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

April 2009

I took this in 2002, at Al-Ram checkpoint on the West Bank. All the checkpoints had been closed by Israeli troops and these women were demonstrating to have them opened, so that food and medical supplies could come through. An hour before, a group of men had been demonstrating, but the soldiers pulled out their batons so the women – who were both Palestinian and Israeli – moved to the front.

Israeli human rights organisation Yesh Din is taking the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), the Israeli civil administration and a number of Israeli mining companies to court [for] illegally stripping Palestinian West Bank quarries of raw construction material for the benefit of the Israeli construction industry and the building of illegal Israeli settlements.

But in any event, discussion about a binational state should not be of interest only to the radical left. For if the two-state option melts away, the burden of coping with a binational reality will fall on all of us.

In his latest column for the New Statesman, John Pilger describes the power of advertising – from the effects of smoking to politics – as he reaches behind the facade of of the first 100 days President Barack Obama.

“A public confrontation was created that required Prime Minister Netanyahu, and even opposition head Tzipi Livni, to intervene. We have noted that the large European countries have respected our request and are granting the government time, but it is important that Europe be uniform in this matter… Israel is asking Europe to lower the tone and conduct a discreet dialog… However, if these declarations continue, Europe will not be able to be part of the diplomatic process”

Hadash Chairman MK Mohammed Barakeh: “Passing our heritage from one generation to the next is essential for our steadfastness and survival in our homeland. Our survival is not open to interpretation or negotiation, and is our formative feature as a community that narrowly escaped the threat of expulsion and remained in its country.”

“Yad Vashem talks about the Holocaust survivors’ arrival in Israel and about creating a refuge here for the world’s Jews. I said there were people who lived on this land and mentioned that there are other traumas that provide other nations with motivation,” Shapira said.

Chomsky: “They try to label any criticism as anti-Semitic, but they never respond to the criticism itself, because they can’t… Decades ago, the ADL was an authentic and serious organization that defended civic rights, but in the last 40 years it’s become a Stalinist-style organization dedicated to supporting anything Israel does and to destroying all opposition to Israeli policies.”

A new WorldPublicOpinion.org poll finds that three-quarters of Americans think that Israel should not build settlements in the Palestinian territories. This is up 23 points from when this question was last asked in 2002.

“It is left for us, citizens of the world, to condemn Israeli atrocities and crimes against humanity. Dissociating ourselves from Israel’s brutal policies is the only nonviolent way now to avoid becoming complicit in the killing, the wounding and the maiming, and the robbing of Palestinians… [G]iven your longstanding, vocal commitment to justice, we cannot envision you cooperating with continued Israeli defiance of justice and morality; we cannot envision you playing a part in the Israeli charade of self-righteousness.”

Police offensive against New Profile activists – a violation of the freedom of speech. This assault on the adherents of peace and democracy follows after Lieberman took over the police and state prosecution.

Egyptian authorities invite local merchants to participate in auctions of goods confiscated before being smuggled into Gaza. Palestinians furious as they are paying for merchandise they will never receive… Egyptian business sources reported that most of the products offered in the auctions are food products, led by the rice, biscuits, beans, candy and salt. They are followed by household utensils and electrical appliances, including computer equipment.

Palestinian traders have had enough of seeing their merchandise rot in containers at Ashdod Port, call on international community to find urgent solution.

The fact is, soldiers who took part in the operation, and not only Israeli and foreign observers suspected of self-righteousness or hypocrisy, were revolted by what they saw, heard, and sometimes even did in the Gaza Strip. This revulsion, which the IDF officially rejects and seeks to contain, was recorded in Haaretz… and stirred up a storm. The presentation of the probes’ findings sounded like a belated defensive move, partly because senior people in the army and government are concerned about legal measures against them overseas.

An internal [Israeli] Foreign Ministry document last week stated that following Operation Cast Lead, diplomatic bodies in a number of European countries have called for a freeze on the upgrade, citing the pressure of domestic public opinion. Four European states have already said that if Israel did not agree to a two-state solution, they would oppose upgrading relations.

The Israel Defense Forces announced on Wednesday that an internal investigation has determined that no civilians were purposefully harmed by IDF troops during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.

Twenty evacuated settlements are worth more than a thousand peace formulas, and 2,000 released prisoners will move the sides forward more than 10,000 words. If only Israel agrees to implement what it has agreed to, from the release of prisoners to a freeze on settlements.

On Friday evening, television news viewers witnessed the ultimate reality show – the murder of a human being on camera. The site of the killing was next to the West Bank village of Bil’in, 80 kilometers south of the ancient city of Jezreel, where a murder was committed under similar circumstances some 2,800 years ago. Bil’in is located 10 kilometers south of the village of Qibya, itself a notorious locale in Israel’s history for the 1953 IDF raid in which 69 Palestinian civilians, some of them children, were killed by troops commanded by a young Ariel Sharon.

The authorities consider him a traitor, even though he did not betray secrets to enemy countries, a terrorist organization or foreign security organizations. He exposed Israel’s nuclear secrets to the British Sunday Times… The justifications are weak and exaggerated. The claim is that Vanunu holds more secret information about Israel’s nuclear program. The entire world assumes Israel has nuclear weapons, so what further damage can he cause to the security of the state? Based on this logic, he may never leave Israel.

A complaint of racism and incitement has been lodged against an Upper Nazareth city councillor who called for Arabs to “disappear,” in an Independence Day greeting to local residents… Upper Nazareth is a sister city to Nazareth, the largest Israeli Arab municipality in Israel.

IOA Editor: Referring to Upper Nazareth as a “Sister City” to Nazareth is quite remarkable: Might the Haaretz editors mean the younger sister who sneaked up behind her older sibling, stabbed her and grabbed her jewelry?

Lawyers accuse Israel of “massive terrorist attacks” in the Gaza Strip,” stating “[t]here can be no doubt that these subjects knew about, ordered or approved the actions in Gaza and that they had considered the consequences of these actions.”

Military Intelligence Chief Amos Yadlin said Monday that the Middle East policy of U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration could endanger Israel… In a surprising shift, Yadlin also said that the Islamist Hamas movement has been deterred and is now interested in reaching a peace settlement with Israel.

IOA Editor: It is unclear precisely what the surprise or shift is. As indicated elsewhere on these pages, agreement with Hamas was possible in the past, well before Israel’s massive killing of Gaza civilians. As to Obama’s ’threat’ to Israel, nothing the new administration has said or done so far suggests a meaningful change from past US attitudes, especially towards the Israeli occupation and the basis for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

The answer to this question can be found in Israeli culture, in which the sanctity of life is pretentiously discussed, while only death is really held sacred. Holocaust Remembrance Day is a good example of how in Israel the dead become heroes who get commemorated, honored and glorified, while those who survived, those who were saved, those who are alive but not fully intact mentally and physically are ignored or humiliated.

A coalition of international aid agencies today warned that tens of thousands of Gazans are still homeless and without basic services such as piped drinking water three months after the 18 January ceasefire.

“So the father of the Hamas movement told you he recognized the State of Israel? ’Yes. He was smart and brave. Cruel, but credible. He gave his life in the war for the freedom of his people. I tend to think that if we had tried for an agreement with him, we would have succeeded. He thought the reason the Israelis were dealing with [then PLO leader] Yasser Arafat is that they were very smart, because we knew we would get nowhere with him. In his opinion, Arafat was thoroughly corrupt.’”

The media was of course the main agent in removing the issue from our agenda. A rare, wall-to-wall coalition of the defense establishment, editors, writers, broadcasters, viewers, readers – especially viewers and readers – who do not want to write or read, hear or be heard, report or know, came together for the mission of removing the occupation from our world.

The separation barrier will receive its largest piece of graffiti yet when Dutch and Palestinian activists scrawl on it a 2,000-word letter by a South African scholar arguing that “Israeli apartheid” is “far more brutal” than Pretoria’s was.

An American professor has become the first Jew to win the King Faisal International Prize in Medicine, popularly known as the ’Arab Nobel Prize.’

Aided by a carefully crafted narrative (by intellectuals on the Zionist left) we have been built as a nation that makes no room whatsoever for a contradictory private narrative, or at least an argument about sacred cows. Everyone is marching to the same drummer. The symbols are always ready. Anything that did not fit the “nationalist” template was rejected. Exodus? Good enough for us. The Struma affair? Only for advanced researchers. Deir Yassin? It was not “us” who did it, but “dissidents.” The massacre of Sasa, Tiberias or Lod? A non-sequitor. Qibya? Forget about it! Sabra and Chatila? That can be remembered (Christians killing Muslims).

[L]et’s admit it: We are (almost) a state governed by religious law.

“Personally I believe it is better to deal with someone like Lieberman than it is to do deal with someone like [former foreign minister Tzipi] Livni,” Imad Moustapha told CNN on Sunday.

“At least Lieberman is candid. He exactly says what he believes in. Tzipi Livni and her colleagues were talking all the time about their desire to make peace while committing the atrocity in Gaza or doing other similar things in the Palestinian territories.”

The problem with the ruling is that Soufir knew very well what he was doing. He was sane enough to pick an Arab driver instead of a Jewish one. He knew what kind of knife to take from his brother’s house and how to lure Karaki to his apartment, where he murdered him in cold blood. It is clear he could differentiate between right and wrong. He chose not to take his own life – is that not sign enough that he was sufficiently sane to stand trial? Instead, he was declared “insane” and is now waiting to start a new life in Paris.

Omar Barghouti is an activist and writer based in Palestine. He was one of the early advocates of a Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions strategy against Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies. He was one of the headline speakers of Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) 2009. I interviewed him in Toronto on March 2, 2009.

The message to soldiers is just as clear: Kill as much as you please, no wrong will come to you, the army won’t even bother to look into it. Now, after 1,300 deaths in Gaza, the military advocate general confirmed this policy. Any adherent of the rule of law in Israel should have been shocked by this rash decision, but our army of lawyers is concerned with other things.

Jawad Siam pulled out a brochure issued by the Jerusalem municipality heralding development plans for his place of residence, the village of Silwan in East Jerusalem. He pointed to the map in the brochure, where the neighborhood’s streets were marked. “You see this, Hashiloah Road?” he asked. “All these years, it was called Ein Silwan Street. ‘Ma’alot Ir David’ Street? That was Wadi Helwa Street. The street next to it, ‘Malkitzedek,’ used to be Al-Mistar Street.”