Newsletter : 6fax0325.txt
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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
March 25, 1996 V4, #55
All the News the Big Guys Missed
Egyptian Newspaper Says Peres Should Resign
By Laurie Kassman (VOA-Cairo)
Egypt's Foreign Ministry is calling on Israel to lift its closure
of the Palestinian self-rule areas. Egypt is complaining about
the impact the closures are having on the Palestinian economy.
The Foreign Ministry statement says it is following with deep
concern what it calls repressive Israeli practices against the
Palestinian people and has complained about collective punishment
of Palestinians, which is against international law.
Foreign Minister Amr Moussa says Israel's security concerns were
not enough reason to seal off the Palestinian areas. Fear that
some violent elements might filter through, Moussa says, is
different from the issue of starving a population. Moussa also
called on Israel to complete its military pullout from the West
Bank town of Hebron on schedule.
A state newspaper in Egypt Sunday did not mince words. It called
on Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres to resign because "he had
betrayed his image as a peacemaker." Al Gomhuria listed the recent
closures, destruction of Arab homes and new threats of deportation
of militants suspected of links to terrorism.
The newspaper also accused the prime minister of sparking the
latest wave of violence when his security forces killed the Hamas
bomber Hayha Ayyash three months ago. The latest suicide bombings,
which killed more than 60 people in Israel, were claimed by Hamas
in part to avenge the Ayyash murder.
Gaza Closure: Part Two
By Al Pessin (VOA-Gaza)
Israel's closure of the Palestinian territories, imposed one month
ago today because of the wave of suicide bombings by Palestinian
militants, has had a serious economic impact. But it has also
had a psychological impact which many people believe could affect
support for the peace process.
The Gaza Strip is fewer than 30 miles long, and six- to nine-miles
wide. About 1 million people live here. For the past month, none
of them has been able to leave. Only the bare minimum of basic
supplies, such as flour, cooking oil, and medicine have gotten in.
And no exports have gotten out.
The spokesman for the United Nations Relief Agency in Gaza, Ron
Wilkinson, says the closure has severely deepened a feeling of
claustrophobia, which he says exists anyway in Gaza.
"It's desperate on many levels. Psychologically, it's desperate.
Just this idea that nobody can get out. So you get this feeling of
really total closure. There have been closures before that have
been tight, but this one is really beyond belief."
And Wilkinson says the effect is magnified because the closure is
expected to be a long one -- leading, he says, almost to panic
among some people.
He reports that thousands of people have flooded UN food
distribution centers, which are intended to serve only the poorest
people in Gaza. And he says the food is running out because the
closure has stranded containers full of Gaza-bound UN food and
medical supplies at an Israeli port.
Palestinian human rights activist Raji Sourani says the closure
is affecting virtually everyone in Gaza in very personal ways.
"What is the most important for a student, his academic career, or
not? For a sick person, what is the most important thing? How he
can get medication. For somebody who is a believer, the most
important is how he can get to the Church of the Nativity or
Al-Aksa in Jerusalem. For a businessman, what's the most important
thing? To do his business. For a worker, what's the most important
thing? He needs to go to his work, earn some money. All these
people, which is, this is the community, nothing is working. This
is the most important thing."
Israel justifies the closure on security grounds. But Palestinians
say documented workers and truckloads of Gaza vegetables are no
threat to Israel. Israeli government spokesman Uri Dromi
"We have seen in the past that there is a very close and salient
linkage between closure and a drastic reduction in terrorist
activities. And unfortunately, we have to suspect each and every
Palestinian because past experience, and bitter experience, shows
us that we can not be trustful of anyone. Then the best thing to do
is just seal off the territories and keep them away."
Dromi says Israel understands the dangers of a prolonged closure.
But he says even if 99 percent of Palestinians want peace, the
remaining 1 percent who carry out or support violence force Israel
to take drastic action.
"We don't aim to punish anybody. On the contrary, we are going out
of our way to find ways and means to alleviate and ameliorate the
living conditions of Palestinians in terms of food, medicine and
other humanitarian issues. The last thing we want to see is the
Palestinians being affected in such a negative way."
Women Begin Pilot Training
Ten female IDF soldiers will begin the air force's pilot training
course shortly. Some of the candidates are officers, and others
work as instructors at combat jet fight simulators. The female
soldiers were accepted into the training course following Alice
Miller's successful appeal to the High Court of Justice challenging
the former Air Force practice of not considering female candidates.
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