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Israel/Palestine: The War Of Occupation Continues
ISRAELI PRIME Minister Ariel Sharon has continued his brutal military offensive against Palestinian towns in the West Bank with an onslaught on Hebron, in which nine Palestinians were killed on the first day alone.
Israeli Defence Force (IDF) troops had just been withdrawn from three other West Bank towns, when a Palestinian shooting of four Israeli settlers near Hebron became Sharon's excuse to carry out another invasion. In any case, he had only withdrawn the IDF to the edge of the towns they had torn apart, leaving them lying in wait for re-entry at a moment's notice.
These events will further inflame Palestinian anger and the outrage of ordinary people throughout the Arab world. Saudi Arabian Prince Abdullah met with US President Bush and warned that the Middle East was heading towards a regional war unless Sharon was forced to back off.
This pressure led to a US-proposed deal between the Israeli government and Arafat, to lift the blockade of Arafat's compound in Ramallah, on the basis that six Palestinian 'terrorists' in the compound would be moved to a prison guarded by US and British soldiers.
Sharon abandoned his previous position, as until then he had insisted that the wanted men be sent for trial in Israel before lifting the blockade.
A majority in Sharon's cabinet initially rejected the proposal, calling it a retreat, especially as it came at a time when the United Nations (UN) Security Council was attempting to send investigators into the West Bank town of Jenin to look into IDF atrocities carried out there.
However, Bush gained reluctant acceptance by a majority of the cabinet to continue with the proposal, by reassuring them of his friendship to Israel, inviting Sharon to Washington, and saying that he would do his utmost to make sure that the UN investigation in Jenin would not harm Israeli interests.
Sharon's government has twice blocked the arrival of the UN team, while trying desperately to restrict its remit. This has included demanding a veto on any witnesses asked to testify and even demanding that the team should "not draw conclusions"!
These manoeuvrings will do nothing to improve the terrible situation faced by Palestinians in the occupied territories or improve security for Israeli Jews.
While attacks by the Palestinian militias have inevitably been disrupted as a result of the IDF killings of activists and the detention of over 1,200 Palestinians, there are many more young Palestinians prepared to enter into armed struggle against their occupiers. As the leader of Hamas in Tulkarem put it: "The resistance does not depend on people. It depends on feelings against Israel".
The future of the region under capitalism is therefore one of continued horror and bloodshed, which only a struggle for socialism by the workers of the region will be able to prevent.
In The Socialist 3 May 2002: