Forty Years of Occupation - Palestine
by Stephen Lendman
www.zmag.org, May 25, 2007
This June will mark an anniversary that
will live in infamy for the people affected by the event it commemorates
following a far greater one 19 years earlier on May 14, 1948.
On June 5, 1967, Israel launched its so-called "Six-Day
(preemptive) War" against three of its neighboring Arab states
- Egypt, Jordan and Syria - claiming it was in self-defense to
avoid annihilation Israeli leaders later admitted was spurious
and false cover for a large-scale long-planned, calculated war
of aggression it believed it could easily win and did.
The New York Times quoted Prime Minister
Menachem Begin's (1977 - 83) August, 1982 speech saying: "In
June, 1967, we had a choice. The Egyptian Army concentrations
in the Sinai approaches do not prove that (President Gamal Abdel)
Nasser (1956 - 70) was really about to attack us. We must be
honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him."
Two time Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin
(1974 - 77 and 1992 - 95) told French newspaper Le Monde in February,
1968: "I do not believe Nasser wanted war. The two divisions
which he sent into Sinai on May 14 would not have been enough
to unleash an offense against Israel. He knew it and we knew
General Mordechai Hod, Commander of the
Israeli Air Force during the Six-Day War said in 1978: "Sixteen
years of planning had gone into those initial eighty minutes.
We lived with the plan, we slept on the plan, we ate the plan.
Constantly we perfected it."
General Haim Barlev, Israeli Defense Forces
(IDF) Chief told Ma'ariv in April, 1972: "We were not threatened
with genocide on the eve of the six-day war, and we had never
thought of such a possibility."
Other Israeli leaders and generals voiced
the same sentiment that in June, 1967 Israel was under no threat,
yet preemptively undertook a war of aggression falsely telling
the world it had no other choice. It had a clear one. It could
have chosen peace, but didn't and never did earlier or since to
the present because discretionary aggressive wars of choice serve
Israeli interests as they do its US imperial partner.
In 1967, it was the Jewish state's third
major aggressive war that grew out of the founding of Zionism
in 1897 by Theodor Herzl aiming to establish a permanent Jewish
state. He planned the first Zionist Congress in Basle, Switzerland,
became its first president, and envisioned a permanent Jewish
homeland in Palestine justified by what Professor Norman Finkelstein
called the "colossal hoax" Jews got there first establishing
their ancestral home on "a land without people for a people
without land." It became the state of Israel in May, 1948
during the new Jewish state's first preemptive aggressive so-called
"War of Independence" Palestinians call "al-Nakba"
- the catastrophe.
From it, Jewish forces seized 78% of British
Mandatory Palestine establishing the state of Israel May 14 when
the Mandate ended. It was 40% more territory than UN Resolution
181 of November, 1947 allowed with a 56 - 44% division that already
gave Israel most of the fertile land, nearly all urban and rural
territory, and 400 of over 1000 Palestinian villages their residents
lost by UN mandate, with no right of appeal, to the Jewish population
comprising one-third of the total at that time.
The 1948 negotiated cease-fire line became
known as the "Green Line." Egypt occupied Gaza, and
Jordan controlled the West Bank. It was Israel's moment of triumph.
The war lasted six months, expelling and killing about 800,000
Palestinians. It destroyed 531 Palestinian villages, 11 urban
neighborhoods, and was a clear case of ethnic cleansing international
law calls a crime against humanity. Guilty Israeli leaders were
never held to account for it or forced to admit what, in fact,
they indisputably did according to recently declassified Israeli
archival material Israeli historian Ilan Pappe used for his important
new book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Noted British journalist
and documentary filmmaker John Pilger calls him "Israel's
bravest, most principled, most incisive historian."
In his book, Pappe documented Israeli
crimes including cold-blooded mass-murder; destruction of homes,
villages and crops; rapes; other atrocities; and massacres of
defenseless men, women and children shown no mercy. It happened
because British Mandate forces did nothing to stop it, and when
neighboring Arab states finally intervened, they acted pathetically
without conviction against a superior Israeli fighting force easily
able to defeat the small, ill-equipped and unmotivated token forces
matched against it.
Israel's second war of aggression was
launched along with Britain and France October 29, 1956 against
Egypt following President Nasser's decision to nationalize the
Suez Canal. Invading forces gave in to US and Soviet pressure
to cease fighting eight days later, and after the Federal Reserve
began selling large amounts of British pounds undermining the
dollar-pound exchange rate. It ended when Israel withdrew its
last troops March 8, 1957.
On June 5, 1967, Israel launched its third
major war of aggression but hardly its last with another one always
planned and ready to unleash on the flimsiest pretext almost no
other nation could get away with. It did it for the usual reasons
nations go to war when under no external threat to do it - territory,
resources (for Israel Golan's water was key), and a desire for
unchallengeable regional dominance. As it always did since, Israel
falsely claimed its security was threatened by creating myths
Syria was shelling Israeli farmers; legitimate, non-threatening
Egyptian military exercises masked a preparation for war; and
that "incendiary Arab rhetoric" proved it. With plans
set and a date picked, Foreign Minister Abba Eban flew to Washington
May 26 to inform Lyndon Johnson of Israel's intentions and was
assured the US backed them.
The war began preemptively June 5 and
proved to be an impressive display of overwhelming power with
Israel destroying 90% of Egypt's 300 + aircraft on the ground
and two-thirds of the Syrian Air Force the first day. After 24
hours of conflict, Israeli Air Force (IAF) Commander Mordechai
Hod announced the combined Arab air forces were destroyed, and
the devastating toll on them proved it. Israel lost a mere 19
fighter aircraft while Egypt lost about 300, Syria 60, Jordan
35, Iraq 15, and Lebanon one or more. The Palestinians were about
to lose much more - the remaining Gaza and West Bank parts of
their nation leaving them stateless.
On day 2, Israel invaded Gaza and the
West Bank; on day three Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) entered northern
Sinai, devastated Egyptian brigades, captured Jerusalem, and got
Jordan to surrender. On day four, the IDF invaded Haram Al-Sharif
and central Sinai, and by day five had advanced to the Suez Canal,
taking all of Sinai and the Syrian Golan Heights. The war was
practically over before it began, but Israeli forces showed no
mercy using their unopposed air power to massacre thousands of
defenseless Egyptian troops on the ground. It was a turkey shoot
made possible largely because Washington supported it providing
Israel with the latest munitions including tarmac-shredding explosives
preventing undamaged planes from taking off making them sitting
ducks to follow-up attacks. In addition, a US carrier group provided
intelligence and communications help standing ready to intervene
Though nothing like today, even then Washington
showed its commitment to Israel, and ignoring and covering up
the USS Liberty incident highlights it. The intelligence ship
was in the Mediterranean about 13 nautical miles off the Sinai
Peninsula when Israeli aircraft and torpedo boats attacked it
with full knowledge it was a US vessel as the senior Israeli lead
pilot later admitted. Thirty-four on-board were killed after
which Johnson Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered an
inquiry that concluded the incident was a case of "mistaken
identity" despite knowing full well it wasn't. Later, retired
Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Thomas Moorer said the
incident was "one of the classic all-American cover-ups"
for a close ally Washington has made excuses and allowances for
ever since along with providing huge amounts of financial aid
and modern weaponry and munitions in near-limitless amounts.
Israel used what it got then for its one-sided
blitzkrieg ending June 10 with Israeli forces completing the job
left unfinished following their 1948 "War of Independence."
They took the remaining 22% of ancient Palestine comprising Gaza
and the West Bank, and on June 6, 2007 will have held the territories
for 40 repressive years of the longest continuous illegal occupation
in the world under which Palestinians (including Israeli citizens
and Palestinian Christians) lost their personal, political and
economic freedoms under Israeli rule affording those rights only
Worldwide Solidarity Actions Opposing
the Illegal Occupation
To commemorate this infamous anniversary,
the International Coordination Network on Palestine (ICNP) was
launched at the annual UN civil society conference in 2006. It
supports the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people under
their banner, "The World Says No to Israeli Occupation."
ICNP called for global days of protest June 9 - 10 demanding
an end to the occupation; the realization of the Palestinians'
inalienable rights including their right to self-determination;
their Right to Return to their homeland; and to establish an independent,
sovereign Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem where
it rightfully belongs.
ICNP is building nonviolent global action
campaigns for boycotts, divestment and economic and political
sanctions. In addition, it engages in a wide range of educational
and cultural activities with the same aims in mind. It insists
governments across the world stop providing Israel economic, political
and military support and work instead together to end an occupation
that never should have been tolerated in the first place. It
wants it replaced with a "just and lasting peace."
Hundreds of other organizations, networks
and groups across the world are also mobilizing for a global protest
day June 9. One of them is the "Occupation 40" coalition
calling for "six days" of actions (from June 5 - 10)
marking 40 hellish years of occupation. In addition, a Global
Day of Action was called for on Saturday, June 9. The coalition
is comprised of grassroots Israeli groups and organizations, peace
activists, artists, student groups, internal Palestinian refugees,
anarchists, animal rights activists, and leftist groups including
socialists and communists. There will be a six-day convergence
in Israel including demonstrations, direct actions, discussions
and cultural events.
"Occupation 40" is also calling
for international direct actions against the illegal occupation
from June 5 - 10 including economic punishment against corporations
profiting from an occupation that cost Palestinians their homeland.
The planned agenda for these days is as follows:
-- June 5: An international action day
against militarization, wars and occupations in advance of the
June G-8 summit in Germany.
-- June 6 - 8: Protests against the G-8
by Palestinian and Israeli activists and Palestinian Solidarity
groups across Europe where German authorities are already cracking
down in advance of the June 6 - 8 summit of world leaders taking
place at the German resort of Heiligendamm in the northern German
state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommen on the Baltic coast.
Wherever George Bush travels, unprecedented
levels of security are needed the result of intense worldwide
anger against him and his administration showing up in mass public
actions justifiably protesting his presence. As a result, the
Heiligendamm resort is being turned into a luxurious armed military
fortress with a huge protective wall around it costing $17 million
a German newspaper called "the equivalent of a maximum security
prison (in reverse) to keep people out."
In addition, the Baltic Sea surrounding
the resort will be patrolled by nine naval vessels supplementing
16,000 local police and 1100 soldiers guarding the area to keep
protesters several miles from the meeting. Add to that the police
state-style raids now ongoing targeting global justice and leftist
organizations across the country on the phony pretext they're
involved in the "creation of a terrorist organization."
-- June 6 - 12: Protest action days against
the occupation in Palestine, Israel and internationally.
-- June 9: A mass rally in London along
with a Global Day of Action Against the Occupation.
-- June 10 - 11: A protest, teach-in and
lobby in Washington, DC.
All these actions across the world are
intended to send Israel, G-8 governments and all nations around
the world "a message they cannot ignore."
Life in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
IDF occupation forces continue assaulting
Palestinian civilians and property daily in the Occupied Palestinian
Territories (OPT), and while November 8, 2006 wasn't typical,
it shows how horrific some attacks have been. It began November
1 with Operation Autumn Clouds when Israeli Defense Forces (IDF)
attacked Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza launching their largest
assault on the territory since the late June Operation Summer
Rains deadly one killing at least 240 mostly civilian men, women
and children. In one November, 2006 week, 80 innocent civilians
were dead, hundreds wounded, and many bodies afflicted with terribly
disfiguring cuts, burns and hard to explain loss of limbs unseen
before that had to have been from experimental bombs and shells
likely containing radiation or other chemical materials able to
burn human flesh. More on this below.
The attack culminated November 8 when
Israeli tanks shelled Palestinian homes killing at least 20 and
wounding 60 more in what's now called the Beit Hanoun massacre.
Ironically, or maybe intentionally, it happened the day after
IDF forces withdrew following the week-long Operation Autumn Clouds
operation that already devastated the town and its people. The
Beit Hanoun massacre wasn't typical. But it highlights how, on
any pretext at any time, Israeli forces freely attack defenseless
Palestinians with unrestrained viciousness maybe just to show
they can get away with almost anything.
Mel Frykberg in the April 26 - May 2 issue
of Al-Ahram Weekly reports some of the worst of what Israel is
doing (unreported in the West) in his article called Israel's
lab in Palestine. He wrote about Gaza-based doctors recently reporting
severe wounds clearly made by horrific experimental weapons inflicting
shocking damage with graphic web site pictures painful to view:
-- disfiguring burns caused by intense
heat requiring amputation;
-- legs sliced from victims' bodies "as
if a saw was used to cut through bone;"
-- the absence of shrapnel in or near
wounds but the presence of a powder-like substance on victims'
bodies and internal organs identified by lab analysis as carbon
and tungsten (microscopic shrapnel) with many affected patients
dying several days later; and
-- internal organs severely burned in
the absence of external wounds.
The article further explained Italian
RAI News 24 satellite TV reported on a laboratory analysis of
substances taken from victims alleging Israel used "dense
inert metal explosives (DIME)" last summer in the Occupied
Palestinian Territories (OPT) and that a high concentration of
carbon, copper, aluminum and tungsten points to a DIME weapon
this time. RAI News 24 indicated military experts said DIME weapons
are "carbon-encased missile(s) that shatter on impact into
minuscule splinters (simultaneously exploding with) blades of
energy-charged, heavy metal tungsten alloy (HMTA) powder (like)
cobalt and nickel or iron, with a carbon fibre casing. It turns
to dust on impact....burning and destroying....everything within
a four-metre range."
In addition to causing severe disabling
and dismembering injuries, DIME weapons leave carcinogenic fallout
(like depleted uranium - DU - or other toxic chemical pollutants)
in areas targeted by them resulting in environmental contamination
with virtually certain large increases in future cancers for people
living close by and exposed.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
(PCHR) on the ground in the territories documents it all daily,
and its weekly report ending May 17 reads like all others depending
on how horrific each week is with some hugely more so than others
as Palestinian victims can attest. PCHR (and other groups) publish
an account of daily incursions, assaults, shootings, targeted
assassinations, aircraft intrusions and attacks, arrests, torture,
home demolitions, restrictions on movement, crop destruction,
land theft, and countless other types of harassment and humiliations
making life in occupied Palestine repressive and unbearable for
its residents who somehow resist and endure.
In nearly all cases, Israeli actions are
unprovoked or barely so like responding with overwhelming force
to children throwing rocks or Palestinians defending their homes,
neighborhoods or communities from repeated IDF incursions. Palestinians
only have crude and light weapons against the world's fourth most
powerful military with nearly every imaginable modern weapon including
sophisticated nuclear ones and delivery systems to use them effectively.
Specifically during this one week, IDF ground forces killed six
Palestinians in Gaza and a baby in his mother's womb in the West
Bank. They also wounded 36 Palestinians and a French solidarity
In Gaza on May 15, IDF border forces killed
a Palestinian National Security Forces officer fleeing Fatah-Hamas
armed clashes with US and Israeli fingerprints all over this renewed
fighting aimed at toppling the unity government. To do it, Fatah
security forces were supplied with millions of dollars in funding,
weapons and Egyptian-based training for this type operation ebbing
and flowing with renewed fighting erupting on any pretext when
cease-fires break down.
On May 16, Israeli forces killed three
Executive Force members of the Palestinian Ministry of Interior.
They also wounded 27 other Palestinians (including two journalists
and a civilian bystander) by Israeli air attacks on a Rafah Executive
Force site. On the same day, two Hamas members were killed and
three others wounded by air attacks in northern Gaza. Earlier
on May 10, IDF forces near Khan Yunis burnt large areas of Palestinian
agricultural land in Khuza'a village in a deliberate act of military
Also, on May 10, the IDF attacked Israeli
solidarity and Palestinian civilian and international activists'
peaceful demonstration protesting the construction of the Annexation/Apartheid
wall in Bal'ein village west of Ramallah wounding three Palestinian
adults, one child and a Swiss solidarity activist. On May 13,
an Israeli settlement guard shot from "zero range" wounding
a Palestinian taxi driver.
From May 10 - 17, IDF forces conducted
at least 26 military incursions into Palestinian communities in
the West Bank arresting 41 civilians including seven children.
That brings the number of Palestinians arrested in the West Bank
alone this year to 1,164. Israeli forces also demolished one
home and arrested two Palestinians in Gaza. Throughout this period,
the IDF continued imposing a tightened siege on the OPT severely
restricting movement including in occupied East Jerusalem and
at border crossings through which essential humanitarian goods
and services must have access but often don't when most needed.
The important Rafah International Crossing
Point has been closed since June 25, 2006 except for three days.
Because of this and other crossing point restrictions, markets
aren't getting food, stores aren't getting goods, and hospitals
don't have vital medical supplies, with most Palestinian patients
unable to travel to them in Israel or the OPT anyway as needed.
In addition, Palestinians have been prevented from fishing in
the Mediterranean for nearly one year depriving them of their
livelihood and the people of the food they harvest from the sea.
In recent days, Israel launched heavy
air strikes against Hamas government Gaza targets killing 36 mostly
Palestinian civilians and wounding 97 others through May 21 as
well as destroying dozens of homes and parliamentary sites. This
is on top of renewed Israeli-instigated Fatah-Hamas armed clashes
in Gaza killing 47 and injuring scores more through May 19. On
May 18, independent Palestinian writer Laila El-Haddad wrote on
the Electronic Intifada web site of a recent "terrifying
24 hours (with) sporadic gunfire and ghostly streets."
She mentioned a phone call from her father
describing a (US-supplied F-16-caused) "tremendous explosion
(sending) intense shockwaves through our house....so powerful....it
blasted off the windows from my cousin's home in the neighbourhood
behind us. This attack was followed by another then another,
and then another." There were six Israeli (F-16) air strikes
in one morning with "Israeli tanks....amassing at Gaza's
northern border, and unmanned Israeli drones whirring menacingly
overhead in great numbers patrolling ghostly skies....preparing..for
yet another strike against an already bleeding, burning, and battered
Gaza" from Israeli terror attacks.
Tony Karon, writing in the Electronic
Intifada May 15, notes the current conflict "has assumed
a momentum of its own" Palestinian leaders are unable to
contain because Washington and Israel want it that way in the
wake of Hamas' victory in the January, 2006 elections. He then
adds ominously this may end up "turning Gaza into Mogadishu"
just the way the Bush administration is now "busy turning
Mogadishu into Mogadishu all over again."
The "If Americans Knew" web
site also publishes and keeps current shocking information on
the daily toll in the OPT. Some of its disturbing figures affecting
Palestinians from September 29, 2000 (the first day of the Second
Intifada) to the present at the hands of Israeli forces are as
-- 934 Palestinian children have been
killed in most cases while engaging in normal daily activities
like going to school, playing, shopping, or being in their homes.
PCHR reports a total of 4284 Palestinian deaths through March
-- A known total of 31,307 Palestinians
have been injured, mostly civilians, and mostly under the same
circumstances children were killed. The B'Tselem Israeli Center
for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories reports these numbers
are extremely conservative while the internationally respected
Palestine Red Crescent Society reports much higher totals that
are likely more accurate. In addition, these figures exclude
large numbers of Palestinians who die when unable to reach medical
care in time because of Israeli checkpoints, road closures, curfews
and other restrictions on mobility in the OPT. Also, no accurate
records are available on the large number of avoidable Palestinian
deaths resulting from deprivation and/or disease following the
first time ever imposition of sanctions on an occupied people
from early 2006 to the present.
-- The cite reports US financial aid to
Israel is $7,023,288 per day, but the true number is far higher
- around $3 billion or more annually in
- billions more in loans as needed;
- millions annually for immigrant resettlement;
- multi-billions in waved loan repayments;
- billions more in military aid, financial
help to develop Israel's defense industry, transfer of state-of-the-art
technology and the latest US weapons, and US guarantees for Israel's
access to oil;
- $22 billion Israel got over the past
50 years through the sale of its below-market paying bonds that
have financed half its development - meaning the colonization
of annexed Palestinian land; military aid for its imperial aggressive
wars; and still more as needed and requested.
Tiny Israel today (with six million Jews)
gets more US financial aid (in all direct and indirect forms)
than all other countries in the world combined.
In addition, a 2006 "Washington Report"
piece by Shirl McArthur estimated the minimal amount of US aid
to Israel since 1948 in an article titled "A Conservative
Estimate of Total US Aid to Israel: $108 billion." Again,
the true number is far higher. Over the same period to the present,
US aid to the Palestinians was "zero" except what's
supplied for "security" for Israel and now to aid quisling
Fatah forces fight the democratically elected Hamas government
Israel, Washington and the West won't recognize.
-- Israel has been targeted by at least
65 UN resolutions ignoring them all. The Palestinians have been
targeted by none.
-- One Israeli corporal is held prisoner
by the Palestinians. At least 10,756 Palestinians are now imprisoned
by Israel, most held on "administrative" or no charge,
and according to the B'Tselem Center for Human Rights in the Occupied
Territories the great majority of them are abused or tortured.
PCHR reports from 1967 through 1994 alone, 775,000 Palestinians
were imprisoned for periods ranging from one week to life.
The Israeli human rights organization
HaMoked Center for the Defense of the Individual confirms this
in an April, 2007 report it jointly published with B'Tselem titled
"Utterly Forbidden - The Torture and Ill-Treatment of Palestinian
Detainees. It's based on testimonies of dozens of Palestinians
arrested, interrogated and tortured by Israel's ISA, formerly
known as the General Security Service. In addition, even Israeli
authorities openly admit using "exceptional" interrogation
methods and "physical pressure" against Palestinian
detainees that translated means "torture." However,
B'Tselem reports the State Attorney's Office "covers up these
illegal acts, thereby assisting in the breach of international
law and of High Court of Justice's prohibitions."
It hardly needs mentioning international
laws ban torture for any reason, but it never deterred Israel
or the US from using it freely. The Universal Declaration of
Human Rights outlawed it in 1948. The Fourth Geneva Convention
banned any form of "physical or mental coercion" in
1949 requiring detainees at all times to be treated humanely.
The European Convention affirmed this in 1950, and in 1984, the
UN Convention Against Torture became the first binding international
instrument dealing exclusively with banning torture in any form
for any reason. Israel and the US both have contempt for international
law mutually affirming the other's right to act as it pleases
with no protests heard in the West or hardly anywhere else.
-- 4170 Palestinian homes have been demolished
according to a B'Tselem November 15, 2004 report titled "Through
No Fault of Their Own." The Israeli Committee Against House
Demotions (ICAHD) reports a far larger number calling them "the
hallmark of the Occupation." It cites the demolition of
around 12,000 Palestinian homes (on their own land in their own
country) since June, 1967 to the present, leaving about 70,000
Palestinians "without shelter and traumatized."
B'Tselem reports three types of demolitions:
-- 1. As "clearing operations"
to meet Israeli "military needs."
-- 2. Administration demolitions of houses
built "without a permit" meaning Israel won't let Palestinians
build homes on their own land.
-- 3. Demolitions for punitive reasons
against Palestinians "suspected" of attacking Israeli
(occupying) soldiers or civilians. In many cases, adjacent homes
are destroyed as well.
PCHR reports other destruction of land
and property from September 29, 2000 through June, 2005 including
31,500 dunums (31.5 million square meters) of mostly agricultural
land in Gaza or 10% of the territory's arable land total. Israel
seized the land for illegal settlement development. In addition,
656 businesses, factories and schools were either destroyed or
damaged over this period.
-- World Bank data estimates Palestinian
unemployment at 40%. The true figure, however, is much higher,
at least 70% and likely higher still, while available employment
is grossly inadequate to meet essential human needs in most cases.
It's the result of Israeli and western political and economic
sanctions imposed on the democratically elected Hamas government
after January, 2006. It was the first time ever an occupied people
were put under a virtual midieval siege in violation of the Fourth
Geneva Convention obligating the international community to protect
an occupied civilian population. Instead, a state of belligerency
was imposed causing chaos and mass human misery, deprivation,
starvation, illness and disease so far unaddressed and worsening.
Almost none of this is reported in the dominant western media.
As early as June 28, 2002, PCHR reported
40 - 50% of Palestinians were living below the internationally
recognized poverty line of $2 a day with the figure in Gaza 81%.
Two-thirds of them were called the "new poor," having
been impoverished since the outbreak of the Second Intifada September
29, 2000. Nearly five years later, the figures are far higher.
-- Israel currently has over 400,000 Jews
living in 121 Jewish-only settlements and 102 "outposts"
on stolen Palestinian land violating Article 49 of the Fourth
Geneva Convention stating "The Occupying Power shall not
deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population in the
territory it occupies." The number continues growing with
deputy Jerusalem mayor Yehoshua Pollack announcing in May 20,000
new homes will be built in Arab East Jerusalem on more land annexed
from its legal residents Israel is systematically ethnically cleasning
toward making the entire city 100% Jewish.
In addition, 500 more houses will be built
in Abu Dis village, southeast of Jerusalem with new home construction
aimed at creating territorial continuity between Jerusalem and
"Gush Etzion" settlement bloc, south of Bethlehem, and
between Jerusalem and "Beit Eil" settlement, north of
Ramallah. Toward the same end, the Israeli government allocated
$1.5 billion in US taxpayer aid May 13 to developing Jerusalem
settlement neighborhoods to reduce an increasing Palestinian population
in the city.
At the same time, Palestinians in Salama
and Fqaiqees villages, east and south of "Noghohot"
settlement, west of Hebron, were ordered to stop building 10 houses
and a mosque on their own land in their own country. Then on
May 11, Israeli settlers in "Sousia" setttlement, south
of Hebron, attacked Palestinian farmers on their agricultural
land near the settlement without provocation.
End the Illegal Occupation Now
For 40 years under occupation on one-fifth
of their original land and nearly 60 years after the "Nakba,"
Palestinians are forced to endure the most appalling repression
no one should have to face for a single day. Five million of
them, including 1.4 million Israeli citizens, are denied all rights
afforded Jews only and are subjected to daily abuse and neglect
along with regular IDF assaults against which they're defenseless.
The Palestinians suffer for it, and the world community is silent
except, like Israel, to shamefully call the victims the victimizers.
Then there are the five million refugees
in the Palestinian diaspora (by some estimates the number is seven
million) including 260,000 internally displaced and living inside
Israel. Those outside the country are denied the absolute universal
"Right of Return" affirmed in UN Resolution 194 passed
in December, 1948 resolving that "refugees wishing to return
to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be
permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that
compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing
not to return and for loss of or damage to property....made good
by the Governments or authorities responsible."
This "Universal Right" was also
established in Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights as well as various Geneva Conventions Israel won't recognize
just as it ignores over five dozen UN resolutions condemning or
censuring it for its actions against the Palestinians or other
Arab people, deploring it for committing them, or demanding, calling
on or urging the Jewish state to end them. One of them was UN
Resolution 273 passed May, 1949 giving Israel UN membership conditional
on its implementing Resolutions 181 of November, 1947 partitioning
Palestine 56 - 44% in its favor and 194 passed December, 1948
giving Palestinians their absolute universally accepted "Right
From 1948, when Palestinians lost 78%
of their homeland, to 1967 when they lost the rest to a hostile
foreign occupier, to the present, life in the OPT has been oppressive,
intolerable and criminally imposed on a defenseless people helpless
against it and unsupported ever since in their courageous struggle
for liberation one day they'll achieve because they'll never give
up till they have what they rightfully and legally deserve. For
40 years under occupation they have no recognized state of their
own, no right of citizenship, and no power over their daily lives.
They live in a constant state of fear
in the virtual open-air prisons of Gaza and the West Bank under
Israel's racist apartheid laws even the Israeli High Court shamefully
upholds. They're strangled economically and politically; denied
free movement in their own country from a structure of roadblocks,
checkpoints, electric fences and a land-grabbing "Apartheid
Separation wall" the World Court in the Hague ruled (14 -
1) is "contrary to international law" because it "destroyed
and (illegally) confiscated" property, it greatly restricts
Palestinian movement, and it "severely impedes the exercise
by the Palestinian people of (the) right to self-determination."
For its Jewish citizens, Israel is nominally
democratic, although far from perfect at the least. For its Arab
Muslim and small Christian population, it's a daily struggle for
survival under the harshest conditions of all kinds imaginable
those outside the territories and most Jews in Israel can't possibly
understand and too few even try. For 40 brutal years, Israel
has illegally controlled all aspects of Palestinian life in the
OPT with an iron fist it freely swings on the slightest pretext.
It cantonized the indigenous population under deplorable conditions
in refugee camps and bantustans surrounded and cut off from all
other ones. It rules defenseless people by intimidation and repressive
military might. It denies Palestinian people their right to a
truly sovereign independent state and won't allow Muslims, Christians
and other non-Jewish legal residents in greater Israel the same
rights as Jews including the right of citizenship and safety under
one sovereign nation for everyone entitled to it.
Israel claims it wants peace but never
negotiated in good faith to get it. The current so-called "road
map" is a cruel hoax going nowhere. It's as fraudulent as
all other phony peace efforts before it. Beginning with Camp
David in 1978, the US bribed Egypt with billions in "baksheesh"
in return for peace with Israel leaving Palestinians out in the
cold. The predictable result was festering anger that exploded
in what became the First Intifada in 1987 killing hundreds of
Palestinians that finally led to the Oslo Accords and their so-called
Declaration of Principles in 1993. Under them, Israel got what
it wanted giving back nothing more in return than the right of
Palestinians to be Israeli enforcers in their own land. So highly
touted and praised when signed, it offered no Right of Return,
no independent Palestinian state, no portion of Jerusalem as a
capital, and no Palestinian control over their own daily lives
free from a foreign occupier. From then till now, things only
Oslo I led to Oslo II in 1995 that divided
the West Bank into the way it exists today in Areas "A,"
"B," "C," and "D"; "H-1"
and "H-2" in Hebron; nature reserves (in the OPT) for
Jews only; closed military areas; security zones; and "open
green spaces" for Jewish-only housing developments in over
half of Arab East Jerusalem (slowly being stolen entirely) leaving
Palestinians confined to unconnected cantons surrounded by growing
Israeli settlements, restricted roads, and all kinds of impediments
restricting free movement preventing any semblance of normal daily
So-called "permanent status"
talks then began in July, 2000 at Camp David resulting in another
insulting betrayal. Portrayed in the West as a generous offer
in good faith, it was, in fact, just another example of US-Israeli
duplicity leaving out entirely what Palestinians most want - a
free and sovereign state or a single multi-ethnic one with Jews
and Palestinians having equal rights, the Right of Return, a portion
of Jerusalem as a capital or the entire city as capital for both,
and an end to foreign occupation. All that was offered in exchange
for "peace" Israeli-style is what they now have - life
locked down in unconnected cantons on mostly scrub land in virtual
open-air prisons surrounded by expanding Israeli settlements continuing
to encroach on Palestinian lands fast disappearing as Israelis
take what they want dunum by dunum.
Again justifiable festering anger erupted
into the Second (al-Aqsa Mosque) Intifada in September, 2000 following
former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's provocative visit to the
holy al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem (the Noble Sanctuary
for Muslims and Temple Mount for Jews and Christians). It became
far worse following elections for Palestinian Legislative Council
(PLC) seats on January 25, 2006 when, fed up with years of Fatah-led
corruption and betrayal, Palestinians democratically elected a
Hamas government Israel, Washington and the West acted savagely
against since to destroy because its leaders won't act as a quisling
government the way Fatah's Yasser Arafat and current Fatah Palestinian
President, Mahmoud Abbas, and his powerful National Security Advisor
and "Gaza warlord," Mohammed Dahlan (controlling Fatah
security forces), were always willing to do and Abbas and especially
Dahlan still are. For Hamas' courage and dedication to their
people, the Palestinians have paid dearly ever since and still
do. This must end.
It's long past time people of conscience
everywhere take a public stand and demand 40 years of illegal
repressive occupation end so Palestinians can finally have what
all people have a right to expect and demand - to live freely
in their own land the way international law mandates with nations
supporting it accepting nothing less.
Palestinians and their legions of supporters
worldwide aren't waiting for conflict resolution that won't ever
come unless enough committed people everywhere demand their leaders
act on it. A growing effort is building to convince them by calling
for an organized global campaign for boycott, divestment and political
and economic sanctions against Israel the same way they developed
in the 1980s against the South African apartheid state that finally
It must include a demand that the world
community of nations ends the "last taboo" of silence
when it comes to Israel. It must be willing to expose and denounce
what no longer can be tolerated that current South African Intelligence
Minister Ronnie Kasrils calls worse than apartheid saying Israel
"behav(es) like fascists when they do certain things (like
attacking Palestinians with helicopter gunships and tanks)."
What better time to do what Kasrils is surely calling for than
on the 40th anniversary of the longest continuous occupation in
the world that no longer can be tolerated.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can
be reached at email@example.com.