Defund, Disarm & Disband the IDF!

Each week the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) spokesperson releases a few videos that are then posted on Twitter. They vary a bit but all have the same theme: Aren’t we just great! We (the IDF) are cool, and cute and tough and committed and good looking and serious and oh so humane. Yes they are especially so humane. But the truth is that the IDF is no more than a glorified terrorist organization that is well funded and well fed and needs to be defunded, disarmed and disbanded before its commanders and generals are dragged to The Hague for their crimes.

I admit I follow @IDFSpokesman on Twitter. Each week there is the “Shabbat Shalom” video. This is the one where a few cute, girl-soldiers all made up with green and black paint on their faces and wearing cammies and carrying big guns waive and greet us all with “Shabbat Shalom!” (If you don’t know, that is how Jewish people greet each other on Friday night, leading up to the Sabbath.) Anther version of that are “combat” soldiers, some platoon of some brigade or another on the font lines taking moment of respite from their arduous training regimen, or from the arduous work of protecting the nation from terrorism and other dangers. They look at us, smilingg as they waive and call out “Shabbat Shalom.


Then there are the posts that just glorify the “troops.” During training, on the front lines, laying still during an ambush or working out. Always ready, always alert to defend democracy, freedom, peace and everything else that Israel never stood for. At this moment, if you checked @IDFSpokesman on Twitter you would see a short video of the Nahal Brigade in training. It is titled “Rise an Shine.” You will see fifty- one seconds of an infantry unit running, shooting, crawling and doing all the things that make us excited about war. Yet the Nahal Brigade is known to be one of the cruelest, murderous infantry brigades in the IDF.


You will also see a post titles, “It’ll all be ok in the end.” In this video a cute girl, Sergeant Hannah who has an American accent (they always have American accents) talking about life, about the army, about her pride in the uniform she wears and how she is serving and protecting the Jewish state and the Jewish people. Heart warming, really if it wasn’t also covered in innocent Palestinian blood.  Because volunteering to “serve” in the IDF may look good to people who are ignorant but it is merely contributing to the mass murder and oppression of Palestinians.


There is a video of the IAF, the Israeli Air-force displaying war planes and showing how grand it is to see the world from above. Of course flying and seeing the world through the eyes of an “IAF fighter pilot” is wonderful because when he drops tons of bombs on people in Gaza there is no sight of blood, there is no sight of the mutilated children, no sight of people buried in the rubble, people suffocating to death from the fumes and the chemicals and dust. It is clean and beautiful, no sweat. And the best part is that the pilots can do the ‘job” and make it home in time for dinner with the family.

IDF spokesman is a despicable job. He is not the first person in the world who tried to cover up blood with glory, and murderous attacks on defenseless civilians with smiles and the pretense of “serving your country.” But the way in which this is done by the IDF is particularly cynical and sickening because it is so good. How could these wonderful young men and women be accused of heinous bloody crimes when they look so good?

The IRA Volunteer Bobby Sands, who died tragically during the famous Irish hunger strike, is known to have said, “Our revenge will be the laughter of our children.” This is relevant to today’s Palestine for several reasons. Every time the IDF comes out with a post trying to beautify the terrorist organization which it represents, the IDF, we must all remember that children in Gaza have not been laughing for a very long time. That children are living in conditions unfit for humans all across Palestine and around it and are banned from living the normal life they deserve precisely because of this army of terror and no American accent can hide that. Furthermore, as over fifteen-hundred brave Palestinian freedom fighters have taken on the enormous act of self-sacrifice which is the hunger strike have now been without food for close to one month, Israel is desperately trying to discredit them.  Indeed one Palestinian children can laugh again it will be sweet revenge, but how long must they wait, and how many Palestinians must die until it happens?

As we watch his posts and read and hear the claims of courage, morality and legitimacy we must remember that a child in Gaza with a curable cancer will die while a Jewish child living minutes away will live, and this is because Israel will give access to the Jewish child and will prevent the Palestinian child from getting the care he or she needs. Many Jews around the world will support the IDF and donate to the “Friends of the IDF’ (though material support for a terrorist organization is a crime in the US) and claim that it is the IDF that is preventing another holocaust. The truth is that the IDF has been engaged in the crimes of ethic cleaning and genocide for decades, and no amount of BS can cover that up. It is time to defund, disarm, and disband the Jewish terrorist organization known as the IDF,  and to prosecute its commanders and generals.

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Criminal Disregard for Palestinian Lives. By Miko Peled

The cynicism displayed by Mahmoud Abbas’ recent visit to Washington, DC can only be appreciated when considering the incredible acts of self sacrifice taken by Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli jails who at the time of writing this, have been on a hunger strike for more than two weeks.  Abbas and Trump were disengaged, Spicer all the experts and pundits spewed their usual nonsense about peace and how Palestinians need to end terrorism (what terrorism?) which only goes to show the reckless disregard with which  people treat Palestine and its people.

“Drink this milk first… drink…” By Mohammad Sabaaneh

It was reported that during his meeting with Trump, “Mr. Abbas… repeated the conditions the Palestinians have insisted on for years — the creation of an independent Palestinian state based on borders that existed before the Arab-Israeli War of 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital; the right of return for refugees; and freedom for prisoners in Israeli cells. That formulation has been a nonstarter for Israel which itself has shown no sign of backing off its own fixed positions.” This is according to the New York Times which also reported that “Echoing Israel’s position, Mr. Trump pressed Mr. Abbas to discourage Palestinian instigation against Israelis. “There cannot be lasting peace unless the Palestinian leaders speak in a unified voice against incitement to violence and hate,” Mr. Trump said. This is a strange demand indeed since the cause for Palestinians hating Israel is Israel’s brutality.  No amount of incitement will result in the kind of hate Israel creates each time a child is beaten, or shot by soldiers, each time Gaza is bombed, each time a family has to stand in line for hours at a checkpoint and is tormented by soldiers. Indeed it is not the Palestinians who are to blame for hatred of Israel, it is Israel itself.

According the NYT, Trump did not publicly mention Palestinian financial payments to the families of convicted terrorists, but his spokesman, Sean Spicer, said Mr. Trump raised the issue privately.” In a piece about this visit in Israel’s daily, Haaretz it was emphasized that “Spicer added that Trump raised with Abbas the issue of payments to families of Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails, and asked the Palestinian leader to resolve it.”  The insistence by Israel that the families of Palestinian prisoners suffer economic strangulation was discussed here and it should come as no surprise that Israel has got the US demanding this of Abbas. Once again, we see reckless, indeed criminal disregard for the lives of Palestinian political prisoners and their families.

No dead horse has ever been beaten with more vigor than the so-called Israeli Palestinian Peace Talks. As Ghassan Kanafani so brilliantly stated in this interview from 1970. When asked why his organization, the PFLP won’t engage in peace talks with Israelis he paused for a while then looked up at the reporter and said, “You don’t mean exactly peace talks, you mean capitulation.” Then he added, that for Palestinians, negotiating with Israel is like “negotiations between the sword and the neck.” And indeed when twenty three years later the PLO did engage in talks with the Israeli government in what yielded the Oslo Accords, the result was capitulation. The Palestinians had given up the struggle and got nothing in return.

The man leading the Palestinian prisoner hunger strike currently going on is Marwan Barghouti who was as enthusiastic as anyone about negotiating with Israel for a free independent Palestinian state. In fact, Barghouti himself was deeply involved in the negotiations. However, having gone through the humiliating process of negotiations with Israel, he realized, as Ghassan Kanafani had predicted, that the more Palestinians were negotiating, the deeper the Israeli sword was cutting into the Palestinian neck. Barghouti, considered by many to be the Palestinian equivalent of South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, is serving several life sentences in an Israeli prison because he had realized that only resistance can bring Palestinians the freedom they deserve.

Because of the total disregard for the lives of Palestinians, Israel is getting financial and military support from the world while the Palestinians heroically fight and get very little support. But this is because there is a paradigm in which Palestinians always need to be grateful for whatever little crumbs they get and Israel always 0calls all the shots. Sadly, Mahmoud Abbas made very little demands during his visit to Washington. He did not call on Washington to support the call for BDS, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, against Israel. He did not demand that Israel immediately and unconditionally lift the siege on Gaza and though he did demand that the prisoners be freed, there was no clear sense that he was demanding, it was more like he was politely begging.

Juxtaposing Abbas’ meeting in Washington with the prisoners’ hunger strike provides a clear picture of who is truly fighting for Palestinian rights. As these brave men continue with their self-sacrifice one is reminded of the hunger strike of Bobby Sands and the ten IRA volunteers who the British government let die. Their short lives and painful struggle is documented in the book “Ten Men Dead,” by David Beresford. Anyone wishing to understand what hunger strike entails will do well to read it.

The illegitimate  regime that has been occupying Palestine for sixty-nine years, Israel, must be dismantled and a democracy with equal rights must be established in its place. Otherwise the criminal disregard for Palestinian lives will go on uninterrupted.


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Choking the Families of Prisoners. By Miko Peled

Writing history with water and salt – two essential items for the hunger strikers. By permission from Mohammad Sabaaneh.

As thousands of Palestinian prisoners are engaged in the painful self-sacrifice of a hunger strike, the recent draconian move by Israel’s Defense Minister declaring the Palestinian National Fund a terrorist organization deserves attention. This fund is the conduit by which financial support is provided to thousands of Palestinian families who had or have loved ones in Israeli jails. We should mention that it is estimated that more than one million Palestinians have been imprisoned by Israel since 1967 alone and Palestinians are considered the most incarcerated nation in the world. All of this a result of Israeli policy of arresting political activists, leaders, intellectuals and fighters and lumping them into a single category of “terrorists.”

There is a process by which prisoners and former prisoners are provided financial support and the closure of this fund will choke their families’ only means of survival. The claim made by Israel is that the funds supports terrorism. This is much like the claims made upon the closure of the Holy Land Foundation in the United States in 2001.  The US government claimed that by providing for the families of Palestinian prisoners, the Holy Land Foundation was supporting, and even encouraging terrorism.

The Palestinian National Fund also provides, or provided, the salaries, meagre as they may be for the army of lawyers who work tirelessly to defend and fight in the Israeli courts for the rights of the Palestinian prisoners. The lawyers are there to deal with a huge array of issues like health care that the Israeli authorities regularly deny the prisoners and for which lawyers must fight. There are special needs which would seem obvious to anyone on the outside, like proper nutrition, visitation rights, beds and blankets and medication but they all require that the lawyers put in endless hours for which, at the end of the day, they need to be paid.

The ruling by the Defense Minister also implicates the lawyers themselves with supporting terrorism because they are engaged of getting the money to the families of prisoners that Israel sees as terrorists. One Palestinian attorney told me the following story: The Fund provides stipends for former prisoners, veterans of the Israeli jails. The lawyers need access to documents from the Israeli police and courts to prove exactly what a prisoner needs to receive from the Fund. They need to show, for example, how long a prisoner spent in prison, the exact dates of the encarceration, and with what he or she was charged. The attorney needs to make the case to the Fund to determine how much should be paid. There is a pay scale that determines all of this and so documents are crucial. My friend who works part time for the prisoners told me he needs to negotiate with the Israeli authorities to gain access to these documents and the Israeli authorities have been as of late warning him and other lawyers to “be careful.”  He was told that the authorities know what he are trying to do, which is helping former prisoners and the families of current prisoners access funds.

Stopping payment for the prisoners and their families will have catastrophic results on people who have already paid a heavy price and who have, at the end of the day committed no crime. Many former prisoners are unable to work because of disabilities they incurred while in jail.  After years of imprisonment that always involve torture and harsh conditions there are often permanent and in some cases irreversible ailments that require ongoing medical treatment  and so medical bill need to paid. The family may have lost their home and so a new one must be found. Palestinians are burdened with restrictions upon restrictions which in turn require permits upon permits. This is a lucrative business for the Israeli authorities, becasue these permits cost thousands of dollars – yet another burden on families and particularly ones that already at a disadvantage.  But for Israel the only concern that matters is that providing the prisoners and their families much needed financial support gives legitimacy to the prisoners’ cause. After all, if they are terrorists they deserve what they received and should be given nothing. It stems from the rationale, if one can call it that, that no legitimacy can be given to the Palestinian struggle and that the people who resist, as well as their families must be punished for all eternity.

As we see yet again, the Palestinian prisoners are unrelenting fighters who will never stop fighting until justice and freedom are achieved.  Exactly four years ago, in April 2013, I was taken to pay my respects at the grave of Bobby Sands, an IRA volunteer who died in prison as a result of a hunger strike. I was asked to read a message that was published that day by another hunger striker, Samer Issawi. Samer was close to death but thankfully defied death and survived 266 days without food.  I read Samer’s message  in front of Bobby Sands’ grave not knowing whether he will live or die.  We must all stand with the Palestinian prisoners to see that their demands are met soon and every effort must be made to reverse the draconian move by Israel to financial choke the prisoners and their families.

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It’s Personal.

As thousands of Palestinian political prisoners jailed by Israel are going through a hunger strike, we would do well to delve into the deeper, more personal and historical aspects of Palestine.  Though the politics and violence of settler colonialism have determined its fate for almost one hundred years, Palestine is not just a “case” or an “issue,” it’s personal. My dear, dear friend Nader Elbanna said to me a long time ago, “The Palestinian tragedy is more than just losing the house and the land.”  None of us will ever fully understand Palestine, none of us who are not Palestinian, that is, because it is personal. But there are ways to learn. Visiting Palestine is a good start. Living in Palestine is good too and learning Arabic affords a glimpse. Reading Ghassan Kanafani’s stories is moving and enlightening.


Ghassan Kanafani, in his short stories presents an intensely personal narrative and paints a picture that is painfully detailed. In one of his short stories, a young man asks, “would you like to hear about my life?” and he proceeds to describe a mother who died under the ruins of a house in Safed, the house that was built for her by her husband. He describes the father, now working in another part of the Arab World and unable to see his children, and a brother “learning humiliation” in an UNRWA school. In another short story Kanafani describes a father who is standing in the rain leaning on a broken shovel, taking a break from the back- breaking work of digging a ditch in the rain. He is digging in an effort to stop the rain water from flooding a tent where his family, now refugees, must live. He is cold, tired and hungry but avoids going inside the tent, not wanting to see his wife’s glare, knowing she blames him for the inevitable state of being unemployed and unable to provide for his family. Seeing his child wear a torn, old shirt he contemplates taking part in a scam operation, stealing bags of rice from the UNRWA storage facility and selling them on the black market. “The guard is in on it and for a small fee he will look the other way,” he is told by a man of whose morals he does not approve, and whose very presence makes him uneasy.

The occupation of Palestine is not only about the brutality that is inherent in settler colonialism but the daily, painful existence of a nation that is denied the right to live in the land to which it belongs. A nation forced to live in abject poverty in camps that are unfit for humans and which exist just hours away from the land and the homes from which they were kicked out. A land for which they have the deeds, and homes for which they still hold the keys now inhabited by Jewish settlers. “For us, to liberate our country is as essential as life itself” Kanafani says to an Australian reporter in a rare interview in English. He is fierce and forthright, sitting in his office, with photos of Che Guevara and Ho Chi Minh behind him.

But Palestinians are permitted only to be victims or terrorists, never freedom fighters or heroes. If Palestinians wrote “Live Free or Die” on a license plate they will be accused of terrorism and locked up, deported or simply killed, though in New Hampshire it is the official motto. Ironically, Israeli children learn about a legendary Jewish hero who, having been killed in battle in Palestine said, “it is good to die for one’s country” though clearly, he was fighting to take the country of others. Kanafani was brutally murdered, along with his young niece Lamees who was only seventeen, for saying and doing just that – fighting to liberate his country. Since his assassination by Israel almost half a century ago, countless Palestinians were killed by Israel, some fighting, most while sleeping in their beds or trying to flee.

Kanafani talks about “them,” the “Yahud” the Zionists who colonized Palestine and exiled his people, turning them into “people with no rights, with no voice.” “They have put enormous efforts into trying to melt me,” he writes, “Like a sugar cube in cup of tea.” And he talks about “You” the Arab authorities under whom Palestinians are now forced to live. “You had managed to melt millions of people and lump them into one lump, into a single thing you can now call ‘a case.’” And, he continues, “now that we are all ‘a case’” there is no personal attachment to any single person or story. How convenient. That is what allows for the ease with which the world treats the Palestinian tragedy. That is how the West can sell Israel the weapons and technology with which it slaughters Palestinians by the thousands and maintains the oppression.

One wonders what Kanafani would say about the horrific, large scale massacres endured by the people in Gaza since 2008. What would he say if he knew that since his death things have become worse now that Israel’s army of terror has access to more “modern” weapons that allow it to murder and maim thousands in a single “operation.” How would Kanafani react if he heard about entire families that were wiped out by mortars and missiles fired at them and others, incinerated by millions of tons of bombs dropped from war planes? One wonders what stories he might write about children burned and mutilated with such ease in the twenty first century? “We are a small, brave nation” Kanafani said in 1970, “who will fight to last drop of blood.”

Israel – the name that was given to the Zionist state which occupies Palestine – is indignant at the very mention of Palestine and at the idea that as a state it should respect the rights of Palestinians. People who support Israel are offended when they hear accusations of racism, indiscriminate violence and genocide. But these same people have no problem with the actual ongoing campaigns of genocide, ethnic cleansing and the reality of racist apartheid perpetuated by Israel. Because for them Palestine is not personal, it is just a “case,” just a “problem.” But Palestine is not a problem, it is personal, it has a beating heat, and that is why the fight for justice in Palestine is gaining momentum all over the world. As the Palestinian leader and political prisoner Marwan Barghouthi wrote recently from a cell in an Israeli jail, “The chains that bind us will break before our captors can break our resilience.”

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November 29, 1947 By Miko Peled

United Nations resolution 181, accepted on November 29, 1947, not only gave the Zionist movement the permission, but opened the door for Zionists to execute the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and create an apartheid state with exclusive rights for Jewish people, or as some call it, The State of Israel. It should come as no surprise then, that the ethnic cleansing of Palestine began as early as December of 1947, less than one month after the resolution was accepted.  According to Ilan Pappe, these early attacks on Palestinians neighborhoods and villages brought about the exodus of some 75,000 Palestinians. [1] In other words, a resolution whose intent was to bring calm to Palestine brought about a catastrophe.

As though to bring about a practical, moral and equitable solution to the question of Palestine, the United Nations General Assembly accepted Resolution 181 on November 29, 1947. This resolution called for the partition of Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state. It is arguably the biggest diplomatic success of the Zionist movement, and it enabled future successes without which the Zionist occupation of Palestine could not have survived. This resolution is the crowning achievement of the Zionist diplomatic corps, and of the man who headed it, Moshe Sharet, who later became the first foreign minister of Israel.

A myth that is still being perpetuated by the Zionists in this regard is that the Zionist movement accepted this just and equitable resolution, while the Arabs, and particularly the Palestinians made a historical mistake by rejecting it. But as Dr. Walid Khalidi states: “The native people of Palestine,” like the native people of every other country in the colonized world, “refused to divide the land with a settler community.” Feeling that this was both illegal and immoral the Palestinians saw no justification in giving away parts of their country to European colonizers.

Palestine under the British Mandate was divided into sixteen districts. In the partition plan, nine of them were allotted to the Jewish State, although only one of the nine districts had a Jewish majority. Furthermore, the entire Jewish population in Palestine at the time was one third of the Palestinian population and Jewish land ownership did not exceed 7 percent of the land. Still the Partition Resolution gave the Jewish community in Palestine, a community made of mostly new comers who came to colonize, over fifty percent of the land.

As we know, the actual partition boundaries never materialized. By 1949 the Zionist militias which then became the Israeli army, ignored the stated boundaries and occupied almost all of Palestine with the exception of two areas they chose to leave out, two areas that were determined by Israel, namely the West Bank and the Gaza strip. Some twenty years later, in 1967, the Israeli army occupied those as well and by doing so completed the conquest of Palestine, or as they call it, The Land of Israel.

The Zionist movement toiled relentlessly to achieve this international recognition through the United Nations. Resolution 181 gave a rubber stamp to everything the Zionists wanted and to everything they did following that resolution. Again quoting Ilan Pappe, “Resolution 181’s most immoral aspect is that included no mechanism to prevent the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.” “UN members who voted in favor of the Partition Resolution contributed directly to the crime that was about to take place.” [2]

It is ironic that Moshe Sharet, who was the point man in getting the resolution to pass, later referred [3] to the country being “emptied” of the Arabs as “very surprising.” “In the history of Eretz Israel” he says in a cabinet meeting, “this is even more surprising than the establishment of the State of Israel.” Surprising indeed. It’s as though the Zionists had nothing to do with it. “They started it by attacking us and so they had it coming and all of their homes and property are now ours,” Sharet stated and “What’s more” he added, “what is clear is that they will not return.” He said all this in a meeting of the Israeli cabinet on June 6, 1948. Then, discussing the Palestinian population of Yaffa, which Sharet describes in that same meeting as “an evil curse” and a “fifth column,” he says, “having eradicated it, we will never allow it to return.”

Sharet further reported that the Arabs were “removed” all the way from Tel-Aviv to the Western neighborhoods of Jerusalem. In the northern part of the country, from the city of Akka until Ras-Elnakura near todays border with Lebanon, “in terms of the population, the Arab villages no longer exist.” In a later meeting on the 9th of June, 1948, Sharet reports that already two hundred villages were “emptied” of their residents, the cities of Tabariya, Haifa, Akka, Yaffa, Safad, and all of Jerusalem that is outside the walled city are in our hands, Jenin has been emptied of people,” and he adds, “the situation is in our favor.”

Then during a meeting of the cabinet on 16 of June, 1948 David Ben-Gurion exclaimed: “The resolution of November 29 (1947) is dead. Our military force will determine the political outcome.”

We can see that certain patterns that exist today regarding resolution of the issue of Palestine, were already set in the days when UNSCOP, or the United Nations Special Commission on Palestine, were deliberating the partition plan. For example, the Zionist diplomatic corps dominated the discussions of the commission and created a reality in which, much like today, the solution was determined without any serious consideration of the Palestinian point of view, not to mention Palestinian interests. Furthermore, like Ben-Gurion stated in June 1948, what determines the political outcomes in Palestine is the Israeli military, and the Palestinian resistance to the invasion of their land is characterized, as it was then, as aggression and terrorism, while the Zionist offensive is characterized as justified self defense.

As an International Solidarity Day is planned in cities all around the world on this November 29, we must not forget the cause for the violence in Palestine. We must not forget what brought about the destruction of Palestine, and we must demand that the Zionist regime be removed, the refugees allowed to return. Sixty-eight years after that fateful UN resolution it is time to remedy the situation by freeing Palestine and allowing an inclusive democracy to be established instead of the State of Israel.

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[1] The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, by Ilan Pappe, (2006) page 40
[2] The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, by Ilan Pappe, (2006) page 35.
[3] All the cabinet meeting quotes, from: “Speaking Out” Israeli Foreign Minister’s Speeches, May-December 1948 (2013) Edited by Yaakov and Rina Sharett pp. 136-144.

20 years since the Qana massacre and Naftali Benet is Education Minister

Naftali Bennet, Israel’s minister of education was the first public official to come out in support of Elor Azaria, the Israeli soldier who executed Abdel Fatah Alsharif as he lay wounded in Hebron. Bennet was critical of the government of which he is a member for not standing up for the soldier. I was listening to the interview with Bennet on Israeli television where he made the argument that the government and the press judged the soldier harshly and prematurely. Then he said something I never thought I’d hear.

“Maybe the soldier did make a mistake; you know I also made a mistake. During Grapes of Wrath, Operation Grapes of Wrath I was apparently mistaken and a very difficult thing happened.” A very difficult thing happened. Interesting choice of words and interesting timing: It is exactly twenty-years since the massacre in Qana village in Southern Lebanon, a massacre for which Bennet was responsible. He then went on to explain that, “in my case, I received the full backing of the commanding general and the army chief of staff.” In fact he was backed by the entire chain of command going all the way up to the Prime Minister (and Nobel laureate), Shimon Peres.

Bennet was talking about the shelling by Israeli forces of the UN compound in the southern Lebanese village of Qana. It took place on April 18, 1996 when hundreds of local Lebanese were seeking shelter at the compound. Of the 800 Lebanese civilians who had taken refuge in the compound, a reported 106 were killed and 116 were injured. The attack occurred amid fighting between the Israeli army and Hezbollah during operation “Grapes of Wrath.” There was evidence that an Israeli drone was spying on the compound before the shelling, making the argument that this may have been an error, unlikely at best. Clearly all levels of the IDF command knew that the compound was there and that it served as shelter for refugees escaping the fighting. The building was clearly marked as a UN compound and was even marked on the Israeli maps. Bennet who was commander of an Israeli army reconnaissance unit called for massive artillery shelling of the site.

Graves just outside the UN base at Qana cb791

The BBC described the massacre as: “one of the deadliest single events of the whole Arab-Israeli conflict.” Robert Fisk who reported from the site wrote, “Not since Sabra and Chatila had I seen the innocent slaughtered like this.”

Fisk’s descriptions of what he saw are not for the weak at heart but must be read and remembered. Over and over we hear the phrase “never again,” yet Israel commits one heinous massacre after another and gets away with it, usually absolved by the US. In this case the main culprit is known, he admits his responsibility and yet not only did he go unpunished, he is unrepentant and is now in charge of the Israeli ministry of education. How ironic. Again Fisk’s description, “The Lebanese refugee women and children and men lay in heaps, their hands or arms or legs missing, beheaded or disemboweled. There were well over a hundred of them […] The Israeli shells had scythed through them as they lay in the United Nations shelter, believing that they were safe under the world’s protection. Like the Muslims of Srebrenica, the Muslims of Qana were wrong.” And Fisk continues, “Now the Israelis are stained again by the bloodbath at Qana, the scruffy little Lebanese hill town where the Lebanese believe Jesus turned water into wine.”

Naftali Bennet was quoted as saying that he had killed many Arabs in his time and feels no remorse, and in his view “a soldier in the battlefield can not commit murder.” In a speech in the Knesset Bennet said he killed many terrorists during his military service and he wishes he had killed more. Bennet never saw an Arab he did not consider to be a terrorist, and therefore fair game. “Arabs are murdering Jews every day,” he said as he defended the execution in Hebron. An important piece of information that is completely ignored is that another soldier shot Abdel Fatah first, even though he was unarmed and his hands were raised, and only later did Elor Azaria execute him. Bennet called the scene as a “battle ground” and the shooting perfectly legitimate because according to him “Vicious Palestinian terrorists are coming out every day to kill Jews.”

The result of Bennet’s call for the shelling in Qana, according to Fisk, was “The blood of all the refugees ran quite literally in streams from the shell-smashed UN compound […] in which the Shiite Muslims from the hill villages of southern Lebanon – who had heeded Israel’s order to leave their homes – had pathetically sought shelter.” Once the news of the shelling had got out, relatives started arriving from other parts of Lebanon to look for loved ones. Their grief and anger were forceful, “we had suddenly become not UN troops and journalists but Westerners, Israel’s allies” Fisk writes, and he continues, “one bearded man with fierce eyes stared at us, his face dark with fury: […] “I would like to be made into a bomb and blow myself up amid the Israelis” the man cried.

The story of the Qana massacre was brought up during the Israeli elections of 2015, because Bennet was the head of one of the parties running. Claims were made that the “incident” was evidence that he had “poor judgment.” Today, twenty years and countless massacres later a man who knowingly brought about the gruesome killing of countless innocents is in charge of educating Israeli children and is defending the execution of a young Palestinian. And yet, the one man that everyone is calling a terrorist is one who committed no act violence at all: the young Abdel Fatah Alsharif, may he rest in peace.

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A Good Israeli Soldier

Every one says he was a good soldier, a soldier that followed orders and was even commended by his superiors. But the most interesting information about the soldier and about the moments that led to him executing the wounded and helpless Abdel Fatah Al-Sharif as he lay on the ground in Hebron, is coming from very unusual sources. One source is a video that was created in defense of the soldier and was posted on a facebook page that is dedicated to supporting the soldier and the other is Palestinian human rights defender and leader of Youth Against Settlements in Hebron, Issa Amro.

Driving to Hebron one has to drive by Jewish settlements that are home to the some of the most violent, radical Jews anywhere. Then one drives through the now made famous Gush-Etzion intersection where many of these settlements intersect with Palestinian towns. There are always fully armed combat soldiers standing there, guarding the intersection but now, on top of that, at every angle a fully armed sniper stands at a post ready to pull the trigger. As we drove through the intersection I counted seven snipers, but it’s possible there are more.

In Hebron we meet my friend Murad, the man who showed me Hebron for the first time some five years ago or so, and together we drive straight to Tel-Rumeida. There we see Issa speaking to a group visiting from Europe. Once he is done we sit together and chat for a while, as more people join us and naturally the conversation turns to the latest incident. Abdel Fatah Alsharif and Ramzi Elkasrawi are shot and killed for allegedly attacking soldiers with a knife. Abdel Fatah was lying on the ground motionless, it is unclear if he is dead or alive, when suddenly and for no apparent reason, a soldier who has now become the subject of national and international attention shoots him in the head.

Issa starts to talk about the soldier. “He has been serving in Hebron for some time and I know him personally,” the soldier’s name is Elor Azaria. “He spent an entire day guarding me once,” this was during one of the many times Issa was arrested. It is something he endures regularly because he lives in Tel-Rumeida, fights for Palestinian rights and documents soldier and settler abuses. “I remember he was told by his officer to treat me well, and he did. He was told not to blindfold me or beat me and he did just that.” It would seem that Elor is indeed an exemplary soldier. Issa said that this was the one and only time that he was not beaten or humiliated by soldiers during an arrest.

I met Issa as I do every time I am in Palestine, by his house in Tel-Rumeida, a hill overlooking the old city of Hebron. His house was taken by the Israeli army to serve as a “base” and was eventually returned to him after a long legal battle. The house eventually became the center for Youth Against Settlements, a place for pro-Palestinian activists in Hebron to gather, sit and talk, work, etc. His neighbors on Tel-Rumieda are radical Jews who, with the assistance of the Israeli army took the homes of Palestinian and now reside in them. The Jewish settlers covet Issa’s home with passion and they will stop at nothing to get it. Having the full support of the army and the Israeli political establishment they fear nothing. Recently his house was declared a “closed military zone,” a step the authorities take just prior to confiscating Palestinian land and homes. His Jewish neighbors are free to come and go, and he is permitted to enter the house, but he is not permitted to bring guests. So we sit outside the parameters of the house. I, as it happens am not permitted to be anywhere in the vicinity because Israeli law prohibits Jewish citizens of Israel from entering Hebron altogether, unless they are settlers, in which case it’s ok.

Common wisdom and all the evidence point to the fact that the soldier was following orders when he executed Abdel Fatah. A video to which some commentary was added and is used by a group to support the soldier Elor Azaria allows us to see precisely when he arrives at the scene. We can see that he confers for a moment or two with a commander, and then we see Elor handing the commander his helmet (which shows he was in no danger whatsoever because soldiers in a combat zone must wear their helmets). Elor then adjusts his weapon as he walks toward the wounded Abdel Fatah, takes aim in full view of all who were present, and shoots Abdel Fatah in the head. The officer watches Elor the entire time and is clearly unmoved. The video shows clearly that Abdel Fatah was alive before Elor shot him, there is some hand movement and he turns his head prior to Elor shooting him. This was just corroborated by the medical examiner.אלאור%20עזריה

There is little room for mistake here: Elor Azaria executed a wounded man for no reason, and since he is a soldier on duty it makes it a war crime. What’s worse for Elor is that he was caught on camera. From his attitude and general behavior as he walks to commit this murder it is clear he was quite pleased, he had no reason to hesitate or worry, he was following orders or at the very least had consent to do what he did. After all, he is a good soldier. But sadly for him, he did not see was what was coming.

With the video of this execution going viral, the authorities in Israel had to do something. So everyone from the prime minister down the chain of command came down on the pawn soldier. Thank God for scapegoats! Elor Azaria didn’t realize that in his case someone would have to pay and being the lowest man on the totem pole it was going to be him. If justice were to be served heads would have to roll and everyone up the chain of command would have to be held accountable. But that won’t happen. Still, I wouldn’t feel too sorry for Elor Azaria. Prime Minister Netanyahu already said that having heard his father’s plea, and being a father himself, he was touched. One would think that being a father Netanyahu would be outraged that soldiers shot and killed the sons of Palestinian fathers. But alas, they have no way to plead to the Prime Minister. Oh and there is one more thing. Abdefatah did not attack the soldiers. According to witnesses he happened to be there, and saw what happened so he raised his hands to surrender. That’s when he was shot.