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June 25, 2002

[Through this billboard we share some of the less predictable Israeli comments to the
speech of Bush. We also include two reports sent by internationals who were at the
time of the speech observing what was going on on the ground, as well as a report of
the Physicians for Human Rights. Israeli readers, please pay attention also to the
request for contacts.]

[1] FM Peres predicts a bloodbath
[2] Yediot Aharonot: Bush can wait - we can't
[3] Report from the beleaguered Muqata
[4] Another human shield worker reports from Balata
[5] Request of internationals for contacts in the Israeli peace movement
[6] Recent Incursion into the West Bank Renews Attacks on Ambulances

[1] FM Peres predicts a bloodbath

Some of the most outspoken criticism of President Bush's speech on
the Middle East came from none other than Shimon Peres, Foreign Minister in the
Sharon Government. The veteran Yediot Aharonot journalist Shimon Shiffer had
watched Peres watching the Bush speech on TV last night and today gave a vivid
description:

"Shimon Peres' face became more and more weary and angry, the longer Bush went
on with his speech. "He is making a fatal mistake" remarked Peres. "Making the
creation of a Palestinian state dependant upon a change in the Palestinian
leadership is a fatal mistake" he repeated again and again. "Arafat has led the
Palestinians for 35 years, kept their head above the water in the international
arena. No, no, you can't just brush him aside with one speech."
Peres did not watch the speech to the very end. He got up, turned off the TV
and left the room, saying before he left: "The abyss into which the region will
plunge will be as deep as the expectations from this speech were high. There
will be a bloodbath."

For once, the words of Peres correspond quite closely to what we in Gush Shalom,
the Israeli Peace Bloc, feel.
Therefore, we today decided to once again address a public appeal to Peres,
something which we gave up in despair some time ago. We called upon Peres
to leave the government immediately, to help get out the Labor Party as a
whole, and to consistently address the Israeli and American public opinion in
the spirit of his recent remarks. "It is your unique chance to atone a bitt for all the
harm you have done, serving as a fig-leaf in a government of war and bloodshed."

[2] Yediot Aharonot: Bush can wait - we can't

The following, today's editorial of Yediot Aharonot - Israel's biggest mass-
circulation paper - may interest you. (June 25, 2002 - written by Offer Shelach)

A big smile must have spread over Ariel Sharon's face at listening to the
Middle East speech of his good friend George W. Bush. After all the hesitations
and delays, the highly publicized power struggles between the State Department
and the Pentagon, the tense waiting and the inaccurate advance leaks (which
included the briefing by the White House spokesperson, an hour before the
speech itself) - after all these, the leader of the Free World came out with
one single meassage: anything but Yasser Arafat. The man with the beard must go
- in a free democratic way, of course. How many other people will be gone by
then, ours and theirs, the president did not say.
It is common to say that following September 11 the Bush Adaminstration is in
the habit of dividing the world into goodies and baddies. It is true, but not
the whole truth: even before that terrible day in New York, the president has
been consistently dividing the world into those who are like America and those
who are not. Those who are like America have tranparancy and a free market,
elections to change the government and independent judiciaries. Those who are
not like America have nothing. Bush's message to the Palestinians is simple: if
you become like us, we will help you improve your life; if you don't, we will
just wait until you do.
The fact that a free market and an independent judiciary are impossible for a
people under occupation does not appear to disturb Bush, member of a nation which
saw no foreign invader on its soil for the past two centuries. Nor does the
fact that legitimate self-defence against terrorism drags Israel into
activities which perpetuate and aggravate that occupation interest a person who
can send the marines anywhere he chooses and pull them out again at his
discretion. And he does not seem to lose sleep even over the fact that while
these contradictions bump against each other, the blood of hundreds of
civilians is shed over here every month. As far as the White House is
concerned, either a new America will arise here, or we will just have to wait.
The White House is not concerned with many of us and how many of them will not
survive to see that day.
So, Arafat is an obstacle - to his people, to us and to the region; a
despicable fanatic. Still, peoples are not in the habit of changing their
leaders at an order from Washington. Just 90 miles from the shores of Florida
there is a country ruled, for more than forty years, by a man which the United
States government despises and in whose overthrow successive administrations
invested enormous efforts. The Americans impose a blockade on Cuba, starve its
people to punish them for daring to adopt such a regime, and wait for Fidel
Castro or his people to take the hint. They are waiting for a long time
already. And what is true in Cuba is certainly true in the Middle East.
Amercica can wait for the Israelis and Palestinians, and they can wait for
America while shedding each other's blood.
In the coming days, we will undoubtedly hear a lot from Sharon's aides about
how this great diplomatic coup was achieved, due to Sharon's charm and Arafat's
sins. We will hear how wondefull it is that the American president was
convinced to sit on his hands a bit longer, to give some more time for suicide
bombings and military operations to follow upon each other undisturbed. We will
hear how we won some more time, time in which we can continue to live in fear,
to become a bit more impoverished and bit more desperate with every passing
day. "Anything but Arafat". The president said it. What a great victory.
It was a speech of encouragement to the rejectionists on both sides. No action
of any kind was announced. No declaration was made of involvement - by the US
alone, or togehter with its allies - in any effort to stop the intolerable
bloodletting in one of the globe's most sensitive regions. There was nothing
but the narrow worldview of a person who is willing to help everybody become an
imitation Amercian, and wants nothing to do with anybody else. Nothing but a
promise that, while the roses continue to bloom in the White House garden, the
red spots seen on Israeli and Palestinian streets will be no flowers.
 
[3] Report from the beleaguered Muqata
------- Forwarded message follows -------
From:               "claude.leostic" <claude.leostic@laposte.net>

Adam, here's the text I told you about.
The situation is the same, surprising calm and silence.
We hold fast
Warm wishes
Claude

Monday 24 June

Morning at the Muqata’a, after the troops of occupation re-invaded Ramallah.

We had been waiting for them for 3 days Palestinians and Internationals together at
the Muqata’a again. The nights were short. Would they come and settle like in
Nablus, Qalqilya or Bethlehem, would they strike the compound again?
The waiting was wearing, a psychological weapon in Sharon’s dirty war. There are
worse, as Jenin once more shows dramatically.
At 3 o’clock last night just after I had gone to bed O woke me up: ”they are
coming, wake up”.
Already armed and ready, he joined his comrades, kalashnikov and gas masks on
their shoulders, waiting for the occupier to strike once again, determined to fight to
defend the place and their president. Up and ready the Internationals who were then in
the room where the “40” used to work and meet in April, moved to a safer place,
passing soldiers at the ready on the staircases and landings protected by sandbags.
All silent and calm, the frustration of the waiting gone, the anger subdued, the shebab
cut an impressive sight in the night, in the rubble still remaining from the previous
attack when the occupiers had shelled and bombed the buildings heavily. The night
was long for most, the president and his assistants were conferring, the officers
organising, we were shown how to use gas masks, and we waited. They have come,
rolling through the night streets, to the refugee camps and around the presidential
compound. At the Muqata’a the bulldozers have piled up earth and rubble to close the
ways onto the parking lot which had just been repaired and cleaned anew. Inside, the
defences have been re-inforced yet, more sandbags and containers blocking the
entrance. Right now, writing this on the computer, I’m listening to Vaya Con Dios with
2  soldiers, one of them S a friend who shared the 33 days of the April siege with me,
and it is surreal to be sitting here with him in this small building guarding the back
door, moving to the music, with  the song of the birds all around but with the tanks at
the door, prowling the city, bearers of death and destruction.  The waiting is going on.
Until when?

[4] Another human shield worker reports from Balata
------- Forwarded message follows -------
From:               "Rapprochement Centre" <pcr@p-ol.com>
Date sent:          Tue, 25 Jun 2002 09:13:48 +0200
 

1-from Marissa in Balata refugee camp
 

Note:
This is from Marissa, a PSC Seattle member, who joined
the International Solidarity Movement to end the
occupation for its Freedom Summer.  She writes from
the West Bank town of Nablus, refugee camp of Balata.
Linda
 

Hi all,
I've only got a couple of minutes so I wanted to send
a quick update. I'm staying in Balata Refugee camp
outside of Nablus in the home of a family that has
reason to fear that the occupation forces will
demolish their home. Nablus has been under curfew for
5 days but it was lifted for a few hours today. The
camp itself has not been under curfew yet but it will
be in about an hour. I have so much to write about but
little time. Every night between midnight and 2:00 AM
the tanks ride up and down the streets throwing the
occasional percussion grenade and firing machine guns
into the air. The only apparent reason for this is to
intimidate the people by disrupting their sleep and
making sure that they know who's the boss. They
demolished a home around the corner because they said
it was a 'bomb factory' but the locals swear it
wasn't. In the process they also demolished 6 attached
homes. There is another home behind this one that they
demolished for no reason and with no explanation.
Everyone in this family has been touched deeply by the
occupation. There is the widowed mother with 10
children, 8 boys and 2 girls. All of the boys have
been injured many times. Less than a month ago the
oldest son and his 12 year old son were walking home
from buying vegetables when the occupation forces
fired on them from behind with a tank shell. The
father is now permanently disabled and must be pushed
around in a wheelchair. His son lost a finger and may
lose his thumb. Everyone has lost friends and
family. There is tragedy everywhere you look. I've
grown very fond of this family.
I was just told that curfew is ending early and I must
get back into Balata and go indoors. The army shoots
anything that moves after they declare their arbitrary
curfews.

Later folks,

Marissa

[5] Request of internationals for contacts in the Israeli peace movement

In these difficult times some peace activists from abroad,
who read the many calls for international solidarity want to be in
contact with an individual Israeli peace activist.
This can be very important in the close future.
If you are willing to invest a little of your precious time - please send
us ( info@gush-shalom.org ) the following details:

Full Name:
Address
Hobbies:
Profession:
Age:
Tel. Number
E-Mail

[6] Recent Incursion into the West Bank Renews Attacks on Ambulances
------- Forwarded message follows -------
Date sent:          Mon, 24 Jun 2002 15:12:14 +0200
From:               <Miri@phr.org.il>

PHYSICIANS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS–ISRAEL

UPDATE

June .24th, 2002

Targeting Medical Care;

Israel's Recent Incursion into the West Bank Renews Attacks on Ambulances.

On Friday, June 21st, 2002, Israel initiated its most recent incursion into the Occupied
Territories in the West Bank. The current military operation includes the reoccupation
of Palestinian population centers in the West Bank, and while Israel claims it will take
responsibility for the Palestinian civilian population, which is to include the provision of
food and other forms of humanitarian aid, evidence on the ground paints a different
picture.

The last four days have brought with them renewed attacks on ambulances and
medical staff, and delays in the provision of medical services. While the ability to
access medical care in the larger towns throughout the West Bank is poor, that of the
villages, in which many Palestinians live, is grave.

The situation to date has not yet reached the severity and intensity of operation
"Defense Shield", yet PHR-Israel views with growing alarm the rising number of cases
in which medical neutrality is violated and human life disrespected. These cases stand
in contradiction to earlier commitments made by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and
rulings by the High Court of Justice*, that Palestinian ambulances would be allowed to
travel unhindered, and that soldiers would be instructed to respect the international law
as it applies to freedom of movement of medical personnel in occupied zones.

*High Court ruling 2936/02, from 8.4.2002 states:

"  However, the State emphasizes that the IDF sees itself as committed to fulfilling the
rules of Humanitarian Law not only because these ensue from the rulings of
International Law, but also for moral and utilitarian considerations."

(transl. PHR- Israel).

- An ambulance from Qalqilya is unable to reach a pregnant woman with life-
endangering complications from the village of Thuluth.

- Ambulance delayed for over an hour and a half on the way to the hospital with a sick
baby in Nablus.

- Medical crew faces gunfire when trying to evacuate wounded man in Jenin.

- Patients from villages surrounding Nablus unable to reach Rafadiya hospital for
operations; hospital in full capacity since patients cannot be released.

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel is a non-partisan, non-profit organization founded
in 1988, comprising some 650 members who combat Israeli health and
human rights violations, and strive to ensure equal and adequate health services for all.

Tel: 972 3 6873718
Fax: 972 3 6873029
e-mail: mail@phr.org.il
www.phr.org.il

NB: The campaign to free Marwan Barghouti is getting organized - go to
http://www.freebarghouti.org/

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