Subj: The Key Miftah's newsletter {01}
Date: 12/5/2001 1:59:00 AM Pacific Standard Time
Sent from the Internet (Details)
The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH)
The Key!
MIFTAH’s E-Bulletin
News, Views, and Events
November 30th, 2001
(Issue: No. 3)
News Headlines: November 16th – 30th
16th           Washington denies describing the Intifada as “terrorism” and affirms that it will compel Palestinians and Israelis to implement any agreement they reach.
17th        Arafat meets with the EU delegation in Ramallah and appeals for EU assistance to stop Israeli aggression. Tel Aviv opposes a more active EU role and accuses EU of siding with Arabs.
18th     Israeli soldiers execute two injured Palestinian security officers in Gaza.
19th     Powell calls for a Palestinian state, a freeze on settlements and an end to Israeli occupation. UNICEF condemns Israel for torturing Palestinian child-prisoners.
20th     Israeli special military unit kidnaps Abed Rabbo Abu Husa from Gaza.        Israel tightens siege on Palestinian cities.
21st     New Israeli settlements in occupied east Jerusalem and Hebron. Israeli tanks roll into Rafah in the Gaza Strip, demolish 18 Palestinian homes and injure several civilians. Amnesty International condemns increasing Israeli torture of detainees.
22nd          Palestinian patient Sami Basala dies on checkpoint after Israeli soldiers barred ambulance from proceeding to hospital.
23rd     Five Palestinian children killed in Israeli land mine explosion in Gaza. Israel steps up aggression against Palestinians and shells several areas in the West Bank and Gaza.
24th     Israel assassinates 3 Palestinian activists including Hamas military wing leader Mahmoud Abu Hanoud, kills 4 more. Erekat: The Israeli occupation turns Jerusalem into a ‘military zone’ barring thousands of worshippers from Al-Aqsa Mosque.
25th Israeli incursions into several Palestinian areas. Israel escalates aggression against Palestinians. Israel responsible of planting explosive device that kills 5 Palestinian children.
26th     Israeli assault on Palestinian areas leaves Palestinian child, Kifah Obeid (13 years old), dead in Duheisheh, several homes and offices demolished in Gaza. Abu Ala'a: Israeli massacres and crimes against the Palestinian people will be at the top of the agenda in discussions with the US envoys.
27th     Israel launches aggressive incitement campaign against Arafat and PA. Peres: New head of Israeli negotiating team, Dagan, is an “extremist”. Burns and Zinni arrive in Israel amid escalating Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people.
28th    3 Israelis killed in two separate attacks in Afula and Gaza. Official Spokesman: Israel launching aggressive propaganda campaign to split Palestinians and PA.
29th   Lawsuit against Sharon for war crimes he committed against Palestinians is delayed. Israeli soldiers murder kidnapped Palestinian in cold blood. Settler kills Ibrahim Hanani (88 years old).
30th    3 Israelis killed in bomb attack in Wadi Ara. 2 Palestinians killed by Israeli army on checkpoint.
In Depth:
Sharon is not serious about ending the current crisis
In recent days, Ariel Sharon, Israel’s hawkish Prime Minister, has been ‘caught between a rock and a hard place.’ On the one hand, he views the arrival of US envoys, Zinni and Burns, as a threat that would push Israel into the ill-favored realm of direct negotiations with the Palestinians.
On the other, he sees that negotiations with the Palestinians must ultimately lead to the inevitable creation of an independent Palestinian state.
To get out of this predicament, Sharon resorted to two highly effective methods to hamper the efforts of Zinni and Burns.
First, on the Military level, Sharon has unleashed the hands of the army which in turn killed over 170 Palestinians since October, demolished tens of homes, expanded settlements and carried out several assassinations of leading Palestinian political activists. Thus, hustling the Palestinians into retaliation and breaking the ceasefire.
In addition he reiterated his demand for a seven-day “quiet” which was repudiated as “stupidity” and impractical in light of the latest escalation of Israeli provocations and military escalation.
Second, on the political level, he restructured the negotiating team replacing veteran negotiator and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres with extreme militant Meir Dagan as top negotiator with the US envoys and the Palestinians.
Shimon Peres and the so-called Israeli Peace Camp expressed dismay over Sharon’s declarations and actions accusing the Hawkish Israeli Prime Minister of overruling the authority of the Foreign Ministry which handled the task of negotiations. Shimon Peres complained to Sharon: “You've set up a second foreign ministry outside the foreign ministry, bypassing me and leaving me out in the cold.”
Meretz MK Yossi Sarid referred to the new negotiating team as one of “extremists”.
Sharon’s appointment of low profile military figures and his insistence on seven days of quiet stand evidence to his lack of seriousness regarding a ceasefire and his blatant unwillingness in jumpstarting the stalled peace negotiations with the Palestinians who, in a serious attempt to end the crisis and return to the negotiating table, have appointed veteran negotiators of the highest political profile including Ahmad Qurei, Saeb Erekat and Yasser Abed Rabbo.
Sharon expressed his lack of seriousness in ending the conflict by repeatedly alluding to a prolonged interim agreement with the Palestinians, escalating the Israeli military aggression against the Palestinians and evading any possibility of direct final status negotiations with the PA.
The fact is that Ariel Sharon is a hard-line military figure in Israeli politics. His recent remark that “Peace hurts almost as much as war” indicates that he prefers war over a peace agreement, which would force him to abandon the settlements, allow the creation of an independent Palestinian state and thus, him forsaking the idea of “Greater Israel”.
Death and Mutilation on their Way to School:
On the morning of November 22nd, 2001 a violent explosion was heard in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.  This explosion was not an unfamiliar noise since it has unfortunately become expected and accepted as a norm.  Yet, this time it was a little different.  Yes it was the Israeli army, and yes it was the US made weapons and once again innocent Palestinians are the victims.
This incident was somewhat unprecedented; Israel’s use of landmines in Palestinian urban territories reflects the alarming level of brutality the Israeli army operates with in Palestinian areas.  Such operations also demonstrate the expendability of Palestinian life in Israel’s eyes.  Landmines are internationally banned and the use of such unconventional methods is a blatant disregard of international law and recommendations, these laws are publicly recognized and enforced.
Five more children have been added to the list of victims of cowardly landmines.  Akram El-Astal a seven year old, his brother Mohammed a thirteen year old, Aneas El-Astal a nine year old and his brother Omar a thirteen year old.  Mohammed El-Astal was another cousin killed in the incident (also a thirteen year old). These five children were blown to pieces on their way to school.  They did not commit a crime or pose a threat to Israel’s “security,” they were simply carrying on with their daily life, despite the hardship, the siege, the tanks and the very difficult economic conditions experienced in Palestinian areas since the September 2000.
The Israeli official reponse described the killing as “regrettable.”  They assigned an investigation committee to draft a report on the incident.  The report concluded that the explosion was an “error”, the landmine was placed there with the aim to kill Palestinain ‘militants.’  Isarel did not give any details as to why this “error” happened and resorted to ignoring the issue.  This flouting policy has sadly become a regularity for Palestinains in Gaza and the West Bank including east Jerusalem.  The Israeli governemnt has announced many investigations, but only so few Israeli murderers have been convicted, sentenced or even put on trial.
Was it not enough to steal the childrens’ inocence, through the harsh measures of shelling, closure, humiliation and fear that they experience and live with as a result of the Israeli tirant occupation? The number of Palestinian children (under 18) killed over the last 14 months have reached 186 and is still growing.  With the holiday season for Muslims, Christians and Jews around the corner, be thankful that your children are unharmed, warm and safe, for the children of Palestine have been robbed of their childhood and are being held accountable as adults.
MIFTAH is a Palestinian, Jerusalem-based, independent institution committed to fostering the principles of democracy and effective dialogue based on the free and candid exchange of information and ideas. Established in January 1999, MIFTAH's underlying premise is the integration of several processes: Palestinian nation-building and empowerment on the basis of the principles of democracy, human rights, rule of law, and participatory governance; international reconciliation and cooperation; the gathering and dissemination of information and the active participation in the global dialogue as an equal partner.
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