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

IDF/war crimes

Rockets fired from Gaza also have the inestimable value for Israeli leaders of letting them do whatever they want to Gaza while receiving the usual pious US support for Israeli “self-defense.” This blanket support enables them to disregard the recent warning of a White House official that “Israel confronts an undeniable reality: it cannot maintain military control of another people indefinitely. Doing so is not only wrong but a recipe for resentment and recurring instability.”

Whether in military uniform or in politics, Ariel Sharon’s time in power was characterised by construction and destruction frenzies that decisively shaped the physical realities in which both Israelis and Palestinians still struggle to live. His legacy is not only that of a military man and a politician, but also that of an architect. Sharon, more than anyone else, has shaped the spatial realities of Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

The true goal of Sharon’s separation regime was never to end the occupation but to reinforce it under new parameters that would prevent the collapse of Israel’s international image. A top aide to Sharon, Dov Weissglass, revealed the real logic behind Sharon’s plans: “The disengagement [from Gaza] is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.”

Israel has been poisoned by the psychosis of permanent war. It has been morally bankrupted by the sanctification of victimhood, which it uses to justify an occupation that rivals the brutality and racism of apartheid South Africa. Its democracy—which was always exclusively for Jews—has been hijacked by extremists who are pushing the country toward fascism. Many of Israel’s most enlightened and educated citizens—1 million of them—have left the country. Its most courageous human rights campaigners, intellectuals and journalists—Israeli and Palestinian—are subject to constant state surveillance, arbitrary arrests and government-run smear campaigns. Its educational system, starting in primary school, has become an indoctrination machine for the military.

Leaders from the [Israeli] Palestinian community, Christian and Muslim, who have spoken against this new [IDF] enlistment effort have been called in for investigation by Israel’s secret police. In an Orwellian inversion, they have been accused of “incitement to violence.”

Michael Sfard: “While talks are happening Israel gets away with anything. Land grabs, the expansion of settlements, even [Operation] Cast Lead was waged while there were peace talks.”

Rabbi Arik Asherman: The demolition of the el-Arabiyeh family home in Anata exceeds all the terrible things I have seen in my 17 years in Rabbis for Human Rights. The sight of a boy or a girl coming back from school and discovering that their house was demolished is something I would not wish my worst enemies to see.

According to some well-placed Israeli commentators, the best Israel can hope for is that Assad holds on but only just. That would keep the regime in place, or boxed into its heartland, but sapped of the energy to concern itself with anything other than immediate matters of survival. It would be unable to offer help to Hizbullah, isolating the militia in Lebanon and cutting off its supply line to Iran.

In an interview on IDF Radio, Pundak confirmed that forces under his command razed Arab villages in 1948. “My conscience is at ease with that, because if we hadn’t done so, then there would be no state by now. There would be a million more Arabs,” he said.

In a society where graduates fresh out of high school are required to participate directly in military occupation at an early age, saying no can be a way of showing another path is possible, and retrieving one’s humanity in the process.

If Israel’s government is to be believed, Palestinians have sunk so low as to be capable of faking their own deaths. Or wait, maybe the Israeli accusation of fakery is itself the indication of a horrifying new nadir. An Israeli report has concluded that Muhammad al-Dura, the 12-year-old Palestinian whose death in 2000 in Gaza was captured by a French public TV channel, was not killed by Israelis – and may in fact not be dead at all.

Israel apparently has bombed inside Syria, as most people that follow the news know by now. Originally, the propaganda or PR around this event was that they were bombing chemical weapons on their way to Hezbollah. Now the story seems to be they were taking out some kind of advanced rocketry that was being sent from Iran to Hezbollah. One way or the other, Israel does not seem to be hiding the fact that they made such a strike. Political economist Shir Hever discuss Israeli strategic thinking in all of this.

A senior IDF officer: “As we learned during Cast Lead, it [white phosphorus] doesn’t photograph well, so we are reducing the supply and we will not purchase beyond what we already have.”

Ya’alon spent a year working for the AIPAC-created Washington Institute for Near East Policy and also spent time at the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies of the infamous Shalem Center. If you want neocon research credentials, these are the places to go. Such a scholarly pedigree confirms Ya’alon’s status as a provincial ex-military officer, with a predictably Manichean worldview.

Last week, in one of the first actions of its kind, activists released the names of Israeli soldiers involved in the killing of a Palestinian protester. Mustafa Tamimi, a 28 year-old demonstrator from the village of Nabi Saleh, was killed when a soldier shot a tear gas canister at his face in December last year.

Since late October, major defence drills, including manoeuvres involving heavy tanks as well as air and missile training, have been taking place throughout the Jordan Valley as part of the joint US-Israeli exercise ‘Austere Challenge 2012,’ especially in the Valley’s northern areas illegally declared as ‘firing zones.’

Stephen R. Shalom: Gaza Quiz

29 November 2012

An uneasy cease-fire has been declared ending Israel’s attack on Gaza, Operation Pillar of Defense. Take this quiz to see how much you know about the situation.

More than 160 people died in the eight-day Gaza war. And though the fighting may have stopped, the dead and the nightmares remain. Survivors and victims’ families say they want revenge.

[Israel’s current “Pillar of Defence” assault on the Gaza Strip] may serve Netanyahu’s hidden agenda: a protracted regional war may provide a smokescreen for a major ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the territories occupied by Israel since 1967. This is a long-term plan supported by all major Zionist parties. It is designed to resolve the contradiction between the deep-seated Zionist opposition to the creation of a Palestinian sovereign state, however small, in any part of pre-1948 Palestine, and the even greater “demographic peril”, as it is openly described in Israeli public society, of Arab majority in that land.

Assaf Kfoury: Why Gaza?

22 November 2012

Three weeks before Israel launched its Operation Pillar of Defense on November 14, 2012 I was part of an academic delegation on a short trip to the Gaza Strip. For the mainstream media, October was a “normal” time, because hardships endured by Gazans are not newsworthy when there are no F-16′s dropping laser-guided smart bombs. That one or two Gazans were killed by Israeli army patrols from one week to the next in October, because they had transgressed the limits of the Israeli siege, went largely unnoticed. But such are the ethical standards of the mainstream media, genuflecting to power and ignoring the oppressed. One way to see through the ideological fog is to experience “normal” conditions from close range. Inside the Gaza Strip in October, we directly witnessed the devastating effects of the sanctions, the siege, the sea blockade and – more fundamentally – the long systematic evisceration that Gaza has suffered over several decades.

The inciting cause of the latest confrontation between Israel and Hamas has little to do with the firing of rockets, whether by Hamas or the other Palestinian factions. The conflict predates the rockets – and even the creation of Hamas – by decades. It is the legacy of Israel’s dispossession of Palestinians in 1948, forcing many of them from their homes in what is now Israel into the tiny Gaza Strip. That original injustice has been compounded by the occupation Israel has not only failed to end but has actually intensified in recent years with its relentless siege of the small strip of territory.

Yael Berda: “The administrative flexibility, waste of resources and the frequent administrative friction that is part of granting work permits leads to two desired results in the governmental system. It makes the Palestinian civilian population dependent on the administrative system, enabling the system to control, monitor and apply pressure and it preserves the principle of keeping the two populations separate.”

Attorney Hussein Abu Hussein: “This verdict is yet another example of where impunity has prevailed over accountability and fairness. Rachel Corrie was killed while non-violently protesting home demolitions and injustice in Gaza, and today, this court has given its stamp of approval to flawed and illegal practices that failed to protect civilian life.”

The petition cautioned that in the event an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities caused the dispersal of radioactive materials among civilian populations “Israel as a country, as well as those carrying out the bombing might be charged with war crimes.”

The “Eitan” drone can take off and land automatically, is able to stay in the air for 36 straight hours and reach a maximum flight height of 45,000 feet. In addition, the craft can carry cargo weighing up to one ton. All of these qualities make the Eitan especially suited for long-range and advanced reconnaissance and intelligence missions.

An IDF officer with the rank of lieutenant head-butted a Palestinian youth in the face, a video filmed in the city of Hebron on Wednesday and uploaded to YouTube has revealed. A volunteer for the NGO B’Tselem filmed the video on Wednesday from the window of his home in Hebron, documenting an IDF soldier as he stopped a number of Palestinian youths, thought to be between 10 and 17 years of age, next to the Beit Hadassah checkpoint in Hebron.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak has ordered the demolition of eight Palestinian villages in the South Hebron Hills because the territory is needed for Israel Defense Forces training exercises, the state told the High Court of Justice on Sunday… The IDF and the Civil Administration regard all of them as squatters in Firing Zone 918, even though the villages have existed since at least the 1830s.

IOA Editor: Since the early 1950s, “military training needs” has been a commonly used justification for the removal of Palestinians from lands desired by Israel. Typically, after a period of time, lands captured by this method have been turned over for Jewish settlements. As commented here before, this is an old “legal” tool used by the state to deprive Palestinians of their land and livelihood, which is part of a much larger program: the ethnic cleansing of Palestine — the replacement of the indigenous Palestinian population by a new, Jewish-only population — bit by bit, year after year, decade after decade, “dunam here and dunam there,” as the old Zionist slogan goes.

Day after day, tens of thousands of people live in the shadow of terror. Will there be an attack today on the homes at the edge of the village? Will we be able to get to the well, to the orchard, to the wheat field? Will our children get to school okay, or make it to their cousins’ house unharmed? How many olive trees were damaged overnight?

A new bill is being debated in the Israeli Knesset: compulsory civil service for all citizens, including Palestinians and ultra-Orthodox Jews, the two groups that have been exempt. If passed, the bill would force every 18-year-old citizen who is exempted from military service to serve in another public institution for between one and two years… In 2008, about 250,000 Palestinian citizens of Israel signed a petition rejecting compulsory civil service, the largest such petition in history, and a wide coalition of youth groups and civil society organisations have campaigned against the service under the motto: “We won’t serve our oppressor.”

Palestinians in areas of the West Bank under Israeli control live with settler neighbours who beat and shoot them, set alight fields, poison wells, kill livestock and steal crops. These acts of terror have begun to spread elsewhere: homes, cars, cemeteries, mosques and churches are now targets in East Jerusalem and Israel too. Earlier this month a school and several cars were vandalised in Neve Shalom, the only genuinely mixed Jewish-Arab community in Israel.

An Israel reserves soldier, who has refused to partake in army duty to protest Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, has gone on hunger strike in military prison, in what he said was a show of solidarity with Palestinian administrative detainees.

The Spiegel’s special report on Israel’s German-made nuclear-capable Dolphin class submarines: Many have wondered for years about the exact capabilities of the submarines Germany exports to Israel. Now, experts in Germany and Israel have confirmed that nuclear-tipped missiles have been deployed on the vessels. And the German government has long known about it.

Israel admitted Sunday that it uses cyberspace to attack its enemies. The confession came in a statement on the Israeli military’s website. The website said it was “for the first time” revealing a document recently written by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) Operations Department, detailing the goals and methods of its cyber warfare.

Israeli official: “It’s true that the new British law is better than the original one, which allowed any judge to issue a warrant, but the government promised it would be changed so that only the Attorney General, who is a political figure we can trust, would authorize universal jurisdiction arrests. Instead they decided that the Director of Public Prosecutions, who is a civil servant, may decide that he is going to authorize arrest warrants. We are still waiting for assurances on this from the British government.”

Military prosecution says will take no legal steps against those responsible for deaths of Samouni family, killed in their home during Operation Cast Lead.

The UMass Boston Undergraduate Student Government unanimously passed a bill demanding that the UMass Foundation, the university’s investment fund, divest from Boeing and other companies profiting from war crimes and/or human rights violations. This motion is a resounding victory for student activists nationwide and contributes to broader international solidarity movements, including the movement for Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions of Israel (BDS) as called for by Palestinian civil society in 2005.