In the Shadow of the Terror Attacks in the United States
Confronted with a world-wide hate campaign against Islam, Arabs, and Palestinians
Since 1982, when thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians were slaughtered in the Beirut refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila by the right-wing Lebanese allies of Israel's occupation forces headed by then Minister of Defense Ariel Sharon, annual commemorations of this massacre have united the Palestinian people in the homeland and in exile. Over the past two decades, the massacre of Sabra and Shatila has come to symbolize Palestinian suffering rooted in mass forced displacement, military occupation, and the denial of the right to self-determination and the right of refugees to return to their homes and properties.
The circumstances of this year's 19th anniversary of the massacre of Sabra and Shatila, however, are especially devastating. Not only are Palestinians in the 1967 occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip the target of unprecedented Israeli military attacks undertaken in the shadow of the dust and tragedy in New York and Washington DC, but Palestinians, as Arabs and/or Moslems, have also become the target of a world-wide, racist hate campaign triggered by statements of Israeli officials and carried in selective images/archive/archive and commentary in international media, which have depicted Palestinians as innate terrorists and enemies of civilization.
Some 630 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli army and settlers since the start of the current uprising almost one year ago. On the night of 10 September 2001, Israel launched a new wave of military invasion into Palestinian controlled West Bank areas, at first targeting the town and refugee camp of Jenin and adjacent villages. Exploiting the focus of international attention on the tragic events in the United States of 11 September, Israel expanded the killing and destruction of Palestinian infrastructure by invading the town of Jericho and the adjacent Aqbat Jaber refugee camp, shooting and shelling numerous West Bank refugee camps (al-Fawwar, al-Arroub, Deheishe, al-Far'ah) and cities (e.g. Hebron, Beit Sahour, Ramallah, al-Bireh, Qalqilya, Tulkarem), as well as the towns and refugee camps of Rafah and Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip. The current Israeli attack has so far resulted in the killing of 18 Palestinians, among them 14 year-old Balqis al-Arda (Jenin) and Ra'fat Ahmeidan, who was shot by Israeli soldiers while driving his private car in Ramallah. Moreover, some 150 Palestinians have been injured, over 20 of them critically, and dozens of Palestinians have been arrested since the beginning of the current Israeli raid on 10 September.
Against this background - and while numerous Palestinian communities in the western exile have canceled this year's public Sabra and Shatila memorial events, both in respect of the thousands of victims in the United States and for fear of racist attacks against their community centers, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip will commemorate the 19th anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacre under the slogan, "Stop Israel's State Terror - Terror is Our Enemy", and by affirming the Palestinian people's right to freedom, self-determination and return.
The Committee of National and Islamic Forces in the Bethlehem District INVITES THE PUBLIC AND MEDIA TO ATTEND THE FOLLOWING MEMORIAL EVENTS:
- Children's art on Manger Square, Bethlehem (Peace Center and UNICEF);
- Children's wall painting, Aida refugee camp (al-Rowwad Theater and BADIL);
- 17:00: Popular war crimes tribunal for Ariel Sharon in the hall of the Palestinian Women's Union, Bethlehem (Palestinian Prisoners' Society);
- 18:00: Candle march "Glory to Life" leading from the offices of the Red Cross/Bethlehem to the martyrs memorial in Deheishe refugee camp; coordinated memorial ceremony with the residents of Shatila refugee camp/Beirut.
- 14:00: Art and culture program for children, Manger Square, Bethlehem (Ministry of Education and IBDA'A Cultural Center/Deheishe camp);
- 17:00: Sabra and Shatila theater performance in the hall of the Palestinian Women's Union, Bethlehem (al-Rowwad Theater Group, Aida camp);
- 19:00 Closing ceremony of Sabra and Shatila memorial week at Abu Ammar Youth Hall/Ministry of Youth and Sports, Bethlehem.
Please note: Additional information and documents about the Sabra and Shatila massacre and the pending war crimes' suit against Israel's prime minister Ariel Sharon.