By: Daniel Breslau
Week 1,993 of occupation
11 August 2005 - 17 August 2005
`Disengagement` accompanied by rejection of Palestinian rights
The Palestinian Authority, and its President, Abu Mazen, welcomed the withdrawal of Israel`s Gaza Strip settlements as a positive step toward peace, but as one that must be followed by further evacuation of settlements in the West Bak and East Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, to the contrary has stated his three `no`s`: no negotiations on Jerusalem, no change in the status of the settlement blocs, and no return of Palestinian refugees to Israel. The Palestinian leadership responded on Thursday, 11 August, by rejecting Sharon`s statement, and insisting on the Palestinian national goals of establishing an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital, and the withdrawal of all Israeli settlements in occupied territories, as required by international law.
Israeli soldier sentenced for Hurndall killing
On Thursday, 11, August, former IDF soldier Taysir al-Heib was sentenced to eight years in prison for the murder of British peace activist Tom Hurndall. After several accounts given by Al-Heib were contradicted, he admitted to knowingly firing at Hurndall, from his sniper post, while Hurndall was The judges described the various fabricated and contradictory stories that Heib had given, his efforts to pressure another soldier to corroborate his false stories, and even added a year to his sentence on a charge of obstruction of justice. Nevertheless, the court in effect accepted Al-Heib`s claim that he had no intention of killing Hurndall, despite being an expert marksman, by imposing only a manslaughter conviction.
The insults of occupation, even during the evacuation
One obstacle to peace in the region has been removed. But far from representing an end to occupation, this week`s evacuation of most of the Gaza Strip settlements was designed and carried out entirely within the racist logic of occupation. First, the media, in Israel and internationally, simply echoed the public relations line of the settlers and of the IDF, who described the event as emotionally devastating but characterized by super-human self control and responsibility. Commentators in the electronic media played up the pain of the evacuated settlers, without discussing the suffering that their presence in Gaza has caused over the past 30 years.
No one could miss the stark contrast between the restrained, less violent, sympathetic methods of the IDF and the police in the Gush Katif evacuation, and the methods of population-movement routinely used against Palestinians under occupation.
While the setters resisted and complained, the rights and priveleges that they enjoy, and that the Palestinians lack, were evident everywhere. As Amira Hass reported in Ha`aretz, workers who lost their jobs due to the evacuation of Gaza Strip settlements, received compensation and from the state and assistance in finding new jobs, that is, only if they were Israeli citizens. Palestinians who had worked in the settlements, for pay well below the legal minimum wage, receive no compensation for their loss of jobs and income. In other areas, the evacuation is shaped by the same discrimination between Israeli citizens and Palestinians that have marked the occupation from its inception. The rights of the settlers to petition courts and the Disengagement Administration, which have won them increasingly generous terms, contrast with the almost complete lack of such rights for Palestinians who have been harmed by the occupation.
To further counter whatever is positive about the `disengagement` plan, hundreds of families that have been evacuated from Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip are being resettled within the occupied West Bank.
Finally, even without the settlements, Gaza is still under Israeli military occupation. The Palestinian Authority does not have sovereignty over most of the territory, the IDF can still operate with impunity anywhere inside the Gaza Strip, and there is no passage from Gaza to anywhere else in the world that is not directly supervised and control. The severe limitations to the freedom of Gaza Strip residents to leave and return to their territory, continue in full force. The limits on travel and import/export of goods, which are the immediate cause of the severe economic depression of Gaza, will remain in place.
Settler terror attack on Palestinian civilians
On Wednesday, Aug 17, an Israeli from the West Bank settlement of Shvut Rachel, went on a shooting spree, opening fire on unarmed Palestinian civilians, and killing four. This latest act of terror against Palestinians, like the deadly attack on a bus within Israel on August 4, was intended to interfere with the evacuation of settlements by provoking a violent response from Palestinian groups. Israeli government figures, including Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, have condemned the attack as a terrorist act intended to prevent the evacuation of settlements. Palestinians have treated the incident as a logical consequence of the tolerance of violence carried out by armed settlers, in the mold of Baruch Goldstein.
Young women of Bil`in lead the largest anti-wall demonstration yet
On Monday, 15 August, a group of 20 young women from Bil`in led a demonstration that turned into the largest protest against the annexation wall to date. They were joined by local villagers and hundreds of international activists from Women in Black, the International Solidarity Movement, and other groups. The planned wall will deprive Bil`in of over half of its agricultural land, not only for the wall`s construction, but for the expansion of the nearby settlement of Modi`in Ilit.
Sources: Wafa, Ha`aretz, ISM, Palestine Centre for Human Rights, Palestine Media Center.