Palestinian people resist Israeli brutality
Washington sends warships with 2,100 Marines to Yemen
BY PATRICK O'NEILL
Palestinians protest in late September at funeral of man slain by Israeli military. Washington has launched "antiterror" campaign to justify attacks in Mideast and at home.
Three weeks into a brutal crackdown and a siege over Palestinian areas by the Israeli regime, the Clinton administration orchestrated a summit meeting in Cairo, Egypt, with the aim of getting the Palestine National Authority, headed by Yasir Arafat, to agree to police the Palestinians in exchange for Tel Aviv easing its clampdown.
The Zionist regimes maintains a closure between Israel and the Palestinian areas, barring tens of thousands of Palestinian workers from their jobs. Protests by Palestinians continue through the region.
At the same time, Washington launched an "antiterrorist" campaign against supporters of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination. It seized on an October 12 explosion that damaged the U.S. destroyer USS Cole and killed 17 U.S. troops in the Yemeni port of Aden.
The Israeli military closed off the West Bank and Gaza October 13 after the deaths of two Israeli reservists in Ramallah, barring residents from entering Israel. The military roadblocks prevented Palestinians in the West Bank from traveling outside their home areas. In the West Bank city of Hebron they clamped a round-the-clock curfew on Palestinians who live near a handful of Zionist activists who have established a settlement.
Some 30,000 workers in Gaza, home to 1 million people, have been kept from their jobs in Israel. The 500 trucks that drive in and out of that area each day with vital goods are unable to move. The last time the Israeli military imposed such a siege was in 1997.
At the same time, using the deaths of the reservists as a justification, Israeli military helicopters launched attacks on sites in the West Bank, as well as on a police headquarters, a power station, and a guard post just 150 yards from Yasir Arafat's headquarters in Gaza.
Tel Aviv's forces, using automatic rifles, rocket launchers, and helicopter gunships, have killed more than 100 Palestinians and wounded countless more since the latest wave of repression began in late September. Seven Israelis have died in the fighting, including several soldiers.
Militias associated with Arafat's Al Fatah organization and other political organizations have been active in Palestinian protests confronting Israeli forces. On October 16, following a funeral procession in Ramallah, militia members fired at Israeli soldiers as protesters marched toward an army checkpoint, drawing deadly return fire.
Explosion on U.S. warship in Yemen
The U.S. government is utilizing the explosion that hit a Navy warship, the USS Cole, to step up its military presence in the Mideast. U.S. officials told the New York Times they are trying to build a case that "a team of suicide bombers, possibly belonging to an Islamic terrorist group, attacked the destroyer." They cited a wide range of organizations they might target, from the Palestinian group Hamas to "cells linked to Osama Bin Laden." Washington used the August 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which it blamed on Bin Laden, to launch missile strikes in Afghanistan and Khartoum, the capital of Sudan.
Announcing it would launch an investigation into the explosion and threatening retaliation, the U.S. government has sent several hundred FBI and CIA agents, Navy officers, and other so-called "antiterrorist experts" to Aden. Washington hopes to capture some individuals and put them on trial in the United States. The FBI has assigned its New York bureau to lead the investigation, raising the possibility that the prosecution might be handled by the U.S. attorney's office in that city, "whose prosecutors have vast experience in terrorism cases," as the New York Times put it.
Under heavy U.S. pressure, including the threat of a cutoff of U.S. funds, the Yemeni government has agreed to cooperate with Washington, despite initial reluctance. The regime of President Ali Abdullah Salleh has been seeking closer relations with Washington. The Yemen police carried out a sweep in Aden October 16, interrogating at least 1,500 people. Targets included most workers in Aden harbor as well as citizens of other Mideast countries that Washington has on its blacklist.
The Clinton administration has sent three more warships with 2,100 marines to Yemen.
The U.S. rulers have also used the antiterrorist campaign to increase the police presence in New York and other U.S cities. Shortly after the latest flare-up of the Mideast conflict at the end of September, the New York city administration stepped up police patrols in areas such as the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, seizing on reports of two assaults on Jewish people and vandal attacks at a synagogue and a Jewish cemetery.
"We're being singled out," Gadeer Abdullah, an 18-year-old Palestinian woman, told reporters. "The police, they keep coming to our houses, asking us questions like we know what's going on, just because we're Palestinians. We lived our whole lives in this community together without hating."
Meanwhile, an October 16-17 summit took place in Cairo, Egypt. Formally chaired by Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, the summit was dominated by the presence of U.S. president William Clinton, who convened the meeting, and U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright. The White House has from the beginning backed the Israeli government, blaming Palestinians for the conflict and seeking to extract the maximum concessions from the Palestinian leadership.
Washington has also pressed the Israeli regime to negotiate a settlement that would advance the U.S. rulers' efforts to maintain and reinforce its domination of the region.
At the summit, Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian National Authority president Yasir Arafat "agreed to issue public statements unequivocally calling for an end of violence," Clinton announced at the end of the meeting. Israeli military officials said the army would lift its ban on travel between major Palestinian cities and reopen the border between Egypt and Gaza. But Tel Aviv warned it would not withdraw its forces from major points of conflict or reopen the crossing between Israel and the occupied territories unless the Palestine National Authority first took steps to crack down on Palestinians.
Asked if Arafat was capable of doing so, Albright said, "He may not be totally in control of everything but he has the authority."
Protests against Israeli repression
Protests against the murderous Israeli crackdown and in solidarity with the Palestinian fight for self-determination have taken place in many countries around the Middle East, from Lebanon to Egypt.
Demonstrations have been organized over the past few weeks in cities around the United States. In New York, 15,000 people--most of them Palestinians and other Arab immigrants--marched to the United Nations October 13 to condemn the Israeli repression and the U.S. government support it receives.
The previous day, backers of the Zionist regime held a demonstration of similar sizein New York. Among the speakers were New York governor George Pataki, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, and two Senatorial candidates in the state, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Richard Lazio.
Demonstrations ranging from several thousand to a few hundred have taken place in Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, and Birmingham, Alabama, among other cities. Similar protests have been held in London; Montreal and Toronto, Canada; Reykjavik, Iceland; Auckland and Christchurch, New Zealand; and other countries.
Harris condemns Israeli aggression, calls for self-determination for Palestinians
The Palestinian struggle for self-determination
Harris addresses Palestinian activists