Assessment of the Situation–Reoccupation Worse than Pre-’93 Military Government

Today, the Israeli army invaded, occupied and placed under curfew the Palestinian town of Tul Karm and its adacant refugee camp. The renewed occupation of Tul-Karm is no longer big news, as it would have been a few months ago… The Palestinian semi-sovereignty over several enclaves across the West Bank, which had been the heart of the Oslo process and which was supposed to widen and extend into complete statehood, has been effectively abolished with the tacit consent of the international community.

2002.05.25

Today, the Israeli army invaded, occupied and placed under curfew the Palestinian town of Tul Karm and its adacant refugee camp.

In a Palestinian ambush an Israeli soldier was killed and two wounded; while eight Palestinians, including a four-year old girl, were consequently wounded by a shell shot at their house from an Israeli tank.

The renewed occupation of Tul-Karm is no longer big news, as it would have been a few months ago.

In fact, the media takes it mostly as a piece of weary routine, given that Israeli forces have been going regularly in and out of Tul Karm and and other Palestinian towns, and that even the town’s own inhabitants have probably lost count of the number of consecutive times their town has been reoccupied.

In fact, since the beginning of April, all West Bank Palestinians have been living under an effectively restored direct military occupation, manifested in the Israeli Army and security services to sweep in, at any time and at any place, and arrest whoever they want.

It doesn’t make too much difference whether the military is actually present in a particular town or village or that it is spread just outside, imposing a tight closure and siege and subjecting passage to the next town to selectively granted permits.

The Palestinian semi-sovereignty over several enclaves across the West Bank, which had been the heart of the Oslo process and which was supposed to widen and extend into complete statehood, has been effectively abolished with the tacit consent of the international community.

In its place, a regime has been installed in many ways worse than the pre-1993 military government, which at least did not deny the Palestinians freedom of movement within the West Bank and which regarded itself as responsible for the maintenanance of the Palestinian inhabitants’ daily life.

Its present-day successor shruggs off all such responsibility, throwing it upon a crippled Palestinian Authority which is systematically deprived of the ability to act – apart from being under a constant shrill demand to “reform” itself.

–Assassination as a pure act of provocation–

In theory, the Israeli army’s self-granted powers of moving at will into Palestinian territory and arresting whoever it wants should have put an end to the practice of assassinating Palestinian leaders by missiles shot from a distance.

In the past, the government justified this practice by the assertion that it had no other recourse but assassination for “terrorists hiding out in Palestinian-controlled territory where we can’t reach and arrest them”.

Nowadays, that argument is no longer valid; nevertheless, two days ago – on Wednesday, May 22 – Israeli forces in the Nablus area chose to kill by missile fire three senior members of Arafat’s own Tanzim organization, who could have been captured alive easily enough.

The only possible motive for that assassination was to provoke the kind of retribution Palestinian organizations habitually take when their senior members are assassinated.

In fact, the expected retribution came within a few hours of the provocation: a sixteen-year old Palestinian (the youngest suicide bomber to date) blew himslf up at the town of Rishon LeTzion, taking with him an Israeli boy of his own age as well as a 65-year old pensioner.

The swiftness with which this attack followed upon the provocation incidentally proved once again that the tight siege of Palestinian towns – while severely disrupting the daily life of the general population – does not seriously hamper the movement of determined individuals and small bands.

Aside from being morally reprehensible, suicide bombings targeting random Israelis are severely damaging to the Palestinian cause itself.

This is realised – and more and more often stated explicitly and outrightly – by an increasingly large part of the Palestinian leadership.

Yet in the absence of any hope for an end to the occupation, young Palestinian militants are again and again tempted to react in the depth of the Israeli cities to what happens in their own cities.

Even when their raids may play into Sharon’s hands.

–How terrible does it have to become?–

What is needed is an international intervention of a much wider scope and breadth, including the stationing of an intervention force as envisaged some months ago by UN Secretary-General Annan AND a real pressure for an end to the occupation – a step which Sharon, for all his recent pretences to “moderation” has no intention of taking.

The international community may eventually take such steps, when the present countdown has run its course and terrible images from this region once again flood the screens of every TV set on earth.

Author: Adam Keller

News Service: Gush Shalom

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