|Al-Ahram Weekly On-line
15 - 21 March 2001
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875||Current issue | Previous issue | Site map|
The noose tightensOver two million Palestinians have been suffocating under siege since Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon took office last week. The Israeli army has been blocking roads with tanks and digging trenches around Palestinian towns and villages, dividing the West Bank into 43 parts and Gaza into four. These policies have increased the suffering of Palestinians living under occupation, making it impossible for them to reach hospitals, schools or work places even in the direst emergencies. The aim, of course, is to punish the Palestinians and force them to end the six-month-old Intifada.
After Sharon won the elections, some analysts speculated that the 72-year-old army general, who has been condemned by Israel's highest court for his role in the brutal massacre of thousands of Palestinians in Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon, may want to end his career on a better note. The same analysts churned out many such clichés, adding for instance that only those who had fought wars could bring peace. The right-wing Likud leader, for his part, shattered these illusions in no time by imprisoning the Palestinians, thus offering a classic example of how a racist occupation functions.
The world must take action now to end the Israeli policy of siege and collective punishment. Arab foreign ministers who ended a meeting in Cairo this week called for an urgent Security Council session that would urge Israel to refrain from escalating violence against the Palestinians. They also requested the deployment of an international peace-keeping force to provide protection for Palestinian civilians. Again, it is Israel's continued occupation and oppression of Palestinians that is leading to the escalation of tension in the region. Increasing Palestinian suffering surely cannot be the way to end the Intifada. But Sharon, despite the failure of all his previous attempts to quell Palestinians, does not seem to have learned the lesson.
Now statements of condemnation must be translated into immediate action by backing the Arab countries' call for a Security Council meeting and the deployment of an international peace-keeping force.
Recommend this page
© Copyright Al-Ahram Weekly. All rights reserved
Letter from the Editor
|WEEKLY ONLINE: www.ahram.org.eg/weekly
Updated every Saturday at 11.00 GMT, 2pm local time