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

March 2009

Israel’s recent bombing and ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, Operation Cast Lead, killed 1,417 Palestinians; thirteen Israelis were killed, five by friendly fire. Thousands of Palestinians were seriously wounded and left without adequate medical care, shelter or food. Among the Palestinian dead, more than 400 were children. In response to this devastation, Caryl Churchill wrote a play.

Seven years ago the Bush administration passed Security Council Resolution 1397, which called for the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. The resolution even welcomed the Saudi Peace Initiative, which is based on Israel’s withdrawal to the 1967 lines. Is this what the Obama administration wants? To assure Israel that it can conduct right-wing policy while enjoying the blessing of a liberal American administration?

The Guardian has compiled detailed evidence of alleged war crimes committed by Israel during the 23-day offensive against Gaza earlier this year, involving the use of Palestinian children as human shields, the targeting of medics and hospitals, and drone aircraft firing on civilians.

Israel Defense Forces soldiers did not consider medical teams as entitled to receive the special protection granted to them within the framework of their duties during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, according to a new report by Physicians for Human Rights due to be released on Monday.

Haaretz last week published an expose revealing soldiers’ accounts of ethical violations in the Gaza offensive earlier this year. Less than a month after the end of Operation Cast Lead, dozens of graduates of the Yitzhak Rabin pre-military preparatory program convened at Oranim Academic College in Tivon to testify to their experiences during the war.

All these propagandistic and ridiculous responses are meant not only to deceive the public, but also to offer shameless lies. The IDF knew very well what its soldiers did in Gaza. It has long ceased to be the most moral army in the world. Far from it – it will not seriously investigate anything.

Dead babies, mothers weeping on their children’s graves, a gun aimed at a child and bombed-out mosques – these are a few examples of the images Israel Defense Forces soldiers design these days to print on shirts they order to mark the end of training, or of field duty.

The inherent aim of the Zionist enterprise was and is to turn the country – at least up to the Jordan River – into a homogeneous Jewish state. Throughout the course of Zionist-Israeli history, this aim has not been forsaken for a moment. Every cell of the Israeli organism contains this genetic code and therefore acts accordingly, without the need for a specific directive.

“That’s what is so nice, supposedly, about Gaza: You see a person on a road, walking along a path. He doesn’t have to be with a weapon, you don’t have to identify him with anything and you can just shoot him. With us it was an old woman, on whom I didn’t see any weapon. The order was to take the person out, that woman, the moment you see her.”

Jerusalem Police announced on Friday they would prevent the so-called Palestinian Culture Festival the Palestinian Authority plans to organize in the city on Saturday. The PA is planning to fly a glider plane painted in the colors of the Palestinian national flag over the walls of the Old City as part of the festival, which is meant to declare the city to be “the capital of Arabic culture for 2009.”

One account tells of a sniper killing a mother and children at close range whom troops had told to leave their home. Another speaker at the seminar described what he saw as the “cold blooded murder” of a Palestinian woman.

Is Hamas devoid of human emotion? Maybe, but it is fighting for the release of its people, who have no chance of gaining their freedom in any other way but a deal. Nothing can be more humane than that. Even the Israeli propaganda about the “price” of Shalit’s release is based on a lie. Nobody can seriously argue that releasing 325 terrorists wouldn’t harm Israel’s security, and releasing 450 would. Would 125 men, closely watched by the Shin Bet, make the difference?

The IDF’s internal investigations, which are moving ahead very slowly, are not enough. The army is absorbing more and more religious extremism from the teachings of the IDF’s rabbinate. It would be appropriate to investigate the problems from outside the IDF and root them out before the rot destroys the IDF and Israeli society.

The new US administration has stated repeatedly that it views the region from a perspective of Israeli security when it comes to Iran and uranium enrichment, as well as to resistance against Israeli occupation. It believes that Israel’s right to security is not connected with ending the occupation, that it has the right to be an occupying power and at the same time be safe and that it is the Arabs’ duty to sit quietly in their camps, under the conditions of the occupation and the economic boycott, watch the news bulletins on negotiations and rejoice at the Mitchell appointment.

It seems that what soldiers have to say is actually the way things happened in the field, most of the time. And as usual, reality is completely different from the gentler version provided by the military commanders to the public and media during the operation and after.

To carry out the strategy, the U.S. ought not beg the Israelis to accept this or that solution. Instead, the U.S., as the leader of the international community, must place a clear challenge to Netanyahu, Avigdor Lieberman, Tzipi Livni, Ehud Barak, and all Israelis: set a date for the withdrawal of occupation forces and begin negotiating a responsible pullout. Two states or one is not the pressing issue. Rather, to paraphrase a presidential candidate who later became deeply involved in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, “It’s the occupation, stupid.”

A right-wing Israeli government led by Benjamin Netanyahu is widely seen as spelling the end of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Given the ongoing expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which Netanyahu has promised to accelerate, no other outcome seems conceivable.

For decades now, the world has been buying the Zionist narrative almost in full. The occupation and settlements have been going on for more than 40 years with no serious impediment. Except for some international grumblings and resolutions no one has any serious intention of implementing, Israel continues to belong to the camp of the “good guys”; the Arabs are the “bad guys.” The new atmosphere in the West against Islam is reinforcing this trend and Israel is benefiting yet again. Criticism of the media in the West from Israel’s supporters is also quite excessive.

Professor Shlomo Sand, the Tel Aviv University history professor and author of a controversial book on the genetic origins of the Jews, this week received a top critics prize from French journalists.

GAZA – During the past 10 days, the Defense Ministry’s claims and insurance division received a registered letter including an official document describing the damages suffered during Operation Cast Lead by Sabbah Abu Halima. Also in the envelope were 12 similar notices, detailing the damage sustained by members of her family (seven of whom were killed and six wounded).

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