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


Egypt has begun the construction of a massive iron wall along its border with the Gaza Strip, in a bid to shut down smuggling tunnels into the territory. The wall will be nine to 10 kilometers long, and will go 20 to 30 meters into the ground, Egyptian sources said. It will be impossible to cut or melt.

The [settlement construction] freeze orders will not change what exists now: an elite state for Jews and a sub-space for Palestinians – truncated, cut up, asphyxiated. The distinction in the mind nowadays between the state of Israel and the settlers is artificial.

Netanyahu has said in closed meetings that the only place where it is possible to walk a few dozen meters on foot and to move from the third world to the first world, is in southern Israel. In other places in the world, oceans separate these two worlds.

IOA Editor: A wall here and a fence there… pretty soon we’ll be incarcerated in our very own ghetto. And who will we be blaming then?

Jonathan Cook: About 35,000 Bedouin residents of Israel’s southern Negev have been denied the right to hold their first local council election after the Israeli parliament passed a law at the last minute to cancel this month’s ballot. The new law gives the government the power to postpone elections to the regional council, known as Abu Basma, until the interior ministry deems the local Bedouin ready to run their own affairs. Legal and human rights groups say the move is an unprecedented violation of Israel’s constitutional principles.

Make no mistake, not a single conflict of contemporary times has been resolved, no durable peace achieved, unless and until the voices of the victims of those conflicts were heard, their losses acknowledged and redress found to injustices they experience.

The point of contention hinges on a completely different issue: the peace process. Abbas insists that the talks on the permanent status agreement be based on the parameters of the 2003 Road Map, which received affirmation in a UN Security Council Resolution. The map is reminiscent, among other things, of the Arab peace initiative which focused on normalization in return for an Israeli withdrawal from the territories occupied in 1967.

You open the newspaper on any day and you can be sure to find at least one front-page article related to the Middle East. It will be something ugly or depressing, something implicating the United States directly or indirectly — Israel and Palestine, the Iraq war… And you wonder how much of the story is true, how much is distorted, and how much is omitted outright. It is not just for lack of space.

Jonathan Cook gave a talk to a visiting delegation from Belgium in Bethlehem on 5 December 2009. Much of the talk, presented in five parts, is included here. It covers a wide range of topics, including Israel’s development of the homeland security industry, its economic dependence on US aid, its use of Gaza as a laboratory for experimentation in warfare, its need to promote a global clash of civilisations, and the increasing promotion of Jewish religious fundamentalism.

For additional Jonathan Cook interviews:

Over 1,000 delegates from 42 countries have signed up to participate in the December 31 Gaza Freedom March that will mark the one-year anniversary of the Israeli invasion and call for an end to the siege that has brought 1.5 million people to the edge of disaster.

Israeli security agents held a Palestinian patient for three weeks without charge, interrogated him repeatedly and offered access to hospital care if he agreed to become an informant, the Guardian has learned.

The Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel, a multi-ethnic, multi-religious coalition working to “end to the ten year commitment of $30 billion in U.S. taxpayer-funded military aid pledged to Israel in 2007 by the Bush administration,” reports they have a new set of billboards with a new company and slightly altered message. Seventy-five percent of US military aid to Israel is, by law, given to US arms manufacturers.

Sweden’s initiative calls for the division of Jerusalem and the recognition of East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. The 27 European foreign ministers are to discuss a draft of the proposal, which is expected to be published on Tuesday. The draft proposal also reportedly hints that the European Union would recognize a unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the settlers do not mean what they say. They freeze and they wink, for the show must go on. The settlers, as is their wont, scream to the high heavens in order to sow fear and warn of what awaits us in the future.

Lifta, a most picturesque Palestinian village, lies on the slopes of West Jerusalem below the highway linking it to Tel-Aviv. It has been abandoned since the invading Hagana underground forces backed by the Stern Gang drove the last of its Palestinian inhabitants in 1948 during the ethnic cleansing of Palestine… Now the Jerusalem Municipality has produced plans to turn Lifta into a luxurious and exclusive Jewish development – reinventing its history in the process.

IOA Editor: The Nakba continues: the few recognizable bits of pre-1948 Palestine will be joining their post-1967 counterparts: master-planned for extinction.

The population of the Gaza Strip is facing an acute cooking gas shortage this winter, after a unilateral Israeli decision in October to permanently close the sole oil and gas terminal between the coastal Palestinian territory and the Jewish state.

A Holocaust survivor, a retired military officer wife and I issued an invitation to Elie Wiesel to come to Gaza with us. This invitation was extended as he spoke before a standing-room crowd of around 2800 people on Tuesday evening, December 1, at St. Louis University… He responded with an immediate and dismissive “I heard you.” He then turned and looked in the other direction.

Israeli society will have to decide what it prefers: a future of peace, relative security and economic prosperity in exchange for territories, or holding on to the territories while endangering the future of the Jewish state…

IOA Editor: These concerns are shared by moderate Israelis who view the prospects of a “binational state” as “gloomy.”

If realized, these plans would connect Israeli Jerusalem to the Gush Etzion settlements. At the same time, the swath of Israeli neighborhoods on the South East would join the neighborhoods that close on Jerusalem from the North and North East, thus cutting a major territorial bridge between the future Palestinian state and East Jerusalem.

The international campaign to boycott Ahava beauty products has recently won the support of a Dutch parliamentarian and an Israeli peace group. During the past few months, activists in Canada, the UK, Ireland, Israel, the United States and the Netherlands have campaigned against the sale of Ahava products because of the company’s complicity in the Israeli occupation.

The Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, has a monthly salary of NIS 68,060; a major general makes NIS 48,265 a month; and a brigadier general makes NIS 39,340 a month. The average monthly salary in Israel is close to NIS 8,000. While questions are occasionally raised as to the disparity between these sums, it appears that there are other potentially highly inflammatory data about military wages that the army is hiding.

IOA Editor: This seemingly domestic Israeli subject is important. It covers the economic interests in the continuation of the Occupation and war. As detailed by Amira Hass in Israel knows that peace just doesn’t pay, by the late Tanya Reinhart, and others, the influence of the IDF and the Israeli ‘defense industry’ on the shaping of Israel’s policies and behavior is enormous. This is just the latest bit of evidence.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees said on Wednesday it was facing an “unprecedented” budget deficit that could force it to cut back on services to more than 4.7 million people.

[On] Wednesday… the coordinator of government activities in the territories, published a list of 84 apartment buildings and public structures on which construction would be allowed to continue despite the freeze. The residential buildings include 492 apartments.

IOA Editor: The “freeze” that never froze. A meaningless Netanyahu-Barak charade.

“Marwan is going nowhere; he wants to return to his home and family in Palestine,” said his wife, Fadwa Barghouti.

The Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders on Wednesday awarded veteran Haaretz correspondent Amira Hass a “Press Freedom” prize, for “independent and outspoken reporting.”

“We are deeply critical and indeed shocked by the decision of the JNF to donate thousands of trees, grown with money donated by Jews from around the world, to the PA,” [said] ZOA national president… “Has it really come to this? That a venerable Zionist organization with only one purpose – the building-up of a sovereign Jewish national existence – takes money from Jews and then uses [the] funds to make a gift of trees to Israel’s unreconstructed enemies?”

IOA Editor: Founded in 1901, the Jewish National Fund (JNF), that “venerable Zionist organization,” is a quasi Israeli government agency in charge of land development for Jewish-only use, funded by Zionist donors world-wide. From its inception, it has been at the forefront of a campaign of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from approximately 500 towns and villages, and their replacement by legally-binding, exclusively-Jewish land ownership and use. It is indeed peculiar that the JNF got involved in tree planting on the West Bank while Israeli settlers, at the current forefront of the Zionist colonization program, are busy destroying Palestinian olive groves nearby. However, no number of freshly planted trees can redeem a century of crimes perpetrated by the JNF against the Palestinian people.

The Palestinian labor movement has never been as united as it is today in supporting the boycott against Israel and calling on all international trade unions and trade union federations to endorse BDS as the most effective form of solidarity with the people of Palestine in general and our working class in particular. Furthermore, we repeat our appeal to all international trade unions to sever their links with the Histadrut, a racist organization that has always played a key role in perpetuating Israel’s occupation, colonization and system of racial discrimination, and that has justified and applauded Israel’s war crimes in Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009.

A classified report drafted by European consuls in East Jerusalem and Ramallah slams Israeli policy in East Jerusalem and recommends that the European Union take steps to strengthen the Palestinian Authority’s status in the city. It also advises taking various measures to protest Israeli policy in the city, as well as sanctions against people and groups involved in “settlement activity” in and around it.

IOA Editor: None of this is new, and much of it has been reported on the pages of the IOA before (search “Jerusalem” to find previous coverage). The EU has been issuing these reports annually, but keeping them secret. This year, perhaps in light of Israel’s campaign of death and destruction in Gaza, certain elements within the EU might be willing to challenge Israel on its carefully planned and calculated colonial program in the Occupied Territories. A welcome change, if it were to happen.

See also:
EU foreign ministers likely to call for division of Jerusalem

Israel stripped thousands of Jerusalem Arabs of residency in 2008
UN’s Middle East envoy urges halt to demolitions, evictions in East Jerusalem

[A]n all-time record for the number of Arab residents of East Jerusalem who were stripped of residency rights by the [Israeli] Interior Ministry. Altogether, the ministry revoked the residency of 4,577 East Jerusalemites in 2008 – 21 times the average of the previous 40 years… The [effort] was the brainchild of former interior minister Meir Sheetrit (Kadima) and [the head of] the ministry’s Population Administration.

IOA Editor: Depopulating the Palestinians, or ethnic cleansing, is not new for Israel. In addition to the forcible removal of Palestinians during the Nakba, the Israeli government has used a variety of tricks to “redeem” the Land of Israel from its native Arab population. The removal of East Jerusalem Palestinian residents is somewhat similar to a government practice of the early 1950s, targeting the so-called “absent present” residents: those who temporarily left their homes or land during the war, but remained within what later become Israel. They were prevented from reclaiming their property and Israel was thus able to confiscate it for the exclusive use of its Jewish citizens.

The jailed Israeli spy, Jonathan Pollard, came out fiercely on Tuesday against the proposed deal with Hamas in which Israel would release 980 Palestinian prisoners in return for kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit.

IOA Editor: Pollard is an extreme right-wing Israeli, as are his friends. He is an interesting case for one reason only: Since his jailing, some 25 years ago, every US president has been asked – by every Israeli leader and by many prominent US Jews – to let him go to Israel before completing his jail term. Despite the on-going pressure, every US president refused to do so. Apparently, AIPAC and the Jews are not “dictating” US foreign policy or, surely, they would have by now brought about Pollard’s release.

See also: Adam Shapiro: Selling Out in Congress

Congressman Perriello, I am afraid, has become like so many of his colleagues, a mere tool of a hard-right AIPAC agenda that has no business dictating American policy. He has become part of an American dog wagged by an Israeli and AIPAC tail.

IOA Editor: AIPAC is a strong and highly influential organization. But there is no evidence, in this article or elsewhere, that it is “dictating” American policy or that it is the tail that wags the dog – it is bad enough that AIPAC buys influence, and that it does so better than most.

History shows that when a US president wants to apply pressure on Israel, he can do so without much resistance from Congress: whether it is blocking persistent Israeli attempts to release its jailed spy, Jonathan Pollard, or punishing Israel for selling to China advanced military technologies against the wishes of the US. This has been done and could be done again, if only there were a president who wanted to do more than just talk about peace and justice. It is easy to focus on AIPAC, and much more difficult to deal with a president who talks about peace and justice while pursuing war and destruction throughout the Middle East – in many ways, reminding us of his predecessor, except for his far greater propaganda skills.

A selection of video clips covering the Nakba, destroyed villages and related subjects.

The draft refers directly to the situation in East Jerusalem, calling on “all parties to refrain from provocative actions” and stating the EU Council “has never recognized the annexation of East Jerusalem. If there is to be a genuine peace, a way must be found to resolve the status of Jerusalem as capital of two states… On the issue of borders, the document states that the EU will not accept any changes made by Israel to the 1967 borders unless they have PA approval.

IOA Editor: Palestinian Authority forces should immediately pull their troops and armored vehicles out of West Jerusalem so as not to unnecessarily provoke its Jewish residents; they should also cease house demolitions which further victimize Jewish folk, inflicting homelessness and disease, especially now that the cold Jerusalem winter is only days away…

Despite the asymmetry between occupier and occupied, which is not properly reflected in this news story, the draft document, as reported, could form a good basis for future decisions by the EU – decisions that are long overdue.

The top United Nations envoy to the Middle East today reiterated Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s call for an immediate end to demolitions, evictions and the instalment of Israeli settlers in Palestinian neighbourhoods.

[T]he organization that offered every soldier refusing to evacuate a settlement… NIS 1,000 for every day they spend in military prison, is a registered non-profit organization and has a license to operate. Like many of the extreme right-wing organizations receiving money from U.S. supporters, the funding for the group enjoys tax-free status. Peace groups and Palestinians have complained to U.S. authorities, but there has been no change in the status of the organizations supporting the right wing.

Responding to criticism of Israel’s ability to face hostile entities on the Web… the new program would be able to deal with the problem.

IOA Editor: They’ve identified the enemy, and it is us. Now they’ll go an eye for an eye, Israeli style: TheirTube against OurTube, their Tweet against our Tweet, etc. In the process, civilian and military propaganda commissars merge their activities, blurring further the few remaining lines separating brute-force from policy-making, in the “Only Democracy in the Middle East.”

The IOA Twitter page: IsOccupation

Jonathan Cook: A recent report from Israel’s National Insurance Institute showed that half of all Arab families in Israel are classified as poor compared with just 14 per cent of Jewish families.