Israel’s War Against Palestine: Documenting the Military Occupation of Palestinian and Arab Lands

January 2009

Just four years ago, the defense establishment decided to carry out a seemingly elementary task: establish a comprehensive database on the settlements…

If Israel plans to keep control over any future Palestinian entity, it will never find a Palestinian partner, and even if it succeeds in dismantling Hamas, the movement will in time be replaced by a far more radical Palestinian opposition.

Consent and Advise

29 January 2009

On the first day of Operation Cast Lead, the air force bombed the graduation ceremony of a police course, killing dozens of policemen. Months earlier, an operational and legal controversy was already swirling around the planned attack. According to a military source who was involved in the planning, bombing the site of the ceremony was authorized with no difficulty, but questions were raised about the intent to strike at the graduates of the course. Military Intelligence, convinced the attack was justified, pressed for its implementation. Representatives of the international law division (ILD) in the Military Advocate General’s Office at first objected, fearing a possible violation of international law.

Over the course of several months, the operational echelons, particularly Military Intelligence, kept up the pressure on the army’s legal staff. In the end, ILD authorized the air strike as it was carried out. The “incrimination” of the policemen (that is, justifying an attack on them) was based on their categorization as a resistance force in the event of an Israeli incursion into the Gaza Strip; not on information about any of them as individuals.

On Saturday December 27, 2008, 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.

Barack Obama is recognized to be a person of acute intelligence, a legal scholar, careful with his choice of words. He deserves to be taken seriously – both what he says, and what he omits. Particularly significant is his first substantive statement on foreign affairs, on January 22, at the State Department, when introducing George Mitchell to serve as his special envoy for Middle East peace.

The PR war being waged by Israel over coverage of its invasion of Gaza is a critical part of maintaining the US public, if not the US government, in a state of maximal ignorance and above all, indifference, to the meaning of what is taking place in Gaza.

In this war, this has become political and military dogma: only if we kill “them” disproportionately, killing a thousand of “them” for ten of “ours”, will they understand that it’s not worth it to mess with us. It will be “seared into their consciousness” (a favorite Israeli phrase these days). After this, they will think twice before launching another Qassam rocket against us, even in response to what we do, whatever that may be.

In the long sixty-year tortured history of the Palestinian expulsion from their lands, Congress has maintained that it is always the Palestinians, the Palestinian Authority, and now Hamas who are to blame for all hostilities and their consequences with the Israeli government. The latest illustration of this Washington puppet show, backed by the most modern weapons and billions of taxpayer dollars annually sent to Israel, was the grotesquely one-sided Resolutions whisked through the Senate and the House of Representatives.

On December 27, 2008, Israel launched its brutal assault on Gaza, Operation Cast Lead. Here are many of the most frequently-asked questions and answers, and information sources.

On December 27, 2008, Israel launched its brutal assault on Gaza, Operation Cast Lead. Here are many of the most frequently-asked questions and answers, and information sources.

I write as an Israeli. In the past two-and-a-half weeks Israeli forces have killed over 900 people in Gaza; Palestinian rockets have killed four Israelis and Palestinian fighters have killed six soldiers.

The incursion into Gaza is not about destroying Hamas. It is not about stopping rocket fire into Israel. It is not about achieving peace. The Israeli decision to rain death and destruction on Gaza, to use the lethal weapons of the modern battlefield on a largely defenseless civilian population, is the final phase of the decades-long campaign to ethnically cleanse Palestinians. The assault on Gaza is about creating squalid, lawless and impoverished ghettos where life for Palestinians will be barely sustainable. It is about building ringed Palestinian enclaves where Israel will always have the ability to shut off movement, food, medicine and goods to perpetuate misery. The Israeli attack on Gaza is about building a hell on earth.

Yet there are some who still want it both ways. To kill and destroy indiscriminately and also to come out looking good, with a clean conscience. To go ahead with war crimes without any sense of the heavy guilt that should accompany them. It takes some nerve. Anyone who justifies this war also justifies all its crimes.

Deliberate attacks on civilians that lack strict military necessity are war crimes. Israel’s current violations of international law extend a long pattern of abuse of the rights of Gaza Palestinians. Eighty percent of Gaza’s 1.5 million residents are Palestinian refugees who were forced from their homes or fled in fear of Jewish terrorist attacks in 1948. For 60 years, Israel has denied the internationally recognized rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes — because they are not Jews.

Some 300 New Yorkers gathered in front of City Hall in Manhattan Wednesday evening, slamming New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for a recent visit to Israel, during which he endorsed the Jewish state’s ongoing bombardment of Gaza and failed to acknowledge the suffering of the Palestinians.

Nearly everything you’ve been led to believe about Gaza is wrong. Below are a few essential points that seem to be missing from the conversation, much of which has taken place in the press, about Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip.

It’s time. Long past time. The best strategy to end the increasingly bloody occupation is for Israel to become the target of the kind of global movement that put an end to apartheid in South Africa.

The lessons from these data are clear: First, Hamas can indeed control the rockets, when it is in their interest. The data shows that ceasefires can work, reducing the violence to nearly zero for months at a time. Second, if Israel wants to reduce rocket fire from Gaza, it should cherish and preserve the peace when it starts to break out, not be the first to kill.

Exactly one week ago I asked in this column how many Palestinians and Israelis must die before both sides hold their fire and tahadiyeh II is signed. The answer came, ostensibly, on Saturday, a few hours before the Israel Defense Forces stormed the Gaza Strip. 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 crrossing 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.

We watch in horror as Israel unleashes yet another war on the dispossessed and weak. Hundreds are killed (mostly police and civilians, not trained militants), thousands are injured, and a million and a half are terrorized, punished for defying the will of their besiegers and refusing to submit. Again the media colludes and sells a barbaric aggression on a basically defenseless and deprived population as a war between two sides, mystifying fundamental inequalities of power through words like “disproportionate response” and “ceasefire.” Again “shock and awe” is bandied about as military currency, as if it worked the first time round in Iraq, or the second in Lebanon 2006.