben-Eliezer promised a further "long list of actions" in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that would "make the closure much bigger than it is now."

Israeli officials appeared to be scrambling to assure Israelis that more measures were being taken to protect them. But with the army already pervasive in the West Bank, the options seemed limited.

The army is already in control of seven of eight West Bank cities, which it seized six weeks ago after back-to-back suicide bombings in Jerusalem.

But in the last week, Palestinians from the West Bank appear to have evaded the Israeli forces and penetrated the lines of security along the West Bank boundary to carry out at least three suicide attacks.

It is not clear how the travel ban will change life for Palestinians or Israelis, since the army has already hobbled Palestinian movement through the West Bank, declaring that people needed permits to move about. In the cities the army seized, it imposed 24-hour curfews, lifting them only sporadically.

An army spokesman said those measures had not always been strictly enforced, but now would be.

As it clamped down elsewhere, the army said it was easing restrictions on Bethlehem and Hebron, also on the West Bank, and that it would take the same step in "all places that remain calm."

At the United Nations, the General Assembly passed a resolution on Monday , drafted jointly by the European Union and Palestinian envoys, demanding the immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces.

As violence has surged since the killing of a leader of the Islamist group Hamas in an Israeli airstrike two weeks ago, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has come under sharp attack from rightist politicians and the news media.

The criticism was fed Monday by disclosures that in three months of construction, the government has managed to build only about 120 feet of fence on the West Bank boundary, along a possible 225-mile route.

Mr. Sharon won office more than a year ago on a promise of peace and security. Those goals may appear more elusive than ever, but Mr. Sharon retains substantial support, partly because Israelis have not been persuaded by any alternative policy or politician.

"Even those making the criticisms find themselves hard put to say what else the government should be doing," said Mark Heller, a senior researcher at the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University. "There's criticism of the government not having done enough of what it says it was going to do, not type B criticism that it's going in the wrong direction."

On Sunday a suicide bomber killed himself and nine others in northern Galilee. Hours later, a gunman opened fire in Jerusalem. He killed a security guard, starting a gun battle with the police that left yet another man dead, along with the attacker, near the Damascus Gate.

As travel restrictions tightened, researchers studying malnutrition in the West Bank and Gaza said Monday that the Israeli closings were contributing to what they called "a distinct humanitarian emergency."

Israeli officials said they were moving to ease Palestinians' predicament where possible, and they said Palestinians' own mismanagement and militancy had made the army's restrictions necessary.

The army said the measures "do not apply to medical and humanitarian needs." But aid groups report great difficulties in moving medicine and other supplies through the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The survey, conducted for the United States Agency for International Development, found that 9.3 percent of Palestinians between the ages of 6 months and just under 5 years were suffering moderate to severe malnutrition. That is more than four times the rate found in what the researchers called "a normally nourished population."

Another 13.2 percent of Palestinian children were found to be chronically malnourished, meaning their growth was stunted. Acute and chronic malnutrition were found to be more severe in Gaza than on the West Bank.

The study, based on a random sample of 1,000 households, was conducted by Johns Hopkins University and CARE, in coordination with two Palestinian institutions, Al Quds University and the Global Management Consulting Group.

In response to the finding, the Palestinian health minister, Riad Zanoun, declared a state of emergency.

Jacob Adler, a medical adviser to the Israeli military authorities in the West Bank and Gaza, argued that malnutrition had increased after the mid-1990's, when Israel handed control of some areas under the Oslo peace agreement to Mr. Arafat's Palestinian Authority.

He acknowledged on Israel Radio that now "there is a certain problem of availability of food," and added, "I don't think it solves the problem that they will blame us, but we have to investigate how to improve the situation."

Previous studies of nutrition in the Palestinian territories were less scientific and less broad, making it difficult to determine precisely whether malnutrition has been increasing or at what rate.

But the researchers said the problem appeared to be on the rise. The study attributed families' difficulty affording food mostly to the dire state of the Palestinian economy, and only secondarily to the closings as such.
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