Israelis can’t stop playing the victim card

Sept 12, 2012

By Jim Dean

I guess you have figured out by now that I am challenging your moral standing. I don’t see that you have any. If I am missing something, please email me. I have not even gotten into yet about your special operations people who have been doing black flag operation in Iraq and Afghanistan, which include killing American troops and blaming the locals. That was nasty.Yes, I know I know I am not supposed to tell people this but you made it hard for me not to today. But you have to understand that a lot of American military and civilian Intel people have access to these classified files and they are not happy cowboys to have learned this.”

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Dear Bibi, if being denied a meeting with Obama during a campaign period is a crime against Netanyahu humanity, where does Israel’s denying all of their weapons of mass destruction stockpiles and programs rank? How far do all the rest of us have to go to the back of the bus with President Obama to make you happy?

And while we are speaking about denial, why do you continue to deny your holocaust against the Palestinian people? And we know you used Jonathan Pollard to get nuclear first strike info that you sold to the Soviets? As Shakespeare said, “Methinks you doth protest too much!”

Corporate media is once again spreading a disinformation scam worldwide. Obama is speaking at the UN on September 25th, and Netanyahu on the 28th. Although Obama is in the middle of a hard fought reelection campaign it seems the Israeli militants expect him to pay homage to the Likudite Supremacist. They want Obama to wait for Bibi to reach New York so the shoe salesman can grandstand in front of an American president and scold him like a Catholic school nun with the ruler across the knuckles.

Dear Bibi, you did that once…burned that bridge, so it is gone. Welcome now to Hillary land. She will be happy to dance with you. Everybody knows you want to make Israel’s Iran attack the central issue of the election campaign. Why don’t you look at the polling numbers? It’s at the bottom of voter concerns, even for Jews. You could easily be accused and guilty of reinforcing a negative stereotype.

You say, “The world tells Israel, ‘Wait, there’s still time.’ And I say, Wait for What? Wait until When?”

Well maybe the world will wait as long as it has for Israel to comply with UN resolutions that you Israelis have snubbed your collective noses at for decades. Who set that moral precedent?

You say, “Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have the moral right to place a red light before Israel.”

Bad move there Bibi. You have stepped into my area of expertise now in regards to who has the biggest history of aggression against its neighbors. And I have good or bad news for you. You win hands down.

The evidence is overwhelming and easy to find. It’s readily available in the American declassified intelligence, both military and state department. Allow me to start with a good warmer upper.

In March, 1948, a Joints Chiefs of Staff paper on Force Requirements for Palestine, anticipating the termination of the British Mandate, predicted that the Zionist strategy will seek to involve [the United States] in continuously widening and deepening series of operations intended to secure maximum Jewish objectives…
a) Initial sovereignty over a portion of Palestine,
b) Acceptance by the great powers of the right to unlimited immigration,
c) The extension of Jewish sovereignty over all of Palestine,
d) The expansion of Eretz Israel into Transjordan and into portions of Lebanon and Syria, and
e) The establishment of Jewish military and economic hegemony over the entire Mid East.
The JCS paper added ominously: All stages of this program are equally sacred to the fanatical concepts of Jewish leaders. The program is opening admitted by same leaders, and has been privately admitted to United States officials by responsible leaders of the presently dominant Jewish group…the Jewish Agency. …Source: Taking Sides, by Stephen Green, 1983

This all sounds like a pretty offensive plan, even a war crime under the Nuremberg Trial precedents. It inspires me to ask you now what moral right would a county like Israel have to claim any position other than a dangerous aggressor and international pariah?

Do you think that just because of your AIPAC friends over here, and your buddy Rupert Murdoch’s media operation, that you can erase the history of Israel’s crimes against humanity? Do you think such things were written in the sand to disappear with the next breeze.

No sir, we have not forgotten. In fact we learn more every year, every month, every week. We know that Golda Meir’s terrorist organization blew up the Seramis hotel. We know that Manachem Begin, Sharon and Shamir joined a too long list of Israeli prime ministers who were terrorists, and unrepentant ones I might add. The so called ‘only democracy on the Mid East’ seems to have cornered the market where having been a terrorist actually enhanced one’s political prospects.

We know from your former Prime Minister Shertok’s diaries that Sharon had a rogue IDF unit that dressed up like Arabs and attacked Jewish settlements so the army could conduct reprisal ethnic cleansing raids.

Moshe Dayan publicly revealed that you were mobilized for war in all of your major border operations hoping that a reprisal could be used to initiate seizing additional territory for ‘defensive purposes’. And you have the gall to bring up the term ‘moral right’? I have piles of this declassified stuff.

Veterans Today has its own nuclear expert here in Atlanta. His name is Clinton Bastin, an ex-Marine officer who worked for the Atomic Energy commission and later the Department of Energy for thirty years. His chemical engineering specialties were in reprocessing, nuclear weapons and proliferation. He briefed us extensively on your false claims years ago regarding Iran’s being able to produce weapons grade material and master warhead technology without blowing themselves up.

All of your past claims proved untrue. You hide your own WMD programs from international inspection. And you are on record in public internal debates for admitting that your WMD programs are for offensive purposes since your conventional military power is superior to any potential neighbor opponents. The rest of us not only can read, but we can look up your archive material, also.

I guess you have figured out by now that I am challenging your moral standing. I don’t see that you have any. If I am missing something, please email me. I have not even gotten into yet about your special operations people who have been doing black flag operation in Iraq and Afghanistan, which include killing American troops and blaming the locals. That was nasty.

Yes, I know I know I am not supposed to tell people this but you made it hard for me not to today. But you have to understand that a lot of American military and civilian Intel people have access to these classified files and they are not happy cowboys to have learned this. Some even think you should pay for these crimes, Nuremberg style, at the end of a rope…really.

But one thing I can guarantee you Bibi is we have no intention of being your victims. We are not weak, and there are more than a few of us. Yes, we know you are layered up, with a lot of human shields around you to use as cannon fodder. We actually look forward to having a meeting with you some day.

I have been test marketing the declassified material on you scoundrels for years now, mainly on retired military officers who did not know about it. It was very effective. They got very angry. How much more angry do you think they will be when the classified stuff gets released?

After all we still have this Bush doctrine thing on the books where we will go after anyone, anywhere, who aids and abets terrorism against Americans. And I don’t mind telling you buddy, you and your Lukudite gang are guilty as hell, and there is an army of folks over here just waiting to help round you folks up and balance the books out a bit.

What’s that you say? Oh yes, I know…that’s what Romney is for. He’s going to keep the cork in that bottle. And yes, that is why you hosted the fund raising deal for him over there and even flew the drug dealers, Rooskie mobsters and Chinese wheels in. That was a bad idea. You make even more enemies by being one.

And yes, Bibi, we know that this ‘Bibi gets denied his meeting’ campaign is all part of the plan. We expect such things from you. Even the interns picked up on it right away. But for the international media to all join hands so quickly to spread this charade around, just when you think that media can go no lower, it does.

I am hoping that Press TV will publish this. You see, Iran doesn’t have a history of attacking its neighbors. We don’t have a top secret JSC report on them like we do on you. They don’t have a thirty year old WMD program like you do. And they don’t have 90% of our Congress on the take.

They are not the threat Bibi. You and your militant Israeli buddies are. And if anyone is in denial about the rest of us having caught onto your scam, it’s you buddy. It’s you. Source

US gave Israel green light for Sabra, Shatila genocide

Sept 19, 2012

By Finian Cunningham

Yet not a single person has ever been prosecuted for the slaughter at Sabra and Shatila. As part of Lebanon’s civil war settlement in 1990 an amnesty was afforded to all those who had participated in this and other atrocities. Some would later clear their consciences by confessing publicly to media and tribunals to the most barbaric acts of cruelty one can imagine.”

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This week sees the 30th anniversary of the single-worst atrocity during the more than six decades of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

For three days, between 15 and 18 September, up to 3,500 men, and children were butchered in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps of West Beirut. Their mutilated, mangled bodies bulldozed into mass graves.

For three days, Lebanese Christian Phalangists under the command of intelligence chief Elie Hobeika returned over and over again to go on an orgy of systematic slaughter in the camps. The massacre would not have been possible only for the collaboration of Israel’s Defence Forces, which had months earlier invaded Lebanon and taken control of the camps.

Sabra and Shatila were populated by destitute families of Palestinians that had fled from the pogroms in 1948 carried out by Israel’s Haganah death squads. The refugee also burgeoned with Lebanese Shia displaced from the civil war in their country that erupted in 1975.

The United Nations’ General Assembly later condemned what happened at Sabra and Shatila as “an act of genocide”. A UN inquiry, headed up by Irish statesman Sean MacBride, concluded that the Israeli authorities and their forces were involved and responsible for the deaths. The then head of the IDF was Ariel Sharon who later would hold four ministerial posts before becoming Israeli Prime Minister from 2001 to 2006.

Yet not a single person has ever been prosecuted for the slaughter at Sabra and Shatila. As part of Lebanon’s civil war settlement in 1990 an amnesty was afforded to all those who had participated in this and other atrocities. Some would later clear their consciences by confessing publicly to media and tribunals to the most barbaric acts of cruelty one can imagine.

Former Phalangist commander Hobeika was due to give evidence in a Belgian court, which had claimed international jurisdiction for crimes against humanity to prosecute the case. Ahead of the hearings, Hobeika had publicly stated that he was going to testify against Aerial Sharon to implicate him in the operation of the massacre. He never made it to the courtroom. He was assassinated in a car bomb in Beirut in January 2002. At least two other former Lebanese Phalangists who were similarly due to testify were also mysteriously killed. Eventually, the Belgian court was forced to drop the under pressure from Washington. Many believe that Israeli agents carried out the assassinations to spare Sharon international ignominy.

Despite the lack of criminal convictions, there is not a shadow of doubt that Israel has blood on its hands over Sabra and Shatila. The Lebanese militia recruited to do the dirty work were assembled by the Israeli Defence Forces at Beirut International Airport days before the mayhem was unleashed. The 1,5000 or so killers were armed by the Israelis and driven in IDF vehicles to the camps. The Israeli army had surrounded the site with armed guards and checkpoints to ensure that no-one escaped when the slaughter began. Indeed, some reports at the time claimed that Israeli soldiers ordered families trying to flee from the carnage back into camps to face their certain deaths.

Overlooking Sabra and Shatila was the seven-storey Kuwaiti embassy, which had been commandeered by the Israelis. From top floors, the Israeli and Phalangist commanders would have had a clear, uninterrupted view of the unfolding sickening spectacle. Not least because the Israeli forces would fire night flares over the camps as the death squads – fuelled with cocaine and alcohol courtesy of Israel – proceeded from hovel to hovel killing the inhabitants.

One Dutch nurse working in the camps for an international aid organization said that the area was as bright as day because of the constant barrage of flares.

From their vantage point, the Israeli commanders would have witnessed the most grotesque bloodletting carried out by their Phalangist fanatics against women and children. Yet the Israeli commanders did nothing to stop the slaughter. Why should they have? It was all evidently executed according to plan. Later, the Israelis claimed that they had instructed the militias to not injure civilians and to behave with discipline. That self-defence is beneath contempt.

The respected American human rights lawyer Franklin Lamb, based in Beirut, recalled what his late wife witnessed in the hours following the aftermath of Sabra and Shatila. Janet Lee Stevens was in Beirut working as a young journalist and was one of the first internationals on the scene. Here is just an excerpt of what she witnessed:

“I saw dead women in their houses with their skirts up to their waists and their legs spread apart; dozens of young men shot after being lined up against an alley wall; children with their throats slit, a pregnant woman with her stomach chopped open, her eyes still wide open, her blackened face silently screaming in horror; countless babies and toddlers who had been stabbed or ripped apart and who had been thrown into garbage piles.”

This week, only days before the 30th anniversary of Sabra and Shatila, Israel’s current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was afforded the customary privilege of articulating his noxious views to the American people on various nationwide Sunday television channels. To be sure, Sabra and Shatila were not mentioned. No, instead Netanyahu was spilling his bile about Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions. He also called the worldwide Muslim demonstrations outside American embassies over the latest anti-Islam video “mob rule” and he compared the Iranian government to these “fanatics”. In a leap of twisted logic, Netanyahu said: “You can’t let such people have atomic bombs.”

Such is the twisted world we live in. When will the voices of Sabra and Shatila be given such prominence on Western mainstream media to explain to the world the horror and injustice that they suffered? Maybe if such voices were somehow heard and understood, the American people would stop their governments bankrolling the fanatical, criminal state of Israel that has, and continues to, instigate so much conflict in the world. Washington gives Israel a license for genocide. The American people need to stop that. Source

Lest We Forget
The Sabra and Shatila Massacre

By Robert Fisk

Robert Fisk provides eye witness report of the slaughter of hundreds of Palestinians by Lebanese Christian militias who were under the control of the Israeli military.   Source

Details Emerge of US Role in Sabra-Shatila Massacre

By Al-Akhbar

The Palestinian fighters had previously been evacuated from Lebanon in a US-coordinated effort whereby they provided assurances to protect the camp’s residents, which included both Palestinians and Lebanese.  Source

Catholics call for Israeli hate-crime crackdown

A spate of hate crimes against Christian places of worship in Israel has prompted usually reticent Roman Catholic officials to speak out, hoping that intervention by authorities might bring an end to the vandalism.

­In the early hours of September 4, vandals set fire to the door of a renowned Trappist monastery in Latrun (outside Jerusalem) and defaced it with anti-Christian graffiti, stating “Jesus is a monkey”.

In the two weeks which have elapsed since the act of desecration, no arrests have been made, despite police vows that the culprits would be brought to justice. Similar incidences of vandalism also occurred in the months preceding this attack.

The Rev. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, one of the church’s top officials in the Holy Land, expressed deep concern over the state of relations between Jews and Christians.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Pizzaballa pointed out that because the local Christian population is miniscule, they aren’t taken into consideration by “the majority”. Approximately 155,000 of Israel’s citizens are Christian, which equates to less than 2 per cent of the population.

He stated that “the main atmosphere is ignorance.”

However, he also told AP that the minority Christian population may not have invested “enough energy and initiatives” in reaching out to Israeli Jews.

The “custos” (custodians) of Catholic holy sites, including Pizzaballa, have issued a declaration, calling on leaders to act. Although he recognizes that the arson and vandalism that Christians have been victims of are not demonstrative of wider attitudes, he is firm that Israel must do more.

In February this year, a Jerusalem monastery was tagged with the phrase “death to Christians,” painted in Hebrew, as part of what is now known as the “price tag campaign”. In July, an Israeli lawmaker ripped the New Testament out of a Bible and threw it into the garbage, later claiming that “millions of Jews were murdered in the name of the New Testament,” and calling the book “revolting.”

Shortly after the September attack, a statement signed by the Latin Patriarch for Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, and Giorgio Lingua, Apostolic Nuncio for Jordan, the Assembly of Catholics Ordinaries of the Holy Land asked, “what kind of ‘teaching of contempt’ for Christians is being communicated in their schools and in their homes?”

Pizzaballa echoed their concerns, asking AP, “What is going on in Israeli society today that permits Christians to be scapegoated and targeted by these acts of violence?” Source

Israel ‘kills two’ people in Gaza:   An Israeli attack near Rafah town in Gaza Strip has killed two security officials and wounded another, Palestinian officials say. Hamas said “Israel has assassinated our officers as they were doing their duty in protecting the security of our people”. Video HERE

Palestinian Authority Faces Fiscal Crisis, As World Bank Blames Israelis

 

 

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Innocence of Muslims, Protesters are telling the US to get out of their country

Published in: on September 20, 2012 at 12:30 pm  Comments Off on Israelis can’t stop playing the victim card  
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The attack on the Gaza relief flotilla jeopardizes Israel itself

Israel – What Next

July 28 2010

The IDF has not become more competent in recent years. By almost all accounts—including the Israeli government’s own commission of inquiry—it performed abysmally in the 2006 Lebanon war. … Finally, there is the danger that Israel might attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, which could have terrible consequences for the United States. The last thing America needs is another war with an Islamic country, especially one that could easily interfere in its ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. This is why the Pentagon opposes striking Iran, whether with Israeli or U.S. forces. But Netanyahu might do it anyway if he thinks it would be good for Israel, even if it were bad for the United States. –

By John J. Mearsheimer  in the American Conservative

Israel’s botched raid against the Gaza-bound humanitarian flotilla on May 31 is the latest sign that Israel is on a disastrous course that it seems incapable of reversing. The attack also highlights the extent to which Israel has become a strategic liability for the United States. This situation is likely to get worse over time, which will cause major problems for Americans who have a deep attachment to the Jewish state.

The bungled assault on the Mavi Marmara, the lead ship in the flotilla, shows once again that Israel is addicted to using military force yet unable to do so effectively. One would think that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) would improve over time from all the practice. Instead, it has become the gang that cannot shoot straight.

The IDF last scored a clear-cut victory in the Six Day War in 1967; the record since then is a litany of unsuccessful campaigns. The War of Attrition (1969-70) was at best a draw, and Israel fell victim to one of the great surprise attacks in military history in the October War of 1973. In 1982, the IDF invaded Lebanon and ended up in a protracted and bloody fight with Hezbollah. Eighteen years later, Israel conceded defeat and pulled out of the Lebanese quagmire. Israel tried to quell the First Intifada by force in the late 1980s, with Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin telling his troops to break the bones of the Palestinian demonstrators. But that strategy failed and Israel was forced to join the Oslo Peace Process instead, which was another failed endeavor.

The IDF has not become more competent in recent years. By almost all accounts—including the Israeli government’s own commission of inquiry—it performed abysmally in the 2006 Lebanon war. The IDF then launched a new campaign against the people of Gaza in December 2008, in part to “restore Israel’s deterrence” but also to weaken or topple Hamas. Although the mighty IDF was free to pummel Gaza at will, Hamas survived and Israel was widely condemned for the destruction and killing it wrought on Gaza’s civilian population. Indeed, the Goldstone Report, written under UN auspices, accused Israel of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity. Earlier this year, the Mossad murdered a Hamas leader in Dubai, but the assassins were seen on multiple security cameras and were found to have used forged passports from Australia and a handful of European countries. The result was an embarrassing diplomatic row, with Australia, Ireland, and Britain each expelling an Israeli diplomat.

Given this history, it is not surprising that the IDF mishandled the operation against the Gaza flotilla, despite having weeks to plan it. The assault forces that landed on the Mavi Marmara were unprepared for serious resistance and responded by shooting nine activists, some at point-blank range. None of the activists had their own guns. The bloody operation was condemned around the world—except in the United States, of course. Even within Israel, the IDF was roundly criticized for this latest failure.

These ill-conceived operations have harmful consequences for Israel. Failures leave adversaries intact and make Israeli leaders worry that their deterrent reputation is being undermined. To rectify that, the IDF is turned loose again, but the result is usually another misadventure, which gives Israel new incentives to do it again, and so on. This spiral logic, coupled with Israel’s intoxication with military force, helps explain why the Israeli press routinely carries articles predicting where Israel’s next war will be.

Israel’s recent debacles have also damaged its international reputation. Respondents to a 2010 worldwide opinion poll done for the BBC said that Israel, Iran, and Pakistan had the most negative influence in the world; even North Korea ranked better. More worrying for Israel is that its once close strategic relationship with Turkey has been badly damaged by the 2008-09 Gaza war and especially by the assault on the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ship filled with Turkish nationals. But surely the most troubling development for Israel is the growing chorus of voices in the United States who say that Israel’s behavior is threatening American interests around the world, to include endangering its soldiers. If that sentiment grows, it could seriously harm Israel’s relationship with the United States.

Life as an Apartheid State

The flotilla tragedy highlights another way in which Israel is in deep trouble. Israel’s response makes it obvious that its leaders are not interested in allowing the Palestinians to have a viable state in Gaza and the West Bank, but instead are bent on creating a “Greater Israel” in which the Palestinians are confined to a handful of impoverished enclaves.

Israel insists that its blockade is solely intended to keep weapons out of Gaza. Hardly anyone would criticize Israel if this were true, but it is not. The real aim of the blockade is to punish the people of Gaza for supporting Hamas and resisting Israel’s efforts to maintain Gaza as a giant open-air prison. Of course, there was much evidence that this was the case before the debacle on the Mavi Marmara. When the blockade began in 2006, Dov Weisglass, a close aide to Prime Ministers Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, said, “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.” And the Gaza onslaught 18 months ago was designed to punish the Gazans, not enforce a weapons embargo. The ships in the flotilla were transporting humanitarian aid, not weapons for Hamas, and Israel’s willingness to use deadly force to prevent a humanitarian aid convoy from reaching Gaza makes it abundantly clear that Israel wants to humiliate and subdue the Palestinians, not live side-by-side with them in separate states.

Collective punishment of the Palestinians in Gaza is unlikely to end anytime soon. Israel’s leaders have shown little interest in lifting the blockade or negotiating sincerely. The sad truth is that Israel has been brutalizing the Palestinians for so long that it is almost impossible to break the habit. It is hardly surprising that Jimmy Carter said last year, “the citizens of Palestine are treated more like animals than human beings.” They are, and they will be for the foreseeable future.

Consequently, there is not going to be a two-state solution. Instead, Gaza and the West Bank will become part of a Greater Israel, which will be an apartheid state bearing a marked resemblance to white-ruled South Africa. Israelis and their American supporters invariably bristle at this comparison, but that is their future if they create a Greater Israel while denying full political rights to an Arab population that will soon outnumber the Jewish population in the entirety of the land. In fact, two former Israeli prime ministers—Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak—have made this very point. Olmert went so far as to argue, “as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished.”

He’s right, because Israel will not be able to maintain itself as an apartheid state. Like racist South Africa, it will eventually evolve into a democratic bi-national state whose politics will be dominated by the more numerous Palestinians. But that process will take many years, and during that time, Israel will continue to oppress the Palestinians. Its actions will be seen and condemned by growing numbers of people and more and more governments around the world. Israel is unwittingly destroying its own future as a Jewish state, and doing so with tacit U.S. support.

America’s Albatross

The combination of Israel’s strategic incompetence and its gradual transformation into an apartheid state creates significant problems for the United States. There is growing recognition in both countries that their interests are diverging; indeed this perspective is even garnering attention inside the American Jewish community. Jewish Week, for example, recently published an article entitled “The Gaza Blockade: What Do You Do When U.S. and Israeli Interests Aren’t in Synch?” Leaders in both countries are now saying that Israeli policy toward the Palestinians is undermining U.S. security. Vice President Biden and Gen. David Petraeus, the head of Central Command, both made this point recently, and the head of the Mossad, Meir Dagan, told the Knesset in June, “Israel is gradually turning from an asset to the United States to a burden.”

It is easy to see why. Because the United States gives Israel so much support and U.S. politicians routinely laud the “special relationship” in the most lavish terms, people around the globe naturally associate the United States with Israel’s actions. Unfortunately, this makes huge numbers of people in the Arab and Islamic world furious with the United States for supporting Israel’s cruel treatment of the Palestinians. That anger in turn helps fuel terrorism against America. Remember that the 9/11 Commission Report, which describes Khalid Sheik Muhammad as the “principal architect of the 9/11 attacks,” concludes that his “animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experiences there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel.” Osama bin Laden’s hostility toward the United States was fuelled in part by this same concern.

Popular anger toward the United States also threatens the rulers of Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, key U.S. allies who are frequently seen as America’s lackeys. The collapse of any of these regimes would be a big blow to the U.S. position in the region; however, Washington’s unyielding support for Israel makes these governments weaker, not stronger. More importantly, the rupture in Israel’s relationship with Turkey will surely damage America’s otherwise close relationship with Turkey, a NATO member and a key U.S. ally in Europe and the Middle East.

Finally, there is the danger that Israel might attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, which could have terrible consequences for the United States. The last thing America needs is another war with an Islamic country, especially one that could easily interfere in its ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. This is why the Pentagon opposes striking Iran, whether with Israeli or U.S. forces. But Netanyahu might do it anyway if he thinks it would be good for Israel, even if it were bad for the United States.

Dark Days Ahead for the Lobby

Israel’s troubled trajectory is also causing major headaches for its American supporters. First, there is the matter of choosing between Israel and the United States. This is sometimes referred to as the issue of dual loyalty, but that term is a misnomer. Americans are allowed to have dual citizenship—and in effect, dual loyalty—and this is no problem as long as the interests of the other country are in synch with America’s interests. For decades, Israel’s supporters have striven to shape public discourse in the United States so that most Americans believe the two countries’ interests are identical. That situation is changing, however. Not only is there now open talk about clashing interests, but knowledgeable people are openly asking whether Israel’s actions are detrimental to U.S. security.

The lobby has been scrambling to discredit this new discourse, either by reasserting the standard argument that Israel’s interests are synonymous with America’s or by claiming that Israel—to quote a recent statement by Mortimer Zuckerman, a key figure in the lobby—“has been an ally that has paid dividends exceeding its costs.” A more sophisticated approach, which is reflected in an AIPAC-sponsored letter that 337 congresspersons sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in March, acknowledges that there will be differences between the two countries, but argues that “such differences are best resolved quietly, in trust and confidence.” In other words, keep the differences behind closed doors and away from the American public. It is too late, however, to quell the public debate about whether Israel’s actions are damaging U.S. interests. In fact, it is likely to grow louder and more contentious with time.

This changing discourse creates a daunting problem for Israel’s supporters, because they will have to side either with Israel or the United States when the two countries’ interests clash. Thus far, most of the key individuals and institutions in the lobby have sided with Israel when there was a dispute. For example, President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu have had two big public fights over settlements. Both times the lobby sided with Netanyahu and helped him thwart Obama. It seems clear that individuals like Abraham Foxman, who heads the Anti-Defamation League, and organizations like AIPAC are primarily concerned about Israel’s interests, not America’s.

This situation is very dangerous for the lobby. The real problem is not dual loyalty but choosing between the two loyalties and ultimately putting the interests of Israel ahead of those of America. The lobby’s unstinting commitment to defending Israel, which sometimes means shortchanging U.S. interests, is likely to become more apparent to more Americans in the future, and that could lead to a wicked backlash against Israel’s supporters as well as Israel.

The lobby faces yet another challenge: defending an apartheid state in the liberal West is not going to be easy. Once it is widely recognized that the two-state solution is dead and Israel has become like white-ruled South Africa—and that day is not far off—support for Israel inside the American Jewish community is likely to diminish significantly. The main reason is that apartheid is a despicable political system that is fundamentally at odds with basic American values as well as core Jewish values. For sure there will be some Jews who will defend Israel no matter what kind of political system it has. But their numbers will shrink over time, in large part because survey data shows that younger American Jews feel less attachment to Israel than their elders, which makes them less inclined to defend Israel blindly.

The bottom line is that Israel will not be able to maintain itself as an apartheid state over the long term because it will not be able to depend on the American Jewish community to defend such a reprehensible political order.

Assisted Suicide

Israel is facing a bleak future, yet there is no reason to think that it will change course anytime soon. The political center of gravity in Israel has shifted sharply to the right and there is no sizable pro-peace political party or movement. Moreover, it remains firmly committed to the belief that what cannot be solved by force can be solved with greater force, and many Israelis view the Palestinians with contempt if not hatred. Neither the Palestinians nor any of Israel’s immediate neighbors are powerful enough to deter it, and the lobby will remain influential enough over the next decade to protect Israel from meaningful U.S. pressure.

Remarkably, the lobby is helping Israel commit national suicide while also doing serious damage to American security interests. Voices challenging this tragic situation have grown slightly more numerous in recent years, but the majority of political commentators and virtually all U.S. politicians seem blissfully ignorant of where this is headed, or unwilling to risk their careers by speaking out.
__________________________________________

John J. Mearsheimer is a professor of political science at the University of Chicago and coauthor of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. Source

Israel harms itself all the time this is nothing new. Seems they want everyone to hate them. They certainly go out of their way to make people hate what they do. They do some extremely horrid things.

Stealing body parts from people.

Torturing people including children.

Throwing thousands of Palestinians in prisons including children and Israelis who refuse to go to war or protest against Israels actions.

Radiating Jewish children.

Experimenting with radiation on their own people.

Using weapons of mass destruction on Palestinians or their neighbours that will also kill their own people and those in neighbouring countries.

Starving innocent people to achive a foolish political agenda.

Assiting the US in horrid wars as a funnel tunnel for money and weapons.

Israel is a rouge state and an Apartheid state. They helped South Africa create their Apartheid state as well.

Assassinations. Starting wars. Attacking the USS Liberty ETC.

Using terroist ideologies to take Palestine away from the Palestinian people.

Israel is not just a threat to the US it is a threat to the world. They love war. They just adore war.

Their history speaks for itself. Unfortunately most people don’t know all the horrid things they have done. What a shame.

Those who speak out against what they do and attempt to bring the truth to the fore front are demonized and terrorized.

Those who attempt to defend the Palestinians many times are killed by the Israelis as in the case of Rachel Corrie.

Children and others who protest peacefully are many times shot, injured or killed.

Wage war not to defend itself, but to simply attempt to prove they are more powerful.

Hamas did not break the ceasefire in 2008 Israel did.

Gaza (1): A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Jews around the world who fail to see the light and  blindly support Israel, obviously do not see the danger Israel posses, no only to the world at large, but to all Jews world wide. To be so blind is rather sad. One has to wonder how anyone could be so brainwashed.

There is enough evidence and history to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt, Israel is dangerous.

These are just a few stories about Israel. These are a mere tip of a gigantic iceberg. There are more in my Archives.

Foreign control of large swathes of the Sinai Peninsula obtained through fraud and Israeli involvement

Israel And Apartheid: By People Who Knew Apartheid

Fake Al Qaeda, Fake Passports, Fake planes, Fake Hijackers

Haaretz Threatened for Exposing Israeli Assassination Cover-Up

IDF order will enable mass deportation from West Bank

Arrest of Israeli officer leading organ trafficking ring

Israeli troops attack protesters injuring and killing Again!

The Israeli Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy

Rachel Corrie’s parents Get Nasty Letter from professor at Haifa University

Dubai police chief to seek Netanyahu arrest

Israel “blackmails Gaza’s patients to turn them into collaborators”

Amir, ten years old, abducted by Israeli soldiers from his bed

“This Time We Went Too Far” Truth and Consequences in the Gaza Invasion

E-book on Jewish National Fund’s role in colonization of Palestine

Israel on Trial – The Russell Tribunal on Palestine

Children of Gaza are Suffering, Scarred, Trapped

Full Israeli  El Al flight took off on 9/11 from JFK to Tel Aviv

Mossad using Spanish passport Arrested in Algeria

British MPs call for review of arms export to Israel

Australia: Fraser calls for expulsion of Israeli diplomats

Israel to Allow Shoes into Gaza Strip After Three Year Ban

UK warns of Israel travel amid passport scandal

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu authorized assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh

Israel floods Gaza villages, displacing a hundred families

US/Israeli Charity uses little Palestinian Childs photo to raise money for Israel’s Hungry

Turkey, Lebanon lash out at Israeli Violation of airspace

Gaza sees more newborns of malformation

Israeli war crimes: Soldiers admit to deliberate killing of Gaza civilians

Slavery and Human Trafficking Crimes

Jewish town, Mitzpeh Kamon, won’t let Arab build home on his own land

Israeli settlers attack mosque in West Bank

Jewish lobby wages war on Christmas trees and all symbols of Christianity

Israeli Occupation Authorities Deny Gaza Christians Permission to Travel to Bethlehem at Christmas

“We will have to kill them all”: Israeli Effie Eitam

West Bank Rabbi: Jews can kill Gentiles who threaten Israel including Children and even Babies

The Eviction Of Palestinian Families Continue, When they want a home the Israeli’s just steal it

UN Calls for Israel to Open Crossing for Goods

A Palestinian student has been handcuffed, blindfolded and forcibly expelled to the Gaza

Recent

Nobel Peace Prizes ‘are being awarded illegally’

US House Vote on Afghan War Funding a Disgrace

Fourteen Examples of Systemic Racism in the U.S. Criminal Justice System

The CIA: Beyond Redemption and Should be Terminated

US occupation not for “liberation of Iraqis

Mental illness rising among US troops

Republicans in the US House of Representatives want Israel to attack Iran

Gaza Flotilla: Lawyers from 60 Countries to Sue Israel

Hospitals in Haiti to be shut down due to lack of funds

IDF order will enable mass deportation from West Bank

Amira Hass: A new military order aimed at preventing infiltration will come into force this week, enabling the deportation of tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank, or their indictment on charges carrying prison terms of up to seven years. When the order comes into effect, tens of thousands of Palestinians will automatically become criminal offenders liable to be severely punished.

IOA Editor: “Infiltration,” an Orwellian term invented by the Occupier, is designed to treat certain Palestinians as having no rights to be present at a given area without special permission that is unlikely to be granted by the IDF.  Reminiscent of the Present Absentees (internally displaced Palestinians – IDPs), a post-1948 Israeli classification, this, too, is an attempt to segregate and dispose of elements of the Palestinian people that the Occupation authorities wish to remove — based on political, geographic, or any other criteria, however arbitrary. This newly-formalized authority serves as yet another tool at the hands of the IDF in the long-term process of ethnic cleansing — the removal of the Palestinian people from their land — that Israel has been carrying out since 1948.


By Amira Hass, Haaretz – 11 April 2010

A new military order aimed at preventing infiltration will come into force this week, enabling the deportation of tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank, or their indictment on charges carrying prison terms of up to seven years.

When the order comes into effect, tens of thousands of Palestinians will automatically become criminal offenders liable to be severely punished.

Given the security authorities’ actions over the past decade, the first Palestinians likely to be targeted under the new rules will be those whose ID cards bear home addresses in the Gaza Strip – people born in Gaza and their West Bank-born children – or those born in the West Bank or abroad who for various reasons lost their residency status. Also likely to be targeted are foreign-born spouses of Palestinians.

Until now, Israeli civil courts have occasionally prevented the expulsion of these three groups from the West Bank. The new order, however, puts them under the sole jurisdiction of Israeli military courts.

The new order defines anyone who enters the West Bank illegally as an infiltrator, as well as “a person who is present in the area and does not lawfully hold a permit.” The order takes the original 1969 definition of infiltrator to the extreme, as the term originally applied only to those illegally staying in Israel after having passed through countries then classified as enemy states – Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria.

The order’s language is both general and ambiguous, stipulating that the term infiltrator will also be applied to Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, citizens of countries with which Israel has friendly ties (such as the United States) and Israeli citizens, whether Arab or Jewish. All this depends on the judgment of Israel Defense Forces commanders in the field.

The new guidelines are expected to clamp down on protests in the West Bank.

The Hamoked Center for the Defense of the Individual was the first Israeli human rights to issue warnings against the order, signed six months ago by then-commander of IDF forces in Judea and Samaria Area Gadi Shamni.

Two weeks ago, Hamoked director Dalia Kerstein sent GOC Central Command Avi Mizrahi a request to delay the order, given “the dramatic change it causes in relation to the human rights of a tremendous number of people.”

According to the provisions, “a person is presumed to be an infiltrator if he is present in the area without a document or permit which attest to his lawful presence in the area without reasonable justification.” Such documentation, it says, must be “issued by the commander of IDF forces in the Judea and Samaria area or someone acting on his behalf.”

The instructions, however, are unclear over whether the permits referred to are those currently in force, or also refer to new permits that military commanders might issue in the future. The provision are also unclear about the status of bearers of West Bank residency cards, and disregards the existence of the Palestinian Authority and the agreements Israel signed with it and the PLO.

The order stipulates that if a commander discovers that an infiltrator has recently entered a given area, he “may order his deportation before 72 hours elapse from the time he is served the written deportation order, provided the infiltrator is deported to the country or area from whence he infiltrated.”

The order also allows for criminal proceedings against suspected infiltrators that could produce sentences of up to seven years. Individuals able to prove that they entered the West Bank legally but without permission to remain there will also be tried, on charges carrying a maximum sentence of three years. (According to current Israeli law, illegal residents typically receive one-year sentences.)

The new provision also allow the IDF commander in the area to require that the infiltrator pay for the cost of his own detention, custody and expulsion, up to a total of NIS 7,500.

Currently, Palestinians need special permits to enter areas near the separation fence, even if their homes are there, and Palestinians have long been barred from the Jordan Valley without special authorization. Until 2009, East Jerusalemites needed permission to enter Area A, territory under full PA control.

The fear that Palestinians with Gaza addresses will be the first to be targeted by this order is based on measures that Israel has taken in recent years to curtail their right to live, work, study or even visit the West Bank. These measures violated the Oslo Accords.

According to a decision by the West Bank commander that was not backed by military legislation, since 2007, Palestinians with Gaza addresses must request a permit to stay in the West Bank. Since 2000, they have been defined as illegal sojourners if they have Gaza addresses, as if they were citizens of a foreign state. Many of them have been deported to Gaza, including those born in the West Bank.

One group expected to be particularly harmed by the new rules are Palestinians who moved to the West Bank under family reunification provisions, which Israel stopped granting for several years.

In 2007, amid a number of Hamoked petitions and as a goodwill gesture to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, tens of thousands of people received Palestinian residency cards. The PA distributed the cards, but Israel had exclusive control over who could receive them. Thousands of Palestinians, however, remained classified as “illegal sojourners,” including many who are not citizens of any other country.

The new order is the latest step by the Israeli government in recent years to require permits that limit the freedom of movement and residency previously conferred by Palestinian ID cards. The new regulations are particularly sweeping, allowing for criminal measures and the mass expulsion of people from their homes.

The IDF Spokesman’s Office said in response, “The amendments to the order on preventing infiltration, signed by GOC Central Command, were issued as part of a series of manifests, orders and appointments in Judea and Samaria, in Hebrew and Arabic as required, and will be posted in the offices of the Civil Administration and military courts’ defense attorneys in Judea and Samaria. The IDF is ready to implement the order, which is not intended to apply to Israelis, but to illegal sojourners in Judea and Samaria.” Source

When you think Israel can’t sink any lower, it does.

You all realize this is Israels way of getting rid of more Palestinians of course.

Israel certainly can come up with some disgusting ideas.  They make up new rules and laws just as they go along. No real need or justification for them, just new ways to remove Palestinians from their homes.

The people that should be deported out of the West Bank are the Jewish people in the settlements. They are there illegally. All settlements in the West Bank are illegal.  So the law breakers get to stay and the Palestinians get deported.

Recent

Poland mourns dead president

Thailand protests claim first lives

Russian urges adoption freeze after boy age 7 returned alone

Kyrgyzstan: The nepotism that sparked a revolution

Haaretz Threatened for Exposing Israeli Assassination Cover-Up

Criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism, rules sheriff

Thailand protesters defy government decree

Australia: Locals do their block as big gas moves into Queensland

Kyrgyzstan: Thousands of protesters furious over corruption 40 deaths over 400 injured

Iran: International Nuclear disarmament summit widely welcomed

Rachel Corrie Civil Lawsuit: Bulldozer operator told not to cooperate with investigation

Israel And Apartheid: By People Who Knew Apartheid

Published in: on April 11, 2010 at 3:26 am  Comments Off on IDF order will enable mass deportation from West Bank  
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Israel Gags News on Extra-Judicial Killings

April 3 2010

Written by Mel Frykberg

Anat Kam, 23, who used to work for the Israeli news site ‘Walla’, was arrested last December for allegedly copying secret Israeli Defence Force (IDF) documents during her compulsory military service.

These documents outlined how Israeli assassination squads would plan the killing of Palestinian political leaders and fighters months beforehand and then pass their deaths off as ”mishaps” during ”failed” attempts to arrest them.

Uri Blau, a reporter from the daily ‘Haaretz’, then wrote a piece on the copied documents and is refusing to return to Israel from Britain fearing that Israel’s domestic intelligence agency, the Shin Bet, will arrest him if he does.

Due to a military gag order the news has remained suppressed even as Israeli journalists fight the suppression order in court.

The news was broken several days ago by Donald McIntyre from Britain’s ‘Independent’.

The controversy has highlighted Israel’s extra-judicial killings which violate international law and have caused death and injury to thousands of Palestinian civilian bystanders despite the country having no death penalty.

Israel’s judiciary has approved ”targeted killings” but only of militants who were allegedly involved in carrying out or planning armed attacks against Israeli soldiers or civilians both within the Palestinian occupied territories and in Israel proper.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) in Gaza says that during the period September 2000 to March 2008, 500 Palestinians suspected of being involved in military resistance to the Israeli occupation were executed.

However, the ”collateral damage” during the assassinations included another 228 civilian bystanders – 77 of them children. Eleven Palestinians have been assassinated in the last two years.

”Israel is using disproportionate force. Civilians are paying the price. In the overwhelming majority of cases the targeted individuals could have been arrested and brought to trial without being killed. Many of them have been killed in cold blood,” Jaber Wishah from PCHR told IPS.

”International law’s right to life says that state authorities are obliged to follow due process when they are in a position to arrest individuals,” says Michael Kerney from the Ramallah-based rights organisation Al Haq which researched and documented many of the killings.

”Everybody is entitled to a fair trial and no state can dismiss this,” Kerney told IPS.

Some of those targeted have included individuals who were ”pardoned” by the Israelis after having agreed to give up armed resistance to the occupation.

Last December three pardoned members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, a military offshoot of the Palestinian Authority (PA)-affiliated Fatah movement, were shot dead in Nablus in the northern West Bank following the death of an Israeli settler.

According to their families and the subsequent investigations of human rights organisations they had already surrendered and were unarmed despite Israeli claims that they had refused to surrender.

”By failing to produce any evidence linking the targeted individuals to attacks allegedly committed by members of the Palestinian resistance, as well as failing to utilise peaceful means in order to arrest and detain suspects, the soldiers assumed the role of both judge and executioner,” reported Al Haq.

Furthermore, unarmed Palestinians, who have not been involved either politically or militarily in resisting the occupation, also continue to die in what some have called deliberate premeditated murder.

Several weeks ago four Palestinian teenagers were shot dead amidst dubious circumstances in two separate incidents in the villages of Awarta and Iraq Burin near Nablus.

According to medical reports they were shot at close range with live ammunition after clashes between Palestinian youngsters and Israeli soldiers had broken out.

However, the individuals concerned had not been involved in the clashes according to several investigations carried out by Al Haq, PCHR and Israeli rights group B’tselem.

One was shot in the back and another had a bullet lodged in the back of his skull despite Israeli soldiers saying they had only used non-lethal ammunition.

The Israeli military police declared they would investigate the incidents following contradictory testimony given by the soldiers involved.

However, when IPS visited one of the sites a week later with family members, approximately 20 spent cartridge cases, bloodied gloves, a saline solution kit and other bits of evidence lay on the ground undisturbed.

None of this is new. Israel has a history of assassinating political opponents predating its official establishment.

In 1944, the Israeli terrorist group, the Stern gang, assassinated Britain’s Lord Moyne, the military governor of Egypt, accusing him of interfering with Jewish migration to Palestine.

In 1948, Count Folke Bernadotte – a Swedish diplomat who had secured the release of 15,000 inmates from Nazi concentration camps while he was vice-president of the Swedish Red Cross  was also murdered by the Stern gang.

Stern gang members believed Bernadotte, as the U.N.’s Palestine mediator, to be too sympathetic to the Arabs. Yitzhak Shamir, later to become an Israeli prime minister, was one of the Stern gang’s leaders.

”Since the outbreak of the second Intifada, Israel has increasingly avoided accountability for the serious violations of the human rights of residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip for which it is responsible,” says B’tselem.

”This avoidance is seen, in part, in its policy not to open criminal investigations in cases of killing or wounding of Palestinians who were not taking part in the hostilities, except in exceptional cases, and in its enactment of legislation denying, almost completely, the right of Palestinians who were harmed as a result of illegal acts by Israeli security forces to sue for compensation for the damages they suffered.”

Source

Journalist on the run from Israel is hiding in Britain

‘Haaretz’ writer fled to London fearing charges over exposé on Palestinian’s killing

April 2 2010

By Kim Sengupta

An Israeli journalist is in hiding in Britain, The Independent can reveal, over fears that he may face charges in the Jewish state in connection with his investigation into the killing of a Palestinian in the West Bank.

Uri Blau, a reporter at Israel’s liberal newspaper, Haaretz, left town three months ago for Asia and is now in London. Haaretz is understood to be negotiating the terms of his return to Israel with prosecutors, according to an Israeli source, who declined to be identified, because of the sensitivity of the situation.

The news of Mr Blau’s extended absence comes just days after it emerged that another Israeli journalist, Anat Kam, has been held under house arrest for the last three months on charges that she leaked classified documents to the press while completing her military service.

Although no media outlet or journalist has been specifically named as the recipient of the classified information, there is speculation on Israeli blogs that Ms Kam gave documents to Mr Blau that formed the basis of a story he wrote in November 2008.

In his article for Haaretz, Mr Blau reported that one of two Islamic Jihad militants killed in Jenin in June 2007 had been targeted for assassination in apparent violation of a ruling issued six months earlier by Israel’s supreme court. While not outlawing assassinations in the West Bank altogether, the ruling heavily restricted the circumstances in which they were permissible, effectively saying that they should not take place if arrest was possible.

In an unusual move, Israel has placed a gagging order on national media, preventing them from reporting any aspect of the Kam case. Israel’s Channel Ten and Haaretz are expected to challenge this order on 12 April.

According to the court order, Ms Kam, 23, is being held on “espionage” charges. It alleges that she passed classified documents to a male journalist while working as a clerk in the Israel Defence Forces Central Command during her military service.

She was arrested more than a year after Mr Blau’s report, which was cleared by military censors at the time of publication, when she was working for the news service Walla, until recently owned by Haaretz.

Ms Kam denies all the charges. Her trial has reportedly been set for 14 April and she could face a lengthy prison sentence if convicted. Mr Blau did not respond to requests for comment; his friends and colleagues refused to discuss the case in detail.

Dov Alfon, Haaretz’s editor-in-chief, said in an emailed statement: “Haaretz has a 90-year-long tradition of protecting its reporters from government pressures, and Uri Blau is getting all the help we can provide him with.”

The move to gag Israel-based media has sparked fevered debate on Jewish blogs, which have freely reported the story. Bloggers have railed against the blackout, saying it represents a critical challenge to the freedom of the press.

“I do not believe that a citizen can be arrested and tried for suspected security offences right under our noses without anyone knowing anything about it,” wrote former Haaretz editor Hanoch Marmari in an eloquent cri de coeur on the Seventh Eye website.

“Trials do not take place here in darkened dungeons, nor do we have show trials behind glass or chicken wire. I have no doubt that such a strange, terrible and baseless scenario cannot take place in such a sophisticated democracy as our own.” Source

Well Israel never really does an investigation even when settlers kill a Palestinian.  They say they do, but in actuality they do not. That is not new at all. That is standard proceedure.

Israel kills anyone they feel like killing anyone no matter if it is a child or and adult. They kill people quit often.

As a matter of fact they have been killing for years so again this is not new. It is old hat.

As we well know they even go to other countries and kill people. They as we all know use fake passports. That to is standard procedure.

There is no real justice for Palestinians under Israeli law.

Even reporters or others who have been killed in Gaza or the West Bank, do not get a real investigation into their deaths by Israel.  They never have.

Deaths of Palestinians or outsiders are usually swept under the carpet.

Some Democracy. More like no Democracy.

Related

License to kill

By Uri Blau

December 4 2008
The announcement made by the Israel Defense Forces’ spokesman on June 20, 2007 was standard: “Two armed terrorists belonging to the Islamic Jihad terror organization were killed last night during the course of a joint activity of the IDF and a special force of the Border Police in Kafr Dan, northwest of Jenin. The two terrorists, Ziad Subahi Mahmad Malaisha and Ibrahim Ahmed Abd al-Latif Abed, opened fire at the force during its activity. In response the force fired at them, killing the terrorists. On their bodies two M-16 rifles, a pistol and ammunition were found. It was also discovered that the terrorists were involved in planning suicide attacks against the Israeli home front, including the attempt in Rishon Letzion last February.”

The laconic announcement ignores one important detail: Malaisha was a target for assassination. His fate had been decided several months earlier, in the office of then head of Central Command, Yair Naveh. As far as the public was concerned, on the other hand, the last declared assassination carried out by the IDF in the West Bank took place in August 2006; at the end of that year the High Court of Justice set strict criteria regarding the policy of assassinations in the territories.

A Haaretz Magazine investigation reveals for the first time operational discussions in which the fate of wanted men and innocent people was decided, in apparent disregard of the High Court decision. Thus it was revealed that the IDF approved assassination plans in the West Bank even when it would probably have been possible to arrest the wanted men – in contradiction to the State’s statement to the High Court – and that in cold military terminology the most senior IDF echelons approve, in advance and in writing, the harming of innocent Palestinians during the course of assassination operations. Moreover, it turns out that the assassination of a target the defense establishment called part of a “ticking infrastructure” was postponed, because it had been scheduled to take place during the visit of a senior U.S. official.

Leading legal experts who were asked to react to the documents say that the IDF is operating in contradiction to a High Court ruling. “Morality is a very difficult issue,” Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer of Hebrew Univeristy said. “The thought that there are people who sit behind a desk and determine that someone is fated to die is a frightening thought.”

Another two killings

(at most)

The IDF spokesman refuses to provide precise figures about the number of targeted assassinations carried out since the start of the intifada in 2000: “The subject of preventive strikes is concentrated in the hands of the Shin Bet [security service].” A spokesman for the Shin Bet stated that the organization “does not publish data of this kind.” According to the human-rights organization B’Tselem, the IDF assassinated 232 Palestinians between the start of the intifada and the end of October 2008, in operations that also killed 154 non-targeted civilians.

The most common code names for assassination operations are the acronyms Pa’amon (peula mona’at – preventive action) and Sakum (sikul mimukad – targeted assassination). During the past two and a half years the IDF has not announced the carrying out of assassinations in the West Bank, and when wanted men were killed there, the official reports stated that these were “arrest operations” or “exchanges of fire.” This was also reported in regard to the killing of Abed and Malaisha – who has now been revealed as a previous target for assassination.

On March 28, 2007 a representative of the Shin Bet, a representative of the Special Police Unit Yamam and several officers from Central Command convened in Naveh’s office. On the agenda was the Two Towers operation (the strike at Malaisha). “The mission” said the head of the command, “is arrest,” but “in case identification is made of one of the leaders of Palestinian Islamic Jihad: Walid Obeidi, Ziad Malaisha, Adham Yunis, there is permission for the force to intercept them, and that is according to the situation assessment in the course of carrying out the mission.” Naveh did not allow an assassination if there were women or children near the wanted man, and explained that, “in the event that there are women and children in the vehicle, the method is arrest.”

On April 12 Naveh convened another meeting about Malaisha. This time he decided that permission would be granted to carry out the assassination of the target and “another two people at most.” On the day of the meeting in Naveh’s office another discussion took place, chaired by the head of the Operations Directorate, Brig. Gen. Sami Turjeman. At the meeting, the plans for a preventive operation against Malaisha were presented, and the head of the Operations Directorate explained that “a preventive strike in Ayush [Judea and Samaria] is an exceptional sight … It could be seen as an attempt to damage the attempts to stabilize, which means that it requires sensitivity to causing a minimum of collateral damage. Everything possible must be done to prevent harm to those who are uninvolved.” The target of the operation, he added “leads a ‘ticking’ infrastructure and meets the required criteria for a preventive strike.”

At this point Turjeman spelled out the conditions of Malaisha’s incrimination, and ruled that only if they existed would the targeted assassination get a green light. He added that no more than five people (including the driver) should be assassinated in the operation. Turjeman approved the operation even if there should be one unidentified person in the car. Regarding the matter of timing, he said that “in light of the anticipated diplomatic events, the prime minister’s meeting with Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] and the visit of the U.S. Secretary of Defense, I recommend … implementation afterward.” In the discussion Turjeman also referred to the High Court ruling about appointing a committee whose job would be to examine targeted assassinations after the fact, and said that in light of the High Court instructions on the matter, the operation should be documented.

The next day the operation was brought up for the approval of Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi. A limited number of senior officers convened in his office, including his deputy, the head of the Operations Directorate, the head of the Operations Brigade, the chief military prosecutor, a representative of Central Command and a representative of the Shin Bet. The paper summing up the meeting says that Ashkenazi “emphasized that due to the High Court orders regarding the establishment of a professional committee on targeted assassinations, the composition of the committee should be agreed on with the Shin Bet as soon as possible.”

Although Malaisha was defined as part of a “ticking infrastructure,” Ashkenazi too was disturbed by the timing of the action and said that “in light of the diplomatic meetings anticipated during the course of the week, the date of implementation should be reconsidered.” Ashkenazi prohibited attacking the vehicle in which Malaisha was traveling if it was discovered that there was “more than one unidentified passenger” in it.

Two months after the Two Towers plan was approved, and long after the diplomatic visits and meetings that took place in the second week of April 2007, came the operation in which Malaisha was killed in the Jenin area.

Legal approval

At the beginning of 2002, attorneys Avigdor Feldman and Michael Sfard petitioned the High Court of Justice against the policy of targeted assassinations on behalf of the Public Committee against Torture in Israel and the Al-Haq organization. Almost five years later, on December 14, 2006, the president of the Supreme Court at the time, Justice Aharon Barak, issued his decision. Barak, with the concurrence of Justices Dorit Beinisch (now the president of the Supreme Court) and Eliezer Rivlin, rejected the petition and did not rule out the legality of targeted assassinations in the territories.

“We cannot determine that every targeted preemption strike is forbidden under international law, just as we cannot determine that every targeted preemption is permissible under international law,” Barak wrote in the last judgment he published in his 28 years on the Supreme Court.

According to the High Court ruling, well-founded and convincing information is necessary in order to classify a civilian as being part of a group of civilians who are carrying out hostile acts; a person should not be assassinated if it is possible to use less damaging methods against him; and he should not be harmed more than necessary for security needs. In other words, a person should not be assassinated if it is possible to arrest him, interrogate him and indict him. However, if the arrest involves serious danger to the lives of the soldiers, there is no need to use this means; after every assassination a thorough and independent examination must be conducted regarding the degree of precision, the identity of the man as a terror activist, and in the case of mistaken identity, the payment of compensation should be considered; harm to innocent civilians should be avoided as much as possible during an assassination, and “harm to innocent civilians will be legal only if it meets the demands of proportionality,” ruled Barak.

In this context, Barak gave an example according to which “it is possible to fire at a terrorist who is firing from the balcony of his home at soldiers or civilians, even if as a result an innocent bystander is liable to be hit. Such a strike at an innocent civilian will meet the demands of proportionality. That is not the case if the house is bombed from the air and dozens of its residents and bystanders are hit.”

Barak stated that, “The struggle against terror has turned our democracy into a ‘defensive democracy’ or a ‘fighting democracy.’ However, this struggle must not overturn the democratic nature of our regime.”

According to B’Tselem, since the ruling regarding targeted assassinations was handed down, 19 Palestinians who were targets of assassination have been killed in the territories, and 36 Palestinians who were close to the targets were hit in the course of IDF operations, all of them in the Gaza Strip.

“It turns out that in total contradiction to the High Court ruling, there are cases in which there is an order to assassinate someone when it is possible to arrest him,” says David Kretchmer, a professor of international law. “Advance approval to kill civilians who do not take part in hostile activities makes things even worse. The principle of proportionality, to the effect that if one strikes at a military target an accompanying strike against civilians will not be illegal, does not apply in a case when the attack itself is illegal – for example, in a case where there is an obligation, according to the High Court ruling, to arrest the suspect.”

Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer: “According to the High Court ruling it is clear that where it is possible to carry out an arrest, we must carry out an arrest and avoid what is called a ‘targeted assassination’ and which I call ‘preventive killing.’ A substantial part of Judea and Samaria is under the effective rule of the IDF, and in my opinion, in such an area preventive killing must be ruled out. The limited interpretation that I am suggesting for the international law is that an attack must take place in the course of that person’s participation in a dangerous action, because then you are in effect acting in self-defense based on the situation taking place.”

Legal commentator Moshe Negbi: “‘Unidentified people’ can also be totally innocent and you are ostensibly giving a license to kill here. The problem is previous knowledge, because usually when we refer to collateral damage we are referring to ‘after the fact,’ but here this is almost certain foreknowledge. It is very problematic that permission is given to execute an innocent man deliberately. The question is whether it is proportional. I think that the High Court was referring to a situation where perhaps among a mass of people there is one who is innocent, but here it is one on one. It is very grave to grant permission when you know ahead of time that 50 percent of those you are hitting are innocent. Such a thing must certainly be discussed at the level of the attorney general and it certainly must be known to the public and undergo public criticism, if only so that anyone who thinks it is patently illegal can turn to the High Court.”

Regarding the fact that assassinations can wait until the conclusion of diplomatic meetings, Kretchmer says: “Postponing an operation for diplomatic reasons is unequivocal proof of the fact that this is not a ‘ticking bomb’ situation.” Kremnitzer adds: “According to my legal understanding, these cases [targeted assassinations] must be cases in which you must act immediately, and if it is not a matter of an immediate need, in my opinion it is against the law.”

Although almost two years have passed since the High Court ruling, a committee to examine the assassinations after the fact has yet to be appointed. Last week Aviad Glickman published on Ynet (the website of the mass circulation paper Yedioth Ahronoth) that Attorney General Menachem Mazuz had turned to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert demanding the establishment of such a committee as soon as possible. “This step must be completed without further delay,” wrote Mazuz, “for fear that a continued delay is liable to constitute contempt of court.”

The bad guys

Yair Naveh, who served as head of Central Command from 2005 to 2007, confirms that occasionally, there is no genuine attempt to arrest wanted men. “If the guy doesn’t put his hands up we don’t get into stories, we immediately establish contact. I don’t want to have people hurt for no reason. If I know that the guy is armed and is a ticking bomb, then I want him to be hit immediately without fooling around. It’s not the preventive action procedure, it’s an entirely different story.

“In my time there were no targeted assassinations. Not a single one, as far as I recall. In principle, there were no targeted assassinations in Central Command and none were approved. What I did have was an ability to reach all of [the wanted men]; therefore there is no reason for a targeted assassination. It is relevant only when you can’t reach someone, but if you can reach him and arrest him at night or have an exchange of fire with him, then it is not a targeted assassination.”

Is it possible that programs were approved and in the end were not carried out?

“No. In principle there was no such thing during my time, because in every operation there were special forces that had to arrive and arrest the guy. To tell the truth, in some places we knew a priori that there would be firing. If you know that you are operating against Islamic Jihad or against Hamasniks or even against some of the jokers who were in the Casbah, then it was clear to me that there would be engagement.”

In the approval of the March 2007 plan regarding Ziad Malaisha you said the mission was arrest, but if one of the leaders of Islamic Jihad was identified, the force had permission to carry out interception. What is that if not targeted assassination?

“Those are guys for whom we received basic confirmation that they are ticking bombs. Those are guys that if we had contact with them, because we knew in advance that they were armed, the default choice was not to start calling on them to halt and then to see whether or not they fled, but right from the start, if they didn’t put up their hands and throw away their weapons, then we engaged with them. That’s not because they had to be killed. It’s also because they are both ticking bombs and armed. That’s the assumption.”

That is semantics. You gave permission to fire at them from the moment they were identified.

“If they don’t put up their hands right at the start. You arrive, shout ‘IDF, hands up!’ You surround them. If the guys don’t put up their hands, then you don’t wait to close in on them, to make a declaration. If you receive confirmation that the guys have received all the relevant approvals, then we say, ‘Friends, I don’t want you to get into a pressure cooker here’ [methods used by the IDF to make someone give himself up]. If they don’t surrender immediately then you immediately engage them, so that you won’t be hurt. That’s the story. It’s not a targeted assassination, where you are approving their execution even if they put up their hands.”

The approval you gave the forces states that if there are women and children, there is to be an arrest. In other words, it would have been possible to arrest them.

“That means that if there are women and children we assume another risk and tell the guys that if they fire at you and begin to flee you don’t begin to exchange fire, but you try to stop the vehicle by shooting at the tires.”

The Operations Directorate approval in the case of Malaisha states that this is a preventive action operation.

“If it was approved as preventive action, that is, as a target for assassination, it’s a different story.”

But then it contradicts the High Court orders to the effect that Israel controls the area and approval of the plan includes the option of arrest.

“Don’t bother me with the High Court orders, I don’t know when there were High Court orders and when there weren’t. I know that a targeted assassination is approved and there is a preventive action procedure and I receive instructions from the Operations Directorate.”

What is the difference between the preventive action procedure and people that you give permission to fire at if they are identified?

“The difference is language. You say ‘Hands up. If not, I’m opening fire,’ and here I don’t say anything and drop a bomb from a plane.”

In the instructions there is no mention of the arrest option, and permission is given to fire if there is identification of a wanted man.

“I’m not familiar with such a document.”

Why in the approvals for targeted assassination is permission given in advance to harm unidentified people?

“Weren’t there people in the Shahadeh case? [Fatah leader Mohammed Shahadeh was assassinated by Hamas in October 2006]. But those aren’t questions that you should ask me. What is approved as preventive action goes through approvals all the way to the prime minister, and what is decided is decided. Usually these guys hung around with bad guys, not good guys.”

Linguistic innovations

In the State’s reply to the High Court, prior to its ruling, it was claimed that carrying out a targeted assassination is “an exceptional step” that is taken “only when there is no other, less severe way of implementing it … In the context of these strict instructions it was decided that when there are realistic alternatives to the action, such as arrest, these alternatives should be used.”

But the most noticeable thing the High Court ruling changed regarding the assassinations is the language used by the IDF in planning them. On December 13, 2006, a day before the High Court ruling was handed down, wanted man Muhammed Ramaha was killed in the Ein Beit Ilma refugee camp in the Nablus area. According to the IDF spokesman’s report to the media at the time, Ramaha was killed in the course of a joint “arrest operation” of the IDF, the Shin Bet and the Yamam police unit.

Now it turns out that Ramaha’s fate had been sealed a month earlier, when the Central Command conducted a discussion on an operation planned by the IDF’s Maglan special operations unit in the Nablus area. Those in attendance were presented with orders from Maj. Gen. Naveh, who ruled that the armed men walking around the area were connected to Mohammed Ramaha’s unit and “should be attacked.” There was no option offered of trying to arrest the members of the squad, and conditions for opening fire were the identification of two armed men, “conspiratorial” activity involving at least one armed man, or “when an indication is given” of the presence of Ramaha in the squad. As mentioned, a month after the discussion Ramaha was killed.

The Maglan soldiers were also the ones who carried out an operation on November 8, 2006 that ended in the killing of five Palestinians, two of them unarmed. The IDF, as usual, did not present it as an assassination mission, but it turns out that the force’s assignment was “to sneak into the center of the village, up to the observation point overlooking the killing area that had been designated in advance, to lie in ambush for armed terrorists and to hit them at short range.”

Another example: At the end of September 2006 the then head of the Operations Directorate, Maj. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot (today GOC Northern Command), conducted a discussion in which approval was given to assassinate a Fatah member – an expert on the production of explosives belts – in the Nablus area. “The Time For Chaos Has Arrived” was the name of this operation, in which the major general approved attacking the man “in the context of the procedure of targeted assassination of important figures in light of the fact that he is a ‘ticking bomb.'” As opposed to operations planned after the High Court ruling, where there are specific instructions regarding conditions in which the action should not be carried out, in this case the only instructions were “to try to refrain insofar as possible from harming innocent people.”

“Apparently what happened in the wake of the High Court ruling is mainly ‘word laundering,'” says Kretchmer. “In other words, the use of words referring to arrest when in fact there is no real intention of carrying out an arrest, but the reference is to assassination.” Sfard says that, “whoever gave the IDF a permit to execute civilians without trial should not be surprised when the death squads it has created do not adhere to the few restrictions imposed on this policy. It’s a natural, logical and inevitable process of moral deterioration involved in assassinations.”

A military source said that the first years of the intifada were “a period lacking order. They fired at just about anything that moved.” He says that in recent years, especially after the High Court ruling, the procedure in Central Command and the Operations Directorate is somewhat different, one reason being that representatives of the Military Prosecutor’s Office “are breathing down their necks.” As for the importance attributed by the army to the country’s image and to the timing of its activity, the source said, not without a degree of cynicism, that “the criteria for a ‘ticking bomb’ change if Condoleezza Rice is in the country.”

An investigation by Haaretz indicates that IDF operations that are defined in advance as arrest operations rather than assassination operations do for the most part end in arrest. However, there is something disturbing about the fact that when it comes to the plan to arrest a Palestinian, the commander in charge of the operation sometimes feels a need to explain that this is not an assassination assignment and that the wanted man should be brought back alive. For example, in an operation planned last May for the arrest of a Fatah activist in Bethlehem, the GOC Central Command explained to the commander of the Duvdevan undercover commando unit that “the mission is arrest rather than killing.” And in fact, that activist was arrested alive. In the same operation, incidentally, it was explained to the forces that “there is no permission to behave aggressively toward foreign media crews.”

When Naveh was asked why he occasionally told the forces that the wanted men be brought back alive, which should ostensibly be obvious, he explained: “That means that I am exposing our forces to additional risk, and even if he opens fire, they do not kill him immediately but try nevertheless to arrest him.” It also turns out that the presence of children is not always an excuse to cancel military operations. At the end of March 2007, the chief of staff allowed Duvdevan to carry out the arrest of a wanted man during the birthday party of one of his children. The name chosen by the IDF for this action was Kindergarten Party.

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A message From “Rachel Corrie’s” Mother

Rachel died 7 years ago today March 16 2003

March 16 2010

From Rachel’s Mother

This month, a civil lawsuit in Israel in the case of our daughter Rachel Corrie will converge with the seven-year anniversary of her killing in Gaza. A human rights observer and activist, Rachel, 23, was crushed to death by an Israel Defense Force (IDF) Caterpillar D9R bulldozer as she tried nonviolently to offer protection for a Palestinian family whose home was threatened with demolition. This lawsuit is one piece of our family’s seven-year effort to pursue accountability for Rachel while, also, challenging the Occupation that claimed her life.

On this day, when Rachel’s presence is powerful for many of us, we’re asking all of our friends to support Rachel’s vision of freedom for Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip by participating in what we are calling the International Day of Conscience. Please join her struggle by calling the White House today – this link has all the information you need:

http://tinyurl.com/Corrie4Gaza

Seven years later, Rachel’s memory is still vibrant. I’m writing to you from Israel where we are plaintiffs in a civil case against the state of Israel for its responsibility in her death. In addition to seeking accountability through the Israeli court system, we’re asking all of our friends to support Rachel’s vision of freedom for Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip by participating in a national call-in day to the White House.

I hope I can count on you to:

  • Call the White House at 202-456-1111
  • Urge Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell to visit Gaza and demand that the United States break the blockade of Gaza by providing immediate humanitarian aid and building materials.
  • Tell us about your call. Tracking your calls makes a difference.

You can also make the call tomorrow. Please forward this  to help spread the word.

Thank you,
Cindy Corrie

P.S. Click here to view the trial updates page on the Rachel Corrie Foundation website.

A few Documents from above link.

March 15: Eye Witness Testifies: Israeli Military Investigator Tried to Influence My Statement

English (pdf, 166.24 KB)

Eye Witness Testifies: Israeli Military Investigator Tried to Influence My Statement

    Today, March 15 2010, the Haifa District Court saw the third day of testimony in the civil lawsuit filed by Rachel Corrie’s family against the State of Israel for her unlawful killing in Rafah, Gaza. Rachel was crushed to death on March 16, 2003 by a Caterpillar D9R bulldozer. She had been nonviolently demonstrating against Palestinian home demolitions with fellow members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land using nonviolent, direct action methods and principles. Today’s only testimony came from British citizen Alice Coy, a nurse, who was an eyewitness to the killing. The state spent most of the day trying to establish that contrary to all eyewitness accounts and human rights reports, the Israeli Military had no intention of demolishing homes in the area on the day Rachel was killed.

Ms. Coy testified that:

  • She first visited Israel in order visit Israeli family members.
  • When the Israeli Military interviewed her on April 1st about Rachel’s killing, the soldier who documented her testimony refused to record her statement that she believed the bulldozers were going to destroy civilian homes.
  • She believed the Israeli Military was planning to demolish homes on the day Rachel was killed because the Israeli Military had been demolishing homes on the Philadelphi Corridor in the days and weeks prior, and because they had already begun to demolish a house earlier that day by damaging its porch.
  • She had spoken with many Palestinian families in the area where Rachel was killed whose homes had been demolished by the Israeli Military.
  • She believed the bulldozer driver who killed Rachel could see her.
  • She described her view of her work with ISM as promoting peace for the whole region.

The home Rachel Corrie was protecting, that of Dr. Samir Nasrallah, was in fact demolished by the Israeli Military later that year.

According to an October, 2004 Human Rights Watch report, Razing Rafah: Mass Home Demolitions in the Gaza Strip, between 2000 and 2004, the Israeli Military demolished over 2,500 Palestinian houses in Gaza, nearly two thirds of which were located in Rafah, resulting in more than 16,000 people – over 10% of Rafah’s population – losing their homes. The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, in its 2004 report Through No Fault of their Own, found that contrary to Israel’s claim that prior warning is given before a home is demolished, occupants were given prior notification in a mere 3% of the cases.

The Human Rights’ Watch report further documented that most of the destruction in Rafah occurred along the Israeli-controlled border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt known as the Philadelphi Corridor, the area where Rachel was killed. During regular nighttime raids and with little or no warning, Israeli forces used armored Caterpillar D9 bulldozers to raze blocks of homes, incrementally expanding a “buffer zone” that is currently up to three hundred meters wide.The pattern of destruction strongly suggests that Israeli forces demolished homes wholesale, regardless of whether they posed a specific threat, in stark violation of international law.

The trial will resume on Wednesday, March 17, 2010, at 9 a.m. at the district court in Haifa.

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South Africans who fought for Israel in war on Gaza can be prosecuted for War Crimes

November 1, 2009

The Goldstone report on last winter’s Gaza war has become something of a fixture in the media since its publication in September.

But for South Africans, it is another investigation carried out by the distinguished judge Richard Goldstone – a commission that exposed the brutality of Apartheid security forces in the early 1990s – that looms large in their minds.

That investigation, which came as South Africa moved towards democracy, gave Goldstone hero status in the country.

Now a group of South African lawyers are confident that his recent Gaza report has paved the way for a legal case that could see uncomfortable questions about the conflict asked much closer to home.

They want to investigate South African citizens who may have fought for the Israeli army during the war on Gaza in December and January, with a view to prosecuting them on South African soil for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The lawyers are representing two civic organisations, The Media Review Network and the Palestinian Solidarity Alliance. Working from a Johannesburg office, they are building a case known as the Gaza docket which seeks to bring the South African soldiers to justice for their role in the Gaza war.

The lawyers are all Muslims, but deny they are only taking on the case to defend their co-religionists.

“This is not a Muslim-Jew thing. No religion condones the killing of innocents. No religion condones the killing of 1,400 people, or the use of white phosphorus on a civilian population,” says Feroze Boda, the group’s spokesman.

More than rumours

Boda is well-versed in all 3,500 pages of the Gaza docket and says he has presented the evidence to South Africa’s police and National Prosecution Authority.

“There’s always been rumours within the community in South Africa that local South African citizens fight in the IDF, and you would attend mass meetings for example and you would have spokespersons who would say they were interrogated at a border point or in Jerusalem by Israeli soldiers and that soldier spoke Afrikaans,” he said.

But legal cases, especially ones containing such explosive allegations, need to be based on more than hearsay to succeed.

The docket relies heavily on the testimony of UN workers, human rights groups, journalists, and doctors who treated the wounded. The information was gathered by the lawyers on a fact-finding mission to Egypt and Gaza earlier this year.

It features hundreds of pages that detail the aftermath of the use of white phosphorus in urban areas, eyewitness accounts of civilian casualties, and evidence of UN schools hit by Israel during the war. Crucially, the lawyers say the docket also contains evidence that South Africans took part in the fighting.

“We’ve identified about 75 South Africans who we believe served in the IDF at one point or the other,” Boda says.

“We believe that there is prima facae evidence against all of them. We have informants from South African police stations, whose identity we are currently protecting for their safety, who have pinpointed which of their fellow South African police force reservists went to Gaza to fight in the war. We have pictorial evidence as well.”

Evidence online

The lawyers say some of their evidence can be found on public profiles on social networking sites like Facebook.

Al Jazeera logged on to Facebook and quickly found photographs of South Africans proudly showing off their stints fighting for the Israeli army.

Pictures on Facebook show South Africans in GazaPictures on Facebook show South Africans in Gaza

One 23-year-old man from Johannesburg had posted photographs that made it clear he had fought in the Gaza war. And he is not alone.

There is a dizzying array of similar photographs on the website, featuring smiling young men striking gladiatorial poses with weapons that, according to Goldstone, belonged to an army committing war crimes in the Gaza Strip.

Beneath the pictures are captions such as: “These are the presents we sent the Gaza residents daily.”

As a signatory to the Rome Statute, South Africa could theoretically arrest and prosecute these individuals for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity – which is why lawyers like Boda are confident they can set up a war crimes court in South Africa.

They have the backing of another South African legal heavyweight, John Dugard, the former UN special rapporteur for human rights, who is acting as legal counsel to the Gaza docket team.

One of the high profile targets for the lawyers is South African-born Lieutenant Colonel David Benjamin, who served as a legal advisor in the Israeli Military Advocates Corps during the war.

Luis Moreno Ocampo, the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor, has signaled that he too is keen to investigate Benjamin, who gave statements to the media in January hinting that he was one of the legal masterminds behind “Operation Cast Lead”. He has since distanced himself from those remarks.

Alternative charges

Even if war crimes and crimes against humanity cannot be proven, there is another more obvious charge for South Africans who fought for Israel. A South African law, the Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act, bars any citizen from fighting for a foreign force without express government permission.

South Africa’s most influential Jewish organisation, the Jewish Board of Deputies, strongly condemned the Goldstone report and has been quick to dismiss the Gaza docket.

They gave Al Jazeera a brief statement, insisting that they need time to talk to their lawyers. “While we believe that the ‘Gaza docket’ has no merit, we are investigating this further, and will provide more comment as soon as we have done so,” the statement said.

The war on Gaza may have taken place on a tiny, densely populated strip of land thousands of kilometres away, but Goldstone’s involvement in the subsequent investigations has meant that South Africa has already been touched by its repercussions.

If Feroze Boda and the other lawyers have their way, the next act in the drama of the war’s aftermath will be played out in South Africa’s courtrooms – and the Gaza docket will join the Goldstone commission as a landmark case that South Africans will remember for years to come.

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“Exterminate all the Brutes”: Gaza 2009

“Exterminate all the Brutes”: Gaza 2009

January 20, 2009
By Noam Chomsky

On Saturday December 27, the latest US-Israeli attack on helpless Palestinians was launched. The attack had been meticulously planned, for over 6 months according to the Israeli press. The planning had two components: military and propaganda. It was based on the lessons of Israel’s 2006 invasion of Lebanon, which was considered to be poorly planned and badly advertised. We may, therefore, be fairly confident that most of what has been done and said was pre-planned and intended.

That surely includes the timing of the assault: shortly before noon, when children were returning from school and crowds were milling in the streets of densely populated Gaza City. It took only a few minutes to kill over 225 people and wound 700, an auspicious opening to the mass slaughter of defenseless civilians trapped in a tiny cage with nowhere to flee.

In his retrospective “Parsing Gains of Gaza War,” New York Times correspondent Ethan Bronner cited this achievement as one of the most significant of the gains. Israel calculated that it would be advantageous to appear to “go crazy,” causing vastly disproportionate terror, a doctrine that traces back to the 1950s. “The Palestinians in Gaza got the message on the first day,” Bronner wrote, “when Israeli warplanes struck numerous targets simultaneously in the middle of a Saturday morning. Some 200 were killed instantly, shocking Hamas and indeed all of Gaza.” The tactic of “going crazy” appears to have been successful, Bronner concluded: there are “limited indications that the people of Gaza felt such pain from this war that they will seek to rein in Hamas,” the elected government. That is another long-standing doctrine of state terror. I don’t, incidentally, recall the Times retrospective “Parsing Gains of Chechnya War,” though the gains were great.

The meticulous planning also presumably included the termination of the assault, carefully timed to be just before the inauguration, so as to minimize the (remote) threat that Obama might have to say some words critical of these vicious US-supported crimes.

Two weeks after the Sabbath opening of the assault, with much of Gaza already pounded to rubble and the death toll approaching 1000, the UN Agency UNRWA, on which most Gazans depend for survival, announced that the Israeli military refused to allow aid shipments to Gaza, saying that the crossings were closed for the Sabbath. To honor the holy day, Palestinians at the edge of survival must be denied food and medicine, while hundreds can be slaughtered by US jet bombers and helicopters.

The rigorous observance of the Sabbath in this dual fashion attracted little if any notice. That makes sense. In the annals of US-Israeli criminality, such cruelty and cynicism scarcely merit more than a footnote. They are too familiar. To cite one relevant parallel, in June 1982 the US-backed Israeli invasion of Lebanon opened with the bombing of the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila, later to become famous as the site of terrible massacres supervised by the IDF (Israeli “Defense” Forces). The bombing hit the local hospital – the Gaza hospital — and killed over 200 people, according to the eyewitness account of an American Middle East academic specialist. The massacre was the opening act in an invasion that slaughtered some 15-20,000 people and destroyed much of southern Lebanon and Beirut, proceeding with crucial US military and diplomatic support. That included vetoes of Security Council resolutions seeking to halt the criminal aggression that was undertaken, as scarcely concealed, to defend Israel from the threat of peaceful political settlement, contrary to many convenient fabrications about Israelis suffering under intense rocketing, a fantasy of apologists.

All of this is normal, and quite openly discussed by high Israeli officials. Thirty years ago Chief of Staff Mordechai Gur observed that since 1948, “we have been fighting against a population that lives in villages and cities.” As Israel’s most prominent military analyst, Zeev Schiff, summarized his remarks, “the Israeli Army has always struck civilian populations, purposely and consciously…the Army, he said, has never distinguished civilian [from military] targets…[but] purposely attacked civilian targets.” The reasons were explained by the distinguished statesman Abba Eban: “there was a rational prospect, ultimately fulfilled, that affected populations would exert pressure for the cessation of hostilities.” The effect, as Eban well understood, would be to allow Israel to implement, undisturbed, its programs of illegal expansion and harsh repression. Eban was commenting on a review of Labor government attacks against civilians by Prime Minister Begin, presenting a picture, Eban said, “of an Israel wantonly inflicting every possible measure of death and anguish on civilian populations in a mood reminiscent of regimes which neither Mr.Begin nor I would dare to mention by name.” Eban did not contest the facts that Begin reviewed, but criticized him for stating them publicly. Nor did it concern Eban, or his admirers, that his advocacy of massive state terror is also reminiscent of regimes he would not dare to mention by name.

Eban’s justification for state terror is regarded as persuasive by respected authorities. As the current US-Israel assault raged, Times columnist Thomas Friedman explained that Israel’s tactics both in the current attack and in its invasion of Lebanon in 2006 are based on the sound principle of “trying to `educate’ Hamas, by inflicting a heavy death toll on Hamas militants and heavy pain on the Gaza population.” That makes sense on pragmatic grounds, as it did in Lebanon, where “the only long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians — the families and employers of the militants — to restrain Hezbollah in the future.” And by similar logic, bin Laden’s effort to “educate” Americans on 9/11 was highly praiseworthy, as were the Nazi attacks on Lidice and Oradour, Putin’s destruction of Grozny, and other notable attempts at “education.”

Israel has taken pains to make clear its dedication to these guiding principles. NYT correspondent Stephen Erlanger reports that Israeli human rights groups are “troubled by Israel’s strikes on buildings they believe should be classified as civilian, like the parliament, police stations and the presidential palace” – and, we may add, villages, homes, densely populated refugee camps, water and sewage systems, hospitals, schools and universities, mosques, UN relief facilities, ambulances, and indeed anything that might relieve the pain of the unworthy victims. A senior Israeli intelligence officer explained that the IDF attacked “both aspects of Hamas — its resistance or military wing and its dawa, or social wing,” the latter a euphemism for the civilian society. “He argued that Hamas was all of a piece,” Erlanger continues, “and in a war, its instruments of political and social control were as legitimate a target as its rocket caches.” Erlanger and his editors add no comment about the open advocacy, and practice, of massive terrorism targeting civilians, though correspondents and columnists signal their tolerance or even explicit advocacy of war crimes, as noted. But keeping to the norm, Erlanger does not fail to stress that Hamas rocketing is “an obvious violation of the principle of discrimination and fits the classic definition of terrorism.”

Like others familiar with the region, Middle East specialist Fawwaz Gerges observes that “What Israeli officials and their American allies do not appreciate is that Hamas is not merely an armed militia but a social movement with a large popular base that is deeply entrenched in society.” Hence when they carry out their plans to destroy Hamas’s “social wing,” they are aiming to destroy Palestinian society.

Gerges may be too kind. It is highly unlikely that Israeli and American officials – or the media and other commentators – do not appreciate these facts. Rather, they implicitly adopt the traditional perspective of those who monopolize means of violence: our mailed fist can crush any opposition, and if our furious assault has a heavy civilian toll, that’s all to the good: perhaps the remnants will be properly educated.

IDF officers clearly understand that they are crushing the civilian society. Ethan Bronner quotes an Israeli Colonel who says that he and his men are not much “impressed with the Hamas fighters.” “They are villagers with guns,” said a gunner on an armored personnel carrier. They resemble the victims of the murderous IDF “iron fist” operations in occupied southern Lebanon in 1985, directed by Shimon Peres, one of the great terrorist commanders of the era of Reagan’s “War on Terror.” During these operations, Israeli commanders and strategic analysts explained that the victims were “terrorist villagers,” difficult to eradicate because “these terrorists operate with the support of most of the local population.” An Israeli commander complained that “the terrorist…has many eyes here, because he lives here,” while the military correspondent of the Jerusalem Post described the problems Israeli forces faced in combating the “terrorist mercenary,” “fanatics, all of whom are sufficiently dedicated to their causes to go on running the risk of being killed while operating against the IDF,” which must “maintain order and security” in occupied southern Lebanon despite “the price the inhabitants will have to pay.” The problem has been familiar to Americans in South Vietnam, Russians in Afghanistan, Germans in occupied Europe, and other aggressors that find themselves implementing the Gur-Eban-Friedman doctrine.

Gerges believes that US-Israeli state terror will fail: Hamas, he writes, “cannot be wiped out without massacring half a million Palestinians. If Israel succeeds in killing Hamas’s senior leaders, a new generation, more radical than the present, will swiftly replace them. Hamas is a fact of life. It is not going away, and it will not raise the white flag regardless of how many casualties it suffers.”

Perhaps, but there is often a tendency to underestimate the efficacy of violence. It is particularly odd that such a belief should be held in the United States. Why are we here?

Hamas is regularly described as “Iranian-backed Hamas, which is dedicated to the destruction of Israel.” One will be hard put to find something like “democratically elected Hamas, which has long been calling for a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus” — blocked for over 30 years by the US and Israel, which flatly and explicitly reject the right of Palestinians to self-determination. All true, but not a useful contribution to the Party Line, hence dispensable.

Such details as those mentioned earlier, though minor, nevertheless teach us something about ourselves and our clients. So do others. To mention another one, as the latest US-Israeli assault on Gaza began, a small boat, the Dignity, was on its way from Cyprus to Gaza. The doctors and human rights activists aboard intended to violate Israel’s criminal blockade and to bring medical supplies to the trapped population. The ship was intercepted in international waters by Israeli naval vessels, which rammed it severely, almost sinking it, though it managed to limp to Lebanon. Israel issued the routine lies, refuted by the journalists and passengers aboard, including CNN correspondent Karl Penhaul and former US representative and Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney. That is a serious crime — much worse, for example, than hijacking boats off the coast of Somalia. It passed with little notice. The tacit acceptance of such crimes reflects the understanding that Gaza is occupied territory, and that Israel is entitled to maintain its siege, even authorized by the guardians of international order to carry out crimes on the high seas to implement its programs of punishing the civilian population for disobedience to its commands – under pretexts to which we return, almost universally accepted but clearly untenable.

The lack of attention again makes sense. For decades, Israel had been hijacking boats in international waters between Cyprus and Lebanon, killing or kidnapping passengers, sometimes bringing them to prisons in Israel, including secret prison/torture chambers, to hold as hostages for many years. Since the practices are routine, why treat the new crime with more than a yawn? Cyprus and Lebanon reacted quite differently, but who are they in the scheme of things?

Who cares, for example, if the editors of Lebanon’s Daily Star, generally pro-Western, write that “Some 1.5 million people in Gaza are being subjected to the murderous ministrations of one of the world’s most technologically advanced but morally regressive military machines. It is often suggested that the Palestinians have become to the Arab world what the Jews were to pre-World War II Europe, and there is some truth to this interpretation. How sickeningly appropriate, then, that just as Europeans and North Americans looked the other way when the Nazis were perpetrating the Holocaust, the Arabs are finding a way to do nothing as the Israelis slaughter Palestinian children.” Perhaps the most shameful of the Arab regimes is the brutal Egyptian dictatorship, the beneficiary of most US military aid, apart from Israel.

According to the Lebanese press, Israel still “routinely abducts Lebanese civilians from the Lebanese side of the Blue Line [the international border], most recently in December 2008.” And of course “Israeli planes violate Lebanese airspace on a daily basis in violation of UN Resolution 1701” (Lebanese scholar Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, Daily Star, Jan. 13). That too has been happening for a long time. In condemning Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 2006, the prominent Israeli strategic analyst Zeev Maoz wrote in the Israeli press that “Israel has violated Lebanese airspace by carrying out aerial reconnaissance missions virtually every day since its withdrawal from Southern Lebanon six years ago. True, these aerial overflights did not cause any Lebanese casualties, but a border violation is a border violation. Here too, Israel does not hold a higher moral ground.” And in general, there is no basis for the “wall-to-wall consensus in Israel that the war against the Hezbollah in Lebanon is a just and moral war,” a consensus “based on selective and short-term memory, on an introvert world view, and on double standards. This is not a just war, the use of force is excessive and indiscriminate, and its ultimate aim is extortion.”

As Maoz also reminds his Israeli readers, overflights with sonic booms to terrorize Lebanese are the least of Israeli crimes in Lebanon, even apart from its five invasions since 1978: “On July 28, 1988 Israeli Special Forces abducted Sheikh Obeid, and on May 21, 1994 Israel abducted Mustafa Dirani, who was responsible for capturing the Israeli pilot Ron Arad [when he was bombing Lebanon in 1986]. Israel held these and other 20 Lebanese who were captured under undisclosed circumstances in prison for prolonged periods without trial. They were held as human `bargaining chips.’ Apparently, abduction of Israelis for the purpose of prisoners’ exchange is morally reprehensible, and militarily punishable when it is the Hezbollah who does the abducting, but not if Israel is doing the very same thing,” and on a far grander scale and over many years.

Israel’s regular practices are significant even apart from what they reveal about Israeli criminality and Western support for it. As Maoz indicates, these practices underscore the utter hypocrisy of the standard claim that Israel had the right to invade Lebanon once again in 2006 when soldiers were captured at the border, the first cross-border action by Hezbollah in the six years since Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon, which it occupied in violation of Security Council orders going back 22 years, while during these six years Israel violated the border almost daily with impunity, and silence here.

The hypocrisy is, again, routine. Thus Thomas Friedman, while explaining how the lesser breeds are to be “educated” by terrorist violence, writes that Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 2006, once again destroying much of southern Lebanon and Beirut while killing another 1000 civilians, was a just act of self-defense, responding to Hezbollah’s crime of “launching an unprovoked war across the U.N.-recognized Israel-Lebanon border, after Israel had unilaterally withdrawn from Lebanon.” Putting aside the deceit, by the same logic, terrorist attacks against Israelis that are far more destructive and murderous than any that have taken place would be fully justified in response to Israel’s criminal practices in Lebanon and on the high seas, which vastly exceed Hezbollah’s crime of capturing two soldiers at the border. The veteran Middle East specialist of the New York Times surely knows about these crimes, at least if he reads his own newspaper: for example, the 18th paragraph of a story on prisoner exchange in November 1983 which observes, casually, that 37 of the Arab prisoners “had been seized recently by the Israeli Navy as they tried to make their way from Cyprus to Tripoli,” north of Beirut.

Of course all such conclusions about appropriate actions against the rich and powerful are based on a fundamental flaw: This is us, and that is them. This crucial principle, deeply embedded in Western culture, suffices to undermine even the most precise analogy and the most impeccable reasoning.

As I write, another boat is on its way from Cyprus to Gaza, “carrying urgently needed medical supplies in sealed boxes, cleared by customs at the Larnaca International Airport and the Port of Larnaca,” the organizers report. Passengers include members of European Parliaments and physicians. Israel has been notified of their humanitarian intent. With sufficient popular pressure, they might achieve their mission in peace.

The new crimes that the US and Israel have been committing in Gaza in the past weeks do not fit easily into any standard category – except for the category of familiarity; I’ve just given several examples, and will return to others. Literally, the crimes fall under the official US government definition of “terrorism,” but that designation does not capture their enormity. They cannot be called “aggression,” because they are being conducted in occupied territory, as the US tacitly concedes. In their comprehensive scholarly history of Israeli settlement in the occupied territories, Lords of the Land, Idit Zertal and Akiva Eldar point out that after Israel withdrew its forces from Gaza in August 2005, the ruined territory was not released “for even a single day from Israel’s military grip or from the price of the occupation that the inhabitants pay every day… Israel left behind scorched earth, devastated services, and people with neither a present nor a future. The settlements were destroyed in an ungenerous move by an unenlightened occupier, which in fact continues to control the territory and kill and harass its inhabitants by means of its formidable military might” – exercised with extreme savagery, thanks to firm US support and participation.

The US-Israeli assault on Gaza escalated in January 2006, a few months after the formal withdrawal, when Palestinians committed a truly heinous crime: they voted “the wrong way” in a free election. Like others, Palestinians learned that one does not disobey with impunity the commands of the Master, who continues to prate of his “yearning for democracy,” without eliciting ridicule from the educated classes, another impressive achievement.

Since the terms “aggression” and “terrorism” are inadequate, some new term is needed for the sadistic and cowardly torture of people caged with no possibility of escape, while they are being pounded to dust by the most sophisticated products of US military technology – used in violation of international and even US law, but for self-declared outlaw states that is just another minor technicality. Also a minor technicality is the fact that on December 31, while terrorized Gazans were desperately seeking shelter from the ruthless assault, Washington hired a German merchant ship to transport from Greece to Israel a huge shipment, 3000 tons, of unidentified “ammunition.” The new shipment “follows the hiring of a commercial ship to carry a much larger consignment of ordnance in December from the United States to Israel ahead of air strikes in the Gaza Strip,” Reuters reported. All of this is separate from the more than $21 billion in U.S. military aid provided by the Bush administration to Israel, almost all grants. “Israel’s intervention in the Gaza Strip has been fueled largely by U.S. supplied weapons paid for with U.S. tax dollars,” said a briefing by the New America Foundation, which monitors the arms trade. The new shipment was hampered by the decision of the Greek government to bar the use of any port in Greece “for the supplying of the Israeli army.”

Greece’s response to US-backed Israeli crimes is rather different from the craven performance of the leaders of most of Europe. The distinction reveals that Washington may have been quite realistic in regarding Greece as part of the Near East, not Europe, until the overthrow of its US-backed fascist dictatorship in 1974. Perhaps Greece is just too civilized to be part of Europe.

Were anyone to find the timing of the arms deliveries to Israel curious, and inquire further, the Pentagon has an answer: the shipment would arrive too late to escalate the Gaza attack, and the military equipment, whatever it may be, is to be pre-positioned in Israel for eventual use by the US military. That may be accurate. One of the many services that Israel performs for its patron is to provide it with a valuable military base at the periphery of the world’s major energy resources. It can therefore serve as a forward base for US aggression – or to use the technical terms, to “defend the Gulf” and “ensure stability.”

The huge flow of arms to Israel serves many subsidiary purposes. Middle East policy analyst Mouin Rabbani observes that Israel can test newly developed weapons systems against defenseless targets. This is of value to Israel and the US “twice over, in fact, because less effective versions of these same weapons systems are subsequently sold at hugely inflated prices to Arab states, which effectively subsidizes the U.S. weapons industry and U.S. military grants to Israel.” These are additional functions of Israel in the US-dominated Middle East system, and among the reasons why Israel is so favored by the state authorities, along with a wide range of US high-tech corporations, and of course military industry and intelligence.

Israel apart, the US is by far the world’s major arms supplier. The recent New America Foundation report concludes that “U.S. arms and military training played a role in 20 of the world’s 27 major wars in 2007,” earning the US $23 billion in receipts, increasing to $32 billion in 2008. Small wonder that among the numerous UN resolutions that the US opposed in the December 2008 UN session was one calling for regulation of the arms trade. In 2006, the US was alone in voting against the treaty, but in November 2008 it was joined by a partner: Zimbabwe.

There were other notable votes at the December UN session. A resolution on “the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination” was adopted by 173 to 5 (US, Israel, Pacific island dependencies). The vote strongly reaffirms US-Israeli rejectionism, in international isolation. Similarly a resolution on “universal freedom of travel and the vital importance of family reunification” was adopted with US, Israel, and Pacific dependencies opposed, presumably with Palestinians in mind.

In voting against the right to development the US lost Israel but gained Ukraine. In voting against the “right to food,” the US was alone, a particular striking fact in the face of the enormous global food crisis, dwarfing the financial crisis that threatens western economies.

There are good reasons why the voting record is consistently unreported and dispatched deep into the memory hole by the media and conformist intellectuals. It would not be wise to reveal to the public what the record implies about their elected representatives. In the present case it would plainly be unhelpful to let the public know that US-Israeli rejectionism, barring the peaceful settlement long advocated by the world, reaches such an extreme as to deny Palestinians even the abstract right to self-determination.

One of the heroic volunteers in Gaza, Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert, described the scene of horror as an “All out war against the civilian population of Gaza.” He estimated that half the casualties are women and children. The men are almost all civilians as well, by civilized standards. Gilbert reports that he had scarcely seen a military casualty among the 100s of bodies. The IDF concurs. Hamas “made a point of fighting at a distance — or not at all,” Ethan Bronner reports while “parsing the gains” of the US-Israeli assault. So Hamas’s manpower remains intact, and it was mostly civilians who suffered pain: a positive outcome, according to widely-held doctrine.

These estimates were confirmed by UN humanitarian chief John Holmes, who informed reporters that it is “a fair presumption” that most of the civilians killed were women and children in a humanitarian crisis that is “worsening day by day as the violence continues.” But we could be comforted by the words of Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the leading dove in the current electoral campaign, who assured the world that there is no “humanitarian crisis” in Gaza, thanks to Israeli benevolence.

Like others who care about human beings and their fate, Gilbert and Holmes pleaded for a ceasefire. But not yet. “At the United Nations, the United States prevented the Security Council from issuing a formal statement on Saturday night calling for an immediate ceasefire,” the New York Times mentioned in passing. The official reason was that “there was no indication Hamas would abide by any agreement.” In the annals of justifications for delighting in slaughter, this must rank among the most cynical. That of course was Bush and Rice, soon to be displaced by Obama who compassionately repeats that “if missiles were falling where my two daughters sleep, I would do everything in order to stop that.” He is referring to Israeli children, not the many hundreds being torn to shreds in Gaza by US arms. Beyond that Obama maintained his silence.

A few days later, under intense international pressure, the US backed a Security Council resolution calling for a “durable ceasefire.” It passed 14-0, US abstaining. Israel and US hawks were angered that the US did not veto it, as usual. The abstention, however, sufficed to give Israel if not a green at least a yellow light to escalate the violence, as it did right up to virtually the moment of the inauguration, as had been predicted.

As the ceasefire (theoretically) went into effect on January18, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights released its figures for the final day of the assault: 54 Palestinians killed including 43 unarmed civilians, 17 of them children, while the IDF continued to bombard civilian homes and UN schools. The death toll, they estimated, mounted to 1,184, including 844 civilians, 281 of them children. The IDF continued to use incendiary bombs across the Gaza Strip, and to destroy houses and agricultural land, forcing civilians to flee their homes. A few hours later, Reuters reported more than 1,300 killed. The staff of the Al Mezan Center, which also carefully monitors casualties and destruction, visited areas that had previously been inaccessible because of incessant heavy bombardment. They discovered dozens of civilian corpses decomposing under the rubble of destroyed houses or removed by Israeli bulldozers. Entire urban blocks had disappeared.

The figures for killed and wounded are surely an underestimate. And it is unlikely that there will be any inquiry into these atrocities. Crimes of official enemies are subjected to rigorous investigation, but our own are systematically ignored. General practice, again, and understandable on the part of the masters.

The Security Council Resolution called for stopping the flow of arms into Gaza. The US and Israel (Rice-Livni) soon reached an agreement on measures to ensure this result, concentrating on Iranian arms. There is no need to stop smuggling of US arms into Israel, because there is no smuggling: the huge flow of arms is quite public, even when not reported, as in the case of the arms shipment announced as the slaughter in Gaza was proceeding.

The Resolution also called for “ensur[ing] the sustained re-opening of the crossing points on the basis of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access between the Palestinian Authority and Israel”; that Agreement determined that crossings to Gaza would be operated on a continuous basis and that Israel would also allow the crossing of goods and people between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The Rice-Livni agreement had nothing to say about this aspect of the Security Council Resolution. The US and Israel had in fact already abandoned the 2005 Agreement as part of their punishment of Palestinians for voting the wrong way in a free election in January 2006. Rice’s press conference after the Rice-Livni agreement emphasized Washington’s continuing efforts to undermine the results of the one free election in the Arab world: “There is much that can be done,” she said, “to bring Gaza out of the dark of Hamas’s reign and into the light of the very good governance the Palestinian Authority can bring” – at least, can bring as long as it remains a loyal client, rife with corruption and willing to carry out harsh repression, but obedient.

Returning from a visit to the Arab world, Fawwaz Gerges strongly affirmed what others on the scene have reported. The effect of the US-Israeli offensive in Gaza has been to infuriate the populations and to arouse bitter hatred of the aggressors and their collaborators. “Suffice it to say that the so-called moderate Arab states [that is, those that take their orders from Washington] are on the defensive, and that the resistance front led by Iran and Syria is the main beneficiary. Once again, Israel and the Bush administration have handed the Iranian leadership a sweet victory.” Furthermore, “Hamas will likely emerge as a more powerful political force than before and will likely top Fatah, the ruling apparatus of President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority,” Rice’s favorites.

It is worth bearing in mind that the Arab world is not scrupulously protected from the only regular live TV coverage of what is happening in Gaza, namely the “calm and balanced analysis of the chaos and destruction” provided by the outstanding correspondents of al-Jazeera, offering “a stark alternative to terrestrial channels,” as reported by the London Financial Times. In the 105 countries lacking our efficient modalities of self-censorship, people can see what is happening hourly, and the impact is said to be very great. In the US, the New York Times reports, “the near-total blackout…is no doubt related to the sharp criticism Al Jazeera received from the United States government during the initial stages of the war in Iraq for its coverage of the American invasion.” Cheney and Rumsfeld objected, so, obviously, the independent media could only obey.

There is much sober debate about what the attackers hoped to achieve. Some of objectives are commonly discussed, among them, restoring what is called “the deterrent capacity” that Israel lost as a result of its failures in Lebanon in 2006 – that is, the capacity to terrorize any potential opponent into submission. There are, however, more fundamental objectives that tend be ignored, though they too seem fairly obvious when we take a look at recent history.

Israel abandoned Gaza in September 2005. Rational Israeli hardliners, like Ariel Sharon, the patron saint of the settlers movement, understood that it was senseless to subsidize a few thousand illegal Israeli settlers in the ruins of Gaza, protected by the IDF while they used much of the land and scarce resources. It made more sense to turn Gaza into the world’s largest prison and to transfer settlers to the West Bank, much more valuable territory, where Israel is quite explicit about its intentions, in word and more importantly in deed. One goal is to annex the arable land, water supplies, and pleasant suburbs of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv that lie within the separation wall, irrelevantly declared illegal by the World Court. That includes a vastly expanded Jerusalem, in violation of Security Council orders that go back 40 years, also irrelevant. Israel has also been taking over the Jordan Valley, about one-third of the West Bank. What remains is therefore imprisoned, and, furthermore, broken into fragments by salients of Jewish settlement that trisect the territory: one to the east of Greater Jerusalem through the town of Ma’aleh Adumim, developed through the Clinton years to split the West Bank; and two to the north, through the towns of Ariel and Kedumim. What remains to Palestinians is segregated by hundreds of mostly arbitrary checkpoints.

The checkpoints have no relation to security of Israel, and if some are intended to safeguard settlers, they are flatly illegal, as the World Court ruled. In reality, their major goal is harass the Palestinian population and to fortify what Israeli peace activist Jeff Halper calls the “matrix of control,” designed to make life unbearable for the “two-legged beasts” who will be like “drugged roaches scurrying around in a bottle” if they seek to remain in their homes and land. All of that is fair enough, because they are “like grasshoppers compared to us” so that their heads can be “smashed against the boulders and walls.” The terminology is from the highest Israeli political and military leaders, in this case the revered “princes.” And the attitudes shape policies.

The ravings of the political and military leaders are mild as compared to the preaching of rabbinical authorities. They are not marginal figures. On the contrary, they are highly influential in the army and in the settler movement, who Zertal and Eldar reveal to be “lords of the land,” with enormous impact on policy. Soldiers fighting in northern Gaza were afforded an “inspirational” visit from two leading rabbis, who explained to them that there are no “innocents” in Gaza, so everyone there is a legitimate target, quoting a famous passage from Psalms calling on the Lord to seize the infants of Israel’s oppressors and dash them against the rocks. The rabbis were breaking no new ground. A year earlier, the former chief Sephardic rabbi wrote to Prime Minister Olmert, informing him that all civilians in Gaza are collectively guilty for rocket attacks, so that there is “absolutely no moral prohibition against the indiscriminate killing of civilians during a potential massive military offensive on Gaza aimed at stopping the rocket launchings,” as the Jerusalem Post reported his ruling. His son, chief rabbi of Safed, elaborated: “If they don’t stop after we kill 100, then we must kill a thousand, and if they do not stop after 1,000 then we must kill 10,000. If they still don’t stop we must kill 100,000, even a million. Whatever it takes to make them stop.”

Similar views are expressed by prominent American secular figures. When Israel invaded Lebanon in 2006, Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz explained in the liberal online journal Huffington Post that all Lebanese are legitimate targets of Israeli violence. Lebanon’s citizens are “paying the price” for supporting “terrorism” – that is, for supporting resistance to Israel’s invasion. Accordingly, Lebanese civilians are no more immune to attack than Austrians who supported the Nazis. The fatwa of the Sephardic rabbi applies to them. In a video on the Jerusalem Post website, Dershowitz went on to ridicule talk of excessive kill ratios of Palestinians to Israelis: it should be increased to 1000-to-one, he said, or even 1000-to-zero, meaning the brutes should be completely exterminated. Of course, he is referring to “terrorists,” a broad category that includes the victims of Israeli power, since “Israel never targets civilians,” he emphatically declared. It follows that Palestinians, Lebanese, Tunisians, in fact anyone who gets in the way of the ruthless armies of the Holy State is a terrorist, or an accidental victim of their just crimes.

It is not easy to find historical counterparts to these performances. It is perhaps of some interest that they are considered entirely appropriate in the reigning intellectual and moral culture – when they are produced on “our side,” that is; from the mouths of official enemies such words would elicit righteous outrage and calls for massive preemptive violence in revenge.

The claim that “our side” never targets civilians is familiar doctrine among those who monopolize the means of violence. And there is some truth to it. We do not generally try to kill particular civilians. Rather, we carry out murderous actions that we know will slaughter many civilians, but without specific intent to kill particular ones. In law, the routine practices might fall under the category of depraved indifference, but that is not an adequate designation for standard imperial practice and doctrine. It is more similar to walking down a street knowing that we might kill ants, but without intent to do so, because they rank so low that it just doesn’t matter. The same is true when Israel carries out actions that it knows will kill the “grasshoppers” and “two-legged beasts” who happen to infest the lands it “liberates.” There is no good term for this form of moral depravity, arguably worse than deliberate murder, and all too familiar.

In the former Palestine, the rightful owners (by divine decree, according to the “lords of the land”) may decide to grant the drugged roaches a few scattered parcels. Not by right, however: “I believed, and to this day still believe, in our people’s eternal and historic right to this entire land,” Prime Minister Olmert informed a joint session of Congress in May 2006 to rousing applause. At the same time he announced his “convergence” program for taking over what is valuable in the West Bank, leaving the Palestinians to rot in isolated cantons. He was not specific about the borders of the “entire land,” but then, the Zionist enterprise never has been, for good reasons: permanent expansion is a very important internal dynamic. If Olmert is still faithful to his origins in Likud, he may have meant both sides of the Jordan, including the current state of Jordan, at least valuable parts of it.

Our people’s “eternal and historic right to this entire land” contrasts dramatically with the lack of any right of self-determination for the temporary inhabitants, the Palestinians. As noted earlier, the latter stand was reiterated by Israel and its patron in Washington in December 2008, in their usual isolation and accompanied by resounding silence.

The plans that Olmert sketched in 2006 have since been abandoned as not sufficiently extreme. But what replaces the convergence program, and the actions that proceed daily to implement it, are approximately the same in general conception. They trace back to the earliest days of the occupation, when Defense Minister Moshe Dayan explained poetically that “the situation today resembles the complex relationship between a Bedouin man and the girl he kidnaps against his will…You Palestinians, as a nation, don’t want us today, but we’ll change your attitude by forcing our presence on you.” You will “live like dogs, and whoever will leave, will leave,” while we take what we want.

That these programs are criminal has never been in doubt. Immediately after the 1967 war, the Israeli government was informed by its highest legal authority, Teodor Meron, that “civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention,” the foundation of international humanitarian law. Israel’s Justice Minister concurred. The World Court unanimously endorsed the essential conclusion in 2004, and the Israeli High Court technically agreed while disagreeing in practice, in its usual style.

In the West Bank, Israel can pursue its criminal programs with US support and no disturbance, thanks to its effective military control and by now the cooperation of the collaborationist Palestinian security forces armed and trained by the US and allied dictatorships. It can also carry out regular assassinations and other crimes, while settlers rampage under IDF protection. But while the West Bank has been effectively subdued by terror, there is still resistance in the other half of Palestine, the Gaza Strip. That too must be quelled for the US-Israeli programs of annexation and destruction of Palestine to proceed undisturbed.

Hence the invasion of Gaza.

The timing of the invasion was presumably influenced by the coming Israeli election. Ehud Barak, who was lagging badly in the polls, gained one parliamentary seat for every 40 Arabs killed in the early days of the slaughter, Israeli commentator Ran HaCohen calculated.

That may change, however. As the crimes passed beyond what the carefully honed Israeli propaganda campaign was able to suppress, even confirmed Israeli hawks became concerned that the carnage is “Destroying [Israel’s] soul and its image. Destroying it on world television screens, in the living rooms of the international community and most importantly, in Obama’s America” (Ari Shavit). Shavit was particularly concerned about Israel’s “shelling a United Nations facility…on the day when the UN secretary general is visiting Jerusalem,” an act that is “beyond lunacy,” he felt.

Adding a few details, the “facility” was the UN compound in Gaza City, which contained the UNRWA warehouse. The shelling destroyed “hundreds of tons of emergency food and medicines set for distribution today to shelters, hospitals and feeding centres,” according to UNRWA director John Ging. Military strikes at the same time destroyed two floors of the al-Quds hospital, setting it ablaze, and also a second warehouse run by the Palestinian Red Crescent society. The hospital in the densely-populated Tal-Hawa neighbourhood was destroyed by Israeli tanks “after hundreds of frightened Gazans had taken shelter inside as Israeli ground forces pushed into the neighbourhood,” AP reported.

There was nothing left to salvage inside the smoldering ruins of the hospital. “They shelled the building, the hospital building. It caught fire. We tried to evacuate the sick people and the injured and the people who were there. Firefighters arrived and put out the fire, which burst into flames again and they put it out again and it came back for the third time,” paramedic Ahmad Al-Haz told AP. It was suspected that the blaze might have been set by white phosphorous, also suspected in numerous other fires and serious burn injuries.

The suspicions were confirmed by Amnesty International after the cessation of the intense bombardment made inquiry possible. Before, Israel had sensibly barred all journalists, even Israeli, while its crimes were proceeding in full fury. Israel’s use of white phosphorus against Gaza civilians is “clear and undeniable,” AI reported. Its repeated use in densely populated civilian areas “is a war crime,” AI concluded. They found white phosphorus edges scattered around residential buildings, still burning, “further endangering the residents and their property,” particularly children “drawn to the detritus of war and often unaware of the danger.” Primary targets, they report, were the UNRWA compound, where the Israeli “white phosphorus landed next to some fuel trucks and caused a large fire which destroyed tons of humanitarian aid” after Israeli authorities “had given assurance that no further strikes would be launched on the compound.” On the same day, “a white phosphorus shell landed in the al-Quds hospital in Gaza City also causing a fire which forced hospital staff to evacuate the patients… White phosphorus landing on skin can burn deep through muscle and into the bone, continuing to burn unless deprived of oxygen.” Purposely intended or beyond depraved indifference, such crimes are inevitable when this weapon is used in attacks on civilians.

It is, however, a mistake to concentrate too much on Israel’s gross violations of jus in bello, the laws designed to bar practices that are too savage. The invasion itself is a far more serious crime. And if Israel had inflicted the horrendous damage by bows and arrows, it would still be a criminal act of extreme depravity.

Aggression always has a pretext: in this case, that Israel’s patience had “run out” in the face of Hamas rocket attacks, as Barak put it. The mantra that is endlessly repeated is that Israel has the right to use force to defend itself. The thesis is partially defensible. The rocketing is criminal, and it is true that a state has the right to defend itself against criminal attacks. But it does not follow that it has a right to defend itself by force. That goes far beyond any principle that we would or should accept. Nazi Germany had no right to use force to defend itself against the terrorism of the partisans. Kristallnacht is not justified by Herschel Grynszpan’s assassination of a German Embassy official in Paris. The British were not justified in using force to defend themselves against the (very real) terror of the American colonists seeking independence, or to terrorize Irish Catholics in response to IRA terror – and when they finally turned to the sensible policy of addressing legitimate grievances, the terror ended. It is not a matter of “proportionality,” but of choice of action in the first place: Is there an alternative to violence?

Any resort to force carries a heavy burden of proof, and we have to ask whether it can be met in the case of Israel’s effort to quell any resistance to its daily criminal actions in Gaza and in the West Bank, where they still continue relentlessly after more than 40 years. Perhaps I may quote myself in an interview in the Israeli press on Olmert’s announced convergence plans for the West Bank: “The US and Israel do not tolerate any resistance to these plans, preferring to pretend – falsely of course – that `there is no partner,’ as they proceed with programs that go back a long way. We may recall that Gaza and the West Bank are recognized to be a unit, so if resistance to the US-Israeli annexation-cantonization programs is legitimate in the West Bank, it is in Gaza too.”

Palestinian-American journalist Ali Abunimah observed that “There are no rockets launched at Israel from the West Bank, and yet Israel’s extrajudicial killings, land theft, settler pogroms and kidnappings never stopped for a day during the truce. The western-backed Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas has acceded to all Israel’s demands. Under the proud eye of United States military advisors, Abbas has assembled `security forces’ to fight the resistance on Israel’s behalf. None of that has spared a single Palestinian in the West Bank from Israel’s relentless colonization” – thanks to firm US backing. The respected Palestinian parliamentarian Dr. Mustapha Barghouti adds that after Bush’s Annapolis extravaganza in November 2007, with much uplifting rhetoric about dedication to peace and justice, Israeli attacks on Palestinians escalated sharply, with an almost 50% increase in the West Bank, along with a sharp increase in settlements and Israeli check points. Obviously these criminal actions are not a response to rockets from Gaza, though the converse may well be the case, Barghouti plausibly suggests.

The reactions to crimes of an occupying power can be condemned as criminal and politically foolish, but those who offer no alternative have no moral grounds to issue such judgments. The conclusion holds with particular force for those in the US who choose to be directly implicated in Israel’s ongoing crimes — by their words, their actions, or their silence. All the more so because there are very clear non-violent alternatives – which, however, have the disadvantage that they bar the programs of illegal expansion.

Israel has a straightforward means to defend itself: put an end to its criminal actions in occupied territories, and accept the long-standing international consensus on a two-state settlement that has been blocked by the US and Israel for over 30 years, since the US first vetoed a Security Council resolution calling for a political settlement in these terms in 1976. I will not once again run through the inglorious record, but it is important to be aware that US-Israeli rejectionism today is even more blatant than in the past. The Arab League has gone even beyond the consensus, calling for full normalization of relations with Israel. Hamas has repeatedly called for a two-state settlement in terms of the international consensus. Iran and Hezbollah have made it clear that they will abide by any agreement that Palestinians accept. That leaves the US-Israel in splendid isolation, not only in words.

The more detailed record is informative. The Palestinian National Council formally accepted the international consensus in 1988. The response of the Shamir-Peres coalition government, affirmed by James Baker’s State Department, was that there cannot be an “additional Palestinian state” between Israel and Jordan – the latter already a Palestinian state by US-Israeli dictate. The Oslo accords that followed put to the side potential Palestinian national rights, and the threat that they might be realized in some meaningful form was systematically undermined through the Oslo years by Israel’s steady expansion of illegal settlements. Settlement accelerated in 2000, President Clinton’s and Prime Minister Barak’s last year, when negotiations took place at Camp David against that background.

After blaming Yassir Arafat for the breakdown of the Camp David negotiations, Clinton backtracked, and recognized that the US-Israeli proposals were too extremist to be acceptable to any Palestinian. In December 2000, he presented his “parameters,” vague but more forthcoming. He then announced that both sides had accepted the parameters, while both expressed reservations. The two sides met in Taba Egypt in January 2001 and came very close to an agreement, and would have been able to do so in a few more days, they said in their final press conference. But the negotiations were cancelled prematurely by Ehud Barak. That week in Taba is the one break in over 30 years of US-Israeli rejectionism. There is no reason why that one break in the record cannot be resumed.

The preferred version, recently reiterated by Ethan Bronner, is that “Many abroad recall Mr. Barak as the prime minister who in 2000 went further than any Israeli leader in peace offers to the Palestinians, only to see the deal fail and explode in a violent Palestinian uprising that drove him from power.” It’s true that “many abroad” believe this deceitful fairy tale, thanks to what Bronner and too many of his colleagues call “journalism”.

It is commonly claimed that a two-state solution is now unattainable because if the IDF tried to remove settlers, it would lead to a civil war. That may be true, but much more argument is needed. Without resorting to force to expel illegal settlers, the IDF could simply withdraw to whatever boundaries are established by negotiations. The settlers beyond those boundaries would have the choice of leaving their subsidized homes to return to Israel, or to remain under Palestinian authority. The same was true of the carefully staged “national trauma” in Gaza in 2005, so transparently fraudulent that it was ridiculed by Israeli commentators. It would have sufficed for Israel to announce that the IDF would withdraw, and the settlers who were subsidized to enjoy their life in Gaza would have quietly climbed into the lorries provided to them and travelled to their new subsidized residences in the West Bank. But that would not have produced tragic photos of agonized children and passionate calls of “never again.”

To summarize, contrary to the claim that is constantly reiterated, Israel has no right to use force to defend itself against rockets from Gaza, even if they are regarded as terrorist crimes. Furthermore, the reasons are transparent. The pretext for launching the attack is without merit.

There is also a narrower question. Does Israel have peaceful short-term alternatives to the use of force in response to rockets from Gaza. One short-term alternative would be to accept a ceasefire. Sometimes Israel has done so, while instantly violating it. The most recent and currently relevant case is June 2008. The ceasefire called for opening the border crossings to “allow the transfer of all goods that were banned and restricted to go into Gaza.” Israel formally agreed, but immediately announced that it would not abide by the agreement and open the borders until Hamas released Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas in June 2006.

The steady drumbeat of accusations about the capture of Shalit is, again, blatant hypocrisy, even putting aside Israel’s long history of kidnapping. In this case, the hypocrisy could not be more glaring. One day before Hamas captured Shalit, Israeli soldiers entered Gaza City and kidnapped two civilians, the Muammar brothers, bringing them to Israel to join the thousands of other prisoners held there, almost 1000 reportedly without charge. Kidnapping civilians is a far more serious crime than capturing a soldier of an attacking army, but it was barely reported in contrast to the furor over Shalit. And all that remains in memory, blocking peace, is the capture of Shalit, another reflection of the difference between humans and two-legged beasts. Shalit should be returned – in a fair prisoner exchange.

It was after the capture of Shalit that Israel’s unrelenting military attack against Gaza passed from merely vicious to truly sadistic. But it is well to recall that even before his capture, Israel had fired more than 7,700 shells at northern Gaza after its September withdrawal, eliciting virtually no comment.

After rejecting the June 2008 ceasefire it had formally accepted, Israel maintained its siege. We may recall that a siege is an act of war. In fact, Israel has always insisted on an even stronger principle: hampering access to the outside world, even well short of a siege, is an act of war, justifying massive violence in response. Interference with Israel’s passage through the Straits of Tiran was part of the pretext for Israel’s invasion of Egypt (with France and England) in 1956, and for its launching of the June 1967 war. The siege of Gaza is total, not partial, apart from occasional willingness of the occupiers to relax it slightly. And it is vastly more harmful to Gazans than closing the Straits of Tiran was to Israel. Supporters of Israeli doctrines and actions should therefore have no problem justifying rocket attacks on Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip.

Of course, again we run into the nullifying principle: This is us, that is them.

Israel not only maintained the siege after June 2008, but did so with extreme rigor. It even prevented UNRWA from replenishing its stores, “so when the ceasefire broke down, we ran out of food for the 750,000 who depend on us,” UNRWA director John Ging informed the BBC.

Despite the Israeli siege, rocketing sharply reduced. The ceasefire broke down on November 4 with an Israeli raid into Gaza, leading to the death of 6 Palestinians, and a retaliatory barrage of rockets (with no injuries). The pretext for the raid was that Israel had detected a tunnel in Gaza that might have been intended for use to capture another Israeli soldier. The pretext is transparently absurd, as a number of commentators have noted. If such a tunnel existed, and reached the border, Israel could easily have barred it right there. But as usual, the ludicrous Israeli pretext was deemed credible.

What was the reason for the Israeli raid? We have no internal evidence about Israeli planning, but we do know that the raid came shortly before scheduled Hamas-Fatah talks in Cairo aimed at “reconciling their differences and creating a single, unified government,” British correspondent Rory McCarthy reported. That was to be the first Fatah-Hamas meeting since the June 2007 civil war that left Hamas in control of Gaza, and would have been a significant step towards advancing diplomatic efforts. There is a long history of Israel provocations to deter the threat of diplomacy, some already mentioned. This may have been another one.

The civil war that left Hamas in control of Gaza is commonly described as a Hamas military coup, demonstrating again their evil nature. The real world is a little different. The civil war was incited by the US and Israel, in a crude attempt at a military coup to overturn the free elections that brought Hamas to power. That has been public knowledge at least since April 2008, when David Rose published in Vanity Fair a detailed and documented account of how Bush, Rice, and Deputy National-Security Adviser Elliott Abrams “backed an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and leaving Hamas stronger than ever.” The account was recently corroborated once again in the Christian Science Monitor (Jan. 12, 2009) by Norman Olsen, who served for 26 years in the Foreign Service, including four years working in the Gaza Strip and four years at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, and then moved on to become associate coordinator for counterterrorism at the Department of State. Olson and his son detail the State Department shenanigans intended to ensure that their candidate, Abbas, would win in the January 2006 elections – in which case it would have been hailed as a triumph of democracy. After the election-fixing failed, they turned to punishment of the Palestinians and arming of a militia run by Fatah strong-man Muhammad Dahlan, but “Dahlan’s thugs moved too soon” and a Hamas pre-emptive strike undermined the coup attempt, leading to far harsher US-Israeli measures to punish the disobedient people of Gaza. The Party Line is more acceptable.

After Israel broke the June 2008 ceasefire (such as it was) in November, the siege was tightened further, with even more disastrous consequences for the population. According to Sara Roy, the leading academic specialist on Gaza, “On Nov. 5, Israel sealed all crossing points into Gaza, vastly reducing and at times denying food supplies, medicines, fuel, cooking gas, and parts for water and sanitation systems…” During November, an average of 4.6 trucks of food per day entered Gaza from Israel compared with an average of 123 trucks per day in October. Spare parts for the repair and maintenance of water-related equipment have been denied entry for over a year. The World Health Organization just reported that half of Gaza’s ambulances are now out of order” – and the rest soon became targets for Israeli attack. Gaza’s only power station was forced to suspend operation for lack of fuel, and could not be started up again because they needed spare parts, which had been sitting in the Israeli port of Ashdod for 8 months. Shortage of electricity led to a 300% increase in burn cases at Shifaa’ hospital in the Gaza Strip, resulting from efforts to light wood fires. Israel barred shipment of Chlorine, so that by mid-December in Gaza City and the north access to water was limited to six hours every three days. The human consequences are not counted among Palestinian victims of Israeli terror.

After the November 4 Israeli attack, both sides escalated violence (all deaths were Palestinian) until the ceasefire formally ended on Dec. 19, and Prime Minister Olmert authorized the full-scale invasion.

A few days earlier Hamas had proposed to return to the original July ceasefire agreement, which Israel had not observed. Historian and former Carter administration high official Robert Pastor passed the proposal to a “senior official” in the IDF, but Israel did not respond. The head of Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, was quoted in Israeli sources on December 21 as saying that Hamas is interested in continuing the “calm” with Israel, while its military wing is continuing preparations for conflict.

“There clearly was an alternative to the military approach to stopping the rockets,” Pastor said, keeping to the narrow issue of Gaza. There was also a more far-reaching alternative, which is rarely discussed: namely, accepting a political settlement including all of the occupied territories.

Israel’s senior diplomatic correspondent Akiva Eldar reports that shortly before Israel launched its full-scale invasion on Saturday Dec. 27, “Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshal announced on the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Web site that he was prepared not only for a `cessation of aggression’ – he proposed going back to the arrangement at the Rafah crossing as of 2005, before Hamas won the elections and later took over the region. That arrangement was for the crossing to be managed jointly by Egypt, the European Union, the Palestinian Authority presidency and Hamas,” and as noted earlier, called for opening of the crossings to desperately needed supplies.

A standard claim of the more vulgar apologists for Israeli violence is that in the case of the current assault, “as in so many instances in the past half century – the Lebanon War of 1982, the `Iron Fist’ response to the 1988 intifada, the Lebanon War of 2006 – the Israelis have reacted to intolerable acts of terror with a determination to inflict terrible pain, to teach the enemy a lesson” (New Yorker editor David Remnick). The 2006 invasion can be justified only on the grounds of appalling cynicism, as already discussed. The reference to the vicious response to the 1988 intifada is too depraved even to discuss; a sympathetic interpretation might be that it reflects astonishing ignorance. But Remnick’s claim about the 1982 invasion is quite common, a remarkable feat of incessant propaganda, which merits a few reminders.

Uncontroversially, the Israel-Lebanon border was quiet for a year before the Israeli invasion, at least from Lebanon to Israel, north to south. Through the year, the PLO scrupulously observed a US-initiated ceasefire, despite constant Israeli provocations, including bombing with many civilian casualties, presumably intended to elicit some reaction that could be used to justify Israel’s carefully planned invasion. The best Israel could achieve was two light symbolic responses. It then invaded with a pretext too absurd to be taken seriously.

The invasion had precisely nothing to do with “intolerable acts of terror,” though it did have to do with intolerable acts: of diplomacy. That has never been obscure. Shortly after the US-backed invasion began, Israel’s leading academic specialist on the Palestinians, Yehoshua Porath – no dove — wrote that Arafat’s success in maintaining the ceasefire constituted “a veritable catastrophe in the eyes of the Israeli government,” since it opened the way to a political settlement. The government hoped that the PLO would resort to terrorism, undermining the threat that it would be “a legitimate negotiating partner for future political accommodations.”

The facts were well-understood in Israel, and not concealed. Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir stated that Israel went to war because there was “a terrible danger… Not so much a military one as a political one,” prompting the fine Israeli satirist B. Michael to write that “the lame excuse of a military danger or a danger to the Galilee is dead.” We “have removed the political danger” by striking first, in time; now, “Thank God, there is no one to talk to.” Historian Benny Morris recognized that the PLO had observed the ceasefire, and explained that “the war’s inevitability rested on the PLO as a political threat to Israel and to Israel’s hold on the occupied territories.” Others have frankly acknowledged the unchallenged facts.

In a front-page think-piece on the latest Gaza invasion, NYT correspondent Steven Lee Meyers writes that “In some ways, the Gaza attacks were reminiscent of the gamble Israel took, and largely lost, in Lebanon in 1982 [when] it invaded to eliminate the threat of Yasir Arafat’s forces.” Correct, but not in the sense he has in mind. In 1982, as in 2008, it was necessary to eliminate the threat of political settlement.

The hope of Israeli propagandists has been that Western intellectuals and media would buy the tale that Israel reacted to rockets raining on the Galilee, “intolerable acts of terror.” And they have not been disappointed.

It is not that Israel does not want peace: everyone wants peace, even Hitler. The question is: on what terms? From its origins, the Zionist movement has understood that to achieve its goals, the best strategy would be to delay political settlement, meanwhile slowly building facts on the ground. Even the occasional agreements, as in 1947, were recognized by the leadership to be temporary steps towards further expansion. The 1982 Lebanon war was a dramatic example of the desperate fear of diplomacy. It was followed by Israeli support for Hamas so as to undermine the secular PLO and its irritating peace initiatives. Another case that should be familiar is Israeli provocations before the 1967 war designed to elicit a Syrian response that could be used as a pretext for violence and takeover of more land – at least 80% of the incidents, according to Defense Minister Moshe Dayan.

The story goes far back. The official history of the Haganah, the pre-state Jewish military force, describes the assassination of the religious Jewish poet Jacob de Haan in 1924, accused of conspiring with the traditional Jewish community (the Old Yishuv) and the Arab Higher Committee against the new immigrants and their settlement enterprise. And there have been numerous examples since.

The effort to delay political accommodation has always made perfect sense, as do the accompanying lies about how “there is no partner for peace.” It is hard to think of another way to take over land where you are not wanted.

Similar reasons underlie Israel’s preference for expansion over security. Its violation of the ceasefire on November 4 2009 is one of many recent examples.

An Amnesty International chronology reports that the June 2008 ceasefire had “brought enormous improvements in the quality of life in Sderot and other Israeli villages near Gaza, where before the ceasefire residents lived in fear of the next Palestinian rocket strike. However, nearby in the Gaza Strip the Israeli blockade remains in place and the population has so far seen few dividends from the ceasefire.” But the gains in security for Israel towns near Gaza were evidently outweighed by the felt need to deter diplomatic moves that might impede West Bank expansion, and to crush any remaining resistance within Palestine.

The preference for expansion over security has been particularly evident since Israel’s fateful decision in 1971, backed by Henry Kissinger, to reject the offer of a full peace treaty by President Sadat of Egypt, offering nothing to the Palestinians – an agreement that the US and Israel were compelled to accept at Camp David eight years later, after a major war that was a near disaster for Israel. A peace treaty with Egypt would have ended any significant security threat, but there was an unacceptable quid pro quo: Israel would have had to abandon its extensive settlement programs in the northeastern Sinai. Security was a lower priority than expansion, as it still is. Substantial evidence for this basic conclusion is provided in a magisterial study of Israel’s security and foreign policy by Zeev Maoz, Defending the Holy Land.

Today, Israel could have security, normalization of relations, and integration into the region. But it very clearly prefers illegal expansion, conflict, and repeated exercise of violence, actions that are not only criminal, murderous and destructive but are also eroding its own long-term security. US military and Middle East specialist Andrew Cordesman writes that while Israel military force can surely crush defenseless Gaza, “neither Israel nor the US can gain from a war that produces [a bitter] reaction from one of the wisest and most moderate voices in the Arab world, Prince Turki al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia, who said on January 6 that `The Bush administration has left [Obama] a disgusting legacy and a reckless position towards the massacres and bloodshed of innocents in Gaza…Enough is enough, today we are all Palestinians and we seek martyrdom for God and for Palestine, following those who died in Gaza’.”

One of the wisest voices in Israel, Uri Avnery, writes that after an Israeli military victory, “What will be seared into the consciousness of the world will be the image of Israel as a blood-stained monster, ready at any moment to commit war crimes and not prepared to abide by any moral restraints. This will have severe consequences for our long-term future, our standing in the world, our chance of achieving peace and quiet. In the end, this war is a crime against ourselves too, a crime against the State of Israel.”

There is good reason to believe that he is right. Israel is deliberately turning itself into perhaps the most hated country in the world, and is also losing the allegiance of the population of the West, including younger American Jews, who are unlikely to tolerate its persistent shocking crimes for long. Decades ago, I wrote that those who call themselves “supporters of Israel” are in reality supporters of its moral degeneration and probable ultimate destruction. Regrettably, that judgment looks more and more plausible.

Meanwhile we are quietly observing a rare event in history, what the late Israeli sociologist Baruch Kimmerling called “politicide,” the murder of a nation — at our hands.

Source

Shoot Then Ask, Israeli Soldiers Told

Gaza (6) A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Outcry over weapons used in Gaza

Unusually Large U.S. Weapons Shipment to Israel: Are the US and Israel Planning a Broader Middle East War?

The State of Israel: Since its Creation

Israel Navy ships turn back “Spirit of Humanity” carrying Gaza humanitarian aid

Israel ‘rammed’ medical aid boat Dignity headed to Gaza

79 % of the time: Israel caused conflicts not Hamas

US Veto Blocks UN Anti-Israel Resolution

Israel Used Internationally Banned Weaponry in Massive Airstrikes Across Gaza Strip

700 Israelis arrested for protesting against war

Israel’s ‘Crimes Against Humanity’

Israel killing their own by Using Deadly Weapons of Mass Destuction against Gaza

Gaza Families Eat Grass as Israel Blocks Food Aid

There are more stories on Gaza in the Archives

Indexed List of all Stories in Archives

Israeli teenagers jailed for refusing to serve in army

Israeli teenagers jailed for refusing to serve in army
December 18 2008

Peace activists in Israel and around the world are participating on Wednesday in a day of action to call on Israeli authorities to release teenagers imprisoned for refusing to serve in the army for reasons of conscience.

Tamar Katz, Raz Bar-David Varon and Yuval Oron-Ofir are three conscientious objectors who are all serving their third prison sentences. At least six other teenagers – male and female – have been jailed in recent months for refusing to enlist and at least two more, both young women, are at risk of imminent imprisonment.

Their refusal stems from their opposition to the Israeli military occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and to the practices of the Israeli army there. They believe that by enlisting they would participate in committing human rights abuses in which they want no part.

Amnesty International has added its voice to the campaign. The organization considers these teenagers to be prisoners of conscience and calls for their immediate and unconditional release.

Tamar Katz, aged 19, has already spent 50 days in jail and is serving her third prison sentence. In her declaration of refusal she stated:

“I am not willing to become part of an occupying army… I am not willing to become one of those holding the gun pointed indiscriminately at Palestinian civilians, and I do not believe that such actions could bring any change except ever more antagonism and violence in our region.”

She has been held in isolation and deprived of family visits as punishment for refusing to wear a military uniform in prison.

Eighteen-year-old Raz Bar-David Varon, also serving her third prison term, said on the day of her arrest:

“I have witnessed this army demolishing, shooting and humiliating people whom I did not know… It hurts me when people, Palestinians, are being so brutally assaulted, and it hurts me when they later turn their hatred towards me because of it. I wasn’t born to serve as a soldier who occupies another… My responsibility is to refuse.”

Yuval Oron-Ofir was jailed for the third time on 14 December. The 19-year-old explained his reasons for refusing to enlist:

“There is another way, which is not the way of war. This is the path of dialogue, of understanding… of peace. This is why I shall not join an army behind whose actions I cannot stand and whose behavior I cannot justify.”

Teenagers who refuse to enlist because they do not want to find themselves in a situation where they may contribute to or participate in committing human rights abuses are generally sent to jail for months.

There is no civilian service alternative to military draft in Israel and, although a “conscience committee” exists within the Israeli army, exemption is only usually granted to those who refuse to serve on religious grounds. Those who make it known that they are unwilling to enlist on grounds of conscience – because they are pacifist or oppose the army’s practices in the OPT – are routinely imprisoned.

At the same time, Israeli soldiers who commit grave human rights violations, including war crimes, such as unlawful killings of unarmed civilians, reckless shelling of densely populated residential areas or wanton destruction of homes, are routinely granted impunity.

“Such a policy sends the wrong message to Israeli society and to young people in particular,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s researcher on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. “All conscientious objectors should be given the opportunity to present the grounds of their objection to a decision-making body which is impartial and independent.

“Amnesty International calls on the Israeli authorities to ensure that such a body is established, and in the meantime to immediately and unconditionally release the conscientious objectors currently detained and not to imprison others.”

Source

Americans support conscientious objectors to IDF military service by sending 20,000 letters to Barak

By Natasha Mozgovaya
December 21 2008

WASHINGTON
Conscientious objectors who refused to serve in the Israel Defense Forces received an unprecedented shot in the arm from North American Jewry yesterday, when demonstrators protested against their detention by presenting 20,000 letters from Diaspora Jews demanding their release.

Dozens of activists tried to deliver the letters to Defense Minister Ehud Barak at a demonstration outside his office in Tel Aviv.
Many letters came from a Web site called Jewish Voice for Peace, which features a video in which the objectors explain in English why they refused to enlist.

Although most American Jews are politically aligned with the liberal left, IDF service is generally viewed as an unassailable duty. Thus, there has never been a concentrated effort to lobby Israelis to evade conscription.

The Jewish Voice for Peace has recruited actor Ed Asner, historian and author Howard Zinn, and folk singer Ronnie Gilbert to the cause.

“The recent election of anti-war candidate Barack Obama, who by the way received some 80% of the Jewish vote, was evidence of the American people’s disenchantment with war and occupation,” said Cecilie Surasky, the communications director for Jewish Voice for Peace. “Seven years and untold lives and dollars later, there is almost total agreement in the U.S. that our venture in Iraq has been an unqualified disaster.”

Gilbert called on Israel to change its policies.

“I am an old-time peace activist,” he said. “I have marched and pleaded against the cruel occupation for years. The presence of the Shministim [the Hebrew term for Israeli youths who refuse enlistment] makes me ashamed of sometimes feeling that Israel will never change. You are the change.”

Zinn, a scholar who is no stranger to controversy, called the objectors courageous for their actions.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about courage,” Zinn wrote in his letter. “Right now, while I’m snug and fed this Thanksgiving holiday in the comfort of my home, halfway around the world a group of teenagers is sitting in a jail cell today, demonstrating the very definition of courage and sacrifice. It’s frustrating. Humbling. And I’m damn glad to have the chance to do something big about it.”

Surasky said she was not concerned that the campaign would be viewed as interference in internal Israeli affairs.

“For years, money from Jewish American organizations supported the settlements in Israel. It’s logical for dovish organizations like Jewish Voice for Peace to support the Shministim, who represent the values that we wish Jews and Israel would represent everywhere – authentic commitment to the value of human lives. Especially in the days of Hanukkah. They are a small light which shines bright in days of great darkness.”

The Jewish Voice for Peace internet site offers a ready-made text which users can send to Barak after filling out their email addresses, their names and other details.

“I support the Shministim and their right to peacefully object to military service,” the standard letter reads. “I call for the release of those teenagers who have been jailed for their principled refusal to serve in an army which occupies the Palestinian Territories. The imprisonment of these conscientious objectors is a violation of their human rights and contrary to International Law.”

The letter continues: “I am inspired by these caring students and their counterparts in Palestine, whose nonviolent resistance to the Occupation points the way to a just peace and security for all people in the region. They are our best hope for the future. I urge you to heed them, and not punish them.”

The IDF objectors also received a show of support from 25 American objectors who refused to fight in the Middle East.

“We, soldiers in the U.S. Army who refused to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq, demonstrate our solidarity with the Israeli Shministim,” they wrote. “The War on Terror, like the Israeli occupation, is fueled by racism and dehumanization.”

Source

The teenagers are right, Israel is committing crimes against humanity. Starvation is a crime.

Israel starving Palestinians: UN

‘POLITICAL CRISIS’:

The UN Relief and Works Agency fears that irreversible damage is being done as the latest statistics reveal the level of deprivation in the Gaza Strip

December 22, 2008

Impoverished Palestinians on the Gaza Strip are being forced to scavenge for food on rubbish dumps to survive as Israel’s economic blockade risks causing irreversible damage, international observers said.

Figures released last week by the UN Relief and Works Agency reveal that the economic blockade imposed by Israel on Gaza in July last year has had a devastating impact on the local population. Large numbers of Palestinians are unable to afford the high prices of food being smuggled through the Hamas-controlled tunnels to the Strip from Egypt and last week were confronted with the suspension of UN food and cash distribution as a result of the siege.

The figures collected by the UN agency show that 51.8 percent — an “unprecedentedly high” number of Gaza’s 1.5 million population — are now living below the poverty line. The agency has announced that it had been forced to stop distributing food rations to the 750,000 people in need and had also suspended cash distributions to 94,000 of the most disadvantaged who were unable to afford the high prices being asked for smuggled food.

“Things have been getting worse and worse,” the agency’s Chris Gunness said yesterday. “It is the first time we have been seeing people picking through the rubbish like this looking for things to eat. Things are particularly bad in Gaza City where the population is most dense.”

“Because Gaza is now operating as a ‘tunnel economy’ and there is so little coming through via Israeli crossings, it is hitting the most disadvantaged worst,” he said.

Gunness also expressed concern about the state of Gaza’s infrastructure, including its water and sewerage systems, which have not been maintained properly since Israel began blocking shipments of concrete into Gaza, warning of the risk of the spread of communicable diseases both inside and outside of Gaza.

“This is not a humanitarian crisis,” he said. “This is a political crisis of choice with dire humanitarian consequences.”

The revelations over the escalating difficulties inside Gaza were delivered a day after the end of the six-month ceasefire between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers, which had been brokered by Egypt in June, and follow warnings from the World Bank at the beginning of December that Gaza faced “irreversible” economic collapse.

The deteriorating conditions in Gaza emerged as former British prime minister Tony Blair, Middle East envoy for the Quartet — US, Russia, the UN and the EU — warned yesterday that Israel’s economic blockade, which had been imposed a year and a half ago when Hamas took power on the Gaza Strip, was reinforcing rather than undermining the party’s hold on power. Blair said the collapse of Gaza’s legitimate economy under the impact of the blockade had allowed the emergence of an alternative system based on smuggling through the Hamas-controlled tunnels. Hamas “taxed” the goods smuggled through the tunnels.

It was because of this that Blair wrote to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert earlier this month demanding that Israel permit the transfer of cash into Gaza from the West Bank.

Calling for a change in policy over Gaza, Blair said: “I don’t think that the current situation is sustainable; I think most people who would analyze it think the same.”

Blair’s comments came as an Israeli air strike against a rocket squad killed a Palestinian militant yesterday, the first Gaza death since Hamas formally declared an end to a six-month truce with Israel.

Also on Saturday, a boat carrying a Qatari delegation, Lebanese activists and journalists from Israel and Lebanon sailed into Gaza City’s small port in defiance of a border blockade. It was the fifth such boat trip since the summer. The two Qatari citizens aboard the Dignity are from the government-funded Qatar Authority for Charitable Activities.

“We are here to represent the Qatar government and people,” delegation member Aed al-Kahtani said. “We will look into the needs of our brothers in Gaza, and find out what is the most appropriate way to bring in aid.”

The arrival of the delegation reflects the growing anger in the Arab world over the Gaza siege.

On Friday, thousands of people joined a rally in Beirut organized by Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement against Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Addressing the Beirut crowd, Hezbollah deputy leader Sheikh Naim Kassem called on Arab and Islamic governments to act to help lift the Gaza blockade, and urged Egypt to take an “historic stance” by opening its border crossing with Gaza.

“Silence on the [Gaza] blockade is disgraceful. Silence on the blockade amounts to participation in the [Israeli] occupation,” Kassem said.

Source

Israel’s ‘Crimes Against Humanity’