Monday, October 20, 2003

Excessive force in Rafah

Ha'aretz story

"The Rafah operation, named "Root Canal," has been underway for 10 days. It involves large numbers of infantry, armor and engineering troops, backed up by attack helicopters. So far the operation has been only partially successful.Three tunnels have been found and demolished. But there is reason to believe that there are many more tunnels running under the border. The tunnels are not only used to move weapons that end up in the hands of the terror organizations, but also to smuggle in goods and merchandise. There's no disputing the justice of Israel's position that the tunnels are flagrant violations of past security commitments made by the Palestinian Authority to prevent the uncontrolled flow of arms into areas under its control. No less
understandable is Israel's frustration over Egypt's failure to do anything to block the smuggling routes.

But there is nothing in the justification of Israel's position that can sweepingly justify the military activity underway on the ground -
neither its dimensions nor the character of the operation, which appears to be violent and arbitrary. So far, the operation has led to the deaths of two children, aged 8 and 12, and
apparently other innocents, as well. The operation has destroyed the homes of hundreds of people, who unluckily lived along the border and their homes were searched by soldiers looking for the tunnels. In some cases, homes were demolished because tunnels were indeed found under them. But in other cases, it's been reported, multi-storey buildings were toppled for no reason."

"Root Canal". How amusing. Does anyone really think that this sort of bullying exercise serves any purpose at all? No. The problem is that the Sharon-ist mind assumes that the Palestinians will be bullied into submission, and that this can be achieved by the same means as when Sharon was commanding in Gaza in 1970 - bulldozing houses on a variety of quasimilitary pretexts ("fields of fire") as a form of preemptive intimidation. It isn't going to work again. An Irish comedian recently described the War on Terrorism as "like trying to swat a fly in your kitchen with a fridge". If anyone believes that they are really looking for individual terrorists with bulldozers, I suggest you think on that image.

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