Former US Ambassador:
'Sharon's Word Is Worth Nil'
Sharon Places Israel In Great Danger
By Marcus Cohen Israel-Intell and Richard M. Bennett

It is surprising that so many commentators and observers outside the Middle East have been taken aback by Israel's use of overwhelming military firepower on the West Bank and in Jenin Refugee Camp in particular or that it has so easily resorted to the assassination of Palestinian leaders. Israel has been one of the leading proponents of the use of deadly force against those who dare oppose it for many years, indeed the state of Israel was born out of Jewish terrorism both against the British and the Palestinians. The bombing of the British occupied King David Hotel went hand in hand with the massacre of Arab civilians at Deir Yassin.

During the 1950's Israel pursued assassination as a tool of counter-terrorism, a policy that has regularly proved highly successful for Jerusalem ever since. In July 1956 for instance Israeli agents murdered two highly influential Colonels in Egyptian Military Intelligence, Hafaz and Mustafa who were believed to control Palestinian Fedayeen groups in Egypt and Jordan, by using terrorist-style parcel bombs. Another example followed hard on the Lod airport terrorist attack when Mossad officers in Beirut booby-trapped the car of poet and author Ghassan Kanafani who it was claimed was a member of the PFLP's Central Command and one of the planners behind the Lod massacre, he was killed along with his 17 year old niece.

These are but a tiny reminder of a policy followed by successive Israeli Governments of what amounts to state controlled terrorist operations carried out in response to state sponsored Arab terrorism. Such attacks are not declared Israeli policy, but have formed an important and integral part of Israel's defence for 50 years. Many high-ranking Israeli Military and Political leaders have openly advocated assassination of their Arab enemies, not just in the Middle East but all over the world, as witnessed by the bungled Mossad operation in Norway some years ago.

Sharon condemned by Israeli commission for Beirut massacre

The present Israeli Prime Minister, the former and highly controversial General, 'Arik' Sharon has been in the forefront and his views often appear to go well beyond a hatred of the Arabs merely because of their terrorist activities. While Officer Commanding (OC) IDF Southern Command he went so far as to advocate the formation of a special military command under direct General Staff control to eradicate Palestinian opponents of Israel throughout the world. Sharon had amply proved his ferocious anti-Palestinian credentials as Commander of the special Unit-101 and during his tenure as OC Southern Command when his violent and unorthodox military actions proved effective against an Arab insurgency.

Much later he was to be held responsible for the massacre of over 1500 Palestinian refugees in Sabra and Shatilla camps in Beirut by Israel's Lebanese Christian allies. Sharon, Minister of Defence at the time was accused of negligence by Israel's own Kahan commission into the events during the invasion of the Lebanon in 1982, for not using the Israeli troops surrounding the camp to prevent the massacre. However, many expert observers are much less charitable towards Sharon and lay the blame squarely at his feet, some would even argue that he deliberately encouraged the massacre, but though the suspicion remains no conclusive evidence that might prove him guilty of this war crime has been forthcoming. A former Lebanese warlord Elie Hobeika was reportedly intending to tell a Belgian court that Ariel Sharon was behind the 1982 massacre of Palestinian refugees, but was conveniently killed in January 2002 when his booby-trapped car exploded, making it even less likely that Sharon need concern himself with the past.

Ambassador Habib "Sharon was a killer obsessed with hatred of Palestinians"

Ambassador Philip Habib was President Ronald Reagan's Special Middle East Envoy in 1982 and he gave a frightening estimation of Sharon's character that should be remembered when Colin Powell or any other US envoy is negotiating with him "Sharon was a killer obsessed with hatred of Palestinians. I had promised Arafat that his people would not get any harm. Sharon, however, ignored this commitment entirely. Sharon's word is worth nil."

The warnings were posted as long ago as March 2001 that Sharon had not changed his views on becoming Prime Minister, when on returning from talks with President Bush in Washington he made it clear that any proposed US plans to build a new Arab coalition to confront Iraq could not be achieved at Israel's expense. Sharon indicated his forces would continue to target Palestinian militants for killing, a policy that has come under fire from the US and that Israel might be prepared to be flexible, but not "when it comes to the lives of Israeli citizens and their security."

The appalling crimes committed against Israel and many Western countries by Arab terrorists over the years are rightly condemned and such terrorist groups must be destroyed. Israel as a profound friend of the West and the only liberal democracy in the Middle East deserves both respect and support, but its reputation has been severely tarnished by the actions of a violent and prejudiced leader. Israel's offensive against a largely defenceless Palestinian population has been rightly condemned by much of the international community and the IDF's actions in the Jenin refugee camp so reminiscent of a small scale version of the Nazi destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto has been castigated by human rights groups worldwide. Just how long a people with a tradition of both justice and compassion, and particularly with centuries of experience of prejudice and oppression can condone the rule of a man such as Sharon is questionable.

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