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World Cup? For Palestinians It's Again Death and Destruction   Join our daily free Newsletter

MENAFN - Arab News - 03/07/2006

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Essa bin Mohammed Al-Zedjali

Last week the world witnessed the Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip, which began with air raids by F-16 jets and heavy artillery, knocking off Palestine's bridges, power stations, airport, water reservoirs and even playgrounds.

The air raids paved the way for the Israeli Army to occupy the Gaza Strip. All this happened while the world is busy watching the World Cup.

What seems unusual is the silence of the international community even as Palestinian blood is being spilled almost every moment of the day. The world is behaving as though the life of an abducted Israeli soldier is more valuable than that of the Palestinians who are being killed in cold blood, with their corpses being screened by TV channels pretty much every day.

I was shell-shocked by the naked invasion of the Gaza Strip, occupation of Rafah airport, south of the strip, devastation of bridges and power stations... all to get an abducted soldier released!

And what seems extremely strange is that the US, which is said to be the sponsor of the peace process in the region, has come out with official statements supporting the Israeli aggression in Gaza. It has justified the invasion and supported the rights of the Jewish state to go to any length to defend what it considers to be its rights.

The US has, however, ignored the fact that the Palestinians always had and have a right to live in their land peacefully and defend their rights that are now being violated so nakedly in full glare of the world community. Washington has turned a blind eye to the UN resolutions that demanded that Israel pull back to the borders that existed on June 4, 1967.

The fact that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has made several statements about his intent to use brute force to release the Israeli soldier has certainly heightened Palestinian worries. This confirms that Israeli governments, whether Likud, Labor or Kadima, are one and the same. It seems that the Palestinians are destined to suffer forever while dealing with such narrow-minded people who understand only the language of power and force to settle differences.

The Olmert-led government has not bothered at all to find out whether there are diplomatic possibilities that could be explored to win the release of the abducted soldier. Instead they went for an all-out assault on the Palestinian land, resulting in devastation and untold sufferings to the civilians.

The Israeli government has massacred the Palestinian people and is trying to wreck the legally elected government, putting the peace process at great risk. The Israeli aggression comes at a time when the Palestinian groups have begun to unite and agree on the "prisoners' document" which opens the possibility, for the first time, of the recognition of Israel by Hamas. This has, in fact, been the demand of the international community and a condition for world powers' support to the Palestinian government and for relaunching the peace process.

Israel ratcheted up tension on Friday following its invasion when it imposed a security belt around Al-Aqsa Mosque and changed Al-Quds into a sort of military barracks with armed troops, border guards, policemen, cavalrymen and snipers being seen everywhere in the area under the cover of helicopters. Additionally, the entry to the Al-Aqsa mosque for performing Friday prayers was restricted to those over 45 years of age.

Israel has arrested a number of ministers in the Hamas-led government and members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, creating a kind of power vacuum.

The arrests are followed by air raids by F-16 fighters and the Apache helicopters, which targeted the premises of the Palestinian Interior Ministry, including the office of Interior Minister Said Siyam.

This clearly indicates that not much is to be expected from the present Israeli government and that the backing of Israel by some world powers has been plain wrong. Israel is committing heinous crimes in the occupied territories, but the world blithely watches football matches and turns a blind eye to all the atrocities taking place in the occupied territories.

It seems Israel is above international laws and organizations, not least the UN Security Council charged with the task of preserving the security and peace of the world.

— Essa bin Mohammed Al-Zedjali is editor in chief of The Times of Oman.


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