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EDITORIAL: 16-28 February 2001

Israel elects a war criminal

Ariel (Ariek) Sharon, retired general of the so-called Israel Defence forces, whose 28 September 2000 armed incursion into Al Aqsa sanctuary triggered the outbreak of the current crisis that has so far led to the death of hundreds of Palestinians and the wounding of up to 12,000 others, has been elected Prime Minister of Israel by an overwhelming majority. Addressing his supporters, Sharon said: ‘The country has embarked on a new path, a path of peace and unity at home, and a striving for true peace with the Arabs.’ Sharon's call for 'peace' is ironic if not a silly joke, since he is a brutal warmonger responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians over the last half a century. 

Sharon began his military career at a young age, specializing in behind-the-lines raids and forcing Palestinians to flee their homes. In August 1953, Sharon founded and led the infamous Unit 101, which carried out a series of terrorist raids across the Israeli borders into refugee camps, villages and Bedouin encampments in order to force the Palestinians to flee from their lands. His heroic deeds include an attack on Bedouins in demilitarized Al Auja (a 145 square km juncture at the western Negev-Sinai frontier), killing an unknown number in September same year.

Sharon’s other heroic deeds include a raid on Qibya in Jordan on 14 October 1953 blowing up buildings, firing into doorways and windows with automatic weapons and throwing hand grenades, killing 69 civilians (mostly women and children). In 1955, Sharon was reprimanded for giving logistical support to four young Israelis who took random blood revenge on Bedouins for Arab attacks on Israeli settlements. 

In 1971 Sharon carried out the ‘Pacification’ of Gaza plan by imposing a brutal policy of repression, blowing up houses, bulldozing large tracts of refugee camps, imposing severe collective punishments and imprisoning hundreds of young Palestinians. Numerous civilians were killed or unjustly imprisoned, their houses demolished and the whole area was effectively transformed into a vast jail. 

In 1977, the Likud party won the general election under Begin. Sharon joined Begin's first administration as Minister of Agriculture in charge of settlements; an avid supporter of the religious Gush Emunim movement he was one of main facilitators of a settlement boom aimed at preventing the establishment of a Palestinian state in the occupied territories. In June 1981, his settlement campaign was one of the keys to Likud's re-election, as he was credited with making swift and permanent progress in establishing a pervasive Israeli presence in the West Bank. Begin then appointed Sharon Minister of Defence.

In 1982 Sharon conceived and unleashed the so-called ‘Peace for the Galilee’ which took the shape of a full-scale invasion of Lebanon. This operation killed many thousands of civilians and rendered nearly half a million homeless. Sharon’s forces eventually occupied Beirut. Heavy Israeli sea, air and land bombardment devastated a substantial portion of Lebanon. By the end of July, the Lebanese government stated that at least 14,000 people had been killed - over 90% of whom were unarmed civilians - and twice that number seriously wounded. Sharon’s plan was to balkanize the Middle East and extend Israeli influence to Karachi in the east and Central Africa in the west. But he failed to calculate the power of the residents of this area who have earlier faced many such power-hungry idiots from the Mongols to the Crusaders to the recent colonial powers.

Violating clear Israeli and American undertakings conveyed through Reagan’s envoy Habib, Sharon’s forces invaded Beirut in order to ‘dislodge’ 2000 Palestinian fighters remaining in the city. The task of purging the camps Sharon gave to the Phalange (Lebanese Christian force allied with Israel since the onset of Lebanon's civil war in 1975). Thus the crime of butchering defenceless refugees in the camps of Sabra and Shatila took place between 16 September to 18 September 2000, in an area under the full control of the Israeli army. Sharon's troops, held the camps under siege, allowed Phalangists to enter. Israeli searchlights illuminated the camps, while Israeli army personnel watched through binoculars as the death squads spread unchallenged through the camps. Whole families were slaughtered, many were raped and tortured before being killed. So many bodies were heaped into lorries and taken away, or buried in mass graves, that the exact toll will never be known, but Palestinian sources estimate at least 2000 people were killed. After an international outcry, Israel established an official inquiry commission headed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Kahan which found him ‘indirectly’ responsible and forced him to resign as defence minister. A neutral international war crime tribunal may have sent him to the gallows. Yet this war criminal is the choice of the so-called ‘only democracy’ in the Middle East..! 

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