The Coastal Post - March, 1999

Israel Accelerates Land Grab

By Karen Nakamura

A vision comes before the eyes. It's Warsaw during the Second World War. The Nazis have built a fence around the Jewish ghetto and are tightening its perimeters daily on the pretext of needing security zones. People are coping the best they can as supplies are reduced and medicine is depleted. We all know how the story ends.

While the Western world has been concentrating on Saddam Hussein and the Balkans, Israel has been extending, like the Nazis before them, into other lands, on the pretext of security but really in a land grab to extend the boundaries of the Fatherland. The similarities are horrifying.

In January alone, a minimum of nine forays into Lebanon were made by the Israeli government. Each of these was destructive and done for no other reason than expansion and internal politics. In fact, a Hezballah leader was quoted as saying he wasn't the least surprised because the same type of land grab was made during the last elections. The claims of the need for a secure buffer zone might or might not be real, but the buffer zone should be built inside Israel's borders if they feel the need, not in Lebanese territory against the wishes of the democratically elected Lebanese government and its people.

"We were sleeping and then woke up to find ourselves prisoners in our own homes. We can't get bread or medicine," Afaf Hussein told reporters through barbed wire after Israeli soldiers and Southern Lebanese Army militiamen entered his village of Amoun on the night of February 17-18, 1999, with bulldozers, trucks and jeeps and built a barbed wire fence around the entire ghetto, excuse me, village. The mainly deserted Amoun is on the road to the Qalaat Shkeet outpost and was said to be a staging area for resistance fights. The 35 remaining villagers consist of women, children and the elderly; those who have no other place to go.

Israeli soldiers fired on television crews when they tried to approach the barbed wire fence to interview villagers. While no one was hurt, the Israelis also fired at a group of Amoun residents outside the village trying to communicate with relatives inside. Finally, around noon, two trucks from the International Red Cross Committee were allowed entrance to bring food and medicine. Many of the old are sick. The Red Cross are the only ones allowed in and out of the village. The villagers were informed that the security zone had been expanded to include them and was done to protect them. The IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) posted signs in Arabic and Hebrew warning of mines. It also generously stated that residents would be allowed unrestricted freedom of movement, but now would have to travel out of the security zone through the LSA-manned road block at Tibnit. Goebbels would have loved it.

Lebanese Prime Minister Selim Al-Hoss said the takeover of Amoun indicated Israel's determination to continue its occupation of southern Lebanon. "It is ridiculous for Israel to claim that it wants to withdraw from Lebanon...while it occupies a new village and annexes it to the zone it already occupies."

In the meantime, Lebanon officials have already been meeting with the American Ambassador David Satterfield and the American head of the five-nation April Understanding Monitoring Group, Richard Erickman, to complain about the land grab.

Israel has also escalated its attacks against southern villages. They have shelled the riverbanks of Litani, the outskirts of Kfar Roumman, Arab Saleem, Habboush, Nabatieh, Al-Faouqa and Jabal Sopod. Earlier bombardments included Mazraat Al-Hamra, the fields of Yohmor and the Valley of the Habboush River. Western Bakaa has also seen heavy shelling in four sites. All of those bombings have taken place in the past two months and are not a complete list.

The Lebanese have retaliated with attacks on three Israeli positions. Military Prosecutor Nasri Lahhoud announced that 200 Lebanese have been accused of collaboration with Israel. Detainees have admitted they formed a spy network for Israel intelligence. While some of the accused have been arrested, most are still at large.

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An interesting contradiction has been brought up concerning the capture of Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the Kurdish PKK. Can anyone doubt that Ocalan and the PKK are the popular choice of their people as reported by our correspondent in the CP's January issue? On February 18, according to the Jerusalem Post, Turkish Ambassador to Israel Barlas Ozenar, warned the Israeli government not to talk to the PKK. "This is a matter of principle. If Israel disregards its principles for the sake of political expediency, it will suffer."

At which point, an official in the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Effi Ben-Baityahu, reiterated Israel's position that it had nothing to do with the arrest of Ocalan. However, he added, "It is well known that Israel, in the past, carried on a long love affair with the Kurds, and we still have many contacts among them."

To which Ambassador Ozenar replied, "And if you talk to them, they will ask you to start giving them help, and you will end up becoming collaborators of a terrorist organization."

In the meantime, an Israeli diplomatic source in Turkey stated, "Here, among the Turkish public, we are heroes. There is a general belief that Mossad had a part and they insist of giving us credit. And now they have something more to be excited about, that we struck out so forcefully at the Kurdish demonstrators." Heil Hilter!

In Tel Aviv, dozens of Israeli demonstrators protested outside the Turkish Embassy against the shootings in Berlin and to express support for the Kurdish struggle in Turkey. Veteran peace demonstrators were among them. Israeli police reinforced the Turkish Embassy entrance and installed video cameras to record demonstrators.

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The funeral of the deservedly well-loved King Hussein of Jordan was an amazing spectacle badly covered by the American press which was too busy trying to get the story to see the story. To have just the video of all the heads of states paying homage in front of the King's coffin would be to have a vast insight into the later half of the 20th century. King Hussein would have loved it. For one moment in time the world stopped fighting and came together in peace. In the middle of it all, Jordan looked modern and dignified, and a little ahead of even California with computers in its schools and its high level of education. Nonetheless, the throne is shaky, though everyone wishes the new King Abdullah the best.

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