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A sharp rise in Israeli military escalation: Palestinians see it as a testimony to an Israeli "bankrupt policy"
Wed, February 20, 2002

This morning, about 4:00 AM, on February 20th., the Palestinian occupied territories lived through a sharp rise of military attacks from air, ground and sea. The result is unusually, a high number of a single days. 15 Palestinians killed and more than 50 injured.

As resident of Gaza were asleep, all of the sudden, powerful sounds of explosions rocked the city, especially the West Side. Israeli gunboats fired missiles at guard posts next to Arafat office compound. At the same time few rubber boats approached the beach of the Arafat office which is only about 30 meters away from the waters. The boats fired silenced bullets, immediately killing four of Arafat security guards.

On the south edge of Gaza city, one could see huge white flashes as tanks kept shelling from the Settlement of Netzarim. F16s were flying low and released a couple of missiles at the police training academy located in middle of residential area.

Moreover, Apache helicopters, this time, several of them, kept firing missiles at targets, again, on the West Side of the city. Also, gunfire was heard. That was in response to an attack by Israeli rubber boats, which fired from silenced guns. Palestinians police and guards fired back.

Sources in the ground explained that the rubber boats original mission was to step down on the ground and attack a guard post with several Palestininas posted there. However, the four Palestinians who were killed were going for a regular check on the beach. One Palestinian guard said, ・when the Israelis saw the four, they fired silence bullets and ran away. They could not come down and continue the mission.

Many believe that this operation as a retaliatory in response to a successful attack, last night on Feb. 19th. Palestinians fighters were able to attack an Israeli military post stationed outside Ramallah and killed 6 soldiers.

In Ramallah, West Bank, Israeli jets pounded the city especially near the HQ of President Arafat where the president is under siege right now.

Many local observers believe that the Palestinians have changed the tactics and strategies in the current fight ( Intifadah ). Recently, the focus is on the army and settlements present in the occupied territories. Yesterday's attack on an Israeli military post where 6 soldiers were killed is considered a testimony to such a new change of priorities. The Palestinians fighters were able to escape. Sharon and military generals held a long meeting of how to deal with the latest Palestinian daring and penetrating success.

In Israel, as several public polls show, the support for Sharon is dwindling. Many voices on the left, inculding army reservists, are calling for a way out of this 溺UD・ as one major Israeli paper called it.

Palestinians, in light of the latest quantative and sharp increase of military escalation, see the situation as a proof that Shron is running out of choices. He has applied, month after month, for a whole year, new tactics be it siege, F16s, Apaches, arrests, tank shelling, etc・ Nothing has worked.

As one Gazan resident commented when he showed an F16 missile fragment dropped in his home front yard a couple of days back, ・May be my generation will not live in peace. But for the sake of my children to live normally, in freedom and dignity with full rights and soverneghity, I can sacrifice and take in all the punishment. I can wait. With patience, victory will come.

Gaza City,
February 20th. 2002


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