Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
June 30, 2001 | Hanley, Delinda
Surrounded by a photographic exhibition detailing the new Israeli prime minister’s history of massacres and violence, American Muslim leaders expressed their anger at Ariel Sharon’s warm reception in Washington at a March 19 press conference at the National Press Club, Representatives of American Muslims for Jerusalem (AMJ), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim American Society (MAS) accused the United States of using double standards as it welcomed Sharon to Washington instead of demanding his trial for war crimes as it did to former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic
“It is a sad day in American history when a war criminal like Ariel Sharon can come to the United States and be treated like dignitaries and heads of state,” AMJ executive director Khalid Turaani told journalists. “We call on this administration to take a closer look at this man’s history of war crimes.”
Dr. Souheil Ghannouchi said that as a young military officer, Sharon led Unit 101, an Israeli elite commando force which carried out brutal raids against Palestinians. The most notorious of these was the Oct. 14, 1953 massacre in the West Bank village of Qibbiya. According to Israeli historian Avi Shlaim, Sharon’s unit blew up 45 homes in the village, killing 69 civilians, two-thirds of them women and children.
When Sharon was defense minister in 1982, he directly ordered the bombardment of residential neighborhoods of Beirut, Sidon and other cities in Lebanon during the Israeli invasion, killing thousands of Lebanese and Palestinian civilians. He also ordered the siege of West Beirut, deliberately depriving civilian residents of food, water, safe passage and access to medical care. He and other Israeli officers and officials were responsible for arming, training and protecting the perpetrators of the massacres of Palestinian and Lebanese refugees in Sabra and Shatila camps in September 1982, including providing protection and illumination so that the butchers could carry out their work more easily.
Nihad Awad also noted that, after being prime minister for less than a month, Sharon had already ordered measures which further violate the Fourth Geneva Convention–including blockades which have reduced the Palestinian civilian population in the occupied territories to extreme poverty, and in some areas near starvation, and resulted in deaths due to deliberate deprivation of access to medical care.
Sharon has appointed to his government at least one minister who openly espouses such crimes against humanity as forcing the entire Palestinian population of the occupied territories and other areas to leave. Dr. Ghannouchi pointed out that the recent violence, in which at least 347 Palestinians, 66 Israelis and 13 Israeli Arabs have been killed, started after Sharon’s September visit to a site revered by Arabs and Jews.
In addition to expressing their anger at Sharon’s reception in Washington, AMJ, CAIR and MAS joined the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the American Muslim Alliance, the Islamic Society of North America, Islamic Circle of North America and Muslim Students’ Association of the United States and Canada in publishing a full page advertisement in the March 19 Washington Times. The ad called on U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to set up a war crimes tribunal for Israel similar to those established to deal with crimes against humanity in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
Article Courtesy: wrmea.com