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May 19, 2004

Gaza: blood flows like in Lebanon

This news about Israel bulldozing 100 houses, with roads, sewers, water mains and farmland being destroyed in Rafah, stands in marked contrast to the Sharon plan to withdraw from the Gaza strip.

Gaza is being painted with the red colors of Lebanon. The terrorist attacks--ie., those targeting civilians-- are by both sides.

And the Israeli high court has rejected a petition from residents and endorsed the policy of bulldozing Palestinian homes without warning and without giving residents a chance to remove belongings.

In the light of this the question should be posed. What reason does Israel have to be in the Gaza strip?

As this op-ed in Maariv International makes clear:

"The IDF is there in order to protect the Jewish settlements within the strip, which occupy approximately one-third of the strips area but house a population equal to 0.5% of its Arab population, and the routes to those settlements. In other words, the Gaza Strip is not a security zone for the defense of Israel."

Are these settlements buffering vulnerable frontiers?

Is not the destruction in Rafah the action of an occupying power? The land on which the homes to be destroyed are occupied by Israel in violation of dozens U.N. Security Council resolutions demanding the Jewish state to withdraw and turn these lands back to the Palestinians.

Israel's action is justified by a brand of Judaism that places land before humanity and life. It is an action defended by the governing Likud Party now beholden to a Messianic sect of the settler movement that is opposed to the formation of a Palestinian state.

I raise the question because there is a gap between Israeli politics and the national security state. The politics: an estimated 100,000-150,000 recently rallied in Tel Aviv in favor of quitting the Gaza Strip. The national security state sends a full IDF armored division supplemented by artillery battalions into the Gaza strip and lays seige to Palestinian population of 75,000 to 80,000.

The implication? There is no real, coherent disengagement plan. Sharon is dissembling yet again.

Sharon is a long time advocate of extending Jewish settlements into the ocupied territories and he has a harsh interpretation of Israeli security requirements. On one account Israeli withdrawal from Gaza is interpreted as part of Sharon's lifelong campaign to further Israeli expansion on the West Bank and to manipulate negotiations so that any eventual Palestinian state is confined to a series of non-contiguous enclaves.

Sharon's polices have the effect of increasing the hostility of the Muslim countries, but those of European nation states and most international public opinion. As this op-ed piece in Haaretz says:

"For amid the death and destruction, not even the tip of the tail of the withdrawal from Gaza can be spotted. The prime minister promises to bring a revised plan to the cabinet in two weeks or so. There, too, the chances are slim....what is happening in Gaza is a quintessential case of the systematic breakdown of decision-making in a seemingly sophisticated organization.... Gaza has been marked for evacuation. Aren't the general staff and the minister of defense - setting aside the prime minister for a moment - capable of internalizing the fact that all of the hundreds of attempts to wipe out the infrastructure of terror have been hurled back in the face of their hopeless pretension? And what will happen after the IDF, in keeping with its promise, leaves Rafah in the near future? "

Israeli military might is not going to solve this conflict. Sharon has ensured that the right of Palestinan return had been revoked; the status of the West Bank's largest settlements secured; the construction of the wall continues the expropriation of Palestinian land; whilst the Israeli military maintains total control of the Gaza w strip's air, land and sea access, its water, imports and electricity.

This destroys the physical possibility of a Palestinian state. What then are the options for the Palestinians?

Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at May 19, 2004 09:11 AM

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Is not the destruction in Rafah the action of an occupying power? It is an action justified by a Judaism that is places land before humanity and life. It is an action defended by the governing Likud Party now beholden to a Messianic sect of the settler movement.

Gary, is this an assertion or a question, and if so what is your point when juxtaposing it with the 100,000 or so at the peace rally.

Are you saying that Israels ultra-hard right are holding the rest of the country to ransom?

Posted by: Rex at May 19, 2004 10:05 AM

the post is a confusing I admit.

I'm finding it hard to hold the common ground so people can engage with the issues rather than engage in partisan polemics.

Lebanon is the key to the post. I'm arguing that there has to be a withdrawal from the Gaza strip by Israel.

The post was trying argue this by probing the growing gap between the policies of the Israeli national security state and Israeli public opinion.

It strikes me that there is a growing realization within Israeli public opinion that the current living hell can only be avoided if Israel withdraws from the Gaza strip.

A turn has to be made. That turn is Gaza. It is withdrawal, not the forced resettlement of Palestinians in the name of national security.

Posted by: Gary Sauer-Thompson at May 19, 2004 10:21 AM

Gary, once again you genuflect before the false idol of spurious moral equivalence. The Israelis are not "targeting civilians," and thus are not committing "terrorist attacks."

This is why the Israelis went into Gaza:

w w w . h a a r e t z d a i l y . c o m

Last update - 02:49 19/05/2004

IDF moved in to preempt arms delivery

By Gideon Alon

The current Israel Defense Forces operation in Gaza was sparked by an impending large delivery of antitank rockets, Katyushas and perhaps even shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles that could be a strategic threat to Israeli aircraft, military sources said yesterday.

The delivery was waiting on the Egyptian side of the border for an available tunnel to send the materiel through to Rafah, forcing the army to take action to shut down the tunnels, the sources said.

The IDF reckons that the large amount of high-quality weapons is a gift from Hezbollah and Iran, both of which are devoting much effort to disrupting any possible Israeli withdrawal from Gaza or any attempts at normalization that would enable a diplomatic process.

The two incidents in which two armored personnel carriers were destroyed last week, killing 11 soldiers, were only a secondary consideration for the army's haste to move into Rafah en masse, the sources said. But since these incidents were perceived by the Palestinians as major victories, it was also important that Israel take action to prevent any military momentum from developing on the Palestinian side.

A key factor in the arms smuggling problem - whose name is hardly mentioned, at least by the army - is Egypt, a sovereign state with powerful and effective security services that, practically speaking, are doing almost nothing to prevent weapons shipments that are upsetting the balance of power and could drag Israel and the Palestinians into intensive, long-lasting combat.

The main reason for Egypt's inaction is the low quality of its border patrols along the border with Gaza. The military appendix to the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty prohibits the Egyptians from sending military forces into Sinai, so, say Israelis in the name of the Egyptians, Cairo does not have the right forces in place to halt the smuggling.

Various commanders past and present of the IDF's Southern Command have tried to influence the Egyptians to start combating the smuggling tunnels, but their lobbying has been ineffective. The exact opposite of the Egyptian approach can be found in Jordan, which conducts extensive, intensive and aggressive activity against smuggling and infiltrations along the Israeli-Jordanian border. Amman has made its border with Israel a closed military zone, and IDF officers serving in the area say that they have watched as Jordanian soldiers took out terrorist cells.

Posted by: voice of sanity at May 19, 2004 01:25 PM


I challenge you to find ONE Security Council resolution that requires "the Jewish state to withdraw and turn these lands back to the Palestinians." Remember, non-binding General Assembly resolutions don't count.

Posted by: voice of sanity at May 19, 2004 01:28 PM

Murderous bastards. One day there'll be a decent, forward-looking leadership in the US and from that day one 'shitty little country's' days will be numbered unless it pulls it's head in and behaves.

Tunnels my arse. It's lebensraum, it's provocation, it's just peremptory cruelty for the hell of it.

Occupiers as victims... it's fooled a lotta people for a long time, but things are coming apart at the seams right now and more and more, people all over the place are saying 'WTF; why are these people allowed to behave like this when no-one else (bar the US) is?'

One day enough people will ask "is Israel worth it'? The answer will depend far more on how Israel behaves than their opponents, who are carrying on like occupied people do - violently.

Your go VOS... I'll tune out for a while, unless you can find a fellow traveller with better arguments than the sad stuff you regurgitate.

Posted by: Glenn Condell at May 19, 2004 06:07 PM

This suggests a lot:
"The typical Israeli worldview is one composed of a mosaic of unrelated "byte-sized" processes and events. These events are never the responsibility of any high-ranking individual. Palestinian terror has nothing to do with the occupation; the economic crisis has nothing to do with politics or security-related events; the intifada has nothing to do with Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount. Violence within the family and toward women has nothing to do with violence toward Arabs."

Disconnected bits?Well I can think of one way how the bits are strung together.

Through a philosophy of history which characterizes Jewish history as a narrative of persecution. The Holocaust is a culminating pogrom in a Europe where the promise of assimilation had lulled Jews into a false sense of security. This narrative serves to identify Zionism and Israeli nationalism as the only options for Jewish survival in modernity.

What comes out of this is the strategic demonization of the Palestinains for political and ideological purposes.The standard practice of demonizing the Palestians relieves right wing Israeli's of the difficult analysis of what permitted Palestinans to carry out their violence with a clear conscience.

Posted by: Gary Sauer-Thompson at May 19, 2004 08:08 PM

You're right about the paucity of security council resolutions, VoS. If memory serves, the US single-handedly vetoed each and every one.

Posted by: Rob Schaap at May 19, 2004 08:15 PM

you write:
"Gary once again you genuflect before the false idol of spurious moral equivalence. The Israelis are not "targeting civilians," and thus are not committing "terrorist attacks."

The Israel Army is not targeting civilians? Read this from Haaretz. It says five people five were killed on their way to dawn prayers at around 4 A.M., at the entrance to the Al Bilal Mosque on the outskirts of Tel al Sultan.It says:

"But whoever ordered a missile fired at the entrance to a mosque a few minutes after the muezzin called the faithful to prayers - just as people began gathering for the prayers - knew that there would not only be armed men there, if indeed there were any at all. And those who ordered missiles fired at the Yibneh camp knew very well that not all the residents had evacuated themselves, despite fears that the IDF was on its way to demolish their homes."

Pretty clear cut to me.

Posted by: Gary Sauer-Thompson at May 19, 2004 08:23 PM

I don't have any problems with the Israelis shutting the weapon-smugglers down. Surely it's unreasonable to expect any country to allow this sort of thing. If the Palestinians in the area want to enjoy a peaceful life, why are they sheltering arms merchants? Conversely, if they're intimidated by those thugs, then the best thing that Israel can do is to get rid of them on their behalf.


Posted by: Joe in Australia at May 19, 2004 09:28 PM

in your paragraph you go from 'Palestinians', 'thugs' to 'them'.'Them' have to be got rid of by a military machine. 'Them' includes Palestinian civilians---women and children living in their own land. So they are gotten rid off by an occupying miltary machine.

Sonds like cold blooded murder of a different race of civilians to me.

Wasn't Israel founded on an opposition to those practices in Europe.Weren't they condemned as evil?

So what has gone wrong? Why has Israel become what it once condemned? So why are Israeli's refusing to accept moral responsibility for the evil of the deliberate killing of Palestinians civilians?

Posted by: Gary Sauer-Thompson at May 19, 2004 09:48 PM


Read what the 1977 Protocols Additional to the Geneva Conventions say about using religious sites, schools, hospitals or other civilian installations for military purposes. The use of civilians or civilian facilities to shield military operations is illegal. Moreover, the onus of that illegality is placed on the shoulders of the party that uses those civilian sites as shields.

In such cases, those sites forfeit the civilian immunity otherwise accorded them by the laws of war and they become legitimate military targets because they are being used for military purposes.

Thus, the armed Palestinians who were congregating at that mosque were not gathering for a strawberry social. They were there, AK-47s in hand, for a military purpose. And, that mosque became a lawful military target the moment they violated the laws of war by begining to use a religious site for military purposes..

The truly grotesque thing about the Palestinians is, not that they deliberately kill innocent Jews, but that they cynically and deliberately place their own civilian population at risk in order to generate headlines that are pejorative towards Israel.

Posted by: voice of sanity at May 19, 2004 11:53 PM

I noticed, after clicking on your link, that your source of information is an opinion column written by radical anti-Zionist leftie Amira Hass. Hardly an unimpeachable source of objective information.

Her stuff is about as factually accurate as John Pilger's claim that there was no genocide in Kosovo and that the 1999 NATO air campaign against Milosevic was merely part of an imperialist US plan to take over the Balkans.

You really have to diversify your sources, Gary.

Posted by: voice of sanity at May 20, 2004 12:03 AM


Is Haaretz Daily an unimpeachable source of information? Why shouldn't it be seen as any less skewed than say Fox reporting the Iraq war?

Posted by: Rex at May 20, 2004 09:11 AM

You're a sick man VOS. One of many. The usual uber-confidence seems a bit down today, only a few measly paragraphs of half-hearted apologism.. maybe even your heroic moral deafness has been pierced by this, only the latest IDF murder of children. On top of the wedding party in Iraq... a hard day at the office for apologists to be sure.

'The truly grotesque thing about the Palestinians is, not that they deliberately kill innocent Jews, but that they cynically and deliberately place their own civilian population at risk in order to generate headlines that are pejorative towards Israel. '

That is a grotesque paragraph; barely suppressed xenophobic hatred, dressed up in the usual mock outrage that a people you are sitting on top of dare complain. It is a fascist attitude.

'Place their own civilian population at risk'? To generate headlines?

You're the enemy pal, not them.

Posted by: Glenn Condell at May 20, 2004 09:18 AM

Yes you should be a bit more multicultural than that VOS. If some muslims attending a wedding at the Lakemba mosque are firing AK47s into the air, to celebrate, then it's none of the racist police's business.

Now I know you and I would have some community safety reservations about this cultural tradition, notwithstanding some more serious reservations about doing it in a hair trigger war zone, but you really should be more understanding. Mind you, don't smoke on Bondi Beach or else!

Posted by: Observa at May 20, 2004 01:22 PM


This article shows how many people view Israel these days.

Key quotes:

Israel's latest outrages in Gaza have produced a rare but tiny hint of American disapproval. For the first time since the Israeli assault on West Bank cities two years ago, the United States has abstained on a critical UN resolution rather than vetoing it.

The Israeli propaganda machine is trying to blur the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Palestinians during the Gaza incursions as well as the nature of the struggle.

The fact is that Israel's latest actions in Gaza are motivated by revenge, cynicism and desperation.

Seems to me for all the desperate apologia, the tide is slowly starting to turn.

Posted by: Rex at May 21, 2004 03:00 PM

As much as it pains me to come down on the side of John Pilger, he was dead right about Kosovo.

There was no genocide whatsoever in Kosovo, pre March 24 1999. There was a low level civil war, but no genocide. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) found a total of 2108 deaths in Kosovo due to the civil war, not the 100,000 suggested by William Cohen, or the hundreds of thousands by hysterical war promoters in the press.

The fact is, it was AFTER NATO began bombing that Slobodan Milosevic realised that if he didn't boot out the Albanians, Kosovo would be permanently lost to the Serbs, not before. 800,000 Kosovar Albanians were subsequently expelled from the province, as NATO's bombs were in the process of killing 600 Serbs and devastating economic infrastructure.

Since then there have been massive ethnic pogroms carried out by al Qaeda affiliates in Kosovo (where do you think David Hicks got his start?). About 150 Orthodox churches have been razed, 250,000 Serbs expelled by the Albanian fascists, up to a thousand Serbs killed RIGHT UNDER NATO'S NOSE, and thousands of homes destroyed.

Now why did the US attack Yugoslavia? Balance of power. It had nothing to do with human rights, rather it was about reducing Russian influence in the Balkans and carving out more territory for potential Western allies (supporting the independence claims of Croats, Slovenes and Albanians against the Serbs). That isn't necessarily a bad thing - I'd support doing this in Sudan, for example. But at least there is a genocide in Sudan to be prevented. If there was a genocide in the Balkans, NATO caused it.

The realist model of the Balkans is the correct one. The liberal mythology and fantasies about "humanitarian intervention" are merely a cover for the anti-Christian, pro-Islamist prejudice of left-liberals.

Bombing Christian Serbs (who pose no threat to us and were historically allied to Britain) on a tissue of lies is okay. But attacking fascist-Islamists is somehow too hard, requires more "nuanced" thinking, more "dialogue" and "understanding", so "let's not rush into things" in case we "undermine multilateralism".

The only thing consistent about left-liberalism is its anti-Christian hypocrisy.

Posted by: Steve Edwards at May 21, 2004 06:06 PM

Glenn Condell has forgotten the first rule of guerrilla warfare:

swim in the civilian lake.

The Palestinians indeed hide behind civilians, just as the Viet Cong did (when they weren't murdering civilians in the thousands, such as Hue in 1968), just as the Iraqi insurgents are today.

Any resistance that doesn't use human shields is laying down it's most valuable strategic weapon - civilian outrage.

Now, it's true that we look at their human shield tactics and say "that's horrible", look at these "bankrupt" individuals and their murderous tactics. And we are right to. However, we still lose strategically, moral or no.

A Palestianian/Iraq fires an RPG from a crowded square at the IDF/US forces. They then run down an alley. The IDF/US return fire and kill 10 civilians.

Will the Palestinians/Iraqis blame the insurgent or the occupier/hegemon?

I know who I'd blame - the people who don't look like me, talk like me and act like me.

Posted by: Steve Edwards at May 21, 2004 06:16 PM

Steve, perhaps I'm a dill but I can't work out out what you're on about. Are you saying the P's use their own civilians as human shields? Can you show me any evidence, apart from Israeli contentions? Would you do this? What makes you think they do?

Or are you saying they swim in the Israeli 'civilian lake'? If so, well, durrr. They are on their fucking land for the eighth million time. Why don't you afford the Palestinians the same pastoral concern you display for the Serbs? No Arabs in the family?

Then there's your little scenario... it's alright is it, for the meatheads to return fire and kill ten people? Just shooot into a crowd in the hope of hitting the perpetrator? This is OK is it? No fucking wonder we're in strife - the big babies in the US army feel the same way obviously. I don't suppose we can expect much maturity from that organisation. Just look at em! Jesus, Myers is their top soldier!? Save us.

'I know who I'd blame - the people who don't look like me, talk like me and act like me.'

Would you really? You'd feel before thinking and allow your prejudices and subterranean hates to govern your behaviour? You'd opt for the immature, nuance-free approach (so unlike your normally nuance-rich persona) and react in precisely the same way as the US meatheads or Quaeda fundies do?

It's understandable Steve, but unacceptable.

Posted by: Glenn Condell at May 23, 2004 11:27 AM

Glenn Condell wanted proof of a deliberate Palestinian strategy of using children as combatants?

Ask, and ye shall receive:

An Associated Press photograph taken during a recent firefight in Gaza that distilled the essence of a central, but oft overlooked, dynamic of this conflict.

The salient figure in this photo is identified by the snapshot's caption as a "masked Hamas militant."

This man can be clearly identified as an armed combatant by his camouflage uniform and combat webbing, as well as by the AK-47 assault rifle that he has strapped across his back.

The Hamas fighter is seen in the photograph setting up a rocket launcher.

But, the picture also shows a group of Palestinian boys, some of whom are clearly in their early teens, milling around this artillery piece as the Hamas gunman prepares it for firing.

The photo can be seen here:


In case one might wonder what these youngsters are doing at the business end of such a deadly weapon, the caption of the photograph clarifies matters:

"A masked Hamas militant sets up a makeshift mortar launcher against Israeli forces,
unseen, as Palestinian youths try to cover him from the sight of the forces during an incursion in a Gaza city's neighbourhood, Wednesday Feb. 11, 2004."

With its singularly stark image, this picture communicates one of the uglier realities of a war in which Palestinians regularly use their own children as combatants.

A more forthright portrayal of the situation was forthcoming from Huda Al-Hussein, a correspondent for the London-based Arabic daily Al Sharq Al Awsat.

In November 2000, Al Hussein wrote a scathing piece about the hardhearted manipulation of Palestinian youth by leaders who "consciously issue orders with the purpose of ending their childhood, even if it means their last breath."

In fact, there is ample evidence to conclude that the official resources of the Palestinian Authority are directly used to encourage children to court death on the battlefield.

The Palestinian Ministry of Education, for example, issues school books for grades five and six that extol the virtues of "Shahada," the Arabic term for martyrdom.

In June 2002, Palestinian Authority TV aired an promotional interview 11-year-old Yussra, who declared, "every Palestinian child aged, say 12, says 'Oh Lord I would like to become a Shahid.'"

Posted by: Anonymous at May 23, 2004 01:35 PM

Balls. Combatants are not 'human shields' who are by definition being used against their will.

Nice try tho'.

Posted by: Glenn Condell at May 23, 2004 04:32 PM

Sorry Glenn... but there's nothing in the definition of a human shield that mandates he/she must be acting under duress. All those silly Palestinian kids who are seduced by the PA propaganda mills into placing themselves in front of rocket launchers are acting voluntarily. But that doesn't make them any less human shields.

Glenn, m'boy, when will you learn that semantic sophistry does not affect the irrefragable fact?

Posted by: voice of sanity at May 23, 2004 07:55 PM

They're 'silly', those boys who risk their lives to throw stones at their oppressors, are they? I'd be silly too in their shoes and if you wouldn't, you're a coward.

Even if you allow their conduct to be unwise or counterproductive or both; it is far more attractive behaviour, and far more understandable, than the evil in which Israel is currently swimming.

Posted by: Glenn Condell at May 24, 2004 09:39 AM

So you think that it is the appropriate sign of responsible parenting to allow 12 year old kids to play a combatant or combatant-support role on an active battlefield?

Well, Glenn, for your information the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court determined that the recruitment or active deployment of children under age 15 for combat is a war crime. Yet another in the long litany of Palestinian violations of international law.

But, you seem to think that this war crime is fine and dandy because it is committed by the Palestinians, right Glenn?

Posted by: voice of sanity at May 28, 2004 10:43 AM

What does the ICC say about shooting children armed with nothing more dangerous than stones?

'Yet another in the long litany of Palestinian violations of international law.'

Hypocrisy of the first water; you never let us down.

Posted by: Glenn Condell at May 28, 2004 05:09 PM

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