The Guardian August 22, 2001


Israel escalates war on Palestine

by Hans Lebrecht

Kibbutz Beit-Oren

The about 150 Jewish, the 565 Palestinian and others killed since the 
beginning of the current Intifada almost 11 months ago, as well as the 
thousands of maimed by the atrocities, including the latest Jerusalem 
suicide attack, are all victims of the Israeli occupation and state terror 
policy.

Therefore, it did not come as a great surprise that the sanguinary Sbarro 
pizzeria attack was made use of by Sharon and his army chiefs as 
vindication to accomplish their old dream to hit back in order to establish 
Israel's full hold on all of Greater Jerusalem and its vicinity by 
employing their military superiority against the hundreds of thousands of 
Palestinian residents in town.

"The suicide bombing in Jerusalem has proven, in a painful and terrible 
manner, that Sharon's policy of brute force has failed, has not and cannot 
stop Palestinian resistance", says a statement, issued by the Gush-Shalom 
peace bloc right after the attack had occurred.

"The Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories is the root cause of the 
violence and hatred and stands in the way of achieving peace. As long as 
the occupation continues, bloodshed will continue and even increase."

Gush-Shalom called upon the Tel-Aviv Embassies of all five permanent 
members of the UN Security Council, to transfer to their respective 
governments the message to cease their hesitations for which a price is 
exacted in human lives.

They should, with no further delay, dispatch an international observer 
force to the occupied territories, to enforce a cease-fire, and prevent an 
all-out war that may set the whole region aflame.

Arafat met with envoys of foreign countries and asked for urgent 
international intervention in order to defend the Palestinian population 
which is the object of the Israeli military's gross violations of human 
rights and assassinations.

Arafat pointed out that the Palestinian people has, according to 
international law, the full right to wage a war of resistance against the 
foreign occupation and for national liberation and establishing their 
independent state with eastern Jerusalem as its capital.

The US Secretary of State, Powell, in a phone call to Sharon, expressed his 
"being annoyed" with the Israeli take-over of the Orient House, as well as 
the attacks upon the Abu-Dis Governor's residence and the Ramallah police 
building as having been unnecessary excessive acts. His boss, however, the 
White House Bushman, stated his not so wise "understandings" for the 
Israeli actions.

Almost immediately after the seizure of the Orient House, on Friday 
morning, hundreds of Palestinian citizens of eastern Jerusalem appeared in 
the vicinity and, met by strong Israeli police and paratroopers' 
barricades, violently protested.

On Saturday afternoon, more Palestinians, headed by the well-known member 
of the Palestinian Legislative Council and newly appointed spokesperson of 
the Arab League, Dr Hanan Ashrawi, accompanied by several other Council 
members and by a large number of Palestinian, Israeli and European peace 
activists, among them also the Arab Member of Knesset of the Hadash Front, 
Muhammad Barakei, arrived at the scene.

When the protestors tried to come closer to the occupied Orient House, they 
were met by brutally attacking police forces.

Dozens of demonstrators were injured. Twenty-six demonstrators, among them 
Palestinians, Israeli and Europeans, were detained, but 14 of them were 
released soon after. At a spontaneously called press conference Hanan 
Ashrawi said, she and her Palestine National Authority (PNA) colleagues 
would not spare any action to restore the Orient House and the other seized 
Palestinian assets into their legal Palestinian hands.

Sari Nusseibeh, who was part of the first Palestinian negotiation teams in 
Madrid and Washington, at present the dean of the Al-Quds University, 
stated that Israel has finally said "Goodbye to peace".

The take-over of the Orient House was a purely political act and threatens 
to bring the almost 300,000 Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and its 
surroundings, who have so far stayed quite apart from the uprising, into 
direct confrontation with Israel's occupation power. Sharon stated that the 
Orient House and the other seized offices would never been given back to 
their owners.

The well-known publicist and Gush-Shalom peace activist Uri Avnery, who was 
one of the most regular visitors at the Orient House, participating in 
countless peace meetings warned in an article published Saturday, August 
11, that "the seizure of the House was not only politically stupid and an 
evil act against peace efforts, but also a disastrous one.

"After the seizures of Friday morning, and the following boisterous 
announcements of Sharon, one does not have to search for the consequent 
real aim of this madness: the golden Dome of the Rock, just around the 
corner, the Temple Mount (Harem a-Sharif) with the Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of 
the most Holy Sanctuaries for the Muslims around the world.

"There the dance of the daemons started, when former Labor PM Barak and his 
FM Ben-Ami let Sharon loose to ignite the current Intifada. And there it 
may end in a regional major blood bath. I do not know when this will 
happen. But as from this weekend, I am convinced that it will come, if the 
world does not pound on Sharon's table with an iron fist", Avenery warned.

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