Impoverished and starved, Gaza is a human nightmare, each of whose little pieces of episodes -- like what takes place at Erez, or near the settlements -- involves thousands of soldiers in the humiliation, punishment, intolerable enfeeblement of each Palestinian, without regard for age, gender, or illness. Medical supplies are held up at the border, ambulances are fired upon or detained. Hundreds of houses demolished, and hundreds of thousands of trees and agricultural land destroyed in acts of systematic collective punishment against civilians, most of whom are already refugees from Israel's destruction of their society in 1948. Hope has been eliminated from the Palestinian vocabulary so that only raw defiance remains, and still Sharon and his sadistic minions prattle on about eliminating terrorism by an ever-encroaching occupation that has continued now for 35 years. That the campaign itself is, like all colonial brutality, futile, or that it has the effect of making Palestinians more, rather than less, defiant simply does not enter Sharon's closed mind.
The West Bank is occupied by 1,000 Israeli tanks whose sole purpose is to fire upon and terrorise civilians. Curfews are imposed for periods of up to two weeks, without respite. Schools and universities are either closed or impossible to get to. No one can travel, not just between the nine main cities, but within the cities. Every town today is a wasteland of destroyed buildings, looted offices, purposely ruined water and electrical systems. Commerce is finished. Malnutrition prevails in half the number of children. Two thirds of the population lives below the poverty level of $2 a day. Tanks in Jenin (where the demolition of the refugee camp by Israeli armour, a major war crime, was never investigated because cowardly international bureaucrats such as Kofi Annan back down when Israel threatens) fire upon and kill children, but that is only one drop in an unending stream of Palestinian civilian deaths caused by Israeli soldiers who furnish the illegal Israeli military occupation with loyal, unquestioning service. Palestinians are all "terrorist suspects". The soul of this occupation is that young Israeli conscripts are allowed full rein to subject Palestinians at check-points to every known form of private torture and abjection. There is the waiting in the sun for hours; then there is the detention of medical supplies and produce until they rot; there are the insulting words and beatings administered at will; the sudden rampage of jeeps and soldiers against civilians waiting their turn by the thousands at the innumerable check points that have made of Palestinian life a choking hell; making dozens of youths kneel in the sun for hours; forcing men to take off their clothes; insulting and humiliating parents in front of their children; forbidding the sick to pass through for no other reason than personal whim; stopping ambulances and firing on them. And the steady number of Palestinian deaths (quadruple that of Israelis) increases on a daily, mostly untabulated basis. More "terrorist suspects" plus their wives and children, but "we" regret those deaths very much. Thank you.