Tuesday, April 2, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 121


Israelis attack Palestinians back

Lema Mousilli

With tanks, Israeli soldiers raided and knocked down wall after wall of the presidential compound belonging to Palestinian leader
Yasser Arafat until they reached his wall Friday.

Israeli troops proceeded to cut off water, electricity and phone lines to the compound effectively trapping the 72-year-old Arafat
inside. When calling world leaders for help from his dying cell phone, Arafat had to literally yell in order to be heard over the machine
guns which rattled in the adjacent rooms. Israel took over the compound and the rest of the West Bank city of Ramallah in what it
calls the start of a large-scale operation. While Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon insists Arafat is not being deliberately targeted,
seven of his staff members and several of his bodyguards are already dead.

World leaders, who were angered earlier this week at Sharon for denying Arafat travel to the Arab summit, were horrified by the raids
on the presidential compound. International condemnation of the Israeli attacks on Palestinians is quickly escalating.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets in many countries around the world to demand their governments take
action and defend the Palestinian people after the latest surge of attacks by the Israeli armed forces.

United Nations Security General Kofi Annan opened Friday's U.N. Emergency Session by calling on Israel to cease its attacks on
Ramallah and withdraw its forces from Arafat's compound. China's ambassador, Wang Yingfan, demanded Israel end its "barbaric
aggression." French ambassador Jean-David Levitte insisted Israeli forces begin withdrawing from Palestinian towns and grant
Arafat freedom of movement.

The United States, however, was one of a few Western nations that failed to condemn the Israeli attack, saying it needs time to
assess the situation.

After Israel rejected the unanimously endorsed peace proposal offered by the Arab summit this past week, it became evident that it
does not intend to wave olive branches any time soon.

In the latest peace proposal, Arab states asked Israel to abide by U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338 which legally require Israel to
return the lands it has seized from its Arab neighbors in exchange for complete normalization of relations. It is fascinating how
Arab nations have to plead with Israel just to abide by international laws, while other nations must face the full onslaught of the U.S.
military and political arsenal if they dare defy U.N. regulations.

Through the "security" policies instituted by Sharon, we have seen the continual erosion of any Palestinian Authority infrastructure.
The Israeli army has targeted PA police barracks, headquarters and security stations as well as administrative offices. How can
Arafat's government be expected to keep the peace when its members' own lives and its very existence are under perpetual threat?

Interestingly enough, President Bush placed the responsibility to end the cycle of violence squarely on Arafat's shoulders, despite
the fact that Arafat has been detained in his office since Friday and has been strictly restricted in his movement for months now.

While Secretary of State Colin Powell asked Arafat to end the violence, the Palestinian leader was sitting in his office with only water
and bread to eat and a few candles to illuminate the room surrounded by Israeli soldiers.

Given his condition and confinement, it is ridiculous to declare that Arafat is responsible for the violence or that he can somehow
stop it. Even in the best of times, a leader with all the trappings of a modern state cannot prevent a highly motivated individual, driven
by frustration or deeply felt injustices, from acting in an unpredictable way.

Neither Bush nor Powell has been able to end all acts of violence in the United States. The ability of those such as Timothy McVeigh
to carry out their attacks does not necessarily mean that either Bush or Powell have not "done enough."

Taking this line of reasoning, how can anyone expect a leader, who even before Israeli tanks entered his compound had been a
prisoner in his headquarters, to exercise control over a diaspora of beleaguered people?

Arafat cannot, with the wave of his hands and a few Arabic spells, dispel the frustrations of the Palestinian people. We have to
recognize that terror begets terror.

The United States cannot recognize the ability of Israel to retaliate for a suicide bombing without recognizing that the bomber may be
retaliating for the lost lives Israeli "security" attacks have claimed. It is past due that we value Palestinian lives as much as Israeli
lives and begin to identify terrorists by their actions, not by their ethnicities.

Mousilli, a senior English and political 
science major, can be reached at lema@mousilli.com.

To contact the Opinon Section Editor, send e-mail to dcampus@mail.uh.edu

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