The current Israeli terror operation in Gaza is so brutal that it raises questions about ultimate Israeli aims, namely are they preparing a transfer/expulsion scenario as suggested in Mike Whitney’s article below?
Note that the Israelis aren’t forcing Gazans to leave immediately since they are keeping the borders closed and no one can leave even if they wanted to.
If the Israelis were to provide a means of escape as in the 1948 and 1967 expulsions, than no doubt hundreds of thousands would already be well on their way.
However the current political conditions will not allow the Israelis to do that.
Thus we come to the question of what the Israelis hope to achieve in recompense for the terrible public relations they are suffering. I suppose it’s clear to all that destroying Palestinian infrastructure, depriving 1.5 million Gazans of electricity, water, fuel and food cannot have anything to do with returning an Israeli prisoner of war alive.
Moreover, as some have noted:
1. The plan to reinvade Gaza was made well before the current pretext arose.
2. The Israelis were well aware of the tunnel and apparently allowed the Palestinian incursion. It’s not clear that they counted on the relative _success_ of the mission.
Veteran Israeli reporter Gideon Levy believes – and I find his view convincing – that we are witnessing a shaky Ehud Olmert with terrible political instincts giving in to the most bizarre and outrageous ideas of the military and security services.
(Undoubtedly, leading the cheerleading for this heinous operation are the vicious and ruthless neoncons, Eliot Abrams and John Bolton, not to mention Bush, Cheney,Rove and Rumsfeld.)
Who ever thought that we would rue the day of Sharon’s passing? -- Ronald Bleier
Is this the beginning of "Transfer" in Gaza?
By Mike Whitney
"It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism, colonialization, or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands." -- Ariel Sharon, Agence France Presse, November 15, 1998.
"What's driving the conflict is the radical inequality between the Jewish minority, that rules all of the territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and the disenfranchised Palestinian majority, who are paying the price for the luxury that Israel lives in...But what pays for that normality for Israelis is the total dispossession of the majority population. And Israel believes that it can hide them behind walls, in ghettos, as was done to Jews in Europe in the 1930s and '40s". Ali Abunimah "Electronic Intifada"
06/30/06 "Information Clearing House" -- The Palestine Chronicle conducted an informal internet poll on Wednesday which showed that nearly 75% of the people questioned believe that the "reinvasion of Gaza was preplanned". This tells us that most people, who follow developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, know that Israel's actions are not simply a spontaneous reaction to the kidnapping of one of its soldiers, but are part of a broader strategy for achieving their political objectives. The abduction of Gilad Shalit is simply being used as a pretext for more ethnic cleansing and land expropriation. These are the means by which Israel traditionally achieves its territorial goals.
The Gaza invasion is better understood in terms of the statement made by Ariel Sharon at the beginning of this essay. Sharon's comments are far from original. In fact, similar statements have been made by every Israeli prime minister since the founding of the state in 1948. David Ben Gurion put it this way in 1937, "We must expel Arabs and take their places". Ben Gurion's blunt declaration is no different from Sharon's or any of his successors. It merely summarizes the prevailing sentiment of the Israeli leadership for the last 60 years.
Golda Meir elaborated on Ben Gurion's comments by denying the existence of the indigenous people altogether, saying, "There's no such thing as a Palestinian people. It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn't exist".
Meir's denials may be foolish but they are consistent with the stated beliefs of every Israeli prime minister who has served since she left office in 1970.
Yitzak Rabin's assertions are nearly identical to those of Meir and Ben Gurion. He said,
"[Israel will] create in the course of the next 10 or 20 years conditions which would attract natural and voluntary migration of the refugees from the Gaza Strip and the west Bank to Jordan."
Rabin's promise to make life miserable for the Palestinians has been taken up by present Prime Minister Olmert whose boycotts, incitements and assassinations have destabilized the democratically-elected Palestinian government and pushed the people towards fratricidal warfare. Olmert's actions are guided by his convictions just like his predecessors. Three weeks ago Olmert clarified his position in comments to the US House of Representatives saying, "I believed, and to this day still believe, in our people's eternal and historic right to this entire land".
There is absolute unanimity among Israel's leaders past and present, liberal and conservative, on this one, critical issue. The rhetoric many vary, the politics may differ, but there is no substantial difference. In reality, the settlements went through their greatest period of expansion under the "dovish" Labor party.
Labor and Likud; two parties, one policy.
The invasion of Gaza has nothing to do with the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier or even with Hamas' rise to power. It is simply a continuation of the same, unalterable policy of annexation through brutality and subjugation. This is simply the latest chapter in Israel's ongoing confiscation of Palestinian land.
The immensity of "Operation Summer Rain", suggests that plans have been in place for quite some time and that the aims may be farther reaching than is now apparent.
Could this be the beginning of "Transfer"; the Israeli scheme to force Palestinians off their land by creating (as Rabin said) "conditions which would attract natural and voluntary migration"?
It's very possible. The intentional destruction of electric power plants, water lines, bridges, and other vital infrastructure, as well as the cutting off of food, financial resources and medical supplies, indicate that Israel is tightening the noose on the Palestinians in an effort to make life untenable in the West Bank and Gaza. Why else would they unleash their venom against objects that are in no way related to the kidnapping of the soldier and, probably, only put him in greater danger?
Israel is doing whatever it can to make human survival impossible in the occupied territories. It is paving the way for a second Palestinian Nakba.
Ariel Sharon knew that spreading misery' throughout the territories was the only way to deal with the "demographic problem". He said, "You don't simply bundle people onto trucks and drive them away. I prefer to advocate a positive policy, to create, in effect, a condition that in a positive way will induce people to leave." (Ariel Sharon Aug 24, 1988)
In the minds of Ehud Olmert and the Israeli leadership, the invasion of Gaza is a "positive policy" which will "induce" vast numbers of Palestinians to leave. The humanitarian crisis they are precipitating is not seen as a disaster, but an opportunity. Every Palestinian, who is driven from his homeland by grinding poverty, racism or violence, provides another inch or two of ground for Israel to claim as its own. And, when the unilateral borders are set and Israel owns everything from the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, Olmert will finally realize his dream of "Greater Israel". The rivers of blood that have fed that vision will mean nothing.
Menachem Begin said much the same over 20 years ago when he proclaimed, "The partition of Palestine is illegal. It will never be recognized...Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And, forever."
Who will stop them?
Last update - 11:31 02/07/2006
A black flag
By Gideon Levy
A black flag hangs over the "rolling" operation in Gaza. The more the operation "rolls," the darker the flag becomes. The "summer rains" we are showering on Gaza are not only pointless, but are first and foremost blatantly illegitimate. It is not legitimate to cut off 750,000 people from electricity. It is not legitimate to call on 20,000 people to run from their homes and turn their towns into ghost towns. It is not legitimate to penetrate Syria's airspace. It is not legitimate to kidnap half a government and a quarter of a parliament.
A state that takes such steps is no longer distinguishable from a terror organization. The harsher the steps, the more monstrous and stupid they become, the more the moral underpinnings for them are removed and the stronger the impression that the Israeli government has lost its nerve. Now one must hope that the weekend lull, whether initiated by Egypt or the prime minister, and in any case to the dismay of Channel 2's Roni Daniel and the IDF, will lead to a radical change.
Everything must be done to win Gilad Shalit's release. What we are doing now in Gaza has nothing to do with freeing him. It is a widescale act of vengeance, the kind that the IDF and Shin Bet have wanted to conduct for some time, mostly motivated by the deep frustration that the army commanders feel about their impotence against the Qassams and the daring Palestinian guerilla raid. There's a huge gap between the army unleashing its frustration and a clever and legitimate operation to free the kidnapped soldier.
To prevent the army from running as amok as it would like, a strong and judicious political echelon is required. But facing off against the frustrated army is Ehud Olmert and Amir Peretz's tyro regime, weak and happless. Until the weekend lull, it appeared that each step proposed by the army and Shin Bet had been immediately approved for backing. That does not bode well, not only for the chances of freeing Shalit, but also for the future management of the government, which is being revealed to be as weak as the Hamas government.
The only wise and restrained voice heard so far was that of the soldier's father, Noam Shalit, of all people. That noble man called at what is clearly his most difficult hour, not for stridency and not for further damage done to the lives of soldiers and innocent Palestinians. Against the background of the IDF's unrestrained actions and the arrogant bragging of the latest macho spokesmen, Maj. Gen. Yoav Gallant of the Southern Command and Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, Shalit's father's voice stood out like a voice crying in the wilderness.
Sending tens of thousands of miserable inhabitants running from their homes, dozens of kilometers from where his son is supposedly hidden, and cutting off the electricity to hundreds of thousands of others, is certainly not what he meant in his understated emotional pleas. It's a shame nobody is listening to him, of all people.
The legitimate basis for the IDF's operation was stripped away the moment it began. It's no accident that nobody mentions the day before the attack on the Kerem Shalom fort, when the IDF kidnapped two civilians, a doctor and his brother, from their home in Gaza. The difference between us and them? We kidnapped civilians and they captured a soldier, we are a state and they are a terror organization. How ridiculously pathetic Amos Gilad sounds when he says that the capture of Shalit was "illegitimate and illegal," unlike when the IDF grabs civilians from their homes. How can a senior official in the defense ministry claim that "the head of the snake" is in Damascus, when the IDF uses the exact same methods?
True, when the IDF and Shin Bet grab civilians from their homes - and they do so often - it is not to murder them later. But sometimes they are killed on the doorsteps of their homes, although it is not necessary, and sometimes they are grabbed to serve as "bargaining chips," like in Lebanon and now, with the Palestinian legislators. What an uproar there would be if the Palestinians had grabbed half the members of the Israeli government. How would we label them?
Collective punishment is illegitimate and it does not have a smidgeon of intelligence. Where will the inhabitants of Beit Hanun run? With typical hardheartedness the military reporters say they were not "expelled" but that it was "recommended" they leave, for the benefit, of course, of those running for their lives. And what will this inhumane step lead to? Support for the Israeli government? Their enlistment as informants and collaborators for the Shin Bet? Can the miserable farmers of Beit Hanun and Beit Lahia do anything about the Qassam rocket-launching cells? Will bombing an already destroyed airport do anything to free the soldier or was it just to decorate the headlines?
Did anyone think about what would have happened if Syrian planes had managed to down one of the Israeli planes that brazenly buzzed their president's palace? Would we have declared war on Syria? Another "legitimate war"? Will the blackout of Gaza bring down the Hamas government or cause the population to rally around it? And even if the Hamas government falls, as Washington wants, what will happen on the day after? These are questions for which nobody has any real answers. As usual here: Quiet, we're shooting. But this time we are not only shooting. We are bombing and shelling, darkening and destroying, imposing a siege and kidnapping like the worst of terrorists and nobody breaks the silence to ask, what the hell for, and according to what right?
"Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law" (From Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which Israel is a signatory)
Blogger Xymphora wrote:
Saturday, July 01, 2006
From an article by R.J. Rummel (there are footnotes in the original):
“In some occupied areas in which the Nazis had to contend with well organized and active guerrilla units, they applied a simple rule: they would massacre one hundred nearby civilians for every German soldier killed; fifty for every one wounded. Often this was a minimum that might be doubled or tripled. They thus killed vast numbers of innocent peasants and townsfolk, possibly as many as 8,000 in Kraguyevats, 1,755 in Kraljevo, and overall 80,000 in Jajinci, to name just in a few places in Yugoslavia alone. Most executions were small in number, but day by day they added up. From an official German war diary: 16 December 1942, "In Belgrade, 8 arrests, 60 Mihailovich [the guerrilla Chetnik leader] supporters shot;" 27 December, "In Belgrade, 11 arrests, 250 Mihailovich supporters shot as retaliation." A German placard from Belgrade announced that the Nazis shot fifty hostages in retaliation for the dynamiting of a bridge. On 25 May 1943 the Nazis shot 150 hostages in Kraljevo; in October they shot 150 hostages in Belgrade; fifty hostages in Belgrade in August 1943; 150 Serbs at Cacak in October; and so on. In Greece, as another example, the Nazis may have burned and destroyed as many as 1,600 villages each with populations of 500 to 1,000 people, no doubt massacring many of the inhabitants beforehand. Overall, the Nazis thus slaughtered hundreds of thousands in Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Greece, and France; and millions overall in Poland and the Soviet Union.”
We should also remember the massacre of the Czech town of Lidice. This kind of massive over-retaliation isn’t politically possible any longer, but the Israelis have found that a similar result can be obtained by removing access to electricity, creating terror through sonic booms and bombs, and kidnapping a large portion of a democratically-elected government. The critical point is that they continue to use the same racist mathematics as the Nazis: since a Palestinian is only worth a tiny percentage of a Jew, the taking of one Jewish prisoner of war rates the terrorizing of a million Gazans. The deafening silence of the world to this kind of calculation means that the world apparently approves of the higher Nazi/Jewish math.
From an article by Virginia Tilley:
“Israel has done many things argued to be war crimes: mass house demolitions, closing whole cities for weeks, indefinite ‘preventative’ detentions, massive land confiscation, the razing of thousands of square miles of Palestinian olive groves and agriculture, systematic physical and mental torture of prisoners, extrajudicial killings, aerial bombardment of civilian areas, collective punishment of every description in defiance of the Geneva Conventions – not to mention the general humiliation and ruin of the indigenous people under its military control. But destroying the only power source for a trapped and defenseless civilian population is an unprecedented step toward barbarity. It reeks, ironically, of the Warsaw Ghetto. As we flutter our hands about tectonic political change, we must take pause: in the eyes of history, what is happening in Gaza may come to eclipse them all.”
The barbarity is even worse as Israel, not having relinquished de facto control of Gaza and its borders, has an obligation under international law as an occupying country to protect the civilian population of Gaza.
I haven’t been able to find much under-the-bombs commentary from inside Gaza itself, but the blog From Gaza, with Love is very good.