While issuing statements affirming the unacceptability of Israeli settlement expansion, it has become fashionable for governments and UN institutions to also condemn what they describe as Palestinian ‘incitement’. It is as if the Palestinian people’s reaction to the everyday horrors of life under foreign military Occupation should be seen as somehow commensurate with the brutalities inflicted by the Occupying power, Israel. One dictionary definition describes incitement as “something that incites or provokes”. The online Merriam Webster Dictionary gives an example of the use of the term ‘incite’ as follows: “The news incited widespread fear and paranoia.” Well the daily experience for Palestinians, both within Israel and the territories beyond, is certainly fearsome and Israel intends it to be so – as a matter of policy. Yehuda Shaul, co-founder of the whistle-blowing group of Israeli soldiers, Breaking the Silence, writing in the Guardian earlier this month revealed the malevolence of Israel’s intentions towards the Palestinian people. He described his personal experience of the Israeli Army’s role in enforcing Zionist rule:
“Day and night, we would go into the Casbah, the Old City of Hebron. Entirely at random, rather than on the basis of any intelligence, the officer or sergeant would pick a house. We woke up a family at two in the morning, fully armed, and searched the house – for no reason. We then started knocking on the doors of houses and shops to make noise, in the middle of the night. We ran to the other side of the Old City, entered another house – and this continued for eight hours, until the end of our shift. This has been the protocol: 24 hours a day, seven days a week, since the start of the second intifada in September 2000. The sole purpose was to intimidate the Palestinian population through what we called “creating a sense of persecution”. Because this is what you have to do, when you want to maintain control over millions of people with no rights, and with no endgame in sight. The only way to do it is to induce constant fear, and as soon as this fear becomes routine, ramp it up more, to no end.”
Imagine how Israelis might react to having their homes invaded and their families terrorised. Shaul tells us that this behaviour:
“. . . was carried out in the interest of bolstering occupation, not ending it. These are not the policies implemented by people who desire to live peacefully alongside millions of Palestinians in the West Bank, but rather by those seeking to control them forever.”
Terrorism – “the deliberate attack on innocent civilians.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the following about terrorism:
“Terrorism is defined neither by the identity of its perpetrators nor by the cause they espouse. Rather, it is defined by the nature of the act. Terrorism is the deliberate attack on innocent civilians.”
Israel strives daily to provoke Palestinian Resistance fighters into launching missiles into southern Israel. On 6 February 2017, Israeli air strikes, as well as shelling from Israeli tanks, hit Northern Gaza, following the launching of a missile by Palestinian Resistance. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the last rocket fired at Israel from Gaza was in mid-January this year. Actually, the last Palestinian ceasefire violation was on 24 January. This year alone (up to and including 15 February) there have been at least 182 Israeli Gaza ceasefire violations, while there have been just two by the Palestinian Resistance. In the same period, there have been at least 68 Israeli Navy attacks on Palestinian fishing vessels off the Gaza shore, including two hijackings.
On 20 January, the Israeli Army opened fire on protesters in a Gaza City neighbourhood. There have been six Israeli Army incursions onto Gaza farmland this year already, with Israeli forces opening fire and bulldozing crops. Israeli Army positions behind the Green Line have, this year, opened fire on Gaza farmers on at least 84 occasions. Israeli air strikes have also targeted Palestinian farmers there. Israeli Army attacks and ceasefire violations have left ten people in Gaza wounded, including a five-year-old child.
Operation Protective Edge, 2014
All this pales into insignificance compared with Israel’s periodic, no-holds-barred blitzes on the blockaded Gaza Strip. On 21 November 2012, a unilateral ceasefire declared by Israel came into effect. Later the same day, Palestinian Resistance groups announced that they would abide by that ceasefire. Since then, the record has shown that Israel does its best to incite Palestinian retaliation from the blockaded Gaza Strip. A study of events in May 2014, leading up to the execution of Operation Protective Edge, shows deliberate Israeli violence, clearly designed to provoke a Palestinian response. That same month, for nine days, no Palestinian missiles were fired. The carnage in the Gaza Strip began with serious escalations in June 2014 but it is essential to consider the record of violence that occurred before that when nine days of hope for ceasefire were squandered by Israel. The Israeli blitz killed over 2,200 Palestinians, including 722 so-called militants and over 500 children. Seventy Israelis (64 of whom were soldiers) also died. Thousands of Palestinians were wounded in Israeli air strikes and shelling, with over 18,000 homes destroyed. Large areas of Gaza became wasteland. Had Israel used the nine days of Palestinian ceasefire to reinforce the suspension of violence, none of this would have happened. But for Israel, one-sided news of Palestinian missile launches is an invaluable diversion from world attention to the Zionist state’s brutal Occupation of the West Bank and illegal settlement expansion. Israel’s Prime Minister has another revealing definition of terrorism: “Terrorism is the deliberate and systematic, murder, maiming and menacing of the innocent to inspire fear for political ends.”
Israeli Gaza air strike destroys poultry farm – photo and video.
Poultry farmer Khalid Al-Haya was distraught after an Israeli air strike on his farm on 6 February. A missile strike from an F-16 fighter jet, ruined 80% of his farm, killing hundreds of chickens and leaving a seven-metre-deep crater. Four families had earned their living from the farm and they are having to bear the cost of the air strike, estimated to be between US$60,000 and US$70,000. The entire agricultural area had also been subjected to shelling in over 15 separate attacks.
Awaiting the next Israeli Gaza blitz
While Gaza makes attempts at recovery, the terrorised population must live with the ever-present fear that the next Israeli blitz could come at any time. That may be even sooner than some people might expect, Israeli Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Galant says, “I believe we should be prepared by spring”. Education Minister Naftali Bennett reckons “the next round of war is approaching” and Avigdor Lieberman declares that, until the people of Gaza submit completely, “we’re not stopping”. An article by Gideon Levy on 12 February in Haaretz suggests that exhausted Gaza, far from being provoked, has already capitulated. He writes:
“. . . but none of the warmongers are listening. Gaza for them is an opportunity to advance their careers, to get the forces moving and to conceptualise a war against an enemy that is nothing but an army of hooligans, nothing but an assault on the powerless. Gaza would bring the warmongers back into the headlines, back into their glory, the return of the good old days of combat jackets. Otherwise, there would be no reason to embark on another attack on Gaza.
“The deterioration could be quick. Just another few declarations of war, another few disproportionate responses by the Israel Defence Forces for every cap gun or kite fired from Gaza and we’re there. Israel also pushed for the wars in Gaza in 2008 and 2014 more than Gaza did. Before you can say “cigars and champagne”, the IDF is in Gaza.
“And there is no one to yell “stop”, no one to say that those who don’t want war in Gaza should open it rather than destroy it a third, fourth and fifth time. But saying so requires courage, which is the quality most lacking among our masters of war . . .”
As a form of population control and intimidation, Israel’s checkpoint system is particularly humiliating and inhumane. One thing is certain, checkpoints are nothing to do with ‘security’. A report in January this year described how Israeli soldiers actually sleep at checkpoints while Palestinians wait fruitlessly outside the turnstiles. The soldiers sleep securely – while the Palestinian people, denied every vestige of security, wait on – and on. How would Israelis react to being forced to wait at checkpoints while an invader’s population travelled without hindrance around them?
Haaretz recently published an article describing the methods Shin Bet interrogators use to torture prisoners, including children. As well as physical violence directed at the most sensitive parts of the body, victims are handcuffed and shackled and placed in excruciating positions. Palestinian and Israeli human rights groups welcome the report, saying that it confirms what they have been trying, for years, to bring to public attention. Besides sleep deprivation, other devices used by Israeli torturers include threats against other family members. The aim is to secure ‘confessions’ at any cost to the victims. Once they have caved in, the prisoners are required to sign incriminating documents written in Hebrew, which most of them don’t understand. In its annual report last year, Amnesty International also found that Israeli forces and Shin Bet personnel had “tortured and otherwise ill-treated” Palestinian detainees, including children. Defence for Children International-Palestine told Al Jazeera that the group’s research had shown that almost two-thirds of Palestinian children taken prisoner in the Occupied West Bank had suffered physical violence at the hands of the Israeli military.
An article by Ben White explains that:
“Torture and ill-treatment are so rife, human rights campaigners say, that convictions of Palestinians for “security offences” are fundamentally unreliable, not least because the abuse is part of a wider lack of due process. According to one study, as many as 91 per cent of Palestinian detainees interrogated by the Shin Bet in the Occupied West Bank are held incommunicado for either part or all of their interrogation. Stroumsa [Rachel Stroumsa, the executive director of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI)] says this practice is “an enabling element for torture”. In the military court system, which has a 99 per cent conviction rate, Palestinians can be held for 60 days without access to a lawyer – compared with the United States, where the average length of interrogations producing false confessions is 16 hours.”
Ben White’s Al Jazeera article draws attention to Amnesty International’s annual report last year, which also found that captive Palestinian children had been treated with the utmost violence. The article notes that “In November 2015, a video of the interrogation of 13-year-old Ahmad Manasra sparked outrage”, with Israel also appearing before the United Nations Committee Against Torture last May concerning “coerced evidence” being used in courts.
Imagine the anguish Israelis would feel if it were their children who were suffering abuse at the hands of an armed foreign military Occupation. The Zionist regime’s military understand very well how the young victims of their calculated violence and abuse may feel towards them. Provocation and incitement are necessary components of Israel’s programme of population control for military Occupation.
Denying the Palestinian right of return
“Above all, let me reiterate, the refugee problem was caused by attacks by Jewish forces on Arab villages and towns and by the inhabitants’ fear of such attacks, compounded by expulsions, atrocities, and rumours of atrocities – and by the crucial Israeli Cabinet decision in June 1948 to bar a refugee return”. – Israeli historian, Benny Morris.
[See Revisiting the Palestinian Exodus of 1948, pp. 37-59 in The War for Palestine: Rewriting the History of 1948 by EL Rogan and A Schlaim (eds.), Cambridge University Press. 2001.]
Settlements for Jews – refugee camps for Palestinians
Palestinians, persecuted in ‘refugee’ camps that can offer no refuge, see little hope of relief. There is, in the Aida UN refugee camp, for example, what residents describe as an ‘almost permanent’ Israeli Army presence. The refugee camp is home to an estimated 5,500 Palestinians. Muhammad Abu Srour, a volunteer at the Aida Youth Centre, says the Israeli military uses tear gas “every day”, noting also the Army’s use of floodlights in the camp: “Lights reach inside people’s homes at night – it feels like it’s daytime You feel like they are sitting with you in your home. It’s not just fear, you feel uncomfortable, like someone is watching you.” The UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports regularly on Israel’s human rights abuses carried out against refugees. An UNRWA spokesman, Chris Gunness, says that the agency was worried about the increase in the Israeli Army’s use of live ammunition in and around Palestinian refugee camps. Gunness reported that ammunition fired by Israeli troops had hit even an UNRWA school, as well as an office, “on numerous occasions.”
The Palestinian people have the same rights as everyone else to self-determination and to resist belligerent military Occupation by every means. UN Resolution 1514 affirms that “the subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights and is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations”. Adopted in 1964, the Resolution is entitled Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. UN Resolution 2625 calls on the UN membership to support colonised people or people under Occupation in their struggle for freedom. UN Resolution 3246 spelled it out clearly in 1974, confirming “the legitimacy of the peoples’ struggle for liberation from colonial and foreign domination and alien subjugation by all available means, including armed struggle”.
In case anyone had forgotten this human right, UN Resolution 3743 again spelled out “the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and foreign occupation by all available means, particularly armed struggle” and “strongly condemned all governments” that did not recognise “the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people”. Zionist propaganda attempts to divert attention from this inalienable right by calling Palestinian outrage and resistance – ‘incitement’. The Israeli military Occupation of Palestine, with its brutal suppression of civil liberty, is state terrorism, the whole purpose of which is the realisation of an ideologically-inspired territorial ambition.
No hope for justice while Zionism rules
With the fiftieth anniversary of the Israeli Occupation of the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza and the Syrian Golan heights looming this year, it is high time to take stock. These longest military Occupations in modern history are a terrible blood-soaked reminder of the failure of the international community to stand up in defence of international law and human rights. The author of the notorious Balfour Declaration of 1917, Arthur Balfour, declared, “The weak point of our position is of course that in the case of Palestine we deliberately and rightly decline to accept the principle of self-determination” and in a reply to Lord Curzon, shamelessly admitted that “in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country.” This unchanging mindset drives the unconditional support for Israel that powerful world leaders apparently hold dearer than the provisions of the Geneva Conventions.
Israeli Professor of History, Ilan Pappe, has observed:
“Jewish settlers and native Palestinians share a land and will do so also in the future. The best way to fight anti-Semitism today is to turn this land into a free democratic state that is based as much as possible on just and equitable economic, social and political principles.”