Thursday, July 13, 2006
Left Responses to Israeli Aggression
Israel’s Gaza invasion aimed at ousting Hamas
Author: Mark Almberg
People's Weekly World Newspaper, 07/13/06 15:32
A man carried the lifeless body of a Palestinian boy after an Israeli strike in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya on July 6
Despite a rising world outcry against the Israeli government’s attack on the Gaza Strip last week, the Israeli military continued to push ahead with a large-scale offensive that appeared to be aimed at bringing down the Hamas government and crippling Gaza’s infrastructure for years.
As the World went to press, new hostilities had broken out on the Israeli-Lebanese border, threatening to escalate the crisis in the region still further.
The Israeli assault on Gaza, which included the bombing of the territory’s only electrical power station and a resulting loss of electricity and water for a majority of its 1.4 million Palestinians, has created a severe humanitarian crisis, United Nations officials said.
Peace activists said the rescue of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, one of Israel’s stated reasons for the assault, appeared to be only a subsidiary objective, given the Israeli military’s attack on the power plant and its bombardment of bridges, roads, part of a university, schools, factories, political offices and other civilian buildings.
“Israel has specifically targeted civilian sites and infrastructure in this invasion,” said Mitchell Plitnick, director of education and policy for the San Francisco-based Jewish Voice for Peace, in a statement. “That is not going to save Cpl. Shalit, nor is it going to bring peace or security any closer for either Israelis or Palestinians.”
Gush Shalom, an Israeli peace group, placed newspaper advertisements July 7 that made a similar point: “The sowing of destruction in the Gaza Strip does not bring Gilad Shalit home. It is endangering his life.” Further, it said, the offensive had not curbed the launching of primitive Qassam rockets from Gaza into Israel — another stated reason for the invasion — but, on the contrary, had led to their increase.
Gush Shalom said the Israeli government’s refusal to talk to the elected Palestinian leadership has led to a situation where “the only dialogue left now is the dialogue of the bombs, often directed at civilian targets on both sides of the border.”
Josh Ruebner, grassroots advocacy coordinator for the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, said, “I don’t think the current actions by Israel have anything to do with trying to save Cpl. Gilad Shalit. This operation was planned weeks in advance. The logistics would have taken at least that long to plan.”
Ruebner told the World in a July 6 phone interview that the invasion needs to be viewed in the context of Israel’s actions in June, including the June 9 artillery shelling of a beach in Beit Lahiya, which killed eight Palestinians — including seven members of the same family — and injured 32; and several other episodes where civilians were killed and wounded by missile or shelling attacks.
At least 51 Palestinians have been killed since the June 27 invasion alone. One Israeli has been killed during the same time period.
The escalation of Israel’s military operations amounts to “an all-out war against the civilian population of Gaza,” Ruebner said. “By targeting civilians and the infrastructure, Israel is in clear violation of the Geneva Conventions. Such actions are considered war crimes.”
The real objective of the assault, Ruebner said, “is to undermine the elected Palestinian government.” Ironically, he said, it is having the opposite effect.
Israel’s attack shows that it remains the occupying power in Gaza, despite last year’s so-called unilateral withdrawal, he said.
Ruebner’s group is spotlighting the role of the U.S. in the assault, particularly its role in furnishing weapons that are used to target innocent civilians and infrastructure. “In particular,” he said, “we are concerned with the F-15 and F-16 fighters, along with over $1 billion in spare parts, engines and missiles, provided to Israel by the U.S. over the last five years.”
“We feel these weapons are being used in violation of the U.S. Arms Export Control Act and the Foreign Assistance Act. Congress and U.S. officials need to investigate these violations of U.S. law and impose sanctions on Israel for using these weapons — by cutting off aid.”
To date, the Bush administration has merely called on Israel to “exercise restraint,” he said. “Such calls for restraint are tepid, at best. The Bush administration needs to take a much more forceful response, not just to restrict aid but to end it until 860,000 Palestinians have their electricity and water restored and UN personnel are allowed in to provide humanitarian aid.”
The U.S. Campaign, a Washington-based coalition of over 200 groups, has been involved with the protests of the Israeli actions in several U.S. cities, including in Washington, New York and San Francisco. For more information about the campaign’s activities, including the work of member groups in raising funds for medical aid to Gaza, visit the following URL: http://www.endtheoccupation.org
This article can be found on the web at
Israel On The Offensive
by MARWAN BISHARA
posted online on July 5, 2006
The Israeli government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has exploited the capture of Army Corporal Gilad Shalit to restore the country's diminished deterrence against militant Palestinian factions, to break the elected Hamas government and to impose its unilateral territorial solution on the West Bank. But when the dust finally settles, Israel's offensive against the besieged territories--and now Lebanon--will have left the region with more destruction and death and the Israeli government with the same strategic deadlock. That's why instead of lashing out against their neighbors, Israelis must end the vicious cycle of provocations and retaliations, and pursue meaningful negotiations to end the occupation.
The Olmert government bases its campaign against Palestinian civilian infrastructure on three fallacies: that Israel does not initiate violence but retaliates to protect its citizens--in this case a captured soldier; that its response is measured and not meant to harm the broader population; and that it does not negotiate with those it deems terrorists.
But Israel's offensive did not start last week. The three-month-old Israeli government is responsible for the killing eighty or more Palestinians, some of whom were children, in attacks aimed at carrying out illegal extrajudicial assassinations and other punishments. Hamas has maintained a one-sided cease-fire for the past sixteen months, but continued Israeli attacks made Palestinian retaliation only a question of time. (Palestinian factions not under Hamas's control had been firing home-made rockets across the border off and on during this period--almost always with little or no damage or casualties--but these factions maintained that the attacks were in response to Israeli provocations.)
Since the beginning of the intifada in September 2000, repeated Israeli bombardments and targeted assassinations against Palestinians have aggravated the violence and led to Israeli deaths. In fact, according to the US academic Steve Niva, who has been documenting the intifada, many major Palestinian suicide bombings since 2001 have come in retaliation for Israeli assassinations, many of which occurred when the Palestinians were mulling over or abiding by self-imposed restraint.
To give three examples: On July 31, 2001, Israel's assassination of the two leading Hamas militants in Nablus ended a nearly two-month Hamas cease-fire, leading to the terrible August 9 Hamas suicide bombing in a Jerusalem pizzeria. On July 22, 2002, an Israeli air attack on a crowded apartment block in Gaza City killed a senior Hamas leader, Salah Shehada, and fourteen civilians, nine of them children, hours before a widely reported unilateral cease-fire declaration. A suicide bombing followed on August 4. On June 10, 2003, Israel's attempted assassination of the senior Hamas political leader in Gaza, Abdel-Aziz al-Rantisi, which wounded him and killed four Palestinian civilians, led to a bus bombing in Jerusalem on June 11 that killed sixteen Israelis.
Although Israel's provocations don't justify suicide bombings, they demonstrate how its deterrence has lost its effectiveness and why the source of terrorism lies first and foremost in its aggression and occupation. In this context, affected Palestinian civilians see themselves not as "collateral damage" but as victims of state terrorism.
As for the nature of its "retaliation," one could hardly refer to Israel's destruction of the civic infrastructure of 1.3 million Palestinians as "measured." The Israeli army began last week's offensive on the Gaza Strip by bombing bridges, roads and electric supplies, and by arresting nearly one-third of Hamas's West Bank-based parliamentarians and ministers (according to the Israeli press, the security services are holding the elected Palestinian officials as bargaining chips with Hamas).
The nature of the Israeli offensive is to punish, overwhelm and deter with disproportionate force, regardless of the suffering of the general public. Cutting off basic services of the Palestinians is not only unjustified, it is collective punishment of a civilian population--illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
The asymmetry between Israeli and Palestinian firepower mustn't be translated into asymmetry between the value of Israeli and Palestinian life. The Palestinians have captured one Israeli soldier, but Israel holds more than 9,000 Palestinian prisoners, about 900 of whom are under "administrative detention," i.e., without trial. It has held some of these prisoners for longer than three years. Those in the international community calling for the IDF soldier's release need to address, at minimum, the ordeal of Palestinian women and children in Israeli jails.
The Israeli government, like any other, has the right and indeed the duty to protect its people, but not at the high expense of the Palestinians, whose government's credibility also rests on defending its people. The use of military force to scare and overawe a civilian population for political ends--in this case, to pressure the Palestinian Authority or undermine the Hamas government--is the very definition of state terrorism.
In its thirty-nine years of occupation, Israel's attempts to tame or intimidate the Palestinians have instead led to their incitement and radicalization. Isn't it time for Israel to change course? After all, in a minuscule territory where the longest distance separating an Israeli and Palestinian area is no more than nine kilometers, Israelis will never be secure if the Palestinians are utterly insecure.
That's why Israel's harsh responses to Palestinian militancy have generally increased, not reduced, the threat to Israelis. While from 1978 to 1987 eighty-two Israelis were killed in Palestinian attacks, that figure jumped to more than 400 the following decade. And in less than two years of the second intifada (September 29, 2000, to May 29, 2002), more than 450 Israelis and 1,250 Palestinians were slain, mostly civilians on both sides.
Lastly, regarding its refusal to bargain with "terrorists," Israel's previous dealings with Lebanon's Hezbollah paint a different picture. Israel's bombardment of Beirut's electric generators and its Operation "Grapes of Wrath" in 1996, which led to the Qana massacre, failed, like many other operations, to deter the Lebanese resistance, which eventually forced Israel to negotiate through a third party with those it deemed "Islamist terrorists" and release hundreds of Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners from its jails in exchange for the remains of dead Israeli soldiers.
The ongoing saga has once again demonstrated the absurdity of unilateralism as a viable and secure solution. And yet, the Olmert government is using the kidnapping of the soldier to undermine the historic agreement Hamas has reached with PA President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party over a unity government and de facto recognition of and negotiations with Israel, its sworn enemy.
Whether we like it or not, Hamas, like Hezbollah, is mostly a byproduct of an oppressive occupation, not the other way around. That's why refraining from excessive use of force and concentrating all efforts on a negotiated end to the occupation is paramount. Otherwise, Israel will only increase Hamas's popularity and push it back to clandestinity and war.
Palestinian resistance defies the occupiers
By Michael Kramer
Published Jul 12, 2006 10:47 PM
The Palestinian people continue to resist the more than 100-year-old Zionist colonization project that has made millions of them refugees and continues to seize and expropriate their land at gunpoint.
The week of July 3-9, according to http://www.arabicnews.com Israeli forces seized approximately 250 acres from the village of Tubas located in the agriculturally rich Jordan River valley. First the Israelis denied Palestinian farmers access to the land because of “military training,” then they seized the land using a so-called “absentee law.”
Another 100 acres were seized from the village of Al-Awja located north of Jericho for use as a military outpost. In Beit Ula, a village northwest of Hebron, the Israeli authorities also confiscated five acres of grape vineyards from a farmer named Suleiman Mahmoud. Large swaths of land have also been seized for the building of the “apartheid wall.”
The armed wing of the Zionist movement is called the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The U.S. government sends the IDF billions of dollars every year in the form of the most advanced weapon systems in the world. In return it functions as an arm of the Pentagon in the oil-rich Middle East. In the past 50 years the IDF has invaded and occupied parts of Egypt, Lebanon and Syria numerous times.
Palestinians fight back
On June 25 an armed group of Palestinians conducted a commando-type operation called “Operation Scattering Illu sion” that they had planned for six months. (Maan News Agency, July 4) It required the building of a deep tunnel almost a kilometer long from one part of Occupied Pales tine to another, as well as the constant surveillance of an IDF outpost near the Zion ist settlement of Kibbutz Kerem Shalom.
While some commandos staged a diversionary attack nearby, the rest exited the tunnel and struck at 5:30 a.m. They split into three teams. One attacked an arm ored personnel carrier. Another attacked an observation post with rocket-propelled grenades. The third team attacked a Merkava Mk 3 battle tank.
Two of the four-member tank crew were killed and another was wounded. The fourth was captured and is now a prisoner of war.
In only 10 minutes the attack was over and most of the commandos returned from where they came. Muhammad Farawneh and Hamid Rantisi were killed. Rantisi, 24, was also a swimming coach.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz descri bed the operation as “one of [Hamas’s] greatest operational victories of the last six years against the Israel Defense Forces.” (English edition, June 30)
In response the Zionists have launched an attack against the civilian population and infrastructure of the Gaza region of Palestine from the ground, air and sea, destroying bridges and electricity-generating power plants. Bulldozers have devastated olive groves and other planted lands near Beit Lahya and Khan Younis. The IDF also fired air-to-ground missiles into some of the most densely populated urban communities in the world.
The IDF did all this with the Bush administration’s okay.
The Zionist attack has heightened the sense of unity in the Palestinian camp. The tensions between many organizations have evaporated. And thus far, the ground attack appears to have failed to draw out large numbers of Palestinian fighters into the open where the IDF has the advantage.
This article is copyright under a Creative Commons License.
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Found at: http://www.cpusa.org/article/articleprint/765/
Communist Party Statement on Crisis in Palestine
Author: CPUSA National Board
First published: 07/03/2006 11:49
The Communist Party USA strongly condemns the latest acts of aggression by the Israeli government against the Palestinian people. In the past days, the Israeli Army has launched a series of attacks on civilian infrastructure, including bridges, water supply facilities and Gaza’s only power station. In the face of the attacks, coupled with the ongoing withholding of humanitarian aid, Palestine faces a humanitarian crisis.
Then Israel abducted leading members of Hamas, including nine cabinet members, 20 members of the Palestinian Parliament, and dozens of others. Israeli planes bombarded the Palestinian Ministry of the Interior, setting it aflame and destroyed the offices of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh with missiles. These actions are a total denial of the democratic will of the Palestinian people and a violation of UN decisions and international law.
Israeli tanks are awaiting a full-scale invasion of Gaza.
Israel’s Olmert government justifies these aggressive and illegal actions as an attempt to recover an Israeli Defense Force soldier who was abducted by a small Palestinian militant group earlier last week. Apparently waiting for an excuse to try and overthrow the Hamas government, Israel’s aggressive acts have moved events further from a peaceful settlement.
While Egypt and several European countries attempted to intervene diplomatically, Israeli jets flew into Syrian air space on June 29, flying low over the residence of President Bashar al-Assad while he was in the building. Syrian ground forces fired at the aircraft. Israel’s total disregard for international law and national sovereignty is a threat to the peace and stability of the whole region.
This lawless aggression would not be possible without the support of the Bush administration and continued U.S. military aid to Israel.
The past week’s escalation by Israel follows a bloody month of attacks into Gaza including several extrajudicial assassinations of Palestinians and missile attacks that killed over 20 civilians.
The Israeli government controls the conditions of life in the West Bank and Gaza and continually limits the ability of the legitimately elected Palestinian government to function. It seeks to impose its own terms unilaterally and avoids negotiations. There can be no solution of peace and security on such a basis.
The only real solution to the cycle of violence and humanitarian crisis is for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Israeli forces back to the 1967 borders, the full independence and sovereignty of Palestine with its capital in East Jerusalem, and the resolution of the refugee problem according to the relevant UN resolutions. Only the mutual recognition of Israel and Palestine as two independent, equal states can end the catastrophe.
The latest round of provocations is clearly aimed at derailing the peace process as forces in Palestine draw closer to agreement on recognition of Israel within the pre-1967 borders. Fatah and Hamas signed an agreement on June 27 that, while flawed, moves in this direction.
We call on all parties to cease escalations and move to a negotiated settlement of the current crisis.
We call on peace-loving people in the U.S. to join this week’s protests against Israeli aggression and against U.S. aid and corporate support for the continued occupation of the West bank and Gaza.
We, with other groups, call on every person of conscience to call their representatives in Congress and the White House to exert pressure on Israel to end the invasion of Gaza.
We also call for withdrawal of U.S troops from Iraq, whose presence is escalating tensions in the whole Middle East and emboldening the Israeli government.
We condemn all terrorist acts, all attacks on civilians, Palestinian or Israeli.