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


BDS initiative is a moral strategy which has demonstrated its potential for success. Most recently, German Deutsche Bank became the latest of several European institutions to divest from Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems; two main Italian supermarket chains announced a boycott of produce from illegal Israeli settlements; performers Elvis Costello and Gil Scott-Heron cancelled appearances in Israel.

If a people who so recently experienced such unspeakable inhumanities cannot understand the injustice and suffering its territorial ambitions are inflicting, what hope is there for the rest of us?

IOA Editor: While Israel’s morality (inherent, past, other?) is a figment of Siegman’s imagination, this is an important article in that it makes a powerful connection between the Holocaust and Israel’s Occupation and Gaza crimes.

If a real Commission of Inquiry had been set up (instead of the pathetic excuse for a commission), here are some of the questions it should have addressed.

Mainstream politicians, civic leaders, university presidents and others in this country routinely express their support for Israel as a Jewish state, despite the fact that such a state only could have been created in a multicultural land by ethnically cleansing it of as many non-Jews as possible. Today, Israel is only able to maintain its Jewish identity because it has established an apartheid regime, both in the occupied territories and within its own borders, and because it continues to reject the Palestinian right of return.

The very idea that pacifist, feminist, Jewish, and Christian organizations like CODEPINK, Jewish Voice for Peace, and the American Friends Service Committee would ally with a violent, misogynist, Islamic group like Hamas — much less any group that engages in terrorism — should be recognized as absurd on face value. When prominent Democrats — including the head of the House subcommittee on terrorism — imply that leading American and Israeli peace groups are linked to terrorism, it is no longer simply heated rhetoric in defense of the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, but a dangerous attack on civil liberties.

Senior Israeli Antiquities Authority archaeologist: “They call this an archaeological excavation but it’s really a clearing-out, an erasure of the Muslim past. It is actually Jews against Arabs.” Jonathan Cook reports.

Noam Chomsky talks about US and Israeli aggression in Lebanon and the Middle East, criticizing Obama’s right-wing policies, war making, medical care, coziness with commercial interests. He warns of the coming war in Kandahar and Israel’s possible attack on Iran that could go nuclear.

[Emily] Henochowicz became critical of Israel in the spring, after accompanying a friend to a demonstration in East Jerusalem against the eviction of Palestinian families. Very quickly, she began participating regularly in protests against Israeli policies, especially the expansion of Jewish settlements on the West Bank. … The dangers caught up with her on May 31. During a demonstration at the West Bank checkpoint at Qalandia, Henochowicz was struck in the face by a tear gas canister fired by Israeli security forces. She lost her left eye, and her jaw and cheekbone were fractured.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi has appointed Maj-Gen (ret.) Giora Eiland to head “external inquest into deadly raid of Gaza flotilla”. Gen. Eiland is the main author of the Dahiya Doctrine of “disproportionate response”, which calls for “the wholesale destruction of the military, government and civilian infrastructure of the enemy entity”.

Like other states, Israel has the right of self-defense. But did Israel have the right to use force in Gaza in the name of self-defense? International law, including the U.N. Charter, is unambiguous: A nation has such a right only if it has exhausted peaceful means. In this case such means were not even tried, although—or perhaps because—there was every reason to suppose that they would succeed. Thus the invasion was sheer criminal aggression, and the same is true of Israel’s resorting to force against the flotilla.

What serves the goal of separating Gaza from the West Bank better than forgetting the sealed Erez crossing between Gaza and Israel, and focusing on Rafah and cement? Unintentionally, the runners of the maritime and media blockade focused attention on aspects that do not undermine the essence of Israel’s closure of Gaza. And that essence is denying the right and thwarting the will of Gazans to be an active, permanent and natural part of Palestinian society.

IOA Editor: As always, one can count on Amira Hass to place current events in the context of Israel’s 43-year long Occupation, and the Occupier’s long-term interests which drive Israel’s actions. Important as the focus on the Flotilla is, viewing it in the context of the Gaza Siege and Israel’s designs to separate Gaza from Palestine is far more important.

Israelis are engaged in a Kafkaesque conversation in which the military attack on the civilian ships is characterised as a legitimate “act of self-defence”, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it, and the killing of nine aid activists is transformed into an attempted “lynching of our soldiers” by terrorists.

One of this country’s most important and courageous journalists said something terribly wrong, was massively criticized, apologized for it, and was forced into retirement. Exactly the way it should be, right? Wrong. It’s hard to even chart out the hypocrisy of the whole affair.

Although Israel successfully controlled news of its deadly commando raid on the Freedom Flotilla during the first crucial 48 hours of media coverage, emerging evidence from witnesses and survivors is challenging the Israeli government’s version of events.

Jonathan Cook: In addition to the removal of Ms Zoubi’s [Knesset] privileges, she is also facing the revocation of her citizenship. The measure has been used only twice before in Israel’s history — both times against Palestinian citizens accused of terrorism.

The real, unlike the declared, strategy is to continue this state of affairs. As long as the international community is complacent, the Arab world impotent and Gaza contained, Israel can still have a thriving economy and an electorate that regards the dominance of the army in its life, the continued conflict and the oppression of the Palestinians as the exclusive past, the present and future reality of life in Israel.

When Netanyahu calls it a flotilla of hate, is he lying? Not only Netanyahu, the ministers, too, in addition to a few people in uniform: the army chief of staff and the commander of the navy. In any well-run country, the head of the navy would have resigned that same night.

[T]he simplest answer to [the] question of what Israel could do to maintain its security in place of a blockade is that it is precisely the blockade that causes the threats to Israeli security. Without the blockade, there would be no obstacle to negotiating a long-term ceasefire, which would mean the end to rocket fire and other threats to Israel’s legitimate security interests.

ALSO : Stephen R. Shalom: Palling Around with Terrorists – Obama and the Israel-Palestine Conflict

Hijacking boats in international waters and killing passengers is, of course, a serious crime… For decades, Israel has been hijacking boats in international waters between Cyprus and Lebanon, killing or kidnapping passengers, sometimes bringing them to prisons in Israel including secret prison/torture chambers, sometimes holding them as hostages for many years. Israel assumes that it can carry out such crimes with impunity because the US tolerates them and Europe generally follows the US lead.

IOA Editor: UPDATED to correct an omission from Noam Chomsky’s statement on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

[T]he Gaza Freedom Flotilla was a provocation… in the sense that civil rights protesters in the American south who sat at segregated lunch counters represented a provocation to segregationists, or in the sense that all nonviolent protests against the illegitimate acts of a government are by definition provocations. Under an illegal siege, the delivery of aid to civilians is a prohibited act; the intent of our humanitarian convoy was to violate this unjust prohibition.

IOA Editor: Iara Lee held a press conference at the UN on 10 June 2010, presenting her raw video footage from the Mavi Marmara and answering questions. Her article about the Gaza Freedom Flotilla was published earlier.

UPDATE: UN screening of ‘one-sided’ Gaza flotilla film spurs Israeli complaint

From the beginning of his administration, Obama declared that he was concerned over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and that he wanted the blockade of Gaza loosened. But Israel ignored him and the United States did nothing. Fifty-four Representatives urged the United States to apply real pressure on Israel to lift the blockade, but to no avail. There was and remains a very simple solution if Obama genuinely wants to mitigate the effects of the blockade: namely, the United States could do what Rep. Brian Baird of Washington suggested: break the blockade. Just sail supplies in by sea. Israel certainly isn’t going to sink U.S. navy vessels.

[T]he blockade has been a colossal moral, political and diplomatic failure. Not only has it wrought a humanitarian catastrophe on Gaza’s 1.5 million people: it has so strengthened Hamas that it alone could claim the high ground in the wake of the flotilla debacle. It was that moral weight that compelled Egypt to open Gaza’s Rafah crossing into the Sinai on 1 June.

The revelations in my book, “The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Alliance with Apartheid South Africa,” have angered Israelis across the political spectrum… President Shimon Peres has said “there exists no basis in reality for the claims” put forward in my book. Beilin… has decided to stand by his former boss… as he told The New York Times: “The president’s denial puts an end to the subject.” It does not.

Israel’s entrenchment is so deep-seated that it has announced it will certainly not lift the blockade on Gaza. Its blindness means that there is sure to be another round… There is nothing to investigate. This is the situation; everyone knows it. We just have to decide whether to go on like this, or take a deep breath and choose a different path.

[P]rotected by a Western empire, you colonize a part of the world, ethnically cleanse as many of its indigenous people as you can, and confine the remainder to stew in a series of besieged reservations, which are in effect open prisons. And when the victims try to resist, you depict them as “savages” and “terrorists”; and present yourself, the colonizer, as acting in “self-defence”. Similarly, when humanitarian sympathizers of the colonized try to provide them with some help.

And things will continue to unravel for Israel because it only knows how to use force to try to get its way. Ironically, Israel’s overkill has made the use of force so costly for those who favor armed resistance that the stage has been left clear for those who believe it is more effective to use civil resistance against a vastly superior armed force. It should be noted that Palestinian civil resistance is not new although it has recently been “discovered” by the mainstream media.

Moshe Dayan, Israel’s most celebrated general, famously outlined the strategy that he believed would keep Israel’s enemies at bay: “Israel must be a like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother.” But the Israeli commando attack on the Gaza-bound flotilla… proves that this is now a diplomatic strategy too. Israel is feeling cornered on every front it considers important – and like Dayan’s “mad dog”, it is likely to strike out in unpredictable ways.

Rashid Khalidi covers Israel’s attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, and turns the focus to Israel’s Gaza siege, Israel-Palestine, and the US – Israel relations in an interview with WBEZ radio, Chicago (Audio).

Will the rule of law be applied to Israel this time? In principle, it is unlawful for a state to enforce a blockade against ships that are flying the flag of another state on the high seas. The only exceptions to this would be if the blockade were mandated by the UN security council acting under chapter VII of the UN charter.

Is NATO genuinely a mutual defence organisation, or is it just an instrument to carry out US foreign policy? With its unthinking defence of Israel and military occupation of Afghanistan, is US foreign policy really defending Europe, or is it making the World less safe by causing Islamic militancy?

Jonathan Cook: Haneen Zoubi said Israeli naval vessels had surrounded the flotilla’s flagship, the Mavi Marmara, and fired on it a few minutes before commandos abseiled from a helicopter directly above them… She added that within minutes of the raid beginning, three bodies had been brought to the main room on the upper deck in which she and most other passengers were confined. Two had gunshot wounds to the head, in what she suggested had been executions.

I was a passenger on the first effort to break the Gaza blockade. Our mission was to show that normal people cared.

A legal analysis of the Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla by the London-based Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (LPHR).

UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk: the raid is “clearly a criminal act, being on the high seas.” Storming a peaceful boat is akin to a home invasion, with the aggravating circumstance that the invaded space in this case was packed with goods intended to alleviate human suffering.

Has Israel lost it? Can the Gaza War of 2008-09 (1,300 dead) and the Lebanon War of 2006 (1,006 dead) and all the other wars and now yesterday’s killings mean that the world will no longer accept Israel’s rule? Don’t hold your breath.

Israel’s government has been pretending it is ready to negotiate for peace, but that there is no one to negotiate with on the other side. The attack on the blockade-busters lays bare the country’s slide into contempt for international law, intolerance of dissent and wilful sabotage of viable representation for Palestinians.