By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
When I was younger, I used to own a dog. Had he been so confined and deprived, I would probably have been convicted for abuse. Then again, my mother always says that if we were dogs instead of Palestinians, the world would have been moved by our plight long ago.
Garbage wasn‘t collected for almost three weeks. Because the Israelis vandalized the water network, there are also fears that sewage is seeping into the fresh-water supply, and the Ministry of Health has asked residents to boil tap water before drinking it. The residents of Jenin refugee camp have no such luxury; they either drink straight out of the sewage lines or die of thirst.
I’m particularly fortunate that I do not have a disease requiring treatment, that my pregnant wife has had no complications, and that neither of my young children have fallen ill or had an accident. Not in the general sense of feeling blessed that one is healthy, but in the specific sense of dropping dead if you‘re not. You see, the Israelis are using medical care as a weapon of war. This means ambulances -- indeed all emergency services -- are not allowed to function and get shot at if they try. Because of this, the Red Cross recently announced a suspension of services.
It also means United Nations convoys delivering medical supplies to hospitals are fired upon -- otherwise it wouldn’t make much sense to sever the hospitals‘ utilities and bomb them. And it means hospitals and clinics are invaded by the army and ransacked, and wounded patients are arrested from their beds. On the streets and in homes, casualties are bleeding to death from treatable injuries, those who try to help them locked in the cross hairs of a sniper rifle. Kidney patients requiring dialysis are dying slow deaths. The deputy minister of health noted that “Even Genghis Khan did not prevent treatment of the wounded.” I found the statement inappropriate, because it gives the impression that Israel’s measures are solely directed at combatants. They in fact encompass every man, woman and child in Ramallah.
In Ramallah these days, even a decent burial is forbidden by the Israelis. When the curfew was lifted for the first time on day four, 25 bodies were buried in a mass grave in the Ramallah Hospital garden. Four others were kept in the mortuary because they had yet to be identified.
We simply don‘t know how many of Ramallah’s sick have died from lack of timely treatment, nor even how many have been shot and bombed to death by the Israeli military. There are about 45 confirmed cases so far, but every time the curfew is lifted, another body or two is discovered in some building. There is compelling evidence that 15 of these -- including civilians -- were summarily executed. It requires urgent investigation by the media. The only problem is that journalists have been shot at too. Ramallah was declared a “closed military zone” on March 31, with all foreign media ordered to immediately leave town. Israel says this is because of its profound concern for the physical well-being of seasoned war correspondents prepared to risk their lives to cover the story. The journalists believe Israel is primarily interested in laying waste to Ramallah away from their prying eyes. Many have refused to leave, remaining holed up in small offices and unable to go about their duties in normal fashion. The offices of the local media have fared considerably worse, having been literally smashed to bits.
There are numerous cases of Palestinian civilians being used as human shields, being made to walk in front of soldiers as they go about entering homes, buildings and refugee camps in the search for suspects. Israelis have also conducted mass roundups of men and boys between the ages of 15 and 50, detaining hundreds. Those released report being tortured, abused, humiliated, and kept for days on end without food, water or even a blanket.
Palestinians are convinced that the real purpose of Israel‘s current campaign is to break their will to further resist what U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan terms the “illegal occupation” of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. With Palestinians having once again experienced the savagery, and even more so the cowardice, of Israel’s soldiers firsthand, it is unlikely to work. To the contrary, the methods used have created several dozen new militants for every one eliminated.
In recent months the United States has tried to give the impression that it is opposed to terrorism in this corner of the world. It‘s a sham. While Washington condemns each and every deliberate and indiscriminate Palestinian attack upon Israeli civilians, it has as of this writing not once -- I repeat, not in a single instance -- explicitly condemned a deliberate and indiscriminate Israeli attack upon Palestinian civilians, even though Israeli and international human-rights organizations confirm considerably more of the latter than the former. For that matter, the Bush administration also condemns the combat deaths of Israeli soldiers within Palestinian territory while they are engaged in attacks against Palestinian civilians. Thus, its actual policy is one of denouncing the killing of Israelis only, rather than condemning terrorism irrespective of its source.