Friday, 30 January 2009
Wednesday, 28 January 2009
From Gaza to Obama: What Next for the Middle East?
Palestine Brief No. 174
By Ali Abunimah
Palestine Center Fellow
Israel's attack on the occupied Gaza Strip caused massive death and destruction. It has also profoundly changed the regional political landscape, calling for a deep reassessment of U.S. policy. It is into this perilous situation that U.S. President Barack Obama steps. Early moves, entirely consistent with statements during the campaign, indicate that the necessary reassessment will not soon be forthcoming.1 Hence, despite the appointment of the well-respected and highly-experienced former U.S. Senator George Mitchell as envoy, the region should brace itself for enduring political stalemate and escalating violence.
Beginning on 27 December 2008, Israel bombarded the Gaza Strip by land, sea and air for 22 days. UN Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes echoed statements from Palestinians and international witnesses when he called the devastation in the coastal territory that is home to 1.5 million Palestinians "extremely shocking."
Amnesty International found "indisputable evidence" that Israel had indiscriminately used white phosphorus--that causes horrific injuries and death--in civilian areas.2 There have been numerous allegations of other war crimes and atrocities, including summary executions of civilians, denial of medical care to the injured, the targeting of ambulances, medical personnel, UN facilities where civilians had sought shelter, as well as systematic targeting of private homes, police stations, universities, mosques, fishing boats, factories and workshops, government buildings and the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).
In just three weeks, Israel killed more Palestinians in Gaza--at least 1,300--than in any previous year since it began its violent crackdown on the second intifada in 2000. Among the dead were 412 children and 110 women, according to health officials. Although large numbers of male civilians, including dozens of civilian police officers, were killed, exact numbers have not been reported. Among the 5,300 injured, 1,855 were children and 795 were women.3 Thirteen Israelis, ten of them Israeli soldiers, also died. Preliminary estimates put the number of homes completely destroyed at more than 4,000 with 17,000 damaged. Tens of thousands are displaced or without shelter.
The enormous physical and psychological cost of Israel's attack, particularly on children, has yet to be fully calculated, and its consequences will be deep and lasting on a society that had already suffered from 61 years of dispossession, 41 years of military occupation and almost two years of total blockade.
Israel Lost Much More than It Gained
Israel's pretext for the Gaza attack--accepted by the United States and other western governments--was to stop indiscriminate rocket fire by Hamas from Gaza. It is indisputable, and Israel has acknowledged that Hamas did not fire any rockets at Israel from the moment a truce deal was reached on 19 June 2008 until after 4 November 2008, when rocket fire resumed. Israel had also acknowledged that Hamas moved to prevent other factions that fired about two dozen rockets over that four-month period from breaking the truce. Hamas resumed rocket fire only after Israel carried out a 4 November 2008 attack on Gaza that killed six Palestinians. Hamas allowed the already collapsed truce to formally lapse without renewal on 19 December 2008 primarily because Israel had refused to loosen the crippling blockade of Gaza or halt its armed attacks that had killed dozens of Palestinians during the truce.4
Although it wanted to prevent rocket fire, Israel's primary goals were to restore "deterrence" lost in its 2006 Lebanon debacle and to fatally weaken Hamas and rob it of political support. It achieved none of these goals; Hamas and other resistance groups still had rocket launching capability even after Israel declared a ceasefire. Hamas did not collapse as a military or political organization and retained the mass support without which a guerilla organization cannot function. Having survived an all-out assault from the Israeli war machine, Hamas emerged with significantly enhanced prestige among Palestinians and Arab public opinion, just as Hizballah did from its 2006 war with Israel.
In order to consolidate this support, Hamas will have to show that it can competently manage the aftermath, including assistance to the families' victims. Hamas leaders in Damascus and Gaza have already announced plans to distribute financial compensation and rebuild, again following precedents set by Hizballah.
Israel's Jewish citizens overwhelmingly supported the attack on Gaza and celebrated tactical "victories"--essentially their ability to inflict enormous pain and damage. With time, Israelis may begin to recognize that as in Lebanon they have suffered another strategic defeat: Israeli military power cannot cow entire populations into submission and cannot remake the politics of the region to reflect Israeli preferences. This lesson should have been learned after Israel's disastrous 1982 invasion of Lebanon but has yet to be absorbed by Israeli elites.
In addition to military power, Israel relies on Western support to maintain regional dominance. This pillar is starting to weaken as a consequence of Gaza; despite solid support from Western governments, Israel faced unprecedented waves of outrage from global public opinion and civil society as expressed in press commentary, enormous demonstrations and other mass actions. Israel's official hasbara (state propaganda) machinery was unable to suppress these mobilizations. One consequence is likely to be the mainstreaming of support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, modeled on the anti-apartheid struggle of the 1980s, to force Israel to comply with international law.5
There have been unprecedented calls from international jurists, civil society organizations, UN officials, legislators and others for Israel to be held accountable. Israel is concerned enough that its officials and military officers may face war crimes charges that it has taken active countermeasures, such as tightening official censorship of accounts of actions taken by its army in Gaza and even on publishing the names of soldiers involved and offering legal support.6
For decades, Israel nurtured a narrative persuasive in the West that its creation, maintenance and conduct were the morally righteous legacy of the Nazi Holocaust. The long-term viability of this narrative as a means to mobilize political support and suppress criticism has been badly if not irrevocably degraded by Israel's actions in Gaza.
The Palestinian Authority and the Arab "Moderates" Lose Out
As part of the "War on Terror," the Bush administration divided a vast swathe of the planet from Morocco to Pakistan between so-called "moderates," on the one hand, and "extremists" on the other. A moderate is any actor that is in a patron-client relationship with the United States. In the Arab region, this group includes Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the Lebanese government of Fouad Siniora (up to May 2008) and the Palestinian Authority (PA) headed by Mahmoud Abbas. An extremist, in this scheme, is any actor that opposes or resists U.S. hegemony in the region.
The labels, "moderate" and "extremist," clearly imply value judgments and were created to obscure underlying power relations and interests. They have nothing to do with democracy or Islamism; the most "moderate" regimes from the U.S. perspective are often the most undemocratic, repressive or theocratic (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, PA). Whereas, "extremists" may have received popular mandates at contested elections (Hamas, Hizballah, Iran) or be secular (Syria). What is at stake is America's ability to shore up a regional order it dominates, but that is coming apart at the seams. If the Gaza attack was supposed to tip the balance in favor of the moderates, it backfired even more spectacularly than Israel's war against Lebanon in 2006.
Among Palestinians, it is now conventional (though certainly not universal) to view Abbas, whose official term as PA president expired on 9 January 2009, as having zero legitimacy and credibility. Large segments of Palestinian public opinion view Abbas and his government headed by Salam Fayyad as irrelevant.7 Hamas--through its own successes and survival and because there is no viable alternative--has effectively emerged as the closest thing Palestinians have to a national leadership. That is probably not a position Hamas can or wants to sustain, and there remains a pressing need for Palestinians themselves to create representative and inclusive bodies to guide the national movement.
Before Gaza, Hamas sought reconciliation while Abbas' leadership continued to impose U.S.-dictated conditions that Hamas would never meet. Now, as they feel their support draining away, some voices in Ramallah are calling for reconciliation on almost any terms. Others are opportunistically attempting to persuade Arab and international donors to channel desperately needed humanitarian aid for Gaza through Abbas in order to revive a dead political body.
In a 21 January 2009 "victory" speech broadcast live on Al Jazeera, Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Meshaal set out his movement's new terms for reconcliation: the PA would have to abandon "security cooperation" with Israel, release political prisoners and support and recognize resistance not "silly negotiations" (a mocking reference to Abbas" dismissal of Hamas' "silly rockets") as the foundation of a national program. Even as the PA becomes irrelevant, there are few signs it is capable of making such compromises that would jeopardize its last existing base of support, "the international community," and the Israeli government.
Thus, the Palestinians are entering a period, similar to the 1970s, where the only credible leadership is isolated and scorned by Israel and its Western backers who continue to try to prop up or nurture pliable clients.
Arab Regimes More Divided than Ever over Israel, U.S.
The divisions between moderates and those resisting U.S. hegemony broke into open confrontation during the Gaza crisis, with the two blocs convening rival summits. The moderates, particularly Egypt, undoubtedly lost the political and public opinion battle. Throughout the region, there were unprecedented accusations of collusion with Israel directed at Egypt, which failed to mount an effective public defense.
Moderates boycotted an informal Arab summit convened by Qatar on 16 January 2009. Reflecting an official strategy of demonizing Iran, one of Egypt's official newspapers dismissed the Doha summit as "Persian" rather than "Arab."8 Nevertheless, the PA's absence left the floor to Hamas to represent Palestinians, further enhancing the latter's status. Qatar, which hosts a major U.S. military base, and Mauritania cut off all ties with Israel. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad pronounced the Arab Peace Initiative dead and suspended indirect Turkish-brokered peace talks with Israel.
Despite attempts to patch over differences at a 19 June 2008 meeting in Kuwait, Arab leaders remain deeply divided over relations with the United States and how to deal with Israel. Hamas' ability to deny Israel any strategic achievement in Gaza--like Hizballah's success in 2006--reinforced and expanded the constituency arguing that resistance is a viable option, and that without the power-balancing effects of resistance, no negotiations can achieve meaningful results. The moderates', supporting open-ended negotiations that have achieved little in 18 years, reliance on the United States and holding out the Arab Peace Initiative indefinitely have few cards left to play. As their priority is preservation of their increasingly unpopular regimes, moderates are unlikely to be able to offer any creative initiatives, although it can be expected that among their tactics will be the further demonization of Islamist-led opposition and resistance movements in an attempt to play into Western fears and prejudices.
A notable phenomenon is NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) member and spurned EU candidate Turkey's emergence as a regional power apparently more sympathetic to the pro-resistance bloc. In addition to his country's brokering role on behalf of Syria, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered to represent Hamas' interests at the UN during the crisis and issued uncharacteristically harsh condemnations of Israeli behavior and violations of international law. This was in step not only with Arab public opinion, but also with that in Turkey, where hundreds of thousands demonstrated in Istanbul against the Israeli attack. Turkey is not only supplanting a regional role once played by Egypt but, along with Iran, asserting that Western powers are not the only non-Arabs who can intervene in the Arab world.
Enter the Obama Administration
In his first detailed remarks after taking office, President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to Middle East peace and appointed the widely-respected Northern Ireland peace broker, former Senator George Mitchell, as his new envoy.
But Obama's basic approach remained unchanged from that of his predecessor. Obama fully accepted the Israeli narrative of its attack on Gaza and reaffirmed that "we will always support Israel's right to defend itself against legitimate threats."9
The president reiterated that Hamas must abide by the Quartet conditions to "recognize Israel's right to exist; renounce violence; and abide by past agreements." In effect, Obama expects Hamas to accept Israel's highly controversial and anathema to most Palestinians political demand to be recognized as a "Jewish state," even while Israel is not required to accept any Palestinian rights even those grounded in international law; renounce any Palestinian right to self-defense or resistance while Palestinians are under occupation, blockade and constant Israeli attack; and abide by agreements that Israel has systematically violated without consequence. Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal explicitly rejected the Quartet conditions in his 21 January 2009 speech, while reaffirming his movement's willingness to engage in a political process on fair terms.
Obama insisted that reopening Gaza's borders--a fundamental requirement of the Fourth Geneva Conventions and on which Palestinians' lives literally depends--be conditioned on "an appropriate monitoring regime, with the international and Palestinian Authority participating." Specifically, Obama stated that the United States "will support a credible anti-smuggling and interdiction regime, so that Hamas cannot rearm." Obama, like Bush, has accepted the Israeli view that Palestinian violence, rather than Israeli occupation, siege and active colonization and the far more massive Israeli-generated violence these entail, should be the sole focus of U.S. concern.
President Obama reaffirmed the boycott of Hamas and continues to recognize Mahmoud Abbas as PA president. This was confirmed by the State Department spokesman Robert Wood. Although when challenged, Wood could not provide any legal basis for how Abbas' expired term was extended.10
The new administration has therefore publicly recommitted to a set of policies that are demonstrated not to work and to exacerbate conflict, violence and political stalemate.
The only bright spot was Mitchell's appointment. His earlier foray to the region produced the 2001 Mitchell Report, which called for a full cessation of all violence by both Israelis and Palestinians, and a complete freeze on Israeli settlement construction. This less biased approach contrasts with now standard U.S. policy of opposing only Palestinian violence while endorsing much more devastating Israeli violence.
Above all, Mitchell brings with him his reputation as the broker of the 1998 Belfast Agreement, which heralded the end of the bloody conflict in Northern Ireland. But that experience demonstrates why the odds are stacked firmly against a similar success in the Middle East.
In Northern Ireland, violence by the Irish Republican Army (IRA), loyalist and other paramilitaries came to be viewed as the symptom of systemic injustice that had to be redressed through an inclusive political process. Moreover, British state-sponsored violence always presented--like Israeli violence--as "self-defense" came to be seen as part of the problem rather than a solution. Previously, demonized parties, such as Sinn Fein, were brought into the process in contrast to the continued exclusion of Hamas. No party was forced a priori to accept its adversaries' political demands or renounce its own. Each was allowed to represent the interests and views of those who elected it, thus producing an agreement that could enjoy broad support.
Finally, the United States used its weight to pressure the British who were the strong side in that conflict and support Irish nationalists, the weaker side. In this sense, the Irish American lobby had a beneficial influence on U.S. policy because it helped level the power imbalance so that negotiations could succeed. The Israel lobby, by contrast, works to push the U.S. to support Israeli intransigence and pressure the vastly weaker Palestinians and will mobilize all its resources to frustrate Mitchell's mission. Indeed, before Mitchell even set foot in the region, a major Israel lobby figure signaled opposition to the new envoy, precisely because he might be "too fair."11
This leads to the discouraging conclusion that without the political support and policy framework needed to change an already tried and failed approach, Mitchell's determination and skill are unlikely to make much difference.
Ali Abunimah is a fellow at the Palestine Center in Washington, DC. He is an expert on Palestine, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and is the author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Abunimah also co-founded The Electronic Intifada, an online publication about Palestine and the Palestine-Israeli conflict, Electronic Iraq and Electronic Lebanon.
The views expressed in this information brief are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Jerusalem Fund.
1See Ali Abunimah, "President Obama and the Prospects for Israeli-Palestinian Peace: An Analysis," Palestine Center Information Brief No. 169, 17 November 2008, [http://www.thejerusalemfund.org/ht/display/ContentDetails/i/3172/pid/223/TPL/InformationBrief/displaytype/raw].
2Amnesty International, "Israel used white phosphorus in Gaza civilian areas," 19 January 2009, [http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/news/israeli-armys-use-white-phosphorus-gaza-clear-undeniable-20090119].
3See United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, "Field update on Gaza from the Humanitarian Coordinator 22-23 January 2009," [http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_gaza_humanitarian_situation_report_2009_01_22_english.pdf].
4For a good analysis of events leading up to the attack, see John Mearsheimer, "Another war, another defeat," The American Conservative, 26 January 2009, [http://www.amconmag.com/article/2009/jan/26/00006].
6Amos Harel, "IDF censor bans naming officers involved in Gaza op," Haaretz, 23 January 2009, [http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1057964.html].
7See Mouin Rabbani, "Out of the rubble," The National, 23 January 2009, [http://www.thenational.ae/article/20090123/REVIEW/759141570/0/NEWS]; "Can Abbas survive after Gaza war?" Aljazeera.net, 17 January 2009, [http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2009/01/200911711953774195.html]; and Patrick Cockburn, "Fatah fears Gaza conflict has put Hamas in the ascendancy," The Independent, 23 January 2009, [http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/fatah-fears-gaza-conflict-has-put-hamas-in-the-ascendancy-1513430.html]; Robert Fisk, "So far, Obama's missed the point on Gaza," The Independent, 22 January 2009, [http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-so-far-obamas-missed-the-point-on-gaza-1488632.html].
8See: "EGYPT: Biting criticism of Doha summit," Los Angeles Times blog, 19 January 2009, [http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/babylonbeyond/2009/01/egypt-biting-cr.html].
9Transcript: "President Obama Delivers Remarks to State Department Employees," The Washington Post, 22 January 2009, [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/22/AR2009012202550.html].
10See transcript of State Department Daily Press Briefing for 23 January 2009, [http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2009/jan/115333.htm].
11James Besser, "Mitchell As Envoy Could Split Center," The Jewish Week, 25 January 2009, [http://www.thejewishweek.com/viewArticle/c37_a14675/News/National.html].
Monday, 26 January 2009
Taken from Kawther Salam
I have decided to publish some names and photos of the Israeli military personnel who participated in the so-called “Operation Cast Lead”, the offensive launched by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) on the Gaza Strip between 27 December and 18 January 2009. The names of these criminals called my attention since the first day of their criminal attack against the Palestinian civilians in Gaza. I consider each person who took part in this IOF and each one whose name appears in this report as a war criminal who should be requested by an international court of justice, just like all other war criminals who were persecuted before…
My decision is a challenge to the State of Israel, to the Israeli attorney general Mazuz and the military headquarters, who forbade the media from publishing the names of the Israeli officers who lead “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza, murdering 1310, and wounding over 5600, over 90% of these casualties being civilians, destroying public and the private property in many parts of towns and cities, and completely razing several areas completely to the ground.
The Israeli Attorney General Menachem Mazuz is conniving with others the war crimes committed in Gaza. These others are Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert and his cabinet of criminals, and the military counterpart, Brigadier General Avihai Mandelblit. Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi is equally involved in the war crimes in Gaza. The Attorney General of Israel asked his military counterpart to open a quick investigation among the military as an “alternative” measure to hinder potentially “hundreds” of international lawsuits against Israeli officials alleging war crimes against the Gaza population during the operation has been widely anticipated. There is growing concern in the offices of the Israeli justice and war ministries because they expect a massive wave of lawsuits for human rights violations against Israeli officers and politicians.
The criminal intentions of Menechem Mazuz, namely helping to cover up war crimes of the State of Israel by giving an advice to the military, and by opening a “formal and internal investigations” is a clear fraud planned by the Israeli ministry of justice. Such a behavior is not that of a state, it is the behavior of a criminal organization trying to escape their well deserved punishment.
The military censor of Israel is preventing the media from identifying officers who participated in the Gaza Strip IOF, and divulging information about them which could be used in legal proceedings against them in courts of justice abroad. There is great concern at the defense and the justice ministries that Israeli officers will be singled out in a massive wave of suits for human rights violations.
In recent days the censor has forbidden publishing the full names and photographs of officers from the level of battalion commander down. It is assumed that the identity of brigade commanders has already been made known. The censor also forbids any reports tying a particular officer of battlefield command rank (lieutenant to lieutenant colonel) to destruction inflicted in a particular area.
The Israeli war criminal number one, Ehud Barak, stated that the State of Israel bears the responsibility for sending IOF troops on missions in Gaza, as well as for defending civilians, and as such it is obligated to grant its full support to these officers and soldiers who participated in the IOF in Gaza. Barak said that no harm should come to officers and soldiers as a result of their involvement in the operation.
The war criminal Barak ordered the IOF to set up a team of intelligence and legal experts to collect evidence related to operations in Gaza that could be used to defend military commanders against future lawsuits abroad.
Here are Some Names of the Israeli War Criminals who Operated in Gaza
Brig Gen Jonathan Locker, head of Israeli air forces which operated in Gaza.
Colonel Ron Ashrov, a war criminal, Commander of the Northern Gaza, deputy to the Givati Brigade.
Brigadier-General Eyal Eisenberg - Commander of all the IOF war criminal forces of “Operation Cast Lead” were under his command in Gaza Division. He personally participated in the war. He commanded the operations, in which Armored and Engineering corps units, as well as infantry soldiers were taking part. Eisenberg also commanded a division during the Second Lebanon War.
Colonel Yigal Slovik, commander of 401st Armored Corps Brigade convoy, entered Gaza in a Merkava tank from Netzarim and he did not stop until it reached the coast. He murdered the Palestinian civilians who raised the white flags, and he destroyed many houses over the head of the people. The brigade units also conducted numerous raids targeting public infrastructure.
Sho’alay Marom, Brigadier (res.), razed to the ground hundreds of houses in Rafah, and in Jabalia.
Lt. Col. Yoav Mordechai, he served as a commander of the criminal Golani infantry brigade’s 13th Battalion in Gaza and in the “second Lebanon war”. He attacked the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood, where hundreds of Palestinian residents who had fled on foot were murdered under his instructions. In one well-known incident, about more 150 Palestinian civilians were gathered by the IOF in a house, and then the house was bombed and shelled. Lt. Col. Yoav Mordechai is a friend of the PA, and it is known that he coordinated his crimes with the PA.
Lt. Col. Oren Cohen, a war criminal, commander of Battalion 13 in the Golani Brigade, who led on night his troops into eastern of Gaza City, they murdered over hundred Palestinian. He was moderately wounded by the Israeli war criminal friends. Cohen and his soldiers operated during the second Lebanon war.
Lt. Col. Avi Blot, a war criminal, commander of the 101st Battalion in the Paratrooper Brigade.
Lieutenant-Colonel Yehuda Cohen, battalion commander in Givati infantry Brigade’s Rotem Regiment, a war criminal in the second war in Lebanon, and a war criminal in Gaza.
Lieutenant-Colonel Ronen Dagmi, deputy commander of the 401st Armored Brigade which operated in “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza.
Brig.-Gen. ( res.) Zvika Fogel, a war criminal, a former deputy OC Southern Command in charge of artillery fire for Operation Cast Lead. Zvika and his son Zivi Fogel participated in “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza.
Brigadier-General Yuval Halamish, Chief IOF Intelligence Officer, participated in “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza.
Col. Tomer Tsiter, a Givati squad commander from Ra’anana, participated in the massacre in Gaza during “Operation Cast Lead”, and previously he participated in the massacre “Operation Defensive Shield” in the Jenin refugee camp in 2002.
Gur Rosenblatt, infantry reserve officer, participated in “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza.
Guy Ohaion, infantry reserve officer, participated in “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza.
Lt. Col. Erez, armored corps, tank commander, participated in “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza.
Maj. Nimrod Aloni, participated in “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza.
Lieutenant Colonel (res.) Shlomo Saban, participated in “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza.
Capt. Ron Vardi, a war criminal, participated in “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza.
Col. Pnina Sharvit-Baruch, head of the International Law Department, Military Advocate General’s Office, Israel criminal “Defence” Forces. Sharvit-Baruch legitimized the war crimes operation “Cast Lead” in Gaza. She justified the killing of Palestinian civilians including hundreds of children.
Under Sharvit-Baruch’s command, IDF legal experts legitimized strikes and the collective murders in Gaza, she said to the IDF war criminals during the operation “Cast Lead” in Gaza go-ahead. Sharvit-Baruch and her division believed that the killing of Palestinian civilians in a house whose residents the IDF has warned might be considered legally justified, although the IDF does not actually target civilians in this way. According to a senior official in the international law division, “Our goal is not to tie down the army, but to give it the tools to win in a way that is legal.”
Col. Pnina Sharvit-Baruch, reviewed the international law pertaining to urban warfare. She argued several times, that from a strictly legal point of view Israel was entitled to use artillery against targets in Palestinian urban areas. “If they are launching rockets against us from built-up areas, or building bombs in the basements of apartment buildings, we are within our rights to shell these areas in response,” said Sharvit during a Conference on Urban Warfare in the Territories
Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi, IOF Chief of Staff, whose father was a holocaust survivor from Bulgaria and whose mother was born in Syria. This moral degenerate is the engineer of this new holocaust in Gaza. He committed war crimes in south of Lebanon. Three of his soldiers were captured by the Hizbullah resistance after they illegally crossed into Lebanon as a provocation ordered by him.
Richard Awizrat, Senior Warrant Officer, participated in “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza, and he also participated in the massacre in Jenin of 2002, during “Operation Defensive Shield”.
War Criminals Preparation Team
Yuval Diskin, Shin Bet security service chief, the organizer of the war in Gaza. Due to his personal recommendation, the IAF bombed the hospitals and the medical centers of Gaza.
Ehud Olmert, the corrupt Israeli Prime Minster legitimized the War in Gaza together with his cabinet.
Ehud Barak, Israeli War Minister, planned “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza in order to improve his chances during the next elections.
Tzipi Livni, Foreign Minister of Israel, who leads the Israeli propaganda to legitimize the massacre and destruction in Gaza, planned and coordinated “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza in order to improve her chances during the next elections
The names of many other war criminals from the infantry, tanks, combat engineers, artillery, and intelligence who participated in the war crimes in Gaza are still unknown. They should not feel safe either. War crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide are proscribed and prosecuted in all countries of the world in one way or other, and there exists no statute of limitations for such crimes. The “protection” offered by Mazuz and his cronies is weak, first of all because the fact that such “protection” is offered is a implicit admission of guilt, and because national and international statutes specifically address the issue of sham “proceedings which are instituted to protect the guilty”, and because since the Nuremberg proceedings against the German army, following orders is no excuse and does not absolve of culpability. We and others will continue doing whatever is possible to find out the names of as many of the criminals who participated in Gaza as possible, and any information which will put them behind bars.
Read and See more Photos About the Israeli War Criminals here.
Friday, 23 January 2009
iSRAEL, REELING FROM GAZA FAILURE, CONSIDERING PRISONER SWAP INCLUDING AHMED SADA'AT AND MARWAN BARGHOUTI
Israel may swap prisoners for soldier
• Olmert deal could involve hundreds of Palestinians
• Release of captive held for two years seen as priority
Peter Beaumont in Ramallah
The Guardian, Friday 23 January 2009
Israel might be prepared to swap hundreds of jailed
Palestinians for Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who has
been held in captivity in the Gaza Strip for more than two
years, senior Israeli officials indicated yesterday.
Ehud Olmert, Israel's prime minister, said yesterday that
the Israel Defence Forces' operation in the Gaza Strip had
created "renewed momentum" to strike a deal with Hamas for
Hamas officials in Gaza and the West Bank insisted, for
their part, that Shalit, who was captured in a cross-border
raid, "would not see the light of day" unless Israel agreed
to the release of up to 1,400 Palestinian prisoners.
Shalit has become a cause célèbre in Israel. Little
information is known about his condition and there have
been unconfirmed reports that he had been injured at the
beginning of Israel's assault on Gaza.
Hamas's demands have emerged amid claims that members of
the Israeli cabinet had "softened" in their resistance to a
deal that would release a large number of Palestinian
prisoners in Israeli jails in exchange for Shalit's return.
Hamas's list includes a number of long-serving,
high-profile figures, including Marwan Barghouti, the
jailed Fatah leader, as well as Ahmad Sadat, who was
imprisoned for his part in the assassination of an Israeli
cabinet minister, Rehavim Ze'evi.
Speculation about a prisoner swap has been driven by
comments by Ze'evi's widow, Yael, who said she would not
insist on Sadat remaining in prison if it led to the
release of Shalit.
The prime minister said yesterday: "The operation created a
number of levers that can aid in the expedition of
[Shalit's] return. I will not add to this, because this
will not benefit his return. After Gilad returns home, it
will be possible to tell the whole story."
Israel's foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, who is hoping to
replace Olmert in February's elections, has also linked the
full lifting of the economic blockade on Gaza to Shalit's
release. "If there is something that Hamas wants from
Israel, we have one person that we want in return: Gilad
Shalit. It is impossible to separate the issues, and it is
impossible to advance any other issue before we work
towards what is really important to us, the release of
Livni's linkage of the border crossing to Shalit came as
the Israeli daily Ha'aretz reported that cabinet ministers
who had so far resisted a more widespread release than
Israel had been prepared to contemplate might now be
prepared to cut a deal.
An Israeli security official said: "There is a sense that
we can afford to relax our criteria on the prisoner
release, as any benefit to Hamas would be more than offset
by the damage it sustained in Gaza."
However, a Hamas spokesman on the West Bank, who is in
touch with the leadership in Gaza, said: "Shalit will not
see the light of day unless an honourable prisoner exchange
Yazid Khader mentioned Marwan Barghouti and Sadat and other
Abu Mujahed, a spokesman for the Popular Resistance
Committees, added: "The Israelis are wrong if they think
the war will help them pressure us on Shalit. Our demands
have not changed: the entire list of prisoners we demanded,
and in addition, launching talks on lifting the siege."
Analysts believe that Olmert may view the release of Shalit
in the last few days of his premiership as an opportunity
to repair a badly tarnished legacy that has been dogged by
allegations of corruption and poor leadership.
The effective renewal of negotiations for Shalit's release
emerged as tensions between Hamas and its political rival
Fatah appeared to be deepening over the issue of who would
be responsible for the reconstruction of Gaza.
A senior Hamas official dismissed on Thursday any
reconciliation talks with Fatah, saying that Arab and
international donations to Gaza should exclusively go to
the beleaguered coastal strip's rulers.
In Gaza the UN's humanitarian chief, John Holmes, warned
that the UN might ask Israel to compensate it for wartime
damage to its compounds in Gaza.
Tuesday, 20 January 2009
[dead israeli tank in Lebanon 2006]
Why Israel won't survive
The Electronic Intifada
19 January 2009
The merciless Israeli bombardment of Gaza has stopped --
for now -- but the death toll keeps rising as more bodies
are pulled from carpet- bombed neighborhoods.
What Israel perpetrated in Gaza, starting at 11:30am on 27
December 2008, will remain forever engraved in history and
memory. Tel al-Hawa, Hayy al-Zeitoun, Khuzaa and other
sites of Israeli massacres will join a long mournful list
that includes Deir Yasin, Qibya, Kufr Qasim, Sabra and
Shatila, Qana, and Jenin.
Once again, Israel demonstrated that it possesses the power
and the lack of moral restraint necessary to commit
atrocities against a population of destitute refugees it
has caged and starved.
The dehumanization and demonization of Palestinians, Arabs
and Muslims has escalated to the point where Israel can
with full self- righteousness bomb their homes, places of
worship, schools, universities, factories, fishing boats,
police stations -- in short everything that sustains
civilized and orderly life -- and claim it is conducting a
war against terrorism.
Yet paradoxically, it is Israel as a Zionist state, not
Palestine or the Palestinian people, that cannot survive
this attempted genocide.
Israel's "war" was not about rockets -- they served the
same role in its narrative as the non-existent weapons of
mass destruction did as the pretext for the American-led
invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Israel's real goals were to restore its "deterrence"
fatally damaged after its 2006 defeat in Lebanon
(translation: its ability to massacre and terrorize entire
populations into submission) and to destroy any Palestinian
resistance to total Israeli-Jewish control over historic
Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.
With Hamas and other resistance factions removed or fatally
weakened, Israel hoped the way would be clear to sign a
"peace" deal with chief Palestinian collaborator Mahmoud
Abbas to manage Palestinians on Israel's behalf until they
could be forced out once and for all.
The US-backed "moderate" dictatorships and absolute
monarchies led by Egypt and Saudi Arabia supported the
Israeli plan hoping to demonstrate to their own people that
resistance -- whether against Israel or their own bankrupt
regimes -- was futile.
To win, Israel had to break Palestinian resistance. It
failed. On the contrary, it galvanized and unified
Palestinians like never before. All factions united and
fought heroically for 23 days. According to well-informed
and credible sources Israel did little harm to the modest
but determined military capacity of the resistance. So
instead Israel did what it does best: it massacred
civilians in the hope that the population would turn
against those fighting the occupier.
Israel not only unified the resistance factions in Gaza;
its brutality rallied all Palestinians and Arabs.
It is often claimed that Arab regimes whip up anti-Israel
anger to distract their populations from their own
failings. Actually, Israel, the US and subservient Arab
regimes tried everything -- especially demonizing Iran and
inciting sectarian tensions between Sunni and Shia Muslims
-- to distract their populations from Palestine.
All this failed as millions of people across the region
marched in support of Palestinian resistance, and the Arab
regimes who hoped to benefit from the slaughter in Gaza
have been exposed as partners in the Israeli atrocities. In
popular esteem, Hamas and other Palestinian resistance
factions earned their place alongside Hizballah as
effective bulwarks against Israeli and Western colonialism.
If there was ever a moment when the peoples of the region
would accept Israel as a Zionist state in their midst, that
has passed forever.
But anyone surveying the catastrophe in Gaza -- the mass
destruction, the death toll of more than 100 Palestinians
for every Israeli, the thousands of sadistic injuries --
would surely conclude that Palestinians could never
overcome Israel and resistance is a delusion at best.
True, in terms of ability to murder and destroy, Israel is
unmatched. But Israel's problem is not, as its propaganda
insists, "terrorism" to be defeated by sufficient
application of high explosives. Its problem is legitimacy,
or rather a profound and irreversible lack of it. Israel
simply cannot bomb its way to legitimacy.
Israel was founded as a "Jewish state" through the ethnic
cleansing of Palestine's non-Jewish majority Arab
population. It has been maintained in existence only
through Western support and constant use of violence to
prevent the surviving indigenous population from exercising
political rights within the country, or returning from
Despite this, today, 50 percent of the people living under
Israeli rule in historic Palestine (Israel, the West Bank
and Gaza Strip) are Palestinians, not Jews. And their
numbers are growing rapidly. Like Nationalists in Northern
Ireland or non-whites in South Africa, Palestinians will
never recognize the "right" of a settler-colonial society
to maintain an ethnocractic state at their expense through
violence, repression and racism.
For years, the goal of the so-called peace process was to
normalize Israel as a "Jewish state" and gain Palestinians'
blessing for their own dispossession and subjugation. When
this failed, Israel tried "disengagement" in Gaza --
essentially a ruse to convince the rest of the world that
the 1.5 million Palestinians caged in there should no
longer be counted as part of the population. They were in
Israel's definition a "hostile entity."
In his notorious May 2004 interview with The Jerusalem
Post, Arnon Soffer, an architect of the 2005 disengagement
explained that the approach "doesn't guarantee 'peace,' it
guarantees a Jewish- Zionist state with an overwhelming
majority of Jews." Soffer predicted that in the future
"when 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it's
going to be a human catastrophe. Those people will become
even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an
insane fundamentalist Islam. The pressure at the border
will be awful."
He was unambiguous about what Israel would have to do to
maintain this status quo: "If we want to remain alive, we
will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day."
Soffer hoped that eventually, Palestinians would give up
and leave Gaza altogether.
Through their resistance, steadfastness and sacrifice,
Palestinians in Gaza have defeated this policy and
reasserted that they are an inseparable part of Palestine,
its people, its history and its future.
Israel is not the first settler-colonial entity to find
itself in this position. When F.W. de Klerk, South Africa's
last apartheid president, came to office in 1989, his
generals calculated that solely with the overwhelming
military force at their disposal, they could keep the
regime in power for at least a decade. The casualties,
however, would have run into hundreds of thousands, and
South Africa would face ever greater isolation. Confronted
with this reality, de Klerk took the decision to begin an
orderly dismantling of apartheid.
What choice will Israel make? In the absence of any
political and moral legitimacy the only arguments it has
left are bullets and bombs. Left to its own devices Israel
will certainly keep trying -- as it has for sixty years --
to massacre Palestinians into submission. Israel's
achievement has been to make South Africa's apartheid
leaders look wise, restrained and humane by comparison.
But what prevented South Africa's white supremacist
government from escalating their own violence to Israeli
levels of cruelty and audacity was not that they had
greater scruples than the Zionist regime. It was
recognition that they alone could not stand against a
global anti-apartheid movement that was in solidarity with
the internal resistance.
Israel's "military deterrent" has now been repeatedly
discredited as a means to force Palestinians and other
Arabs to accept Zionist supremacy as inevitable and
permanent. Now, the other pillar of Israeli power --
Western support and complicity -- is starting to crack. We
must do all we can to push it over.
Israel began its massacres with full support from its
Western "friends." Then something amazing happened. Despite
the official statements of support, despite the media
censorship, despite the slick Israeli hasbara (propaganda)
campaign, there was a massive, unprecedented public
mobilization in Europe and even in North America expressing
outrage and disgust.
Gaza will likely be seen as the turning point when Israeli
propaganda lost its power to mystify, silence and
intimidate as it has for so long. Even the Nazi Holocaust,
long deployed by Zionists to silence Israel's critics, is
becoming a liability; once unimaginable comparisons are now
routinely heard. Jewish and Palestinian academics likened
Israel's actions in Gaza to the Nazi massacre in the Warsaw
Ghetto. A Vatican cardinal referred to Gaza as a "giant
concentration camp." UK Member of Parliament Gerald
Kaufman, once a staunch Zionist, told the House of Commons,
"My grandmother was ill in bed when the Nazis came to her
home town of Staszow, [Poland]. A German soldier shot her
dead in her bed." Kaufman continued, "my grandmother did
not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering
Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza." He denounced the Israeli
military spokesperson's justifications as the words "of a
It wasn't only such statements, but the enormous
demonstrations, the nonviolent direct actions, and the
unprecedented expressions of support for boycott,
divestment and sanctions from major trade unions in Italy,
Canada and New Zealand. An all-party group of city
councillors in Birmingham, Europe's second largest
municipal government, urged the UK government to follow
suit. Salma Yaqoub of the RESPECT Party explained that "One
of the factors that helped bring an end to the brutal
apartheid regime in South Africa was international pressure
for economic, sporting and cultural boycotts. It is time
that Israel started to feel similar pressure from world
Israel, its true nature as failed, brutal colonial project
laid bare in Gaza, is extremely vulnerable to such a
campaign. Little noticed amidst the carnage in Gaza, Israel
took another momentous step towards formal apartheid when
the Knesset elections committee voted to ban Arab parties
from participating in upcoming elections. Zionism, an
ideology of racial supremacy, extremism and hate, is a
dying project, in retreat and failing to find new recruits.
With enough pressure, and relatively quickly, Israelis too
would likely produce their own de Klerk ready to negotiate
a way out. Every new massacre makes it harder, but a
de-zionized, decolonized, reintegrated Palestine affording
equal rights to all who live in it, regardless of religion
or ethnicity, and return for refugees is not a utopian
It is within reach, in our lifetimes. But it is far from
inevitable. We can be sure that Western and Arab
governments will continue to support Israeli apartheid and
Palestinian collaboration under the guise of the "peace
process" unless decisively challenged. Israeli massacres
will continue and escalate until the nightmare of an
Israeli- style "peace" -- apartheid and further ethnic
cleansing -- is fulfilled.
The mobilizations of the past three weeks showed that a
different world is possible and within our grasp if we
support the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.
Although they will never get to see it, that world would be
a fitting memorial for all of Israel's victims.
Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah is author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse (Metropolitan Books, 2006).
Monday, 19 January 2009
The Gaza offensive has succeeded in punishing the
Palestinians but not in making Israel more secure.
By John J. Mearsheimer
Israelis and their American supporters claim that Israel
learned its lessons well from the disastrous 2006 Lebanon
war and has devised a winning strategy for the present war
against Hamas. Of course, when a ceasefire comes, Israel
will declare victory. Don’t believe it. Israel has
foolishly started another war it cannot win.
The campaign in Gaza is said to have two objectives: 1) to
put an end to the rockets and mortars that Palestinians
have been firing into southern Israel since it withdrew
from Gaza in August 2005; 2) to restore Israel’s deterrent,
which was said to be diminished by the Lebanon fiasco, by
Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, and by its inability to halt
Iran’s nuclear program.
But these are not the real goals of Operation Cast Lead.
The actual purpose is connected to Israel’s long-term
vision of how it intends to live with millions of
Palestinians in its midst. It is part of a broader
strategic goal: the creation of a “Greater Israel.”
Specifically, Israel’s leaders remain determined to control
all of what used to be known as Mandate Palestine, which
includes Gaza and the West Bank. The Palestinians would
have limited autonomy in a handful of disconnected and
economically crippled enclaves, one of which is Gaza.
Israel would control the borders around them, movement
between them, the air above and the water below them.
The key to achieving this is to inflict massive pain on the
Palestinians so that they come to accept the fact that they
are a defeated people and that Israel will be largely
responsible for controlling their future. This strategy,
which was first articulated by Ze’ev Jabotinsky in the
1920s and has heavily influenced Israeli policy since 1948,
is commonly referred to as the “Iron Wall.”
What has been happening in Gaza is fully consistent with
Let’s begin with Israel’s decision to withdraw from Gaza in
2005. The conventional wisdom is that Israel was serious
about making peace with the Palestinians and that its
leaders hoped the exit from Gaza would be a major step
toward creating a viable Palestinian state. According to
the New York Times’ Thomas L. Friedman, Israel was giving
the Palestinians an opportunity to “build a decent
mini-state there—a Dubai on the Mediterranean,” and if they
did so, it would “fundamentally reshape the Israeli debate
about whether the Palestinians can be handed most of the
This is pure fiction. Even before Hamas came to power, the
Israelis intended to create an open-air prison for the
Palestinians in Gaza and inflict great pain on them until
they complied with Israel’s wishes. Dov Weisglass, Ariel
Sharon’s closest adviser at the time, candidly stated that
the disengagement from Gaza was aimed at halting the peace
process, not encouraging it. He described the disengagement
as “formaldehyde that’s necessary so that there will not be
a political process with the Palestinians.” Moreover, he
emphasized that the withdrawal “places the Palestinians
under tremendous pressure. It forces them into a corner
where they hate to be.”
Arnon Soffer, a prominent Israeli demographer who also
advised Sharon, elaborated on what that pressure would look
like. “When 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza,
it’s going to be a human catastrophe. Those people will
become even bigger animals than they are today, with the
aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam. The pressure at the
border will be awful. It’s going to be a terrible war. So,
if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill
and kill. All day, every day.”
In January 2006, five months after the Israelis pulled
their settlers out of Gaza, Hamas won a decisive victory
over Fatah in the Palestinian legislative elections. This
meant trouble for Israel’s strategy because Hamas was
democratically elected, well organized, not corrupt like
Fatah, and unwilling to accept Israel’s existence. Israel
responded by ratcheting up economic pressure on the
Palestinians, but it did not work. In fact, the situation
took another turn for the worse in March 2007, when Fatah
and Hamas came together to form a national unity
government. Hamas’s stature and political power were
growing, and Israel’s divide-and-conquer strategy was
To make matters worse, the national unity government began
pushing for a long-term ceasefire. The Palestinians would
end all missile attacks on Israel if the Israelis would
stop arresting and assassinating Palestinians and end their
economic stranglehold, opening the border crossings into
Israel rejected that offer and with American backing set
out to foment a civil war between Fatah and Hamas that
would wreck the national unity government and put Fatah in
charge. The plan backfired when Hamas drove Fatah out of
Gaza, leaving Hamas in charge there and the more pliant
Fatah in control of the West Bank. Israel then tightened
the screws on the blockade around Gaza, causing even
greater hardship and suffering among the Palestinians
Hamas responded by continuing to fire rockets and mortars
into Israel, while emphasizing that they still sought a
long-term ceasefire, perhaps lasting ten years or more.
This was not a noble gesture on Hamas’s part: they sought a
ceasefire because the balance of power heavily favored
Israel. The Israelis had no interest in a ceasefire and
merely intensified the economic pressure on Gaza. But in
the late spring of 2008, pressure from Israelis living
under the rocket attacks led the government to agree to a
six-month ceasefire starting on June 19. That agreement,
which formally ended on Dec. 19, immediately preceded the
present war, which began on Dec. 27.
The official Israeli position blames Hamas for undermining
the ceasefire. This view is widely accepted in the United
States, but it is not true. Israeli leaders disliked the
ceasefire from the start, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak
instructed the IDF to begin preparing for the present war
while the ceasefire was being negotiated in June 2008.
Furthermore, Dan Gillerman, Israel’s former ambassador to
the UN, reports that Jerusalem began to prepare the
propaganda campaign to sell the present war months before
the conflict began. For its part, Hamas drastically reduced
the number of missile attacks during the first five months
of the ceasefire. A total of two rockets were fired into
Israel during September and October, none by Hamas.
How did Israel behave during this same period? It continued
arresting and assassinating Palestinians on the West Bank,
and it continued the deadly blockade that was slowly
strangling Gaza. Then on Nov. 4, as Americans voted for a
new president, Israel attacked a tunnel inside Gaza and
killed six Palestinians. It was the first major violation
of the ceasefire, and the Palestinians—who had been
“careful to maintain the ceasefire,” according to Israel’s
Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center—responded by
resuming rocket attacks. The calm that had prevailed since
June vanished as Israel ratcheted up the blockade and its
attacks into Gaza and the Palestinians hurled more rockets
at Israel. It is worth noting that not a single Israeli was
killed by Palestinian missiles between Nov. 4 and the
launching of the war on Dec. 27.
As the violence increased, Hamas made clear that it had no
interest in extending the ceasefire beyond Dec. 19, which
is hardly surprising, since it had not worked as intended.
In mid-December, however, Hamas informed Israel that it was
still willing to negotiate a long-term ceasefire if it
included an end to the arrests and assassinations as well
as the lifting of the blockade. But the Israelis, having
used the ceasefire to prepare for war against Hamas,
rejected this overture. The bombing of Gaza commenced eight
days after the failed ceasefire formally ended.
If Israel wanted to stop missile attacks from Gaza, it
could have done so by arranging a long-term ceasefire with
Hamas. And if Israel were genuinely interested in creating
a viable Palestinian state, it could have worked with the
national unity government to implement a meaningful
ceasefire and change Hamas’s thinking about a two-state
solution. But Israel has a different agenda: it is
determined to employ the Iron Wall strategy to get the
Palestinians in Gaza to accept their fate as hapless
subjects of a Greater Israel.
This brutal policy is clearly reflected in Israel’s conduct
of the Gaza War. Israel and its supporters claim that the
IDF is going to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties,
in some cases taking risks that put Israeli soldiers in
jeopardy. Hardly. One reason to doubt these claims is that
Israel refuses to allow reporters into the war zone: it
does not want the world to see what its soldiers and bombs
are doing inside Gaza. At the same time, Israel has
launched a massive propaganda campaign to put a positive
spin on the horror stories that do emerge.
The best evidence, however, that Israel is deliberately
seeking to punish the broader population in Gaza is the
death and destruction the IDF has wrought on that small
piece of real estate. Israel has killed over 1,000
Palestinians and wounded more than 4,000. Over half of the
casualties are civilians, and many are children. The IDF’s
opening salvo on Dec. 27 took place as children were
leaving school, and one of its primary targets that day was
a large group of graduating police cadets, who hardly
qualified as terrorists. In what Ehud Barak called “an
all-out war against Hamas,” Israel has targeted a
university, schools, mosques, homes, apartment buildings,
government offices, and even ambulances. A senior Israeli
military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity,
explained the logic behind Israel’s expansive target set:
“There are many aspects of Hamas, and we are trying to hit
the whole spectrum, because everything is connected and
everything supports terrorism against Israel.” In other
words, everyone is a terrorist and everything is a
Israelis tend to be blunt, and they occasionally say what
they are really doing. After the IDF killed 40 Palestinian
civilians in a UN school on Jan. 6, Ha’aretz reported that
“senior officers admit that the IDF has been using enormous
firepower.” One officer explained, “For us, being cautious
means being aggressive. From the minute we entered, we’ve
acted like we’re at war. That creates enormous damage on
the ground … I just hope those who have fled the area of
Gaza City in which we are operating will describe the
One might accept that Israel is waging “a cruel, all-out
war against 1.5 million Palestinian civilians,” as Ha’aretz
put it in an editorial, but argue that it will eventually
achieve its war aims and the rest of the world will quickly
forget the horrors inflicted on the people of Gaza.
This is wishful thinking. For starters, Israel is unlikely
to stop the rocket fire for any appreciable period of time
unless it agrees to open Gaza’s borders and stop arresting
and killing Palestinians. Israelis talk about cutting off
the supply of rockets and mortars into Gaza, but weapons
will continue to come in via secret tunnels and ships that
sneak through Israel’s naval blockade. It will also be
impossible to police all of the goods sent into Gaza
through legitimate channels.
Israel could try to conquer all of Gaza and lock the place
down. That would probably stop the rocket attacks if Israel
deployed a large enough force. But then the IDF would be
bogged down in a costly occupation against a deeply hostile
population. They would eventually have to leave, and the
rocket fire would resume. And if Israel fails to stop the
rocket fire and keep it stopped, as seems likely, its
deterrent will be diminished, not strengthened.
More importantly, there is little reason to think that the
Israelis can beat Hamas into submission and get the
Palestinians to live quietly in a handful of Bantustans
inside Greater Israel. Israel has been humiliating,
torturing, and killing Palestinians in the Occupied
Territories since 1967 and has not come close to cowing
them. Indeed, Hamas’s reaction to Israel’s brutality seems
to lend credence to Nietzsche’s remark that what does not
kill you makes you stronger.
But even if the unexpected happens and the Palestinians
cave, Israel would still lose because it will become an
apartheid state. As Prime Minister Ehud Olmert recently
said, Israel will “face a South African-style struggle” if
the Palestinians do not get a viable state of their own.
“As soon as that happens,” he argued, “the state of Israel
is finished.” Yet Olmert has done nothing to stop
settlement expansion and create a viable Palestinian state,
relying instead on the Iron Wall strategy to deal with the
There is also little chance that people around the world
who follow the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will soon
forget the appalling punishment that Israel is meting out
in Gaza. The destruction is just too obvious to miss, and
too many people—especially in the Arab and Islamic
world—care about the Palestinians’ fate. Moreover,
discourse about this longstanding conflict has undergone a
sea change in the West in recent years, and many of us who
were once wholly sympathetic to Israel now see that the
Israelis are the victimizers and the Palestinians are the
victims. What is happening in Gaza will accelerate that
changing picture of the conflict and long be seen as a dark
stain on Israel’s reputation.
The bottom line is that no matter what happens on the
battlefield, Israel cannot win its war in Gaza. In fact, it
is pursuing a strategy—with lots of help from its so-called
friends in the Diaspora—that is placing its long-term
future at risk.
John J. Mearsheimer is a professor of political science at the
University of Chicago and coauthor of The Israel Lobby
and U.S. Foreign Policy.
Sunday, 18 January 2009
On balance: Evaluation of the Israeli festival of slaughter and butchery in Gaza
Sat Jan 17th, 2009
[Excellent analysis, apart from the rather childish comments on Arafat - Sukant Chandan, Sons of Malcolm]
From war to war (which is a title of a book by Nadav Safran),
that is the context in which we need to evaluate our century-old
conflict with Israel. You can't isolate each chapter or war or
slaughter and analyze it without the larger context of the conflict.
The press conference by the Israeli prime minister and his
defense minister was remarkable: less triumphalist than
usual, and certainly vague about goals and successes. Now
we can evaluate the goals within the context of Israel's
declared goals, and within the context of Israel's
For somebody of my age, I can say this at first: that from
1948 until the 1990s, every Israeli military success more
smashing the one before: the 1973 was a different story
because it was the only Arab-Israeli war that was initiated
by the Arab side (remarkable when you think about the
propaganda of the "beleaguered Israel"), and it was bungled
by the Egyptian (Nazi) dictator, Anwar Sadat (Jimmy
Carter's favorite personality and friend), and Israel
(contrary to present-day Arab states' propaganda) wound up
winning overall at the end.
So Israel's strategic posture was predicated on
intimidating 1) the armies of the enemy; 2) the population
of the enemy. Israeli psychological warfare succeeded for
decades in convincing the enemy that Israel is way too
mighty and way too invincible to be damaged by any military
effort. Arabs reached a mood of defeatism that permeated
the political culture, and helped in securing the survival
and propaganda of the ruling regimes. Israel's tactic was
meant to discourage any political violence or even defense
from the other side.
You also need to compare to the times when Israel faced
non-state actors: we have different episodes: from
Al-Karamah battle in 1968 (a crucial watershed in
fida'iyyin recruitment), to the various chapters of Israeli
invasions of Lebanon culminating in the 1982 invasion of
Lebanon. I am quite familiar and witnessed the responses to
Israeli invasions of Lebanon. It is in that context that I
find Gaza (under siege and cut off from the world with
Egypt playing the role of the ally of Israel) to be an
utter failure for the Israeli side. I never expected much
from Hamas in terms of military effectiveness, and I think
that the Israeli-Egyptian-Saudi-Dahlan plan was based on a
low estimation of Hamas' military effectiveness.
In previous confrontations in the West Bank or in Lebanon
in the 1980s, the Israeli military would bomb from the air
for a day or two, and then advance swiftly. And that was
exactly what happened in the invasion of Lebanon in the
summer of 1982: now, the lack of stiff resistance back then
had to do with many factors, including the lousy leadership
of `Arafat (who cared about preserving his little empire
more than about resistance and who is not dead enough as
far as I am concerned, and may his grave deepen), the gap
between people of the South and the resistance, and the
financial regularization of the PLO's fighting force, and
the psychological factor that often curtailed the ability
of the fighting force, all helped the Israeli plan. True,
there was stiff resistance in some places: like Rashidiyyah
and `Ayn Al-Hilwah but it was sporadic and disorganized.
Only in West Beirut, a strong fighting force was prepared
and they were ready for a confrontation with Israel, and
that is why Israel never invaded the city: it only waited
until the evacuation of the fighters and then supervised
the butchery of the women and children in the Sabra and
Shatila camps--slaughter of women and children is a classic
specialty of the Zionist forces even before the
establishment of the state.
But Hamas performed far better than the expectations of its
enemies and even of its leadership in Syria and Lebanon.
Israel would have succeeded if it achieved what it wanted:
to achieve an unconditional surrender of Hamas. That's what
it used to get from Fatah in the West Bank: Arafat would
negotiate the terms of his surrender with third-parties and
that would be that (like in Bethlehem). Yet, Hamas defiance
and the launching of rockets continued to the last day--in
fact it continues as I write this from what I see on the
screen. Hamas leaders did not leave as Fatah leaders and
fighters would (in the era under Arafat-Dahlan-Rajjub in
the West Bank bantustan after Oslo), but continued in stiff
resistance and defiance to the very last end.
So Israel failed in 1) achieving a total surrender of
2) in propping up the Dahlan-Abu Mazen gangs who are more
discredited today than ever. Early in the campaign, Dahlan
appeared on Al-Arabiyya and on Egyptian TV and was quite
bombastic because he was expecting that the matter would be
over in the first week. When that did not happen, he
disappeared, and some say that he went back to
Montenegro--his news base.
3) Israel failed in achieving a victory that it needed: a
victory that would once and for all put to rest the
humiliating defeat of Israel in 2006. Hamas knew that its
performance was extremely influential in possibly
dramatically altering the image of the Israeli soldiers in
the eyes of all Arabs: fighters and lay people alike, and
it knew that expectations were in building on the
performance on Hizbullah in 2006;
4) Israel failed in creating a rift between the Palestinian
people and Hamas, just as it failed to create a rift
between the population of the South and Hizbullah, its
silly SMS messages notwithstanding;
5) Israel failed in putting an end to the rockets;
6) Israel failed in smashing Hamas;
7) Israel failed in creating a new psychological climate in
the Middle East: it was expected that Israel would use more
massive and indiscriminate violence than before, and that
it would try to "shock and awe" more than before because it
wanted to kill the image of its humiliation in South
Lebanon. That was not accomplished despite the high number
of casualties among the civilians.
8) Israeli prime minister today bragged about intelligence
successes: but that was inflated. It is true the killing of
two Hamas leaders (along with tens of innocent civilians
but that is how Israel "assassinates") was a success for
Israel but there are other Hamas leaders. Plus, Israel
policy of assuming that an organization would die by
killing the leader has always been one of the many dumb
Israeli miscalculations. The most recent case was in 1992
when Israeli terrorist leaders killed Abbas Musawi (and his
family) and they got...Hasan Nasrallah instead. I have no
doubt that they probably now regret killing Musawi. And
Hamas now operates on the assumption that all leaders may
die and they have most likely structured the organization
on that assumption, unlike the centrally run, say, DFLP or
Fatah under `Arafat.
9) Israel failed to build on the years-old Saudi policy of
mobilizing Arab public opinion against Iran, instead of
Israel. That clearly failed miserably. If anything, Arab
public opinion is more mobilized against Israel than any
other time in memory.
10) Israel failed to sell its slaughter as a legitimate
contribution to the "war on terrorism". Clearly, the scenes
of carnage offended public opinion around the world with
the exception of the US and the UN embassy of Micronesia.
But there are successes: if Israel was aiming to kill a
very large number of women and children, that was achieved
to a large measure. Very knowledgeable sources in Beirut
tell me that only 5% of Hamas' fighting abilities were
damaged in this war thus far, and there will be another
round no doubt. But think about Karamah battle. In Karamah:
a lot of the lore was built by Arafat's bombast and a unit
of the Jordanian army fought with the Palestinian
resistance. This time around, Arab and particularly
Palestinian public opinion will look with admiration at the
performance of Hamas during this 22 days. It is commonly
estimated that some 20,000 Palestinians volunteered in the
resistance movement after Karamah, and I expect a
region-wide campaign of recruitment to the benefit of
Israel's choice of Palestinian leadership (supported by
Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt), i.e., Dahlan gangs, are
discredited beyond repair. I mean, when I read in Saudi
newspapers description of Dahlan as an Israeli stooge, you
know how Palestinian opinion will regard him--and the
fleeing of his men in their underwear did not help either.
From 1968 to 1978, the Fatah movement transformed from a
band of fighters in Jordan to an army (badly run to be sure
by Arafat) with all sorts of heavy weapons.
There is now a point of no-return: Arabs are no more afraid
of Israeli soldiers. From that loss, Israel shall never
recover and it will expedite the inevitable process of the
elimination of Zionism from Palestine. The confrontation
with Israel is cumulative, and this culmination is now not
in the interests of Israel. Many Arabs now talk about the
defeat of Israel: I rarely heard those sentiments before
Thursday, 15 January 2009
- Police need to gather intelligence on everyone, and evidence on those they suspect of being involved in committing offences. That is why they have Forward Intelligence Teams, part of the Met's Public Order Intelligence Unit (CO11). These are uniformed officers carrying out overt and covert surveillance with cameras, taking pictures of 'targets' which go into a central database. http://fitwatch.blogspot.com/
- Whilst at the protest, challenge everything Police say. First get their name and badge number (3 numbers and 2 letters, which identify which station they're from). Second get them to explain which power they're using to make you do whatever it is they want you to do. Third get them to write down the power for you, or write it down yourself, or record it into your phone.
- Police often bluff just to get your details. Generally, no one is obliged to give their name or address to the police. There is no crime of refusing to give your name and address. Giving false details can be prosecuted, but refusing to give details cannot (unless required under the ASBO provisions of s.50 of the Police Reform Act 2002).
- Police DO have the power to stop and search people at random IF a senior officer has made an authorisation under s.60 of the CJPOA94 (power to stop and search ). Uniformed officers can then search ONLY for offensive weapons (which could be an actual weapon or anything intended for use as a weapon), or articles with a blade or sharp point. These can be seized. Uniformed officers can also require people to remove any item worn wholly or mainly for the purpose of concealing identity. These can also be seized. You can be arrested for failure to stop when required, and failure to remove item when required.
- Police can ban a procession or march, but cannot ban an assembly of people. We have the absolute right to protest. An assembly can have conditions imposed under s.14 POA86. A senior officer can say where, when and how many people are allowed to protest. These conditions must be reasonable and proportionate.
- Protesters may be targeted at their homes or places of work. Police may raid and arrest people away from the demonstrations. In these circumstances it is very important to say nothing at all until you have a lawyer present to advise you.
- Remember that the Police in riot gear are Territorial Support Group (CO20), or TSG. They are trained in crowd control tactics, and have home office approved techniques of aggression and intimidation. Don't bother trying to reason with them, just don't let them brutalise you or others. If any Police officer is attacking unlawfully you have the right to defend yourself and others with reasonable force.
- If you get arrested ask for Bindmans Solicitors. The police will have their number, which is 0207 833 4433. Be prepared for a long few hours in custody.