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GUSH SHALOM - pob 3322, Tel-Aviv 61033 - www.gush-shalom.org/

 International release

 ===================
 Rafah Invasion - the end?
 Adam Keller - Tel-Aviv, May 25, 2004
 ============================

 At long last, the Israeli armed forces have ended their invasion and
 occupation of Rafah. It had cost the lives of 59 Palestinians - 12 of
 them unarmed civilians according to the army's own account. The invasion
 aroused worldwide condemnation, including a censuring resolution by the
 UN Security Council which the United States exeptionally did not veto,
 and aroused widespread controversy inside Israel.

 After the fatal "warning shots" fired last Wednesday by a tank at an
 unarmed demonstration, it was widely expected that the Rafah operation
 would be terminated. But with the tacit agreement of Washington, the army
 continued its operation and even extended it into hitherto untouched
 neighborhoods of Rafah. On Sunday, there came the news of widespread home
 demolitions at the Barazil Neighborhood - first from Ha'aretz
 correpsondent Amira Hass, the only Israeli journalist to be present at
 Rafah
 from the beginning of the invasion. Then Kol Israel military correspondent
 Carmela Menashe gained entry to Barazil and broadcast a shocking account
 on the station's noon news maganize, which she later published also in a
two-page article in the mass-circulation Yediot Aharonot. Finally, Israel's
two commercial TV stations, Channel 2 and Ch. 10, broadcast extensive footage
 of Palestinians digging in the ruins of their homes and trying to salvage some
 possessions (such footage was conspicuously absent on the government-
 controlled Channel 1).
 In the cabinet meeting, Justice Minister Yosef ("Tommy") Lapid sharply
 criticized the house demolitions, stating: "The sight of an old Palestinian
 woman digging in the ruins for her medicines reminds me of my
 grandmother". Since Lapid is a Holocaust survivor, this was taken as a
 comparison between the army's conduct and that of the Nazis.
 The fact that the Shinuy leader said this means that he thinks it is what
his constituency feels. Lapid, a former TV talk-show commentator, is quite a
 demagogue.

 This morning Kol Yisrael interviewed Brigadier-General Shmuel Zakai,
 commander of the Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip, and asked him to
account for the fifty-six houses the army now admits to destroying at Rafah (after
 several days when they claimed to have demolished "only five"). His answer:

 "We had reason to think that the Palestinians had mined the roads, so we
 wanted to create a cleared space to let the tanks and armoured personnel
 carriers pass through". General Zakai evidently assumed that the Israeli
 public would accept this as an acceptable reason for wiping out whole
 streets…

 Now, the army is out of Rafah, and the Israeli headlines are caught by
 Sharon's plan to pass through his cabinet some form of a "Gaza
 Disengagement Plan" - though, it seems, one even more partial and vague
 than the earlier one. And meanwhile, the issue of Rafah is far from off
the agenda. In today's Yediot Aharonot General Gabi Ashkenazi, deputy

Chief-of- Staff, reiterated the army's position: "We must keep hold of the
Philadelphi Route" (the Israeli-controlled wedge seperating the Palestinian Gaza Strip
 from Egypt). The plans to widen "Philadelphi", at the expanse of destroying
 some 2000 houses (!) at Rafah are not off the agenda, either. They are
likely to resurface in the event of a new attack on Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip -
 or of any other event which would provide a "need for a retaliation."

 # The Colonel's Mother demonstrated against the military operation
 (translated from Yediot Aharonot, 25/5/04)

 Aliza Tibon, mother of Colonel Noam Tibon who commands the Nahal
 Brigade and whose soldiers are engaged in various tasks in the

Territories, joined in yesterday's protest outside the Defence Minstry in Tel-Aviv
calling for evacuation of the army from Rafah. Tibon arrived there together with
 other women active in the left-wing movement "The Fifth Mother", having
 last week participated in a vigil at the Kisufim Chackpoint at the Gaza Strip
 entrance to protest what the movement termed "the harm caused to
 innocents".
 Tibon, who lives in Kibbutz Tzor'ah, came yesterday morning by train to
Tel-Aviv and stood in front of the Defence Ministry, holding a sign reading
 "Down With the Occupation". She told her fellow activists that she could
 not remain silent in face of the sights from Rafah which she saw on TV,
and felt she must take personel action to help get the army outof there. She
told journalists "I am proud to be Noam's mother and I am proud to demonstrate
 against the occupation".

 # For photos & report of May 21 demonstration at Kissufim Checkpoint:
 www.gush-shalom.org/english/index.html

 # Donations for the families in Rafah whose houses were demolished
 can be sent by cheque - in your own currency! - made out to Anat
 Matar, 33 Bernstein-Cohen Street, Ramat Hasharon 47213.
 Bigger sums can be deposited to the Ta'ayush' bank account:
 Bank Hapoalim, acc. no. 396608, Ramat Aviv branch 606
 (Please avoid international bank transfer of two-digit sums because of
 prohibitive bank fees).
 NB: in both cases you should inform Anat Matar about the sum you
 have donated, by sending her the details at <matar@post.tau.ac.il

 # Boycott List of Settlement Products (newly updated)

 Hebrew
 gush-shalom.org/Boycott/boycheb.htm

 English
 gush-shalom.org/Boycott/boyceng.htm

 # Sharansky and the New Antisemitism, by Adam Keller -
 otherisrael.home.igc.org/sharansky.html

 More selected articles of The Other Israel May issue accessible via
 otherisrael.home.igc.org/contents.html

 Order your one time free sample (hard copy) from
 <otherisr@actcom.co.il
 NB: Don't forget to include your postal address


 # Against the Wall

 
 Presence at villages threatened by the wall, contact:
 Ivy Sichel 064-604172 isichel@netvision.net.il
 Arik Asherman 050-607034 info@rhr.israel.net

 *
 Eye-witness reports from the Occupied Territories:
 www.machsomwatch.org
 (Israeli women monitoring the checkpoints)
 www.palsolidarity.org/pressreleases/pressreleases.php
 (internationals throughout OT)


 # Refusniks

 Constantly-updated refusniks lists:

 English - www.yesh-gvul.org/english/prison/
 Hebrew / עברית - www.yesh-gvul.org/prison/

 English - www.newprofile.org/default.asp?language=en
 Hebrew / עברית - www.newprofile.org/

 Help us free our children from the military prison! (parents of The Five)
 For ENGLISH details please click
www.refuz.org.il/help.html
 For HEBREW please click
www.refuz.org.il/hebrew/help.html

 --
 www.gush-shalom.org/ (עברית/Hebrew)
 www.gush-shalom.org/english/index.html (English)
 www.gush-shalom.org/arabic/index.html (selected articles in
 Arabic)

 with
 \\photos of recent actions
 \\the weekly Gush Shalom ad
 \\the columns of Uri Avnery
 \\Gush Shalom's history & action chronicle
 \\position papers & analysis (in "documents")
 \\and a lot more

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 Israel