Subject: Israeli Defense Minister Declares Palestine "Axis of Evil"
Israeli Defense Minister Declares Palestine “Axis of Evil”
By Genevieve Cora Fraser
Call it déjà vu but Israeli television reports are branding Mahmoud Abbas as irrelevant in a move identical to their position toward the late Palestinian president Yasser Arafat. And though Hamas has largely honored the truce established last year, not only has Israel broken that truce over 24,000 times resulting in nearly 200 Palestinians deaths, Shin Bet has rejected an extended truce with Hamas.
IMEMC & Agencies reports that 31 Palestinians have been killed since Hamas won the majority vote in the Palestinian elections on January 25th. These deaths are part of a retaliatory strategy as outlined by Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz. According to Mofaz, the Palestinian people have made their government part of the 'Axis of Evil' along with Syria and Iran. As a result, “punitive measures” will be taken by Israeli forces against all the Palestinian people, he stated.
Making good on the threat, on Monday, February 20th, Israeli Occupation Forces opened fire and threw gas grenades at high school girls in the West Bank city of Nablus. According to the WAFA news agency, Israeli soldiers broke into the high school in the Til village south of Nablus city, and along with extensive shooting, “fired a number of gas grenades towards the school, causing a state of panic and suffocation among students and teachers.”
According to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Israeli forces occupied two schools it runs in the Balata Refugee camp. “The Israelis continued to occupy the boys’ school after leaving the girls’ school today.” Agency officials also stated that “Israeli forces continue to block a health clinic, which prevents patients or staff from leaving the building.” And in a pre-dawn raid Israeli soldiers swept into Balata refugee camp and Nablus city, arrested six citizens and “fired into the chest of Usama Al-Banna”, an unarmed resident of the Balata refugee camp. Foreign born United Nations Relief Work Agency employees were ordered to leave the Balata refugee camp during the Israeli attack.
In other action, Israeli soldiers wounded children and arrested citizens in the West Bank cities of Hebron, Nablus, Jenin and Bethlehem. The attacks and arrests were justified according to the Israelis because the individuals were “resisting the occupation.” In Hebron, Israeli soldiers broke into the towns of ad-Dhaheriya, Beit Ummar and Sa'ir, south and north of the city and stormed a number of houses, shooting and tear gassing residents. As a result, five children were wounded and hospitalized. In Jenin, a large contingent of Israeli soldiers stormed into Qabatya town, south of the city, ravaged the contents of homes and conducted a house-to-house search campaign, arresting several residents. In Bethlehem, armored vehicles and jeeps stormed the Al-Nahaleen area and Al-Eza refugee camps firing on residents and homes as they searched houses and arrested residents, leading them to undisclosed locations security forces stated.
In the Gaza Strip Israeli artillery fired several missiles near the towns of Beit Lahiya and Beit Hanuon, north of the Gaza Strip, however no injuries were reported. Meanwhile scores of house demolitions continued in the West Bank “under the pretext of missing permits – a common tool used to expel Palestinians – ensuring the theft of lands for construction of settlements or military zones,” WAFA reported.
Along with non-stop military assaults on the Palestinian people, Zionist Israel’s success in waging economic warfare on the indigenous people of Palestine may prove to be even more deadly as they seek to put the starving on a diet, as some Israeli officials joked, or as the New York Times reported, have devised a plan to starve Hamas out of power. Israel not only refuses to relinquish the 100s of millions of dollars in tax revenues it generates from the Palestinians on their behalf, but has threatened to block aid money from countries, such as Sweden and the Arab Alliance, from reaching Palestinian banks. These dollars are vitally needed for Palestinian survival.
“Palestinian importers are required to pay the Israeli authorities the value-added tax of 17%, as well as whatever custom taxes are due on goods that come in on their way to the West Bank or Gaza. These transactions (along with direct Palestinian transactions with Israeli firms and merchants) last year yielded revenues of $711 million,” Amira Hass reported for Haaretz. “According to the Oslo accords (and by any standards of common sense and basic justice), the revenues should serve the people who ultimately buy the goods. These tax receipts are not donations of goodwill from Israel; they are not charity. This is not like, say, Dutch foreign aid money, which is given freely by the Dutch people and can be withheld if the Dutch choose to stop giving it. These are tax revenues that are due to the people in the territories where the goods are headed, and the Israelis have no right to hold them up.” Meanwhile the United States and European Union plan to withhold all financial assistance to the Hamas led government. After the U.S. Congress voted to withhold $400 million a year of aid money from the Palestinian Authority, President Bush demanded that $50 million that had already been given be returned. Within days the Palestinian Authority returned the $50 million which further deepened their financial plight. But Israel’s control of border crossings may create even greater hardship. “The closure of these crossings will paralyze the economy,” Palestine’s Minister of Economy Mazen Sinnoqrot stated.
Last year the BBC and other media around the world reported that in Darfur refugees were being systematically starved, black Africans were deliberately being driven off the land and they were being subjected to a "reign of terror" in the region, according to the UN Commissioner for Human Rights. “Militias prevented food deliveries and stopped anyone leaving,” the report said. One aid worker in Kailek described what happened there as the "politics of starvation".
If Israel gets its way, how long will it be before Palestine is in a similar situation – especially if, once again, Israel unleashes a reign of terror through unrelenting military assault? For nearly six decades Palestinians have been systematically ethnically cleaned - driven off their land, and Israel has all too often prevented food deliveries as well as access to medicines and water (as documented by hundreds of UN Resolutions against Israel). However, the complete economic deprivation that Israel insists on, in this writer’s opinion, is far beyond a slap in the face at democracy by refusing to acknowledge a Hamas-led government, but an attempt to commit genocide against the Palestinian people.
Now that the die is cast, the world watches and waits. Palestine is nearly surrounded by the apartheid, racist wall and is held hostage from within by hundreds of checkpoint and roadblocks and military outposts, the illegal Israeli settlements and Israeli-only roads. There is no escape from the hunger and assault that may ensue – except through the door marked: Upholding Human Rights. If Israel proceeds as planned, it will not only destroy Palestine but itself.