16 September 2004 Edition

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West Belfast to boycott Israeli goods: 22nd anniversary of Sabra and Chatila massacres

Local community groups in West Belfast have rallied to a call from the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign to support the boycott of Israeli goods, currently on sale in local supermarkets. According to local IPSC activist, Féilim Ó hAdhmaill, a range of community groups- among them Falls Women's Centre and Falls Community Council have responded positively to the call to support the boycott campaign. They are also calling on the managements of local supermarkets to introduce an ethical purchasing policy which will include a decision not to stock goods produced in Israel.

The International Court of Justice at The Hague recently ruled that Israel is breaking International Law by continuing to build its 'Apartheid Wall' on confiscated Palestinian land. This was followed by the UN General Assembly resolution supported by all EU states, including Ireland, calling on Israel to dismantle the Wall. Both of these have been met yet again with defiance from an arrogant Israeli government already in breach of more than a hundred UN General Assembly resolutions and at least 30 UN Security Council resolutions.

The Sharon Government continues to kill Palestinians, 3000 in the past four years, including 500 children. Yet most of these deaths go unreported in the Western media. Say Feidhlim O hAdhmaill:

"This week was the anniversary of the massacre at the Twin Towers in New York. Yet how many people in the West remember that it also is the anniversary of the massacres of a similar number of Palestinians in the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps in Lebanon in 1982? There were no calls from the West, then, for 'regime change' in Israel, or for the arrest and trial of Ariel Sharon, the man many regarded as complicit in the massacres. Now the same man is feted (and subsidised to the tune of several billion dollars a year) by the US government as its greatest ally in the Middle East.

"We in the Ireland, with our own particularly strong links with the USA have a responsibility to ensure that Palestinians and other colonised and oppressed peoples in the world know that what Western governments do to them is not with our compliance or in our name.

"One way to do this is by supporting the IPSC and by taking part actively in the campaign to boycott Israeli goods

"This may not greatly adversely affect the Israeli economy while the USA continues to subsidise it every year with billions of dollars. However, it will help build an international culture of indignation, as in the case of Apartheid South Africa, that Israel's treatment of the Palestinian people is unacceptable."

On 6 June 1982, the Israeli army invaded Lebanon, to "secure the northern borders of Israel" according to Ariel Sharon, then Israeli Defence Minister. By 18 June, Israel was besieging the Lebanese capital Beirut. The siege continued for over two months, during which Israel indiscriminately shelled the city leaving over 18,000 Palestinian and Lebanese civilians killed. On 1 September, in compliance with a cease fire brokered by the United States, the PLO completed its evacuation of the city, provided that a western peace keeping force would provide protection for Palestinian and Lebanese civilians.

On 15 September 1982, the Israeli army occupied West Beirut and encircled Sabra and Chatila, the two camps where thousands of Palestinian refugees had been living after being driven out from Palestine. At midday on 16 September, following a meeting with Ariel Sharon, a unit of approximately 150 Israeli-allied militia entered the camps. For the next 40 hours, hundreds of unarmed civilians, mainly women, children and elderly people were killed, raped and mutilated. The Red Cross estimated the number of dead to be around 2750 people.

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