Today, 2 November 2000, marks the anniversary of the 1917 Balfour Declaration in which the British Foreign Office confirmed its support for the Zionist movement's colonialist project of establishing a "Jewish homeland" in Palestine. Today marks also the day after the most heavy and violent Israeli military attacks on Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank since the start of the Palestinian uprising ("Al-Aqsa Intifada") on 28 September. The Israeli military attack, launched Monday afternoon mainly against Aida and Azza refugee camps, as well as the towns of Beit Jala, Bethlehem, Beit Sahour, and al-Khader village came to avenge an unprecedented death toll of three Israeli soldiers that day. Four hours of indiscriminate Israeli shooting and shelling - from mortars, tanks, and helicopters - at these Palestinian communities resulted in damage to homes and enterprises and caused fear and panic among Palestinian residents who lack access to safe shelters. Today, Palestinian public institutions and business are on strike, the population attending the funerals of eight Palestinian victims killed in the last two days, and everybody waiting to understand the implications of the latest agreement brokered between President Arafat and Israeli Minister of Regional Cooperation, Shimon Peres.
Irrespective of whether the immediate future will bring the continuation of the Palestinian uprising and its transformation into a war of attrition with the Israeli occupation forces, or a success of the latest Peres-Arafat cease-fire agreement, Israel's military and political establishment has recognized the fact that neither the current crisis, nor the historical Israeli-Palestinian/Arab conflict can be solved by military means, but require a negotiated political solution. The Palestinian people and its leadership, on the other hand, have clearly expressed through the current uprising that they demand a framework of political negotiations which is based on international law and UN resolutions (especially UN Resolution 181 providing for a special international regime over all of Jerusalem; Resolution 194 calling for the repatriation and restitution of Palestinian refugees; Resolutions 242 and 338 calling for Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967) and active involvement by the international community, foremost the United Nations. The experience with the abortive Oslo "peace process" has shown that the Palestinian people strongly rejects the principle of might makes right imposed by the powerful United States and Israel, as well as the determination of the Palestinian people to obtain a solution which meets universal standards of justice, international law and democracy.
FACTS and FIGURES: Al-Aqsa Intifada, 28 September - 2 November 2000
(Sources: UMPRC; Defense of Children International-Palestine Section; Adameer/Clashes Information Center)
1. Palestinian Deaths and Injuries caused by Israeli army and settlers
Total number of deaths: between 144 - 150
(Total number of Israeli deaths: 11; based on statistics released by the Israeli human rights organization B'tselem)
2. Total Number of Injuries:
3. Deaths according to Age:
Below 15 (13.8%); 16-18 years (20.3%)
As of 1 November, 46 children were killed by Israeli military.
4. Major Causes of Death:
Bullets (92%); Denial of Access to Treatment (2.2%);
5. Location of Injuries:
Upper body (70%); head or neck (26%);
6. Attacks on Medical Personnel
(as of 24-10; source: Palestinian Red Crescent Society)
38 Emergency Medical Technicians have been injured and one killed;
57 incidents of denial of access to ambulances at roadblocks;
7. Types of Weapons used by Israeli against Civilians:
LAU (Light Anti-Armor Weapon) Missiles; TOW Missiles; Apache and Cobra Helicopters; Merkava Tanks; 500mm and 800mm rounds; live ammunition; rubber-coated steel bullets;
8. Attacks on Civilian Areas:
- All major West Bank and Gaza towns, cities, and refugee camps;
- Recently (1 November), in the Jenin area Israeli soldiers raided the villages of Silt al-Thaher and Al-Fandoukoumiyeh, which have been under constant attack by settlers and the military for the last month, and raided houses, rounding up tens of residents, transferring them by bus to the nearby settlement of Hormish. Remaining residents over the age of 30 were ordered to gather at the Girl's school in Silt al-Thaher. Residents refused and a curfew has been imposed on the village.
9. Attacks by Israeli Settlers include:
- Daily attacks on West Bank villages in the north, center and south including shooting on residents and destruction of property;
- Shooting on farmers attempting to harvest olives;
- Attacks on Palestinian cars;
- Attacks on school children and on schools in Jenin, Nablus, Bethlehem, Hebron, Khan Younis and Rafah areas;
- Attack on a mini-bus carrying disabled children;
- Destruction of olive orchards.
For additional information on the current Palestinian uprising, Israeli repression, and relevant international law references, see Intifada20