BACK TO WHERE IT BEGAN Dr M. Manzoor Alam (July. 10, 2006)


Israel, which had never really left occupied Palestinian territory, is back in Gaza. A just solution is

still very far from sight, writes DR. MOHAMMAD MANZOOR ALAM

The Palestinian-Israeli situation is typical of all occupations. The occupier creates the impression that it is doing a great service to the people under occupation and that the freedom fighters are a set of rascals who have to be put in their place.

The only variation on the theme is that this time round the "rascals" are eight cabinet ministers in the Palestinian government that Israel has rounded up. They have threatened to eliminate the Palestinian prime minister if he does not work hard enough (he is already working hard enough, but the Israelis want him to work harder) to get Corporal Gilad Shalit released from Palestinian fighters' captivity.

Shalit was captured by Palestinian fighters on June 25, and they want to exchange him for 9,000 Palestinians languishing in Israeli prisons. On June 29, Israel arrested a large number of Hamas officials to put pressure on the captors. Among those arrested by Israel are, of course, those eight ministers.

To show that it means business Israel has been running bombing raids on civilian targets, killing non-combatants and destroying infrastructure. The world (except EU and US) has condemned Israeli attacks on civilian facilities, but Israel remains unrepentant. Israeli air attacks have destroyed much of Gaza’s electric supply, damaged crucial bridge and ruined much of the civilian infrastructure.

The United Nations has objected to the air strikes and destruction of civilian infrastructure saying such acts constituted violation of humanitarian law. Meanwhile, Israel and its Western supporters are as contemptuous of international law as ever. EU and the US are backing Israeli aggression in the hope that it will be able to break the will of Palestinians.

Instead of breaking Palestinians’ will the attacks have only hardened them. The attacks came after long spells of blockade of food supply and international financial aid. Israel thinks it would be able to force Hamas to renounce their freedom struggle and recognise Israel. That goal does not seem achievable in the short run.

What we are witnessing is a deadlock. Irrespective of what happens to Shalit there is no end to the Palestinian struggle for independence in sight. EU and the US can hardly be described as neutral peacemakers heavily biased as they are in favour of Israel and against Palestinians. In the absence of an honest peace broker the war-like situation in Palestine is likely to continue. That’s what Israel, EU and the US would prefer.g

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