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LA TIMES: "Palestinians Won't Be Forced Out Again"

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    Assalamu alaikum, Palestinians Won t Be Forced Out Again By MUSTAFA BARGHOUTHI http://www.latimes.com/news/comment/20010531/t000045505.html May 31, 2001
    Message 1 of 1 , May 31, 2001
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      Assalamu'alaikum,

      Palestinians Won't Be Forced Out Again

      By MUSTAFA BARGHOUTHI

      http://www.latimes.com/news/comment/20010531/t000045505.html

      May 31, 2001

      Israel's recent campaign of quick, devastating and sometimes fatal
      "temporary" reoccupation of territory under Palestinian jurisdiction
      should be understood as part of a well-planned scheme that is not about
      defending nearby illegal Israeli settlers, who are heavily armed and
      well-protected by the Israeli army.

      If it were only about defending settlers, why would Israeli tanks and
      bulldozers systematically raze hundreds of acres of Palestinian cultivated
      land and destroy the houses of innocent civilians while in the process of
      reoccupying these areas for a few hours? Also, why would the Israeli army
      step up its air raids and shelling by tanks if not in an attempt to kill
      and maim hundreds of Palestinians or, at the least, to scare, intimidate
      and humiliate them?

      More than 500 Palestinians have been killed and 23,000 injured in the
      past eight months. One-third of the casualties are children; more than 60%
      were shot while in their homes, schools or workplaces. Israeli Prime
      Minister Ariel Sharon, a longtime advocate of "Jordan is Palestine," is
      hoping to force demoralized Palestinians into a third exodus.

      The on-the-ground aggression certainly bears this out, as does his
      March appointment of Rehavam Zeevi, a proponent of the doctrine of
      "transfer"--the expulsion of the Palestinians and annexation of the
      occupied territories to Israel--as minister of tourism.

      The erection of tents in Beit Hanoun, Khan Yunis and Deir al Balah in
      the Gaza Strip following the recent reoccupation and subsequent
      destruction of these areas is strikingly reminiscent of 1948. Then, close
      to 1 million Palestinians were forcefully evicted from their land. This
      forced removal, coupled with the Israeli army's orchestrated campaign of
      mass destruction and massacres aimed at scaring off the remaining
      population, resulted in many Palestinians taking refuge under tents in
      several makeshift camps in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as well as in
      neighboring Arab countries. Nineteen years later, a new Palestinian exodus
      was to take place when an additional 350,000 Palestinians were forced out
      of their land and houses after the 1967 Six-Day War.

      Sharon is a staunch proponent of settlement expansion, which is made
      possible only by stealing more Palestinian land and resources. When he
      embarked on a political career in the mid-1970s, Sharon set out to
      implement a plan to settle 2 million Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza
      Strip to ensure Israel's security. Between 1977 and 1981, while minister
      of agriculture, he managed to double the number of Jewish settlements in
      the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He was then considered the patron of the
      militant settlers' movement, Gush Emunim (Bloc of the Faithful).

      Between 1990 and 1992, while minister for construction and housing,
      Sharon further encouraged the development of settlements in the West Bank,
      particularly to house Soviet immigrants. A recently released Israeli Peace
      Now report confirms that 15 new settlements have been constructed since
      Sharon took office and more than 50 since the Oslo accords of 1993.
      Sharon's current calls for stepping up the construction of settlements,
      supposedly to accommodate natural growth, do not even manage to fool the
      Americans, who are calling for a settlement freeze.

      His views, ideology and history combine perfectly for what Sharon has
      in mind: killing for the sake of killing and insidiously "encouraging"
      Palestinians to leave by constantly attacking their children and their
      land.

      Thus, the leveling of land during the "temporary" reoccupation of
      Palestinian territory in the West Bank and Gaza Strip also could signal
      Sharon's intention to make way for further annexation. Land confiscation
      continues to rule Israeli policy. The reoccupation tactic is yet another
      potential manifestation of this policy.

      What Sharon tends to forget, however, is that Palestinians remember
      1948, 1967 and the subsequent years of Israeli land confiscation. This is
      precisely why they are not ready to embark on a third exodus and leave the
      door open for further Israeli land appropriation.
      What Sharon tends to ignore is that, by expanding settlements, he

      increases the risks to Israelis and provides them with less security, not
      more.

      - - -

      Mustafa Barghouthi Is President of the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief
      Committees


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