Wednesday 9 April 2003

Sharon government steps up attacks on Palestinians

The Israeli Defence Forces shot two International Solidarity Movement activists in the town of Jenin on the West Bank. This follows the murder of Rachel Corrie, who was crushed to death last month beneath an Israel armoured bulldozer as she tried to prevent it demolishing a Palestinian house.

It was pure chance that both men survived these latest attacks. Brian Avery, a 24-year-old from Albuquerque, New Mexico, was shot in the face and taken to hospital with serious wounds. Lassel Smith from Denmark was shot in the leg. Both had gone to the West Bank to act as human shields by making peaceful protests.

By targeting foreign volunteers in this way Sharon—who enjoys the full support of the Bush administration, which did not respond to the murder of Rachel Corrie—is sending an unambiguous message to the world that he does not intend to give up any territory to a Palestinian state and that his solution to the Palestinian question is genocide.

His plan to extend the separation fence that is supposedly being built to protect Israelis from suicide bombers underlines his intentions. The fence is officially described as a security measure that is not intended to become a political border, but in the last few weeks Sharon has dramatically revised its proposed line.

Sharon wants to realign the original fence so that it will take in more of the illegal Israeli settlements on the occupied West Bank—an estimated 40,000 additional Israeli settlers. Large areas of Palestinian land would be seized and in some cases villages would be cut off from their fields and wells.

He now proposes to build a second fence between the West Bank and Jordan.

The new proposals would put the city of Jericho on the Israeli side of the fence. Large parts of the Jordan valley would come within the fence and more than half the West Bank. In effect the Palestinians would be enclosed with a giant prison camp.

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