Continued from node 6211

Operation Defensive Shield

The Sept. 11, 2001 devastating terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and New York’s World Trade Center would of course open a new era of US military adventures nearly throughout the Islamic world. In his Oct. 7 statement on the attack, terrorist leader Osama bin Laden of the feared al-Qaeda network repeatedly invoked the Palestinian cause. He pledged: “I swear by Almighty God who raised the heavens without pillars that neither the United States nor he who lives in the United States will enjoy security before we can see it as a reality in Palestine…” (Osama bin Laden statement, Oct. 7, 2001, online at World War 4 Report)

Prime Minister Sharon from the beginning attempted to wed his own struggle against Palestinian militants to the new US crusade against international terrorism, stating on the day of the attacks: “At this most difficult hour, Israelis stand with you ready to provide any assistance. The government of Israel declares tomorrow a day of mourning as we bow our heads and share the pain of the American people.” Hamas leader Shiekh Yassin was equally quick to distance his struggle from al-Qaeda’s designs: “We are not ready to move our struggle outside the occupied Palestinian land. We are not prepared to open international fronts, however much we criticize the unfair American position,” he told reporters in Gaza. Arafat too quickly denounced the Sept. 11 attacks. But international footage of Palestinians apparently celebrating the attacks served as effective propaganda for Israel. CNN issued a statement denying rumors that it had re-broadcast old footage after the attacks of Palestinians cheering for Saddam Hussein in the 1991 Gulf War, to deceive viewers. (Fox News, Sept. 12, 2001; CNN, Sept. 20, 2001)

The situation in Palestine escalated along with the world situation that autumn. A wave of suicide attacks left 25 dead in Israel in November, prompting Sharon’s government to respond with military strikes on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. An emergency Israeli cabinet meeting in the prelude to the air-strikes issued a statement calling the Palestinian Authority a “terror-supporting entity,” and Yasser Arafat’s Fatah political organization and elite paramilitary Force 17 “terrorist groups.” Accusing Arafat of a “war of terror,” Sharon actually ordered air-strikes on PA targets, wiping out Arafat’s personal helicopters in Ramallah, killing two. (ABC News, New York Times, Dec. 4, 2001).

But Arafat actually complied with Israeli demands for a crackdown on the Hamas network and arrested the group’s spiritual leader Sheikh Yassin for complicity in the suicide attacks. The inevitable result was more clashes between Hamas supporters and PA police. Ironically, the suicide attacks were themselves retaliation for the Nov. 23 assassination of Hamas leader Mahmoud Abu Hanoud—who had been serving a twelve-year term in a PA prison for terrorist activity until he escaped when a May 18 Israeli air-raid hit the Nablus prison building in a bungled attempt to kill him. (FAIR, Dec. 6, 2001)

In a tilt to Israel, the US froze the assets of US-based charities said to be Hamas fronts—and condemned the suicide attacks without the usual admonition to Sharon to refrain from military incursions into PA-controlled areas. (New York Times, Dec. 4, 2001).

A cycle of retaliatory violence ensued, in which Palestinian attacks on settlers resulted in Israeli air-strikes, resulting in further Palestinian attacks, and so on. The al-Aqsa Brigades, militant wing of Arafat’s Fatah movement, Hamas, and smaller groups such as Islamic Jihad claimed credit for the Palestinian attacks.

Among numerous sites hit by Israeli air raids in Ramallah over the night of Dec. 12 was the Quaker-run Friends School, an elementary school for local Palestinian children. Because the attack occurred at night, no one was injured. (Atlanta Friends’ Meeting press release, Dec. 13, 2001)

After initial hesitancy, the White House backed Israel’s claims that 50 tons of weapons seized by Israeli forces from a boat in the Red Sea in January 2002 were supplied by Iran and bound for Arafat’s forces. Said President Bush in response to Israel’s claim: “Mr. Arafat must renounce terror…” Palestinian Authority cabinet minister Saeb Erekat retorted: “We are guilty [in US eyes] until proven innocent. I don’t know what this compelling evidence is.” (Ha’aretz, Jan. 10, 2002)

That month, Israel’s Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Shaul Mofaz was in Washington meeting with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Joint Chiefs of Staff head Gen. Richard Myers and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice—architects of the President George W. Bush’s bellicose new foreign policy. Seeking to integrate Israel’s war with Palestine into the US war on terrorism, Mofaz accused Iran of deep involvement in terrorism against Israel, anonymous sources said. (AP, Jan. 20, 2002)

Later that month, Israel and the US held a large joint exercise, deploying the Arrow and Patriot missile defense systems in an “Iraqi scenario” war game, preparing for missile attacks on Israel in the event of a US attack on the Saddam Hussein dictatorship. Hundreds of soldiers from US Army anti-aircraft units based in Europe came to Israel for the exercise. Similar exercises had been held almost every year since Desert Storm, but these received greater attention as the US appeared to be preparing for an invasion. (Ha’aretz, Feb. 5, 2002)

Also that month, Israel demolished 70 Palestinian homes at the Rafah refugee camp in Gaza in retaliation for the killing of four Israeli soldiers by Palestinian militants. (New York Times, Jan. 11, 2002)

On Jan. 25, 2002, the Israeli daily Ha’aretz ran a paid statement signed by 53 members of the armed forces calling for troops to refuse orders for repression in the Occupied Territories:

We, combat officers and soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), raised on the values of Zionism, sacrifice, and giving to the Jewish people and the State of Israel, who have always served on the front line and were the first to fulfill every mission, regardless of how difficult, in order to defend and strengthen the State of Israel…

We, who have personally witnessed the terrible bloodshed on both sides of the conflict…

We hereby declare that we will not go on fighting a war for the peace of the settlements. We will not go on fighting beyond the ‘green line’ for the purposes of domination, expulsion, starvation, and humiliation of an entire people.

We hereby declare that we shall continue to serve the Israel Defense Forces in any mission that serves the defense of the State of Israel. The mission of occupation and repression does not serve this goal–and we refuse to participate in it. []

Following the statement was a list by name, rank and unit of 53 IDF soldiers. Within a week, the number of signatories had doubled—despite harsh warnings from the government. Sharon said, “It will be the beginning of the end of democracy if soldiers don’t carry out the decisions of the elected government.” (Israel Insider, Feb. 5, 2002)

This movement was just part of a wave of general non-cooperation among IDF reservists. At least 2,500 reservists were absent without leave, while thousands of others had become “gray conscientious objectors,” having fabricated medical or personal reasons not to be called up. Israel jailed some 600 reserve soldiers on charges of evading service. Ishai Menuchim, a reservist tank commander and leader of the anti-occupation draft-resistance movement Yesh Gvul (“There is a Limit”—a reference both to the Green Line and the boundary of what is morally acceptable), said: “The reservists do not care about the territories. Many are in their ’30s and ’40s, they have families and care more about their businesses or studies. So they are not willing to pay the price and risk their lives for something they don’t believe in.” (London Telegraph, Jan. 31, 2002)

Following weeks of escalating retaliatory violence between Israeli troops and Palestinian militants, on Feb. 28, the IDF launched attacks on the West Bank’s Jenin and Balata refugee camps, allegedly controlled by the militant organizations Tanzim (Fatah-aligned) and Hamas. This marked the first time ground troops had been sent in to Palestinian refugee camps. (Ha’aretz, Feb. 28, 2002)

On March 2, nine people, including four children, were killed and over 50 injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up in Jerusalem’s Orthodox Beit Yisrael neighborhood. The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claimed responsibility, which, like Tanzim, was linked to Yasser Arafat’s Fatah political organization, but apparently did not answer to his Palestinian Authority. (Ha’aretz, March 3, 2002)

Dissent was now emerging within the highest levels of Israeli military power. The Council for Peace & Security, a group of 1,000 top-level Israeli reserve generals, colonels, and Shin Bet/Mossad officials, announced a public campaign for a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from all of Gaza and much of the West Bank. The group called for dismantling 50 settlements, the immediate establishment of a Palestinian state, and immediate peace talks with the Palestinians—cease-fire or no. The campaign was dubbed “Saying Shalom to the Palestinians.” (Ha’aretz, Feb. 22, 2002)

But the opening days of March were the bloodiest of the new Intifada. Some 42 Palestinians were killed March 8 in IDF operations against refugee camps, Palestinian Authority buildings and other targets in the Occupied Territories. In Tul Karm, elite IDF Golani troops seized control of a local refugee camp, detaining some 1,300 camp residents. Paratroopers took control of large areas in Bethlehem and surrounding camps. Israeli helicopters also fired on a refugee camp near Ramallah, and Israeli tanks entered Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Israeli helicopters and gunboats totally destroyed Arafat’s Gaza headquarters early March 10, hours after a Palestinian suicide bomber killed 11 and injured over 50 at a busy cafe in West Jerusalem, with Hamas claiming responsibility. (World War 4 Report round-up, March 10, 2002)

Saudi foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, at a Cairo conference with Arab heads of state to develop a peace plan for Israel-Palestine, called the March 8 violence “Black Friday.” The Saudi peace plan, approved by the Arab League, had called for the Arab nations to “normalize” relations with Israel in return for an Israeli withdrawal from all territories conquered in the 1967 war. It was now toughened. The term “normalization” was dropped, and demands were added for restitution for Palestinian refugees, as well as a specific reference to Israeli withdrawal from East Jerusalem. (New York Times, March 9; Ha’aretz, March 10, 2002; Dolphin, p. 16)

A Zionist terrorist underground meanwhile seemed to be re-emerging. In southern Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhood of Sur Bahir on March 5, metal cones hidden in a grove of pines in a school yard exploded, spraying bullets and shrapnel all over the yard, breaking windows in the schoolhouse and sending students scrambling under their desks. The bomb was set to go off during morning exercises when the yard is usually filled with some 400 Palestinian junior high school students—the death toll would have been high if the cones hadn’t been discovered ten minutes before detonation and the yard evacuated. An Israel Radio reporter received a message claiming responsibility for the attack in the name of “Revenge of the Infants,” saying it was intended to avenge the killing of Jewish children by Palestinian suicide bombers. But Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert suggested the bombing was a provocation by Palestinian militants: “Suicide, killing themselves, is not foreign to their repertoire. So one can imagine the possibility that they’re doing it to themselves in an attempt to create a provocation, to stir up this population.” Angry students later marched out of the schoolyard, holding signs reading “Stop killing our children,” and hurling rocks at Israeli riot police, who responded with stun grenades and tear gas. (New York Times, March 6, 2002 via World War 4 Report) [top]

On March 12, the UN Security Council voted up the US-drafted Resolution 1397, “Affirming a vision of a region where two States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side within secure and recognized borders.” Resolution 1397 also encouraged Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah’s peace initiative. Fourteen of the 15 Security Council members voted in favor, with Syria abstaining. The theretofore obstructionist US offered the resolution as it was attempting to sell Arab regimes on military intervention against Iraq. The vote came at the end of a day in which Israeli troops invaded towns and refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, killing at least 30 Palestinians. (The Guardian, March 14; MSNBC, March 13, 2002, via World War 4 Report)

On March 14, eight Palestinians and three Israeli soldiers were killed as Israeli forces invaded the West Bank town of Ramallah and other targets in the Palestinian territories. President Bush mildly criticized Israel’s push into the West Bank and Gaza, saying “the recent actions are not helpful.” (The Guardian, March 14, 2002)

Following protests by Holocaust survivors, Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Mofaz ordered the IDF to immediately stop marking numbers on the forearms of Palestinians detained in the sweep of refugee camps. Mofaz said there had not been an order to mark captives with ink, and that he had ordered an investigation into the matter. In Knesset testimony, cabinet minister and Holocaust survivor Yosef Lapid called the connotation of the act “unbearable,” recalling the ID numbers printed on the arms of Jewish inmates at the Auschwitz death camp. A military source told the Jerusalem Post that numbers had been inked on the forearms of Palestinians to facilitate the interrogation process at a detainment camp in the Tulkarm area. (Jerusalem Post, March 13, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

Despite an official Israeli ban on the house demolitions, the practice had continued. According to a February report by the B’tselem human rights group, Israel had by then demolished hundreds of houses in refugee camps in the Gaza alone, rendering 5,124 people homeless since the beginning of the Second Intifada. (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 4, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

Hardline Israeli Infrastructure Minister Avigdor Lieberman submitted his letter of resignation to Prime Minister Sharon March 12. Tourism Minister Benny Elon also resigned. In an interview upon his resignation, Elon said he would work on a “right-wing peace plan,” under which “Israel would dismantle the Palestinian Authority,” the Oslo Accords principle of a two-state solution “would be nullified,” and Palestinian refugees would be resettled “in neighboring Arab countries.” His own “two-state solution” called for Israeli sovereignty over the Palestinian territories, and establishment of a “Palestinian-Jordanian state” in Jordan. (Jerusalem Post, March 15, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

Some 50,000 right-wing demonstrators attended a mass rally in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square March 11, under the slogan “A strong nation will defeat terror.” Addressing the crowd, reserve Brig. Gen. Effi Eitam called on Sharon to be “a true Lion of Judah. If you are, the nation will be at your side.” Gen. Eitam was the author of a recent “security-political plan” urging Sharon to re-occupy and annex the Palestinian territories. (World War Report, Feb. 2, 2002; Ha’aretz, March 11, 2002)

With Vice President Dick Cheney on the ground in Israel, violence again escalated. On March 18, Israel began to pull back from positions in the Palestinian territories after a rare joint meeting of Israeli and Palestinian security chiefs, brought together by US envoy Gen. Anthony Zinni. As Zinni worked to broker a truce, Cheney was pictured shaking hands with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on the front page of the New York Times March 19. Appearing with Sharon at a press conference that day, Cheney announced he would not meet with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat until a truce was in place. The following days, two suicide bombings left several dead in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. On the day of the second blast, the US State Department put the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades on the official list of “foreign terrorist organizations.” In a statement, al-Aqsa responded that making the list “is an honor for the brigades” because “America is the greatest sponsor of terrorism in the world.” It vowed to step up bombings. (New York Times, March 23, 2002)

The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem released a report entitled “Trigger Happy: Unjustified Gunfire and the IDF’s Open-Fire Regulations during the al-Aqsa Intifada.” The report documents numerous incidents of unarmed Palestinian civilians being killed by Israel Defense Forces. To cite but one incident: “On 17 December 2001, several children from the Khan Yunis refugee camp were playing with toy weapons made of plastic. IDF soldiers at a post some one hundred meters away fired live ammunition at them, killing Muhammad Hanaidiq, age 15.” (B’Tselem, March 2002)

B’Tselem wrote that until the outbreak of the new intifada, “the Open-Fire Regulations in the Occupied Territories were based on Israel’s penal code. Soldiers were only allowed to fire live ammunition in two situations: when soldiers were in real and immediate life-threatening danger, and during the apprehension of a suspect. When the intifada began, the IDF defined the events in the Occupied Territories as an ‘armed conflict short of war,’ and expanded the range of situations in which soldiers are permitted to open fire… The new version of the Open-Fire Regulations, which according to press reports are referred to as ‘Blue Lilac,’ have remained secret.” Therefore B’Tselem based its investigation primarily on testimonies from soldiers. (ibid)

But the situation was about to dramatically escalate. On March 27, the Israeli cabinet decided not to let Arafat attend the Arab summit in Beirut—where Arab leaders unanimously agreed to the peace proposal put forward by Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, calling for Israel to withdraw to its 1967 borders in exchange for normalized relations. The proposal was rejected by Israel. Just before the Beirut vote took place, Islamic Jihad killed 22 Israelis celebrating Passover with a suicide bomb in Netanya, north of Tel Aviv. The Palestinian Authority “strongly condemned” the bombing, and offered an immediate cease-fire. But the Israeli cabinet declared Arafat “an enemy.” On March 30, Israel invaded Ramallah with 150 tanks, besieging Arafat in his compound. Arafat told reporters that Israel wanted to make him “either a hostage, a runaway, or a martyr… I tell them I will be a martyr, a martyr, a martyr.” (Jerusalem Post, March 30; Ha’aretz, March 31, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

With Ramallah under siege, on March 31, a suicide bomber blew up himself and 15 others in restaurant in Haifa. Hamas took responsibility. (Ha’aretz, March 31)

Journalists were ordered out of Ramallah as IDF tanks and troops rolled in, and a “Closed Military Area” was declared. IDF troops fired warning shots and threw stun grenades at journalists who stayed behind in defiance of the ban (New York Times, April 6, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

On April 2 the IDF besieged Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity—purported birthplace of Jesus—where some 250 armed Palestinians had taken refuge, and shoot-out ensued. The bell-ringer at the church was caught in the crossfire and bled to death in Bethlehem’s Manger Square before an ambulance could reach him. (The Independent, April 4, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

April 6 the Palestine Red Crescent Society reported at least 30 civilians killed in the Jenin refugee camp, with total casualties of over 100. Eyewitnesses reported IDF bulldozers leveling homes with the families inside. Jenin’s three modest hospitals were without electricity or water. A hospital in Jenin came under fire in a battle between Israeli and Palestinian forces, as the Red Cross struggled to evacuate the ill and wounded. The Red Cross, World Health Organization and UNWRA all reported deaths due to Israeli forces stopping rescuers getting through. (World War 4 Report, April 7, 2002)

In Nablus, the West Bank’s biggest city, fierce fighting rocked the market, or casbah, where Palestinian fighters made a stand. (ibid)

“Operation Defensive Shield,” as the IDF dubbed it, was Israel’s biggest offensive in the Palestinian territories in 34 years of occupation. The US envoy, Gen. Anthony Zinni, visited Arafat April 5 in his besieged Ramallah compound, now reduced mostly to mounds of rubble ringed by barbed wire. Sharon expressed displeasure withe the visit, and barred a European Union delegation from meeting Arafat. Israeli troops threw stun grenades, fired rubber bullets and rammed the vehicles of journalists trying to cover Zinni’s arrival. (The Guardian, April 6, 2002, via World War 4 Report)

Sharon for the first time publicly proposed sending Arafat into exile, saying he would be released to European diplomats on condition that he does not return. Sharon said Arafat “can’t take anyone with him, the murderers who are located around him there. And…it would have to be a one-way ticket.” (Irish Times, April 2, 2002)

Avigdor Lieberman, who had resigned his cabinet seat accusing Sharon of being too soft on the Palestinians, blasted the West Bank ground offensive, saying that Arafat and his headquarters should be “erased from the face of the earth.” Lieberman, explicitly invoked the US campaign then underway in Afghanistan in calling for massive aerial bombardment of the Palestinian territories. “Why should we endanger our troops? What did the armies of the United States and NATO do in Yugoslavia and Afghanistan? They didn’t endanger their soldiers. They simply bombed everything from above.” (Ha’aretz, April 1, 2002)

On April 4, Lebanon-based Hezbollah guerillas attacked the contested Har Dov/Shaba Farms area in the Golan Heights, seriously wounding one IDF soldier. Meanwhile, two Katyusha rockets hit Israeli territory from Syria near Kiryat Shmona. Shaba Farms had been seized from Syria in 1967, but was claimed by Beirut as part of Lebanon in a border dispute dating to the Mandate period. More Hezbollah attacks on Israeli forces in the disputed enclave would follow in ensuing months. (Ha’aretz, April 4, 2002)

The number of IDF reservists resisting service in the Palestinian territories surged to 375 officers and soldiers, who had all signed the public letter of refusal. At least 20 “refuseniks” had been jailed, with more facing military tribunals. On March 29, a group of refuseniks demonstrated outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, carrying Israeli flags to stress their loyalty to Zionism. But Yishai Menuhin, spokesperson for Yesh Gvul said many conscripts who had not signed the refuseniks’ letter had also been jailed for conscientious objection—and the refusal movement was both more widespread and politically diverse than was being portrayed in the media. Menuhin said, “among us there are many Zionists, but also many non-Zionists and anti-Zionists. We support them all.” The Forum in Support of Conscientious Objectors distributed a brochure to draftees and reservists documenting human rights abuses in the territories, and stating: “The international community has already brought to trial soldiers who committed war crimes in the Balkans. Do you want to be next?” (Ha’aretz, April 1, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

Gush Shalom and other Israeli peace groups—both Jewish and Arab—held a “March Against the War” April 3, attempting to cross into the West Bank to deliver solidarity aid to the besieged communities. The marchers, dressed in white, were accompanied by trucks of food and medical supplies destined for Palestinian relief and women’s organizations. The activists intended to march from Jerusalem to Ramallah, but were stopped at A-Ram Checkpoint in north Jerusalem, where they were dispersed by police and IDF troops who used tear gas, batons and rifle butts. (Ha’aretz, April 4, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

By this point, 300 Israelis and 1,200 Palestinians had been killed since the new Intifada began in September 2000. According to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, 897 of the Palestinians killed from Sept. 29, 2000 though March 30, 2002 were civilians rather than armed militants, and 192 were children. B’Tselem found that Israeli were killed by Palestinians in the same period, 253 were civilians, including 48 children. (FAIR, April 4, 2002)

Members of the Norwegian committee that awards the annual Nobel Peace Prize launched an unprecedented verbal assault on Israeli foreign minister and Nobel peace laureate Shimon Peres. Committee members said they regretted that Peres’ prize could not be recalled because, as a member of the Israeli cabinet, he had not acted to prevent the re-occupation of Palestinian territory. Committee chairman Geir Lundestad noted that if Arafat were to be killed in the Israeli siege, one Nobel laureate would in effect have killed the other. (BBC, April 5, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

Israeli intellectuals and Holocaust survivors reacted with outrage to statements by Portuguese Nobel Literature Prize laureate Jose Saramago comparing Israel’s siege of Ramallah to the Nazi genocide. Saramago, who had recently visited the Palestinian city as part of an International Parliament of Writers (IPW) delegation, told the Israeli press that “the spirit of Auschwitz” could be seen in the assault on Ramallah. “This place is being turned into a concentration camp,” he said. According to Haaretz, when asked where the gas chambers were, he replied “so far, there are none.” Israeli legislator and Holocaust survivor Yosef Lapid said: “There is nothing more despicable than to use the Holocaust and its victims in such a way as this novelist with a worldwide reputation has done.” (DPA, March 26, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

Meanwhile, speaking at a ceremony commemorating Holocaust victims in New York City, Mayor Mike Bloomberg said: “Jewish people today are confronted by a new twisted ideology of hatred—that is Islamic extremism. Suicide bombers…are just the same thing as the concentration camps of the Nazis.” (NY Daily News, April 8, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

On April 7, President Bush said Arafat “needs to speak clearly, in Arabic, to the people of that region and condemn terrorist activities. At the very minimum, he ought to at least say something.” But on March 28, after the Passover suicide attack in Netanya, an Arafat speech broadcast on Palestinian TV in Arabic had stated: “On this occasion, I would like once again to reiterate our condemnation of yesterday’s operation in Netanya, in which a number of innocent Israeli civilians were killed and wounded. This operation constitutes a deviation from our policy and a violation of our national and human values…” (Daoud Kuttab, April 9, 2002)

US Secretary of State Colin Powell met with Yasser Arafat in besieged Ramallah April 15—much to the chagrin of Sharon. The meeting was portrayed as Arafat’s reward for a statement denouncing the suicide bombings. Some 40 international peace activists holed up in Arafat’s compound hoped to witness the meeting, but were herded by Powell’s US diplomatic security bodyguards into one room and told to stay out of sight. Netta Golan, the only Israeli in the group, said, “Everyone here has taken into consideration that there is a high probability we might die.” (NY Daily News, April 15, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

Arafat’s statement, in Arabic, read in part:

The Palestinian leadership and His Excellency President Arafat express their deep condemnation for all terrorist activities, whether it is state terrorism, terrorism by a group or individual terrorism. This position comes from our steady principle that rejects using violence and terror against civilians as a way to achieve political goals. We declared this position beginning in 1988 and also when we signed the Oslo accords at the White House, and we have repeated it several times before, including our declaration on Dec. 16 last year. After that, we did not find any Israeli response but more Israeli escalation, a tighter siege, further occupation of our people, refugee camps, cities, villages, and more destruction of our infrastructure. We strongly condemn all the attacks targeting civilians from both sides… [AP, April 13, 2002 via World War 4 Report]

A front-page New York Times analysis April 14 said Palestinians were angered by “what they perceive as a double-standard from Washington”—constant pressure to condemn the suicide bombings, yet no condemnation from Washington of the hundreds of Palestinian casualties of Operation Defensive Shield, “which the Palestinians refer to as state terrorism.” (New York Times, April 14, 2002)

As the IDF began to withdraw from Jenin, the UN Security Council voted unanimously April 20 to send a fact-finding mission to look into what happened at the devastated Palestinian refugee camp. But following heavy diplomatic pressure from the US and Israel, the resolution did not describe the mission as an investigation. As camp residents started to retrieve bodies from the ruins, Israeli authorities insisted there was “no massacre.” Palestinians claimed up to 500 residents were killed in Jenin, while Israel put the death toll at about 50 Palestinians and 23 Israeli soldiers. (CNN, April 19; BBC, April 20, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

After touring Jenin, UN special Middle East envoy Terje Larsen said the scene was “horrifying beyond belief,” that the most heavily destroyed area “looks like there’s been an earthquake here,” and is permeated with the “stench of death.” Reported Larsen: “I saw people using their bare hands to dig out the body of a 12-year-old boy. More than 2,000 people have been left without a roof over their heads and there is an acute lack of water and food in the camp and town.” (Ha’aretz, April 18, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

Ariel Sharon dismissed accounts of a massacre and mass clandestine graves at Jenin as “lies” of the “Palestinian empire of falsehood… They look you in the eye and lie.” Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer told the cabinet the number of Palestinians killed in Jenin was in the dozens, not the hundreds. (Jerusalem Post, April 15, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

On April 21, Sharon declared an end to “this stage” of Defensive Shield, ordering troops out of Nablus and Ramallah, except for the ring around Arafat’s compound. In Nablus, the ancient Casbah was in ruins after a bloody battle between IDF forces and Palestinian militants who had taken refuge there. Hundreds of Palestinians surrendered at al-Ayn refugee camp near Nablus after five straight hours of ground-fire from tanks, and missile-fire from helicopter gunships. (The Guardian, April 9, 11, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

In another move to control media portrayals, the Arab section of Israel Radio was issued a new set of guidelines for terminology to be used in broadcasts, barring the word “victim” when referring to Palestinian civilians killed in the Intifada. Instead of “victim,” broadcasters were ordered to say “the dead.” The word “assassination” were not to be used in regard to Israel’s assassinations of Palestinian activists. Instead, the word “killing” [katal in Arabic] was to be used—despite the fact that the IDF itself called these actions “targeted assassinations.” (AP, April 26, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

Israel said the standoff at Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity could be resolved if the gunmen inside agree to a face trial in Israel—or accept permanent exile. The offer was rejected. The Franciscan order asked Israel to allow some of the 200 armed Palestinians sheltering in the church to leave unharmed, and called for water and electricity to be urgently supplied to the complex. An Armenian monk at the complex was seriously wounded by an Israeli bullet April 10. (BBC News, April 12, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

A new report by human rights group B’Tselem documented massive abuses by the IDF in Operation Defensive Shield, including: use of civilians as human shields, obstruction of medical treatment, mass detention and torture, and overcrowding and humiliating treatment of detainees: “There are 1,000 detainees held in Ofer military camp, between 1,000 and 1,500 at Megiddo military prison, 100 in the detention facility in Salem, opened near Jenin and several dozens in permanent detention facilities in the West Bank. Detainees released from Ofer reported harsh holding conditions. Among other things, they reported insufficient food, overcrowding, being cold, humiliation and beatings.” (ReliefWeb, April 11, 2002)

Three prominent international human rights groups released a joint statement April 7:

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists want to send a clear, unambiguous message to all parties to this conflict, and to the international community. Stop the deliberate targeting of civilians and other persons protected by international humanitarian law. Stop actions that harm them. Immediately deploy international monitors to protect the human rights of Palestinians and Israelis… We strongly deplore actions by the state of Israel that harm persons protected by international humanitarian law. These include prolonged curfews with severe restrictions on the movement of people and access for medical personnel; intensified collective punishments; wanton damage to homes, cars and civilian property; looting and theft; and the coerced use of civilians to assist military operations. Such actions violate international standards and transcend any justification of military necessity… Even in the face of this situation, we are appalled by an increase in the use of suicide bombers by armed Palestinian groups to attack Israeli civilians. Such deliberate attacks on civilians are absolutely prohibited by international humanitarian law. These actions tarnish the Palestinian cause and will not at all help the situation… [Amnesty International, April 9, 2002]

Israel claimed to have found documents at Ramallah linking Arafat to suicide bombings. Ariel Sharon told Ha’aretz on March 5: “The PA is behind the terror… Arafat is behind the terror. Our pressure is aimed at ending the terror. Don’t expect Arafat to act against the terror. We have to cause them heavy casualties and then they’ll know they can’t keep using terror and win political achievements.” (War in Context, March 14)

On April 15 the IDF announced the arrest in Ramallah of Marwan Barghouti, the Fatah politician and Palestinian Legislative Council representative who Israel said turned Tanzim from a civil guard into a West Bank militia that organized suicide bombings. (Ha’artez, April 16)

Thousands attended protests in European cities April 13 to express solidarity with the Palestinians and denounce Operation Defensive Shield. 15,000 marched through central London, some carrying posters depicting Ariel Sharon behind bars and comparing him to Adolf Hitler. (Ha’aretz, April 14, 2002)

UN human rights chief Mary Robinson human rights chief repeatedly urged Israel to allow her travel to the country for a delayed fact-finding mission on the conflict, citing “growing concerns over recent events in Jenin.” Israeli authorities refused to approve the planned five-day visit by Robinson. Finally, Robinson’s office announced that the mission had been cancelled because it “will not be facilitated by the Israeli authorities.” (AFP, April 19, 2002)

The UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva condemned Israel for “acts of mass killings” and “gross violations” of humanitarian law on April 15. The resolution was approved by 40 votes in favor and five against. (Jerusalem Post, April 19, 2002)

While the IDF pulled out of Jenin, the camp remained surrounded. Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said troops would also be withdrawing from occupied West Bank towns. But anticipating future fighting, Ben-Eliezer said he prefered to call the withdrawal a “redeployment” (Ha’aretz, April 21, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

Daoud Kuttab, director of the Institute of Modern Media at Jerusalem’s al-Quds University, described in a New York Times op-ed piece April 6 how the Institute’s al-Quds Educational Television station in Ramallah was ransacked by IDF troops. The studio and offices were broken into, equipment destroyed and two staffers arrested. (Via World War 4 Report)

The siege that continued at Bethlehem came just after a $250 million renovation project of the ancient city was completed, funded by foreign aid agencies and aimed at drawing tourists—especially for the 2000 Millennium celebrations, which brought Pope John Paul II and numerous heads of state to the town. Now much of the town was in much worse shape than before the project. Reported the Washington Post April 14:

Israeli tanks have turned historic Madbassah Square into rubble, three years after it was renovated at a cost of $2 million. Fires and explosives have ruined a 300-year-old pilgrims’ hostel with soaring arches that took two years to refurbish. A once-sparkling new artists’ colony, recently completed for $600,000, has been ransacked and defaced… [A]rmored personnel carriers rumble through the narrow and deserted streets of the Old City daily, ripping up sidewalks, sideswiping stone pillars and banging into storefronts with centuries-old facades. [Via World War 4 Report]

President George Bush weighed in on Operation Defensive Shield April 19, stating: “I do believe Ariel Sharon is a man of peace… I’m confident he wants Israel to be able to exist at peace with its neighbors. I mean, he’s told that to us here in the Oval Office. He has embraced the notion of two states living side by side.” Bush said he was satisfied that Sharon was acting in good faith. “He gave me a timetable, and he met the timetable” for beginning withdrawal from re-occupied towns. He also said, “Mr. Arafat did condemn terrorism, and now we will hold him to account.” (ReliefWeb, April 18, 2002) A few hours later, Arafat, in a telephone interview with Tunisian TV, called Sharon “bloodthirsty” and said “his history is known. His hands are stained in blood.” (CNN, April 19, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

Sharon told his weekly cabinet meeting April 21 that no government that he headed would evacuate Jewish settlements on the West Bank. Banging on the table, Sharon said he would not even discuss evacuating the settlements until the elections, set for October 2003, or even beyond should he be elected for a second term. (Ha’aretz, April 21, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

An initial probe into the Israeli attack on the Jenin refugee camp led an Amnesty International delegate to declare at a London press conference “we have concluded that very serious breaches of international law were committed, and we are talking here of war crimes.” (Ha’aretz, April 29, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

But the world media focused on the more ambiguous question of whether there had been a “massacre” at Jenin—with war crimes short of a massacre implicitly minimized. For instance, veteran commentator Daniel Schorr on National Public Radio said: “Some things happened which were not terribly, terribly nice, and I’m sure they happened a lot. But if the question is raised that ‘Was there a deliberate massacre of civilians in Jenin?’ the answer seems to come out no.” (FAIR, May 10, 2002)

In late April, citing new intelligence on the location of militants, Israel made new brief incursions into Qalqilya and Hebron, sparking new clashes. (BBC News, AFP, April 26, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

There were conflicting statements on suicide bombings from the Arab and Islamic leadership. Yasser Arafat’s wife Suha Arafat endorsed suicide bombing attacks in a London-based Arabic magazine, al-Majallah, saying if she had a son, there would be “no greater honor” than to sacrifice him for the Palestinian cause. “Would you expect me and my children to be less patriotic and more eager to live than my countrymen and their father and leader who is seeking martydom?” Suha Arafat, who had no son, was living with her daughter in Paris. (New York Times, April 15, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

Two prominent Islamic clerics also endorsed suicide bombings. Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, the most prominent religious scholar at al-Ahzar University in Cairo, called “martydom operations” the “highest form of jihad operations” and that such attacks were “an Islamic commandment until the people of Palestine regain their land and cause the cruel Israeli aggression to retreat.” However, a ruling by the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia “declared suicide to be against Islam.” (New York Times, April 15, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

Newspapers in Saudi Arabia stopped using the term “shaheed,” or martyr, in reference to suicide attackers. In Egypt, the pro-government daily Al-Riad called for an end to “suicide bombings,” suggesting instead that the Palestinians look to their “supreme national interests.” (Ha’aretz, May 22, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

A commander of the al-Aksa Martyr’s Brigades interviewed in Nablus by the New York Times said his group would no longer conduct suicide bombing attacks inside the 1967 borders of Israel. But the commander, identified only by his nom de guerre Abu Mujahed, said the group would continue its attacks in the occupied territories. Abu Mujahed said that he regretted the loss of civilian life. “I am sorry for all the civilians that died in this intifada, both Israelis and Palestinians,” he said. “I want to fight whoever is in charge of the government of Israel, not civilians.” He also said he was concerned the attacks on restaurants, buses and the like was hurting the Palestinian cause: “What was happening is that we were delivering the wrong message to the world.” (New York Times, April 23, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

Hamas moderate Ismail Abu Shanab said that if Israel withdrew to its pre-1967 borders, Hamas would “cease all military activities.” Asked if that meant Hamas would give up its objective of destroying Israel, Shanab said “there is a right for every generation to be satisfied with their condition. Now, when Palestinians and Israelis live among each other in peace, they may cooperate with each other in a way that everyone will be satisfied.” (San Francisco Chronicle, April 28 via World War 4 Report)

In a makeshift court inside Arafat’s compound, four members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine were convicted for the murder of right-wing Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavem Ze’evi. The men were given sentences ranging from one to 18 years in prison. The Israeli government had demanded the extradition of the men to Israel to stand trial for Ze’evi’s murder. Ze’evi was killed in retaliation for the Israeli assassination of the PFLP’s political leader, Abu Ali Mustafa, who himself was killed in retaliation for a successful strike on a Gaza IDF outpost by PFLP operatives. The trial was dismissed as a farce by Palestinian human rights activists. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said, “It would have been possible to avoid trying them twice, as they will anyway be brought to trial in Israel.” (Ha’aretz, April 26, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

In May, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan announced that the United Nations would go forward with a report on possible war crimes committed by Israel at Jenin, even though Israel continued to reject the fact-finding mission. Annan would ask Israel and the Palestinians to provide information for the report. (New York Times, May 3, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

The five-week siege at Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity finally came to an end May 10, when more than 100 Palestinians emerged from the church’s Gate of Humility and walked through a metal detector into Manger Square. In a European Union-brokered deal, 13 militants called “senior terrorists” were transferred in a British plane to Cyprus, from where they would go into exile in Italy, Spain, Greece and Ireland. (World War 4 Report, May 5, 2002)

The leaders of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria, who met at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheik May 11, reaffirmed their commitment to the Saudi initiative that called for peace with Israel in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders and expressed a “sincere desire for peace and a rejection of violence in all forms.” The meeting came four days after 16 people were killed in suicide bombing in Rishon Letzion, south of Tel Aviv. (New York Times, May 12, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Yassin said in an interview May 11 that the group would continue suicide bombings, calling them “forms of resistance open against the enemy.” In response to Arafat’s call to cease the bombings, Yassin said: “Hamas always considers the higher interests of the Palestinian people…We have in the past stopped martyrdom operations against the enemy. But they did not stop their killing of our people… That is why we are no longer obligated by our previous initiative.” (Reuters, May 11, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

In a raucous meeting of the Likud central committee, Sharon lost a key vote on whether to allow a future Palestinian state May 13. Sharon’s rival Binyamin Netanyahu stated: “This must be clear—there will not be a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River because that would be a deadly threat to Israel.” (BBC May 13).

That month, four Jewish settlers were detained by the Jerusalem police and the Shin Bet security service on suspicion of planning terror attacks on a girl’s school and other Arab targets in East Jerusalem. A group calling itself “Jewish Underground” distributed leaflets in various settlements taking responsibility for the murder of eight Arabs in terror attacks. (Ha’aretz, May 9, 10, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

The largest peace demonstration since the start of the Intifada in September 2000 was held May 11 in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square. The protestors, estimated at 100,000 by organizers Peace Now, demanded an immediate withdrawal from Palestinian territories and the dismantling of Israeli settlements there. Singer Yaffa Yarkoni performed, despite having received death threats. (BBC, May 12, 2002)

Despite international outrage against Israel, the idea of “transfer” meanwhile seemed to be gaining currency even in the West. John Derbyshire, a contributing editor to National Review, the foremost American conservative journal, wrote an article describing what he viewed as the five options available to the Palestinians:

1. An independent state, under Arafat or someone just as thuggish.
2. Military occupation by Israel.
3. Re-incorporation into a Jordanian-Palestinian nation.
4. Some sort of UN trusteeship.
5. Expulsion from the West Bank and Gaza, those territories then
incorporated into Israel.

Derbyshire’s conclusion:

When I say “the best option,” I don’t mean “best for the Palestinians.” I don’t think they have any good options. Being Arabs, they are incapable of constructing a rational polity, so their future is probably hopeless whatever happens… Would expulsion be hard on the Palestinians? I suppose it would. Would it be any harder than options 1 thru 4? I doubt it. Do I really give a flying falafel one way or the other? No, not really. [National Review, May 9, 2002]

The Israeli army was now requiring Palestinians living in the West Bank to obtain freedom-of-movement permits in order to travel between cities and towns. Israel did not notify the Palestinian Authority about the change in policy. Representatives of donor countries protested that the system was hindering aid deliveries—and had the effect of splitting the West Bank into eight separate cantons (Jenin, Nablus, Tul Karm, Qalqilya, Ramallah, Jericho, Bethlehem and Hebron), effectively isolated from one another. (Palestine Media Center)

On May 19, three Israelis were killed and 56 injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowded market in Netanya. The bomber was dressed as an Israeli soldier. The PFLP claimed responsibility for the attack. The PA condemned the attack, saying it “endanger[ed] the Palestinian people, its just cause, its rights, and the future of its dream of a state.” (Ha’aretz, May 20, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

The Revolutionary Council of Araft’s Fatah movement issued a statement May 29 calling for an end to attacks inside Israel: “Military attacks inside the ‘green line’ must stop because they reflect negatively on the image of our national struggle. Resistance to the occupation should be limited within Palestinian land occupied in 1967.” (Washington Post, May 29, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

Soldiers and tanks re-entered the Jenin refugee camp May 17 to search for militants who had evaded capture during Operation Defensive Shield. The army withdrew after making 20 arrests. (BBC, May 17, 2002)

Israel cut the Gaza Strip in half May 22, preventing north-south travel for Palestinians. Tel Aviv said the move was in reprisal for raids on Jewish settlements in the Strip. (Ha’aretz, May 26, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

The IDF again entered several West Bank towns and refugee camps in the search for suspected militants at the end of May, taking over Bethlehem for four days and sealing off most of Ramallah. (BBC, May 30)

B’Tselem released a report in May asserting that while Israeli settlements had administrative control of nearly half the West Bank. The report, titled “Land Grab: Israel’s Settlement Policy in the West Bank,” based on information obtained with difficulty from the civil administration, found that “while the built-up areas of the settlements constitute only 1.7% of the land in the West Bank, the municipal boundaries are over three times as large: 6.8%. Regional councils constitute an additional 35.1%. Thus, a total of 41.9% of the area in the West Bank is controlled by the settlements.” B’Tselem also reiterated that “International humanitarian law prohibits an occupying power from transferring citizens from its own territory to the occupied territory. An occupying power is also prohibited from undertaking permanent changes in the occupied area, unless they are undertaken for the benefit of the local population or are for urgent military needs. Israel’s settlement policy violates these regulations.” (B’Tselem, May 13, 2002)

By this point, there were 400,000 Jewish settlers on the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 137 settlements and 100 more “outposts” seen as the nuclei of future settlements. Some 300,000 Palestinians had left or been driven from the West Bank—mostly those who fled during the Six-Day War. (Dolphin, p. 7-8)

Settlement activity continued under Sharon, especially in and around East Jerusalem. But Yosef Barel, the chief the Israeli Broadcast Authority (IBA), issued an order May 30 banning the use of the word “settlers” on radio and TV broadcasts. Barel told editors to identify people solely by their place of residence, leaving editors confused as to how to distinguish between Arab and Jewish residents of the Occupied Territories. (Ha’aretz, May 31, 2002, via World War 4 Report)

An investigation by the Associated Press, based on interviews with settlers, found that the settlement department of the World Zionist Organization, working with Israel’s Jewish Agency, was bringing whole immigrant communities—consisting of dozens of families and their rabbis—directly to the Occupied Territories. “In principle, we are trying to encourage Jews to settle in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] and Gaza,” Ezra Rosenfeld, a spokesman for West Bank communities told AP. “This is part of our ideology.” The report embarrassed Israeli officials. Jewish Agency chairman Sallai Meridor stated: “The Zionist movement has no plan whose goal is to bring communities to settle precisely beyond the Green Line.” (Ha’aretz, June 9; AP, June 10, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

A bus carrying Israeli soldiers was destroyed when a car bomb exploded next to it June 5, killing 17, and wounding 47 at Meggido (the biblical Armageddon). The car was driven by an Islamic Jihad militant from Jenin. A caller from the militant organization told the press that the attack “took place on the 35th anniversary of the occupation of Jerusalem. We tell our enemies that we will continue to destroy their shields.” (Ha’aretz, June 6, 2002)

Israel again invaded Ramallah the day after the attack in Medgido, sending a column of around 50 tanks and armored vehicles into the town in the pre-dawn hours. The tanks surrounded Arafat’s headquarters, known as the Muqata’a, and opened fire. Several buildings were destroyed, although the PA chief was unharmed. The forces withdrew after six hours. There was a similar IDF incursion into Ramallah on June 10. Jenin was briefly re-occupied on June 7. (Ha’aretz, June 6, 10, 2002)

President George Bush stated the US must start immediate work with the Israelis and Palestinians in establishing a Palestinian state, but failed to set a timetable. In an op-ed piece in the New York Times June 9, “The Way Forward in the Middle East,” Sharon exploited the strategic ambiguity in Security Council Resolution 242:

[T]he United Nations Security Council determined in a historic decision, Resolution 242, that Israel was entitled to “secure and recognized boundaries” and was not expected to withdraw from all the territories that its forces had entered—and from which it was attacked—in the Six Day War. In effect, the resolution established that these were disputed territories where Israel had legitimate rights to defensible borders, besides the claims of the Arab parties to the conflict. [New York Times, June 9, 2002]

George Bush did not respond to this assertion, but stated on June 24: “I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror.” (Second “Road Map for Peace” speech, June 24, 2002)

The UN World Food Program meanwhile inaugurated a plan to provide emergency food aid to about 500,000 Palestinians. Said WFP regional director Khaled Adly: “Hunger and malnutrition are rapidly increasing among the Palestinians. Even when food is available in some of the markets, many impoverished Palestinians have become increasingly unable to meet all their food needs. The latest Israeli military incursions have dealt a hard blow to an already vulnerable economy pushing many Palestinians into destitution.” (World Food Program, May 21, 2002)

On June 18, a suicide bomber blew himself up on a Jerusalem bus, killing 19 and injuring 50. Seven of dead were Israeli Arabs. It was 8 AM, and there were schoolchildren on the bus, one of whom was killed. (BBC, June 18, 2002)

The PA again condemned the attack “The Palestinian Authority…retains its position of not condoning the killing of civilians—Palestinians and Israelis,” said Saeb Erakat, chief Palestinian negotiator. “We reject any Israeli attempt to assign blame or finger-pointing at us. The Israelis have done nothing in the last 21 months but destroy our ability [to go after the bombers].” But Israel did indeed blame the Palestinian leadership, calling its statements “false condemnations.”(CNN, June 19, 2002)

In an advertisement appearing in the Arabic daily al-Quds, Palestinian leaders Sari Nusseibeh and Hanan Ashrawi called on their people to reconsider suicide attacks. The ad counseled “those dispatching the Palestinian youths to take personal stock of their actions,” which “are only hurting innocent people, creating more hatred and distancing the prospects of achieving Palestinian independence.” (Jerusalem Post, June 19, 2002)

Operation Determined Path

In response to the June 18 Jerusalem suicide bombing, the Israeli army announced it would re-occupy Palestinian territory for an unspecified period—and occupy more each time another attack occurred. An Israeli defense official said this response would be “crushing and decisive,” and the IDF called up 2,000 reservists for the operation, dubbed “Determined Path.” In the following days, the IDF entered Nablus, Jenin, Tul Karm, Bethlehem, Ramallah, Qalqilyah and Beitounia. Arafat’s headquarters was surrounded yet again. Two Israeli soldiers were killed during operations in Qalqilyah. In Jenin, a 13-year old Palestinian boy was killed when the IDF blew up a building next to the house he was in, which was thought to house an explosives factory. Saying it had “erred in its action,” an Israeli army spokesman admitted the IDF mistakenly killed three children and wounded more than 20 others when a tank fired two shells at a crowd of shoppers in Jenin. The shoppers thought that an Israeli-imposed curfew had been lifted, and had rushed to the market to stock up on supplies. (Ha’aretz, Jerusalem Post, June 23, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer admitted that Israeli military action to prevent suicide bombings was proving counterproductive:

My objective is to prevent suicide bombings. That’s what Operation Defensive Shield was for. That’s what all the other operations are for. But, unfortunately, while the IDF is carrying out these necessary actions, the operations themselves become a hothouse that produces more and more new suicide bombers. The military actions kindle the frustration, hatred and despair, and are the incubator for the terror to come. The religious and political environment immediately exploits this effect and dispatches the new suicide bombers, and the pattern is repeated. [Ha’aretz, June 23, 2002]

Violence between Israeli settlers and Palestinian militants also continued. On June 20, PFLP gunmen attacked the West Bank settlement of Itamar, killing five. The gunmen entered a house in the settlement and took hostages. A fierce gun battle with armed settler guards and Israeli soldiers ensued. A mother and her three children, who lived in the house, were among the victims. Itamar was established by 500 members of the messianic Gush Emunim group. Despite its small population, the land under Itamar’s control extended over 7,000 dunums, or 1,750 acres—mostly confiscated from local Palestinian farmers, and guarded by seven “illegal” settler outposts (not recognized by the Israeli government). (The Guardian, June 20, 2002)

The funerals for the five settlers killed at Itamar brought out 3,000. Many wore t-shirts reading “No Arabs, no attacks,” and scuffled with Israeli police and army troops. After the funerals, armed settlers went in a convoy to the nearby Arab village of Howera, where they killed a 22-year old Arab man and set fire to cars. (The Independent, New York Times, June 22, 2002)

At the end of June, Hebron was re-occupied, and a Palestinian Authority building there blown up the IDF. Wanted militants said to have been hiding in the building were not found. Elsewhere around the West Bank, curfews and sweeps continued. (AP, June 30, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

An Israeli couple, Nurit and Rami Elhanan, who lost their daughter to a suicide bombing in 1997, spoke out against the ongoing re-occupation. “Our daughter was killed because of the terror of Israeli occupation,” said Nurit Elhanan, a professor at Hebrew Univesity. “Every innocent victim from both sides is a victim of the occupation. The occupation is the cancer feeding Palestinian terror.” (UK Mirror, June 29, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

Also in June, former Shin Bet chief Ami Ayalon and Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Melchior said at a meeting of the Meimad party (a member of Sharon’s coalition) that the coming demographic shift made it imperative that Israel leave the Occupied Territories. “The need to leave Judea and Samaria is not connected to the security issue but to the continued existence of the Jewish people in the land of Israel,” Ayalon said. “If we don’t leave the territories, either we will no longer be a democratic society, or we will not be a home for the Jewish people.” Melchior noted that the average age of Palestinians was under 13; Israelis, over 40. “We need to leave the settlements as soon as possible, with or without an agreement with the Palestinians,” Melchior said. “We simply cannot afford to be an occupier in today’s world.” (Ha’aretz, June 11; Jerusalem Post, June 13, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

“Security Fence” or “Apartheid Wall”?

In the wake of Defensive Shield and Determined Path, the IDF started to take over land owned by Palestinians in the West Bank to build a “security fence” that would divide the territory from Israel—a move intended to prevent the infiltration of Palestinian militants. The fence was to be 670 kilometers long—and would cut deep into the West Bank in places, rather than following the 315-kilometer Green Line. Letters posted by the IDF at village entrances infomring residents of the land seizures stated that the landowners had the right to challenge a seizure order in a military court, or seek monetary compensation. Few did. “It’s not a question of money for us,” said the mayor of Salfit, Shaher Eshteih. “This has been our land for generations.” (AP, June 3, 2002, via World War 4 Report; Dolphin, p. x)

Constuction began June 16 on a 100-kilometer stretch of the barrier, running largely along the Green Line, from northeast of Tel Aviv to just south of Afula in Israel’s north.Plans called for the barrier to include surveillance systems, patrol roads running along both sides, and other barriers and obstacles. Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer made assurances the fence was for security only, and not to mark a political border: “It is a security fence. It is not diplomatic. It is not political. This fence has one single goal—to defend the lives of Israeli citizens.” Far-right minister without portofolio and National Religious Party leader Effi Eitam expressed a different view, however. “The meaning of the fence is a return to the 1967 borders, and the establishment of a national boundary,” he stated at a June 16 cabinet meeting—despite the fact that the barrier route did not conform to the 1967 border. Palestinian Authority cabinet minister Saeb Erekat accused Israel of building the barrier to divide Palestinian areas into small cantons, in order to “start a new apartheid system which is worse than what happened in South Africa.” (Haaretz, June 17, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories John Dugart stated: “What we are presently witnessing in the West Bank is a visible and clear act of territorial annexation under the guise of security.” (Dolphin, p. x)

The White House and US State Department warned June 17 that Israel should not be making a unilateral border demarcation by constructing a security barrier on the West Bank. State Department spokesman Richard A. Boucher said: “To the extent that it is an attempt to establish a border, we would have to say that really has to be done through direct talks.” White House spokesman Scott McClellan distanced the administration from Israel’s decision. “Israel has a right to defend itself,” he said. “But all parties have to be aware of the consequences of their actions.” (New York Times, June 18, 2002)

While on a visit to the West Bank settlement of Alfei Menashe, Sharon promised its residents they would be on the “Israeli” side of the proposed barrier: “You are not beyond the fence. The fence is located east of you.” (Ha’aretz, June 19, 2002)

The Yesha Council of Settlements openly lobbied for the barrier to be built on the lines defining “Area A,” rather than the Green Line. The council’s chairman, Benzi Lieberman, assured there will be “a bitter struggle” against the government if the barrier followed the Green Line, since “it has the potential to become a political line.” (Ha’aretz, June 14, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

The barrier was in some places only a fence, but in others a solid wall with trenches filled with razor-wire on either side, sometimes up to 100 meters wide. Signs on the “Palestinian” side read in Arabic, Hebrew and English: “Mortal danger: Military zone.” (Dolphin, p. 39)

A composite barrier was also being built around East Jerusalem as part of the “Jerusalem Defense Plan,” including electric fences, trenches, roadblocks, and thick wire coils, with video and thermal surveillance systems. The pocket of suburban Jerusalem settlements enclosed by the barrier became known in official parlance as the “Jerusalem Envelope.” (Jerusalem Post, June 21, 2002; Dolphin, p. 39)

As construction on the barriers commenced, MK Benny Elon, leader of the right-wing Moledet faction, was meeting with US Jewish organizations, senators and congressman to lobby for his plan calling for the “voluntary transfer” of Palestinians to the east bank of the Jordan River. The “Elon Peace Initiative”—a glossy, eight-page presentation—had seven points, including nullification of the Oslo Accords, permanent resettlement of Palestinian refugees in the countries where they currently reside (to be aided by an international fund), and a “Jordanian-Palestinian” state with Amman as its capital. Those who violate the terms of the agreement “will be expelled to their state on the other side of the Jordan River,” according to the plan. Those who accept the plan would be able to remain in the West Bank and Gaza, with “Jordanian-Palestinian” citizenship. Elon said he had received support from several legislators, although he would not say which ones. “I can say one thing: Dick Armey is not alone,” said Elon, referring to the Republican House majority leader. (Jerusalem Post, June 27 via World War 4 Report)

In an attempt to counter a negative image problem, settler representatives of the “Yesha council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria” also embarked on a three-week US tour to promote their political agenda—namely, their opposition to a Palestinian state. “If you come to us and visit us, you will see a very normal life,” said Council head Shaul Goldstein on a self-produced satiellite radio broadcast on the theme “Rethinking the Palestinian State.” Goldstein added: “We have only one Jewish state, very, very tiny and we don’t want to establish another terror state inside Israel.” (Jerusalem Post, July 13, 2002)

While the events on the West Bank garnered worldwide media attention, the fundamental contradictions within Israel’s recognized borders remained little understood in the outside world. In July, the Israeli attorney general ruled that the controversial Druckman bill—setting aside state land for Jewish-only communities—was in violation of legal norms, effectively killing it. The bill came as a response to a March 2000 order by the Israeli High Court of Justice that the state to reconsider its refusal to let an Arab Israeli citizen, Aadal Kaadan, to live with his family in Katzir. Haim Druckman, a member of Effi Eitam’s far-right National Religious Party, sponsored the amendment. Among its original 50 supporters was Ariel Sharon. The controversy over the bill pointed to a fundamental contradiction in Israeli society. The state owns 90% of Israel’s land, under the Israel Lands Authority (ILA). Less that 2.5% of the land is under the jurisdiction of Arab municipalities, despite the fact the Arab citizens comprised 18% of Israel’s population. The Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Fund continued to receive land from the ILA to develop Jewish communities. JNF land—inclduing Katzir—was earmarked as “held in trust for the Jewish people.” In 1995 Kaadan challenged the law as discriminatory, and the court agreed—although the ruling went unenforced. (American Jewish Year Book, 2003, p. 273; World War 4 Report, July 14, 2002)

Leaders of both Islamic Jihad and Fatah denied that the security fence would thwart attacks emanating from such militant West Bank enclaves as Jenin. Over two dozen suicide bombers had come from Jenin during the Second Intifada, resulting in over 100 deaths. They said the barrier would only incite their rank-and-file to commit more violence. Jenin’s Islamic Jihad leader, Sheikh Bessam Saadi, said Palestinians would “find new methods, though this may take a little time.” He doubted the fence would stop his group’s attacks, just as Operation Defensive Shield had failed to stop them. Kadura Musa, Fatah’s secretary general in Jenin, again called the barrier a “plan for South Africa-style apartheid” after reviewing construction plans. Musa said the Palestinians would be carved into “bantustans” by the barrier—a reference to the ten pseudo-autonomous “homelands” that South Africa’s apartheid regime drew up for the country’s Black majority. (Jerusalem Post, June 17, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

Despite such rhetoric, Palestinian farmers who stood to lose access to their lands by Israel’s wall felt that the Palestinian Authority was not advocating strongly enough on their behalf, and held a campaign of sit-ins at the PA’s Ramallah headquarters to press for action on their plight. (Dolphin, p. 196)

Dialectic of Terror

Twin suicide bombings that killed three and wounded 40 near Tel Aviv’s bus station July 17 brought home the harsh reality faced by foreign workers in Israel—and the indiscriminate nature of the suicide attacks. Two of those killed in the attack, and many of the wounded, were foreign workers. Before Sept. 2000, when the Intifada broke out, 125,000 Palestinians worked in Israel. That number was vastly reduced due to closures and transportation restrictions. Much of the shortfall was made up with foreign workers, from Asia, Europe, and Africa. An estimated 300,000 such workers lived in Israel, working menial jobs in restaurants, on construction sites, and in the homes of wealthy Israelis. Many were in a kind of indentured servitude, forced to spend the first year paying their employers back for the loans used to get them to Israel. But even if employers are abusive, under Israeli law foreign workers could not quit without becoming “illegal immigrants.” Nor could they receive Israeli citizenship without converting to Judaism. Nor were their children born in Israel eligible for citizenship. (Ha’aretz, July 20, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

Many of the workers injured in the Tel Aviv attack were in Israel illegally, and were afraid to seek medical treatment, for fear of being deported—or compelled to pay for treatment. According to a new policy by the National Insurance Institute, foreigners in Israel illegally were no longer eligible to receive free medical services for work accidents. Foreign workers would be compensated for injuries suffered in “hostile actions” as long as they entered the country legally. But many foreign workers clearly did not understand this distinction. The Israeli daily Ma’ariv reported that despite entreaties by the police to workers wounded in the attack to go to a hospital, many refused. Witnesses saw injured workers leaving the scene. Ma’ariv reported a man from Ghana, almost unable to walk on his bloodied feet, refusing to allow police to put him in an ambulance, even after receiving assurances from officers he would not be deported (Los Angeles Times, July 19, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

In a new report, “Without Distinction: Attacks on civilians by Palestinian armed groups,” Amnesty International condemned actions by Hamas, al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, Islamic Jihad, and the PFLP. According to Amnesty, 350 mostly Israeli civilians had been killed in over 128 attacks by these groups since the Second Intifada broke out. Contradicting the invocation by these groups of the right to armed struggle, the report stated: “Attacks on civilians are not permitted under any internationally recognized standard of law, whether they are committed in the context of a struggle against military occupation or any other context… In the manner in which they are being committed in Israel and the Occupied Territories they also amount to crimes against humanity.” (Amnesty International, July 2002)

Palestinian cabinet secretary Ahmed Abdul Rahman responded that “all that is happening to Israeli citizens is a normal consequence of their occupation and rejection of Palestinian rights.” Hamas spokesman Ismail Abu Shanab called the report “completely biased.” (Ha’aretz, July 11, 2002)

A semi-annual US State Department report at this time found that there was “no conclusive evidence” that Arafat or other senior Palestinian officials either approved or planned any specific violent acts against Israelis. The report came less than one month after President Bush stated the Palestinian leadership was “compromised by terror,” and refused to deal any further with Arafat. The report acknowledged that documents seized by the IDF from Palestinian-run areas and given to US officials displayed Arafat’s signature on payments made to Fatah-party activists, including some to the al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade. Some of these payments “were likely made with the knowledge that the intended recipients had been involved in violence and terrorism,” the report said. Despite this, the report found the documents “do not conclusively establish that Arafat ordered or had foreknowledge of specific attacks.” The report faulted Arafat and the Palestinian leadership for not doing enough to stop terror, but said there was no firm evidence Arafat “approved or had prior knowledge of planned attacks.” the Jerusalem Post concluded that the “jumbled message shows how muddled US policy toward the Palestinians has become.” (Jerusalem Post, July 21, 2002 via Amnesty International)

Militants from the banned Jewish extremist group Kach attacked security guards at the US consulate in Jerusalem on July 18, and a minor fracas ensued. This followed a demonstration outside the consulate by Kach activists protesting what they called “the American intervention in the internal affairs of Israel.” Two of the militants were detained by the police for questioning. (Jerusalem Post, July 19, 2002)

A bulletin distributed in Israeli synagogues, B’Ahava V’Emuna, printed an article by a leading settler rabbi in which he suggested that “refuseniks”—soldiers who refuse to serve in the occupied territories—should be executed for treason. Rabbi Naftali Ben-Zvi, the head of the Wolozin yeshiva, wrote that “a person weakening the hands of the commander must die, because he is endangering the entire nation.” (Ha’aretz, July 18, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

On July 23, A US-made Israeli Air Force F-16 dropped a US-made JDAM 1-ton “smart” bomb on an apartment building in a crowded residential neighborhood of Gaza City, killing 16, and injuring 140. The bomb’s target was Sheik Salah Shehadeh, a co-founder of Hamas, chief of the organization’s military wing, the Izzadine al-Qassam brigade, and number one on Israel’s most-wanted list. Shehadeh, asleep at the time, was killed along with his wife, 14-year-old daughter, bodyguard—and 13 others in surrounding buildings. The Matar family, who lived next door, lost six family members, including daughter Iman, who was not found till two days later in the rubble. Her grandfather, Muhammed Matar, worked for 30 years at the Yakhin canning factory in the Israeli city of Ashkelon. He carries a certification of appreciation from the factory in his pocket. “Look what they did to us, after all the years we worked for them,” he told Ha’aretz. (Ha’aretz, July 29, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

One hundred thousand took to the streets for the funerals of those killed in the bombing. Said Hamas in a statement: “Anyone who dreams of so-called peace is mistaken. There is nothing called ‘peace with Israel.'” Arafat condemned the bombing as a “massacre and an awful crime carried out against our innocent children.” White House press secretary Ari Fleischer described the Israeli action as “heavy handed.” The attack came amid talk of a Palestinian cease-fire being negotiated by an EU official with the Fatah’s Tanzim militia and Hamas. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, referring to peace efforts, said, “Apparently the Israeli prime minister…said to himself ‘I will launch this air strike on Gaza to sabotage these efforts.'” Sharon pronounced the assassination of Shehadeh—with its grisly “collateral damage”—to be “one of our greatest successes.” (World War 4 Report round-up, July 28, 2002)

Leaders of the left Meretz Party in the Knesset had harsh criticism. “A nation cannot behave like a terrorist organization… there must be certain standards informing our actions,” said MK Zehava Gal-On. MK Yossi Sarid concluded “the government is not interested in reaching calm.” (Jerusalem Post, July 23, 2002)

US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher also expressed concerns, saying the administration was monitoring the use of US-made arms in Israel. Under the Arms Export Control Act, the weapons can only be used for “internal security and legitimate self defense.” Boucher said, “We’ve made quite clear that we’re seriously concerned about some of the Israeli tactics…including targeted killings and actions like this that endanger civilians.” (New York Times, July 25, 2002)

The Arab League, meeting July 25 in Cairo, agreed to “urge all states to stop the export of weapons, particularly the F-16, to Israel, which uses it to strike Palestinian cities, villages and refugee camps.” (AFP, July 25, 2002)

Violence erupted July 28 between Jewish settlers and Palestinians in Hebron, with settlers killing a 14-year old Palestinian girl, and injuring another seven Palestinians. Several Israeli police officers were wounded in fights with settlers or by Palestinian stone throwing. Settlers claimed that Palestinians, confined in their homes during a funeral procession for a settler killed the previous day, started the violence by throwing stones from their rooftops. Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer called what happened next a “Jewish riot.” The settlers attacked Palestinian homes with metal bars and stones, smashing windows. IDF troops stood and watched the settlers rampage for an hour, witnesses said. (Jerusalem Post, July 29, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

The IDF entered Gaza City July 26 with tanks and bulldozers, destroying three buildings. An army statement said the buildings housed workshops where rockets were being made. (BBC News, July 26, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

In Nablus, thousands of residents ignored an Israel-imposed curfew, taking to the streets en masse—in response to a call frmo Nablus governor Mahmoud Aloul and Fata to defy the curfew order. (AP, July 29, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

Preliminary results of a Johns Hopkins University survey of 1,000 Palestinian households, under contract to the US Agency for International Development (AID), showed a substantial increase in malnutrition, poverty, and poor health among Palestinians. Among the findings: 30% of Palestinian children were chronically malnourished, and 21% acutely so; 45% of Palestinian children under 5 and 48% of women of childbearing age were affected by mild to moderate anemia; the number of births attended by skilled heath workers had decreased from 97.4% pre-Intifada, to 67%. The study found that 70% of Palestinians live below the poverty line (less than $2 a day). (MIFTAH, July 17, 2002)

The preliminary report also noted in increase in house demolitions, finding that 720 homes were destroyed by the IDF and another 11,553 damaged from September 2000 to February 2002, affecting 73,600 people. During Operation Defensive Shield, 881 homes were destroyed and 2,883 damaged, affecting 22,500 residents. (ibid)

Maj. Gen. Amos Gilad, coordinator of Israeli government activities in the occupied territories, expressed skepticism about the report. “I say there is no hunger in the territories,” Gilad told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Aug. 6. “Hunger is when there is a lack of basic commodities. Hunger is when people have swollen bellies and fall over dead. There is no hunger now.” Gilad also had harsh words for the Palestinian Authority, which he charged were “extremely corrupt,” with its leaders “driving fancy cars, hiring maids from Sri Lanka, and not bringing up its children to become suicide bombers.” He added: “Sometimes I think we care about the Palestinians more than Yasser Arafat and his gang.” (Ha’aretz, Aug. 7, 2002)

The daughter of assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Dalia Rabin-Pelossof, resigned her post of deputy defense minister in the coalition government, writing in her resignation letter: “Recent developments have convinced me that I cannot remain a partner to what is being done on the security front without violating my principles. I especially cannot take responsibility for the peace process and its collapse.” (Jerusalem Post, July 28, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

Five US citizens were among seven dead when a bomb exploded July 31 in a crowded dining hall at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University. The dining hall, named after Frank Sinatra, was known to be frequented by foreign students, and by both Jews and Arabs; there were Arab students were among the some 90 wounded. Hamas said the attack was retaliation for the killing of Sheikh Shehadeh. The Palestinian Authority condemned the attack, but said Sharon’s “policies of destruction and collective punishment” were ultimately to blame. (Los Angeles Times, July 31, 2002)

Hamas published a pamphlet declaring it would kill 100 Israelis for every Hamas leader assassinated. (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 1, 2002)

Israel tightened its closure of five West Bank towns and cities in response to the spate of Palestinian attacks Aug. 5. Travel between cities in the northern part of the West Bank was banned, and movement within the cities severely restricted. Nablus was yet again re-occupied, with Israeli forces conducting house-to-house searches. (BBC News, Aug. 5, 2002 via World War 4 Report, Aug. 5, 2002)

The Israeli peace organization Gush Shalom sent letters to IDF officers on duty in the territories warning they could be guilty of war crimes. The officers were warned that their actions are being monitored, and that the organization intended to compile incriminating evidence to submit to the International Criminal Court at the Hague. Sharon ordered his attorney general to look into legal proceedings against Gush Shalom. (Ha’aretz, Aug. 4, 5 via World War 4 Report)

The US and Israel announced that they would sign a reciprocal pact restricting the extradition of their citizens to the International Criminal Court. Israel and US did not ratify the treaty creating the court, and the US had already signed a similar agreement with Romania. (Ha’aretz, Aug. 4 via World War 4 Report)

A long-awaited UN report on what happened at the Jenin refugee camp during Operation Defensive Shield was released in August. The report was compiled without Israeli cooperation. No basis was found for Palestinian claims of an Isreali “massacre” of civilians at Jenin. Both sides were criticized for endangering civilians, and the Israelis were criticized for preventing medical aid from reaching the injured. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who made claims of 500 Palestinian dead in April, reacted with anger. “The UN should have used the word ‘massacre’ or ‘war crime,'” he said. “The Israeli massacre in Jenin’s refugee camp clearly happened…” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Daniel Taub reacted by saying “The report overwhelmingly negates this Palestinian fabrication and repudiates the malicious lies spread regarding this issue.” (BBC News, Aug 1; Ha’aretz Aug. 2, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

The report declared its “particular concern” for the suffering of Palestinian civilians in the camp, noting the IDF was “reported to have used bulldozers, tank shelling and rocket firing, at times from helicopters, in populated areas.” But it also had criticism for Palestinian fighters: “Palestinian groups are alleged to have widely booby-trapped civilian homes, acts targeted at IDF personnel but also putting civilians in danger.” UN Secretary General Kofi Annan opined, “I would hope that both parties will draw the right lessons from this tragic episode and take steps to end the cycle of violence which is killing innocent civilians on both sides.” (ibid)

As the report was released, outgoing UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, claiming she was blackballed for another term by the US for a perceived bias towards the Palestinians, commented about losing her job, and the situation in Israel and Palestine:

Even…in 2000, it was very evident that the occupation is at the root of many of the human rights problems. And the Intifada, which had started then, was only at the stage of stone throwing… Since then we have drive-by shootings and suicide bombing which is of course appalling and cannot be condemned strongly enough, certainly not justified by any cause—but the Israeli responses are also excessive. It worries me that in this great country [the US] that’s not the perception: They don’t see the suffering of the Palestinian people; they don’t see the impact of collective punishment. They do immediately see and empathize—and rightly—with the suffering of Israeli civilians who are killed, or injured, or just frightened, and of course I do too. But I find it very disheartening that there is not more understanding here of the appalling suffering of the Palestinian population, nor appreciation that this is not going to lead to a secure future. It’s going to lead to greater hatred and desperation, to further suicide bombings. [, July 26, 2002]

As if to confirm Robinson’s criticism, in a question-and-answer session at the Pentagon, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld refused to call on Israel to withdraw from what he called the “so-called occupied territories.” Evidently referencing 1967, Rumsfeld told reporters: “My feelings about the so-called occupied territories are that there was a war. Israel urged neighboring countries not to get involved in it once it started. They all jumped in and they lost a lot of real estate to Israel because Israel prevailed in the conflict.” Israel, Rumsfeld said, has repeatedly offered to withdraw, but “at no point has it been agreed upon by the other side.” Rumsfeld also said “it’s hard to know” whether or not Israel should give up its settlements on the West Bank. (Foundation for Middle East Peace)

Four IDF reservists from the same battalion were sentenced to 28 days in jail Aug. 6 for refusing to serve in the occupied territories. The four included the deputy commander of an armored corps, reserve Major Rami Kaplan, one of the original signatories of the “Courage to Refuse” letter. According to the conscientious objectors’ group Yesh Gvul, 110 refuseniks had served time since January 2002. (Ha’aretz, Aug. 7, 2002)

Dozens of IDF troops and Israeli Border Police attacked a group of 700 Israeli Arab and Jewish activists attempting to enter Bethlehem from Jerusalem on Aug. 10. The activists, from the joint Arab/Jewish organization Ta’ayush (co-existnce), were to meet up with a group of Palestinians for a joint demonstration against the occupation outside the Church of the Nativity. (Ha’aretz, Aug. 7, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

On Aug. 14, a Palestinian youth being used by the IDF as a “human shield” was killed in a West Bank village. The soldiers put 19-year-old Nidal Muhsein of Tubas in a flak jacket and sent him to knock on his neighbor’s door and announce that the IDF was there to arrest him. The occupant was Nasser Jerar, a wanted Hamas militant. The IDF said Muhsein was killed by gunfire emanating from inside the house, but Palestinian witness say he was killed by IDF gunfire. The IDF then destroyed the house with a bulldozer. Jerar was killed when his house collapsed on him. The IDF called its use of human shields “neighbor practice.” (Ha’aretz, Aug. 16, 16 , 2002 via World War 4 Report)

Fatah’s Tanzim militia leader Marwan Barghouti was charged Aug. 14 in a Tel Aviv court with “murder, incitement to murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, membership of a terrorist organization, acting as an accessory to murder, and activity in a terrorist organization.” The indictment called Barghouti an “arch terrorist whose hands are bloodied by dozens of terror actions.” Former South African president Nelson Mandela joined a “free Barghouti” committee. (Ha’aretz, Aug. 17, 2002)

Former longtime Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek said Aug. 22 that Palestinians should be granted control over parts of the city, including some disputed Old City holy sites. Kollek said the 200,000 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem should not be under Israeli control: “Listen, they [the Palestinians] have been sitting there for so many years and feel that it is theirs. You can’t achieve calm if you don’t give them part of what they want and can control. There’s no solution without this… I think there needs to be an arrangement and we need to give something to them [the Arab residents of Jerusalem] and have part for ourselves. It will never be easy.” Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, while not Israeli citizens, have Israeli residency, receive Israeli social benefits, and are eligible to vote in municipal elections—which they boycott. (AP, Aug. 22, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

On Aug. 24, the IDF again blocked an aid convoy by the joint Arab-Jewish activist group Ta’ayush to Nablus, where the population was facing harsh privation after 65 consecutive days of curfew. (World War 4 Report)

There were indications that a slow “transfer” was already underway. Around 80,000 Palestinians had left the West Bank and Gaza Strip since the beginning of 2002, a rise of 50% compared to the previous year, a Palestinian Authority official said in August. The official, who asked not to be named, told the Jerusalem Post another 50,000 Palestinians were currently trying to leave through the Jordan River. “We are seriously talking about transfer,” the official said. “We are holding urgent deliberations with the brothers in Jordan and Egypt to try to stop the influx.” Palestinian Agriculture Minister Rafeeq al-Natsha said that Palestinian losses in agriculture had reached one billion US dollars in the past two years, and warned that the Israeli policy of re-occupation of Palestinian cities and villages was leading to “an agricultural and economic catastrophe in Palestinian territories.” (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 26, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

Simultaneously, Gamla, and Israeli organization of former settlers and former military officers, published detailed plans for the “complete elimination of the Arab demographic threat to Israel” by forcibly expelling the entire Palestinian population from both Israel proper and the occupied territories within a 3-5 year period. The manifesto, entitled “The Logistics of Transfer” and posted on the group’s website, called forced expulsion of the Palestinians “the only possible solution” to the conflict, and asserted that it is “substantiated by the Torah.” Gamla was receiving tax-deductible contributions in the US through a New York-based charity, PEF Israel Endowment Funds, which states on its own website that it was established in 1922 by US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis and Rabbi Stephen Wise, a pillar of Reform Judaism in the United States. PEF Israel Endowment Funds calls one of its stated purposes “promoting greater tolerance and understanding between religious and secular communities and between Arabs and Jews.” (Gamla, July 3, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

The new head of the Israeli army, Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya’alon, said in a speech to a rabbinical assembly Aug. 26 that the Palestinian “threat” had “cancer-like attributes” and “must be fought to the bitter end.” Gen. Ya’alon called the Palestinian conflict an “existential” threat to Israel, saying the Palestinian leadership did not recognize Israel’s right to exist. Prime Minister Sharon defended the comments as a “professional opinion.” Noting that Palestinian hardliners make the same argument in reverse, leading Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery said the general’s remarks “preclude any kind of peace-making and amount to a demand for unconditional capitulation.” (The Independent, Aug. 27, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

A Reuters photo of Israeli soldiers posing beside body of a dead Palestinian as a colleague took their picture prompted Britain’s chief rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, to warned that two years of Israeli-Palestinian violence had pushed Israel down a path incompatible with Judaism’s core ideals. “There are things which happen on a daily basis which make me feel very uncomfortable as a Jew,” Sacks said, adding thart he was “profoundly shocked” by the photo.
The Israeli soldiers posed beside the body of a Palestinian gunman who was killed in an exchange of fire at a checkpoint in February. (Reuters, Aug. 27, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

The Palestinian Interior Minister Abdel Razak Yehiyeh told the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot Aug. 30 that he had called for Palestinian militant groups to “stop the suicide bombings, stop the murders for no reason.” Yehiyeh also decried that “Children were exploited for these attacks,” which were often carried out by teenagers. On Sept. 2, Yehiyeh went further, calling on Palestinians to end all armed actions against Israelis and switch to civil struggle. “All forms of Palestinian violence have to stop,” Yehiyeh told Reuters. “All resistance acts that are characterized by violence, such as using arms or even stones…are harmful. I call for civil resistance within the framework of the political struggle.” (Reuters, Sept. 2, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

Mahmoud Abbas alias Abu Mazen, a Palestinian Authority leader and himself a refugee from Safed, spoke plainly to residents of the Yarmuk refugee camp in Syria in September: “I’m sure that you all want to go back to Palestine, to the homes your families left in the Galilee, Jaffa and Haifa.” The crowd cheered, and Abu Mazen continued:

Indeed, the Israelis expelled us from our lands, and I and my friends in the leadership will insist on our right to return. But it is important for you to know what is awaiting all those who choose to realize that right and prefer it over the option to settle in the new state of Palestine or to emigrate to Canada, or Europe, or to join families in other countries… You won’t be going back to your home, nor to the neighborhood or the village. The houses, neighborhoods, and villages are all gone. New cities have been built on your lands, and in your houses, Jewish babies have been born. You will join a Palestinian minority in a country where the language of the state is not their language, its culture is not theirs, its flag is not theirs, and the anthem is not theirs. No jobs await you, nor a welcome home. [Ha’aretz, Sept. 6, 2002 via World War 4 Report]

For the first time in its history, Israel appointed a Muslim as the director of the Religious Affairs Ministry’s Muslim department. Abdul Rahman Daoud Kabaha, a graduate of a seminary oriented towards Sufism, said, “I want religion to be outside of the conflict in our region. I want to use religion to draw people together and to promote peace.” (Jerusalem Post, July 25, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

But meanwhile in the Tul Karm area of the West Bank, Israeli bulldozers flattened Palestinians’ lands in order to build the security barrier. The confiscated lands were south and west of the village of Fir’awn. Witnesses reported olive trees destroyed by bulldozers backed by Israeli military vehicles. (BBC Monitoring, Sept. 14, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

A new 100-page report by Israel’s National Security Council urged the Sharon administration to establish a clearly-defined border between Israel and Palestine—unilaterally if necessary. The report was drawn up by outgoing council head Maj. Gen. Uzi Dayan, nephew of the legendary Moshe Dayan—minister of defense during the 1967 war in which Israel first occupied the West Bank and Gaza. (The Forward, Aug. 30, 2002 via World War 4 Report) [top]

In the face of his seeming impotence to stop the land grabs—as well as charges of corruption and authoritarian rule—Yasser Arafat’s own Fatah movement turned on him and threatened to join a vote of no confidence in the 21-member cabinet he presented to the Palestine Legislative Council. To avoid the vote, the entire cabinet resigned. (AP, Sept. 11, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

Fatah’s hardline factions simultaneously rejected a plan the European Union was attempting to broker that would end attacks within the Green Line, but not the Occupied Territories. The al-Aksa Martyr’s Brigades said: “We promise more attacks, more suicide strikes until we put an end to the occupation of our land.” (AFP, Sept. 15, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

On Sept. 11, Naher Abu Kishak, serving a life sentence for an attack in Israel in 2001, became the first Israeli Arab to have his citizenship revoked. Said Interior Minister Eli Yishai: “Revoking citizenship is a harsh step. But the State of Israel has never been in an existential struggle of this nature, whereby people with Israeli identity cards operate against [the state]. There is no country in the world that has to contend with this kind of threat.” Kishak requested he be recognized as a resident of the West Bank. (Ha’aretz, Sept. 12, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

Six were killed and 71 injured in a suicide bombing attack on a bus in Tel Aviv Sept. 19. Among the killed was Jonathan Jesner, 19, a yeshiva student from Scotland. His kidney was donated to a Yasmin Abu Ramila, 7, a Palestinian girl from East Jerusalem who had been undergoing dialysis for nearly two years, and was on a transplant waiting list. “I don’t know what to say to thank the family of the man killed in the attack,” her mother Rina told the Israeli daily Ma’ariv. “I grieve for their loss and thank them for their donation which saved the life of my daughter.” Jesner had intended to start medical school the following year. Said Ari Jesner, the victim’s brother: “If he could have helped people during his life he would have, but now that he can’t, at least he can help people in death.” (AP, Sept. 22, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

Also Sept. 19, a suicide bomber killed an Israeli police officer when his van was stopped in the northern Israeli town of Umm al Fahm. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility, saying it was sending a message to Ariel Sharon on the 20th anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacres. The two bombings ended six weeks in which no attacks occurred inside of Israel. The New York Times titled its article on the attack, “Suicide Bomber Kills Israeli Soldier, Ending 6 Weeks of Quiet.” Those six weeks, however, were not so quiet in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, the scene of Israeli curfews, closures, attacks, demolitions, confiscations, detentions, and deportations. (New York Times, Sept. 19, 2002)

In response to the new bombings, Israel’s cabinet voted unanimously to besiege the Muqata’a, Arafat’s compound in Ramallah, and demand the surrender of 19 wanted men believed to be inside. The IDF troops surrounded the Muqata’a as it had in April’s Operation Defensive Shield—only this time, it demolished all but one building in the compound, that containing Arafat’s office. (Ha’aretz, Sept. 20, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

On Sept. 17, the IDF moved into the al-Salam neighborhood, near Rafah in the Gaza Strip. Troops demolished one house, damaging several others and nearby farms. (WAFA, Sept. 17, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

That same day, an explosion at the primary school in the West Bank village of Yatta, near Hebron, injured five young Palestinian children. The bomb exploded by a water cooler, and a second bomb was disarmed by police. No one claimed responsibility, but Shin Bet said Jewish extremists were suspected. (Ha’aretz, Sept. 18, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

On Oct. 7, several were killed when an Israeli helicopter fired a missile on a crowd at Khan Younis, in Gaza. The following day, a ten-year-old Palestinian girl was shot dead by Israeli forces at the at the Gaza-Egypt border. Residents said the soldiers fired at stone-throwing youths, and hit the girl near her house. The IDF said the soldiers were attacked with machinegun fire and grenades. (WAFA, Oct. 9, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

After pulling out of Jenin and encircling the city with a six-foot-wide trench (to prevent suicide bombers from driving out in cars, the IDF said), Israeli forces re-entered the city on Oct. 17, imposing a curfew. Israeli armored vehicles in the streets “opened random and heavy machine-gun fire,” the BBC reported. (World War 4 Report, Oct. 21, 2002)

At least 14 were killed, and over 40 injured Oct. 21 in a suicide bombing near the Israeli coastal city of Hadera. (Ha’aretz, Oct. 21, 2002 via World War 4 Report, Oct. 21, 2002) A suicide attack on a gas station in the West Bank settlement of Ariel killed three Israeli reserve soldiers and wounded 15 other on Oct. 27. Hamas claimed responsibility. (Ha’aretz, Oct. 28, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

On Oct. 23, the Knesset rejected a bill banning the openly pro-transfer Moledet party from upcoming elections. Justice Minister Meir Sheetrit (Likud) argued “‘Transfer’ is a term with many definitions, some of which may not contradict the state’s democratic character.” (Ha’aretz, Oct. 23, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

Graffiti and posters began to appear on walls in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv reading “Transfer = Peace and Security” and “Deport the fuckers.” Polls showed a support of 20-30% among Israelis for some kind of deportation of Palestinians from the Occupied Territories. Israeli historian Benny Morris noted: “The transfer idea waxes when the country is in crisis… In the existential war of the last two years, Israelis view Palestinians as unwilling to accept an Israeli state.” Morris added that the idea persists because “in 1948, a Jewish state would not have come into being without Arabs being displaced.” (AFP, Oct. 23, 2002 via World War 4 Report)

MK Benny Elon, who replaced the assassinated “transfer” proponent Rehavim Ze’evi as Moledet’s leader, said “when you look at it, transfer is the only conclusion. It is the only light at the end of the tunnel.” Elon emphasized that he favored “voluntary” transfer, financed with international money. (Ibid)

Elon’s Moledet (Homeland) party began taking out advertisements in Palestinian newspapers offering free assistance and advice to any Palestinians wishing to emigrate from the West Bank or Gaza. “The transfer idea was one of the basic options from the beginning of Zionism,” said Elon, insisting a transfer program could be “good for both sides.” (BBC News, Oct. 30, 2002)

A suicide bombing on a bus in Jerusalem Nov. 21 killed 11, including four schoolchildren. Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad took responsibility. The bomber, Na’el Abu Hilayel, came from Bethlehem. The parents of Na’el Abu Hilayel were proud of their son. His mother said: “It’s all because of the crimes committed by the occupation. That’s why my son, may God be satisfied with him, carried out the operation. Of course I’m proud of him and all the martyrs.” The Israeli army entered Bethlehem after the attack. The attacker’s house was destroyed, and Israeli troops occupied 25 homes in the village of al-Khader by the southern entrance to the city, the residents ordered out of their homes at gunpoint. The bombing was followed by a wave of physical attacks—mostly stabbings—on Arab residents in Jerusalem by Jewish youth. (World War 4 Report round-up, Nov. 26, 2002)

A Palestinian musahhir—the person who beats a drum at dawn to notify Muslims of the start of Ramadan fast—was shot dead by Israeli troops Nov. 27 as he went from door to door waking people for prayers in the Askar refugee camp in Nablus. Another bloody week in the Gaza Strip left at least three dead—including a 68-year-old Palestinian man whose house was demolished on top of him. A school was also badly damaged when two Israeli Apache helicopters carried out a missile strike on Khan Younis. (World War 4 Report, Dec. 2, 2002)

Yet, amidst all this, there were also signs of conciliation. Labor dove Yossi Beilin, who had been drawing up an unofficial peace agreement with Palestinian Minister of Information Yasser Abed Rabbo, reported the Palestinians were willing to moderate their stance on the right of return. In exchange for Israel’s acceptance of its responsibility for the refugee problem, and taking in a token amount of refugees, the Palestinians would forgo a full implementation of the right to return, he said. The rest of the refugees would be allowed to settle in one of five European countries (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 26, 2002)

Mahmoud Abbas alias Abu Mazen, the number two man in the PLO, criticized the military nature of the Intifada in a speech in Gaza Nov. 28. “The militarization of the Intifada distracted it from its right path. Instead of getting rid of Sharon, he has become one of the most popular leaders in Israel.” Abbas was addressing leaders of the Popular Committees of the Strip’s refugee camps, some of whom reacted to his words with anger. (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 28, 2002)

The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem relased a report charging Israel with failing to provide adequate protection to Palestinian olive harvesters during the recent harvest season. Entitled “The Performance of Law Enforcement Authorities in Responding to Settler Attacks on Olive Harvesters,” the report charged: “The security forces did not prepare in advance for potentially violent events, despite the fact that such incidents could have been anticipated, nor did they intervene in most cases when such incidents occurred.” The failure to provide adequate protection “is particularly unreasonable when contrasted with the enormous efforts made by the IDF to protect the settlers,” B’Tselem stated. The rights group said Israeli security forces only took significant action after four weeks of “violent and systematic attacks by groups of armed settlers.” (Ha’aretz, Dec. 2, 2002)

US Secretary of State Powell insisted that none of a new $14 billion in US military aid and loan guarantees would be used for further Israeli colonization activities in the West Bank and Gaza. (AFP, Nov. 28, 2002)

On Dec. 1, six Israeli tanks surrounded a warehouse in Beit Lahiya in the Gaza Strip, filled with food aid belonging to the World Food Program, and destroyed it. The $271,000 worth of food destroyed along with the building was earmarked for 40,000 needy Palestinians. In a statement, the WFP said the warehouse was clearly marked. The WFP urged “the Israeli government to observe humanitarian principles and compensate the agency for its loss.” The IDF said it would look into the complaint. (AP, Dec. 9, 2002)

The ongoing contest over issues of citizenship and identity within Israel continued. The left-wing Meretz party added new secularizing provisions to its platform. Under one provision, a person could be recognized as part of the Jewish people and be eligible for Israeli citizenship without having to undergo a religious ceremony. The platform also called for abolishing the Chief Rabbinate (the body charged with determining who is a Jew under religious law, and therefore eligible for the Right of Return), guaranteed abortion rights, and public transportation on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays. It also called for allocating a “reasonable” number of draft exemptions a year for outstanding Torah scholars instead of the current system of wholesale exemptions. Those receiving exemptions would also be allowed to work, making them less dependent on the ultra-orthodox establishment. (Ha’aretz, Dec. 16, 2002)

Israel’s electoral commission on Dec. 30 barred MK Ahmed Tibi, an Israeli Arab legislator from the Arab Movement for Renewal-Hadash Party, from participating in the upcoming elections. Tibi had drawn the ire of many in the Israeli political establishment when he called Palestinian resistance in Jenin during Operation Defensive Shield “an act of noble heroism.” (AP, Dec. 30, 2002)

The same day it disqualified Tibi, the electoral commission approved former Kach leader Baruch Marzel to run on the extreme-right Herut list, led by MK Michael Kleiner. Israel banned the Kach movement in 1994 after the Kach supporter Dr. Baruch Goldstein carried out his massacre at the tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron. Marzel was a protege of Rabbi Meir Kahane, the movement’s leader, who was assassinated by an Egyptian gunman in New York in 1990. Herut openly called for brutally crushing Palestinian resistance, and settling the Occupied Territories. (Reuters, Dec. 29, 2002)

Amnesty International wrote to Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz on Dec. 19 expressing concern over the treatment of soldiers who refused to serve in the Occupied Territories. Amnesty noted that while 180 “refuseniks” had been jailed in the past 26 months, “the IDF does not try soldiers and officers responsible for grave breaches of human rights and genuine war crimes, such as killing children and other unarmed civilians, indiscriminate shooting, shelling and bombing of densely populated areas, and demolition of homes with residents inside them who are left to die under the ruins.” (Jerusalem Post, Dec. 19, 2002)

On Jan. 5, 2003, two suicide bombers blew themselves up about a hundred yards apart, on parallel streets near the central bus station in Tel Aviv, killing 25 and injuring over 100. Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and al-Aksa’s Martyrs’ Brigades all took responsibility. As of that day, 69 Palestinians had been killed in the Occupied Territories since Dec. 1. Eleven of the dead were children, and one was a 95-year-old woman whose death earned an Israeli soldier 65 days in jail. (World War 4 Report, Jan. 6, 2003)

A new group calling itself the “Forum of Holocaust survivors and descendants to halt the deterioration of Israeli humanism” began circulating a petition declaring: “we cannot clear our conscience in light of the mass, arbitrary destruction of civilians’ homes, uprooted olive trees, and orchards shaved to the ground. We cannot accept the extensive disruptions of daily life and abuse, for its own sake or not, at the checkpoints.” Zvi Gil, the forum coordinator, said that “based on the ruthless lessons of life we have experienced,” the group was calling for Israel to “liberate itself” from the occupation immediately. The forum said the conflict resulting from the occupation not only endangered Israeli Jews but Jewish communities worldwide. The group asked to meet with Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz to explain its views. There was no response. (Ha’aretz, Dec.31, 2002)

For the first time since the first Intifada in 1987, more than 1,000 Palestinians were held in “administration detention” in Israel at the start of 2003, according to B’Tselem. Administrative detention, permitted under international law, allows a state to hold detainees without trial or charge, authorized by a major general’s order. However, there are strict guidelines on administrative detention, that B’Tselem said Israel blatantly ignored. The rights group urged the Israeli government to immediately release all administrative detainees, and cease widespread use of this measure. (B’Tselem press release, Jan. 5, 2003)

Two teen-aged Palestinian bystanders were killed and a third critically injured in an Israeli attempt to assassinate two members of Hamas with missiles fired from an Apache helicopter gunship on Jan. 12. Hamas sources called it “a severe Israeli escalation that will not go unanswered.” (World War 4 Report, Jan. 12, 2003)

Hundreds marched near the West Bank city of Hebron Jan. 19 in the funeral procession of a radical Jewish settler killed two days earlier in an infiltration of an “illegal” outpost of the Kiryat Arba settlement by presumed Hamas gunmen. Chanting “Revenge, revenge!”, mourners threw stones at several Palestinian-owned homes, smashing windows, while Israeli soldiers stood by. The previous night, dozens of Jewish settlers rioted in Hebron, setting a wrecked car on fire and beating several Palestinians. (AP, Jan. 19, 2003)

That week, the Israeli army closed Hebron University and the city’s Polytechnic Institute, claiming computers and chemistry labs had been used by Hamas in preparing terror attacks. Hebron’s Palestinian governor, Arid Jabari, protested the closures as collective punishment. “Israel has no right to close universities, colleges and schools in the Palestinian territories,” he said, invoking the Oslo Accords. (New York Times, Jan. 16, 2003)

Ignoring the “Road Map to Peace”

Ariel Sharon stated that he believed the international “road map” to Palestinian statehood then being drawn up by the “Quartet” of peace mediators—the US, UN, EU and Russia—was unrealistic and could be implemented. When asked about the plan in an interview with Newsweek, Sharon was quoted as saying: “Oh, the Quartet is nothing! Don’t take it seriously! There is [another] plan that will work.” Sharon said Palestinian reform—including the removal of Arafat from power and decisive action against militants—was a precondition for renewing peace efforts. In such a case, Israel would be willing to recognize a provisional, demilitarized Palestinian state with temporary borders. Israel would enter negotiations on a final peace deal only after prolonged calm, Sharon said. Sharon adviser Raanan Gissin later said the prime minister’s words were “taken out of context” by Newsweek: “He meant the plan cannot be implemented—not that the Quartet is nothing.” Gissin said “Israel and the United States see eye to eye,” pointing to the previous June’s speech by President Bush stating that Arafat must cede power. (AP, Jan. 19, 2003)

However, the White House had not distanced itself from the Quartet plan, which called for a three-stage timetable leading to Palestinian statehood by 2005. The plan included elements Sharon mentioned, including Palestinian reform, decisive action against militants and a provisional interim state—but also insisted that Israel freeze settlement construction and withdraw from Palestinian towns and villages. Palestinian cabinet minister Erekat said Sharon’s “real intention is to…make it impossible for any future negotiators to discuss peace.” (Ibid)

On Jan. 21 in the West Bank village of Nazlet Isa, Israeli bulldozers, backed up by some 300 army troops and Border Police, destroyed 62 Palestinian-owned shops and businesses housed in some 30 buildings. The demolitions were carried out despite an Israeli High Court order staying them pending further review. The demolitions were said to be a security measure, or because the buildings were built without a permit. In fact, the stores had Palestinian Authority building permits, but were built in Area C, under Israeli security and administrative control since 1993. (World War 4 Report, Jan. 27, 2003)

Israel locked down the West Bank and Gaza Strip Jan. 26, two days ahead of its national election, barring all Palestinians from entering Israel and confining most to their communities. On Jan. 23, Israeli forces invaded Gaza City, destroying several houses and shops with explosives over the next two days. One stray missile fired from a helicopter hit Saint Philips Church, located on the grounds of al-Ahly Hospital, and an elderly Palestinian woman died of a heart attack when her home was hit. (World War 4 Report, Jan. 27, 2003)

On Feb. 2—days after Sharon’s Likud Party handily won the election—the IDF, citing a lack of building permits, demolished nine Palestinian houses in Hebron, leaving dozens homeless. Palestinian families hurriedly dragged refrigerators and sofas out of the homes before Israeli bulldozers began knocking down the walls. The families said they had received notices months ago that the houses would be destroyed, but had not known when the demolitions would begin. Erekat said the demolitions were part of Sharon’s “policy of expanding settlements and putting obstacles in the way of future peace.” Palestinian authorites charged that Israel’s stringent permit policy was making it virtually impossible to build new houses. (AP, Feb. 2, 2003)

The District Co-ordinating Offices (DCOs), originally places where Israeli and Palestinian security forces coordinated under the Oslo accords, were now the bases of the Israeli army again occupying Palestinian territory—and often the scene of uneven battles between stone-throwing Palestinian youth and Israeli armored vehicles. (World War 4 Report, Feb. 17, 2003)

At the same time, there were more signs of passive resistance within the Israeli military. Media reports said an army lieutanant from an elite intelligence unit delayed passing on information needed for an air strike against a Palestinian town, thus foiling the attack. The officer, who was not identified, told a military tribunal he acted according to his conscience, saying innocent people would have been killed, and called his orders illegal under international law. The tribunal rejected his argument, and transferred him to a less elite unit as punishment. (Reuters, Jan. 27, 2003)

Following continued firing of Hamas-manufactured Qassam rockets over the Gaza-Israeli border, the IDF greatly stepped up pressure on Hamas, vowing to take out its military wing, the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades. The rockets rarely did any damage, but one on Feb. 19 managed to lightly wound an Israeli in the town of Sderot near Gaza. In the following days, some 45 Palestinians were killed in Israeli raids on the Strip. Hamas had by then not killed anyone in Israel in two and a half months, but this unspoken ceasefire was brought to a halt by Israel’s intensified operations. Sheik Yassin stated Feb. 19: “We ceased attacks to prove to the people that Israel didn’t need any excuse to attack us, and that was shown by these attacks on us. Now all weapons and all attacks are worthy.” (World War 4 Report, Feb. 24, 2003)

In the wake of a Belgian court’s ruling that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon could be compelled to testify about his responsibility for the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacres of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Israeli legal advisors issued a memo to ministers, warning that some Israeli officials shouldn’t visit Europe—or risk arrest for war crimes. The Israeli peace group Gush Shalom published the name of an F-16 pilot responsible for dropping a half-ton bomb on Gaza, killing more than twelve civilians, including women and children, the previous July. He was also then instructed not to leave Israel for Europe until further notice. (Jane’s Foreign Report, Feb. 20, 2003)

On March 16, Rachel Corrie, a 23-year-old student from Olympia, Washington, was killed by an Israeli army bulldozer attempting to destroy the home of a Palestinian pharmacist at Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. Corrie, a volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), had spent most of the afternoon patrolling with other international activists along a small stretch of the border area between Gaza and Egypt where dozens of homes had been destroyed by Israeli forces. For three hours, the group had been making its presence known visibly and audibly, using banners and megaphones to alert soldiers. Occasionally the bulldozer drivers waved to the protestors, who were standing in front of the houses. (World War 4 Report, March 17, 2003)

The IDF concluded that Corrie’s death was an accident. On April 5, the Israeli army announced that the bulldozer driver who killed Corrie is back on the job. (AP, April 5, 2003)

April 5, another American ISM volunteer, Brian Avery, was shot in Jenin, sustaining severe facial injuries, The original Israel Defense Forces investigation, carried out immediately after the incident by Col. Dan Hefetz, commander of the Menashe Brigade, concluded (in the words of an IDF statement delivered to the US Embassy): “Mr. Ivory’s injury is an unfortunate incident. ISM activists knowingly endanger themselves by operating during curfew in combat situations, seeking clashes and frictions with IDF soldiers. No findings indicate that Mr. Avery was injured by IDF fire in any of the above-mentioned events.” Avery demanded that the IDF open a criminal investigation into the shooting. (Common Dreams, March 18, 2005)

Mahmoud Abbas, alias Abu Mazen, accepted the position of prime minister of the Palestinian Authority on March 19. Arafat was under international pressure to appoint a prime minister as a measure to legitimize his government. That same day, an Israeli settler was killed at a settlement near Jenin, in an apparent attack by an armed group linked to Arafat’s Fatah movement. (AFP, March 19, 2003)

At 3 AM on April 2, IDF troops and border police invaded the West Bank’s Tul Karm refugee camp from all sides. Gunfire, stun grenades and helicopters woke the camp’s residents. Using loudspeakers, the Israelis gathered all male residents aged 15-40 at a school, where their IDs and mobile phones were taken. Those aged 15-20 were separated and brought inside the school, where they were forced to rip pictures of shaheeds (martyrs) off the walls, and step on them. (World War 4 Report, April 7, 2003)

On April 9, a bomb exploded in a West Bank school playground, injuring 20 Palestinian children. The clandestine Jewish extremist group called Revenge of the Infants claimed responsibility for the attack at the secondary school in the village of Jaba’a, south of Jenin. (The Guardian, April 10, 2003)

Thomas Hurndall, 21, of Manchester, England, another ISM volunteer, was shot in the head at a protest in Rafah, Gaza Strip, on April 11. Hurndall was standing between Israeli troops and Palestinian children when the soldiers opened fire, according to a fellow ISM activist who witnessed the scene. Hurndall would expire after several months in a coma. (ISM press release, April 11, 2003; The Thomas Hurndall Fund)

On April 20, five Palestinians and one Israeli soldier were killed when the IDF launched their biggest incursion into the Gaza Strip’s Rafah camp since the beginning of the new Intifada, then in its 30th month. On April 24, one Ukrainian security guard was killed when a Palestinian militant blew himself up in the train station at Kfar Sava, Israel. The al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade and the PFLP jointly claimed responsibility. (Ha’aretz, April 24, 2003)

On April 29, hours after new Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas pledged to rein in militants, a new “martyr operation” claimed three lives and injured 50 in a Tel Aviv seaside bar. For the first time, it appeared that the martyr was not Palestinian. Israeli authorities said the attack was carried out by a British national born in India. On May 1, Israel retaliated, launching troop raids on Gaza City targets believed to be Hamas strongholds, leaving 12 dead, including two children. At their funeral procession the following day, Palestinians shouted “You, Abu Mazen, are a collaborator of Israel and America.” (BBC News, New York Times, May 3, 2003 via World War 4 Report, May 5, 2003)

Schools, transportation and public services ground to a halt in Israel on April 30 as 700,000 workers began an open-ended strike to protest spending cuts and mass firing imposed by Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The restructure to a free-market system and shrinking of the public sector came during one of the longest recessions in Israel’s 55-year history. Still, Israelis fared far better in the same period than Palestinians, whose economy had shrunk by nearly half over the past three years. (New York Times, May 1, 2003)

Three suicide attacks killed nine Israelis on May 17 and 18, as Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas met with his Israeli counterpart Sharon for the first talks between the leaders of each side in almost two years. (World War 4 Report, May 19, 2003)

The talks came despite Sharon’s rejection of the US demand for a freeze in construction activity in settlements. “I don’t call them settlements, but rather communities,” Sharon said, adding that they were mandated by natural growth in the settler population. “We also won’t force young mothers to have abortions.” (, May 14, 2003)

According to IDF Radio on May 14, the army was preparing a plan for “separating settler and Palestinian traffic” on the West Bank “to reduce the shooting incidents on the roads.” According to the report:

The Central Command has finalized a detailed plan in this issue, according to which there will be separate roads for settlers and Palestinians. Israeli Defense Forces sources said they want to create a situation in which a Palestinian wanting to travel from Jenin to Hebron would be able to do so without encountering 10 roadblocks along the way. The IDF sources add that perhaps the Palestinians will have to go through a somewhat longer way… For example, road No 60, which is a central road in Judaea and Samaria [West Bank], will be used by Israelis only, while the old No 60 road, after being renovated, will be used by the Palestinians. [IDF Radio, May 14, 2003]

The Israeli cabinet voted May 25 to formally accept the US-backed “Road Map to Peace” that would lead to a Palestinian state within three years. The move came just after new revelations that Sharon was pressuring the Palestinian Authority for a harsh crackdown on militants. According to a May 20 report in Ha’aretz, a senior envoy sent by Sharon told Mohammed Dahlan, minister for state security in the new Palestinian government, that to prove he was serious he must order his police to arrest 50 Hamas actvists. What would be ideal, the envoy recommended, would be if at least 25 Hamas militants be killed in the firefight that was sure to erupt as Hamas resisted the arrests. Dahlan “didn’t know whether to laugh or cry and decided to ignore the matter,” Ha’aretz reported. (CNN, May 25, 2003)

The “Road Map” called for a settlement freeze in the Occupied Territories and the removal of all settlement construction erected since September 2000. But Israel was still building. The Israeli Housing Ministry announced plans to build 12,000 new housing units in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. (Reuters, May 26, 2003)

A mid-July decision to issue a tender for 22 new units to be built at the settlement of Neve Dekalim in the Gaza Strip drew an equivocal response from the US. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said there were “very involved aspects” to the issue, but that US policy did call for a freeze. (Ha’aretz, Sept. 4, 2003)

In September, the Housing Ministry issued a tender for 102 new units in the settlement of Efrat, between Jerusalem and Bethlehem in the Gush Etzion bloc. Peace Now charged that Israel had effectively announced the death of the “Road Map.” (Ibid)

After numerous threats, the US announced in November it would deduct $289.5 million from its new package of $9 billion in loan guarantees to Israel. Since Israel (unlike other aid recipients) does not have to account for how it spends any of the aid it receives from the US, the effect was mostly symbolic. “This is only diplomatic finger-wagging,” said diplomatic correspondent Udi Segal of Israel’s Channel 2. (World War 4 Report, December 2003)

And in October, just weeks earlier, the US used its veto power at the UN Security Council to kill a resolution proposed by the Arab League that would have declared the West Bank wall contrary to international law, and ordered a halt to its construction. Later that month, the General Assembly (where the US wields no veto power) did pass a European Union-proposed resolution calling for the wall to conform to the Green Line, and for Israel to “stop and reverse” construction where it deviates into the West Bank. The US was one of four countries to vote against it. (Dolphin, p. 150)

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