From: Karma Abu-Sharif
Sent: Thursday, June 07, 2001 7:23 PM
Subject: Briefing- 'Hear Palestine'- 07-06-01

Hear Palestine
Thursday, 07 June 2001

Arab Americans are urged to move in support of the Palestinian people

Despite international efforts to consolidate the declared cease-fire between the Israelis and the Palestinians, the Israeli government is not abiding. Since Sharon’s declaration of a “cease-fire”, over twenty Palestinians have been killed and 450 injured by Israeli occupation forces. The Sharon government has also encouraged and supported armed settlers in the West Bank to wage a savage war against the Palestinian unarmed inhabitants.

Along with the declared cease-fire, the Israeli government imposed strict closure measures on and within the Palestinian territories that prevented fuel supplies, nutritious and medical material from entering the Palestinian Authority areas. The Gaza Strip, in particular, is facing a real catastrophe due to these imposed restrictions.

The Israeli government’s imposed restrictions on Palestinian movement from one village to another turned the lives of Palestinians into a misery. Old people, children, mothers carrying their babies, have to walk on foot for several hours through mountainous areas and deep ditches dug by Israeli bulldozers, in order to reach hospitals, clinics or schools. The Bir Zeit university students, who tried to walk to their university through an Israeli barrier, have been shot at by Israeli soldiers for the third day running.

Borders are also closed, so Palestinians in the territories now live in a big prison under Israeli occupation army terror.

All these savage measures and practices are covered by Israeli official deceit to misinform the world public opinion as well as a vicious campaigns against the Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat.

The Israeli government is waging world wide campaigns to distort the facts and to create a new image for Israel and its Prime Minister Ariel Sharon- the image of the victim, while turning the Palestinians into terrorists.

The strategic aim behind this campaign is to deprive the Palestinians from any world sympathy and support. It aims at tuning-off the focus on the facts, basically that the main source of terror is the Israeli occupation.

It is a state of organised terror waged by Israel against a whole nation.

The American administration can and should do a lot to stop Israel’s brutal military and siege measures. And this needs continuous moves from the Arab Americans:

To keep informing the administration and providing it with facts about the unprecedented mass crime committed by Israel against the Palestinians.
To request the administration to move at a quicker pace to put an end to the agony of the Palestinian people.
To request a serious firm stand from the administration to implement UN resolution 242 and an end to Israeli occupation in the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights of Syria and the Shib’a farms of Lebanon.
If Sharon is a waging a multidimensional attack against the Arab nation, particularly the Palestinians, Arab Americans can wage a continuous effort to inform and push the American Administration to be just and fair.

LATEST EVENTS

Body of Palestinian worker found within the ‘green line’

Jamil al-Turk, 46, a Palestinian worker from Kufr Dik village, Salfeet, was found dead at his work place within the ‘green line’. Al-Turk was severely beaten with sharp tools on the head and other parts of his body, while guarding a factory in Tamra. The Israeli authorities said that al-Turk’s body would be returned to the West Bank through the security co-ordination office next Sunday.

Occupation forces raid and raze PA areas in the Gaza Strip

Israeli occupation forces and military machinery raided today areas east of Gaza airport, east of al-Muntar crossing and al-Maghazi refugee camp on the borders with Egypt under intense fire.

A Palestinian security spokesperson said that a national security location and two homes demolished in al-Barazil refugee camp.

Wide razing activities have taken place east of al-Muntar crossing and sand piles were placed within al-Maghazi refugee camp.

Military reinforcements have been taking place east of Rafah.

Soldiers and settlers continue attacks throughout territories

Ramallah

Dozens of Israeli settlers gathered today at the entrance of Beit Rima village, Ramallah, which was closed by occupation forces today, preventing its inhabitants from leaving or entering the village. The settlers also set dozens of fruitful olive trees on fire in Aboud village in the area, as well as closed a number of roads leading to villages.
Four Bir Zeit University students were injured today, when occupation forces opened fired at them while they were attempting to cross to the university.

Jenin
Hundreds of cars were prevented from using the main road near Ajja village. Dozens of cars were also held at the Jenin-Nablus road.

Nablus

Five Palestinian youths were arrested today near a village in Nablus, where two tanks were reportedly brought in.
Closure tightened on several villages in Nablus, namely Madama and Beit Forik.

Hebron

Raids and attacks by soldiers and settlers continued throughout the day. Occupation forces and settlers attempted to raid the Islamic Waqf headquarters.

Bethlehem

A Swedish, Danish, German and American delegation was prevented by occupation forces from reaching the new settlement location established in al-Khader village. The delegation condemned these Israeli measures and confirmed their support for legitimate Palestinian rights.

SETTLEMENT ACTIVTIES

200 dunums confiscated in Deir Qadis, Ramallah

Wafa- Israeli forces yesterday confiscated 200 dunums (1 dunum = 1000 m2) of land from Deir Qadis village to transfer it into a military area and then to annex it to ‘Kiryat Sefer’ settlement, established on confiscated land from the villages of Deir Qadis and Kharbatha Beni Harith.

Since early morning yesterday, a large military force arrived at the location and began bulldozing and destroying olive trees to construct a 10 meter road and place light poles on the road.

1000 fruitful olive trees were destroyed in the process.

When the inhabitants and owners of the land attempted to approach them , Israeli forces threatened to shoot at them, especially that there is a military point adjacent to the location in addition to a military camp only 200 metres away from the recently confiscated piece of land.

The land belongs to the inhabitants Mahmoud Mihieh al-Din and his cousins who own 50 dunums of land cultivated with olives and almonds.

Mihieh al-Din explained that they had received a written military order from Beit Il that 8 dunums of their land would be confiscated, “But not 200,”  he exclaimed. When the owners had a verbal argument with the military captain in charge, the occupation official said, “They meant 8000, not 8 dunums,” which shocked the inhabitants of the village, which covers no more than 8000 dunums.

Five new caravans in al-Khader

Occupation forces placed five new caravans on al-Ein hill (250 dunums), in what the inhabitants and owners of the land described as an attempt to establish a new settlement point. The inhabitants explained that settlers had tried to confiscate the same piece of land last year but failed to do so due to the objection of the inhabitants.

PALESTINIAN STATEMENTS

President Arafat met with the national factions

President Yasser Arafat met today with the representatives of the Palestinian national factions today to discuss the latest developments in the light of Israel’s continuous attacks on Palestinian areas and people, despite the declared “ceasefire.” The meeting took place before Arafat’s scheduled meeting with CIA director George Tenet.

Tenet meets with Arafat in Ramallah

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director George Tenet met with President Arafat in Ramallah this afternoon. Tenet had met with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon earlier in the day.

ARAB WORLD

Prince Abdallah criticises the USA and Europe

Prince Abdallah Ben Abdel Aziz of Saudi Arabia surprised many during a press conference before leaving Damascus to Berlin. Prince Abdallah, who is know to be very conservative when it comes to statements to the press criticised sharply the western powers for their calls “to stop the violence” in Palestine. Prince Abdallah stressed that what is really going on in Palestine is a savage Israeli military attack against the Palestinians, adding that the USA and Europe must stop the Israeli attacks because what the Palestinians are actually doing is self defence.

Prince Abdallah during his official visit to Syria held talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Asad.

Palestinians hope that in addition to the ideas Prince Bandar will carry to Washington in activating peace efforts on the Syrian front, he would carry Prince Abdallah’s remarks to the State department and the White House.

Prince Bandar, who has close and friendly relations with many important personalities of the Bush administration, can definitely play an active positive role to defend the Palestinians and unveil Israeli deceit.

LOCAL NEWS

Twenty Palestinians killed and 480 injured since Israel’s declaration of a ceasefire

The Health Ministry declared yesterday that 20 Palestinians have been killed and 480 injured by Israeli army bullets in the West Bank and Gaza since Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared a cease fire at the end of May.

Mu’awiya Hussein, General Director of emergency department in al-Shifa hospital, confirmed that twenty people have been killed by bullets and shrapnel from Israeli attacks since 22 May. Hussein pointed out that 480 Palestinians, many of them children, have been injured during the same period of time and a number of them remain in hospitals in critical condition.

He pointed out that 437 children from the West Bank and Gaza suffer permanent disabilities due to attacks by occupation forces since the beginning of the Intifada, 28 September 2000.

He also warned that Palestinian hospitals have started to suffer a shortage in oxygen gas due to the imposed Israeli military closure on Palestinian cities and crossings, which threatens the lives of those in need for medical attention.

Hussein said that 250 people with heart problems and cancer in the Gaza Strip are still being prevented by the Israeli authorities from travelling to Egypt or Jordan for medication.

Number of Palestinians killed since the beginning of the Intifada has reached 547:

119     Gaza
285     West Bank
63       Not registered due to imposed closure
141    Under the age of 18

Number of those injured has reached 25,258.

23%    shot in the neck or head
31%    ahot in the chest
41%    children shot in the upper part of the body

Israel fixes a metal gate at the northern entrance to al-Khader

Al Quds- Israeli forces established a metal gate at the north western entrance to al-Khader village around the schools, the only exit to the by pass road (no. 60) and connection between al-Arqoub, Wadi Fokin, Hussan, Nahalin, Beitir and areas ‘A’.

Occupation soldiers fixed the gate, 6 meters wide, across the street, a move which disconnects areas ‘A’ (Palestinian security control), ‘B’ (Joint security control) and ‘C’ (Israeli security control).

Palestinians considered the policy behind this move to be political and not one of security.

GLIMPSES OF THE CLOSURE

“Count” the people on the way in and out

Al Quds- Israeli occupation forces, in a new step to increase the suffering of al-Mawasi inhabitants on the Khan Younis and Rafah beach, have started counting the people through stamping their identity cards whether on the way in or out, while preventing others who wish to visit family or friends in the area from crossing.

The inhabitants, who have suffered daily from Israel’s arbitrary measures, say that these measures prevent many inhabitants from reaching their homes, land and work in al-Mawasi area, especially the inhabitants who have not had their place of residence changed on their identity cards, preventing many from reaching their homes or work destinations.

One witness said that Israeli forces at al-Tuffah checkpoint subject all those who wish to cross to al-Mawasi area to strict searching measures which take several hours.

One inhabitant said that occupation forces prevent nutritious material from entering even after obtaining the necessary permissions.

The inhabitants expressed their frustration concerning Israeli measures which aim at forcing them to leave their land and homes and called on the international community to interfere in lifting the imposed closure on the people, pointing out that the medical, economic and education conditions are constantly deteriorating due to continuous attacks by occupation soldiers or settlers.

Two old people with heart problems cross wild mountain roads to reach Nablus

Al Quds- Haj Muhammed Ziada, 72, and his wife Hajja Fahima, 70, had to cross a difficult wild mountain road yesterday morning and walked for several kilometers on foot from ‘Madama’ village south of Nablus to attend their son’s (Id, 26) surgery in Rafidia hospital.

The two elderly people with heart problems had to walk on foot after being prevented by occupation soldiers to cross by car, taking a rocky difficult road for two and a half hours, while Israeli army patrols moved actively in the area to prevent the movement of any vehicles to Nablus.

The road which these two people intended to take became an active vein since the break out of the Intifada between Nablus and the cities north and centre of the West Bank, until Israel closed it completely and placed a military point in the square area of Tel and Madama land to prevent its use.

The soldiers tried to prevent the two elderly people several times, except they constantly hid behind the trees to take a breath and start again towards Nablus.

Sweat was dripping from Haj Ziada, who tried to conceal his pain and agony, to hold his wife’s hands, who was constantly falling. All he could see was the aim of reaching the hospital and attending their son’s surgery.

The two old people were not discouraged by the soldiers’ loud speakers which were lost with their determination to continue their walk until they reached Rafidia hospital two hours later.

Madama, inhabited by around 2000 people is considered a small village and depends greatly on agriculture and ‘stone’ material. The latter was stopped by a military decision when the occupation authorities cut a bypass road for settlements in the area, despite it being located in area ‘B’, which is not subject to by pass road construction according to the Oslo agreement.

Ziada said that the settlers of ‘Yitshar’ settlement had confiscated his family’s land in al-Khasfa al-Athariya area and prevented all its members from approaching it.

Tens of thousand of Palestinians suffer the fixed closure on the Palestinian territories, in which they are prevented from using proper roads and are chased through side sand roads as is the case north of Nablus and in Salfeet.

Closure and siege transformed life in the Strip to hell

Al Quds- The suffering of inhabitants continues at the Israeli military checkpoints to be added to the series of continuous attacks and breaches practiced by the Israeli forces against our people since the break out of al-Aqsa Intifada last September.

A driver said that he waited at al-Matahin junction for over three hours only to be turned back when he reached the military location, under the excuse that he crossed over the sand piles placed by occupation forces. He wondered, “Isn’t this injustice and humiliation!”

Wisam Ibrahim, an employee in Gaza City, also pointed that provocative measures at the military checkpoints pushed him to rent a flat in Gaza City. He said making the road into a one way delays people for hours, especially in the morning when people are heading towards work or in the afternoon on their way back.

Hannan Muhammed said that occupation forces ease the movement of settlers and their trucks on the account of Palestinians. "The road is immediately closed as soon as one settler car appears, 200 meters away, which increase the inhabitants’ delay and waiting," she said. She adds that the long searching measures carried by occupation forces are so provocative and humiliating, in addition to sights of terror of tanks with heavy machinegun launchers fixed on them.

People start praying as soon as they approach the checkpoints and congratulate one another on their safety as soon as they cross, as if they were travelling from one state to another and not form one city to the next.

No one is excluded from these measures, including ambulances and UNRWA cars.

On another front, those who live close to the area make use of the situation by selling refreshments on the road.

FEATURES

Fish in search for its fishermen in Gaza
By Munir Abu Rizik

The beautiful sea of Gaza continued to produce its goods during the fishing season despite the imposed closure, which forced the fish to look for its fishermen on the shore.

Four thousand fishermen, due to the tightened closure, which Gaza sea is being subjected to, have stood afar watching the sea, without being able to move their boats or fishing nets in search for the fish. They ended up like many others looking for jobs at the doors of charity and humanitarian institutions, in search for bread instead of fish.

Head of the fishermen union in Gaza, Jamal Abu Rayala, said while ten other fishermen waited for their turn to receive a coupon for a bag of flower, that the weather has contributed to a great extent in improving the fishing season, except the closure prevented the fishermen from making use of what nature has offered them. Abu Rayala expected the fishermen’s living conditions to get much worse in the next few months, “The fishing season ends mid-May and in case the closure continues, fishermen will find themselves jobless until the next season, next year.”

A number of fishermen were forced to make the choice of dying of hunger or dying in search for food, and decided to choose the latter by going into sea and catching the fish, which has never been so close to Gaza.

Normally, however, what is known as ‘al-Dababir’, occupation military packages in the sea snipe the fishermen before they can get their fish. Occupation forces destroy their boats and beat them severely before throwing them almost dead on the shore.

The fisherman Ismail al-Amoud, 47, and his son Ayman, 27, were subjected lately to a pirate attack, dozens of meters away from the fishing port of Gaza and disappeared. Other fishermen can only guess what destiny awaits them.

Their experience with the occupation goes back before the Intifada. Abu Rayala said, “The pirates (Israeli Navy) have chased fishermen in the sea, even before the Intifada started, punishing them for no reason by drowning their boats, arresting them for days and making them pay high fines.”

Boats, nets and fishing equipment are confiscated by occupation forces and given to Israeli fishermen. Since the beginning of the Intifada, Israeli fishing boats have been using Palestinian fishing areas near Gaza, under the protection of the Israeli army.

The fishermen Muhammed Bakra, 45, supports a family of 15 members. During the imposed closure, his boat was destroyed by occupation forces and he has had to knock on the doors of humanitarian and social institutions for help. He says, “It is the end of the fishing season, after that there will be no chance to get out of our financial crisis.” He adds, “There is nothing in front of us except death in the sea, which we have fallen in love with for years.”

The closure imposed on the sea, did not just effect the fishermen, it had its effects on all those who work in the industry (selling, trading, transporting..), 15% of the inhabitants of Gaza.

Fisherman Khaled Abu Amira, 35, father to 6 children called on the international community to pressure Israel to open the sea in front

ARTICLES

Yasser Arafat is as much of a terrorist as George Washington was
By Bassam Abu-Sharif

During the last few weeks, General Ariel Sharon, Israel’s Prime Minister, and General Benjamin Ben Eleizer stepped up their redundant attacks against Yasser Arafat personally, describing him as a terrorist and a loser. Without resorting to the vulgar content and form of these attacks, one should probe into these allegations and reach logical and sound conclusions.

Is Yasser Arafat a terrorist? Is he really a leader who had lost his historical role as the two generals claimed?

Yasser Arafat started his life as a victim, before he was even aware of it. When he was born seventy years ago, Palestine was the target of a malignant conspiracy that had eventually victimised a whole nation, which was entrusted to the British mandate to prepare it for independence.

Since he became aware of the conspiracy plotted by the colonialist powers, Yasser Arafat decided to dedicate his life to struggle for freedom and independence of his people- the Palestinians. Israel’s occupation of the remaining 22% of mandatory (historic) Palestine, drove Yasser Arafat and the rest of the Palestinians to pick up arms and resist occupation. He was following the examples of George Washington, Charles De Gualle and all freedom fighters who struggled for the freedom and independence of their nations.

The Israelis, at the time, and probably now under the leadership General Ariel Sharon, refused to recognise the presence of the Palestinian people. Golda Meir wrote down in her memoirs that “there is no such people, there are no Palestinians.” This indoctrination process to generations of Israeli immigrants, forced or voluntary, was systematic. They injected into their minds that Palestine was an empty desert and that Jewish immigrants turned it green.

That is why, it was not surprising that the Israeli documentary film, broadcasted on the 50th anniversary of Israel on Israel’s TV channel one, created a shock within the Israeli society. The documentary screened the brutal use of force by Israeli terrorist gangs (stern, Irgunm Haganah, Itsel) against Palestinian unarmed civilians to push them by force out of their villages and towns. It was made clear on the screen that Palestine was green and densely inhabited by its indigenous population.

Unreluctantly, and with full dedication, Arafat led the Palestinians through the severest battles waged by Israel and its allies to liquidate the PLO and disperse the Palestinians forever. He confronted Israeli attacks and invasion of Karamah, the Jordan Valley (1969), Israeli continuous air raids, invasion and siege of Lebanon its capital Beirut and dozens of Israeli terrorist attempts to assassinate him and his colleagues. The Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, the systematic destruction of the besieged Beirut and the massacre of Sabra and Shatilla were all committed and led by General Sharon who is now the Prime Minister of Israel.

During a recent meeting between Ariel Sharon and armed settlers in one of the colonies built on confiscated Palestinian land, a video tape was filmed secretly and shown on screen last week. The settlers were urging Sharon to carry out against the Palestinians what he had carried against them in Sabra and Shatilla in Beirut. Sharon nodded his head without any effort to deny the crime he had committed in Sabra and Shatilla, as he had done publicly before.

Yasser Arafat believes, and so do the Palestinians, that their strategic choice is a two-state solution. That is why he did his best to achieve peace on this basis.

December 13, 1988 was the day in which Yasser Arafat launched his initiative for peace in the Middle East, to which George Schultz, US Secretary of State at the time, responded by recognizing the PLO and giving instructions to US ambassador to Tunis Robert Pelletreau to start reacting.

The Bush administration, after several years, and after the Iraqi-Kuwaiti conflict, called for the Madrid conference for peace in the Middle East. Shamir, Israel’s Prime Minister at the time, gave a no-peace speech at the conference. Nevertheless, Arafat continued his efforts to establish peace with Israel.

After signing the declaration of principles in Washington, Arafat continued his efforts to establish peace. It was the Israeli government that breached agreements, delayed implementation of accords and ended up by launching a savage military attack, to force Arafat to accept what was not accorded. He had to lead his people in self-defence.

Occupation is a source of mass terrorism. Occupants are the terrorists.

The people subjected to occupation is endowed the right to resist by all available means, according to UN charter, world conventions and the western democracy principle.

Resistance of occupation is legal and an obligation. It is a human right for achieving human freedom. Those who try to indignate nations and use force to occupy their land and brutality to enslave them are the terrorists. Israeli occupation forces, the Israeli government and Mr. Sharon are the real terrorists, while the Palestinians who resist, under the  leadership of Yasser Arafat, the Israeli occupation of their land are freedom fighters like George Washington and his followers who resisted the Nazi occupation.