Saturday, 10 January 2009
- Que tipo de organização é o Hamas? Que objectivos tem?
-Helga Baumgarten: Eu acho que eles são basicamente um movimento nacionalista-religioso, que ao longo dos anos se transformou num partido político sólido com uma enorme base de apoio na população palestiniana. O seu objectivo é pôr fim à ocupação israelita dos territórios palestinianos. Ao mesmo tempo, há uma componente militar incidiu sobre a resistência armada a essa ocupação.
-Diz que o Hamas tem uma política "de túnel". O que quer dizer com isso?
-Baumgarten: Isto tem que ser visto no contexto do boicote [económico] imposto pelo Quarteto em 2006 do territórrio da Faixa de Gaza e pela ocupação israelita, que tem praticamente não permitido a entrada ou saída de qualquer coisa de Gaza. Isto significa que, tanto no plano económico como a nível humano, Gaza está completamente isolada.
De forma a obter os bens, os alimentos e assim por diante, a fim de garantir a um e meio milhão de pessoas aquilo que precisam para sobreviver, o Hamas e as pessoas que vivem perto da fronteira egípcia escavaram túneis de ligação com o Egipto. No último ano e meio, o Hamas tomou conta destes túneis e passou a taxar os bens que passam através deles. E de acordo com Israel, o Hamas tem utilizado os túneis para trazer armas para Gaza.
O governo diz que a ofensiva israelita em Gaza tem como objectivo parar os ataques com foguetes feitos Hamas. Mas poderia a incursão realmente aumentar a popularidade do Hamas entre a população palestina?
Baumgarten: a posição do Hamas é claramente defensiva e não, como é alegado, em Israel, ofensiva. Se voltarmos ao último período de calma, o cessar-fogo entre Israel eo Hamas a partir de junho a dezembro de 2008, o acordo previa que o Hamas iria manter a paz em troca da abertura das passagens fronteiriças por parte de Israel. Israel nunca abriu as fronteiras.
Para além disso, no início de Novembro, foi Israel que pôs fim a este período de calma fazendo um ataque militar no interior Gaza e matando militantes do Hamas. O Hamas respondeu lançando um conjunto de foguetes para Israel. E, desde então, Israel não permite que alguém saia ou entre na Faixa de Gaza. O encerramento foi absolutamente completo.
Foi neste contexto que o Hamas decidiu não renovar o período de cessar-fogo - dando a entender que, logo que Israel abra as passagens fronteiriças, a calma pode retornar. O que temos agora é uma tremenda quantidade de violência com um enorme custo humano, enquanto foguetes continuam a cair em Israel e a popularidade do Hamas cresce, não só em Gaza, mas também Cisjordânia e em Jerusalém Oriental.
A abordagem militar não conduz ao progresso. Em vez disso, uma abordagem política que inclua conversações com o Hamas, é o único meio que pode levar a um estado de paz entre a Palestina e o Estado de Israel.
Acha que Israel nunca poderá destruir a liderança do Hamas?
Baumgarten: Sabemos, tendo em conta muitos exemplos históricos, que um exército como o de Israel quase nunca foi capaz de destruir um movimento de libertação nacional, enquanto uma ocupação continuar a existir. A História tem-nos mostrado uma e outra vez que quando um povo se revolta, liderado por um partido nacional-religioso como o Hamas, o poder ocupante não foi capaz de o destruir. Se olharmos para norte e para o exemplo do Hezbollah ... quando Israel ocupou o sul do Líbano, em 1982, não havia Hezbollah. Agora é o maior partido político do Líbano.
Vamos falar sobre Fatah. Quais são as diferenças ideológicas entre o Hamas e a Fatah? Será que os dois partidos palestinianos não vão ser capazes de trabalhar juntos novamente?
Baumgarten: As diferenças ideológicas são realmente mínimas. Ambos são querem pôr fim à ocupação e libertar a Palestina e ambos chegaram à conclusão de que a única forma de estabelecer um Estado palestiniano é chegar a um cessar-fogo com Israel. Para a Fatah, a religião é algo implícito. Os apoiantes da Fatah não são seculares, como é muitas vezes erradamente se argumenta. A religião está implícita e não é utilizada diretamente na sua ideologia. Para o Hamas, a religião é o principal elemento mobilizador.
As duas partes têm estado divididas nos últimos anos sobre os Acordos de Oslo  porque o Hamas considerou que estes acordos não iriam levar aquilo que Fatah esperava, isto é, a criação de um Estado palestiniano. E sob a liderança de Mahmoud Abbas, depois da morte de Yasser Arafat, a Fatah passou a ser muito mais moderada, e alguns palestinianos argumentam até que se teria vendido aos israelitas. A Fatah tem apostado numa estratégia de negociações, que, infelizmente, não teve êxito no terreno.
Também nas eleições parlamentares de 2006, o Hamas derrotou claramente a Fatah o que, para um partido autoritário como a Fatah foi algo dificil de aceitar. Desde então, o conflito cresceu inimaginavelmente. No entanto, se voltarmos para a situação no terreno já em Gaza, os militantes da Fatah estão lutando novamente ao lado dos militantes do Hamas contra a opressão israelita.
A situação da liderança [Fatah] na Cisjordânia é bastante diferente, ainda podemos observar uma espécie de abertura. Mahmoud Abbas tem salientado a necessidade de estabelecer uma unidade nacional. Isso reflete a vontade da população e dos apoiantes Fatah na Cisjordânia.
Então acha que a ofensiva israelense poderia, de facto, unir os grupos divididos dentro dos territórios palestinianos?
Baumgarten: Isso é pelo menos o que se vê no terreno, em Gaza. E isso também pode ser observado na Cisjordânia. A grande questão agora é: Em quanto tempo pode ser alcançado um cessar-fogo? Esperamos que seja o mais depressa possível, para o bem da população da Faixa de Gaza.
A segunda pergunta é: Quais serão as condições para um cessar-fogo? Isso envolve Israel, os palestinianos, o Egipto e, possivelmente, a Europa e os Estados Unidos. E a questão aqui é: Como vai ser integrado Hamas? Se Hamas é integrado, eu acho que uma solução política pode ser alcançado rapidamente, e um governo palestiniano de unidade nacional pode ser formado. No entanto, se o Hamas é excluído, essa atitude é receita para a mais violência, e não vamos conseguir uma solução política, quer a curto ou longo prazo.
Friday, 9 January 2009
Threat of epidemics in Gaza
Report, The Electronic Intifada, 9 January 2009
RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (IRIN) - The total halt to vaccinations in Gaza since the Israeli offensive began on 27 December could result in epidemics, a risk increased by Gaza's high population density and dire living conditions, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on 8 January.
Some 1.5 million Palestinians live in the 365-square kilometer coastal Strip.
"If vaccinations are stopped for one or two weeks this is enough to cause a widespread outbreak of avoidable diseases -- such as measles, hepatitis and polio -- amongst children and the larger population," WHO health officer Mahmoud Daher told IRIN by telephone from Gaza.
"Efforts have been made for 15 years here to stop these diseases. One or two weeks of an interruption of vaccination programs can create a risk," warned Daher.
Health sector non-governmental organizations in the region are also raising warning flags.
"Serious implications for children"
"Stopping the vaccinations has serious implications for children in Gaza," UNICEF spokesperson Merixie Mercato based in Jerusalem told IRIN.
An estimated one million people in Gaza, including 560,000 children, are living with minimal water and electricity, said Save the Children.
"The breakdown of the water and sewage systems can increase the risk of diarrhea and other viral diseases, particularly amongst children and the elderly," said WHO's Daher.
WHO says 34 of the 58 primary healthcare centers managed by the Gaza health ministry were functioning as of 8 January. Those not functioning are all in risky areas.
According to WHO, medical staff in Gaza are either unable to get to work due to the operations of Israeli ground forces or have been redeployed to support hospital staff. As a result, WHO says that all vaccination programs have been interrupted, antenatal care is not being provided and nutritional surveillance has stopped.
Stopping the vaccinations has serious implications for children in Gaza
In addition, WHO said: "The epidemiology department is not functioning since no information is flowing from peripheral facilities, hospitals are overwhelmed with casualties, PHC [public health care] centers are not fully functional, and laboratories are not reporting."
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) spokesperson Anne Sophie Bonefeld, who is based in Jerusalem, told IRIN: "There are stocks of medicine and medical supplies inside Gaza, but they need to be distributed to hospitals. We need a safe mechanism for the ICRC and health ministry trucks to deliver the supplies."
"The ICRC has sent 31 trucks of emergency aid to Gaza between 29 December and 8 January," said Bonefeld.
Countless targets have been hit across Gaza since Israel began its bombardment of the enclave on 27 December.
The Independent; Fotos: Al Jazeera
Israel pushed ahead with its offensive in the Gaza Strip today, ignoring a UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire.
As bombs blasted the coastal enclave for a 14th day, senior Israeli ministers met to consider the next move. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni gave an indication the guns were unlikely to fall silent: "Israel has acted, is acting and will act only according to its considerations, the security needs of its citizens and its right to self defence."
In New York late last night, the Security Council passed a resolution urging an "immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire", and for Israel to withdraw from Gaza after its two-week air-and-ground offensive. Only the United States abstained.
The US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice said America supported the "objectives" of the resolution, but the US abstained from the security council vote because it "thought it important to see the outcomes of the Egyptian mediation" with Israel and Hamas.
In Gaza today, residents said Israeli warplanes dropped bombs on the outskirts of the city. Elsewhere, Palestinian medics said tanks shelled a house in Beit Lahiya in the north of the Gaza Strip, killing six Palestinians from the same family.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Livni met but the vote in New York appeared to place little new pressure on them to halt attacks that have killed hundreds of Palestinians.
Olmert's security cabinet on Wednesday put off a decision on whether to launch a massive escalation of the offensive on Hamas guerrillas by moving troops in a third phase deep into urban areas, a move that would mean calling in reservists. Officials said ministers would meet again at noon (10.00 GMT) today.
The onslaught in Gaza, where many civilians including children have been killed, has solid support among Israeli voters who go to the polls in a month. Most back Olmert's stated aim of ending years of rocket fire by Hamas on Israeli towns, that have killed 22 people since 2000.
Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, governed by Hamas's rival Fatah movement under President Mahmoud Abbas, have been enraged by the Israeli offensive, however, and Israeli forces and Abbas's police were on high alert on Friday in case of violence around weekly prayers at mosques around midday.
France, which brokered a ceasefire proposal put forward by Egypt on Tuesday, said the resolution complemented negotiations being mediated by Cairo but made clear it did not expect Israel to act immediately: "It's not the end of the story," foreign ministry spokesman Eric Chevalier told the BBC.
"When this will go to what we want ..., a ceasefire and the rest of the package, we don't know."
The Israeli air force hit at least 50 targets across the enclave, including launching pads for rockets and facilities used to manufacture rockets, an army spokesman said.
Israel's military commanders appeared keen to pursue what was termed a third stage of the operation with additional ground troops being sent into the heart of Gaza's built-up areas to flush out more gunmen and to try to secure more gains.
Gaza's Hamas rulers sent mixed signals about the resolution. Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha said the group did not recognise the resolution as it had not been consulted. However another spokesman said Hamas was "studying" the resolution.
The resolution, pressed for by Arab countries in the face of efforts by Britain, France and the United States for a more muted statement, called for arrangements to prevent arms smuggling into Gaza and for its borders to be opened.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said: "The United States thought it important to see the outcomes of the Egyptian mediation efforts in order to see what this resolution might have been supporting. And that is why we chose to abstain."
The resolution said there should be "unimpeded provision" and distribution of aid to the territory, home to 1.5 million people, many of whom are dependent on food assistance.
The UN Relief and Works Agency, which distributes the vast majority of aid in Gaza, kept its operations suspended on Friday after the death of one of its drivers in Israel's offensive. It was not clear when aid distribution would resume.
Hamas officials said the Palestinian death toll had risen to 783, of whom more than a third were children.
The Israeli army said militants fired at least four rockets into Israel on Friday. No injuries or damage were reported.
Israel deployed 3,000 policemen in Jerusalem ahead of Friday prayers in the Old City. Police limited Palestinian access to the prayers to men aged over 55 and women over 50.
In Gaza, local ambulance crews and the Red Crescent, using a time slot coordinated with Israeli forces, said they collected rotting corpses in places that had been too risky to reach since Israeli forces began their ground attack six days ago.
Ten soldiers have been killed in the campaign launched by Israel to crush Hamas forces and halt the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel. Israel says it is doing what it can to avoid civilian casualties but accuses Hamas of deliberately placing its fighters close to homes and mosques.
Rockets have killed three Israeli civilians since the offensive began. Olmert said Israel's goal had not been achieved and a decision on further military action lay ahead.
Israel has said it accepts the "principles" of a ceasefire proposal by Egypt and the European Union, and Washington has urged the Jewish state to study details of the plan.
Hamas, shunned by the West for espousing violence, said it was still considering the ideas. But the militants say they will never accept Israel, whose establishment amid conflict 60 years ago dispossessed and uprooted Palestinian people.European governments offered to back the plan with an EU border force to stop Hamas rearming via tunnels from Egypt. The deal would also address Palestinian calls for an end to Israel's economic blockade of the Gaza Strip
Fonte: EI Fotos: Al Jazeera
Too much to mourn in Gaza
Eva Bartlett writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Live from Palestine, 8 January 2009
|The Deeb family was preparing bread when they were killed in their home by Israeli shelling.|
The grief was very evident, as was the indignation: "Where are we supposed to stay," one man demanded. "How many deaths is enough? How many?" It's the question that has resounded in my mind since the attacks on 27 December.
Across Fakhoura street from the school, about 15 meters down a drive, a gaping hole in the Deeb family house revealed what had been happening when it was hit by a shell. Rounds of bread dough lay where they'd been rolled out to bake. Amal Deeb was in her 30s, a surviving family member told us. When the missile struck, it killed her and nine others in the extended family's house, including two boys and three girls. Another four were injured, one having both legs amputated.
Approaching the house, the stench of blood was still strong, and was visible in patches and pools amid the rubble of the room. Later, in Jabaliya's Kamal Adwan hospital, 19-year-old Ahlam lay conscious but unsmiling, unresponsive. The woman at her side explained her injuries: shrapnel lacerations all over her body, and deeper shrapnel injuries in her stomach. Ahlam didn't know nine of her family members were killed.
So many people had joined the procession through the narrow streets that the funeral split, taking different streets, to reach the cemetery. At the entrance to the cemetery, decorated cement slabs mark the older graves, laid at a time when cement and space were available. The most recently buried bodies, instead, show in sandy humps, buried just low enough to be covered but not properly so. Cement blocks mark some graves, leaves and vines on others. And some were just barely visible, by the raise in earth. But it was too packed, too hard to estimate where a grave might be, no possibility of a respectfully-spaced arrangement.
"Watch where you step," Mahmoud, a friend, told me, pointing to a barely-noticeable grave of a child.
The enormity of the deaths hit me. After 12 days of killing and psychological warfare, I'd become less shocked at the sight of pieces of bodies, a little numb, like a doctor might, or a person subjected to this time and again. I was and I remain horrified at the ongoing slaughter, at the images of children's bodies being pulled from the rubble astonished it could continue -- but adapted to the fact that there would be bodies, maimed, lives ruined. I stood among sandy makeshift graves, watching men digging with their hands, others carrying corpses on any plank long enough -- corrugated tin, scraps of wood, stretchers -- to be hastily buried. As the drones still flew overhead and tank shelling could be heard 100s of meters beyond, it all become too much again. I wept for all the dead and the wounded psyches of a people who know their blood flows freely and will continue to do so.
Nidal, a Palestine Red Crescent Society medic, told how he was at the Fakhoura school when it was shelled. His aunt and uncle live nearby and he'd been visiting friends at the school. "I was there, talking with friends, only a little away from where two of the missiles hit. The people standing between me and the missiles were like a shield. They were shredded. About 20 of them," he said.
Like many Palestinians I've met, Nidal has a prior history of loss, even before this latest phenomenal assault on civilians. Only 20 years old, Nidal has already had his father and brother killed, martyred it is said here, by sniper's bullets. His right hand testifies his part in the story: "Three years ago, the Israeli army had invaded our region [Jabaliya]. One soldier threw a sound bomb at us and I picked it up to throw away. It went off in my hand before I could throw it away." Sound bombs are used against nonviolent demonstrations against Israel's wall in the occupied West Bank villages of Bilin and Nilin, and many youths learn at a young age how to chuck them away. But Nidal's stubs of fingers show that he wasn't so lucky. However, he is luckier than his father and brother. And luckier than two of his cousins, his aunt's sons, who were in the area where missiles were dropped at the UN school. They, 12 and 27 years old, were killed.
Osama gave his testimony as a medic at the scene after the multiple missile shelling. "When we arrived, I saw dead bodies everywhere. More than 30. Dead children, grandparents ... Pieces of flesh all over. And blood. It was very crowded, and difficult to carry out the injured and martyred. There were also dead animals among the humans. I helped carry 15 dead. I had to change my clothes three times. These people thought they were safe in the UN school, but the Israeli army killed them, in cold blood," he said.
Mohammed K., a volunteer with the Palestine Red Crescent Society, was elsewhere when the UN safe haven was shelled. "We were in Jabaliya, at the UN 'G' school, to interview the displaced people taking shelter there. We wanted to find out how many people were staying there, where they'd left from and why exactly, and how safe they felt in the school. While we were there, we heard the explosions, saw the smoke, and wondered what had been hit. It was Fakhoura."
All images copyright Eva Bartlett.
Eva Bartlett is a Canadian human rights advocate and freelancer who spent eight months in 2007 living in West Bank communities and four months in Cairo and at the Rafah crossing. She is currently based in the Gaza Strip after having arrived with the 3rd Free Gaza Movement boat in November. She has been working with the International Solidarity Movement in Gaza, accompanying ambulances while witnessing and documenting the ongoing Israeli air strikes and ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Tiny bodies lying side by side wrapped in white burial shrouds. The cherubic face of a dead preschooler sticking up from the rubble of her home. A man cradling a wounded boy in a chaotic emergency room after Israel shelled a U.N. school.
Children, who make up more than half of crowded Gaza's 1.4 million people, are the most defenseless victims of the war between Israel and Hamas. The Israeli army has unleashed unprecedented force in its campaign against Hamas militants, who have been taking cover among civilians.
A photo of 4-year-old Kaukab Al Dayah, just her bloodied head sticking out from the rubble of her home, covered many front pages in the Arab world Wednesday. "This is Israel," read the headline in the Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm. The preschooler was killed early Tuesday when an F-16 attacked her family's four-story home in Gaza City. Four adults also died.
As many as 257 children have been killed and 1,080 wounded — about a third of the total casualties since Dec. 27, according to U.N. figures released Thursday.
Hardest on the children is the sense that nowhere is safe and adults can't protect them, said Iyad Sarraj, a psychologist hunkering down in his Gaza City apartment with his four stepchildren, ages 3-17. His 10-year-old, Adam, is terrified during bombing raids and has developed asthma attacks, Sarraj said.
Israel says it is targeting Hamas in response to its repeated rocket attacks on southern Israel, and is doing its utmost to avoid civilian deaths. However, foreign aid officials note that civilians can't escape blockaded civilian casualties. The Israeli military has used tank and artillery shells, as well as large aerial bombs. and that bombing crowded areas inevitably leads to
In the Shati refugee camp on the Mediterranean, 10 boys were playing football in an alley Thursday when a shell from an Israeli gunboat hit a nearby Hamas prison.
At the sound of the explosion, one of the older boys whistled, a signal to interrupt the game. Several players took cover with their backs pressed against a wall. After a minute or two, the game resumed.
Samih Hilal, 14, said he sneaked out of his grandfather's house against the orders of his worried father. The house was crowded with relatives who fled more dangerous areas, he said, and he couldn't stand being cooped up for so many hours.
"Do you think we are not afraid? Yes, we are. But we have nothing to do but play," Samih said.
Another boy, 13-year-old Yasser, waved toward the unmanned Israeli drones in a defiant gesture, instead of seeking cover during the shelling. "There is nothing we can do. Even if we run away here or there, their shells are faster than us," he said.
Indeed, all of Gaza has become dangerous ground.
Children have been killed in strikes on their houses, while riding in cars with their parents, while playing in the streets, walking to a grocery and even at U.N. shelters.
Sayed, Mohammed and Raida Abu Aisheh — ages 12, 8 and 7 — were at home with their parents when they were all killed in an Israeli airstrike before dawn Monday. The family had remained in the ground floor apartment of their three-story building, while the rest of the extended clan sought refuge in the basement from heavy bombardment of nearby Hamas installations.
Those in the basement survived. The children's uncle, Saber Abu Aisheh, 49, searched Thursday through the rubble, a heap of cement blocks, mattresses, scorched furniture and smashed TVs.
He said Israel gave no warning, unlike two years earlier when he received repeated calls from the Israeli military, including on his cell phone, that a nearby house was going to get hit and that he should evacuate.
"What's going on is not a war, it's a mass killing," said Abu Aisheh, still wearing the blood-splattered olive-colored sweater he wore the night of the airstrike.
The Israeli military did not comment when asked why the Abu Aisheh house was targeted.
In the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City, medics found four young children next to their dead mothers in a house, according to the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross. "They were too weak to stand up on their own," the statement said.
The Red Cross did not say what happened to the children, but noted that the refused rescuers permission to reach the neighborhood for four days. Israel said the delay was caused by fighting.
Medic Mohammed Azayzeh said he retrieved the bodies of a man and his two young sons from central Gaza on Wednesday. One of the boys, a 1-year-old, was cradled in his father's arms.
In the Jebaliya refugee camp, five sisters from the Balousha family, ages 4, 8, 11, 14 and 17, were buried together in white shrouds on Dec. 29. An Israeli airstrike on a mosque, presumably a Hamas target, had destroyed their adjacent house. Only their parents and a baby girl survived.
Israel accuses Hamas of cynically exploiting Gaza's civilians and using them as human shields. The military has released video footage showing militants firing mortars from the rooftops of homes and mosques.
"Israel wants to see no harm to the children of Gaza," said Israeli government spokesman . "On the contrary, we would like to see their children and our children grow up without the fear of violence. Until now, Hamas has deliberately prevented that from becoming reality."
Rocket fire from Gaza has disrupted life in Israeli border communities, and with the latest intensified militant attacks, hundreds of thousands of Israelis are in rocket range. Schools are closed and fearful Israeli children rush into bomb shelters at the sound of air raid sirens.
In the ongoing chaos of Gaza, it's difficult to get exact casualty figures. Since Dec. 27, at least 750 Palestinians have been killed, according to Gaza Health Ministry official Dr. Moawiya Hassanain.
Of those, 257 were children, according to the U.N.'s top humanitarian official, John Holmes, citing Health Ministry figures that he called credible and deeply disturbing.
"We are talking about urban war," said Abdel-Rahman Ghandour, the Jordan-based spokesman for UNICEF in the Middle East and North Africa. "The density of the population is so high, it's bound to hurt children ... This is a unique conflict, where there is nowhere to go."
Successive generations of Gaza children have grown up with violence, part of the accelerating conflict with Israel. In the late 1980s, many threw stones at Israeli soldiers in a revolt against occupation. In the second uprising, starting in 2000, some were recruited by Hamas as .
Sarraj, the psychologist, said he fears for this generation: Having experienced trauma and their parents' helplessness, they may be more vulnerable to recruitment by militants.
In his Gaza City apartment, Sarraj tries to reassure his own children.
His 14-year-old stepdaughter lost her school, the American International School, to a recent airstrike, and a girlfriend was killed in another attack. The family lives in the middle-class Rimal neighborhood and still has enough fuel to run a generator in the evenings, enabling the children to read.
Yet when the bombings start, he can't distract them. "They are scared," he said. "They run to find the safest place, in the hallway, away from the window."
___Associated Press writer Karin Laub reported from United Nation, West Bank, and AP writer John Heilprin contributed from the
Thursday, 8 January 2009
Gaza victims' burns increase concern over phosphorus
Altos responsáveis de países que se consideram faróis da «civilização» multiplicam apelos à «contenção» e ao «cessar-fogo» em Gaza, como quem procura assim cumprir uma obrigação perante o «agravamento da crise» no Médio Oriente. A hipocrisia de presidentes, ministros, diplomatas ou porta-vozes é tão óbvia como de costume, mas ainda consegue ser chocante tendo em consideração a tragédia que vitima mais de um milhão de meio de pessoas amontoadas num pequeno território inóspito aferrolhado entre Israel, o Egipto e o Mediterrâneo.
Tais apelos baseiam-se na objectividade de um pretenso distanciamento entre as «partes em conflito», assim se exigindo uma rigorosa simetria de comportamentos como numa guerra convencional entre exércitos clássicos. Simetria, pois, entre civis indefesos e as forças armadas que ocupam o quarto lugar no ranking das mais poderosas do mundo; entre ocupados e ocupantes; entre morteiros mais ou menos artesanais e o poder de fogo dos F-16 e dos tanques de última geração; entre comunidades famintas sujeitas há anos a um feroz bloqueio de bens essenciais e uma nação estruturada apoiada sem limites pelo mais poderoso país do planeta; entre as vítimas e respectivos descendentes de uma limpeza étnica e os ses autores.
O Hamas quebrou a trégua e tem de pagar, devendo desde já sujeitar-se ao regresso ao cessar-fogo faça o inimigo o que fizer, sentenciam os diplomatas civilizados. Trégua que verdadeiramente nunca existiu, uma vez que foi desde logo desrespeitada pelo Estado de Israel ao violar um dos seus pressupostos essenciais: o fim do bloqueio humanitário a Gaza. Durante os últimos seis meses o cerco não apenas se manteve como se apertou.
Como movimento terrorista, o Hamas tem que pagar, dirão ainda e sempre os civilizados senhores do poder de distinguir os que são e os que não são terroristas, do mesmo modo que lançam guerras contra possuidores de armas de extermínio que nunca existiram.
O Hamas, porém, praticamente não era nada quando se iniciou a primeira Intifada palestiniana, em fins de 1988. Hoje, o papel dos serviços secretos de Israel na criação efectiva de um movimento islâmico, o Hamas, para dividir a resistência nacional palestiniana dirigida pela Organização de Libertação da Palestina (OLP) já nem é sequer um segredo de Polichinelo. Os interessados em aprofundar o assunto poderão começar por pesquisar através da obra de Robert Dreyfuss e começar a desenrolar o novelo. Descobrirão elementos muito interessantes e com flagrante actualidade. A verdade é que de grupinho divisionista e terrorista o Hamas se transformou num movimento que, tirando dividendos dos fracassos sucessivos do chamado processo de paz, boicotado por Israel e Estados Unidos e assumido pela Fatah como única opção estratégica, conseguiu ganhar as eleições parlamentares palestinianas em 2006. O Hamas cresceu com as estratégias militaristas em redor, como os talibãs no Afeganistão (agora controlando zonas a menos de 50 quilómetros de Cabul) ou o Hezbollah no Líbano, fruto das invasões israelitas da década de oitenta.
Reconhecer que o Hamas é agora uma realidade evidente no problema israelo-palestiniana não significa fraqueza, simpatia ou conivência com o terrorismo. É, prosaicamente, uma simples questão de senso comum.
As eleições de 2006, proclamaram os observadores internacionais, muitos deles oriundos das terras «civilizadas», foram livres e justas. Logo, ao Hamas coube formar governo – diz-se que é assim que funciona a democracia.
Engano puro. A chamada «comunidade internacional» decidiu não reconhecer o governo escolhido pela maioria dos palestinianos; nem sequer aceitou uma aliança entre o Hamas e a Fatah, que praticamente fazia o pleno da vontade dos eleitores. Pelo contrário, também não são segredo as diligências da administração de George W. Bush e do governo israelita de Ehud Olmert para lançar a guerra civil entre as duas principais organizações palestinianas – chegando, para isso, a fornecer armas à Fatah – fazendo simultaneamente por ignorar o acordo entretanto estabelecido pelos dois movimentos sob mediação do Egipto e da Arábia Saudita.
Este processo conduziu à divisão palestiniana: a Fatah na Cisjordânia e Jerusalém Oriental, dependente do que Israel lhe permite ou não fazer; e o Hamas controlando Gaza, território dos seus principais feudos. Daí ao bloqueio a Gaza e, agora, à invasão, foi um pequeno salto.
O massacre está em curso, assistindo-se na comunicação social a tão curiosos como ridículos esforços para distinguir entre vítimas civis e militares. Em Gaza, para que conste, não há militares, a não ser os invasores. Existem restos da polícia autonómica, militantes do Hamas armados e organizados como milícias. O resto é milhão e meio de desempregados, famintos e humilhados. Tal é o inimigo de Israel que lançou alguns morteiros, por exemplo contra a cidade de Asqelon, que em 1948 se chamava Al-Majdal e era uma aldeia árabe cuja população, vítima da limpeza étnica em que assentou a criação do Estado de Israel, se refugiou em Gaza.
Os dirigentes de Israel asseguram que os «civis» serão poupados durante a invasão. Tal como aconteceu em 1982 em Beirute, onde os militares comandados por Ariel Sharon, fundador do partido de Ehud Olmert e Tzipi Livni, destruíram o sector ocidental da cidade, acabando por patrocinar os massacres de Sabra e Chatila. Ou em 1996, quando Shimon Peres, actual presidente israelita, foi responsável pelo massacre de Canan, também no Líbano, e mesmo assim perdeu as eleições parlamentares.
Gaza, ainda assim, será diferente de Sabra e Chatila. Agora, os soldados israelitas sujam mesmo as mãos com o sangue das populações indefesas – salpicando inevitavelmente os hipócritas que os defendem.
Artigo de opinião de José Goulão no último volume da edição Portuguesa do Le Monde Diplomatique (retirado do blog "esplendor-na-relva")
The ICRC had requested safe passage for ambulances to access this neighbourhood since 3 January but it only received permission to do so from the Israel Defense Forces during the afternoon of 7 January.
The ICRC/PRCS team found four small children next to their dead mothers in one of the houses. They were too weak to stand up on their own. One man was also found alive, too weak to stand up. In all there were at least 12 corpses lying on mattresses.
In another house, the ICRC/PRCS rescue team found 15 other survivors of this attack including several wounded. In yet another house, they found an additional three corpses. Israeli soldiers posted at a military position some 80 meters away from this house ordered the rescue team to leave the area which they refused to do. There were several other positions of the Israel Defense Forces nearby as well as two tanks.
"This is a shocking incident," said Pierre Wettach, the ICRC's head of delegation for Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. "The Israeli military must have been aware of the situation but did not assist the wounded. Neither did they make it possible for us or the Palestine Red Crescent to assist the wounded."
Large earth walls erected by the Israeli army had made it impossible to bring ambulances into the neighbourhood. Therefore, the children and the wounded had to be taken to the ambulances on a donkey cart. In total, the ICRC/PRCS rescue team evacuated 18 wounded and 12 others who were extremely exhausted. Two corpses were also evacuated. The ICRC/PRCS will recover the remaining corpses on Thursday.
The ICRC was informed that there are more wounded sheltering in other destroyed houses in this neighbourhood. It demands that the Israeli military grant it and PRCS ambulances safe passage and access immediately to search for any other wounded. Until now, the ICRC has still not received confirmation from the Israeli authorities that this will be allowed.
The ICRC believes that in this instance the Israeli military failed to meet its obligation under international humanitarian law to care for and evacuate the wounded. It considers the delay in allowing rescue services access unacceptable.
Shut down al-Jazeera
Arab network is in fact jihadist channel and must not be allowed to operate in Israel
Imagine two boxers at the boxing ring; one is equipped with two boxing gloves, while the other arrives with a glove on one hand and a knife in the other hand. What would you do? I would think that the immediate reaction of any person with some common sense would be to enter the ring and remove the man with the knife, because he is no boxer, but rather, a knifeman. The fact that he is wearing a glove on one of his hands will not convince anyone to allow him to stay in the ring. He cannot participate in the game without adhering to all the rules, and his only intention is to physically harm the other boxer, who does adheres to the rules, and perhaps even kill him....
With cats and dogs facing rocket threat just like their human companions, Agriculture Ministry decides to help pay for medical care of pets injured by Hamas rocket fire.
Para Fares Akram, o reporter do "The Independent" em Gaza, a invasao israelita transformou-se numa tragedia pessoal, ao descobrir que o seu pai foi uma das primeiras vitimas do ataque terrestre.
Monday, 5 January 2009
"By choice they made themselves immune"
Israel has killed and injured almost 4,000 men, women and children so far in its assault on Gaza; it has entombed whole families together in the ruins of their homes. As I write, news is breaking that Israeli bombs have killed at least 40 civilians huddling in a UN school which they mistakenly thought would be safer than the homes from which Israel's relentless barrage -- and its deliberately terrorizing "warning" leaflets and prerecorded phone calls -- had already driven them. (I still have one of the leaflets the Israelis dropped on besieged Beirut in 1982 and the language is exactly the same -- "flee, flee for your lives!"). Mosques, schools, houses, apartment buildings, have all been brought down on the heads of those inside.
All this death and destruction comes supposedly in retaliation for rocket attacks that had not inflicted a single fatality inside Israel in over a year. What happened to "an eye for an eye?"
As horrific as the toll of dead and injured already is, the scale of Israel's bombing, and its targeting of ambulances and medical and rescue crews -- several doctors and paramedics have been killed or wounded so far -- means that the true totals are actually unknown. Countless numbers of victims have bled to death in the streets or in the ruins of their smashed homes. Calls for help aren't getting through Gaza's phone networks, battered to pieces along with the rest of the civilian infrastructure -- its water, sewage, electricity systems, all already crumbling as a result of the years of siege. The victims that are evacuated -- as often, these days, in civilian cars as in the remaining ambulances -- make it to hospitals that are overwhelmed; many will die that might have otherwise been saved.
Any hospital would be overwhelmed under the circumstances: how then for a hospital that has already been cut off by the 19-month-old Israeli blockade of Gaza from urgently needed supplies, medicines, drugs, anesthetics, spare parts, fuel for generators? In fact, the true story of what Israel is doing to the people of Gaza is to be seen in the besieged territory's hospitals: the smashed, burned, dusty bodies of children being carried in on makeshift blankets (there aren't enough stretchers to go around); the morgue drawers full of bodies; the emergency rooms with badly hurt, crying people scattered on stretchers, on beds, on the blood-washed floors, as the doctors run from one to another trying to figure out who can be saved and who must be attended to first -- the boy with his feet blown off? The old woman with the huge gash in her head? The young man with his guts hanging out of his stomach? The anguished little girl thrashing about in pain, in fear, in agony and begging for her mother who vanished in some monstrous explosion? And outside, on the crowded sidewalks, the other side of the human suffering that Israel has chosen to inflict on an entire population: the wailing mothers, fathers and children; the weeping young men; the panicked people rushing around trying to find loved ones after each new Israeli bombing.
All this to make Israelis feel secure? What security is this kind of barbarism ever likely to gain them?
These are the scenes that every Palestinian and every Arab around the world sees every single day on the uncensored, unedited, unfiltered and relentlessly, brutally honest coverage broadcast on the Arabic Al-Jazeera channel. Unlike the US and UK networks, Al-Jazeera has correspondents and camera crews all over Gaza; they are Arabs, some of them are Palestinians, and they all live among the people whose suffering they record for the whole world to see; they can communicate with them in their own language and in the language of the audience as well. The coverage is continuous 24 hours a day.
Ordinary people around the rest of the world are seeing the version of events that gets filtered through the editing suites, the cutting rooms, the editorializing of foreign media, and that, in the case of the US, finally makes it to their living room largely (if not entirely) sanitized, and packaged to them in two-minute sound bites by correspondents posted safely outside of Gaza and inside Israel. The coverage broadcast from Israel is heavily monitored, controlled and censored. The Israeli army found in 2006 that its panicked soldiers in Lebanon were using cell phones to call home for help; this time it made sure to inspect all of its soldiers to make sure that none takes a phone with him into Gaza. The army imposes a smothering control over the flow of information; nothing that is reported from or datelined Israel can be read at face value or taken for granted.
If you get your news from an American television network, no matter how horrible you think what's happening in Gaza is, the reality that you are not seeing is much, much, much worse. (Perhaps that's why the English-language Al-Jazeera channel, widely followed in the rest of the world, is unofficially banned in the US -- not a single cable or satellite provider carries it).
And yet even with this imperfect coverage it must be said that people all over the world, including in the US, are protesting what they are seeing. Huge, million-person demonstrations have been held, from Melbourne to Jakarta, from Calcutta to Istanbul, and from Vienna to London, not to mention the huge popular protests in Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Amman, across the length and breadth of the West Bank, and in some of the largest protests ever held in Palestinian communities inside Israel. Across the US, too, people have been protesting, holding vigils, writing letters to the editors of the newspapers demanding more balance to the warped coverage of the events that we see here, especially in papers like The New York Times. And the internet has been a major source of information for all those millions who have figured out that they will never learn what they need to learn from The New York Times or the Washington Post or ABC or CNN. Sites like Counterpunch, Electronic Intifada, Alternet, Truthdig, Huffington Post, Salon and many others besides have carried extraordinarily intelligent and detailed pieces by a range of commentators whose sense of what is happening far exceeds what is made available by professional journalists in the mainstream press -- including many superb pieces by Jewish Americans who give the lie, once and for all, to the absurd notion that their community is solidly behind Israel's violence.
Indeed, it seems clear that the writing now being posted on alternative media outlets is also starting to outweigh the clumsy efforts still being churned out by America's army of paid and unpaid cheerleaders for Israel, who have forsaken what little remained of their own humanity and blinded themselves to suffering that ought to move any rational, caring, sentient human being to tears -- the Dershowitzes and Foxmans, the Orens and Boots, the Krauthammers and Peretzes, the Bards and Goldfarbs, the cynical apparatchiks of CAMERA and AIPAC and the mindless busybodies and shuffling zombies of Stand With Us, the Israel Project and the Israel on Campus Coalition -- who persist with their stubborn, craven defense of the indefensible. About these misanthropes there is much to be said, most of it too unpleasant to print, so I'll shift the burden here to those memorable closing lines of Wilfred Owen's war poem "Insensibility:"
But cursed are dullards whom no cannon stuns,As for Israel itself: once again it has revealed its true nature to the world. It was only after the first reports came in of their own serious fatalities -- soldiers caught in an ambush, though the censored news reports from Israel claim that it was all friendly fire -- that the Israeli media suddenly started carrying reports wondering whether things have gone too far. "The Price of Stubbornness over Gaza Exit is Dead Soldiers," write Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff in Haaretz. "For the first time, Israeli TV broadcasts raised the question of whether it was worthwhile for the operation to continue."
That they should be as stones.
Wretched are they, and mean
With paucity that never was simplicity.
By choice they made themselves immune
To pity and whatever mourns in man
Before the last sea and the hapless stars;
Whatever mourns when many leave these shores;
The eternal reciprocity of tears.
Until this point, the Israeli media -- and most of the country's liberal intelligentsia, never mind the militant right wing -- had been moralistically defending the bombing, and sometimes actually cheering it on. Starting the attacks on a Saturday was a "stroke of brilliance," the Guardian's Seamus Milne quotes the country's biggest selling paper Yediot Aharonot as saying; "the element of surprise increased the number of people who were killed." The daily Maariv agreed: "We left them in shock and awe." The rational and genuinely ethical voices of Amira Hass and Gideon Levy have never seemed more isolated.
The brute fact of the matter is that, as long as their air force is killing an entirely defenseless people, the Israeli public and media do cheer them on. As soon as they start paying any kind of price -- no matter how grotesquely out of proportion to the level of damage their soldiers are inflicting on unarmed and innocent people -- their bloodlust quickly cools. In Gaza, the Israeli infantry won't take a single step forward unless the ground in front of them -- and everything and everyone in it, armed, unarmed, whoever and whatever they are -- has been safely cleared away for them by the air or by artillery.
These are "Georgia rules," which are not so far from the methods Russia used in its conflict last summer," write Harel and Issacharoff in Haaretz. "The result is the killing of dozens of non-combatant Palestinians. The Gaza medical teams might not have reached all of them yet. When an Israeli force gets into an entanglement, as in Sajaiyeh last night [where three Israeli soldiers were killed], massive fire into built-up areas is initiated to cover the extraction. In other cases, a chain of explosions is initiated from a distance to set off Hamas booby-traps. It is a method that leaves a swath of destruction taking in entire streets, and does not distinguish military targets from the homes of civilians."
I'm not sure where the "Georgia" reference comes from: the Israelis used the very same tactics in Jenin and Nablus in 2002, and in southern Lebanon in 2006 and 1982. And it would be an act of futility to point out -- for the millionth time -- that the Israeli method of warfare takes place in sweeping disregard for the principles of international humanitarian law, not to mention total contempt for innocent human life. This is not to mention that most of the casualties pouring into Gaza's morgues and hospitals are the victims of the sheer indiscriminate unleashing on densely populated civilian areas of high explosive ordnance from land, sea and air that has been characteristic of Israel's military style since at least the 1970s.
Israel's disregard for innocent human life is not motivated only by a desire to forestall the political consequences -- especially during an electoral campaign -- of Israeli military casualties. It is also a clear indicator of the contempt that Israel has for Palestinian life in general. The cold, hungry, tired, desperate, and terrified men, women and children that Israel is now sweeping away by the dozen in balls of fire and showers of shrapnel are the very same people that it had already reduced to what one UN official months ago warned was "a subhuman existence," the deliberate product of the siege that Israel has imposed on Gaza for over three years, beginning in 2005, before the election of Hamas. They are the same people whose political and human rights Israel has been stifling since the occupation of 1967 -- 20 years before the creation of Hamas. They are the same people who were ethnically cleansed from their land in 1948 because, as non-Jews, they were inconveniently cluttering up the land that European Zionists wanted to turn into a Jewish state, no matter what the land's actual population had to say about it.
Israel's disregard for Palestinian life in Gaza today is, in short, a direct extension of its disregard for Palestinian life since 1948, and what is happening in Gaza today is the continuation of what happened six decades ago. Eighty percent of the people crammed into Gaza's hovels and shanties are refugees or the descendants of refugees that armed Zionist gangs, which eventually coalesced into the infant Israeli army, terrorized from their homes elsewhere in southwestern Palestine in 1948. They have been herded, penned, and slaughtered by a remorseless power that clearly regards them as subhuman.
If you think I'm stretching the point, I'm not. Listen to the words of Professor Arnon Sofer, the government consultant who did so much to help plan the isolation and imprisonment of Gaza, in a interview with the Jerusalem Post in 2004: "When 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it's going to be a human catastrophe," Sofer predicted. "Those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam. The pressure on the border is going to 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." Sofer admitted only one worry with all the killing, which will, he says, be the necessary outcome of a policy that he himself helped to invent. "The only thing that concerns me," he says, "is how to ensure that the boys and men who are going to have to do the killing will be able to return home to their families and be normal human beings."
Meticulously and clinically thought through even before the first rocket from Gaza claimed a life inside Israel, the slaughter in Gaza today has nothing to do with rockets or with Hamas. As Sofer himself explains, it is the purest and most distilled expression of Zionist ideology. "Unilateral separation doesn't guarantee 'peace,'" Sofer says in that same interview; "it guarantees a Zionist-Jewish state with an overwhelming majority of Jews."
And that -- taken right from the horse's mouth -- is what the slaughter of innocents in Gaza is fundamentally about: the people being killed today are the ones for whom there is no room in the Zionist vision of the state. They are regarded as an excess population. Not even Malthus thought that a redundant population should just be lined up and shot, or bombed into the ground. But, clearly, times have changed since 1798.
This inhuman madness will end only with the end of the violent ideology that spawned it -- when those who are committed to the project of creating and maintaining a religiously and ethnically exclusivist state in what has always been a culturally and religiously heterogeneous land finally relent and accept the inevitable: that they have failed.
Saree Makdisi is professor of English literature at the University of California, Los Angeles and author of "Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation."
Fonte: Electronic Intifada; Photos: Al Jazeera
Crisis in Gaza
Gaza is now in the grip of a severe humanitarian crisis as the result of resumed fighting between Palestinian militias and Israel in late December. Hospitals are on the verge of collapse as they struggle to cope with waves of casualties and doctors face critical shortages of essential medical supplies.
The military offensive follows an 18-month blockade on Gaza and its 1.5 million residents. Approximately 80 percent of Gaza families were receiving some form of humanitarian assistance prior to the outbreak of the conflict, which has now been disrupted.
Because of fuel shortages and dangerous conditions, about 70 percent of Gaza’s population has access to water for only a few hours once a week. Lack of electricity has forced five of Gaza’s wastewater facilities to shut down, jeopardizing remaining water supplies.
A trickle of aid has been getting through, but not enough to support countless people who are running out of food and water. Unsafe conditions have also meant that many families are too frightened to leave their homes to get aid.
What Oxfam is Doing
Oxfam’s local partner organizations continue to provide emergency health care in Gaza despite dangerous conditions. A paramedic working for an Oxfam-funded organization was killed on January 4, when a shell struck a civilian ambulance owned by the Union of Health Work Committees (UHWC).
Those members of Oxfam’s staff and partner organizations that are not working in humanitarian health care are taking shelter where they can. For example, one staff person, whose apartment building was damaged by shelling, is staying with his family in the Oxfam office. While safety concerns have prevented Oxfam from conducting detailed assessments, it is clear that Oxfam and its partners have an enormous amount of work ahead.
Fonte: Oxfam international
Mobile clinics bombed
The mobile clinics before the attacks.
The organisation Union of Healthcare Committees, initiated by Palestinian doctors and nurses, has recently bought three small trucks, and equipped them to function as mobile health clinics in Gaza.
Since the conflict between Hamas and Israel started, DanChurchAid has supported an upgrade of the vehicles, so they could be used as basic ER’s, providing intensive care to wounded in Gaza.
The vehicles destroyed by Israli bombings.
We have just received news that all three mobile clinics were bombed and rendered useless on the night of the 5th of January. The vehicles were parked by the Union of Healthcare headquarters and all were clearly marked with red crosses and the caption “Mobile Clinic”.
”We’ve been able to help the wounded and suffering so far, because our vehicles have been present and ready inside Gaza. This possibility of emergency aid is now in ruins. We are deeply chocked that the Israeli air strikes directly prevent the humanitarian aid effort.”, says Henrik Stubkjær, Secretary General of DanChurchAid.
DanChurchAid have granted additional funds for purchase of a new vehicle for Gaza, but equipping it as mobile clinics and deploying them in areas where help is needed will take time.
We are also looking into the possibility of supplying additional mobile clinics.
Fonte: Counterpunch; Photos Fonte: Al Jazeera
By VICTORIA BUCH
I arrived in Israel 40 years ago. It took me many years to understand that the very existence of my country, as it is today, is based on an ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. The project started many years ago. Its seed can be traced to the basic fallacy of the Zionist movement, which set out to establish a Jewish-national state in a location already inhabited by another nation. Under these conditions, one has, at most, a moral right to strive for a bi-national state; establishing a national state implies, more or less by definition, ethnic cleansing of the previous inhabitants.
Albert Einstein grasped this fallacy a long time ago. A short time after WWI "Einstein complained that the Zionists were not doing enough to reach agreement with the Palestinian Arabs…He favored a binational solution in Palestine and warned Chaim Weizmann against `Prussian style` nationalism"
But such warnings passed un-heeded by the Zionist movement. So here we are, nearly a century later, with a Jewish national state dominated by militaristic and militant nationalists, who diligently pursue colonization and "judaization" of the land under Israeli control, on both sides of the Green Line (1967 border). The project has been pursued continuously and relentlessly under the different Israeli governments, recently under the cover of bogus "negotiations" with President Abbas. Most of the Israeli institutions participate in it. Young Israelis, generation after generation, join the army to provide the military cover. The young folks have been brain-washed to honestly believe that the army pursues Israel's "fight for existence". However it seems evident to the author of this article, as to many others, that the survival of the Jewish community in this country depends on establishing viable mechanisms of coexistence with the Palestinians. Thus, under the slogan of "fight for existence", the State of Israel is pursuing an essentially suicidal project.
This long-standing outlook of the Israeli governing classes was summarized succinctly in a recent book `Palestine Inside Out` by Saree Makdisi, an American academic. His book "suggests that occupation is merely a feature of an ongoing Israeli policy of slow transfer of the native Palestinian population from their lands. This policy predates the founding of the state, and all of the various practices of the occupier: illegal settlement, land confiscation, home demolition and so on, serve this ultimate purpose."
If you do not believe the above assessment, consider several statements by David Ben Gurion himself, from the time before the establishment of the State of Israel (Ben Gurion was the leader of the Zionist movement before 1948 and the first Israeli Prime Minister after 1948):
"The compulsory transfer of the [Palestinian] Arabs from the valleys of the proposed Jewish state could give us something which we never had, even when we stood on our own during the days of the first and second Temples…We are given an opportunity which we never dared to dream of in our wildest imaginings. This is more than a state, government and sovereignty, this is national consolidation in a free homeland." 
"With compulsory transfer we [would] have a vast area [for settlement]…I support compulsory transfer. I don't see anything immoral in it."
During the 1948 war, about two-thirds of the Palestinians who would become refugees were in fact expelled from their homes by the nascent Israeli army, and one-third became refugees while escaping the dangers of war. All these people, 0.75-1 million of them, were prevented from returning to Israel after the armistice agreement, while their homes and property were demolished or appropriated by the State of Israel.
Among the common mantras provided to the Israelis to justify the above is the following: "Israel accepted the UN partition plan, and Arabs did not, so what happened afterwards is their own fault". What is conveniently overlooked is that Palestinian Arabs constituted between one third and one half of the population of that designated Jewish homeland (according to various UN reports). Why should these people, whose ancestors lived there for generations, accept living in somebody else's designated homeland? Imagine, for example, the reaction of French Belgians if their country were designated as a "Flemish homeland" by the UN.
But the main mantra drummed into the conscience of an Israeli citizen from kindergarten, is that in 1948 "it was either them or us", "Arabs would have thrown us into the sea if we did not establish a Jewish majority state with a strong army", etc. I have my doubts about that line, too, but let us suppose for the moment that in fact, it was so. And then came the year 1967, and the Six Day War. Another chapter in the Israeli "fight for existence" against recalcitrant Arabs who just keep trying to throw us into the sea. On the face of it, that is how it seemed. I together with most of my compatriots believed for years that 1967 was in fact a moment of existential danger for Israel. Until I stumbled upon some telling quotes, uttered by our very own leaders :
"(a) 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.`
(b) 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 offensive against Israel. He knew it and we knew it.`
(c) 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.`
(d) 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.`"
So: instead of "thwarting an existential danger", in 1967 the State of Israel carried out an effective military operation to acquire some real estate. There is nothing new about that "existential danger" propaganda. Acquisition of real estate by conquest has been already called pleasing names by various other conquerors and occupiers, throughout the old and new history: such as "manifest destiny", "white man's burden", "spreading true religion / culture / democracy", whatnot.
The reader may like to know that the 1967 real estate acquisition by the State of Israel was anticipated some twenty years earlier by Ben-Gurion, at the time of the partition plan (which was supposedly accepted by the Zionist leadership). See the following quotes of Ben-Gurion, which can be found in the book by an Israeli historian:
"Just as I do not see the proposed Jewish state as a final solution to the problems of the Jewish people, so I do not see partition as the final solution of the Palestine question. Those who reject partition are right in their claim that this country cannot be partitioned because it constitutes one unit, not only from a historical point of view but also from that of nature and economy".
"After the formation of a large army in the wake of the establishment of the [Jewish] state, we shall abolish partition and expand to the whole of the Palestine".
I wonder if at any point in history there was any association of people who acquired goodies by brute force, and who viewed themselves candidly as such. Times and again, conquerors considered themselves unwilling victims of circumstances, and the barbarians (their own victims!) against whom they have to regretfully protect their rights. Consider the following pronouncements of Benny Morris, a historian who documented the 1948 ethnic cleansing. In a 2004 interview with Morris which was published in Haaretz one reads:
The above opinion is representative of the Israeli mainstream. It has been raised to the status of axiom over the years, and no reasonable peace offers (such as the latest Saudi one) are likely to put a dent in it. Israelis are using this slogan to exempt themselves from normal human decency towards Palestinians. Most Israeli Jews have convinced themselves that they have a moral right to expropriate and expel Palestinians because Palestinians are such barbarians, who did not respond to Israel's"generous peace offers" and "only wanted to throw us to the sea". Because we are a nation of Holocaust survivors. My compatriots imagined themselves starring in a modern version of Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" - starring as beautiful elves, of course, who were forced by sad fate to fight ugly goblins the Palestinians (goblins = "terrorists"). Human mercy does not apply to "terrorists". You do not make territorial compromises or peace agreements with "terrorists".
Q: The title of the book you are now publishing in Hebrew is "Victims." In the end, then, your argument is that of the two victims of this conflict, we [Israelis] are the bigger one.
Morris: "Yes. Exactly. We are the greater victims in the course of history and we are also the greater potential victim. Even though we are oppressing the Palestinians, we are the weaker side here. We are a small minority in a large sea of hostile Arabs who want to eliminate us.
The above explains the mass participation of otherwise normal and more-or-less decent Israelis in the ongoing ethnic-cleansing projects. How else can you account for a dying elderly man and his wife being dragged out of their east Jerusalem apartment to make space for Jewish settlers. Building the Jerusalem "Museum of Tolerance" on the site of an ancient Muslim graveyard. Onslaught on West Bank orphanages supported by Islamic charities. State-subsidized Jewish settler-thugs conducting pogroms against Palestinians in Hebron and elsewhere in the Occupied Territories. Widespread sadism practiced by Israeli soldiers against Palestinian detainees. Trashing of Palestinian homes during nightly military incursions in Palestinian towns and villages. Demolitions of Palestinian homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem under the brazen pretext of "illegal construction". Extensive land grab for settlers. And much more.
The Gaza Strip is the place where the self-righteous Israeli sadism has reached new heights. The Strip is densely populated, mostly by descendants of Palestinians expelled in 1948. Well before the Second Intifada, choice Gazan real estate along the beach (about ¼ of the Strip land) was confiscated for a few thousand Jewish settlers. Still, a million and a half Gazan Palestinians had a sort of normal life (under the Israeli occupation) – growing fruits and vegetables, making construction materials and other products for Israeli markets, and working as laborers within the Green Line. Before the second Intifada, very little terror was coming from there to Israel.
However, since the beginning of the Intifada (a year and a half before the first Palestinian rocket landing across the border) the Israeli army embarked on the systematic destruction of the Strip. Incursions were carried out every few weeks and included the destruction of factories and workshops, roads, agricultural land, homes, and whatnot. Access to the Israeli economy was closed. Eventually, desperate Palestinians resorted to shooting Qassam rockets which rarely caused casualties or real damage but served as an excellent pretext for Israeli military "action".
And then Sharon carried out his brilliant propaganda move of "disengagement" from Gaza. The whole operation was marketed as a demonstration of Israeli good will. The Israeli settlements in Gaza were in fact removed, but the army was redeployed around the Strip, and the Strip was converted to a large scale prison. The economic strangulation of Gaza was tightened to a draconian extent, especially after the Hamas government suppressed the Israel-cum-USA sponsored Fatah putsch. (I am no fan of Hamas but their government was democratically elected by the Palestinians) Hamas offered several times to conduct negotiations with Israel, based on 1967 borders, but the offers were under-reported and ignored. It is likely that such negotiations would have stopped the Qassams, but Israeli leaders appeared interested in continuation of the violence. The Qassams created a great opportunity for more "poor little us" propaganda, and a great pretext to wiggle out of legitimate international requests to stop the massive colonization of the West Bank.
Finally, a truce with Hamas was negotiated. Since the beginning of the truce defense minister Barak commenced preparations for a massive attack on Gaza. On November 14th the working truce with Hamas was deliberately broken on Barak's orders, by killing several Hamas fighters. A totally predictable Palestinian response ensued - cancellation of the truce and a barrage of rockets. The barrage was used by Barak as a pretext for that large-scale operation, including the slaughter of hundreds of people in Gaza with missiles deployed from airplanes. This muscle-flexing is an obvious part of Barak's and Livni's forthcoming election campaign, at the price of hundreds of Palestinian casualties, and several Israeli ones (as meanwhile Palestinians have improved their aim). In a forthcoming ground operation Israeli soldiers are also likely to pay with their lives for this form of electioneering.
Do you know what mainstream Israelis make of the above? 'We, Israelis, in an act of self-sacrifice, removed poor Jewish settlers from their "homes" in the Gaza Strip and gave Palestinians a chance for free and happy existence. But the Palestinians spurned our peace efforts and preferred instead to pursue their addiction to "throwing Jews to the sea." Gaza could have become a new Singapore, but the Gazans chose instead to shoot rockets at Israelis.'
The disengagement was thus an act of brilliance on part of that evil genius, Sharon. He provided mainstream Israelis with a sweeping moral absolution. Palestinians "disappointed" them. Now the Israeli leaders can do anything they wish to Palestinians. Do not expect a squeak of public protest from the Israeli Jewish public, except for a tiny minority of "self hating Jews" like yours truly.
Believe me, these Jewish-Israeli mainstreamers are not natural-born monsters. They just do not know any better. Alas, I used to be one of them. Then one day I stumbled, more or less by chance, into the West Bank with a group of activists. I acquired some Palestinian friends and finally understood the criminality of the treatment of the Palestinians by my country. And I learned to ignore the daily portion of preposterous propaganda which is provided to my compatriots by the media in lieu of "news". But how to convince my compatriots not to listen to this propaganda? I do not know.
Then again, it does not have to be so. In addition to four million or so stateless Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories, there are about a million Palestinians living within the Green Line and carrying Israeli citizenship. Despite the very considerable internal racism, many of these Palestinian citizens are deeply involved in Israeli society. You meet Arab doctors and nurses in Israeli hospitals, Arab students in Israeli universities etc. There is quite an element of coexistence and cooperation between Jews and Arabs there. But a mainstream Jewish-Israeli colleague who might treat his or her Arab co-worker perfectly decently would still be proud of a soldier son who is "serving the country" in the Occupied Territories. He or she would still repeat racist propaganda about the "demographic danger" to the State of Israel from its Arab citizens, and believe the bloodthirsty speeches of generals and ex-generals on the TV. And vote for any of the three major Zionist parties, Likud, Kadima and Labour, whose leaders have been dedicated ethnic cleansers over the years.
For the sake of both nations living in this country, this outrage must be stopped. It must be stopped by pressure from outside, because at present within Israel there are no significant political forces to oppose it. Please do something, my friends, and do it urgently. And kindly ignore the endless "negotiations" between our government and the powerless Palestinian Authority, they are just a cover for more ethnic cleansing. If you do not believe me, come and see the massive settlement construction in East Jerusalem and West Bank. And the walls of the Palestinian ghettos.
Victoria Buch is an Israeli academic and anti-Occupation activist. Her email: email@example.com
 From "The Pity of It All", a book by Amos Elon on German Jews.
 From a review of Makdisi's book: `Palestine Inside Out`, by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha, IMEU 2008.
 From "Righteous Victims" by Benny Morris
 Collected by Stephen Lendman, see http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/15348)
 From The Birth of Israel: Myths and Realities,by Simha Flapan
 The full text of the interview can be found in the Counterpunch website
 *Information can be found, e.g., in the Occupation Magazine, the website of Israeli anti-Occupation activists.
 "Disinformation, secrecy and lies: How the Gaza offensive came about" By Barak Ravid, Haaretz http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1050426.html