With World Attention Focused on New York and Washington: ISRAEL STEPS UP ATTACK AGAINST THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE

Badil

With World Attention Focused on New York and Washington: ISRAEL STEPS UP ATTACK AGAINST THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE

From BADIL Resource Center For immediate release, 12-9-2001

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With world wide public attention absorbed by the devastating attack against the New York World Trade Center and the Pentagon building in Washington DC; while shock and concern for the large number of innocent victims prevail; and, while numerous questions concerning circumstances and possible perpetrators of this sophisticated and horrific attack have yet to be answered, Israel’s political and military establishment has taken advantage of the opportunities offered by the tragic event to engage in a two-leveled campaign against the Palestinian people. ISRAELI MILTIARY ASSAULT: Covered by the screen of smoke and dust of the collapsing towers of the World Trade Center, the Israeli occupation army stepped up its attack against the Palestinian city of Jenin and Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank. Israel launched the military operation one night before the 11 September attacks in the United States. The operation follows the pattern of partial and temporary re-occupation of Palestinian areas and targeted attacks on Palestinian refugee camps set by the earlier Israeli invasion into Palestinian controlled areas in the district of Bethlehem (Beit Jala and Aida refugee camp, August 28-30). It aims at maximum destruction of infrastructure of Palestinian resistance. Encouraged by the current focus of international attention on the attacks in New York and Washington DC, Israel proceeded, in the early morning hours of 12 September, to expand its invasion to include the Palestinian villages of Arrabeh, Tamoun and Toubas in the wider Jenin district. Reports about movement of Israeli troups towards the city of Nablus followed at noon. Fierce fighting between the Israeli army and the Palestinian resistance continues until this moment and has so far resulted in nine Palestinian casualties (one of them a 14 year old girl) and dozens of injuries. Clear indications about timing and exact mode of an eventual Israeli redeployment in the area are not available.

ISRAELI PUBLICITY CAMPAIGN: Israel’s military escalation on the ground is accompanied by a massive publicity campaign to de-legitimize the Palestinian quest for justice and the implementation of international law. Riding on the wave of worldwide shock and outrage over the massive terror attack in the United States, Israeli spokespersons have used the opportunity to emphasize that Israel’s repression of the Palestinian people must be regarded as part and parcel of a concerted effort of the “civilized world” to erase terrorism rooted among the millions of “evil” people and countries around the globe, who refuse to accept that their right to self-determination and economic development – as reaffirmed by the recent World Conference Against Racism in Durban – must be sacrificed on the altar of US (and Israeli) economic and political interests. The impression that many Palestinians – together with millions of oppressed and impoverished in the world – find it difficult to mourn over the innocent victims in New York and Washington while US Apache helicopters and F-16s are killing their leaders and destroying their homes, is used to argue the case for the legitimacy of Israeli violations of all standards set by international human rights and humanitarian law.

While this Israeli response to the horrific events in New York and Washington is neither new nor surprising, international media coverage (e.g. CNN and BBC), which has served to promote Israel’s distorted view of Mid-East affairs, must not be left unchallenged. The appearance of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (BBC) and current Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres (CNN) as so-called “exerts” on terrorism provided Israel with a free platform to propagate the myth of Israel as the only “civilized” and “democratic” state in the Middle East alongside the stereotype of the Palestinian people as terrorists. Such stereotyping of the Palestinian people, which was further exacerbated by the selective use of media images of Palestinians “celebrating” in the streets of the occupied territories and in the refugee camps in Lebanon in the aftermath of the terror attacks in the United States coupled with the lack of sufficient contextual information, manifests itself as anti-Arab discrimination and Islamophobia as noted by the civil society organizations at the recent World Conference Against Racism in Durban. Israeli officials, moreover, used the event to “market” and gain support for its policy of “pre-emptive strikes,” most notably the policy of targeted assassinations.

A successful worldwide campaign for justice, democracy, and the end of terror must enhance the rights of the millions of poor and oppressed – among them the Palestinian people. Representatives of the Israeli political and military establishment, whose policies against the Palestinian people have been persistently condemned by international human rights fora, cannot be partners in this effort.

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