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This is an expanded version of an article in Yediot Aharonot, June 30, 2002.

The Gaza strip is a perfect realization of the Israeli vision of

separation”. Surrounded with electric fences and army posts,

completely sealed off the outside world, Gaza has become a huge

prison. About one third of its land was confiscated for the 7,000

Israeli settlers living there (and their defense array), while over a

million Palestinians are crowded in the remaining areas of the

prison. With no work or sources of income, about 80% of its residents

depend, for their living, on UNRWA, or contributions from Arab states

and charity organizations. Now Israel is considering the

imprisonment there of families of suicide bombers from the West Bank

(1). As a senior Israeli analyst stated, Gaza can now serve as the

penal colony” of Israel its devils island, Alcatraz”. (Nahum

Barnea, Yediot Aharonot June 21, 2002).

This is the future that Sharon and the Israeli army designate for

the West Bank as well. While the external fence is presently being

built, Israel’s current military operation is set to be the final

step in the implementation the IDF plans for reestablishing full

military rule (which was abolished in large parts of the West Bank

during the Oslo process). Though Israel describes everything it does

as a spontaneous reaction to terror, the plan was fully spelled out

in the Israeli media already back in March 2001, soon after Sharon

entered office. Alex Fishman, military and strategic analyst of

Yediot Aharonot, explained at the time that since Oslo, the IDF

regarded the occupied territories as if they were one territorial

cell”, and this placed some constraints on the IDF and enabled a

certain amount of freedom for the PA and the Palestinian population.

The new plan is a return to the concept of the military

administration during the preOslo years: the occupied territories

will be divided into tens of isolated territorial cells”, each of

which will be assigned a special military force, and the local

commander will have freedom to use his discretion” as to when and who

to shoot. (Yediot Ahronot weekend supplement, March 9.2001).

The first stage of this plan the destruction of the institutions of

the Palestinian Authority was completed in the previous Operation

Defensive Shield’ in April of this year. In practice, from that time

on, the towns and villages of the West Bank have been completely

sealed. Even exit by foot, which was possible up to that point,

became blocked, and movement between the territorial cells” now

requires formal permits from the Israeli military authorities.

Soldiers and snipers prevent any unauthorized” walking to

agricultural fields, to places of work and study, or for medical


However, unlike the preOslo period of Israeli military rule, the army

makes it clear that there is no intention to construct any civil

administration that will take care of the basic daily needs of the

two million Palestinians, such as food supplies, health services,

garbage and sewage. For these tasks, some form of a Palestinian

Authority will be maintained, though in practice it will not be

allowed to function.

As a military source’ told Ha’aretz, Internal conclusions of the

security echelons, following operation Defensive Shield’, assessed

that the functioning of the civil branches of the Palestinian

Authority had reached an unprecedented nadir, mainly due to the

destruction the IDF operation left behind in Ramallah (including the

systematic destruction of computers and databases)… Combined with

the severe restrictions on movement, the Palestinian population is

becoming, as the military source defined it, poor, dependent,

unemployed, rather hungry, and extreme’… The financial reserves of

the Palestinian authority are reaching the bottom… In a future not

far off, the majority of Palestinians will only be able to maintain a

reasonable life through the help of international aid.” (Ha’aretz

Hebrew edition, June 23, 2002, Amos Har’el). Thus, the West Bank is

being driven to the level of poverty of the Gaza strip.

Nevertheless, at the same time that Israel deprives the Palestinians

of their means of income, it also makes a substantial effort to

diminish or block international aid, under the pretext that the aid

is used to support terrorists or their families. At the outset of its

new operation’, Israel decided to stop the flow of foodaid and

medicine from Iran and Iraq to Palestinians in the territories”

(Ha’aretz, June 24, 2002, Amos Har’el). Iranian and Iraqi aid is an

easy target for Israel, as these countries belong to the Axis of

Evil”. However, Israel started launching a more ambitious campaign:

The EU the largest PA donor is under constant pressure from Israel

to cut its aid, which is used, inter alia to pay the salaries of

teachers and health workers. The tactics are always the same: Israel

provides some documents presumably linking the PA to terror. Any aid

to the PA is, therefore, aid to terror (2).

UNRWAs aid is the next target. The U.N. Relief and Works Agency for

Palestinians in the Near East (UNRWA) has become a major source of

food for Palestinians in the besieged territories. Its food supplies

are now delivered not only to the refugee camps, but also in towns

and villages. The amount of food UNRWA supplies has increased

fourfold in two years (3). Recently, Israel has begun a campaign in

the United States and the United Nations to urge a reconsideration of

the way the UN Relief and Works Agency, which runs the Palestinian

refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza, operates. Israel charges

that UNRWA workers simply ignored the fact that Palestinian

organizations were turning the camps into terrorist bases and it is

demanding the agency start reporting all military or terrorist

actions within the camps to the UN…. Meanwhile, Jewish and

proIsraeli lobbyists in the U.S. are waging a parallel campaign …

American Jewish lobbyists are basing their efforts on the fact that

the U.S. currently contributes some 30 percent of UNRWAs $400

million a year budget, and is therefore in a position to influence

the agency: A congressional refusal to approve UNRWAs funding could

seriously disrupt its operations. (Ha’aretz June 29, 2002, Nathan

Guttman). The campaign is not yet demanding cutting UNRWAs aid and

presence altogether, but raising the impossible demand that UNRWA

should serve as an active force in the war against terror”

(“reporting military or terrorist actions”) is the first step towards

such a demand.(4)

Since September 11, Sharon has been constructing an analogy between

the occupied territories and Afghanistan (with the PA as Al Qaeda).

He keeps declaring that the solution to Palestinian terror, and the

required reforms’, should be along the lines set in Afghanistan.

The analogy is frighteningly revealing: As it established the

reforms’ in Afghanistan, the US forced starvation upon millions of

people. This is how Noam Chomsky described it: On Sept. 16, the New

York Times reported that Washington has also demanded [from

Pakistan] a cutoff of fuel supplies…and the elimination of truck

convoys that provide much of the food and other supplies to

Afghanistan’s civilian population.’ Astonishingly, that report

elicited no detectable reaction in the West, a grim reminder of the

nature of the Western civilization that leaders and elite

commentators claim to uphold. In the following days, those demands

were implemented… The country was on a lifeline,’ one evacuated

aid worker reports, and we just cut the line’ (NY times Magazine,

September 30). According to the world’s leading newspaper, then,

Washington demanded that Pakistan ensures the death of enormous

numbers of Afghans, millions of them already on the brink of

starvation, by cutting off the limited sustenance that was keeping

them alive.” (Interview with Michael Albert, reprinted in Noam

Chomsky, 911, Seven Stories, 2002). Arundhati Roy, summarized this

at the time: Witness the infinite justice of the new century.

Civilians starving to death while they’re waiting to be killed”

(Guardian, Sept. 29).

The new stage of Israel’s separation’ can no longer be compared to

the Apartheid of South Africa. As Ronnie Kasrils, South Africa’s

Minister of Water Affairs, said in an Interview with Al Ahram Weekly,

the South African apartheid regime never engaged in the sort of

repression Israel is inflicting on the Palestinians” (Issue of March

28 April 3, 2002). We are witnessing the daily invisible killing of

the sick and wounded being deprived of medical care, the weak who

cannot survive in the new poverty conditions, and those who are bound

to reach starvation.

Nevertheless, the public debate in Israel revolves around questions

of efficiency: Is it possible to stop terror in such methods. Let us

suppose even that it is. Is it allowed? Is this what we (Israelis)

want to be?

One people stole the Lamb of its poor neighbor’(5): Gaza and the

West Bank are 22% of the land of Israel- Palestine, where the

Palestinians lived in the past. On this small piece of land, three

million people live, with hopes, needs and dreams, just like ours.

Since Oslo, they have been lured with promises that we are about to

evacuate the settlements and give them back their land, at the very

same time that we have been imprisoning them in Gaza, stealing more

of their land in the West Bank, and leaving them no hope whatsoever.

The Palestinian people are fighting for their freedom. The crimes of

Palestinian terror do not remove our culpability for our own crimes.

Before Oslo, as well, there was a wave of horrible terror attacks.

But at that time, after each such attack, the call was heard get out

of the territories! Then it was still understood that when you leave

people no hope, there is no way to stop the madness of suicide

bombing. It is not too late to get out of the territories.


  1. In its meeting on Friday, June 21, 2002, the Israeli cabinet

decided in principle in favor both of the expulsion of families of

suicide strikers from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip… The

implementation of this expulsion policy depends upon the outcome of a

legal review.” (‘IDF set to expel bombers’ families’ By Aluf Benn,

Amos Harel and Gideon Alon, Ha’aretz June 23, 2002).

  1. Here is one example of the pressure on the EU:

The documents seized from PA offices in recent months, some

of which were included in the document compiled by minister without

portfolio Dan Naveh following Operation Defensive Shield, were

presented last week to the EC delegation in Israel and

representatives of the International Monetary Fund at a meeting with

IDF intelligence officers. Naveh claims the documents prove European

financial aid has been used to finance terrorism and incitement, and

has also found its way into the pockets of senior PA officials.

The head of the ECs delegation to Israel, Giancarlo

Chevallard, told Ha’aretz that at the meeting, the delegation saw

evidence that Arafat is financing terrorism, but added Israel had not

provided evidence that European financial aid which is designated to

pay the salaries of PA employees is being used to finance terrorist

attacks. Another senior delegation official said he was extremely

skeptical Israel had evidence to prove European aid is being used by

the PA to finance terrorism…

Meanwhile, in the shadow of the Israeli accusations, the

European Parliament’s budgetary committee last week delayed the

transfer of 18.7 million euros in financial aid to the PA until the

EC reports how the money is to be distributed…” (Ha’aretz, June 6,

2002, Yair Ettinger)

This specific frozen amount was released in the meanwhile, however

Israel’s pressure continues.

  1. Amos Har’el, The IDF neutralizes the Palestinian Authority, and

humanitarian organizations try to replace it’, Ha’aretz Hebrew

edition, June 23, 2002. (Quoted before).

(4). The campaign against UNRWA started earlier: In letters written

to Annan in May, Republican U.S. Senator Arlen Specter and Democratic

U.S. Representative Tom Lantos accused the U.N. agency of allowing

and promoting terrorist activity in the camps. Specter said UNRWA

schools promoted antiIsraeli and anti Semitic sentiments and Lantos

said the agency allowed terrorists to organize in the camps.”(Inter

Press Service, June 24, 2002)

  1. Bible, Samuel II, 12:11: 12:1The LORD sent Natan to David. He

came to him, and said to him, There were two men in one city; the

one rich, and the other poor. 12:2The rich man had very many flocks

and herds, 12:3but the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe

lamb, which he had bought and raised. It grew up together with him,

and with his children. It ate of his own food, drank of his own cup,

and lay in his bosom, and was to him like a daughter. 12:4A traveler

came to the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of

his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man who had come to him, but

took the poor man’s lamb, and dressed it for the man who had come to

him.” (