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Issue #1763      February 1, 2017

Editorial

Remember Sabra and Shatila

This year will mark the 35th anniversary of the massacre of Palestinian refugees in the Sabra and Shatila camps in Beirut. In July 1982 Israel invaded Lebanon under the direction of the then Israeli Defence Minister, Ariel Sharon. After entering Beirut the Israeli forces encircled Sabra and Shatila on September 18, allowing the Israeli-backed Phalange militia, a fascist Lebanese group, into the camps where they slaughtered almost 3,000 people, mainly women, children and the elderly.

Around 20,000 Palestinian and Lebanese civilians were killed by the invading forces.

Ariel Sharon, as the Prime Minister of Israel, unleashed a murderous campaign of terror against the Palestinian people, at the same time labelling Palestinians “terrorists”. This is not a new tactic.

Israel has long used the term “terrorism” to describe pretty much every act of Arab resistance to Israeli occupation and aggression. So, Palestinians who refuse to accept the usurpation of their land and choose to defend their national existence are labelled “terrorists”. Lebanese patriots who resist Israeli occupation of their country are also labelled “terrorists”. (In 1986 a compilations of essays appeared in a book called “Terrorism: How the West can win”. The essays were written by a long list of noted warmongers, including former members of US Republican administrations, George Shultz and Jeane Kikpatrick. It was edited by the current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the time the Israeli ambassador to the UN.)

In fact, it is Israel that has first and foremost used military force when the resolution of disputes and differences could have been found through peaceful means.

This is reflected in Sharon’s rise to power through war crimes and the ongoing violation of human rights: his career path laid down for him by the Zionist state.

A driving force behind the establishment of Jewish settlements on confiscated Palestinian land, he was nurtured in the ranks of the Haghana gang that spread terror throughout Palestine in the late 1940s. As the commander of a terrorist group known as Special Unit 101, he was responsible for countless acts of killings and sabotage.

Always based in the camp of reaction, Sharon’s extremist cabinet members pushed for military strikes against Lebanon and Syria and for the bombing of the Aswan Dam in Egypt.

This warmongering is shown up in even sharper relief when put next to the concessions made by the Palestinians in seeking peace and coexistence.

It should be recalled that in 1993 the Palestinian Liberation Organisation signed an agreement in Oslo which allowed for peace negotiations and an interim period that would culminate in the signing of a peace treaty in 1998. The Palestinians agreed to create a state of their own on only 22 percent of historic Palestine.

Instead, Israel stepped up the construction of Jewish settlements and deliberately sparked off a conflict which it has been escalating ever since.

The horrific violence against a mostly defenceless people by the biggest military power in the Middle East – a power armed with nuclear weapons – arises out of one of the longest military occupations in modern history, based on the growth of illegal settlements in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem and the collective punishment of more than three million people.

Nonetheless, despite Israel’s illegal policies of assassinating activists, destroying the Palestinian infrastructure and economy, devastating the health and education systems and killing civilians, Israel has not smothered the determination of the Palestinian people to be free of Israeli occupation.

Such opposition to Israel’s policies draws claims of anti-Semitism from the perpetrators and their supporters. But it is not anti-Semitism to cry out against the demolition of houses and the destruction of fields and orchards, or the tight closures and sieges which turn every Palestinian village and town into a prison camp and ghetto.

We have to say and cry it out loud that the government of Israel and its military are committing war crimes, and that the war criminals must pay.

Next article – Black Lung – Justice, safety and new laws

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