|Al-Ahram Weekly On-line
5 - 11 October 2000
Issue No. 502
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875|
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Time for solidarityBy Mustafa Barghouthi
What is happening now in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is nothing less than a massacre, an Israeli military crime against the Palestinian civilian population. More than 60 people have been killed, more than 1,600 injured. These numbers increase with every passing hour.
This is not a battle between two equal armies, as is being portrayed by certain media outlets. It is purely a struggle between the Palestinian civilian population and Israel's brutal military occupying force. Israel's military resorts to acts that violate all human rights: it is now even firing missiles indiscriminately at civilians.
What is now happening serves to uncover the fact that Palestinian people have been suffering under Israeli occupation for more than 33 years.
The Israeli government still controls more than 80 per cent of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (including East Jerusalem), and its military forces are now invading the limited areas under Palestinian Authority control.
We have reached a point in time when we are no longer prepared to tolerate injustice. Thirty-three years of occupation is more than any people should have to endure. Each hour during those 33 years has been defined by oppression, humiliation, discrimination and injustice.
Seven years have passed since Oslo, and peace is still not on the horizon. All people see before them is the expansion of settlements. Palestinian prisoners still languish in Israeli jails; the basic human right of freedom of movement is denied to most Palestinians, and they are faced with increasing economic inequality. Discrimination also applies to natural resources, as settlers on Palestinian lands are allocated 15 times more water than Palestinians.
Seven years after the Oslo accords, we are witnessing the evolution of an apartheid system. Bantustans cannot substitute the right to an independent state. The Palestinian people ask for peaceful coexistence on the basis of an Israeli withdrawal from all territories occupied in 1967. They ask for the establishment of a sovereign and viable Palestinian state.
The Palestinians had to defend themselves against the massacres in Al-Aqsa Mosque and now they find themselves obliged to rise against their occupiers in order to achieve freedom, dignity and independence.
What we need is not mediation, but solidarity similar to that given to South Africa and other countries which faced brutal oppression. We need international help to put an end to the massacres, the crimes of the occupying force. And we ask for international support to end the decades-long occupation, so that a just peace can prevail in our region.
This will serve the future of not only Palestinians but also of Israelis, who cannot continue to cling to the illusion that they can maintain an occupation without taking responsibility for its injustice and oppression.
We must not let an historic opportunity for peace disappear. The only way to achieve peace is to allow Palestinians to have a free, sovereign state.