Ongoing Updates:

Prof. Tanya Reinhart
Indymedia News,  October 25, 2000

The second stage in Israel's  assault  on  the  Palestinians  has
started already. They waited for the Arab League  summit  to  end
and then, away from the cameras, Barak started executing the  big

There is hardly any media coverage of what is actually happening.
The propaganda technique for this week is to keep  the  issue  in
the news, creating  an  impression  of  coverage,  but  in  fact,
provide no actual information, or keep us busy with trivia  -like
the Israeli coalition negotiations (as if there is any difference
between Barak and Sharon). Another  smoke-screen  is  the  heated
discussion  of  Barak's  plan  for  'unilateral  separation'   -a
recycled motive which has been brought up many times  already  in
the past. As disgusting as this plan is, it  has  nothing  to  do
with what is actually going on now, beside giving the  impression
that business is, essentially, as usual.

But the  picture  which  emerges  from  Palestinian  (and  other)
electronic  reports  of  the  last  two  days  is  different  and

Already since last week "The West Bank and Gaza  Strip  is  under
complete siege. Every village and town has been cut  off,  making
travel  between  regions  impossible.  The  closure  has  gravely
impacted health service delivery to Palestinians.  Patients  with
serious injuries requiring referral to Jordan, Saudi  Arabia,  or
Egypt for specialized care are unable to be transported.  UPMRC's
and  other  health  organizations'  medical  teams   are   facing
incredible  difficulties  reaching  sick  patients.  The  Primary
Health Care  system  in  Palestine  has  become  paralyzed  since
doctors cannot access clinics and patients in rural areas  cannot
access city hospitals". (Report of Dr.  Mustafa  Barghouthi,  The
Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees).

In the last  two  days  the  siege  was  severed.  "In  a  highly
dangerous step,  the  Israelis  have  been  enforcing  the  siege
imposed upon the Palestinian population  centers  especially  the
cities of Bethlehem and Hebron in the West Bank. This morning the
belligerent Israeli Occupation Forces have blocked the  entrances
of the two cities by cement walls. The imposition of  siege  upon
the Palestinian cities and blocking  the  roads  connecting  them
together leads to separating  them  from  each  other"  (AL-MEZAN
Center report, 23.10).

The Israeli army prevents any movement in or out  of  the  sealed
areas. There are reports on people going to work  in  the  fields
and getting shot on their way. It is now up to Israel whether the
locked people will have food and water in the coming  days,  when
the diminishing supply  ends.  Planes  carrying  aid  are  denied
entrance. Israel controls also their  electricity  and  telephone
lines. Their disconnection is being discussed in Israeli media.

With the majority of Palestinians  locked  defenseless  in  their
towns, israel can turn undisturbed to  the  job  of  'evacuation'
(transfer). They started with Palestinian  neighborhoods  in  the
vicinity of  Jerusalem.  Beit  Jala  is  already  a  ghost  town.
Hundreds have fled. There is no telephone contact. Same with  the
neighboring  Aida  refugee  camp.  Those  who  resisted  Israel's
earlier call to evacuate "for their own protection" had  to  flee
when their homes got bombarded.

On Monday, Col. Raanan Gissin, an Israel army spokesman, promised
proudly that "Beit Jala,  Beit  Sahour  and  other  (Palestinian)
places will turn into Beirut" (AP, 23.10). Beit Sahour, then,  is
probably next. As for the 'other Palestinian places',  Israel  is
now bombarding several residential areas with rockets from attack
helicopters, tanks, heavy machine gun ammunition, and  'launched'
grenades. "Israeli helicopters shelled Bethlehem in the West Bank
and ordered the residents of the eastern parts  of  the  city  to
evacuate their houses because they were to be shelled". (AL-MEZAN
Center report, 23.10). It appears that in Hebron, they are trying
to expand the  "Jewish  quarters"  and  drive  residents  out  of
neighboring areas.

Still, they view all this as  just  the  beginning.  Dan  Halutz,
commander of the Israeli Army force " has threatened to bring the
weight of the air force down on the Palestinians if  the  current
unrest escalates"  And  he  provides  a  detailed  reasoning  for
sending the air-force against unarmed civilians: "So far,  Halutz
said,the risks of using the air-force  have  not  outweighed  the
benefits. No helicopters have been at risk. He added that the IAF
has no information that the Palestinians have shoulder-held anti-
aircraft missiles"  ('Jerusalem  Post,  24.10).  Safe  and  clean
slaughter -lots of benefits. That's how they talk  now  in  power
drunk Israel.

Trying to figure out the  full  picture,  it  is  hard  to  avoid
comparison to 1948, when the Israeli  army,  under  Ben  Gurion's
orders, drove hundreds of thousands of Palestinians out of  their
homes, and confined the remaining to  closed,  restricted  areas,
governed for years by military rule. Barak  declared  many  times
that his role-model has always been Ben-Gurion.  Perhaps  we  are
beginning to get a glimpse of what he meant.

1948 is already "in the air" in the public discourse  in  Israel.
The pervert Israeli self image, guided by massive propaganda,  is
that it is the Israelis who are being under siege,  fighting  for
their independence, threatened by the Palestinian empire and  the
whole Arab world, just like in  48.  And  we  already  hear  main
stream commentators saying that "The Palestinians are  using  the
same tactics as in 48" (Zeev Shif to Amikam Rothman  in  radio  B
morning program, 24.10).

Even the shamefully little that the Palestinians got in the  Oslo
accords is too much for Barak. If we let him,  Barak  will  carry
out his Ben Gurion vision. And it won't necessarily stop  in  one
front. Assured of US support, fascinated by his own power, he may
drag the whole area into  a  horrible  war.  Some  analysts  have
always warned that world war III - the final one - may  start  in
the Middle East. Israel is led now  by  a  lunatic,  megalomaniac
general, who keeps his plans secret even from his government. And
it is this general who is authorized to unleash Israel's  nuclear
arsenal. This is not a risk the world can take.

But he can still be stopped. This time it is  not  like  Iraq  or
Kosovo. Opposition to Israel around the world is enormous. The US
has not managed to mobilize even the Western  world  around  this
new crusade, as it did then. They  didn't  prepare  it  carefully
enough. The propaganda machine did not start on time, and even if
it had, it is  difficult  to  sell  the  world  that  it  is  the
Palestinians who are committing atrocities against the  Israelis.
Empires fell in history precisely when they  started  to  believe
they are omnipotent.

Tanya Reinhart is a professor of linguistics and cultural studies
at Tel- Aviv University and the University of Utrecht.

For more articles visit and clcik on daring to speak out.