Sipah e-Sahaba Tastes the Retribution

Top cleric among 5 killed in Karachi

* Sipah-e-Sahaba chief in critical condition, four others wounded

KARACHI: At least five people have been killed and four others wounded as unidentified assailants attacked religious leaders from two different groups in separate incidents in the city on Thursday.

Maulana Ghafoor Nadeem: The central leader of the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), Nadeem was shot en route to the city courts near Annu Bhai Park, Nazimabad No 7. One of his sons, Mavia Nadeem, was killed on the spot, while the SSP leader, his sons Shoaib and Rashid and security guards Nadeem and Waseem were severely injured and rushed to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital. They were later shifted to the Liaquat National Hospital, where Maulana Nadeem is said to be in critical condition, while the others are reportedly out of danger. Maulana Nadeem was also serving as the central information secretary of the Ahle-e-Sunnat-wal-Jamaat (ASJ).

Saeed Ahmed Jalalpuri: Seperately, the leader of the Aalmi Majlis Tahaffuz Khatm-e-Nubuwwat, his son and two others were gunned down in Sachal police precincts. According to police, Jalalpuri, his 16-year-old son Huzaifa, friend Fakhar Zaman; and driver Abdul Rehman, were on their way to a mosque where Jalalpuri delivers a sermon every Thursday.

Gunmen on two motorcycles intercepted their car near Post Office Society and opened fire on the vehicle. The injured were taken to the Patel Hospital, where doctors pronounced them death.

The bodies of the victims were then shifted to the Jamia Binoria. Police have reportedly arrested two men suspected of involvement in the killings but no FIR had been registered until the filing of this report. Tensions gripped the city following the attacks, with the Gurumandir area was nearly rendered off-limits as mourners gathered there overnight, while localities including Stadium Road, Nagan Chowrangi, Shah Faisal Colony and Old Golimaar witnessed panic and sporadic firing. atif raza

Pakistan Parlayed Support for Terrorism Into Seat at the Big Table

Pakistan will be privy to talks with Taliban: Karzai

By Baqir Sajjad Syed and Ahmad Hassan
Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani (R) and Afghan President Hamid Karzai meet with their delegations at the prime minister’s residence in Islamabad March 11, 2010. – Photo by Reuters.

ISLAMABAD: Afghan President Hamid Karzai assured Pakistan on Thursday of a role in his government’s plan for ‘reconciliation and reintegration’ of the Taliban to end fighting in Afghanistan.

The president, who was on the second day of a two-day trip to Pakistan — the first after his re-election — in meetings with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and National Assembly’s standing committee on foreign affairs promised to keep Pakistan on board about any political engagement with the Taliban.

In his talks with his interlocutors, Mr Karzai acknowledged that Pakistan had a critical role in dialogue with the Taliban, who largely came from Pakhtun tribes straddling the borders of the two countries.

“Without a collaborative effort, it would be difficult to achieve peace and stability in the two countries,” he was quoted by a source as having told Mr Gilani.

Mr Karzai’s categorical assurance was viewed as very significant by Pakistan’s foreign policy strategists, who were earlier wary of an effort by the Afghan government to sidetrack it in political settlement with the militants.

The agreement on keeping Pakistan engaged while reaching out to the Taliban in Afghanistan, because of its importance, overshadowed the signing of a bilateral agreement on boosting bilateral economic ties and people-to-people contacts.

The Afghan president sent out positive messages aimed at assuaging Pakistan’s strategic concerns. The concerns are believed to have been behind the trust deficit that kept the two countries feuding for years and could yet undermine the new peace process for reconciling with the Taliban.

Pakistan reciprocated the conciliatory gestures.

The two countries had on Wednesday agreed to revive the bilateral jirga peace process involving eminent tribal leaders from both the countries for evolving a consensus on how Pakistan and Afghanistan could cooperate in talks with the Taliban.

Balancing act

At his joint press conference with Prime Minister Gilani, the Afghan president attempted to strike a balance in his country’s relations with India and Pakistan.

While he acknowledged India’s contribution to development of Afghanistan and termed it a ‘friend’, he called Pakistan a ‘conjoined twin’.

“India is a close friend of Afghanistan but Pakistan is a brother of Afghanistan. Pakistan is a twin brother. We are conjoined twins, there’s no separation,” he said.

Suspicions in Islamabad over India’s growing influence in Afghanistan and the alleged use of Afghan territory to destabilise Pakistan has been one of the major causes of differences between the two neighbours (Afghanistan and Pakistan).

The intensifying competition between Pakistan and India for influence in Afghanistan has complicated US efforts to quell militancy.

In a clear message for all competing regional and global powers, Mr Karzai said: “Afghanistan does not want any proxy wars on its territory. It does not want a proxy war between India and Pakistan on Afghanistan. It does not want a proxy war between Iran and the United States on Afghanistan.”

Mr Karzai, sources said, in his meetings with the civil and military leadership assured that Pakistan’s concerns vis-à-vis India would be addressed.

Discussions on extradition of senior Taliban commander Mullah Baradar remained inconclusive. Prime Minister Gilani told the press conference the extradition had been held up because of a court ruling. “We have our own judiciary and they are quite active. We are consulting legal experts before responding to Afghan request.”

Joint declaration

Foreign ministers of the two countries signed a document for boosting trade and economic ties; collaboration in energy projects; strengthening communication links; and promoting people-to-people contacts.

The joint declaration, ‘Next Steps in Afghanistan-Pakistan Comprehensive Cooperation’, sketches out plans for enhancing cooperation in education and agriculture sectors.

The declaration said the two countries would take steps to increase bilateral trade to $5 billion by 2015.

AP adds:

Critics have accused Islamabad of protecting Taliban leaders to maintain good relations with the group in anticipation of Western forces eventually withdrawing from the country – an allegation denied by Pakistan.

Some analysts have speculated the country was trying to guarantee itself a seat at the negotiating table.

“The Afghans see this as an undermining of their (peace) initiative,” said Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani expert on the Taliban.

Despite long-standing tension between the two countries, Kabul knows that Islamabad remains a powerful regional player and its long-time links to the Taliban could make it an indispensable part of talks.

“The Afghans are not in a position to take on Pakistan,” said Mr Rashid. Mr Karzai plans to hold a peace conference in Afghanistan next month and hopes to rope in the Taliban. He said on Thursday he was dedicated to pursuing the process despite lukewarm enthusiasm from the US, which remains suspicious of talks with top Taliban leaders and prefers reaching out to disaffected Taliban fighters.

“Our allies are not talking the same language from time to time,” Mr Karzai acknowledged.

He said his government has had contacts within the Taliban leadership “as high as you wish to go”. He would not say if that included Taliban leader Mullah Omar, but reiterated his willingness to talk to him.

India to act decisively if another attack happens: Chidambaram

India to act decisively if another attack happens: Chidambaram

NEW DELHI: India will act “swiftly and decisively” if another terrorist attack emanates from Pakistani soil, Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram said on Friday, urging Pakistan to “reinvent itself” as a genuine democracy and a responsible neighbour.

“If we are able to establish with a reasonable degree of certainty that another attack on India emanated from Pakistani soil, we will respond swiftly and decisively,” the Indian home minister said while addressing an event.

“It suffices to say our response will be swift and decisive,” he added, in response to a a query if this also meant military action.

Referring to Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafeez Saeed, Chidambaram said, “Investigations around the world are carried out in a certain way. If Pakistan does not know how to interrogate Saeed, then they should allow my agents to go in there and do the job. I am willing to get this done.”

“If Pakistan wants to bury its head ostrich-like, then what can we say. I’d like to believe that Pakistan has stepped back from sponsoring non-state actors, but there is no proof of that yet,” Chidambaram said.

Pakistan could make a start towards convincing India of its sincerity by providing voice samples of those suspected of guiding the 26/11 terrorists from Pakistan, said Chidambaram.

But in the same breath he indicated that Pakistan had simply refused to act even though India had sent in a list of suspects.

Arguing that Pakistan had proved to be a “difficult neighbour” ever since partition and independence in 1947, Chidambaram said India’s main hope was for a political transformation in Islamabad.

“It must reinvent itself to become a truly democratic country where real power lies in democratically elected leaders’ hands,” he said.

“The two nations are nuclear powers, and war is not an option, so we must talk,” the home minister said. “At other times, we must remain vigilant.”

“We tried to make a beginning with the foreign secretary talks, but nothing came out of it, I’m afraid,” Chidambaram said. “But I am told we are still open to another round of talks between the foreign secretaries.”

Taliban Revenge Against Army Gets Underway In Lahore

The New York Times

Rahat Dar/European Pressphoto Agency

Twin Suicide Attacks Hit Military Sites in Pakistan

By WAQAR GILLANI

LAHORE, Pakistan — Dozens of people, including Pakistani soldiers, died on Friday and many were seriously injured in two suicide bomb attacks directed at army personnel patrolling a busy market place, police officials said.

Pakistani Army soldiers and security officials at the scene of a suicide bomb attack in Lahore.

Police Inspector General Tariq Saleem Dogar said at least 39 people were killed and 100 injured in the two blasts.

A Lahore police officer, Sohail Sukhera, said the city in the Pakistani heartland was “in a state of war” after the explosions — the second assault in Lahore in less than a week — which came despite what he termed tight security in the army-controlled cantonment area of the city.

The attacks came only days after a suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden truck into the main gate of a safe house in Lahore used for interrogation by the Pakistani military. The explosion killed at least 15 people, including guards, and flattened the building.

In addition, militants have struck several times in other parts ofPakistan this week, including an attack on Wednesday on the offices of World Vision, an American-based Christian aid group, in the northwest district of Mansehra, which killed six Pakistani employees. A bombing at a small, makeshift movie theater in the main northwest city of Peshawar killed four people.

The upsurge in violence follows a Pakistani crackdown on Taliban andAl Qaeda militants, including the arrest of the Taliban’s No. 2 commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. But no group immediately took responsibility for the latest attack on Friday.

Lahore is the biggest city in Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province where the bulk of the army is recruited. The attacks here this week seemed a direct challenge to the authority and effectiveness of the military, which has sought to move against militants in recent months in Pakistan’s mountainous and often lawless areas near the border with Afghanistan.

Pakistan is a key ally of the United States in Washington’s efforts to challenge the Taliban in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. A senior police officer, Supt. Muhammad Shafiq, said of Friday’s attack: “Both are suicide blasts and the target was Garrison Security Force mobile vehicles” which were “patrolling in the market at that time.” The explosion decapitated two bombers whose heads had been recovered, he said.

A witness, Nadeem Attari, whose clothes were drenched with blood, said he was attending Friday prayers in a nearby mosque when he heard the blast. “ I left the prayers and rushed outside,” he said. “Suddenly, there was another blast near an army vehicle.”

“I ran away,” he said.

Another witness, Nadeem Ahmed, who works at an automobile repair shop in the market area, said there were two blasts and the air filled with smoke.

The bombs went off in a market called R.A. Bazaar, a busy public area under army jurisdiction connecting the city with the airport and a military residential area.

The Pakistan Army sent reinforcements to the area and cordoned it off, barring reporters from entering. Army helicopters hovered overhead and the injured were transported to an army hospital.

Said Ashraf Chaudhry, 25, who lives a few hundred yards from the blast site, said he went to the rooftop of his house after he heard the explosions. “Ambulances sirens blared from all directions and an army helicopter was circling over the area,” he said. Mr. Chaudhry said the R.A Bazaar neighborhood includes several madrassas, or religious schools, which have been under pressure by the military.

He said the blasts happened near a crowded bus stop at the edge of the market. “On one side of the road, there are nice houses and the area is quite nice. And on the other side is R.A Bazaar,” he said.

Salman Masood contributed reporting from Islamabad, Pakistan.

Netanyahu Can Be Embarrassed, But Never Ashamed of Israeli Ethnic Cleansing

Israel moves to change law after Biden “mishap”

By MATTI FRIEDMAN (AP) – 32 minutes ago

JERUSALEM — Israel is moving to amend the country’s planning procedures on sensitive political decisions following an embarrassing diplomatic flap during a visit this week by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, a Cabinet minister said Friday.

The change endorsed by a parliamentary legislation committee Thursday will require a representative of the prime minister to be present when development plans are approved. The change aims to ensure the country’s leader is not caught off guard by politically charged decisions, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was by the approval of 1,600 new homes for Jews in east Jerusalem during Biden’s visit.

Both Biden and the Palestinians sharply condemned the Israeli settlement decision.

Netanyahu apologized for the timing, though not the substance, of the announcement.

Biden’s trip this week, aimed at renewing Mideast peace efforts as well as repairing Israel-U.S. ties strained precisely by disagreements over Israeli settlement construction, was overshadowed by the Israeli move.

Netanyahu said he was not aware of the decision — announced by Israel’s Interior Ministry — before it was made public, and released a statement saying he had reprimanded the Cabinet minister responsible. There has been no indication he took further action against those involved.

The proposed amendment to planning procedures was initiated by the country’s welfare minister, Isaac Herzog of the centrist Labor Party. “This initiative is necessary to prevent similar mishaps in the future,” Herzog said in a statement released by his office Friday.

The amendment must still be approved by parliament.

Israel’s announcement of more east Jerusalem construction angered Palestinians, who had agreed only days earlier to begin indirect peace talks with Netanyahu’s government, dropping an earlier demand for a full settlement freeze before talks begin. Netanyahu has agreed only to a limited slowdown that does not include east Jerusalem, which Israel sees as part of its capital.

The international community does not recognize Israel’s annexation of east Jerusalem — captured in the 1967 Mideast war — and the Palestinians see that part of the city as their own future capital.

Jerusalem has been particularly tense in recent weeks. Palestinians have clashed with police after Friday prayers to protest Israel’s inclusion of two West Bank shrines on a list of national heritage sites. The move’s practical implications are not clear, but the Palestinians see it as a provocation.

Seeking to head off further unrest, police limited access to the city’s holiest site Friday, and Israel’s military sealed off the West Bank for 48 hours, preventing Palestinians from entering Israel.

Police allowed only men over 50 to pray Friday at the shrine at the center of the disturbances — the Jerusalem compound Jews call the Temple Mount and Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary. There were no limitations on women.

Only 4,000 Muslim worshippers prayed at the compound Friday, perhaps a tenth of the usual number, said Azzam Khatib, head of the Islamic clerical body in charge of administering the compound. He called the Israeli restrictions “unacceptable.”

The military said the closure would end at midnight Saturday.

In Gaza, ruled by the Islamic militants of Hamas, Israeli aircraft struck twice early Friday, retaliating for rocket fire into Israel on Thursday. No one was hurt in any of the incidents.

India signs weapons deals worth $4bn with Russia

India signs weapons deals worth $4bn with Russia

RAHUL BEDI in New Delhi

THE INDIAN government has approved a clutch of agreements with Russia for military hardware estimated at more than US$4 billion (€2.9 billion) ahead of prime minister Vladimir Putin’s day-long visit to New Delhi today, spawning a possible arms race in a highly volatile region.

The cabinet committee on security (CCS) headed by prime minister Manmohan Singh confirmed the long negotiated and highly contentious $2.34 billion deal to refurbish Admiral Gorshkov, the 44,500-tonne second-hand aircraft carrier which the Indian navy acquired in 2004 for the price of its refit.

Russia had originally agreed to retrofit the 23-year-old decrepit carrier crippled by a fire in 1994 for $975 million, but the eventual cost of resurrecting it had almost tripled, resulting in bitter acrimony with Moscow, the largest supplier of assorted weaponry to India for more than four decades.

The carrier is now likely to be delivered in 2013, almost four years behind schedule, because of the price wrangle.

The CCS also agreed the $1.2 billion purchase of 29 additional MiG 29K maritime fighters that would form part of the air arm of an aircraft carrier under local construction at Kochi in southern India.

Military officials said India would also sign an agreement to acquire 40 additional Su-30MKI multi-role fighters to augment depleting force levels in the airforce, as Soviet-era MiG variant combat aircraft were retired. By 2017 the Indian airforce plans on operating some 280 Su 30MKIs, of which some 150 were being constructed locally under licence.

Mr Putin’s visit will also set the stage for the induction of the Nerpa Akula-II nuclear-powered submarine into the Indian navy later this year under a 10-year lease for an estimated $700 million. India would then become the world’s sixth nation, after the five nuclear-weapon states of Britain, China, France, Russia and the US, to operate a nuclear-powered submarine.

The Russian prime minister is also expected to sign agreements on the joint development of a fifth generation stealth fighter and a multi-role military transport aircraft, costs for which will be shared equally between Moscow and Delhi.

India and Russia have agreed to extend their strategic and military partnership by another decade to 2020. This includes the supply of material and maintenance contracts worth some $10 billion to Moscow, which remains India’s largest material supplier. Mr Singh, meanwhile, is also likely to ask Mr Putin for access to nuclear reprocessing technology for civilian use.

Russia is currently constructing two 1,000MW light water plants in India’s southern Tamil Nadu state, with four more proposed, but that number is likely to increase exponentially.

In December 2009 Russia signed an agreement with India to expand civil nuclear co-operation that was free from all restrictions, guaranteeing against any future curbs or events.

Rachel Corrie, The New Fourth Estate and Israeli Justice

Rachel Corrie, The New Fourth Estate and Israeli Justice

eileen fleming

On 10 March 2010, in Haifa, northern Israel, the family of Rachel Corrie, brought a civil suit against the Israeli defense ministry and is seeking accountability for Rachel’s death under the wheels of a US Made Caterpillar D9R Bulldozer driven by Israeli troops as Rachel stood up in defense of the home of a pharmacist with five children in Gaza seven years and four days before George W. Bush ordered the bombing of Baghdad.

Although USA Journalists were embedded with the Industrial Military Media Complex in Iraq, Rachel, an altruistic young American and perhaps the first of the New Fourth Estate, had been writing her heart out in Rafah. Rachel should be credited as the founder of The New Fourth Estate: citizen reporters who leave their comfort zones to go-seek-report to the best of their abilities and who are motivated by the pursuit of justice and a passion for the truth.

Four eye witnesses – three Britons and an American – who were on the scene when Rachel was run down and over twice will testify in Haifa. All are members of the International Solidarity Movement, “a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land using nonviolent, direct-action methods and principles.”
The Israeli government initially blocked the activists from entering Israel three weeks ago, but Britain and the US exerted strong pressure, and they were allowed entry for the hearing.

Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister at the time of Corrie’s death, promised a “thorough, credible and transparent investigation” would be conducted.

An internal military inquiry cleared the two soldiers operating the bulldozer was even criticized by US officials.

Human Rights Watch noted it “fell far short of the transparency, impartiality and thoroughness required by international law”.

The army report said Rachel Corrie “was struck as she stood behind a mound of earth that was created by an engineering vehicle operating in the area and she was hidden from the view of the vehicle’s operator who continued with his work. Corrie was struck by dirt and a slab of concrete resulting in her death.”

Tom Dale, a British activist who was 10m away when Corrie was killed, wrote an account of the incident two days later. He described how she first knelt in the path of an approaching bulldozer and then stood as it reached her. She climbed on a mound of earth and the crowd nearby shouted at the bulldozer to stop. He said the bulldozer pushed her down and drove over her.

“They pushed Rachel, first beneath the scoop, then beneath the blade, then continued till her body was beneath the cockpit. They waited over her for a few seconds, before reversing. They reversed with the blade pressed down, so it scraped over her body a second time. Every second I believed they would stop but they never did.”
Rachel has been eulogized and demonized, celebrated and castigated. Her words and witness speak for themselves and what follows are but a few excerpts from her emails written while in the homes of strangers who became friends and family in Rafah.

In January 2003, upon leaving Olympia, Washington,  Rachel wrote:

We are all born and someday we’ll all die…to some degree alone. What if our aloneness isn’t a tragedy?  What if our aloneness is what allows us to speak the truth without being afraid? What if our aloneness is what allows us to adventure – to experience the world as a dynamic presence – as a changeable, interactive thing?

On February 7 2003, Rachel wrote:

No amount of reading, attendance at conferences, documentary viewing and word of mouth could have prepared me for the reality of the situation here. You just can’t imagine it unless you see it – and even then you are always well aware that your experience of it is not at all the reality…Nobody in my family has been shot, driving in their car, by a rocket launcher from a tower at the end of a major street in my hometown…When I leave for school or work I can be relatively certain that there will not be a heavily armed soldier waiting…at a checkpoint with the power to decide whether I can go about my business, and whether I can get home again when I’m done…I am in Rafah: a city of about 140,000 people, approximately 60% of whom are refugees – many of whom are twice or three times refugees. Today, as I walked on top of the rubble where homes once stood, Egyptian soldiers called to me from the other side of the border, ‘Go! Go!’ because a tank was coming. And then waving and [asking] ‘What’s your name?’

Something disturbing about this friendly curiosity.

It reminded me of how much, to some degree, we are all kids curious about other kids. Egyptian kids shouting at strange women wandering into the path of tanks. Palestinian kids shot from the tanks when they peak out from behind walls to see what’s going on. International kids standing in front of tanks with banners. Israeli kids in the tanks anonymously – occasionally shouting and also occasionally waving – many forced to be here, many just aggressive – shooting into the houses as we wander away…There is a great deal of concern here about the “reoccupation of Gaza”. Gaza is reoccupied every day to various extents but I think the fear is that the tanks will enter all the streets and remain here instead of entering some of the streets and then withdrawing after some hours or days to observe and shoot from the edges of the communities. If people aren’t already thinking about the consequences of this war for the people of the entire region then I hope you will start….

Currently, the Israeli army is building a fourteen-meter-high wall between Rafah in Palestine and the border, carving a no-mans land from the houses along the border. Six hundred and two homes have been completely bulldozed according to the Rafah Popular Refugee Committee. The number of homes that have been partially destroyed is greater. Rafah existed prior to 1948, but most of the people here are themselves or are descendants of people who were relocated here from their homes in historic Palestine—now Israel. Rafah was split in half when the Sinai returned to Egypt.

In addition to the constant presence of tanks along the border and in the western region between Rafah and settlements along the coast, there are more IDF towers here than I can count—along the horizon, at the end of streets. Some just army green metal. Others these strange spiral staircases draped in some kind of netting to make the activity within anonymous. Some hidden, just beneath the horizon of buildings. A new one went up the other day in the time it took us to do laundry and to cross town twice to hang banners.

Despite the fact that some of the areas nearest the border are the original Rafah with families who have lived on this land for at least a century, only the 1948 camps in the center of the city are Palestinian controlled areas under Oslo.

But as far as I can tell, there are few if any places that are not within the sights of some tower or another. Certainly there is no place invulnerable to Apache helicopters or to the cameras of invisible drones we hear buzzing over the city for hours at a time.

…According to the municipal water office the wells destroyed last week provided half of Rafah’s water supply. Many of the communities have requested internationals to be present at night to attempt to shield houses from further demolition. After about ten p.m. it is very difficult to move at night because the Israeli army treats anyone in the streets as resistance and shoots at them. So clearly we are too few.

Many people want their voices to be heard, and I think we need to use some of our privilege as internationals to get those voices heard directly in the US, rather than through the filter of well-meaning internationals such as myself. I am just beginning to learn, from what I expect to be a very intense tutelage, about the ability of people to organize against all odds, and to resist against all odds.

People here watch the media, and they told me again today that there have been large protests in the United States and “problems for the government” in the UK. So thanks for allowing me to not feel like a complete Polyanna when I tentatively tell people here that many people in the United States do not support the policies of our government, and that we are learning from global examples how to resist.

February 20 2003:

Now the Israeli army has actually dug up the road to Gaza, and both of the major checkpoints are closed. This means that Palestinians who want to go and register for their next quarter at university can’t. People can’t get to their jobs and those who are trapped on the other side can’t get home; and internationals, who have a meeting tomorrow in the West Bank, won’t make it. We could probably make it through if we made serious use of our international white person privilege, but that would also mean some risk of arrest and deportation, even though none of us has done anything illegal.

The Gaza Strip is divided in thirds now. There is some talk about the “reoccupation of Gaza”, but I seriously doubt this will happen, because I think it would be a geopolitically stupid move for Israel right now. I think the more likely thing is an increase in smaller below-the-international-outcry-radar incursions and possibly the oft-hinted “population transfer”.

…A move to reoccupy Gaza would generate a much larger outcry than Sharon’s assassination-during-peace-negotiations/land grab strategy, which is working very well now to create settlements all over, slowly but surely eliminating any meaningful possibility for Palestinian self-determination. Know that I have a lot of very nice Palestinians looking after me…

February 27 2003:

…I have bad nightmares about tanks and bulldozers outside our house…Sometimes the adrenaline acts as an anesthetic for weeks and then in the evening or at night it just hits me again – a little bit of the reality of the situation. I am really scared for the people here. Yesterday, I watched a father lead his two tiny children, holding his hands, out into the sight of tanks and a sniper tower and bulldozers and Jeeps because he thought his house was going to be exploded. Jenny and I stayed in the house with several women and two small babies. It was our mistake in translation that caused him to think it was his house that was being exploded. In fact, the Israeli army was in the process of detonating an explosive in the ground nearby – one that appears to have been planted by Palestinian resistance.

This is in the area where Sunday about 150 men were rounded up and contained outside the settlement with gunfire over their heads and around them, while tanks and bulldozers destroyed 25 greenhouses – the livelihoods for 300 people. The explosive was right in front of the greenhouses – right in the point of entry for tanks that might come back again. I was terrified to think that this man felt it was less of a risk to walk out in view of the tanks with his kids than to stay in his house. I was really scared that they were all going to be shot and I tried to stand between them and the tank. This happens every day, but just this father walking out with his two little kids just looking very sad, just happened to get my attention more at this particular moment, probably because I felt it was our translation problems that made him leave.

I thought a lot about what you said on the phone about Palestinian violence not helping the situation. Sixty thousand workers from Rafah worked in Israel two years ago. Now only 600 can go to Israel for jobs. Of these 600, many have moved, because the three checkpoints between here and Ashkelon (the closest city in Israel) make what used to be a 40-minute drive, now a 12-hour or impassible journey. In addition, what Rafah identified in 1999 as sources of economic growth are all completely destroyed – the Gaza international airport (runways demolished, totally closed); the border for trade with Egypt (now with a giant Israeli sniper tower in the middle of the crossing); access to the ocean (completely cut off in the last two years by a checkpoint and the Gush Katif settlement). The count of homes destroyed in Rafah since the beginning of this intifada is up around 600, by and large people with no connection to the resistance but who happen to live along the border……about non-violent resistance.

When that explosive detonated yesterday it broke all the windows in the family’s house. I was in the process of being served tea and playing with the two small babies. I’m having a hard time right now. Just feel sick to my stomach a lot from being doted on all the time, very sweetly, by people who are facing doom. I know that from the United States, it all sounds like hyperbole. Honestly, a lot of the time the sheer kindness of the people here, coupled with the overwhelming evidence of the willful destruction of their lives, makes it seem unreal to me. I really can’t believe that something like this can happen in the world without a bigger outcry about it.

It really hurts me, again, like it has hurt me in the past, to witness how awful we can allow the world to be…you actually do go and do your own research. But it makes me worry about the job I’m doing. All of the situation that I tried to enumerate above – and a lot of other things – constitutes a somewhat gradual – often hidden, but nevertheless massive – removal and destruction of the ability of a particular group of people to survive. This is what I am seeing here. The assassinations, rocket attacks and shooting of children are atrocities – but in focusing on them I’m terrified of missing their context.

The vast majority of people here – even if they had the economic means to escape, even if they actually wanted to give up resisting on their land and just leave (which appears to be maybe the less nefarious of Sharon’s possible goals), can’t leave…they can’t even get into Israel to apply for visas, and because their destination countries won’t let them in (both our country and Arab countries).
…when all means of survival is cut off in a pen (Gaza) which people can’t get out of, I think that qualifies as genocide. Even if they could get out, I think it would still qualify as genocide. Maybe you could look up the definition of genocide according to international law…

When I come back from Palestine, I probably will have nightmares and constantly feel guilty for not being here, but I can channel that into more work. Coming here is one of the better things I’ve ever done. So when I sound crazy, or if the Israeli military should break with their racist tendency not to injure white people, please pin the reason squarely on the fact that I am in the midst of a genocide which I am also indirectly supporting, and for which my government is largely responsible.

February 28 2003:

…I spent a lot of time writing about the disappointment of discovering, somewhat first-hand, the degree of evil of which we are still capable. I should at least mention that I am also discovering a degree of strength and of basic ability for humans to remain human in the direst of circumstances – which I also haven’t seen before. I think the word is dignity. I wish you could meet these people. Maybe, hopefully, someday you will.

February 28 2003:

I think I could see a Palestinian state or a democratic Israeli-Palestinian state within my lifetime. I think freedom for Palestine could be an incredible source of hope to people struggling all over the world. I think it could also be an incredible inspiration to Arab people in the Middle East, who are struggling under undemocratic regimes which the US supports.

I look forward to increasing numbers of middle-class privileged people like you and me becoming aware of the structures that support our privilege and beginning to support the work of those who aren’t privileged to dismantle those structures.

I look forward to more moments like February 15 when civil society wakes up en masse and issues massive and resonant evidence of it’s conscience, it’s unwillingness to be repressed, and it’s compassion for the suffering of others.

I look forward to more teachers emerging like Matt Grant and Barbara Weaver and Dale Knuth who teach critical thinking to kids in the United States.

I look forward to the international resistance that’s occurring now fertilizing analysis on all kinds of issues, with dialogue between diverse groups of people.

I look forward to all of us who are new at this developing better skills for working in democratic structures and healing our own racism and classism and sexism and heterosexism and ageism and ableism and becoming more effective.

In fifth grade, at the age of ten, Rachel Corrie wrote her heart out and stated it at a Press Conference on World Hunger in 1990:
I’m here for other children.
I’m here because I care.
I’m here because children everywhere are suffering and because forty thousand people die each day from hunger.
I’m here because those people are mostly children.
We have got to understand that the poor are all around us and we are ignoring them.
We have got to understand that these deaths are preventable.
We have got to understand that people in third world countries think and care and smile and cry just like us.
We have got to understand that they dream our dreams and we dream theirs.
We have got to understand that they are us. We are them.
My dream is to stop hunger by the year 2000.
My dream is to give the poor a chance.
My dream is to save the 40,000 people who die each day.
My dream can and will come true if we all look into the future and see the light that shines there.
If we ignore hunger, that light will go out.
If we all help and work together, it will grow and burn free with the potential of tomorrow.

1.

http://rachelcorriefoundation.org/site/about-rachel-corrie/rachels-emails-from-palestine/


Learn more about March 16th Remembering Rachel Corrie Day and sign up for reports on the Corrie’s struggle for justice in Israel @

http://rachelcorriefoundation.org/

Eileen Fleming,
Founder of WeAreWideAwake.org