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Kristen Ess: All in a Day’s Work for a Mythical Democracy

Under this ‘cease-fire,’ the Israeli government continues to send occupation soldiers to rip up trees and crops, creating wastelands that reinforce the myth that this is a land without a people, as if no Palestinian family ever lived here
All in a Day’s Work for a Mythical Democracy
22 July 2003

By: Kristen Ess

In the mid-Gaza Strip, an old man dressed in white sits on a wooden box, watching an Israeli driven bulldozer destroy his land. The tree leaves are deep green and are crushed and caught in the pusher. This is making the trunks more mangled. He watches. The destruction goes on for hours.

There is nothing he can do. Under this ‘cease-fire,’ the Israeli government continues to send occupation soldiers to rip up trees and crops, creating wastelands that reinforce the myth that this is a land without a people, as if no Palestinian family ever lived here. This practice destroys the livelihood not only of families and communities, but creates Palestinian dependency on Israeli agricultural production.

Palestinian commerce remains at a virtual standstill with checkpoints and closures ensuring there is little ability to create Palestinian goods, or to work for the money necessary to rebuild destroyed factories, manufacturing centers, or shops. It reinforces one of the goals of occupation—to create such a dependency on Israeli goods and work, that whether or not the IOF stays inside the West Bank and Gaza, the viability of a Palestinian state becomes ever more tenuous. Many Palestinian stores are stocked largely with Israeli goods. Many Israeli incursions include targeting shops, agricultural production and factories. This, the Israeli government blames on ‘security.’ A man in Gaza City, surveying his destroyed printing press shop, said, “If we make soap they say we’re making bombs.?

Occupation does not only come in the form of soldiers pointing guns at children in checkpoints or firing missiles from the sky into heavily populated residential neighborhoods. It also seeks to continue its policy of ethnic cleansing by creating such a deepening dependency that if the Israelis cannot get rid of the Palestinians altogether, they can absorb them into the ‘non-people’ status that Palestinians living inside 1948 boundaries suffer under.

In the summer heat, IOF continue to target Palestinian water sources, diverting most of it for Israeli settlements and the Negev Desert. Today, as PM Abbas is on his way to Washington to meet with Bush, IOF took four Palestinians from Nablus’ Balata Refugee Camp to prison.

This is all in a days work for an occupier. In just the first week (7 July-13 July) of this bilateral ‘cease-fire,’ the IOF committed at least 23 violations. IOF closed the Tufah checkpoint ensuring that Palestinians could not go home, shot into Rafah wounding a 16 and 17 year old, shelled houses in Khan Younis, snatched four people from Jabaliya Refugee Camp (and many more taken to prisons throughout the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip), shot and wounded two PA police near Deir al Belah, opened fire into Rafah again, committed six closures, built two new ‘watch-towers’ or sniper posts, and sealed off roads to Bethlehem with cement and sandbags (by the way, contrary to one what thinks if they know of Israel’s much lauded Gaza-Bethlehem Agreement, the IOF is still inside Bethlehem, pointing their automatic weapons at the Aida Refugee Camp from their sniper post at ‘Rachel’s Tomb’). After the week-long period of the aforementioned study, IOF have killed Palestinians in the northern West Bank, taken many without charge to Israeli prisons, continued its tight closure of Hebron, incurred into Nablus and the Jenin area, have been flying over Bethlehem in F-16s, etc. This is just a sample of what Israel means by ‘cease-fire.’

Hamas and Jihad agreed to a cease-fire. Okay, but have Israeli Occupation Forces ceased firing? No. Has the IOF ceased humiliating Palestinians in checkpoints or keeping them closed altogether? No. Palestinians still largely cannot move from one of their own towns to the next. Has the IOF ceased home demolitions? No. Have they ceased settlement construction? No. Just from looking out the window settlement activity is visible. Have they ceased building the towering apartheid wall in the West Bank and southern Gaza Strip? No.

The IOF continued to incur into the Jenin area last week. Surrounding villages, such as Tobas, have been closed. A boy from the area jumped through windows, dodging Israeli bullets, to make it to the mosque under curfew. Sharon and the IOF continue to dole out terror like children’s nightmares.

Does continued notice that Jihad and Hamas have agreed to this ‘cease-fire’ skew reality even further by constructing a dichotomy that suggests that Jihad and Hamas wield anything close to the fire-power, weaponry, support, and people power of the Israeli army? Nearly every Israeli is required to serve in the IOF. There are few exceptions to this. Israel receives 12 million dollars a day from the US. One can only hope that the international community realizes that Jihad and Hamas do not wield the power to demand the services of anyone.

Whether Jihad or Hamas have agreed to a cease-fire (which they have) misses another fundamental point. Before there was a cease-fire, when there was a cease-fire in the past, in reality and nightmare, the occupation remains. The Sharon government will make the rules and the IOF will continue its reign of terror over Palestine.

The Sharon government may now face a bit of pressure to abide by an international law or two since the ‘cease-fire’ is in effect. PM Abbas says he hopes Bush will help stop Sharon from continuing to build Israeli settlements and the apartheid Wall. This Wall is making prisons out of Palestinian towns, such as Qalqilya. There is only one way in or out for people and goods—through a narrow corridor controlled by Israeli soldiers.

Sunday’s meeting between PM Abbas, Head of Palestinian Security Dahlan, and Sharon, “didn’t go well,? according to Dahlan. Sharon is dissembling through talks about Palestinian political prisoners (most of whom are held without charge), Israeli settlements (all of which are illegal under international law), and the Palestinian Right of Return (UN Resolution 194, an individual and collective right).

We must be watchful to keep the dialogue about the Road Map based in reality. We should be talking about why the Israeli government has gotten away with holding 6,000 Palestinian political prisoners without charge, not whether PM Abbas-Abu Mazen-will bend and plead enough to get 400 out of nearly 8,000 total prisoners released.

In continued Israeli efforts to keep the truth from the world, one wonders what punishment will be doled out to British PM Blair since he told Sharon on his recent visit to Britain that he will not cut all ties to Palestinian President Arafat as Sharon demands. Of course in the recent past, at Sharon’s refusal to speak with the Palestinian president, in the name of ‘democracy’ the U.S. picked him a new one, Prime Minister Abbas. It would be a tad too overt to choose a new President altogether, so instead they took away the Presidents power, and assigned it to another.

Now we are in a quagmire. It is more of the same as Israel and the US are demanding that PM Abbas jump through even uglier hoops in the name of the Road Map, than President Arafat was during Oslo. He is being forced to renegotiate points that were negotiated but not followed through by Israel. Sharon is actually demanding that Abbas drop the request for the Right of Return. This is UN Resolution 194; it is an individual and a collective right for all Palestinians. It is not possible under any law, moral or international, to negotiate this right away.

Sharon is also demanding that Abbas disallow Palestine Satellite Television from reporting on IOF attacks against Palestinians. When the BBC aired a documentary about Israel’s nuclear capabilities, not only did Israel’s GPO bar them as working press, but in Sharon’s recent trip to Britain, he would not allow BBC reporters to attend press conferences. All in a day’s work for a democracy.


Recent from Kristen Ess:
Maybe you will get a state in 2005: CKUT audio report from July 4, 2003. Length 10:13

Israeli Occupation Forces Continue Targeting and Killing Palestinians Despite Roadmap Assemblying: CKUT audio report from June 27, 14min42sec

The Roadmap Ignores Right of Return, Illegal Israelie Settlements, & More: CKUT audio report from June 20, 22min3sec

June 23-The IOF Keeps on Killing

Other Resources:
The Meaning of Rachel Corrie - Of Dignity and Solidarity, Edward Said

Hic Road Map. Quo Vadis?, Gabriel Ash

Under Cover of Righteousness, Shulamit Aloni

Threats of Forced Mass Expulsion, Amira Hass

Five-part series advocating ethnic cleansing in the name of a homogenous religious state with the usual, lies, distortions, euphemisms. 'Transfer' of Palestinians has become a common topic in Israeli political and academic discourse.

Native American radio show comparing the struggles of Palestinians and Native Americans posted at (February 11 past shows)

For news and analysis from Palestine:

To get involved in Palestine solidarity in the US:

Torture and illegal detention of Palestinian political prisoners:

Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in Palestine:

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