Oct 28, 2002
On Monday, October 21, another car bomb exploded killing 14 people in the north of Israel. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the bombing in the name of revenge for the civilian victims of a recent Israel army attack on the refugee camps of Khan Younes and Rafah.
This latest attack is another illustration of the dead-end road of Sharon's repressive and deadly policy – a trap in which not only is he caught, but also in which he imprisons the entire Israeli population. The acts carried out by the Israeli army and the Jewish settlers, the daily humiliation imposed on the Palestinian population can only feed the return of terrorist groups. And neither the cordoning off of territories by the army, nor the construction of gigantic cement walls, nor the deployment of even the most sophisticated surveillance equipment can stop this reaction.
Even when Sharon pretends to oppose the extremist settlers, he can only produce more anger from the Palestinians. One example was his recent attempt to dismantle a new settlement near Naplouse in the West Bank, which was established as a symbolic settlement practically without inhabitants. The confrontations between the army and the settlers resulted in about 50 injuries among the soldiers and the settlers, who were supported by the extremist nationalist and religious communities that immediately rebuilt what the army tore down. In this case, however, the Israel army reacted very differently than it does with the Palestinians, and in no case were any military arms used against the settlers or their supporters.
By ordering the symbolic dismantling of a few of the illegally installed settlements on Palestinian territory, the Israeli Minister of Defense Ben Eliezer, was acting above all for political reasons. As head of the Labor Party, he undoubtedly hoped to repaint his image, since the primary election in which he is a candidate is drawing near. As for Sharon, this initiative didn't do him any damage either, given that the American government and the press are calling for gestures by Israel towards the Palestinians in order to calm the conflict.
In fact, the number of settlements in the Palestinian Territories has continued to multiply since 1967, when Israel occupied them. Since 1996, at least a hundred new settlements have been set up, most often with the approval and the support of the Israeli government that has aided the settlers; and in some cases by the settlers taking the initiative and presenting the government with a fait accompli. The passivity of the Israeli authorities can only encourage the Jewish extremists to continue to expand these "unauthorized" settlements; even more so today as they hope to annex the maximum amount of Palestinian territory in order to impede eventual peace negotiations.
In total, there are today 215,000 Jews installed in 145 settlements, located throughout the West Bank and the Gaza strip as well as in the very center of some Palestinian towns like Hebron. Not only have these settlers expropriated from the Palestinians their housing and their land, but these settlements that are protected by the Israeli army also serve as the launching grounds from which soldiers carry out expeditions to terrorize the Palestinian population, ravage their crops and massacre their animals, finally forcing them to abandon their neighborhoods and villages. According to Israeli human rights organizations, these settlers have taken control over some 42% of the territory of the West Bank.
These acts explain why the settlers are often the first targets of the terrorist groups. The settlers will never have peace until they and the army evacuate the lands stolen from the Palestinians.