Coincidently with the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s flight to New York, where Sharon is to deliver on Thursday a speech on the Sixtieth anniversary of the United Nations establishment, other Israeli airplanes, but these military ones, were hovering over the ‘ newly freed Gaza’, patrolling the Palestinian airspace despite the fact that Israel has already departed from such a Palestinian territory.

Patrolling the Palestinian airspace comes as Mr. Sharon will speak proudly about the withdrawal from the ‘Gazan population’, he is expected to tell world leaders that he is having a message of peace, rather than that of the war, that Palestinians know all to well over a time span of 38 years of gruesome occupation. The latest of which was, “ I came here with a message of peace, that we can live together with the Palestinians,” Sharon said on September 28, 2000, at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the occupied east Jerusalem.

The message given as of September 2000, spoke loudly with, Israeli tanks’ and warplanes’, gunshots, that have been followed by widespread scenes of flowers being thrown on graves of thousands of Palestinians in different parts of the occupied Palestinian territories including the ‘now freed Gaza Strip’.

Such rhetoric was repeated just last Wednesday in PM Sharon’s meeting with President Bush, following the latter’s speech, which praised Sharon’s ‘courageous step’ (the disengagement), as Sharon confirmed that the ‘Palestinians can exist alongside Israel’.

In the shadow of such warm words, many facts on the ground speak for themselves; the Israeli PM assured his public he would go on with the further expansion of many illegal settlements in the West Bank.

Israeli Defense Minister, Shaol Mofaz, threatened the Palestinians recently, that his army would strike heavily at any civilian populated areas from which Palestinians might carry out attacks on nearby Israeli towns.

It is also worth mentioning, that the Israeli occupation army continues its relentless attacks in the West Bank, the latest of which was on Wednesday morning as a Palestinian resident in the southern West Bank city of Hebron was killed and six others were wounded when Israeli occupation forces opened their gunfire on residents.

The controversial Apartheid Wall, that is delving deep into many West Bank cities, towns, villages and refugee camps along with parts of occupied east Jerusalem, is still sadly standing firmly in the face of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. The State of Israel however, is still continuing with the construction, in audacious contravention to the International Court of Justices’ advisory opinion, which deemed the Apartheid Wall illegal, demanding it to be halted and dismantled, as well as the Palestinians affected by it, to be compensated accordingly. Among these facts are, the Israeli occupation authorities are still in control of the Gaza Strip’s border crossings, including the Eretz (Beit Hanoun), the Karni, Kissufim and even the abandoned Rafah terminal crossing, as Israel called on Egypt to ‘control such a crossing tightly’.

Israel has thus far come to an agreement with the Palestinian National Authority on reopening the Gaza International Airport, on the Palestinian liberated soil in south-eastern Rafah, the reconstruction of the seaport, on the ‘freed beach’ of Gaza and finally, special arrangements on movement of liberated Palestinians (Gazans) from and to the occupied West Bank.

Added to all of this, the Palestinian economy has been suffering from a very deep recession, mainly in the past five years, as at least 60% of Gaza’s population live beneath the poverty line, and unemployment has risen to about 65%.

The Final question, will Sharon’s ‘message of peace’ this time bring, genuine peaceful coexistence for both Palestinians and the Israelis?

Rami Almeghari  is currently a Senior Translator at the Translation Department of the Gaza-based State Information Service(SIS) and former Editor in Chief of the SIS-based International Press Center’s English Website.

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