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A Letter to Colin Powell

by Ali Abunimah

Dear Secretary Powell,

Even as the people of Bethlehem and Beit Jala mourn their freshly buried mothers, fathers and children killed by the Israeli occupation forces in vengeance for the targeted killing two weeks ago of Israeli cabinet minister and ethnic cleansing booster Rehva’am Zeevi, and even as they take stock of the massive damage done to their towns by the just departed Israeli occupation troops, dawn broke in Palestine today only to cast light on fresh horrors.

This morning the occupation troops not content to be idle for a moment without actively terrorizing someone, demolished at least four Palestinian houses in the neighborhoods Shu’afat and Beit Hanina in occupied Jerusalem.

At least twenty more people were rendered homeless in this latest Israeli attack on Jerusalem and its residents. Among the houses demolished was that of Hussein Kiswani a 320-square-metre building, which he said had cost him two years and 90,000 dollars to build.

According to human rights organizations, the occupation forces have deliberately destroyed more than 8,000 houses in the occupied territories since 1967 rendering tens of thousands homeless. Over the past year they have destroyed hundreds more and damaged thousands.

Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which Israel is bound by international law to obey, states that “Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.”

As you no doubt recall, the UN Security Council voted on October 7, 2000 (Resolution 1322) to reaffirm that Israel, “the Occupying Power” is bound by this Convention.

Mr. Secretary, since it is evident that Israel could not continue to maintain its occupation and to carry out this aggression without massive material and moral support from the United States, you bear some direct responsibility for forcing Israel to stop these aggressions. The United States should also stop blocking all efforts at the United Nations to provide international protection in the occupied territories which the Palestinian people so clearly need from their belligerent and unrelenting occupier.

What we do not need is merely another statement from your spokesman about how awful, unhelpful, provocative, unacceptable, not conducive to creating an atmosphere for the parties to….etc., the latest Israeli actions are. What we do need is for you to attach a real price to Israel’s continued malfeasance. Since Israel clearly does not care what you say, you should be prepared to find out if it cares what you do.


Ali Abunimah


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