Israel Attacks Palestinian Refugees, Demolishes Homes

Washington, D.C. — In a major escalation, Israel attacked the Khan Younis refugees camp in the Gaza Strip last night, killing two Palestinians and wounding 50 more. Israeli tanks and bulldozers demolished 25 homes and left many others pockmarked with machine-gun bullet holes. Olive groves, a major part of the economic life of the refugees, were also razed. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the nation‘s largest Arab-American membership organization, notes that this serious escalation reinforces the urgent need for international protection for the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. ADC calls on the Bush Administration to lead the effort to provide this protection.
The Khan Younis refugee camp is located in the autonimous zone (“Area A”) in the Gaza Strip. It is one of the oldest Palestinian refugee camps, established in 1949, and is home to approximately 80,000 refugees. The assault took place when Israeli tanks, armored personnel carriers, and bulldozers crossed into “Area A” after cutting off the camp‘s power supply, leaving the area in almost complete darkness. This latest escalation of Israel‘s attempts to suppress the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation comes in the wake of a resumption of extrajudical executions of Palestinian leaders, the continued economic strangulation of the civilian population of the Occupied Territories and a spate of intensely racist anti-Arab incitement from Israeli religious and political leaders. Israeli Ministers say that the current escalation is part of a plan to impose a military solution which enforces Israel‘s rule in the Occupied Territories and eliminates all Palestinian resistence. Israel‘s tactics, which have been condemned by human rights organizations and the UN Security Council, include indiscriminate use of live ammunition, tanks, rockets, helicopter gunships and other heavy weaponry against unarmed Palestinian protesters, and besieging Palestinian towns and cities. These tactics, heavily used by the government of Prime Minister Ehud Barak, have only been intensified under Ariel Sharon.
ADC President Hala Maksoud said, “This latest escalation by Israeli forces once again demonstrates Israel‘s determination to use any method, no matter how brutal, to enforce its occupation of Palestinian lands. Israel‘s practice of collective punishment against innocent civilians and its outright disregard for basic human rights are morally repugnant, and severely damage prospects for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Steps urgently need to be taken to protect the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and we call on our government to take the lead in efforts to provide such humanitarian protection, rather than blocking them.”

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