Israelis attack Palestinians
With tanks, Israeli soldiers raided and
knocked down wall after wall of the presidential compound belonging to
Yasser Arafat until they reached his wall
Israeli troops proceeded to cut off water,
electricity and phone lines to the compound — effectively trapping the
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
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
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
Ramallah and withdraw its forces from
Arafat's compound. China's ambassador, Wang Yingfan, demanded Israel end
aggression." French ambassador Jean-David
Levitte insisted Israeli forces begin withdrawing from Palestinian towns
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
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
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
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
Interestingly enough, President Bush placed
the responsibility to end the cycle of violence squarely on Arafat's shoulders,
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.