Self-Defense Against Peace – Israel’s Unjust War on Gaza

Did self-defence justify Israel’s war on Gaza?

Objections have been raised to this claim on grounds of a lack of both proportionality and necessity. To kill over 1000 Palestinians in 3 weeks, hundreds of them children, and wound thousands more, in order to deter a threat from rockets that did not kill or injure anybody in Israel for the six months the truce was declared by both sides, or even before Israel launched its attack on December 27, is so disproportionate as to be intolerable in any ethical system that holds Palestinian lives equal in value to Israeli lives. It is also so disproportionate as to defy belief that defence against these rockets was the real motive of the war. To ignore the many diplomatic avenues available to avoid even this threat, such as lifting the suffocating 18-month siege, suggests the same thing.

A more fundamental objection, however, is the self-evident legal and moral principle that an aggressor cannot rely upon self-defence to justify violence against resistance to its own aggression. You can find this principle in domestic law and in the judgments of the Nuremberg tribunals.

To quote one Nuremberg judge:

On of the most amazing phenomena of this case which does not lack in startling features is the manner in which the aggressive war conducted by Germany against Russia has been treated by the defense as if it were the other way around. …If it is assumed that some of the resistance units in Russia or members of the population did commit acts which were in themselves unlawful under the rules of war, it would still have to be shown that these acts were not in legitimate defense against wrongs perpetrated upon them by the invader. Under International Law, as in Domestic Law, there can be no reprisal against reprisal. The assassin who is being repulsed by his intended victim may not slay him and then, in turn, plead self defense. (Trial of Otto Ohlendorf and others, Military Tribunal II-A, April 8, 1948)

So who was the aggressor here?

There would have been no question as to who was the aggressor had this attack taken place before Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza strip in 2005. At that point Israel had been committing a continuous aggression against Gaza for 38 years, in its illegal and violent occupation of it, along with the rest of the Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, after its conquest in 1967.

By 2005, the occupation had been condemned as illegal by the highest organs with jurisdiction over international law, most notably the International Court of Justice in its 2004 opinion on the separation barrier. A central illegality of the occupation for the International Court lay in Israel’s settlements, which violate the law against colonization, and which are central to the occupation. The fifteen judges of the International Court were unanimously of the opinion that the settlements were illegal and the wall itself was held by a majority of 13-2 to be illegal, partly because it was there to defend the settlements, and not Israel itself, and thus could not qualify as self-defence.

The rocket attacks from Gaza started in 2001 and took their first Israeli victim in 2004.
Since then, there had been 14 Israeli victims prior to the current war. Tragic, indeed, but obviously paling in comparison to the 1700 Palestinians killed in Gaza during the same period. One death is indeed a tragedy, but many deaths are not just “a statistic”, as Stalin had it; they are the tragedy multiplied many times over. Given Israel’s illegal, aggressive and violent occupation, prior to the withdrawal, Gaza rockets could only be regarded as necessary and proportionate self-defence, or as reprisals against Israel’s aggression.

Did Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 change the situation?

It has been forcefully argued that the 18-month siege of Gaza, a major reason for Hamas’ refusal to extend the truce, was itself an act of aggression, giving rise to a right of self-defence.

But even more important, though usually ignored, is Israel’s continued illegal and aggressive occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem after the withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. Indeed, the withdrawal from Gaza was intended to strengthen the hold on the other territories and was accompanied by a greater increase in the number of settlers there than those removed from Gaza.

The occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem figured equally with Gaza in the condemnations of the World Court and the Security Council. Furthermore, in the Oslo Accords, Israel and the Palestinians agreed that “The two sides view the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a single territorial unit, the integrity and status of which will be preserved during the interim period.” Indeed, when Hamas won the elections in 2006, elections declared impeccably fair and civil by all international observers, it won them for the whole of the Palestinian Authority, including the West Bank (it was not allowed by Israel to campaign in East Jerusalem). Many Hamas West Bank legislators remain in Israeli jails.

And the basic fact is that the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza are one people, however separated they are by walls and fences and check-points. Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from one part of that people’s land cannot turn that people into aggressors when they resist the illegal occupation of the rest.

So self-defense cannot justify this attack, or the siege that preceded it. What can? That Hamas is a “terrorist organization”? But terrorism is about deliberately killing civilians for illegal political ends, and in that enterprise, Israel has topped Hamas by many multiples. That Hamas does not recognize Israel’s “right to exist”? But Hamas has offered many times to make a long-term truce with Israel on the basis of the legal international borders, something it is clearly entitled to insist upon. Israel says that’s not good enough, that Hamas first has to recognize Israel’s legitimacy, in other words, it has to concede the legitimacy of the Jewish state and all it has meant to the Palestinians. In other words, as one Israeli journalist ironized, Israel is insisting that Hamas embrace Zionism as a condition of even talking peace with it.

These are not justifications for violence on this or any scale. Indeed, they point to the most plausible reason Israel is fighting Hamas (and the PLO before it): self-defence, if you will, not against rockets and mortars, but against having to make peace with the Palestinians on the basis of the pre-1967 borders as required by international law.

Ref: counterpunch
Michael Mandel is Professor of Law at Osgoode Hall Law School of York University in Toronto, where he teaches the Law of War. He is the author of How America Gets Away with Murder.

Why Israel’s war is driven by fear

Outrage at Israeli actions has mounted across the world as the Gaza conflict goes on. But as Israel expands its military action, support for the aggressive strategy is growing, while sympathy for Palestinians is receding. And, with an election looming, political attitudes are hardening

Yeela Raanan says she would prefer not to know about the war in Gaza. She doesn’t want to see the pictures of dead children cut down by Israeli shells or read of the allegations of war crimes by her country’s army as it kills Palestinians by the hundreds.

But there is no escape. Raanan can hear the relentless Israeli bombardment by air, sea and land from her home, just three miles from the Gaza border. Hamas rockets keep hitting her community. And somewhere in the maelstrom of Gaza, her 20-year-old son is serving as an Israeli soldier.

“I’d rather not know. I can’t do anything about it. We didn’t see the pictures of the Palestinian kids who were killed. It’s easier not to feel,” she said. “I just turn on the news for five minutes a day and that’s it, just to see if anybody says anything about my kid.”

But when Raanan thinks about her son – whom she prefers not to name – she also thinks about Palestinian mothers and their sons in Gaza. And that’s when she finds her herself out of sync with the neighbours. “I don’t talk to the neighbours about it any more,” she said. “Hamas is violent. Hamas is stupid. I don’t like what they are. But I don’t feel angry towards them. I understand why they were elected, I understand why they act as they do.”

Attempting to understand has earned Raanan, a former operations officer in the Israeli air force, denunciations as a traitor and accusations of “selling her nation to the devil”. Doesn’t she love her son?, they ask.

The world has reeled in horror at revelations of Israeli atrocities as the Palestinian death toll has climbed toward 800. The International Red Cross was so outraged it broke its usual silence over an attack in which the Israeli army herded a Palestinian family into a building and then shelled it, killing 30 people and leaving the surviving children clinging to the bodies of their dead mothers. The army prevented rescuers from reaching the survivors for four days.

Israel’s shelling of a UN school that had been turned into a refugee centre near Gaza city, killing 42 people who had fled the fighting, drew further accusations of indifference to civilian lives. And Israel has struggled to justify the eradication of entire families, including small children, in pursuit of Hamas officials.

But ordinary Israelis have been told little about this and when they are they generally brush it aside with assertions that it is sad but Hamas has brought it on the Palestinian people. Israel is the real victim, they say. The mainstream Israeli press has stuck firmly to the official line that it is a war of defence, a moral conflict forced on Israel by Hamas rocket fire.

The scale of Palestinian civilian casualties is played down. The dead are overwhelmingly described as terrorists. The accounts of entire Palestinian families being wiped out are buried beneath stories of the Israeli trauma at Hamas attacks.

“The news said the Israeli army had killed 100 ‘terrorists’ and also a bomb fell and 40 lost their lives,” said Raanan about the shelling of the UN school. “That was more or less the rhetoric that was used, so the focus was on the fact that we had managed to kill terrorists rather than we had also killed 40 other people. We weren’t told who they were.” There are alternative voices in the press, but they are mostly dismissed or shouted down. Israeli Arabs who protested against the war have been arrested for undermining national morale. Television anchormen berate critics of the onslaught on Gaza, questioning their patriotism.

The paradox of Israel is that most of its citizens tell the pollsters they agree with Raanan and the peace lobby that there should be a negotiated agreement of the establishment of a Palestinian state. But a significant number of Israelis now question whether this is possible. They view the continued conflict after Ariel Sharon pulled Jewish settlers and the military out of Gaza in 2005 as evidence that Arabs don’t want peace; that giving up territory does not bring security.

Support for the vague notion of peace has been further buried under the rhetoric of the looming Israeli election, where the right in particular, led by a former prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, is playing on fear of a nuclear Iran in league with Hamas. Netanyahu, who is likely to win the 10 February ballot, has no intention of dismantling settlements or relinquishing the control that Israel exercises over the lives of Palestinians on the West Bank. He dances around the issue of a Palestinian state and has made clear in the past that what he wants to see amounts to a canton or bantustan (homeland) surrounded by Israeli control.

And so the vast number of mainstream Israelis, while saying they support peace, once again find themselves in bed with the settlers and on the side of oppression. “I hate to say we told you so,” said Yisrael Medad, a prominent Jewish settler from Shilo, deep inside the West Bank. “Now you hear all the time that it was a mistake to pull out of Gaza. You hear it on the television when it was never discussed before. More of the anchors are willing to ask that question. They would never ask that a year or two ago. They used to say ours was the extreme view. Now I would say that it’s the mainstream, that no matter what we have done territorially speaking it’s not going to satisfy them [the Palestinians]. They are always going to attack us.”

The settlers might be an extreme minority, but their views as to why Israeli soldiers are fighting in Gaza are not exceptional. Raanan lives in Ein Habsor, a moshav or cooperative agricultural community of about 1,000 people. It suffers regular hits from Hamas rockets. “In the last few days we’ve had two a day. In the vicinity. A couple inside. Close enough that it could have been your house,” she said. No one was hurt but a student at the nearby Sapir college, where Raanan teaches public policy and administration, was killed by a Hamas rocket in February. Roni Yechiah, a 47-year-old father of four, died after the missile hit the car park.

About a quarter of the families in Ein Habsor have left. “They didn’t so much go because of the rockets. It was because of the war and being really scared. They closed the schools. Those with little kids have mostly gone,” said Raanan. It’s not an atmosphere in which to question whether Israeli troops should be in Gaza. Most of the residents of Ein Habsor see the assault as a straightforward and necessary response to Hamas rockets, uncomplicated by issues such as occupation or the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

But Raanan does question. She wants to see a government willing to negotiate seriously with the Palestinians, and she takes the view that just because Israel is strong enough to get one over on the Palestinians, that does not mean that it is in its interests to do so. Raanan also wants other Israelis to understand what the Palestinians are suffering. “My moshav is quite right-wing,” she said. “They believe in using power and they don’t particularly like Arabs. I don’t talk to my neighbours much about these things.

“If you do open your heart to the fact that 40 completely innocent people in a United Nations school were killed you have a very hard time. It’s difficult to open your heart to that place and also hold on to wanting the soldiers to succeed. It’s a very hard split in personality. I think it’s necessary but it’s a difficult thing to do.” Raanan says Israelis have dehumanised Palestinians to such an extent that they are no longer sensitive about who they kill. “It’s so difficult for them to put themselves in the place of someone who lives in Gaza. I guess you have to be able to dehumanise to be able to accept this type of war,” she said.

“Israelis think of Hamas as a terrorist group and therefore anything we do to Hamas is OK. But the question is, why do we think it’s OK also to kill civilians while we’re killing or destroying Hamas? We rationalise; they do it to their own people. That’s the rhetoric in Israel. It makes it OK to do what we’re doing. In Israel we’re brought up to be afraid of Arabs. It’s a short step to hating them. It’s unusual for people not to have hostile feelings toward Arabs, and it’s racist feelings because it’s a whole group.”

In Shilo, Medad finds himself in agreement with Raanan on one thing. He sees Israeli public opinion as increasingly indifferent to Palestinian suffering. But he says it is because of foreign criticism of Israel’s actions. “With the harshness of the criticism, they’re slowly but surely turning off more Israelis to elements of humanity, consideration, so eventually they say: who the hell cares?” he said. “We don’t see the human face. In that situation we can do anything we want. There’s a lack of identity of who the enemy is. He’s not human any more.”

You might not know there was a war on while visiting Jerusalem’s restaurants, Tel Aviv’s frantic bars or the Azrieli shopping centre. The mall is one of the largest in Israel. Next door is the Kirya military headquarters, which houses Israel’s defence ministry and the country’s top military officers. The two buildings are linked by a bridge.

Through the Gaza war, Israel has accused Hamas of endangering civilians by establishing military installations in populated areas. It has been a central justification by the army for the killing of Palestinian civilians. The shoppers at the Azrieli mall see no contradiction between that claim and Israel building its defence headquarters next door to a shopping centre. “They might have a point if they attacked it,” said Yoni Ahren, a computer engineer sipping coffee. “But they don’t. Instead they send suicide bombers to blow us up in the mall. The Palestinians set out to kill any Jew. The Israeli army sets out to kill Hamas and, yes, innocent Palestinians get killed. But that is not why the army is in Gaza.”

A soldier with Ahren, who declined to be identified because he was in uniform, said the Palestinians brought it on themselves. “They voted for Hamas and then Hamas attacked Israel so it’s their problem,” he said. “I don’t know if this [attack on Gaza] will solve anything. Probably not. We cannot get rid of Hamas. But the lesson we’ve learnt is that we can’t trust the Palestinians. We knew that with Arafat. Now we know it again.”

That is the upside of the conflict in Gaza for Medad. He believes it could help assure the future of the West Bank settlements by reminding Israelis that control over what Israelis call Judea and Samaria is what keeps Hamas rockets from falling on Tel Aviv. “Things are changing. It’s Gaza that’s changed things,” he said.

Shilo sits alongside the main road from Ramallah to Nablus, a long way from the “security barrier” Israel has built through the West Bank and Jerusalem. Shilo’s residents are religious and mostly assert Israel’s claim to all of the territory west of the Jordan river. A Palestinian presence is tolerated at best.

When Ariel Sharon pulled Jewish settlers out of Gaza in 2005, he called it a painful sacrifice for peace. Another view was that he had run out of political options and the pull-out was a way to stave off international pressure to talk to the Palestinians. What the dismantling of the Gaza settlements did not do was end the expansion of colonies on the West Bank. Shilo has grown by about 25% since 2005. The “outposts” around it, which are illegal even under Israeli law, have been expanding so fast that the “Shilo block”, with about 10,000 residents, is now as large as the main settlement that was dismantled in Gaza.

Most Israelis tell the pollsters they would sacrifice Shilo for peace. But influential voices are against it, among them the man tipped to be Netanyahu’s defence minister. Moshe “Bogie” Yaalon, the former military commander in the West Bank, pressed the government for months to attack Gaza, and is against a withdrawal from the West Bank.

Medad is confident that Yaalon’s views will prevail. “If you don’t have control over a population, you suffer. You want to call it occupation… fine. But there has to be some sort of control, supervision,” he said. Yaalon recently asked: “What is the big difference between Gaza and Judea and Samaria – Judea and Samaria we can go in at night, we know where they are, and pick them up. In Gaza we can’t do that.”

It is a view largely shared by Netanyahu, who has called for the assault on Gaza to be carried through until it forces Hamas from power. Most Israelis may not want to go as far as Netanyahu, but he remains ahead in the polls. Even on the left, attitudes have hardened. Support for Ehud Barak, the Labour party leader and defence minister, has risen sharply because of the assault on Gaza.

Jeff Halper, a veteran peace campaigner, says this is further evidence that Israeli public opinion is principally shaped by fear. “The Israeli public is being held hostage by its own leadership,” he said. “This whole idea there’s no partner for peace has been internalised by Israelis. Everything has been reduced in Israel to terrorism because Israel has eliminated the political context of occupation and claims it only wants peace and has made generous offers and the Arabs always reject them.”

“Seventy per cent of Israeli Jews say they don’t want the occupation. They would be happy with the two-state solution. But what they say to us is: ‘You don’t have to talk to me about peace, I want peace. The Arabs won’t let us because the Arabs are just terrorists.’ There is in Israel a deeply held assumption that Arabs are our permanent enemies.”

Raanan hopes not. She is counting the days until the Gaza assault is over and her son is pulled out. But the personal trauma will not be over if and when that happens. Her second son is due to be called up in six months. The way things are, he could be following his brother into Gaza.

Ref: Guaridan

‘A relentless bombardment’ (brillant analys!)

Embedded video from CNN Video

A Palestinian legislator describes the Israeli attacks on Gaza as “a very cruel escalation and a relentless bombardment”.

aftermath

dead

LEBANON 2006 PHOTO EXIBITION الجمهوريّة اللبنانيّة

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En agosto de 2006, cuando las hostilidades del ejército que ocupa Palestina eran todavía un hecho habitual en territorio libanés, me propuse realizar un viaje de solidaridad, para tratar de participar en los trabajos de reconstrucción y distribución de ayuda humanitaria (descargar camiones de medicinas, alimentos y material de primera necesidad), con el doble objetivo de conocer y mezclarme con la población civil local, saber de su situación real, sus problemas y su modo de ver las cosas… documentar la situación y publicar una serie de crónicas que mostraran a la opinión pública occidental los verdaderos efectos de la agresión hebrea, sin censura ni falsa propaganda, aportando numerosas pruebas como abundante material fotográfico y la grabación de diversas entrevistas a líderes locales, combatientes, padres de familia, secuestrados, huérfanos.

Aquí, una pequeña selección del material gráfico.

Copyright: Jaume d’Urgell

Bush´s parting gift to Israel (Warehousing Pals)

Tel Aviv has long seen itself as a military ally of the U.S., sharing in the realization of the U.S.’s objectives.

By Jonathan Cook

Almost unnoticed, Israel and the White House signed a deal over the summer to station an early-warning missile radar system, staffed with U.S. military personnel, in Israel’s Negev desert. The media here described the Joint Tactical Ground Station, which brings Israel under the U.S. protective umbrella against missile attack, as a “parting gift” from President Bush as he prepared to leave office.

The siting of what is likely to become America’s first permanent base on Israeli soil was apparently not easily agreed by local defense officials. Aware of the country’s vulnerability to missile strikes, they have been trying to develop their own defenses – so far without success – against the varying threats posed by Palestinian Qassam rockets, Hizbullah’s Katyushas, and Iran and Syria’s more sophisticated arsenal.

In finally accepting that it must rely on the U.S. shield, Israel may have answered the Middle East’s biggest question of 2008: will it launch a go-it-alone strike against Iran’s presumed nuclear weapons program?

The local media reported that the early-warning station would limit Israel’s freedom to attack Iran since it would be the prime target for a retaliatory strike, endangering the lives of U.S. personnel. Or as the Haaretz newspaper noted, Israeli officials viewed the radar system “as a signal of Washington’s opposition to an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear program”.

Although ostensibly the warm relations between Israel and the US are unchanged, in reality recent events are forcing a reluctant Israel to submit to the increasingly smothering embrace of Washington.

Tel Aviv has long seen itself as a military ally of the U.S., largely sharing and assisting in the realization of Washington’s strategic objectives. But it has also prized a degree of independence, especially the right to pursue its own agenda in the Middle East.

For some time, the key point of difference between the two has been over the benefits of “stability.” U.S. planners have promoted regional calm as a way of maintaining American control over the flow of oil. In practice, this has meant keeping the Arab peoples, and Arab nationalism, in check by bolstering reliable dictators.

In contrast, Israel has preferred instability, believing that weak and fractious neighbours can be more easily manipulated. A series of invasions of Lebanon to accentuate ethnic divisions there and the fueling of civil war in the occupied Palestinian territories have been the template for Israel’s wider regional vision.

The implicit tension in the Israeli-U.S. alliance surfaced with the ascendance under President George W. Bush of the neocons, who argued that Washington’s agenda should be synonymous with Israel’s. The U.S. occupation and dismemberment of Iraq was the apotheosis of the White House’s application of the Israeli doctrine.

The neocons’ partial fall from grace began with Israel’s failure to crush Hizbullah in Lebanon more than two years ago. All the evidence suggests that both Israel and the neocons regarded Hizbullah’s defeat as the necessary prelude to a U.S. attack on Tehran. Israel’s loss of nerve during the month-long war – attributed by critics like the former defense minister, Moshe Arens, to the general softening and feminisation of Israeli society – proved the country’s once-celebrated martial talents were on the decline.

In the war’s immediate wake, there was much discussion in Israel about how such a high-profile failure might damage the country’s standing in the eyes of its US sponsor. Penance arrived in the form of the exculpations of the Winograd post-mortem – and with it the inevitable undoing of Ehud Olmert as prime minister. Washington’s stables, meanwhile, were cleaned out less ostentatiously.

But where does this leave Israel? Certainly not friendless in Washington, as cheerleaders like AIPAC and the fawning of U.S. presidential candidates amply demonstrate. But the relationship is changing: it looks increasingly as though Israel is turning from U.S. ally to protectorate.

The consequences are already visible in the buckling of Israel’s commitment to launch a unilateral attack on Iran. Months of bellicose talk have been mostly stilled. A few believe this is the quiet before the storm of a joint U.S. and Israeli strike. More likely it is the sign of an Israeli-fueled war agenda running out of steam.

Washington, already overstretched in the Middle East and facing concerted opposition to its policies from China and Russia, seems resigned to living with an Iranian nuclear bomb. In the new climate that means Israel will have to accept that it is no longer the only bully on the Middle East block. Israel is on the verge of its very own regional Cold War.

As in the earlier Cold War, this one will be played out through alliances and proxies. But there the similarity ends. Iran is emerging as a regional superpower, quickly developing the financial and military clout to sponsor other actors in the region, most obviously Hamas and Hizbullah. Israel, on the other hand, is losing ground – quite literally, as the radar base reveals. It can no longer impose its own agenda or build alliances on its own terms. Its strength is becoming increasingly, and transparently, dependent on U.S. approval.

The most immediate and tangible effects will be felt by the Palestinians, though their plight is not likely to let up any time soon. Just as before, Israel needs a long-term solution to the Palestinian problem, but cannot concede on the creation of a viable Palestinian state. Now, however, it no longer has the luxury of biding its time as it dispossesses the Palestinians. It needs to find a solution before an Iranian bomb – and an ever-more confident Hamas and Hizbullah – force a settlement on Palestine not to its liking.

Israel is therefore engaging in a frenzy of West Bank settlement building – up six times on a year ago – not seen since Oslo. It only appears paradoxical that, just as Israel’s leadership is intoning the end of a Greater Israel, the most influential and optimistic supporters of a two-state solution on both sides – including Sari Nusseibeh and Shlomo Ben Ami – have been reading the last rites of Palestinian statehood.

This disillusionment, it might be expected, would provoke a new resolution towards a one-state solution among Israeli and Palestinian peace activists. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even the Palestinian leadership’s growing threats that it might adopt a one-state campaign are little more than that: blackmail designed to galvanize Israeli public opinion behind “warehouses”.

Instead of a fledgling state, however, Israel is creating a series of holding pens for the Palestinians – or “warehouses,” as the Israeli peace activist Jeff Halper has referred to them – on the last vestiges of the occupied territories. For Halper, warehousing means containing the Palestinians at minimal economic and political cost to Israel as it steals more territory.

But is the warehousing of the Palestinians intended by Israel to be the equivalent of storing unwanted books? Or, to continue this disturbing metaphor, are the Palestinians being warehoused so that at a later date they can be given away – or, worse still, pulped?

The answer again suggests Israel’s growing dependence on the U.S. Washington has for some time been strong-arming the Sunni Arab world, especially loyal regimes like Egypt and Jordan, against Shia Iran. With its back to the wall, Israel appears willing to use this leverage to its own advantage.

Its leaders are increasingly thinking of “peace” terms that, passing over the heads of the Palestinians, will be directed at their neighbours in Jordan and Egypt. A regional solution requires a further entrenchment of the physical and political divisions between the two “halves” of the occupied territories, with control over the Palestinian parts of the West Bank handed to Jordan and Gaza to Egypt.

It is a sign of the terminal loss of faith in their leaders and Israeli good faith that the latest poll of Palestinians shows 42 percent want their government-in-waiting, the Palestinian Authority, dismantled. More than a quarter are ready to abandon the dream of independent nationhood, preferring instead the establishment of a joint state with Jordan.

Palestine’s fate, it seems, rests on the resolve of the Arab world. It is not a reassuring prospect.

Ref: Al jazeera magazine
— Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is http://www.jkcook.net. A version of this article originally appeared in Adbusters Magazine.

Israeli Rules of Engagement. What IDF Soldiers Say About Their Orders + The Israeli Army gives orders to kill the Palestinians + Israeli Soldier Shoot Palestinian Citizen a blank point

 

Lethal Ambiguity: Israeli Soldiers Talk about the Rules of Engagement.
“The bottom line is that the orders are unclear. They are confusing. And when orders are unclear, people die.” 

B’Tselem is an Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Ref. B´tselem

 

 

 

IDF boosts deployment in West Bank ahead of Rosh Hashanah

In recent weeks, senior defense officials have been singing the praises of their Palestinian colleagues. After years of suspicion about the Palestinian Authority, Israeli officials are now convinced that the PA is resolved to deal with Hamas, which is threatening to take over the West Bank as it did the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian officials admit to receiving assistance from Israel and the United States and have arrested hundreds of Hamas activists and closed down dozens of its charity organizations.

But the picture is more complicated than that. While Fatah’s security professionals seek conflict with Hamas, the movement’s political faction wishes to reconcile with Hamas and redirect the anger at Israel.

Eight years after the second intifada’s eruption, the controversy in the PA could lead to a renewed conflict between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank. The recent incidents between extremist settlers and Palestinians could contribute to the conflagration.

Many Palestinians describe June 14, 2007 – the day Hamas forcibly ousted the last Fatah forces from the Gaza Strip – as the day the second intifada died. The Hamas takeover of Gaza jump-started several processes, mainly the dismantling of Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the West Bank, once the backbone of the violent struggle against Israel.

Meanwhile, Hamas has agreed to a temporary cease-fire with Israel and stopped the rocket fire from Gaza. But Fatah activists say that they see the lack of progress in the peace talks, coupled with continued construction in the settlements and increased settler violence, as a recipe for renewed conflagration. This is exacerbated by their growing dissatisfaction with the PA’s functioning and its helplessness in the face of Israel’s infringements on Palestinian interests, whereas Hamas maintains complete control of Gaza.

Last week, Kadoura Fares, a leader of the Palestinian “peace coalition,” called on PA President Mahmoud Abbas to halt the talks with Israel immediately. Fares, a key Fatah leader from the generation below Abbas, made this statement at a conference on the Geneva Initiative in Tel Aviv. He said it was inconceivable for Abbas to keep talking with Israel while construction in the settlements continued.

Fares’ statement reflects the dissatisfaction felt by many Fatah members of his generation in the West Bank, such as Hussam Khader of the Balata refugee camp, a key figure in both intifadas. Younger Fatah members – people once active in the Al-Aqsa Brigades, who are in Palestinian custody because they have not yet received amnesty from Israel – also warn of an approaching confrontation with Israel.

Israeli intelligence officials do not believe the West Bank is ripe for a third intifada, because the Palestinian public is still weary of the suffering caused by the last round. It is doubtful that Fatah could sweep the masses into another violent struggle against Israel, they say.

But the continued friction with the settlers – and certainly a Jewish terror attack against Arabs in the West Bank – could provide the spark, just as opposition leader Ariel Sharon’s visit to Temple Mount did eight years ago. That could be pretext enough for Fatah militants, who have been hiding their weapons under their mattresses, to aim them at Israelis once again.

Ref: Haaretz