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Justice for Palestinians!
Israel's war crime

April 26, 2001 | Page 1

"THE TELEVISION pictures do not convey the devastation. You have to come here to walk over the dust and rubble that used to be people's homes, picking your way through the little pieces of their lives, the children's schoolbooks and discarded clothing. You have to smell the stench of death that clings to certain corners."

That's how Justin Huggler, a reporter for Britain's Independent newspaper, described the horrors of the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank.

No one knows how many hundreds of people died in Israel's assault. Many bodies are buried beneath the rubble, and survivors have little other than their bare hands to dig them out. But no one can deny the scale of the devastation.

Israel claims that its invasion forces faced a tough battle against determined Palestinian resistance, which caused the destruction. But not even the Israeli military believes that there were more than 75 Palestinian fighters, armed at best with rifles--against hundreds of Israeli soldiers, backed up by tanks and Apache helicopter gunships.

Nor does anyone dispute that the bulldozers--which flattened one-third of the camp and left not a single street untouched--began their real work after the last Palestinian fighters were killed or surrendered.

This nightmare is the work of the Israeli government and its homicidal Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. But the U.S. government is also to blame--for supplying the weaponry and equipment that laid waste to Jenin and for supporting Israel even as it carried out its slaughter.

Both governments have more to answer for--because Jenin was only one operation in Israel's onslaught.

The basic structures of life itself have been destroyed. Roads, schools, electricity, water pipes, telephone lines, supermarkets--everything was fair game for Israeli forces.

Huwaida Arraf, cofounder of the International Solidarity Movement, which organized international activists to bear witness to Israel's terror, says that her home of Ramallah has been "quiet" for the past week. But "quiet" in the West Bank means constant interruptions of explosions.

"People have almost gotten used to these explosions and hardly ask anymore what that was--because it's just another building, it's just another supermarket, it's just another home that they're entering," Arraf told Socialist Worker. "These things are almost impossible to put into words. But these are the things that we're seeing."

Throughout this one-sided conflict, the U.S. government has continued to demand that Palestinians "renounce violence"--even as Israel's violence reached fever pitch. Secretary of State Colin Powell's trip to Israel last week gained not one single concession from Sharon. So George W. Bush sat down with Powell in front of the television cameras last weekend and…paid tribute to Ariel Sharon as "a man of peace."

A few days later--and only after Israeli officials gave the okay--the U.S. lifted its objections to a United Nations proposal for a fact-finding mission to investigate Jenin. But U.S. officials were working behind the scenes to make sure certain figures were kept off the investigation. Like Terje Roed-Larsen, the UN's Middle East envoy and a mainstream bureaucrat who is credited with organizing the secret talks that led to the Oslo peace accords in 1993.

Larsen couldn't contain his outrage at what he saw in Jenin, describing the carnage as "horrific beyond belief." Which is why Sharon and his goons today denounce him as a "friend of terrorists."

We can't leave Palestinians to fight alone against these murderers. "Those of us here were heartened to see all of the demonstrations and solidarity and outrage over Israel's action all over the world," said Arraf. "The one thing we ask is that people don't tire of putting the pressure on."

We'll keep up this struggle--until we end U.S. support for Israel's terror and win justice for Palestinians.

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