Palestine

On January 23, a series of explosions ripped open the concrete and steel barrier that had sealed off the Gaza Strip from the outside world. The breach in the barrier allowed hundreds of thousands of desperate Palestinians, perhaps a third of Gaza’s 1.5 million residents, to surge into the Egyptian cross-border town of Rafah to buy some of life’s basic necessities — denied them by Israel’s siege of the 10 kilometre wide, 40-kilometre long Palestinian enclave.
Early on January 23 more than 20,000 Palestinians from the besieged Gaza Strip poured into Egyptian territory after Palestinian militants from Hamas and the Popular Resistance Committee (PRC) blew up two sections of the Gaza-Egypt border wall at Rafah.
On January 15, the Israel Defense Forces killed 17 Palestinians during incursions into east Gaza City. The IDF killed nine more in raids over the following two days. The attacks launched a new wave of Israeli violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) following the January 9-16 visit by US President George Bush to Israel, the West Bank city of Ramallah and other centres in the region.
The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine
By Ilan Pappe
Oneworld Publications, 2006
313 pages, $39.95 (hb)
On November 27, as Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met, with the backing of US President George Bush in Annapolis, Maryland, to discuss a possible peace treaty, Israeli troops invaded a number of West Bank cities and attacked the Gaza Strip, killing at least four people. Abbas’s US-trained Palestinian Security Forces attacked thousands of unarmed demonstrations against the conference in Ramallah, Bethlehem, Nablus, Tulkarem and Hebron.
On November 7, the Israeli High Court of Justice gave Israeli PM Ehud Olmert’s government one week to present data to back up its assertion that its newest economic sanctions against the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip — planned electricity supply cuts in particular — will not cause “unreasonable harm” to its 1.5 million residents.
On October 28, the Israeli defence ministry ordered the cutting of fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip, home to 1.5 million Palestinians, half of whom are children. While Israeli government representatives claimed that they planned to cut supplies by 5-11%, fuel supplies were immediately cut by more than 30%, according to Palestinian officials.
Eleven Palestinians were killed and 20 others were wounded on September 27 when Israel resumed bombing the Gaza Strip. The bombings are widely seen as a precursor to a wide-scale invasion of the Gaza Strip promised by Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak earlier in September and came in the wake of Israel declaring the Gaza Strip an “enemy entity” on September 19.
Twenty-five years ago this September — after its 1982 invasion of Lebanon had achieved its military objectives by forcing an evacuation of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) to Tunisia — Israel unleashed the Lebanese Christian Phalangist militia on the defenceless civilians of Beirut refugee camps Sabra and Shatila. Under the Israeli occupation of West Beirut, the Phalangists, armed by and in liaison with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), carried out a three-day spree of killing and rape, massacring an estimated 3000 Palestinian and Lebanese civilians.
On September 7, the weekly demonstration in the Palestinian West Bank village of Bilin against Israel’s apartheid wall became a celebration. Protesters danced and sang as they marched to the wall. Three days earlier, the Israeli Supreme Court had ordered the Israeli defence ministry to re-route 1.7 kilometres of the 703-km wall, which has been declared illegal by the International Court of Justice.

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