Undefended and exposed to Israeli assaults, the peaceful town of Beit Jala has, once again, become the target of Israeli fusillade of 500mm machine-gun fire followed by an assault with missiles launched towards the centre of the town. By George Abu Dayyeh Beit Jala Undefended and exposed to Israeli assaults, the peaceful town of Beit Jala has, once again, become the target of Israeli fusillade of 500mm machine-gun fire followed by an assault with missiles launched towards the centre of the town.
On the evening of Monday, October 23,2000, and less than 24 hours after the first missile assault on the Nazzal family house in Beit Jala, The Israeli fighter helicopters once again opened 500mm machine-gun fire on the almost deserted quarter where the Nazzal family lives. Their target was, this time, about 100 meters to the south, where the Zummar family lives, in the vicinity of the Greek Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas, the Patron Saint of Beit Jala.
The devastation was heavier this time, but thank God, no casualties were reported. One missile hit the garage of the Zummar family in the basement of the house, completely destroying the daughter's brand-new car; (Instalments are still being paid). The family car was destroyed as well, and serious damage was caused to the foundations of the building. A second missile hit their bathroom and destroyed it completely. The Zummar family will have to seek shelter somewhere else until their bathroom is rebuilt. Another missile hit main pillar of the neighboring house; the house is no longer habitable now. Another missile landed on the main road digging up a hole about 8 feet in diameter and about four feet deep; completely destroying the power lines, the water pipes and the telephone lines.
The damage caused by the 500mm machine-gun volley was by no means less serious. The glass of nearly all the houses in the vicinity was shattered, scattered fires broke out in the neighborhood and could not be easily put out because the water reservoirs on the roofs were blown up by the machine -gun fire. A taxi cab and another private car parked by the roadside were seriously damaged as well.
A simple analysis reveals a significant shifting in the Israeli policy towards the Palestinians under the National Palestinian Authority, coinciding with the resolutions of the last Cairo Arab Summit Conference and the severance of the diplomatic relations between Israel and several Arab states. This shift can be characterized as a progressive step from assaults on unarmed, defenceless civilians to a more serious step like re-occupation, or even, annexation of territories to stop alleged attacks of Palestinian demonstrators on Israeli soldiers and settlers.
The rationale for this policy is well known to all, but due to the absence of a stable Palestinian, Arab and global policy to encounter the Israeli scheme, which represents a blatant violation of the international norm of protecting civilians, Israeli violations will continue unabated. This development might just nib in the bud any opening of new vistas in the peace process.
George Abu Dayyeh