A War Of Sharon’s Making: Israel Declares War on Palestine

For more than a year it has been discussed in the
media and the political and military system: is
what is going on between Israel and the
Palestinians a war, or is it just “fighting?” Now, the question has been resolved: it is war indeed. The government of Israel has officially and formally declared the Palestinian Authority and its president Yasser Arafat to be enemy, and instructed the armed forces under its command to actively and agressively pursue the war by land, and sea.

For more than a year it has been discussed in the
media and the political and military system: is
what is going on between Israel and the
Palestinians a war, or is it just “fighting?” Now, the question has been resolved: it is war indeed.

The government of Israel has officially and formally declared the Palestinian Authority and its president Yasser Arafat to be enemy, and instructed the armed forces under its command to actively and agressively pursue the war by land, and sea.


This Is Not a Random Happening.


In fact, it is the logical culmination of the
policies undertaken by Ariel Sharon ever since he
assumed power in February; and in fact, these are
a direct continuation of Sharon’s policies as
Defence Minister in the early 1980’s, when he
initiated a disastrous invasion of Lebanon for the
purpose of destroying the PLO and expelling
Arafat.


Since becoming Prime Minister, Sharon
has been edging closer and closer to this all-out
war. Measures of oppression were steadily piled on
top of each other, yesterday’s outrageous
innovation becoming today’s routine.


And the same process of familiarization had gone on with regard to the bombing of Palestinian cities –
first by helicopter gunships (as already started
by Barak), then by F-16 fighter planes; and with
the more and more widespread assassination of
Palestinians suspected of terrorism; and with
armed incursions into Palestinian-held areas –
first for days, later for weeks, then months.


Mediation efforts and plans there had been in
plenty throughout Sharon’s term. The PM hardly
ever rejected any of them openly.


Rather, he used what so far seems a fullproof method: making a rigid demand for seven days of “complete and absolute cease-fire” before any substantive negotiations can take place, and then making a gross provocation, just before the newest cease-fire is about to go into force.


What happened recently was a
particularly effective use of the technique: a
few days before the arrival of the latest mediator, the ex-US
General Zinni, Sharon authorized the
assassination by helicopter gunships of Mahmud
Abu Hunud, a Hamas leader prominent and popular
enough to ensure that his death would be avenged
in Hamas’ brutal fashion – particularly since the
assassination took place when Palestinian public
opinion was already inflamed by the death of five
Palestinian children from an explosive charge set
up by Israeli army sappers (which was, apparently,
an accident).


Without access to Sharon’s confidential records,
there is no way of conclusively proving that the PM
actually desired what followed. There is no doubt
that he and his military and intelligence advisers
knew full well what would result from assassinating
Abu Hunud and nevertheless ordered the deed to be done.


Nor can there be a doubt that Hamas’ grisly
revenge, causing the death of 26 randomly chosen
Israelis, was of an inestimable profit to Sharon.


It gave him the perfect pretext for the
declaration of war upon Arafat, effectively
scuttling the Zinni mission and letting the
Pentagon hawks gain the upper hand over the State
Department in the adminstration’s infighting. As
a the result Sharon’s onslaught upon the
Palestinians got an unprecented open backing from
Washington.


Now, the PM could afford to ram his declaration of
war through the cabinet and brush aside [Israeli
Foreign Minister and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shimon] Peres’ objections.


Sharon has been trumpeting his new campaign as
“a war on terrorism.” But how can
anybody seriously claim that the cause of
“fighting terrorism” can be furthered
by bombing and destroying Yasser Arafat’s personal
helicopters, which anyway never could fly without
the Israeli Air Force’s approval?


Or by sending tanks and bulldozers to wreck the runways of Gaza International Airport – the airport which was inaugurated three years ago by President Bill Clinton in person, and which had been closed down ever since the outbreak of the Intifada?


Or even less, by systematically targetting and
destroying the installations of the Palestinian
Police and security services – the very apparatus
with which Arafat had just begun the difficult
and delicate task of confronting Palestinian
militants.


Seen in the perspective of an Israeli Prime Minster
who is determined to maintain Israeli occupation of
and settlement in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and to smother any emergent Palestinian statehood, Sharon’s campaign of the last days makes all too much sense.


In which case Sharon seems to be getting the Bush
Adminstrations’ support in destroying what Secretary
Powell described, just two weeks ago, as the United States’ vision for the region’s future: a viable Palestine living in peace side by side with Israel.


Something You Can Do:

Send the following message (or a text of your own) to President Bush and Secretary of State Powell by
email and/or fax:

President George W. Bush

email: president@whitehouse.gov
Fax: 202.456.2461

Secretary of State Colin Powell
email: secretary@state.gov
Fax: 202.261.8577

Dear Sir

In the aftermath of the suicide bombings in
Jerusalem and Haifa, the US Government has given
Prime Minster Sharon a virtually free hand in
conducting what amounts to an all-out war against
the Palestinian Authority. This support is given
on the assumption that Mr. Sharon is engaged in
fighting terrorism, which has become a central aim
of US policy since September 11. However, the
concrete military actions undertaken by Sharon
raise doubts that that is his true aim – in
particular, the targeting of Palestinian police
stations and security service installations,
weakening the very apparatus which the Palestinian
Authority needs to be able to confront Hamas.
Rather, Sharon’s actions suggest that his aim is
to destroy the buds of Palestinian self-government,
perpetuate Israeli occupation and settlement and
prevent the creation of a viable Palestinian state –
which aims are in total contradiction to US policy,
as reiterated in public very recently. Therefore,
we call upon you use your influnce to help restrain
Sharon’s escalating attacks upon the Palestinians,
before they spin out of control and set the region
ablaze.

Sincerely

….

[and if you like you could add the following P.S.]

We would like to draw your attention to an Israeli
public opinion poll published in the
mass-circulation Yediot Aharonot on December 3. In
spite of the fact that it was conducted a few
hours after the Haifa bombing – a time when
Israelis were extremely shocked and angry at the
outrage – no less than 32% of those asked were in
favor of starting immediate and accelerated peace
talks with the Palestinians, also without waiting
for a cease fire. It would be worthwhile for the
US Government, in its dealings with Israel, to
take account of this substantial and often
silenced part of Israeli society.

[ also see related items:

MEDIA ADVISORY: NEW YORK TIMES SHOULD TELL FULL STORY IN TERROR BLAST Hamas Leader Was in Palestinian Prison Until Freed by Israeli Attack – http://www.theexperiment.org/articles.php?news_id=1592

Powell’s Speech – Promise and Doubt – http://www.theexperiment.org/articles.php?news_id=1585

Uri Avnery on the Holy Alliance, Past and Present – http://www.theexperiment.org/articles.php?news_id=1579

Appeal to Boycott Israeli Goods and Leisure Travel – http://www.theexperiment.org/articles.php?news_id=1293

Assassinations and the West’s Collective Short Memory – http://www.theexperiment.org/articles.php?news_id=1529

34 Palestinians killed since recent “ceasefire” – http://www.theexperiment.org/articles.php?news_id=1511

Assassination of Palestinian Leader – Another Step Towards War – http://www.theexperiment.org/articles.php?news_id=1461

Israel Bombs Palestinian Civilians to “Deter Terrorism” – http://www.theexperiment.org/articles.php?news_id=1442

Collective Punishment Leaves 500 Palestinians Homeless – http://www.theexperiment.org/articles.php?news_id=1432

Al Khader Today: the True Face of the Israeli Occupation in a Nutshell – http://www.theexperiment.org/articles.php?news_id=1426

Israel Targets Palestinian Infrastructure, Using U.S. Weapons – http://www.theexperiment.org/articles.php?news_id=1027

Palestine 101: Palestinian Refugees & Washington’s Role In Mass Expulsions – http://www.theexperiment.org/articles.php?news_id=965

Israel/Palestine: A Recent Chronology – http://www.theexperiment.org/articles.php?news_id=1016

Palestine 102: “Barak’s Generous Offers” A Political Map of Israel’s Proposed Borders with Palestine – http://www.theexperiment.org/articles.php?news_id=1404

How It Came to This: A Palestinian’s View – http://www.theexperiment.org/articles.php?news_id=860 ]

Author: Adam Keller

News Service: GUSH SHALOM – Dec. 4, 2001

URL: http://www.gush-shalom.org/