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

July 2010

What happened to the 130,000 Syrian citizens who lived in the Golan Heights in June 1967? According to the official Israeli version, the vast majority fled into the depth of Syria by the end of the war. According to military documents and eyewitness reports, tens of thousands were expelled in a transfer that reminds that of the residents of Lod [Lydda] and Ramle [al-Ramla] in 1948.

Israeli eyewitness: “[W]e saw a big group of Syrian civilians, a few hundred people, gathered in front of tables with soldiers sitting behind them. We stopped and asked a soldier what they were doing. He answered they were doing pre-expulsion registration. I’m not a softhearted person, but I immediately had the feeling that something here wasn’t right. I still remember what a bad impression this sight left on me. But it was, de facto, like it was [with the Arab populations] in Lod, Ramle and other places in the War of Independence.”

*UPDATED* IOA Editor: As in 1948, the “Israeli narrative” tries to sweep Israel’s ethnic cleansing crimes under the rug. As in 1948, official Israel lied about the fate of the local population during and after the war and so did Israeli historians, as this story reveals.

It is not our right or responsibility to lecture the Palestinian leadership on what they should do. That is up to the Palestinians to decide. But it is very definitely our responsibility to focus attention on what we should be doing. Of prime importance is to educate and organize the American public and to develop popular forces that can overcome the dominant propaganda images that sustain the US policies that have been undermining Palestinian rights.

IOA Editor: And much more from Noam Chomsky on the US and Israeli dynamics of the Occupation, and on approaches available to the anti-Occupation movement, including detailed comments on BDS.

Adalah lawyer Abir Baker: “The Shin Bet is facing an internal crisis over this arrest and the settlers are trying to exploit that with their campaign. Many members of the Shin Bet are settlers themselves and think of these extremists as their colleagues, not as the enemy. The line between the Shin Bet and these extremist organisations is very blurred.”

In recent years, interest in the pre-state Revisionist underground movements has grown among West Bank settlement youth. These young people want to give the nationalist Lehi and Etzel (Irgun Zvai Leumi) movements a more prominent role in Zionist history and aggrandize figures who sacrificed themselves for the Land of Israel.

IOA Editor: There is a natural continuity between Israel’s pre-state right-wing terrorist organizations and today’s settlers, who are sometime the very same individuals, their children, or followers. The “Lehi” (“Stern-Gang”) and “Etzel” (“Irgun”) mentioned here are best known for their 1948 war crime of the Deir Yassin massacre, which played a key role in the ethnic-cleansing of Palestine that followed.

Jonathan Cook writes about the rich tapestry of discriminatory laws and practices designed to marginalise, weaken and exclude Israel’s 1.3 million Palestinian citizens.

Israeli settlers took over a Palestinian home in the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City today, evicting about 45 members of an extended family which has occupied the building for more than 70 years.

Participants in May’s Turkish-sponsored flotilla to Gaza have been offered “Palestinian citizenship” as a gesture of thanks. But after learning that the Palestinian Authority is refusing to issue passports to some Gaza residents, most of them decided to decline the offer.

Saeb Erekat: “We are in a situation where we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t. There is a cost if we agree [to direct talks] and a cost if we don’t.” Mr Erekat stressed the dismay among ordinary Palestinians over the lack of diplomatic progress. Supporters of a two-state solution like himself were losing legitimacy, he added.

Michael Sfard: “Either way, even if wounding of my client was the result of negligence and not criminal intent -even then the State of Israel has a moral, ethical and legal obligation to pay for her treatment.”

Security forces in the West Bank continue to arrest people identified with Hamas… The same security authorities that have won praise from the occupier for the quiet they’ve achieved while the occupier acts: confiscating land, demolishing homes, expelling people, arresting children, preventing free movement and killing.

“The situation in Gaza has to change,” he told businessmen in Ankara. “Humanitarian goods and people must flow in both directions. Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp.”

Around 300 Bedouins living in Israel’s Negev desert have been made homeless after police raided their village and razed their homes. Israeli activists said 1,500 police arrived in Al-Arakib village at dawn. They destroyed 30 to 40 makeshift homes and uprooted hundreds of olive trees belonging to the villagers.

IAF officer: “There are very high mountains in central Romania with a flat area around them and this unfamiliar terrain … provided the crews with a unique environment for training that cannot be carried out in Israel” … As Israeli-Turkish relations began deteriorating … so far as joint air force exercises go, Romania is now Israel’s closed European ally.

IOA Editor: Of all probable future Israeli targets, high altitude training can only serve to emulate conditions in Iran.

[A]utomation makes killing cheaper… the demand for remote-controlled machines is stoked by the large savings in defence costs. A drone operator can be trained in a day; a pilot may need years of expertise to fulfil the same mission.

Haneen Zoabi: “It took us 40 years for us to admit that we were even Palestinians. Another 15 years passed before we realised that the peace process started under Oslo had been a disaster. The Zionist project was to domesticate its Arab citizens as the hewers and drawers of water. But the carrot-and-stick approach failed, and now we see Israel is prepared to throw away its liberal side to control us. We were passive once and now we are becoming active about our national identity.”

A decision by Israel’s Supreme Court to double a 15-month jail term for a policeman who shot dead an unarmed Palestinian driver suspected of stealing a car has provoked denunciations from police commanders and government officials.

According to the reports, the talks conducted in Saudi Arabia with the head of Israel’s espionage agency dealt with Iran and its nuclear program. The account follows a series of recent reports on increasing secret cooperation between Israel and the Saudis, including defense coordination on matters related to possible military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The Shin Bet’s tendency to call in citizens to discuss their political activity has ACRI concerned. The Attorney General’s office says the service wants to keep innocent people from being exploited.

Rashid Khalidi: “The siege is not imposed on the Hamas government, or on a ‘terrorist entity’, as the Israeli government describes the entire Gaza Strip: it is imposed on a population of 1.5 million people, who are effectively imprisoned, and most of whom are deprived of living a normal life. Moreover, it hardly affects that government… This is collective punishment of a civilian population, pure and simple… That is potentially a war crime. Most of Gaza’s population, being children, did not vote for Hamas or anyone else. Any human being of any political orientation should oppose this siege.”

IOA Editor: This is a misleading headline in every respect: Rashid Khalidi (who’s also an IOA Advisory Board member) is not “Obama’s friend,” except for when Haaretz stoops to the level of Right-wing lunatic bloggers. As reported in this story, Khalidi is a sharp critic of the Obama administration, and is not one of the organizers of this project. He is not “raising funds” for this project either. Rather, he signed a letter in support of it.

The basic conflict can be understood in very conventional terms of people enduring and trying to resist an occupation. I don’t think it requires much more profundity in order to understand why Palestinians are opposed to their current condition, and I think Israel is behaving like most occupying powers behave — specifically, it is very hard to evict them.

Israel’s Knesset should reject proposed legislation that would weaken the country’s vibrant civil society, Human Rights Watch said today. Recent proposed bills would penalize human rights groups for critical reporting and advocacy, including publicizing information on war crimes, expressing support for boycotts, or helping refugees and asylum seekers.

Ethnic cleansing can be carried out dramatically (as in this country in 1948 and in Kosovo in 1998) or in a quiet and systematic way, by dozens of sophisticated methods, as is happening now in East Jerusalem. But there cannot be the slightest doubt that this is the final stage of the one-state vision of the rightists. The first stage will be an effort to fill the entire country with settlements, and to demolish any chance of implementing the two-state solution, which is the only realistic basis for peace.

“This process of exaggeration was gradual, and proceeded by accretion … in a way that allowed those participating to convince themselves that they were not engaged in blatant dishonesty. But this process led to highly misleading statements about the UK assessment of the Iraqi threat that were, in their totality, lies…” Why is all this so important? … There is now a ratcheting up of the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Hamoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual is an Israeli human rights organization whose main objective is to assist Palestinians of the Occupied Territories whose rights are violated due to Israel’s policies. At Hamoked, we work to expose and publicize essential truths about the occupation, in its manifold modes of operation.

They are trying to establish borders on our political identity and say that we cannot have relations with the broader Arab world. They want to redefine the margins of democracy to exclude any political program that calls for full equality. We are calling for equality without Zionism… The fact is, to demand full civic and national equality is actually to demand the end of Zionism. So we don’t hate Zionism. Zionism hates democracy.

Several of the most dramatic instances of war crimes, which previously stirred Israel’s defenders into fits, are now publicly admitted by the IDF in the recent update to its official response. [Including: The use of] white phosphorous in urban areas … the murder of two unarmed Palestinians carrying white flags … the Al-Fakhura Street incident … the use of innocent Palestinians as human shields … the Al-Samouni family massacre … firing on Al Maqadmah and other mosques during prayer time.

The Israeli Parliament approved the first of three readings of a new law which, if passed, will make it illegal to declare a boycott on Israel or Israeli companies, participate in a boycott, or provide aid in the form of information to anyone who is part of the BDS campaign. The bill also penalizes the PA for its decision in May 2010 to ban the use by Palestinians of settlement products. The law even affects international citizens who will be banned from entry into Israel for 10 years and will be effective retroactively.

“The reason why Israel can’t allow Iran to have nuclear weapons is because if Iran developed its own nuclear arsenal, it would totally change the balance of power in the Middle East.” (Video)

In the last couple of months, residents of the Israeli villages along the Gaza Strip complain about dozens of stray dogs, some possibly diseased, fleeing the Gaza area into Israel, passing underneath the “security fence.” They arrive in groups and cause damage by attacking farm animals, Haaretz reports.

IOA Editor: The story falls short of connecting the flight of the dogs with the severe Gaza-wide food shortage that would cause them to migrate en masse.

Anyone from the US should recognize the Jerusalem District Court’s ruling for what it is: an anti- miscegenation measure on par with the now-defunct US laws against “race mixing” that were once used to uphold white supremacy… Only they like to call it “national purity,” since Jewish privilege in Israel depends on maintaining the Jewish character of the state. In fact, race-mixing is perceived as such a threat that more than half of all Israeli Jews agree that Jewish-Arab intermarriage is a form of treason.

Amira Hass: Since 1967, Israel has prevented Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley from growing, whether by cutting off their water supply, declaring large areas as live fire zones or banning all construction.

An Arab resident of Jerusalem who had consensual sex with a woman who believed him to be Jewish, was convicted yesterday of rape by deception and sentenced to 18 months in prison by the Jerusalem District Court… “The court is obliged to protect the public interest from sophisticated, smooth-tongued criminals who can deceive innocent victims at an unbearable price – the sanctity of their bodies and souls,” wrote the judge.

IOA Editor: We’ve yet to read about a similar sentencing of a man who falsely claimed to be wealthy, or a movie-director or, for that matter, single – all pretences that happen daily. For centuries, people have lied in the pursuit of sex, and this comment is not an attempt to justify it. But it is clear that only this one particular lie – for an Arab to dare pretend being a Jew(!), something which the accused denied doing – will land a Palestinian in jail for 18 months, “to protect the public interest.” In Israel, that is. Ethnic separation is very important to most Israelis (see Israel bids to stop interracial dating), and this court seems eager to comply. This is Apartheid-style racism that is deep-seated in Israel – including among the ‘educated classes,’ such as lawyers and judges.

We should not romanticise these Likud converts. They are not speaking of the “state of all its citizens” demanded by Israel’s tiny group of Jewish non-Zionists. Most would require that Palestinians accept life in a state dominated by Jews.

IOA Editor: Indeed, we shouldn’t. In the words of an important Beitar song – penned by Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the Israeli Right’s spiritual leader – “two banks has the Jordan [River], this one is ours and so is the other.”

Recently, proposals to grant Israeli citizenship to Palestinians in the West Bank, including the right to vote for the knesset, have emerged from a surprising direction: Right-wing stalwarts such as knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin, and former defence minister Moshe Arens, both from the Likud party of Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister.

Palestinian freedom and equal rights are unlikely to be secured by a United States committed to false notions of Israeli security. Since his Cairo speech, President Barack Obama has failed to pursue new policies. In the Middle East, he is regarded as full of fine but empty words. Empty because securing Palestinian freedom and equal rights requires standing up to Israel.

This movement is taking upon itself what governments have failed to do: to hold Israel accountable for its crimes. The dockworkers’ refusal to deal with Israeli ships is part of this vibrant movement and comes in response to the appeal in 2005 from Palestinian civil society. Other initiatives include campaigns for the boycott of Israeli products, divestment from companies aiding Israeli war crimes, and cultural isolation, so as to not entertain Israeli apartheid.

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