Only In Israel

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Too much news.

The last two weeks in the army have been especially busy for me. We had the regular crap from Palestinians, with the new addition of settler protest in our checkpoints. And, because more people were in the base on standby for anything of the sort, it was also more crowded than usual, triggering more arguments and petty fights.
The satellite TV in the club was always on a news channel whether it was channel 1, 2, 10, CNN or Fox. Whenever a station went on commercials, someone just switched to another one which showed the same news over and over again.
The pictures from Gush Katif are very hard to watch, people being torn out of their houses, soldiers and policemen carrying their duties being insulted, yelled at, and have chemicals spilled on them. And even worse, an Israeli deteriorating to the level of the jihadists and carrying out acts of terrorism against innocent civilians.
I have to say, the soldiers carrying out the mission are doing it with the utmost sensitivity, determination and professional standards possible. It really is astounding to me, I have no idea whether I would be able to take so much insults without responding.
Then again, most of the settlers are behaving remarkably well, hugging the soldiers and letting them to evacuate them out of the houses they built where once there was nothing but sand.
Probably the worst thing I've seen so far is a father who coached his kids to make a show in front of a TV cameras mimicking the famous photo of the Jewish boy in the Warsaw ghetto. The comparison was appalling, and I doubt these children will get over the trauma.
But most of all the success of the disengagement proves again the strength of Israeli democracy, of our ability to make a democratic decision and carry it out no matter how big the minority objecting it is. That is the true nature of democracy.
Don't get me wrong, I don't think the Disengagement will lead to peace. Hell no, there will be more attacks, and Gaza will probably become one big terror base. But the things is, tactically, it's unwise to hold as many troops there, withdrawing from Gush Katif and Gaza shortens our defense lines, and makes it easier to carry out offensive activities instead of concentrating on defending our civilian settler population. For one thing, we can easily use artillery in Gaza now, not fearing we will hit our own civilians. Also, with the settlements and military out of the way, Abu Mazen's security forces run out of excuses not to carry their jobs. There's noone there to stop them, all they have to do is act.
Another thing the disengagement showed to the world, is the problem of evacuating settlements, I think the pictures from Gaza have shown that uprooting people out of their houses in Judea and Samaria isn't going to be easy without a peace deal, and even if such a deal is achieved, it's going to be immensely hard.
Now, there's still settlements to evacuate and I certainly hope that things will calm down, and Israel can spare some time to unite and heal the wounds in our society.

6 Comments:

  • Hello,

    as usual a fantastic post.

    I agree with your analysis: I wrote this two posts on disengagement:

    http://kantor-blog.blogspot.com/2005/06/countdown-to-disengagement.html

    http://kantor-blog.blogspot.com/2005/06/disengagement-ii-land-people.html

    My best wishes to you and your fellow soldiers, and to the whole Israel.

    By Blogger Kantor, at 1:01 AM, August 21, 2005  

  • THE SMOKESCREEN OF THE GAZA DISENGAGEMENT: A FACT SHEET
    INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY MOVEMENT
    PALESTINE
    August 19, 2005

    With the deluge of coverage about Israel's "disengagement" from Gaza, it's easy to be lulled into the idea that the "road map" to peace in the region is moving ahead and that the occupation is nearing some sort of conclusion. It's important to keep in mind the information offered in this fact sheet.

    (On-line version: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2005/08/19/the-smokescreen-of-the-gaza-disengagement/)


    GAZA DISENGAGEMENT INTENDED TO FREEZE PEACE PROCESS: According to an
    October, 2004 Ha'aretz Daily interview with Dov Weisglass, senior advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, "the significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process…. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda ….All with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress."1

    GAZA WILL STILL BE OCCUPIED: Israel has not yet agreed to allow Palestinians to control Gaza's border with Egypt, to allow movement of goods and people between Gaza and the West Bank, or to allow Palestinians to control Gaza's air and sea space. Unless this control is ceded to Palestinians, multiple sources (including the International Committee of the Red Cross, Human Rights Watch, B'Tselem and Hamoked and departments of the Israeli government) concur that Gaza will still be under Israeli military occupation. 2

    ISRAEL'S GAZA PLANS DO NOT MEET EVEN U.S.' MINIMUM EXPECTATIONS: Israel's plan to "disengage" from the Gaza Strip does not meet even the minimum expectations articulated by the United States. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stated, "when the Israelis withdraw from Gaza it cannot be sealed or [an] isolated area, with the Palestinian people closed in after that withdrawal. We are committed to connectivity between Gaza and the West Bank, and we are committed to openness and freedom of movement for the Palestinian people." 3

    ISRAEL ASKS U.S. FOR ADDITIONAL $2.2 BILLION FOR DISENGAGEMENT: On top of the $3 billion in aid that the US government gives annually to Israel, the Israeli government is asking for an additional $2.2 billion over three years to help pay for the Gaza Disengagement. two thirds of that amount may be used to develop the Galilee and the Negev for relocated Jewish settlers, further dislocating Israel's Palestinian citizens living in those regions (Washington Post). 4

    ALL ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS VIOLATE INTERNATIONAL LAW: All Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are considered violations of international law, specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention, according to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, B'Tselem (Israeli), the International Court of Justice, the United Nations and almost all governments in the world. Though Israel deceptively labels some settlements "legal" and others "illegal outposts," all Israeli settlements and outposts are illegal under international law. 5

    420,000 ILLEGAL ISRAELI SETTLERS REMAIN IN WEST BANK: Only 9,000 Israeli settlers are being withdrawn from illegal Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip and from four illegal settlements in the West Bank. Approximately 420,000 Israeli settlers remain in illegal settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem (The New York Times and multiple sources). 6

    RAPID WEST BANK SETTLEMENT EXPANSION AND WALL CONSTRUCTION
    CONTINUES: The expansion of illegal Israeli settlements throughout the West Bank continues at a rapid pace, particularly in areas that Israel plans to annex on the west side of the Wall and in the four major settlement blocks (multiple sources). During the period that Israel has been talking about destroying 2,000 settler homes in the Gaza Strip, it has been building more than 6,400 settler homes in the occupied West Bank (Ali Abunimah on Democracy Now) 7. Continued construction of Israel's Wall on Palestinian land is annexing
    Palestinian land to Israel in Bil'in and tens of other West Bank villages.

    ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS TAKE STRATEGIC LAND: In Gaza and the West Bank, Israeli settlements are typically built in water rich, strategic locations that facilitate Israeli control of resources and land, and divide up Palestinian territory into discontinuous areas (Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions). 8

    ISRAELI SETTLERS KILLED EIGHT PALESTINIANS IN LAST TWO WEEKS: Two Israeli settlers shot and killed eight Palestinians with no provocation during the last two weeks. Despite these murders by Israelis, and a lack of Palestinian violence, the international media has continued to focus primarily on the possibility of "Palestinian violence" during the disengagement.

    ISRAEL UPROOTED 800,000 PALESTINIANS FROM THEIR HOMES IN 1948 AND 1967: Israel and the international media are dramatizing the evacuation of 9,000 Israelis from illegal settlements in Gaza where they have lived for no more than thirty years. Israel forced 737,000 Palestinians to flee their ancestral homes in Palestine in 1948, and an additional 69,000 Palestinians to feel their homes in 1967. The Israeli government continues to fail to take responsibility for this massive dispossession, and to grant Palestinian refugees their right of return as guaranteed by international law (Al Awda). 9



    FACTS SPECIFIC TO GAZA

    ISRAEL CONTROLS ONE THIRD OF GAZA: Approximately 9,000 settlers and the Israeli military have controlled 33 percent of the tiny, overcrowded Gaza Strip, while 1.3 million Palestinians, most of them refugees or offspring of refugees, were packed into the remaining 67 percent of the Gaza Strip (The New York Times, 8/18/2005). 10

    ISRAEL IMPOVERISHED GAZA: Each square mile of Palestinian land in Gaza holds, on average, about 14,000 Palestinians. Unemployment among Palestinians is estimated at 45 percent, and most Gaza families live on less than $2 a day (The New York Times, 8/18/2005).11 Because of its past policies, Israel is responsible for the current situation in Gaza (One Big Prison: B'Tselem and Hamoked). 12

    ISRAELI SETTLERS RECEIVE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS IN COMPENSATION: During the disengagement, each Israeli settler family was eligible for compensation of $300,000 to $500,000 from the Israeli government for leaving homes on illegal settlements in the West Bank or Gaza Strip (Christian Science Monitor 8/12/2005 and multiple sources). 13

    ISRAELI SETTLERS HAVE RECEIVED YEARS OF GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES: Israeli settlers benefit from multiple government subsidies for rent, water, electricity, agriculture, etc. (B'Tselem). 14

    HOMES OF 30,000 PALESTINIANS IN GAZA DEMOLISHED BY ISRAEL WITH NO COMPENSATION: While only 9,000 settlers will leave their homes in Gaza and four settlements in the West Bank, the Israeli army destroyed the homes of 30,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip alone over the last four years, many of them in refugee camps, many bordering on Israeli settlements. Palestinians receive no compensation from the Israeli government for demolished homes. (Danny Rubinstein in Ha'aretz Daily). 15

    WHILE ISRAELIS GET TIME TO PACK, PALESTINIANS ARE FORCED TO LEAVE
    HOMES WITH 15 MINUTES NOTICE: Special Israeli army units helped Israeli settlers in Gaza to pack up their belongings as they left their homes. The Israeli army typically gives Palestinians a maximum of fifteen minutes warning to pack their belongings and leave their homes before demolishing their homes.

    ISRAELI SETTLERS EXPLOITED GAZA LABORERS: Israeli settlers paid trapped Palestinian refugees from Gaza one third of Israel's minimum wage to work as agricultural laborers. Israeli settlers paid Palestinian laborers no compensation upon terminating their employment due to the disengagement (Amira Hass in Ha'aretz Daily). 16

    NONVIOLENCE FOR ISRAELI LAWBREAKERS, VIOLENCE FOR PALESTINIAN
    CIVILIANS: The Israeli army used no weapons to evacuate protesting Israeli settlers, who live on Palestinian land in violation of international law, and who continue to terrorize and kill Palestinians. 17 The Israeli army regularly uses violence and excessive force against Palestinian civilians going about their daily lives and Palestinian nonviolent protesters (B'Tselem, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International). 18

    PALESTINIANS UNDER CURFEW AND MORE SETTLER ATTACKS IN GAZA: Israel has imposed curfews on Palestinians in a number of communities in Gaza bordering the settlements during the settler evacuation. Meanwhile, Israeli settlers in Gaza continued attacks on Palestinian civilians even as the Israeli military was evacuating them (Aljazeera.net). 19

    (For Endnote refernces click on the link noted above to the ISM webpage)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:29 AM, August 25, 2005  

  • Ha'aretz Daily
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/615014.html

    There was no reason for a quiet evacuation

    By Baruch Kimmerling

    We are witnessing these days the largest show ever produced in Israel and perhaps the entire world. Large army forces, conscripts and reservists, and a substantial part of the police have been mobilized to dismantle a few settlements numbering about 7,000 residents, plus a cast of several thousand backup players who are now starring in the lead roles of the absurd theater being broadcast nonstop and live on all the television channels in Israel and the world.

    This is a well-directed play. The tears flow like water and the supposed rivals embrace and fall on each other's shoulders, like a Latin soap opera whose main characters make declarations of love peppered with venomous hatred. The professional lamenters weep and shout slogans aimed at shocking the Israeli people, employing an endless reservoir of symbols of the Holocaust and destruction. Even intellectuals and writers, known as proponents of morality, mobilize to aggrandize the collective mourning.

    It also appears to be the most expensive production ever. The compensation for evacuating, the construction of mobile homes and temporary housing, the loss of thousands of workdays - who knows how many billions the tear-jerking show will ultimately cost.




    However, it is not merely a show for the purpose of entertainment. We are witnessing an educational production par excellence. It is not that someone wrote the script in advance, but ever since the production's planning stage, all of the players knew their parts - a combination of strict roles with wide margins for improvisation. And the educational aim of this huge production - both from the perspective of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the settlers and their supporters (they did not even need to coordinate this in advance) - was not just to create an evacuation trauma in the Israeli public, but also to demonstrate to everyone that Israel is incapable of withstanding additional evacuations. That is, if the state's maximum resources needed to be mobilized to evacuate about 7,000 people, there is no chance of evacuating 100,000-200,000 or more.

    An additional result achieved by the production was to portray Sharon and the State of Israel as "heroes of peace" who are granting a unilateral gift to the Palestinians and now expect them to reciprocate by dismantling all of the terror organizations in accordance with the Road Map, a mission that is more or less comparable from an operational perspective at this stage to evacuating tens of thousands of settlers from the territories. For this reason, this dramatic way of evacuating the Gaza Strip was chosen. After all, if a different method had been selected, simpler and more efficient, there would have been no cause to evacuate.

    The settlements in the Gaza Strip depend almost entirely on Israel for providing their basic needs, and even the most fanatic settler knows this very well. The God of Israel does not supply them with electricity and water, and does not even provide manna from the heavens. The products of the greenhouses need transportation and marketing systems, and the cars and tractors require fuel.

    Therefore, if the intention had really been to dismantle the Gush Katif settlements with a minimum of trauma and confrontation, in addition to ensuring rational compensation and decent housing arrangements for families and communities according to their reasonable preferences, it would only have been necessary to announce the final date for evacuating and to assist these evacuees in any way possible. After this final date, it would have been necessary to apply a hermetic blockade of the entire territory, with no one allowed to enter or exit, except for settlers who decide to leave. In particular, the transfer of all essential services and goods, including telephones, would have been halted. All this would have demanded just a 10th of the forces that were mobilized and would not have required the grandiose production being presented to us.

    But then, who would have needed an evacuation?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:34 AM, August 25, 2005  

  • For some reason, I find myself unwilling to believe, or read for that matter, anything presented to me by the ISM. Strange, huh?

    By Blogger Nemesis6, at 7:20 PM, August 26, 2005  

  • "we can easily use artillery in Gaza now, not fearing we will hit our own civilians."

    I sometimes wonder whether you consider Palestinians as human beings.

    By Blogger Adam, at 5:58 AM, August 29, 2005  

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