Weblog Archives

  Monday  December 1  2003    12: 00 PM

The killing fields of Rafah

Quietly, far from the public eye, Israeli soldiers continue killing Palestinians. Hardly a day goes by without casualties, some innocent civilians, and the stories of their violent deaths never reach the Israeli consciousness or awareness. If there is one consistent piece of data in the current intifada, it is the number of Palestinian
casualties: dozens a month, unceasingly.

There were 30 in November, 57 in October, 33 in September. In May and June, the number of casualties reached 60 a month (all data supplied by B'Tselem). While Palestinian terror shocks us with its brutality, the daily killing of innocent Palestinians in far greater numbers is ignored - unless it is a case of an army operation as in Nusseirat refugee camp in October.

Here's a list of victims from the last month, taken from the margins of the daily newspaper chronicles: A 32-year-old motorcyclist shot to death in the chest after soldiers said he tried to escape a checkpoint near Iskar refugee camp; a 10-year-old boy from Sejaya in Gaza who was bird hunting with a slingshot near the separation fence around Gaza, killed by a tank shell fired at him; an eighth-grader from Barukin, near Jenin, who threw stones at soldiers, shot dead; a youth shot to death during "disturbances" after the funeral of his friend in Jenin; a taxi driver and father of six shot to death in Tul Karm by soldiers who thought he was trying to get away; a 15-year-old killed in Yata during some arrests; a nine-year-old killed by IDF fire in Rafah; and three Palestinians who were on their way to the holiday dinner last Wednesday in Gaza, killed by soldiers who claimed they thought the three were an armed cell.

A flawed plan, but it could pave the way for peace
A new Israeli-Palestinian accord has kick-started the political process

A few hundred dignitaries will assemble today in Geneva for a peace ceremony between Israelis and Palestinians. A rare and delightful sight, no doubt, after three years of relentless and futile bloodshed. But is this also the turning point in the Middle East peace process?

This latest peace initiative, devised and pursued by a group of Israelis and Palestinians under the auspices of the Swiss government, could not present itself at a more opportune moment. It is the end of Ariel Sharon's third year in office and Israel's standing has taken a turn for the worse. Domestically, his election promises for "peace and security" were exposed as empty slogans, the economy is weak and unemployment has reached new heights. Abroad, Israel's pariah status is spreading. The question of whether its establishment was a mistake has become a popular theme in symposiums. Surveys in Europe show that Israel is perceived as a threat to world peace - the root of the problem.

Israel's worst achievement in the current conflict is the almost complete devastation of the Palestinian Authority. Yasser Arafat was sidelined and his security apparatus considerably weakened. With no credible, authoritative interlocutor in sight, Israel was left without a main point of contact. Meanwhile, in Lebanon, Israel can direct its grievances to Damascus. The result: near anarchy in the Palestinian territories, where fragmented cells of terrorist groups call the shots and can easily wreck any delicate ceasefire agreement. Thus, both populations are trapped in a vicious, frustrating circle. The Palestinians are led by an inept regime and are living under a merciless Israeli occupation that, in turn, is corrupting and undermining its own core values and ethics.

Israeli academics fight 'racist' university test

Israeli academics are threatening to call for an international boycott of their own university heads if admission tests alleged to have curbed the number of Arab students are reintroduced.

The heads of the country's five universities last week announced that they would bring back controversial psychometric testing that favours middle-class Jewish students.