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I don't normally like to post articles from other sources, because half the time other people do it, it seems like they haven't even read all the way through the article themselves, but I thought this was a good one. It's from the Globe and Mail yesterday.
Globe and Mail Monday, October 21, 2002 ? Print Edition, Page A14
The words could have been a chant at one of the pro-Palestinian rallies so common now: "Stop its cruel war machine."
But the blunt assessment of Israel's military campaign in the Palestinian territories actually was made by left-wing Israeli opposition leader Yossi Sarid, who has had enough of the army's toleration of the rising rate of civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip.
"It is no longer possible to explain or justify how so many innocent men, women and children are killed by the army," he said. "How many times can we say 'we did not intend to,' and who can still believe these excuses?"
Mr. Sarid's salvo followed a military operation in the border town of Rafah in which eight Palestinians were killed and a dozen more seriously injured. Tank shells were fired into a number of homes; the dead included two children and two elderly women. This operation was just the latest in weeks of bloody military operations inside Gaza. Earlier this month, a raid on the town of Khan Yunis left 17 dead and scores wounded.
The Israeli government made its rote response Friday. The army, an official said, "does everything to avoid civilians being hurt."
This is wearing thin in Washington, too. The Bush administration has repeatedly expressed concerns about what it describes as a significant increase in Palestinian civilian deaths during Israeli military operations.
These are not, to use military parlance, surgical strikes aimed at destroying weapons factories or killing men Israel believes to be responsible for terrorism against its citizens. The missions are part of a vague strategy of putting overall pressure on the radical Islamic organization Hamas, which controls much of Gaza. Hamas vows more terrorist attacks within Israel.
Meanwhile, the tight curfew in the West Bank is leading to international concerns about malnutrition. Schoolchildren in some West Bank towns have had to openly defy the curfew just to go to school. Israel says the virtual lockdown, which was loosened somewhat in recent days, has succeeded in averting suicide bombings. But it may also -- as one European diplomat said a few days ago -- have turned the West Bank into the world's largest detention camp.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon earned his nickname "Bulldozer" 30 years ago when, still a soldier, he was given responsibility for taking on Palestinian guerrillas in Gaza. At times resorting to a shoot-to-kill policy, he cleared wide swaths through the refugee camps by levelling hundreds of homes, making it easier for the Israeli army to patrol. His tactics resulted in international condemnation then, too.
Mr. Sharon still appears to believe that tough military tactics alone will make Israel secure. The safety of Israelis must be his first concern. But they cannot be made safe without political progress toward peace. Mr. Sharon controls the Palestinian territories once again. He needs to offer more to the millions who live there than occupation and privation.
-------------------- "I have no valid complaint against hustlers. No rational bitch. But the act of selling is repulsive to me. I harbor a secret urge to whack a salesman in the face, crack his teeth and put red bumps around his eyes." -Hunter S Thompson
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