Massacring the Innocent
by Dr. Chandra Muzaffar
In the last 24 hours, in two separate incidents, the Israeli Occupiers of Palestine and the American Occupiers of Iraq have killed scores of innocent people.
On 19 May, Israeli helicopters, tanks and troops fired on a peaceful demonstration of mostly women and children in the Rafah refugee camp. According to various sources, 15 people were killed, including at least 2 children.
The peaceful demonstration attended by thousands of people was in protest against the killing of at least 20 Palestinians the day before and the demolition of hundreds of homes which have left thousands of Palestinians homeless.
Though the whole world has condemned the massacre, the Israeli regime, one can be absolutely certain, will continue with its wanton aggression against, and its cruel oppression of, the Palestinian people. The oppressor does not care about international public opinion. All that matters to the regime is the blind support of the US government. Yesterday, President George Bush endorsed yet again Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s bellicose policies designed to perpetuate the occupation and subjugation of the Palestinian people, at a function organised by the ultra Zionist lobby group, the AIPAC. Sharon knows that with the American Presidential Election a few months away, the leading contenders will be bending over backwards to please the powerful Israeli lobby. This is also why — apart from the desire to avenge the killing of 13 Israeli soldiers in Gaza by Palestinians a few days ago — Sharon has chosen this particular moment to launch the most massive and most extensive military operation since 1967 in the Gaza Strip. He is confident that no American leader will even dare to go beyond the gentlest of admonitions.
But we hope the American people will prove him wrong. Civic groups, public interest organisations, media practitioners and intellectuals should stand up and speak out. Let them tell the American power elite that by underwriting Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people, they are merely helping to further discredit and denigrate the US in the eyes of the world. The US does not need this, especially at a time when its international credibility is minus zero.
The American public should also stand up against its elite for continuing its blood-soaked occupation of Iraq. Yesterday, the Occupier added yet another reprehensible act to its litany of heinous crimes in that blighted land. A US military helicopter opened fire on a wedding party in Western Iraq killing over 40 people. A number of those killed were children and women.
According to media reports, the incident occurred after wedding guests started firing in the air in celebration of the occasion. Firing of guns is a tradition at Arab and Central Asian weddings. Two months ago, 6 members of an Iraqi family were killed and 4 others wounded by US soldiers in a village north of Baghdad. More than a year ago, a large number of guests at a wedding in Afghanistan-another country occupied by the US — were also mistakenly killed by US firepower in similar circumstances.
US authorities in Baghdad deny that the people killed yesterday were attending a wedding. They allege that those killed were ‘foreign fighters’ who had infiltrated into Iraq, near the Syrian border. The US version contradicts eye witness accounts of the incident. AP Television, for instance, filmed relatives burying the dead, several of whom were women and children.
Instead of attempting a ‘cover-up’, the US authorities should face the truth. And the stark truth that is staring them in the face is this : END OCCUPATION NOW.
Dr. Chandra Muzaffar
International Movement for a Just World (JUST)
20 May 2004