At a checkpoint separating Ramallah and its surrounding villages from Jerusalem - source: World Council of Churches
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Rutland Herald, April 15, 2003

Ethnic cleansing by Israel

By Miriam Ward

More than a thousand Palestinian males, ages 15 to 55 were pulled out of bed at midnight, blindfolded, hands tied behind their backs, put on trucks, driven eight miles and dumped with orders not to return for three days. In the meantime, a total curfew was imposed on the town so the women could not go looking for their husbands and sons. This happened in Tulkarm refugee camp on April 2, 2003.

Palestinians desperately need international protection now. Ariel Sharon has used the cover of war in Iraq for Israel to intensify inhumane repression of Palestinians and to test the idea of "transfer," euphemism for mass expulsion or ethnic cleansing, of Palestinians. Palestinian NGOs, religious, political, and professional organizations and Israelis in Gush-Shalom have appealed for world protection.

An Israeli government minister has said, "Make their life (Palestinians) so bitter that they will transfer themselves willingly." Shulamit Aloni, former Knesset member, comments, "This is done on a daily basis."

Citing historical precedents, former Knesset member Uri Avnery of Gush Shalom fears most "internal transfer," i.e., deportation of Palestinian population from towns near the 1967 borders. This happened in 1967 when Moshe Dayan drove whole neighborhoods of Palestinians in Qalqiliya on foot to Nablus.

Palestinians and Israeli friends view the April 2, 2003 action in Tulkarm as a test of public and international reaction to mass expulsion of Palestinians. This time, 1500 men, three days and only eight miles away; next time more people, longer period of time, further away; after that, transfer even more people, and not let them return. So far, no great public outcry.


Miriam Ward
Burlington, Vermont


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Photo credits: Photos courtesy Ben Scribner, International Solidarity Movement