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ISRAEL/PALESTINE
U.S. media ignores intensified siege
Israel tightens its stranglehold

By Anthony Arnove | July 26, 2002 | Page 5

ISRAEL IS getting away with murder. You wouldn't know it from U.S. newspapers or TV reports. But the Israeli government has intensified its brutal siege of the West Bank, killing more than 40 Palestinians in the past several weeks--at least 21 of them unarmed civilians and 10 of them children.

"Israeli tanks have for some weeks been prowling the streets of the Palestinian cities in the West Bank," columnist Gideon Levy wrote in Israel's mainstream Ha'aretz newspaper. "The Israel Defense Forces is firing tank shells to intimidate innocent civilians, who the soldiers believe are violating curfews, or in order to disperse crowds...There are not many other cities in the world--Grozny comes to mind--in which tanks have the run of the streets and fire shells into population centers."

For more than a month, Israeli soldiers have imposed a nearly continual curfew on every major Palestinian town in the West Bank with the exception of Jericho. Thus, since June 19, more than 700,000 Palestinians have been under a collective "house arrest." Children cannot go to school, and their parents can't go to work. And Israeli troops have killed dozens of people for the crime of "violating" the curfew.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the Israeli government are cashing the blank check that George W. Bush gave them in late June--in his speech promoting a "solution" to the conflict that amounted to a demand that Palestinians surrender unconditionally.

Even sections of the Israeli military are worried that the government is going too far. According to Agence France Presse, top officers called for Israel's new army boss, Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya'alon, to lift the curfews, warning that the occupied West Bank towns were on the "verge of a volcanic eruption." But the hard-line Ya'alon has openly stated that the occupation will continue until Palestinian Authority chief Yasser Arafat is "neutralized."

Meanwhile, the siege has made already desperate conditions in the Occupied Territories that much worse. "The economic despair of the Palestinians has reached a new low," reported the Christian Science Monitor. "People are eating weeds" to survive. United Nations (UN) Secretary General Kofi Annan told the UN Security Council that 2 million Palestinians are in dire need of food and medical assistance and more than half of Palestinian children show signs of "chronic or acute malnutrition."

And this is precisely what Israel wants, according to Ya'alon. He explained that the strategy was designed to "defeat the Palestinians in a piecemeal, gradual fashion, not by a knockout blow," Ha'aretz reported. What a monster!

Yet almost every report in the U.S. media focuses on Israeli casualties of suicide attacks and ambushes of settlers--or the Palestinians' so-called "terrorist infrastructure."

We can't let the Bush White House and its corporate media lapdogs get away with these lies and distortions. Israel is the real terrorist. We support the Palestinian resistance to Israel's brutal apartheid.

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