Intifada 3 Years On Mounting Fears, Distant Dreams

Published: Mon 29 Sep 2003 11:07 PM
Intifada Three Years on: Mounting fears, distant dreams
With the Intifada for independence beginning its fourth year, Palestinians are bracing themselves for more bloodshed, fear and an inherent feeling that dreams are nothing but a distant figment of their imagination.
Palestinians commemorated the third anniversary of the uprising to end the 36-year-old occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with apparent signs that violence would predominate the upcoming period.
Thousands marched in Nablus—the West Bank’s largest city—while their compatriots burned signs which have come to symbolize Israel’s war machine, namely the US-made F-16 fighter jets used by the Jewish state to carry out numerous extra-judicial assassinations of Palestinians.
These assassinations—dubbed targeted killings by Israel—have left at least one hundred anti-occupation militants dead, but with the same number of innocent bystanders falling in these operations condemned by human rights groups and the international community.
Last year, nine children where among 14 civilians killed, when an Israel F-16 dropped a one-ton bomb on a fully occupied building in a densely-packed residential Gaza Strip area, as it “targeted” a senior Hamas official.
Three years on, Palestinians look back on their ordeal: at least 2500 killed, 400 of them children and 200 of them women and mothers. The whirlpool of violence has also claimed the lives of at least 500 Israelis and more than 240 Israeli Occupation soldiers.
Life has become intolerable ever since Ariel Sharon visited Al-Haram Al-Sharif, Islam’s third holiest sight, sparking a wave of protests by Palestinian youths, who saw his move as an intimidating threat of Palestinian national aspirations embedded in seeing Jerusalem as the future capital of a much-awaited state.
For three years, Palestinians have been bombed in the sanctity of their homes, their children killed on the way to school, hit by shrapnel during so-called targeted killings, or gunned down by soldiers when they pelt them with stones.
Nothing has reigned Israel: not the numerous UN resolutions showering it, not the relentless human rights group protests, and certainly not the millions of people who have marched in defiance of the world’s only oldest remaining occupying power.
Even with the ‘roadmap’ to peace, which Israel endorsed with 14 pre-conditions, now lies in tatters. Its promise of securing an end to the occupation and the creation of Palestinian statehood by 2005 seems a distant dream for Palestinians, who have lost faith in the honest mediation of the US—an integral part of the diplomatic Quartet which put forward this new peace deal.
Despite numerous, persistent efforts to sideline the elected President of the Palestinians, Yasser Arafat, the veteran leader remains fully in charge and as resilient as ever. Days after Israel announced it will expel the Nobel Prize Laureate, Palestinians and international delegations are still pouring at his compound, battered after on and off Israeli shelling, following the military invasion of the West Bank last April.
Today, Palestinians and the international community are awaiting to see how the new government with its appointed Prime minister Ahmad Qurei, better known as Abu Ala, will respond to internal and external problems.
Abu Ala’s government is replacing the caretaker government of Mahmoud Abbas, or Abu Mazen, who resigned following internal feuds and after a repeated series of Israeli extra-judicial assassinations of Hamas officials, which sparked a number of suicide bombings.
Today, as Israel commemorated the Jewish New Year, many on this side of the fence felt that nothing new was awaiting them—just the bitter routine of home demolitions, sieges on cities and towns and the pain of waiting for the more than 6,000 detainees lingering in Israeli prisons.
The Palestinian economy lies in tatters while roadblocks peppered across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip continued to cage-in millions of Palestinians. Amnesty has stressed that more than half of the 3.5 million Palestinians now live below the poverty line of 2 USD a day and most are depending solely on aid for mere survival.
Despite US rejection, Israel is also continuing to build yet another Berlin Wall on Palestinian territory, encroaching thousands of dunums of agricultural land as well as several water wells needed by Palestinian farmers for their livelihood.
The wall, which is in fact much higher than the Berlin Wall, will ensure an irreversible change of the status quo: several severed Bantustans will be created and with that the liquidation of any possibility of creating a viable, contiguous Palestinian state.
Settlements, one of the main obstacles to peace and deemed illegal by international law, are still growing unabated.
Three years on, life itself is becoming a luxury for Palestinians and hope seems to be fading with the summer’s clear blue skies as autumn approaches and a fear of what is yet to come grows silently.

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