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A Letter from Georges Vimard, priest at Gaza
 
A message from Gaza
Both are dying



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    A message
    from
    Gaza
 Carte: Israel-Palestine

When I asked Abou Salem what was the difference between the 1987 Intifada and the recent al Aqsa Intifada, he answered: "police are Palestinians, ambulances are Palestinians, and the dead are always Palestinians" "True, every day the report of the Center for Human Rights at Gaza gives a growing list of names of new casualties with their age (average 22 years old), origin (most of them from refugee camps) and the place where the bullet killed them (head and heart). 140 killed, 4000 wounded, sometime heavily wounded. The Israeli army claims the death of 12 Israeli Arabs, 9 Jewish soldiers and 2 Druzes"
Terrible, "no comment!"

 Violence  Paix pour l'avenir

The two Intifada revolts have the same origin: humiliation, because nothing is worse. The first revolt was to obtain negotiations, then the Oslo agreements were signed; the second one is originating from despair and from long lasting daily violence.
When I arrived in the country on September 1995, I could see some hope thanks to the first applications of the Oslo agreements: "Gaza and Jericho first" in May 1994 and the historical return of Arafat. It was the beginning of a Palestinian State on 2/10 of the area of historic Palestine, e.i. Cis Jordan and East Jerusalem.
Essentially, for the six last years, it appears that the Oslo agreements are inefficient in giving their rights to the Palestinians.
I was a new comer, but looking only at the events during the first months of 1996, I began to understand that the Peace process was not doing well: Itzak Rabin was assassinated, a new display of the Israeli army out side Palestinian cities, deadly terrorist attacks claimed by the Hamas group, the first legislative elections, the changes of majority in the Israeli parliament.
 
Le crie du peuple  Taba, Oslo 2, Charm-el-Cheikh and Wye Plantation summit meetings, Erez, Camp David…
all of these summits and camps brought only contempt, disregard for the word given and blackmails that progressively reduced the Oslo promise to some "humanitarian adjustments". Most of all, they eclipsed the normal ground of the negotiations, the UNO resolutions.
Who cannot see that the logic of the military occupation in the territories has never stopped? The extension of the colonies and their network of roads have isolated the Palestinian cities and villages, making their life more and more difficult.
El Aqsa Intifada is an open war against civilians with tanks and helicopters. UNO can condemn once again Israel, "It is strictly a bilateral affair between Israeli and Palestinians. And Americans!"
 
contre les civils  It was impressive to be under a bombing attack on October 12. Beyond the emotion, it was like being in a bad "Rambo" movie.  
One sees that the Oslo agreements protect the people against nothing. It is" either you give up or we run over you ". Bombing and punitive attacks were used to characterize the Iraq war, it is probably the same weapons that killed the first Iraqi and Palestinian children.
Baghdad and Gaza airports are controlled, the economy is strangled, properties are ruined. They are two peoples that are directly or indirectly abandoned by the nations.


     
   

 Both are dying

La peur 

The confrontation of today, which has extended for the first time to Galilee and the Israeli Arabs, is occurring only in the Palestinian Autonomy Territories. Seven years after the Oslo agreements, signed in the face of the world and of Washington, what are the Israeli doing in a
country which is not theirs?
Seven years after the signature of the Oslo agreements, in this very moment, an army can destroy with impunity the splendid oasis of Gaza, devastate the gardens, remove the water pipes, and pull out palm and olive trees under the motivation that "terrorists could hide there and attack them!". Fear, trees! that reminds me of the biblical story of the Genesis when humanity discovers its nudity. Even though a man would be the best armed and the strongest, God reveals to him that the other, vulnerable one, is also a man.
All the refugee camp of Chateh is full of the clamor accompanying the funeral of one of their martyr. The crowd screams, facing the one who is now silent but terribly present, with his exposed body, covered with blood and enveloped in the Palestinian flag.
I managed to hear the fascinating song of the muezzin, disappearing and then covering up again the noise of the crowd: "certainly don't believe that those who are killed in fighting on the path of God are dead: they are alive" sourat 3, 169
I still remember the taxi driver saying a moment ago after drawing on his palm hand a minuscule territory: "Palestine is dead"
Their cry will still be directed against the vetoes of UNO, their empty hands will be looking for a large lump of justice and peace
.

Georges Vimard, priest at Gaza  


Thanks to the chat space of the Partenia web site, you can react to this text, answer the following questions and discuss with Salim, Ala Nizar, Elias, Rasha… and some French speaking students of Gaza.
   

 - Religion as a refuge in a search for an identity (mostly among the young with no hope for the future). 

 -
The management of the violence (what culture of peace in Islam and Judaism?) 
 - The war in images and words (newspapers and Internet: misinformation, half-truths, counter-truths, organized propaganda….) 

Update: 22 November  2000