Stop U.S. aid for this repression!
March 1, 2002 | Page 1
WHEN MAYSOUN Hayek went into labor at 1:30 a.m., her husband and father-in-law decided to rush her to the hospital.
But Maysoun and her family are Palestinians living in the West Bank. So racing to a nearby hospital meant crossing Israeli checkpoints--a dangerous and potentially deadly challenge for Palestinians at any time, but especially at night.
The three made it through the first checkpoint without incident. Then, suddenly, their car was caught in a hail of gunfire. Maysoun was hit in the shoulder, her father-in-law critically wounded.
And Maysoun's husband Mohammed was dead--his body riddled with 25 bullets, according to X-rays.
Mohammed was a casualty of the Israeli government's war on Palestinians--carried out with the full backing of the U.S. government. But not the only one that week--and not even the only one at that checkpoint. Israeli soldiers shot and injured another Palestinian woman in labor one day earlier at the same checkpoint.
These shootings capped the most violent week since the new Palestinian Intifada began 17 months ago--with more than 50 people dead, most of them Palestinian. Yet though the scale of the bloodshed was high, the savagery is routine.
"Yesterday at this spot, the Israelis shot eight young men, six of whom were under the age of 18. One was 12," New York Times reporter Chris Hedges wrote in the June 17, 2001, entry in his diary of a trip to Gaza, published in Harper's magazine last month. "This afternoon, they kill an 11-year-old boy, Ali Murad, and seriously wound four more, three of whom are under 18. Children have been shot in other conflicts I have covered but I have never before watched soldiers entice children like mice into a trap and murder them for sport."
A story in Israel's Ha'aretz newspaper underlined the cold-blooded horror of the repression. The article described an Israeli officer telling peers to "study how the German army operated in the Warsaw Ghetto"--a reference to the Nazi's repression of Polish Jews before they were shipped off to the death camps during the Second World War.
And through it all, what has the U.S. government done? Pointed the finger at Yasser Arafat. Echoing the Bush administration during a trip to Israel last week, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) declared that the Palestinian Authority chief had "failed as a leader."
That same week, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced his "new outline on the war on terror." The plan? More counterterrorism methods--"a euphemism to describe the work of its death squads, which have assassinated more than 70 Palestinian suspects during the conflict despite widespread criticism," wrote Phil Reeves in Britain's Independent newspaper.
Of course, neither Clinton nor any other U.S. official had any complaints about Sharon. With full U.S. backing, Israeli politicians claim again and again that they want peace--and that the Palestinians are the "terrorists."
But the 270 Israeli reservists who have refused to serve in the Occupied Territories have dealt a blow to this fairy tale. Their stories of atrocities regularly committed by Israeli soldiers show just who the real terrorists are.
"You get used to it in a hurry, and many even learn to like it," wrote reservist Asaf Oron, describing the daily routine that eventually sickened him and drove him to sign onto a petition with other so-called "refuseniks." "Where else can you go out on patrol--that is, walk the streets like a king, harass and humiliate to your heart's content and at the same time feel like a big hero defending your country?"
The U.S. government makes this brutality possible--with both diplomatic support and more than $3 billion in aid given to Israel annually, most of it military. We have to demand that the U.S. end its support for Israel's terror.