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March 22, 1996 - Image 171

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-03-22

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

N.

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foodstuffs have raised the specter
of hunger, especially in Gaza.
Shortages of staff, drugs, and
supplies, as well as the inability
to reach clinics and hospitals in
the West Bank and Israel, have
played havoc with standard
health care.
It has been widely publicized
that the army's refusal to allow.
emergency cases (such as a heart
attack victim and a woman in the
throes of childbirth) past IDF

1-73;9
s 6
on. 3 1; 3

NIBBLES & NUTS

The stringent measures are in place,
but Hamas' popularity has not waned.

the closure policy. "There's col-
lective support for terrorists [in
the territories], many are hiding
[Izzadin al-Kassem chief - Mo-
hammed] Deif, and there are cel-
ebrations over the killings," Mr.
Peres charged.
The prime minister also had
sharp words for Palestinian Au-
thority President Yassir Arafat.
"If I knew that the Palestinian
Authority was doing what it
should, I would lift the closure,"

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here's no question about it:
calm has returned to Israel.
And it's a direct result of
the rigorous closure of the
Gaza Strip and Palestinian ar-
eas of the West Bank after the re-
cent spate of Islamic terrorist bus
bombings.
"Separation," once shunned by
many, is now the preferred goal
in relationships by Israelis with
their Palestinian neighbors. In
fact, the Labor Party is touting
the concept as the chief slogan of
its election campaign.
That's because it's what the
public wants. A poll released by
Labor showed that some 35 per-
cent "hard-core" members of the
Likud also support this policy. It's
"not for ideological reasons," ex-
plained Labor Secretary-Gener-
al Nissim Zvili; "but simply
because they don't want to lay
eyes on Palestinians inside the
Green Line any more."
Still, once again, the benefit of
the closure for Israelis has come
at the price of almost unprece-
dented hardship inflicted on the
Palestinians. And the economic
cost of blocking Palestinian work-
ers from Israel and Palestinian
goods from leaving Gaza is a well-
rehearsed theme.
Terje Larsen, the U.N. special
coordinator for the territories, re-
cently estimated that the closure
costs the Palestinian public $2.4
million a day lost by some 70,000
workers employed in Israel alone.
Add to the sum an additional $1
million a day due to the inability
to export produce and manufac-
tured goods.
These figures do not include
income lost by workers inside the
territories; they are idled because
raw materials have been blocked
from reaching them or because
they cannot arive at jobs, because
of the blockade on cities, villages,
and refugee camps in the West
Bank.
Stunningly, the overall Pales-
tinian unemployment rate at-
tributed to the present closure is
about 75 percent. What's more,
over the past month the Pales-
tinian Authority itself has lost an
estimated $46 million in revenue
from sales, import, value-added,
and income tax. Beyond the sore
economic deprivation, the mea-
sures that have sealed Palestini-
ans off from both Israel and one
another have created hardship
on the most basic functional lev-
el. As one indicator, about 71,000
students have been kept out of
school by the closure.
Even worse; shortages of basic

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The home of master bomb maker Yehia Ayyash is blown up by the Israeli army.

checkpoints has resulted in the
deaths of four Palestinians (in-
cluding three infants).
After two weeks of such col-
lective punishment, the mount-
ing outrage and outcry of
Palestinians has forced Israel to
ease up.
Late last week, the IDF lifted
the blockade of the Palestinian-
controlled parts in the West
Bank, enabling their residents to
travel within most of the area.
The government also permitted
the flow of basic foodstuffs and
construction materials into Gaza
(albeit at a snail's pace due to
painstaking security checks); the
export of flowers and produce (in
small convoys escorted by the
army to the Ashdod port); and the
entry of 1,000 Gazan workers
into the industrial area just over
the border at Erez.
Nevertheless, at a recent Cab-
inet meeting, Prime Minister Shi-
mon Peres ensured the supply of
food and humanitarian aid to the
Palestinians, but the basic clo-
sure will continue.
It's chief aim, he explained,
was not just to protect Israelis,
but to fight the psychological war-
fare mounted by the terrorists
with counter-measures of the
same ilk.
"Terrorist attacks are collec-
tive punishment of Israel," Mr.
Peres retorted when Communi-
cations Minister Shulamit Aloni
objected to the-blanket nature of-

he declared. "Arafat's superflu-
ous speeches about jihad and
Jerusalem; his condolence visit
to [Yechi] Ayyash's family ... ar-
resting wanted men and releas-
ing them once the pressure eases.
Mohammed Deif is within reach
and has not been arrested."
To ease ministerial misgivings
over extending the closure for
months on end (or at least until
the May 29th elections), Mr.
Peres also spoke of a special U.N.-
coordinated plan to raise $100
million for the purpose of creat-
ing jobs in the territories.
Yet, by conveying the tit-for-
tat message that as long as Is-
raelis suffer from the specter of
terrorism, Palestinians will be
forced to suffer, has the govern-
ment dampened popular support
for Hamas and the Islamic Ji-
had?
No, say the results of a com-
parative poll conducted by the
Palestinian Center for Peace and
Democracy. During the first week
of the closure, Palestinian sup-
port for suicide attacks rose from
15 percent to 22 percent, while
backing for actions to destroy
Hamas's infrastructure fell from
33 percent to 19 percent, it
showed.
Equally instructive is that 30
percent of those polled at the end
of the week described suicide
bombers as "heroes" (up from 14
percent at the start of the peri-
od). O. - -

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