- It is time to call things by their right name and expose
what is taking place on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israel, with the
support of the United States, is carrying out a policy of assassinations
that has as its aim the destruction of the political infrastructure of
the Palestinian national movement.
- The claim that Palestinian leaders are being stalked
and killed to preempt terrorist acts is little more than a cover for a
policy with far broader aims. The Israeli state is employing the most sophisticated
military and technological means to decapitate the leadership and terrorize
the entire Palestinian population. The basic objective is to prevent at
all costs the emergence of an independent Palestinian state.
- The Bush administration knows full well that Israelís
claim to be using targeted killings only as a defensive tactic against
imminent terrorist attacks is a lie. The US government, the American media
and the bulk of the liberal establishment are complicit in a policy of
- Events of the past two weeks have illuminated the real
motives behind the series of assassinations carried out by Israel over
the past year. On August 27 Israeli helicopters fired two laser- guided
missiles into the West Bank office of Abu Ali Mustafa, the leader of the
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Mustafa, one of the top
five officials of the Palestine Liberation Organization, was the highest-ranking
Palestinian to be eliminated in the recent wave of Israeli assassinations.
- Four days later Israeli forces attempted to murder the
head of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Khayis Abu
Leila. Anti-tank missiles smashed into the home of the DFLP leader in the
West Bank town of Ramallah, but Leila was not at home at the time.
- The Israeli bourgeoisie is the consummate practitioner
of Realpolitik in its most extreme and brutal form. No other state in the
world so openly defends assassination and mass repression as legitimate
instruments of rule. Israel uses the most advanced technological means
- satellite-based communications, intelligence gathering and targeting;
smart missiles; state-of-the-art attack helicopters - to track down and
kill its leading political opponents among the Palestinians. Never before
has advanced technology been used in so open and concentrated a manner
to eliminate an entire political class.
- By such means Israel seeks to render impossible any organized
and politically directed struggle against its occupation of Palestinian
lands. Palestinian leaders are compelled to move daily from safe house
to safe house to avoid being exterminated. They are unable to hold meetings.
Their communications - via telephone, email, fax - are monitored and disrupted.
They are forced into a semi-underground existence under conditions in which
the enemy enjoys a massive preponderance of military and economic power.
- In this manner Israel seeks to disperse and ultimately
wipe out the leaders of all anti-Zionist organizations in the occupied
territories and throughout the Arab world. The message from the Israeli
authorities is clear: no one will survive who does not secure the approval
of the Israeli state.
- The recourse to state murder is, in the first instance,
the response of the Israeli establishment to the eruption of mass resistance
in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. The second intifada began last
September following the collapse of the Camp David Israeli-Palestinian
summit and subsequent Israeli provocations.
- The present policy follows a definite pattern. In April
1988, some four months after the outbreak of the first intifada in the
occupied territories, an Israeli death squad broke into the home of Abu
Jihad in the Tunisian capital of Tunis and gunned down the Palestinian
military and political leader. Abu Jihad, born Khalil Al-Wazir, was a founder
of Al Fatah and Yasser Arafatís closest political associate.
- Abu Jihad played a central role in organizing and directing
the intifada from the PLO's headquarters-in-exile in Tunis. His assassination
at the hands of the Israeli military and Mossad secret police was aimed
at the head of the popular uprising.
- In 1997 the Israeli newspaper Maariv revealed that then-deputy
military chief Ehud Barak ran the assassination operation from a command
center on a navy missile ship off the shore of Tunis. Barak became prime
minister in May 1999 after running as the Labor Party candidate and defeating
Likud Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a landslide vote. He was voted
out of office and replaced by Likud hard-liner Ariel Sharon last February.
- Barak's role in the assassination of Abu Jihad makes
it clear that all wings of the Israeli Zionist establishment, the so- called
doves as well as the open supporters of Israeli expansionism, are tied
to the policies of state murder and mass terror. It substantiates the fact
that the present recourse to political assassinations is part of a strategy
to destroy the Palestinian national movement that has the support of the
Labor Party leadership as well as Likhud.
- A constant feature of this policy is the attempt to isolate
PLO Chairman Arafat by eliminating all of his colleagues.
- Barak's own record of infiltration and assassination
goes back to his earliest years in the Israeli military. In 1973, disguised
as a woman and carrying a purse packed with explosives, he led an assassination
unit that killed three leading PLO officials.
- Political killings, including the 1995 murder in Malta
of Islamic Jihad leader Fathi Shakaki, have long been a staple of Israeli
policy. Such methods are part and parcel of counterinsurgency operations
conducted over many decades by imperialist powers, including the United
States in Southeast Asia and elsewhere. They fall within the range of tactics
- infiltration, provocation, assassination, terror - that constitute the
modus operandi of what experts in the field call "low intensity warfare."
- What is unprecedented is the way in which these methods
are being openly defended by Israel and its American backers.
- Since the collapse of the Camp David negotiations 13
months ago, the Israeli state has pursued a course of military aggression
and provocation calculated to arouse Palestinian retaliation, which is
then used as the pretext for assassinations and further attacks on the
Palestinian Authority. Barak essentially gave his backing to this policy
when he defended Sharonís instigative visit to the Temple Mount
in the Old City of Jerusalem in late September of 2000.
- When Sharon, accompanied by a retinue of police and troops,
was met with spontaneous protest demonstrations, Israeli police responded
by storming the Al Aqsa mosque and opening fire on stone-throwing worshippers,
killing six. This bloody provocation set off a further wave of mass protests,
against which Israel employed live ammunition, tanks and attack helicopters.
Within the first week of the intifada Israel had killed at least 60 Palestinians
and wounded 1,500 more.
- Sharon is one of the worldís leading exponents
of the policy of creating ìnew facts.î This was the purpose
of the settlement policy, which he championed. The goal was to create a
major Israeli presence in occupied territories that had long been considered
Palestinian. Now he is seeking to create a new set of factsóthe
absence of an independent Palestinian leadership.
- In defense of their campaign to wipe out the Palestinian
leadership, the Israeli authorities employ a combination of cynicism and
deceit. One tactic is a variant of the ìbig lieî: namely,
to accuse your enemy of the crimes for which you are responsible.
- Thus Israel, secure in the knowledge that its claims
will be parroted by the American press, charges the Palestinians with initiating
the violence and brands all critics of its methods as anti-Semites. Israeli
leaders have gone so far in recent days as to accuse the Palestinians of
- The Israeli justification for the policy of political
assassination is the ultimate ìCatch 22î argument. They claim
they only kill those who are preparing acts of terrorism. What is the proof
that the targeted individuals are guilty as charged? The fact that the
Israeli state has decided to kill them.
- No independently verifiable evidence is ever presented
to substantiate the charges against those marked for assassination. The
Israeli authorities do not seek to arrest the accused, put them on trial
and present the factual case for their elimination. Instead, Israeli hit
squads and the Mossad act as judge, jury and executioner.
- Israel could not pursue such a bloodthirsty course without
the logistical support of the US military and intelligence apparatus, and
the political support of the American political and media establishment.
The response of large sections of the US media has been to leap to Israelís
defense, employing frenzied anti-Palestinian rhetoric and calling for all-out
war to destroy the Palestinian resistance.
- In mid-August there was a veritable eruption of propaganda
in the US press defending Israelís assassination policy. On three
successive days the Washington Post ran op-ed pieces labeling the Palestinians
as inveterate terrorists and urging Israel to annihilate the Palestinian
Authority and build a Berlin-type wall to keep the Arab population in a
state of permanent subjugation.
- Michael Kelly wrote in a column published August 15:
ì[Israel] can win only by fighting the war on its terms, unleashing
an overwhelming force (gosh, just what is called for in the Powell Doctrine)
to destroy, kill, capture and expel the armed Palestinian forces that have
declared war on Israel.î
- The following day Charles Krauthammer called for "A
lightning and massive Israeli attack on every element of Arafat's police
state infrastructure - the headquarters and commanders of his eight(!)
security services, his police stations, weapons depots, training camps,
communications and propaganda facilities (radio, TV, government-controlled
newspapers) - with a simultaneous attack on the headquarters and leadership
of Arafat's Hamas and Islamic Jihad allies." Krauthammer made an explicit
call for ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population, summed up in his
slogan: "Strike and expel."
- George Will followed on August 16 with a similar diatribe
that included the following prescription: "Israel needs a short war
and a high wall."
- These and numerous other commentators in the press and
on CNN and Fox TV have declared that - we - in the US would be doing the
same thing as the Israelis if faced with a similar situation. Among the
public defenders of Israeli assassinations is Henry Kissinger, the chief
architect of American imperialist policy in Vietnam under President Nixon.
- One can only imagine the international outcry, orchestrated
by the US media, were Palestinian leaders to announce that they intended
to reply in kind, i.e., to identify and target those Israelis involved
in planning and carrying out assassinations and other terrorist acts.
- The US government has responded to the Israeli campaign
of assassinations with perfunctory public criticisms, delivered by mid-level
State Department officials, combined with private assurances of American
support from the highest levels of the Bush administration. The US posture,
dripping with hypocrisy, signals the revival by Washington of its own practice
of using murder as a tool of foreign policy.
- If it is acceptable for Israel to ìtake outî
its political opponents, then the same applies to the US. Washington's
support for Sharon's murder incorporated signals a reversion to the methods
that resulted in such atrocities as the CIA assassination of Congo independence
leader Patrice Lamumba in 1961, the repeated attempts to murder Fidel Castro,
and the 1986 bombing of Libyan leader Muammar Gadhaffi's residence.
- Political assassinations were formally outlawed in laws
passed in the 1970s following Congressional hearings headed by Idaho Senator
Frank Church into the activities of the CIA. Today, even more crassly than
under the Reagan administration, the US government flouts its own laws
in order to support its main client regime in the Middle East and suppress
the struggle of the Palestinian masses against foreign occupation, repression