By: Daniel Breslau
Week 2,013 of occupation
29 December 2005 - 4 January 2006
End of the Sharon era, but the damage has been done
While Ariel Sharon lay clinging to life and his myth began to take on superhuman proportions in the Israeli media, residents of the occupied territories continued to live the reality of Sharon`s legacy. Since assuming office in 2001, Sharon has deliberately undermined any unifying or moderate Palestinian leadership and has avoided any substantive negotiations with the Palestinians. He has used the continuing conflict and chaos as a pretext for unilaterally imposing permanent Israeli control of large regions of the West Bank, building an annexation wall, rapidly enlarging settlements, in order to rule out any possibility of a genuine, independent, Palestinian state. Though there is plenty of blame to go around, no one person bears more responsibility for conditions of life under occupation than Ariel Sharon. Here are some parts of his legacy that won`t be mentioned in the media orgy of eulogies:
- The 2-1/2 million Palestinian residents of the occupied West Bank have no freedom of movement within their own country. It is impossible to travel between any of the major towns without passing through checkpoints. The checkpoints are closed arbitrarily for long periods, imposing complete closures, such as those this week on the towns of Tulkarm, Kalkilya, and Nablus. Travel between Jerusalem, the ecconomic and cultural center of Palestinian life, and the rest of the West Bank is severely restricted and for many residents, impossible.
- Daily incursions, numbering 25 last week, accompanied by searches, arrests, breaking down doors, evicting residents from their homes in order to convert them into military posts. Contrary to the Israeli government`s statements, most of these operations have no connection to terror attacks within Israel, but are aimed at those suspected of involvment in any and all forms of resistance to the occupation. Nineteen children and teenagers were wounded when IDF troops fired rubber-coated bullets and live ammunition at stone throwers in four different incidents.
- On Monday, two Palestinians, an Islamic Jihad militant and his taxi driver, were killed in an assassination operation near Jabalya, in the Gaza Strip. On Saturday, in an apparent case of mistaken identity, an Israeli Air Force plane fired a missile at three Palestinian civilians in the Northern Gaza Strip, killing two of them. The three were not within the `buffer zone` that Israel had declared in order to prevent rocket attacks on its territory.
- Much of the suffering in the West Bank is linked to the security needs of the settlers that Sharon assisted and even directed, often secretly and without legal authorization. The same settlers continue to make life difficult for their Palestinian neighbors. On Thursday, 29 December, settlers from Hebron and Kiryat Arba attacked houses in Hebron with stones and empty bottles. On Tuesday, 3 January, when police attempted to distribute evacuation orders to settlers that had taken over the old market in Hebron, the settlers threw eggs, stones, bags of paint and acid at them. Several women among the settlers attacked the police while carrying babies, so that the police would hesitate to use force. Though the police announced a `zero tolerance` policy in dealing with settler attacks, their methods were much more restrained than the violent measures routinely used against nonviolent Palestinian demonstrators.
More revelations about illegal construction on stolen land in Bil`in
Ha`aretz has published additional revelations about the illegal construction of the neighborhood of Matityahu East on land belonging to residents of the village of Bil`in. The documents show that the officials responsible in the Civil Administration, as well as the head of the Modi`in Ilit Council, Ya`akov Guterman, were aware that the neighborhood`s construction was illegal.
The documents also reveal how developers of the land defrauded the Palestinian owners of the land, transferring ownership based on fake power of attorney documents signed by attorney Moshe Glick and well-known land trader Shmuel Anav. The fraudulent transactions were carried out on behalf of the `Land of Israel Midrasha,` a money-laundering front for the settler movement.
In the wake of these reports the Civil Administration has issued a stop work order, suspending new construction in Matityahu East, pending the High Court of Justice`s consideration of petitions submitted by Peace Now.
Sources: Ha`aretz, Palestine Centre for Human Rights, Ynet, Palestine Chronicle, ISM.