"No one is safe from this terror"
April 5, 2002 | Page 1
ISRAELI PRIME Minister Ariel Sharon has declared an all-out war on Palestinians. And his first target was Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Yasser Arafat.
More than 100 tanks and about 700 soldiers smashed into Arafat's headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah, killing PA guards and leaving Arafat besieged on one floor of the building as Socialist Worker went to press.
Israel's aim was plain--to humiliate Arafat and portray him as a defeated and captive enemy. "It proves to every Palestinian that no one is safe, no one is beyond the reach of the army," Emily Jacir, a Palestinian from Ramallah, told Socialist Worker. "Even Arafat, who is so cushioned, has no electricity, no water, no food, and is at risk. And in that way, this is an effective terror attack against everyone. It's unbelievable."
Outside Arafat's compound, Israeli forces were on the rampage across Ramallah. According to Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, there are so many dead that the morgues are already full--and hospital staff have set up rooms with fans run by generators to keep corpses from rotting.
And all of this was made possible by tanks, helicopters, jets and other weapons supplied by the U.S. government.
"There are loudspeakers in the streets saying that they will shoot us if we come outside," Emily said. "I tried to leave before the siege started, and I was lined up with 500 other people, families with suitcases and babies. Then there was shooting and screaming and total mayhem. There are two tanks on both sides of my house. We haven't left the house for three days because we're afraid they'll bulldoze it if we're not here. And we're also really lucky that our house hasn't been searched. My friend Stephanie--IDF soldiers came into her house and stayed there for four hours for no reason. They ate her food and harassed her, trying to get her to talk to them."
And this is just the beginning. Sharon has vowed that Israel's onslaught will last for weeks. Yet George W. Bush wouldn't utter even one word of criticism of Israel in his press conference last weekend. Instead, he called on Arafat to do more to stop terrorism.
The absurdity of demanding this of Arafat while he's confined to a few rooms without electricity or water and with only a cell phone to link him to the outside world was plain. The White House may ramble on about a "pathway to peace," but with his parroting of Israel's denunciations of Arafat, Bush gave a green light for this war.
But as Israel steps up its terror, people around the world are showing their outrage. Across the Middle East, from Yemen to Iraq to Syria to Egypt, hundreds of thousands of people marched to show their opposition to Israel's war. And in the U.S. itself, thousands of Palestinians and their supporters took to the streets in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Chicago and other cities.
Israel's war and occupation depend on massive economic, military and political support from the U.S. We have a responsibility to stand up for justice--and demand that the U.S. government end its support for Israel's terrorist regime.