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

July 2009

Israel’s offensive against Hamas in Gaza at the beginning of the year was a “proportional response” to attacks by the Islamist group, the Foreign Ministry said in a defense brief on Operation Cast Lead released Thursday.

Far-right activists distributed fliers to fresh draftees at the Israel Defense Forces induction center in Tel Hashomer on Tuesday urging them not to confide in their commanders and to refrain from cooperating with investigators if they physically abuse Palestinians in the territories.

Alan Solow, the chairman of American Jewry’s powerful umbrella group, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, raised eyebrows among political observers after his organization issued a statement criticizing President Barack Obama over his stance on Israeli construction in East Jerusalem.

There are now more than 300,000 residents living in Jewish West Bank settlements, according to a Israel Defense Forces Civil Administration report covering the first half of 2009.

As of June 30, the settlements had 304,569 residents, an increase of 2.3 percent since January.

Breaking the Silence added: “The attempts to silence voices from Israeli civil society are dangerous. As opposed to reports, the IDF has never denied the [validity of the] testimonies and it and the foreign ministry’s virulent reaction… only strengthens the position of the testifying soldiers, who are not willing to be exposed.”

The US administration has issued a stiff warning to Israel not to build in the area known as E-1, which lies between Jerusalem and the West Bank settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim. Any change in the status quo in E-1 would be “extremely damaging,” even “corrosive,” the message said.

IOA Editor: As the seeming confrontation between the Obama Administration and the Israeli government is presented in a crisis-like light, it is worth noting that, so far, no actions were taken by the US to restrain Israel’s on-going colonization efforts on the West Bank. Clearly, the Administration understands how crucial Israeli development of Area E1 would be to a future Palestinian state – essentially, making it no longer viable. Now, the responsibility for preventing such development from happening falls squarely on the White House.

It would seem that as long as Arab educators, academics and policymakers are excluded from planning, there will be no improvement. The Arab minority constitutes nearly 20 percent of Israel’s population, but has little to no real influence over its own education policy, budgets, standards or curricula.

The performances of Amos Kenan’s play “Friends Talk about Jesus,” scheduled for next week at the Arab-Hebrew Theater of Jaffa, have been canceled due to opposition from Jaffa residents.

Diskin told the cabinet Hamas rhetoric had changed somewhat in recent weeks. “Public statements by leaders attest to efforts by Hamas to appear interested in ending the conflict with Israel, based on the model of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders in exchange for a long-term hudnah [cease-fire],” Diskin said before Netanyahu silenced him.

IOA Editor: Almost lost in the discussion about Netanyahu’s obnoxious behavior while running a cabinet meeting is the following small detail: According to Israel’s Shin Bet, Hamas appears to be ready for a Hudna (extended cease-fire). Readers of this website might remember that this is not the first time an Israeli government source reports on such willingness. Unfortunately, neither Netanyahu nor his predecessors were interested in pursuing such a possibility.

British diplomats touring the Shepherd Hotel recently in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah expressed concern about Israeli construction plans there, particularly in light of the site’s close proximity to the British consulate in East Jerusalem. The tour, which also included American diplomats, was led by Jerusalem city councilman Meir Margalit of Meretz, who is also active in the Committee Against House Demolitions. During the visit, Margalit said, the British diplomats asked their American colleagues to pressure Israel on the issue and take the lead in applying international pressure to stop settlement building. “The British said explicitly – the Israelis don’t pay attention to us, but if you apply pressure, there is a chance,” Margalit recounted.

The United States views East Jerusalem as no different than an illegal West Bank outpost with regard to its demand for a freeze on settlement construction, American sources have informed both Israel and the Palestinian Authority. This clarification came in the context of a growing crisis in U.S.-Israel relations over the planned construction of some 20 apartments for Jews in the Shepherd Hotel, in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. The U.S. has demanded that the project be halted, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the cabinet meeting Sunday that “Israel will not agree to edicts of this kind in East Jerusalem.

Palestinian officials said yesterday they were worried the U.S. administration was close to an interim agreement with Israel on settlement construction. According to information that has reached the Palestinian Authority, Israel will not completely halt construction in the settlements but will limit it drastically to the point of almost stopping it. In exchange, Arab countries will implement previously discussed concessions – among them, allowing Israeli planes to cross their airspace and opening diplomatic missions.

The Pope and the cardinals of the Vatican help organize tours of Auschwitz for Hezbollah members to teach them how to wipe out Jews, according to a booklet being distributed to Israel Defense Forces soldiers. Officials encouraging the booklet’s distribution include senior officers, such as Lt. Col. Tamir Shalom, the commander of the Nahshon Battalion of the Kfir Brigade.

[Israel’s] Attorney General Menahem Mazuz has told police to investigate workers from the Jewish Agency’s settlement division on suspicion of knowingly allocating private Palestinian land for construction in the settlement of Ofra, [Israeli television] Channel 2 reported on Friday.

A ministerial panel approved Sunday a bill to ban funding by the state of groups that mark the Palestinian Nakba, which commemorates Israel’s independence as a day of mourning… The bill is the revised version of a proposed law scrapped two months ago – after opposition from several ministers – that would have forbidden Israeli Arabs from commemorating the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” on Independence Day.

The proposal by Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz to redo all signs so that even names written in Arabic will be transliterations of Hebrew (for example, the city known as Jaffa in English will now be written as Yafo on signs in Arabic, not Yaffa), was received like all other injuries to Arabs: easily – like Arab high-schoolers’ matriculation results or Arab infants’ high mortality rates.

Unlike the cancellation of Leonard Cohen’s concert in Ramallah, which got a lot of press, the cancellation of conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim’s visit to the West Bank city has been kept almost secret. Both cancellations were spurred by different Palestinian groups which warned against what they described as the normalization with the occupation and with Israel.

The village of Imwas (عِمواس) was one of three villages in the Latroun area (Palestine’s District of al-Ramla) that were occupied by the IDF in June 1967, during Israel’s military conquest of the West Bank in the 6-Day War. Subsequently, the inhabitants of the villages were expelled, and their homes leveled to the ground. Where Imwas stood until 1967, Israel (via the Jewish National Fund) planted the Valley of Springs in Canada Park, a recreation forest which serves the purpose of re-writing the history of Palestine by eradicating its Palestinian past. The two other villages were Bayt Nuba (بيت نوبا) and Yalu (الو). Not one of the several thousands of people who lived there until 1967, and very few traces of their physical presence, remain today.

Information on these three Palestinian villages, and on hundreds of others destroyed by Israel since 1948, can be found at www.PalestineRemembered.com.

Born and living in Tamra, Western Galilee. Graduated in Betzalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. Graduated Technion, Haifa, Architecture Department.

Two Israel Navy warships made a rare crossing of Egypt’s Suez Canal on Tuesday, heading from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea in a voyage that could be seen as a warning signal to Iran. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said that the crossings were legitimate in accordance with an agreement between Cairo and Jerusalem.

America’s best Jewish minds are wracking their brains, trying to find a magic formula that will put the settlements close to the hearts of Israel’s supporters, not to mention its critics. A new guide to the perplexed, disseminated by the leadership of the Israel Project, the organization spearheading Israel’s public relations efforts in the United States, offers a glimpse into its very own internal confusion

Ever since the Gaza operation, British MPs and nongovernmental organizations have been trying to persuade London to impose a complete arms embargo on Israel. However, the British government has rejected this demand…

“Future decisions will take into account what has happened in the recent conflict. We do not grant export licenses where there is a clear risk that arms will be used for external aggression or internal repression… We do not believe that the current situation in the Middle East would be improved by imposing an arms embargo on Israel. Israel has the right to defend itself and faces real security threats.”

IOA Editor: Indeed, the British government continues to view Israel as having the right to carry out massive campaigns of destruction against civilian populations, as it did in Gaza, Lebanon, and elsewhere. Such twisted and morally reprehensible positions, along with the very limited nature of the actual steps taken, when evaluated in terms of their impacts, indicate that the “partial embargo” is merely an act of political lip service in the face of growing popular opposition at home to the government’s military support of Israel.

If I were Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas I would be deeply insulted by the negotiations U.S. President Barack Obama is conducting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over building permits in the settlements. Who authorized the Americans – this administration or the previous one – to do business with Palestinian land?

The root of the problem is not the illegality of the settlements and outposts, but the Israeli Jewish worldview that sanctifies inequality. In other words, what is naturally befitting for the Jews ought to be denied the Palestinians… The official talk of two states conceals the prevailing reality of one state, from the river to the sea, a state that embraces the South African ideology of “separate but unequal development of the races.” All on the same strip of land, all under the rule of the same government

Not only is it wrong for Israel to pass a law punishing those who extend aid to refugees, but we must pass a law that amounts to the opposite of this – a law that requires the state to assist refugees and allocates resources to the organizations and individuals that do so.

The outposts are a continuation of the settlements by other means. The sharp distinction Israel makes between them is artificial. Every outpost is established with a direct connection to a mother settlement, with the clear aim of expanding the takeover of the territory and ensuring an Israeli hold on a wider tract of land. Construction in the outposts is integrated into the overall plan of the settlement project and is carried out in parallel to the seizure of lands within and close to the settlements…

Behind every settlement action there is a planning and thinking mind that has access to the state’s database and maps, and help from sympathetic officers serving in key positions in the IDF and the Civil Administration. The story is not in the settlers’ uncontrolled behavior, though there is evidence of this on some of the hilltops, but rather in conscious choices by the state to enforce very little of the law.

IOA Editor: Irrespective of Amos Harel’s assumption that the Obama administration is the enemy of Israel’s settlement project, which has yet to be evidenced by actions, this is an important update report on the status of on-going settlement activities, and on the historically tight relationship between the settler movement, all Israeli governments, and the IDF – a partnership which is a crucial ingredient for the success of Israel’s 42 year old colonial project in the West Bank.

Rydberg slammed the settlements as creating a new reality on the ground in the occupied territories and spawning obstacles… He said the ideology that guides most settlers is based on utter denial of the rights of Palestinians in the occupied territories.

Netanyahu appears to be suffering from confusion and paranoia. He is convinced that the media are after him, that his aides are leaking information against him and that the American administration wants him out of office. Two months after his visit to Washington, he is still finding it difficult to communication normally with the White House. To appreciate the depth of his paranoia, it is enough to hear how he refers to Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod, Obama’s senior aides: as “self-hating Jews.”

IOA Editor: This is an alarming report, given the potential destruction Netanyahu can inflict upon the region.

Not just in the courts, but also on the ground, it is hard to see any real indication that the settlement enterprise is headed toward a freeze. Dror Etkes, the man behind the petitions, photographed construction in the outpost of Ali this week.

This is Cynthia McKinney and I’m speaking from an Israeli prison cellblock in Ramle. [I am one of] the Free Gaza 21, human rights activists currently imprisoned for trying to take medical supplies to Gaza, building supplies – and even crayons for children, I had a suitcase full of crayons for children. While we were on our way to Gaza the Israelis threatened to fire on our boat, but we did not turn around. The Israelis high-jacked and arrested us because we wanted to give crayons to the children in Gaza. We have been detained, and we want the people of the world to see how we have been treated just because we wanted to deliver humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza.

Gideon Levy: Our IDF

6 July 2009

Gideon Levy on the latest IDF hijacking of a Gaza relief boat, and on the IDF as an occupation force and a killing machine.

After years of decline in immigration, Israel is expected this year to absorb 15 percent more new arrivals than last year, thanks in part to 20 flights arriving this summer carrying 5,000 immigrants from North America, France, Great Britain, South Africa and beyond.

The head of Mossad, Israel’s overseas intelligence service, has assured Benjamin Netanyahu, its prime minister, that Saudi Arabia would turn a blind eye to Israeli jets flying over the kingdom during any future raid on Iran’s nuclear sites.

A significant change is occurring within the IDF, and it has not yet been sufficiently analyzed. The face of the army, especially the middle ranks, has become more religious over the last decade. It’s not just a matter of counting skullcaps at graduation ceremonies at Training Base 1, where religious soldiers account for 30 percent of infantry officer course graduates. The same process is playing itself out in most of the fighting units. As a result the IDF, and not just its chief rabbi, is speaking with a different, more religious voice.

Housing Minister Ariel Atias… warned against the spread of Arab population into various parts of Israel, saying that preventing this phenomenon was no less than a national responsibility. “I see [it] as a national duty to prevent the spread of a population that, to say the least, does not love the state of Israel,” Atias told a conference of the Israel Bar Association, which focused on a reforming Israel’s Land Administration.

Peace Now plays a very important role in documenting Israel’s on-going international law violations as applied to the misappropriation of lands owned by an occupaied population and land development which causes a change of population in territories under occupation.

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