In Israel the "war on terror" continues. It will do nothing to eliminate the criminal and condemnable suicide bomb attacks on Israeli citizens, but will likely only increase them.
This "war on terror" now involves permanent curfews, demolition of Palestinian homes, extra-judicial killings of suspected organisers of the suicide bombings, daily Israeli army incursions into Palestinian areas, killings and maimings of Palestinians, including children, strangulation of the Palestinian economy so that there is a huge increase in reliance on aid and malnutrition among Palestinian children.
Israeli and Palestinian peace activists fear worse is to come under the cover of the war on Iraq: there is a real expectation that there will be an ethnic cleansing in the border areas of the West Bank, and that Arafat will be "eliminated".
Emergency Committees to defend the Palestinians from attack have been set up by Palestinians inside the Occupied Territories and by Israelis. The Palestinians have drafted a statement which sets out the dangers to the Palestinian people as they see them. The Israeli left peace group Gush Shalom has supported and circulated this statement. They want activists to set up similar committees in other countries. Here is the text.
World attention is focused nowadays on Iraq and the effect of the US-led attack on regional stability. Millions of people all over the world demonstrate their opposition to the war and attempt to avert it. However, the message we, the Palestinian civilian population, are receiving from Israeli officials is threatening us with dangerous consequences.
Statements made over the last two months by both Israeli officials and media indicate what they are proposing, planning and preparing to execute in the Palestinian occupied territories in case of war against Iraq. Such statements could be meant as intimidation, deterrent or real threat. In view of our past and present experience, we, the Palestinians, tend to see them as a threat endangering our very existence in this land of ours.
The threats published just recently by the Israeli media include, among many others:
- Imposing a total curfew on the Palestinian people and land.
- Declaring the Palestinian territories closed military areas, thus preventing foreign and local journalists from operating in the territories. Such measures are clearly intended to prevent the public exposure of the possible Israeli actions against the Palestinians.
- Continuing the Israeli practice of mass detention of Palestinian activists without charges, and the destruction of Palestinian homes and infrastructure.
- Possible mass transfer of Palestinian civilian population from certain locations adjacent to the proposed Israeli security wall. These areas belong to the occupied West Bank.
- Possible efforts to transfer Palestinians from the occupied territories to neighboring countries.
- Possible elimination of the elected president of the Palestinian Authority, Mr Yasser Arafat, or his deportation to a remote area.
The Palestinian Emergency Committees (PEC) were established in the Palestinian territories to undertake the specific tasks of organizing the community during the possible war on Iraq, and to highlight the need for Palestinian readiness for possible drastic Israeli measures.
PEC is a coalition of NGOs, national organizations, charitable societies, professional unions, political parties, ministries and public figures, operating through a coordinating office in Ramallah with national outreach and representation.
We ask you to form an International Committee for the Protection of the Palestinian People, and to take immediate steps to prevent the Israeli government from taking advantage of the situation created by the war on Iraq.
Your support is very much needed and could help in preventing further suffering and pain and the death of innocent Palestinians.