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

June 2009

One of the main accomplishments of the Israeli government’s bombing and invasion of the Gaza Strip last winter was to inspire new vitality within leftist and peace groups in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for justice and liberation. This wave of activity has continued after the supposed ceasefire, with demonstrations and direct actions from New York to Los Angeles, Paris, Jaffa, and Tel Aviv. Most noteworthy has been a coming out of sorts of an increasingly large and vocal segment of the Jewish world that is not only opposed to the Israeli government’s wars and military occupations, but critical of Zionism itself.

A West Bank checkpoint managed by a private security company is not allowing Palestinians to pass through with large water bottles and some food items – such as 6 pieces of bread.

The Red Cross released a damning report Monday on the effects of the Israel-led blockade on the Gaza Strip, describing the 2-year-old measure as having trapped the coastal territory’s 1.5 million residentsin despair.

“Gaza neighborhoods particularly hard hit by the Israeli strikes will continue to look like the epicenter of a massive earthquake unless vast quantities of cement, steel and other building materials are allowed into the territory for reconstruction,” the report said.

Ezra Nawi was in his element. Behind the wheel of his well-worn jeep one recent Saturday morning, working two cellphones in Arabic as he bounded through the terraced hills and hardscrabble villages near Hebron, he was greeted warmly by Palestinians near and far.

The Supreme Court now appears to be the settlers’ next illegal outpost. They will get their wish, nothing will stop them. This couldn’t happen in a state of law.

The public committee against torture in Israel released a harsh report on Wednesday, revealing “pain and humiliation” inflicted by the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security service, against Palestinian detainees… often constituting torture. In defiance of Israeli law, High Court rulings and international laws and guidelines, detainees in Israel are usually bound in a way that is designed to cause them pain, and not only to prevent them from escaping, the report says.

Activists for Bimkom association, which works for justice and human rights in planning and knows a thing or two about the situation in the territories, have discovered that Barak recently authorized the Civil Administration to submit a plan for the construction of 300 housing units in the unauthorized outpost of Givat Habrecha, near the community of Talmon… The new construction is located around 13 kilometers east of the Green Line, on the “Palestinian” side of the separation barrier.

Entitled “Israel/Palestine: Mapping Models of Statehood and Paths to Peace,” the three-day meet features presentations by dozens of speakers, including Palestinian and Israeli scholars.

IOA Editor: So-called “Supporters of Israel” (a misnomer because, invariably, they object to an equitable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian confilct, thus excluding any viable solution) again show their true anti-democratic faces: trying to block an academic conference assessing potential future peace arrangements which they choose not to tolerate. Thus, not for the first time, charges of “anti-Semitism” are leveled. Anyone who experienced the anti-Occupation struggle in the past 42 years is familiar with this dynamic.

[I]nside the occupied Palestinian territories [there] is a shadow state where the only real law is the law of the gun, where land is being taken away from its rightful owners every day, and where the very few who stand up to protest, without violence, like Ezra Nawi, are sent to prison. Bad times generally bring out the worst in most of us.

An important assessment of the realities of the West Bank settlement program, and why the Israeli Occupation is here to stay – unless Israel is forced otherwise.

Haaretz documents the latest abuses of Palestinians by Israeli Border Police at checkpoints. The Israeli military/police soldiers were so pround of their work that the decided to film it and put it on YouTube for the world to see. Haaretz (Hebrew edition) presents six such video clips, each reflecting the fundamental humanity of the victim, and the fundamental indecency and cruelty of the victimizer.

It is important to note that such ugly and unpleasant behavior is just that: ugly and unpleasant. While accurately reflecting the day-to-day abusive aspects of the Occupation, such behavioral aspects are probably among its least important aspects. For 42 years now, the Israeli occupation, in an orchestrated campaign to dispossess an entire people and to physically destroy Palestinian nationhood, has done far, far worse.

It’s true, there is liberty in Israel, but only for us, the Jews. We have a regime that is no less tyrannical than the ayatollahs’ regime: the regime of the officers and the settlers in the territories… When you get a chance, go on Friday to Na’alin or Bil’in and see what happens there. Demonstrators are killed here with similar brutality, but in Iran the crowd is standing up to a tyrannical regime, while here only a handful of brave people stand up to the Border Police, who are firing weapons. Moreover, we hardly write anything about the protest being silenced with bullets. It interests no one, and this, too, is called democracy.

The United States has stepped up pressure on Israel regarding the Gaza Strip: Three weeks ago it sent Jerusalem a diplomatic note officially protesting Gaza policy and demanding a more liberal opening of the border crossings to facilitate reconstruction.

IOA Editor: Clearly, the “stepped up pressure” is not too onerous on Israel: after three weeks, it has yet to result in any meaningful change in Gaza.

American policies in the average Lebanese voter’s mind are not exemplified by Obama’s pious pronouncements in Cairo on June 4th, but by a long record of unrestricted support for Israel’s meddling in internal Lebanese affairs and oppression of Palestinians, as well as American alliance with despotic Arab regimes, the devastation of Iraq, and aggressive interventions further East.

Visiting the American School in Gaza, damaged in Israel’s three-week operation, Mr Carter said “it’s very distressing to me”. He said the school had been “deliberately destroyed by bombs from F-16s made in my country and delivered to the Israelis”… Gazans “are treated more like animals than human beings,” Mr Carter said. “Never before in history has a large community like this been savaged by bombs and missiles and then been deprived of the means to repair itself…”

A thinking, more enlightened Judaism is emerging, a necessity in the face of apartheid realities… Defining a humane Judaism in the 21st century means condemning the brutal military occupation in the West Bank and resisting the ongoing siege of Gaza.

The prime minister’s speech last night returned the Middle East to the days of George W. Bush’s “axis of evil.” Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a patriarchal, colonialist address in the best neoconservative tradition: The Arabs are the bad guys, or at best ungrateful terrorists; the Jews, of course, are the good guys, rational people who need to raise and care for their children.

A day before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers what has been described as a key policy speech at Bar-Ilan University, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter told Haaretz in an exclusive interview on Saturday that President Barack Obama will not change his position on the two-state solution and Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Carter added that Israel and the United States are on a collision course if Israel refuses to comply on these two issues.

It seems that never before has so much been written and said about the “natural growth” of so few… Maybe it is no coincidence that the government spokespeople insist on describing the homes for “sons returning from the army” rather than homes for young couples, or students. Someone might dare to check the housing situation in Arab villages or East Jerusalem, whose residents actually on Israeli soil as opposed to the settlers.

Nearly six of every 10 Israelis think Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should resist U.S. demands to completely freeze construction in Jewish West Bank settlements, according to a new poll released Friday. The poll by the Maagar Mohot Polling Institute comes just ahead of Netanyahu’s major policy speech on Sunday that is expected to address a […]

Gaza bonanza

11 June 2009

While the Israel Defense Forces calculates how many calories Gaza residents need and strictly regulates the products allowed to enter the Strip, the blockade is giving some Israeli entrepreneurs an opportunity to turn big profits.

IOA Editor: An important investigative report uncovering the many ways in which the Israel economy, and Israeli companies, profit from the Gaza closure.

A photo released by the White House, which shows Obama talking on the phone with Netanyahu on Monday, speaks volumes: The president is seen with his legs up on the table, his face stern and his fist clenched, as though he were dictating to Netanyahu: “Listen up and write ’Palestinian state’ a hundred times. That’s right, Palestine, with a P.” As an enthusiast of Muslim culture, Obama surely knows there is no greater insult in the Middle East than pointing the soles of one’s shoes at another person.

Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch on Wednesday lambasted the state for neglecting to enforce demolition orders of illegal West Bank outposts… The state prosecutor’s office responded by saying that the government was working according to the priorities set forth by Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Obama has praised the [Arab Peace] Initiative and called on the Arab states to proceed to normalize relations with Israel. But he has so far scrupulously evaded the core of the proposal, thus implicitly maintaining the US rejectionist stand that has blocked a diplomatic settlement since the 1970s along with its Israeli client, in virtual isolation. There are no signs that Obama is willing even to consider the Arab Initiative, let alone “promote” it. That was underscored in Obama’s much heralded address to the Muslim world in Cairo on June 4, [2009].

Apart from a few small nuances, George W. Bush could have delivered the same speech. On the Israeli-Palestinian-Arab issue, in particular, not only could Bush have delivered the same speech, he did – almost everything the current U.S. president said in Cairo was said many times over by his predecessor. It was not Obama, after all, who invented the maxim “two states for two peoples” – it was at the very core of his predecessor’s vision, our great friend in the White House, as early as 2002.

The president is seen with his legs up on the table, his face stern and his fist clenched, as though he were dictating to Netanyahu: “Listen up and write ‘Palestinian state’ a hundred times. That’s right, Palestine, with a P.” As an enthusiast of Muslim culture, Obama surely knows there is no greater insult in the Middle East than pointing the soles of one’s shoes at another person. Indeed, photos of other presidential phone calls depict Obama leaning on his desk, with his feet on the floor.

Officials in Jerusalem told Israel Radio on Saturday that there is no alternative but to ultimately agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state… [T]he quicker Israel adopts the road map for peace as the preferred diplomatic initiative, the more likely it will ward off American pressure to concede to a Palestinian state within the framework of an alternative plan that is less agreeable to Israel.

About 1,000 demonstrators marched in the rally. The speakers demanded that Israel stop settlement building and heed calls by U.S. President Barack Obama to restart the peace process.

Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo… definitely lived up to expectations — provided we agree on what could have been expected. With regard to the form, Obama fully lived up to his role as the new black and human face of America in its relation with the rest of the world in general, and with the Muslim world in particular. He respected the specifications of his mission, seeking to repair the huge damage caused to America’s image and “soft power” by the previous administration… The world witnessed a spectacular attempt at seducing the Muslim world — its youth in particular.

U.S. President Barack Obama says that Israel has to end its settlement activity. Does he have the power to force Defense Minister Ehud Barak to evacuate 24 outposts, in keeping with the promise made by then-prime minister Ariel Sharon to Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush? Does the president have any chance of forcing the Israel Police to implement the decision to evacuate the settlers of Hebron who squatted in that city’s abandoned market? Can the leader of the free world really order the Civil Administration to dismantle the new house in the outpost of Elmatan, under the noses of Israel Defense Forces soldiers, or to return to Ahmed Abdel Khader the land that settlers from Kedumim stole from him?

Dozens of attorneys around the world — in Norway, Britain, New Zealand, Spain and the Netherlands — are working on the Gaza lawsuits. In a globalized world, justice is also global: The basis for the initiative is the principle of universal jurisdiction in international law, which makes it possible to file suits worldwide for war crimes, genocide, torture and crimes against humanity.

Residents of the Misgav bloc of communities in the Galilee consider themselves to be liberal, peace-loving people who support coexistence with their Arab neighbors… Which is why they were shocked this week when proposals raised at local council meetings to accept only applicants who shared their Zionist principles drew negative headlines and criticism for alleged racism.

An important report on how settleres, settlement organizations, and the Israeli government, working in close cooperation, methodically rob Palestinian farmers of their lands and transfer them to Jewish settlers. Incidentally, similar methods were used by the Israeli government in the early 1950s to transfer lands of Palestinian citizens of Israel to Jewish hands.

Samieh Jabbarin, 40, a native of Umm al-Fahm, is a theater director and an Ibna al-Balad activist who normally resides in Jaffa. He has been under house-arrest in Umm al-Fahm since February, after being falsely accused of violence in an election related demonstration, with a court hearing now scheduled for 7 June 2009.

The Committee for Solidarity with Samieh Jabbarin has been campaigning for his release, including a petition and recent statement in advance of the court hearing.

“We are launching a campaign against Barack Hussein Obama. He is bad for the people of Israel and for the state of Israel and his policies could bring about disaster. We expect our prime minister to say ’no’ to anyone who tries to harm us.”

Only three countries in the world are less peaceful than Israel, according to Global Peace Index figures released this week.

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