Posts Tagged 'occupation'

California Democratic Party to says to Obama, Get Out of Afghanistan

Common Dreams,  November 16, 2009

Biggest State Party to Obama: Get Out of Afghanistan

By Norman Soloman

This week begins with a significant new straw in the political wind for President Obama to consider. The California Democratic Party has just sent him a formal and clear message: Stop making war in Afghanistan.

Overwhelmingly approved on Sunday by the California Democratic Party’s 300-member statewide executive board, the resolution is titled “End the U.S. Occupation and Air War in Afghanistan.”

The resolution supports “a timetable for withdrawal of our military personnel” and calls for “an end to the use of mercenary contractors as well as an end to air strikes that cause heavy civilian casualties.” Advocating multiparty talks inside Afghanistan, the resolution also urges Obama “to oversee a redirection of our funding and resources to include an increase in humanitarian and developmental aid.”

While Obama weighs Afghanistan policy options, the California Democratic Party’s adoption of the resolution is the most tangible indicator yet that escalation of the U.S. war effort can only fuel opposition within the president’s own party — opposition that has already begun to erode his political base.

Participating in a long-haul struggle for progressive principles inside the party, I co-authored the resolution with savvy longtime activists Karen Bernal of Sacramento and Marcy Winograd of Los Angeles.

Bernal, the chair of the state party’s Progressive Caucus, said on Sunday night: “Today’s vote formalized and amplified what had been, up to now, an unspoken but profoundly understood reality — that there is no military solution in Afghanistan. What’s more, the vote signified an acceptance of what is sure to be a continued and growing culture of resistance to current administration policies on the matter within the party. This is absolutely huge. Now, there can be no disputing the fact that the overwhelming majority of California Democrats are not only saying no to escalation, but no to our continued military presence in Afghanistan, period. The California Democratic Party has spoken, and we want the rest of the country to know.”

Winograd, who is running hard as a grassroots candidate in a primary race against pro-war incumbent Rep. Jane Harman, had this to say: “We need progressives in every state Democratic Party to pass a similar resolution calling for an end to the U.S. occupation and air war in Afghanistan. Bring the veterans to the table, bring our young into the room, and demand an end to this occupation that only destabilizes the region. There is no military solution, only a diplomatic one that requires we cease our role as occupiers if we want our voices to be heard. Yes, this is about Afghanistan — but it’s also about our role in the world at large. Do we want to be global occupiers seizing scarce resources or global partners in shared prosperity? I would argue a partnership is not only the humane choice, but also the choice that grants us the greatest security.”

Speaking to the resolutions committee of the state party on Saturday, former Marine Corporal Rick Reyes movingly described his experiences as a warrior in Afghanistan that led him to question and then oppose what he now considers to be an illegitimate U.S. occupation of that country.

Another voice of disillusionment reached party delegates when Bernal distributed a copy of the recent resignation letter from senior U.S. diplomat Matthew Hoh, sent after five months of work on the ground in Afghanistan. “I find specious the reasons we ask for bloodshed and sacrifice from our young men and women in Afghanistan,” he wrote. “If honest, our stated strategy of securing Afghanistan to prevent al-Qaeda resurgence or regrouping would require us to additionally invade and occupy western Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, etc. Our presence in Afghanistan has only increased destabilization and insurgency in Pakistan where we rightly fear a toppled or weakened Pakistani government may lose control of its nuclear weapons.”

Hoh’s letter added that “I do not believe any military force has ever been tasked with such a complex, opaque and Sisyphean mission as the U.S. military has received in Afghanistan.” And he wrote: “Thousands of our men and women have returned home with physical and mental wounds, some that will never heal or will only worsen with time. The dead return only in bodily form to be received by families who must be reassured their dead have sacrificed for a purpose worthy of futures lost, love vanished, and promised dreams unkept. I have lost confidence such assurances can anymore be made.”

From their own vantage points, many of the California Democratic Party leaders who voted to approve the out-of-Afghanistan resolution on Nov. 15 have gone through a similar process. They’ve come to see the touted reasons for the U.S. war effort as specious, the mission as Sisyphean and the consequences as profoundly unacceptable.

Sometime in the next few days, President Obama is likely to learn that the California Democratic Party has approved an official resolution titled “End the U.S. Occupation and Air War in Afghanistan.” But will he really get the message?

Norman Solomon is a journalist, historian, and progressive activist. His book War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death has been adapted into a documentary film of the same name. His most recent book is “Made Love, Got War. ” He is a national co-chair of the Healthcare NOT Warfare campaign. In California, he is co-chair of the Commission on a Green New Deal for the North Bay; .

Israeli Bill Would Impose Loyalty Oath on Arab Citizens

Toronto Star, May 25, 2009

Israeli Bill Would Impose Loyalty Oath on Arab Citizens

by Mattie Friedman

JERUSALEM – An ultranationalist Israeli party headed by the country’s foreign minister said today it plans to introduce a bill making Israeli citizenship contingent on an oath of allegiance, a move targeting the country’s Arab minority.

The bill follows a separate proposal Sunday by the same party that would make it illegal for Arabs to mourn the “catastrophe” – the term Palestinians use to describe the exile caused by Israel’s founding.

Both proposals by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party focus on the perceived disloyalty of the country’s Arab citizens, who form roughly one-fifth of the population. The legislation, which must still pass several hurdles to win final approval, drew harsh criticism from opposition legislators and civil rights groups.

Yisrael Beitenu swept to third place in recent parliamentary elections with a message that suggested Israel’s Arabs were an internal threat to the country. It is a senior partner in the coalition government. The loyalty oath was one of its main campaign pledges.

The new legislation would make citizenship contingent on an oath of loyalty to Israel as a “Jewish, Zionist and democratic state,” party spokesman Tal Nahum said.

The bill would also allow the government to revoke the citizenship of anyone who does not comply or perform some form of military or national service.

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has yet to express a position on the matter.

The party’s announcement came a day after it introduced a bill that would outlaw Arab demonstrations mourning their defeat and exile in the war that surrounded Israel’s establishment in 1948. The bill received preliminary approval from a ministerial forum but still needs to pass repeated readings in parliament before becoming law.

The bill threatens three years in prison to anyone who participates in public protests or commemorations.

“I think we can reach a situation in which citizens of our country will not mark a day of mourning for the establishment of the country they live in,” the lawmaker who sponsored the bill, Alex Miller, told Army Radio.

The bills appear not have the support necessary to win parliamentary approval. Nonetheless, they drew furious reactions from Arab parties and civil rights groups.

Arab lawmaker Hana Swaid called Miller’s bill “racist,” saying it “eliminates the right of Palestinian Arab citizens to pronounce their identity and national feelings.”

Although Israel’s Arabs, unlike Palestinians in the neighbouring West Bank and Gaza Strip, hold full citizenship rights, they suffer from discrimination and have little identification with a country that defines itself as Jewish.

Mohammed Darawshe of the Abraham Fund Initiatives, which works for coexistence between Jews and Arabs in Israel, said the bills reflect “an ideology imported from dark regimes that have collapsed.”

Also today, Israeli aircraft scattered pamphlets over the Gaza Strip warning residents to stay away from the border.

The Arabic pamphlets warned Gazans to stay out of areas 300 metres to 500 metres from the border fence, saying they risk being shot. The military has scattered similar warning pamphlets in the past.
© Copyright Toronto Star 1996-2009

Two Schools in Nablus, A Film

Al-Jazeera, December 10, 2007

Two Schools in Nablus, A Film

Filmmakers: Tom Evans and George Azar

Those who can, teach - often without payTeachers working for months without pay, a chronic overcrowding in the classrooms, and students at risk each day from imprisonment and perhaps worse – welcome to the typical education experience in a Palestinian school.

Witness presents a series of three films taking a close look at the extraordinary difficulties and challenges that two ordinary Palestinian schools face. While poverty is widespread throughout the West Bank and Gaza, Nablus is one of the worst-hit areas because of the decreasing range of employers and the limited number of opportunities.

Hobbled by the Palestinians’ diminishing purchasing power and by Israeli security closures that have isolated Nablus and its merchants from the rest of the West Bank, hundreds of employees have been fired this year alone. According to the Mayor of Nablus, about 70 per cent of the city’s residents live below the poverty line, but the Palestinian Authority and local government have virtually no funds to give the poor. Astonishingly, despite these poverty levels, almost 90 per cent of children in Nablus go on to university.

But the education system is cracking under the weight of the crisis. More than a million Palestinian students face daily risks ranging from Israeli roadblocks to imprisonment and even death. Witness goes into the classrooms and corridors of two schools to gauge the situation.

Mahmoud Awemleh and Najla Yousif, maths and science secondary school teachers, do their best to teach and inspire their pupils, while trying themselves to survive the challenges of life in Nablus.

Education in an occupation zoneOsaid writes his end-of-year exams which he missed while in an Israeli prison. The schools’ teachers anxiously await pay day, wondering if their salaries will come through this month or not. Meanwhile tragic pandemonium breaks out when Israeli soldiers launch a nearby raid to root out militants. This series provides a rare glimpse into the daily lives of those trying to educate, and be educated, under occupation.

Part One: Nablus: Learning on the Frontline

Part Two: Nablus: Learning Under Siege

Part Three: Nablus: Learning to Die

Watch Part One of this episode of Witness on Youtube

Watch Part Two of this episode of Witness on Youtube

Watch Part Three of this episode of Witness on Youtube

Watch Part Four of this episode of Witness on Youtube

Iraq’s Civil Resistance

The Nation, December 6, 2007

Iraq’s Civil Resistance

Bill Weinberg

Although it is eclipsed from the headlines by the ongoing carnage, there is an active civil resistance in Iraq that opposes the occupation, the torture regime it protects and the Islamist and Baathist insurgencies alike.   This besieged opposition–under threat of repression and assassination–is fighting to keep alive elementary freedoms for women, leading labor struggles against Halliburton and other contractors, opposing the privatization of the country’s oil and other resources and seeking a secular future for Iraq.   They note that what they call “political Islam” dominates both sides in the conflict–the collaborationist regime and the armed insurgents.   Both seek to impose a reactionary, quasi-theocratic order.

Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies articulates the dilemma: “There has been a huge problem since the beginning of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, that the only resistance we hear about is the military resistance.   Key sector organizations–oil workers, women, human rights defenders and many others–have all continued their work to oppose the occupation, at great risk to their own safety.   Many of them operate in local areas, and almost all function outside the US-controlled Green Zone, so few Western journalists, and almost no mainstream US journalists, have access to their work.”

On July 4 the leader of a popular citizens’ self-defense force in Baghdad was executed.   According to the Iraq Freedom Congress (IFC)–a civil resistance coalition–a unit of US Special Forces troops and Iraqi National Guard forces raided the home of Abdel-Hussein Saddam at 3 am, opening fire without warning on him and his young daughter.   The attackers took Abdel-Hussein, leaving the girl bleeding on the floor.   Two days later his body was found in a local morgue.   Since late last year Abdel-Hussein had been the leader of the Safety Force, a civil patrol organized by the IFC to protect their communities.   Like many IFC leaders, he had been an opponent of Saddam Hussein’s regime and was imprisoned for two years in the 1990s.   His death was mostly ignored by the world media.

But on August 3 some 100 activists from the Japanese antiwar group ZENKO, an acronym for National Assembly for Peace and Democracy, gathered near the US Embassy in Tokyo to protest the slaying.   One banner read: Do US-Iraqi security forces promote civil rights or Big Brother thuggery? Abdel-Hussein found out!

Among those speaking were two IFC leaders, including president Samir Adil, who said, “Because he said, ‘No Sunni, no Shiite, yes to human identity,’ because he wanted to build a civil society in Iraq without occupation, without sectarian militias–for that they killed Abdel-Hussein.   They think they can defeat the IFC, the only voice in Iraq that says yes to a free society, yes to a nonviolent society, no to occupation, no to sectarian gangsters.   But contrary to that, after the assassination, many people joined the IFC.   We received messages of solidarity from around the world.   As long as we have the support of people like you, we will never give up.”

The IFC was formed in 2005, bringing together trade unions, women’s organizations, neighborhood assemblies and student groups around two demands: a secular Iraqi state and an end to the occupation.   ZENKO’s most significant achievement over the past year has been raising $400,000, which helped the IFC to establish a satellite station, Sana TV.

Nadia Mahmood, an exile from Basra who is the chief presenter at Sana TV’s London studio, told the protesters, “We established the IFC to oppose occupation or rule by Sunni or Shiite militias.   That is why the US, which says it came to Iraq to bring democracy, assassinates our leaders and raids our offices.   And that is why we must demand an end to the occupation.”

Other IFC leaders have been assassinated–generally by unaccountable militias–and the Baghdad office that serves as IFC headquarters and Sana TV’s local studio was twice raided by US troops.   Mahmood and Adil say the IFC is becoming more of a threat because of its growing successes–uniting with organized labor to oppose privatization of Iraq’s oil, bringing together secular anti-occupation forces in a common front and liberating space in Baghdad and other cities from sectarian militias.

While Adil says the IFC’s Safety Force does bear arms–“Every home has a rifle in Iraq; it is just a question of how they are used”–he emphasizes that the IFC is pursuing a civil struggle and that its members are not insurgents.   “In principle, we believe in the right of armed resistance,” says Adil.   “But we believe a civil resistance is needed in Iraq now.   Armed resistance has only brought terrorism to Iraq, turning the country into an international battlefield.”

Adil is also a veteran of political and labor struggles against the Saddam Hussein dictatorship.   Imprisoned for six months in 1992, he was tortured in prison–he never removes his cap, but a long scar can be seen extending down his scalp to his temple.   He returned to Iraq from Canadian exile in 2005 to help revive an independent political opposition.

Adil says this opposition faces two enemies: the occupation and political Islam–a Sunni wing linked to Al Qaeda and supported by Saudi Arabia, and Shiite militias with varying degrees of support from Iran.   These have turned Baghdad into a patchwork of hostile camps.   The IFC includes secular Muslims (and nonbelievers) of both Sunni and Shiite background in its leadership, as well as Kurds and people of mixed heritage.   Adil claims the IFC now has a presence in twenty cities, including Baghdad, Basra, Mosul, Kirkuk and Tikrit.   “We have thousands of followers,” he says, “and we are growing every day.” The IFC’s first national convention, held October 21 in Kirkuk, was attended by elected delegates from all of Iraq’s major cities.

The IFC’s self-governing zone of some 5,000 in Baghdad, established in the district of Husseiniya more than a year ago, is an island of coexistence in a city torn by sectarian cleansing, says Adil.   Thanks to the Safety Force, the district has become a no-go zone for sectarian militias.   “There has been no sectarian killing in Husseiniya since September 2006,” Adil boasts.   The IFC is working to establish more self-governing zones in Baghdad’s mixed Sunni-Shiite districts, and it has a similar autonomous zone in Kirkuk.

Adil is clear on where he places the blame for the crisis of violent sectarianism.   “The occupation and the US-imposed Constitution have divided Iraq, Sunni against Shiite.   The IFC is the only force to oppose this division of society.”

The Safety Force is increasingly made up of trade unionists, a growing pillar of support for the IFC.   In a September 8 press conference in Basra, representatives of the IFC’s Anti-Oil Law Front joined leaders of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions to warn the Iraqi Parliament against passing the US-written oil law, which would grant broad access to foreign multinationals.   IFOU president Hassan Juma’a, also a member of the IFC’s central council, announced that the union will shut down the pipeline leading from Iraq’s southern oilfields if the law is approved.   Five days earlier, the IFC had staged a protest in Baghdad’s Liberation Square.   American forces surrounded the rally, blocking access to the square.

On June 4 the IFOU went on strike for four days to protest the oil law and demand the release of benefits due to workers, paralyzing the Basra-Baghdad pipeline.   Four IFOU leaders, including Juma’a, were ordered arrested for “sabotaging the Iraqi economy.” The arrest orders, never formally dropped, hadn’t been enforced when the strike ended.   Even though a heavy Iraqi army presence remained in Basra after the strike, an IFOU march against the oil law on July 16 brought out thousands.   The government recently threatened to carry out the arrest orders if the unions stage a new strike.

“The oil law does not represent the aspirations of the Iraqi people,” Juma’a said in a statement from the union in May.   “It will let the foreign oil companies into the oil sector and enact privatization under so-called production-sharing agreements.   The federation calls on all unions in the world to support our demands and to put pressure on governments and the oil companies not to enter the Iraqi oilfields.”

Iraq’s labor leaders are, of course, targeted for death.   On September 18 the IFOU announced that a leading union member, Talib Naji Abboud, was shot when US troops opened fire on his car.   This killing may have been a case of trigger-happy soldiers rather than a targeted assassination, but it was only the most recent in a long string of slayings of union activists–most of them carried out by militias and death squads.

Despite danger and intimidation, the campaign against the oil law is building.   A second rally at Baghdad’s Liberation Square, called by the Anti-Oil Law Front for September 22, brought out hundreds–a significant achievement in an atmosphere of terror.

One of the IFC’s founding organizations, the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, led a campaign against the new Constitution, which overturned the secular 1959 Personal Status Law, instead referring family disputes to Sharia courts.   OWFI leader Yanar Mohammed says the Constitution is encouraging a repressive atmosphere, and acid attacks against “immodest” women who refuse to take the veil are on the rise.   OWFI organizes shelters in Baghdad for women fleeing “honor killings,” which have surged under the occupation.   Mohammed herself has received numerous death threats.

In addition to ZENKO, IFC solidarity groups have been established in Britain, France and South Korea.   In America, US Labor Against the War has brought Iraqi union leaders on speaking tours.   But there is still little awareness in the United States of Iraq’s civil resistance–even on the antiwar left.

When asked about secular civil resistance movements in Iraq, Middle East scholar Juan Cole, publisher of the popular Informed Comment blog, says, “I think they are by now mostly in exile.   The religious groups are better organized, get outside money and have paramilitaries.” Gilbert Achcar, author of The Clash of Barbarisms: September 11 and the Making of the New World Disorder, largely concurs.   “What is tragic is that in the whole area actually, left-wing, progressive, emancipatory forces are quite marginal, as a product of historical defeat.” However, Achcar is encouraged by the oil workers’ struggle.   “What I think would be worth supporting in Iraq is the oil and gas workers’ union in Basra,” he says.   “This is a genuinely autonomous union.   And they are in a very sensitive position, because the oil industry is the main resource of Iraq.”

Bennis sees hope there as well.   “The oil workers union has provided one of the extraordinary models of local/national mobilization in defense of workers’ rights as well as Iraqi sovereignty and unity….   The work of US Labor Against the War, in mobilizing labor opposition to the Iraq occupation and simultaneously building support for the oil workers, also provides a model for international solidarity from the other side.”

“The occupation and puppet government in Iraq created this conflict,” says Nadia Mahmood.   “They supported the militias and opened the door to terrorist networks.   The US is not supporting political freedom.   They just seek to loot our resources, and it’s time to go.” But she emphasizes that if the US exit is to lead to peace and a secular order, the civil resistance will need support from friends abroad.   “The victory against US forces in Iraq will not be a local victory–it will be an international victory.”

Sickening portrayal of Israeli Army brutality and its brutalizing effect on soldiers

Occupation Magazine, Sept. 21, 2007


On the academic research of Psychologist Nofer Ishai-Karen and Psychology Prof. Joel Elitzur Dalia Karpel shortened translation of article in Haaretz “Hamedovevet” 21.09.07

`We – Israeli Soldiers – were put there to punish the Palestinians`, says Ilan Vilenda, an Israeli soldier who served in Rafah during the first Intifada.  Ilan is the only soldier of 21 who agreed to have his name published, after he was interviewed by psychologist Nofer Ishai-Karen.

The soldiers spoke freely to Nofer, who served with them in the same ASHBAL platoon 20 years ago; They disclosing their innermost emotions about the horrendous crimes, in which they took part: Murder, breaking bones of Palestinian children, actions of humiliation, destruction of property, robbery and theft.

Soldier `A` testimony: `We decided to turn an old shower in our base to a make-shift detention cell. A Palestinian was brought there, handcuffed and mouth banded so he couldn`t talk, or move. We `forgot him there for three days`…

Soldier `B` testimony: `I was on my first patrol. Others simply shot like mad. I started to shoot as they did. They `set my on`. I took my weapon and shot. Nobody was there to tell me otherwise`

— Psychologist Ishai-Karen was shocked to find that the soldiers enjoyed the `intoxication of power`, and had pleasure from using violence. She said: `Most of my interviewees enjoyed their own instigated violence during their Occupation service“.

Soldier `C` testimony: `The truth is that I love this mess – I enjoy it. It is like being on drugs. If I didn`t enter Rafah, to put down some rebellion -at least once a week- I’d go berserk.

Soldier `D` testimony: What is great is that you don’t have to follow any law or rule. You feel that YOU ARE THE LAW; you decide. Once you go into the Occupied Territories YOU ARE GOD`.

Emotional dumbness

Soldier `E` testimony: We drove an APC through Rafah. A man of 25 walked nearby. He didn`t hurl a stone at us or anything. Then without any reason `X` shot him in the stomach. We left him lying on the sidewalk`.

Soldier `F` testimony: Some `tough guys` developed it into `an ideology`, according to which we have to react brutally even for minor events. A woman threw a sandal at me. I kicked her with my foot at her crotch. I broke her. She can’t have children any longer. Next time she won’t throw sandals at me… and when another woman spat at me she got the butt of my gun in her face. She can`t spit now.

Soldier `G` described his first forced entry to a home to detain a Palestinian: `He was real big, some 30 years old. He refused detention. We hit him but couldn’t force him down. Some people came hurling stones at us. We beat him and told him to lie down. Till he finally did. We drove to the base with him. By that time he had lost consciousness. He died some days later`.

Nofer Ishai-Karen: `Some NCOs encouraged the soldiers to behave brutally, and provided their own example.

Soldier `H` testimony: After two months in Rafah a new NCO commander arrived. The first patrol, which he commanded, was at 06 hours. Rafah was under curfew. Not a soul was on the street. Then he saw a young boy, of about 4, playing in the sand in the courtyard of his home. The kid was building a castle in the sand. Suddenly the NCO, a guy from the Engineers Corps, ran to chase the kid. We followed. He captured the kid and broke his elbow. Broke the kid`s elbow! Damn me if I’m not telling the truth! Then the NCO treaded on the kid`s stomach three times, before he moved on. We couldn’t believe our eyes… But the next day we went on patrol with that guy and the soldiers started to imitate him…

What happened then?

Some guys couldn’t stomach it. The case of severe abuse of three young adolescents, who were bounded hand and foot by a staff sergeant, got them to alert a senior officer. `When the medic arrived the boys were bleeding all over, their clothes were soaked with blood, and they were shivering from fear. They were made to kneel like dogs and were afraid to move`. The NCO was punished by 3 months detention. But the platoon commander backed the NCO and reprimanded the conscientious soldiers for `defaming the platoon`.

Nofer Ishai-Karen: The sacred value in the [Israeli] Army is `fighters` solidarity`, i.e., loyalty towards your fellow combatants. The platoons protected their secrets, as a family defends its `black sheep`. The fellows regard as `traitors` the conscientious soldiers, says Nofer Ishai-Karen. The cover-up was complete when our `good guy` was excommunicated and ostracized by the entire platoon. And the NCO? He left the country, and now lives in the U.S.A. The majority of the soldiers of these platoons had left Israel. Only five or six remain in Israel.

Nofer studied two platoons ESHBAL and ESHKHAR, the last was more extremely violent, she says.

Finally back to Ilan Vilenda, the only soldier who allowed Nofer to use his full name and even be photographed. Vilenda was a staff sergeant in charge of `operations`.

ILAN` VILENDA`S testimony: `Our job was to beat them… I personally hit a boy and another. I used my hands or the truncheon. We beat more severely [Palestinian] adults. We acted like policemen but we acted outside the law. There was this Palestinian who had a TV at home. The World Cup in Soccer was on, and we used to invade his privacy to watch the games. After a while he had enough, and asked us take the TV set and move.

`I was born on a Kibbutz, to a family whose values were humane `Zionist left wing`. The Palestinians threw tons of stones at us. Whereas at the beginning my ideological commitment restrained my actions, my anger accumulated, and I released it violently. It was meant to be. We were there `to make them [Palestinians] pay. My political views changed too. I now support the [extreme-right-religious] National-Religious Party.

After his release from the army, Vilenda and 5 other Israelis were arrested in Goa, India for possession of LSD. ‘I wanted to serve my country. This was my task… but the entire IDF is executing illegal-orders.’

Who is responsible?

General Matan Vilna’i [now serving under Ehud Barak as vice Minister of Defense] was at the time [during the FIRST INTIFADA] Chief of the IDF Southern Command. He often visited our platoon and discussed with soldiers, says Nofer But… there you go… the `Instruments of DENIAL and CONCEALMENT` went to work…`

Besides: The Israeli Army didn’t provide the unit with regular training, not were the soldiers given regular leaves, or provided with free time to recuperate and recover. The interviewed soldiers maintained that the longer they operated [against the Palestinians in Rafah] without leave, the more violent they became in imposing their kind of `Law and Order`. They claimed `Army [commanders] were aware of the erosion towards violence, and encouraged it in order to save manpower`.

NOTES: General Matan Vilna’i must have known what happened. High-ranking officers who served on the Occupied West Bank had voiced similar warnings against Israeli Army behavior. `The orders left a wide gap, a margin… of intentionally un-specified `grey zone`, which encouraged violent behavior of soldiers`, said Reserve Colonel Elisha Shapira, who served in the Nablus Area at the same time. Soldiers were told `don’t hit Palestinians – but bring them to interrogation `swell-headed` – blown-up`.

The events, which Nofer Ishai-Karen researched, happened some 17 years ago. The situation has further deteriorated since that time. Now Israeli Army and Air Force General openly take pride in acts of revenge against Palestinian civilians. Maj-Gen Eliezer Shkeidi took pride in announcing that his pilots break the sound barrier over Gaza, producing sonic booms.

These cause severe PTSD symptoms among young children; they have also caused miscarriages among pregnant women. The indiscriminate shelling of Palestinian homes had caused many deaths lately, including many children. Perhaps last but not least: The Israeli cabinet, backed by Washington, said it would disrupt power and fuel supply to Gaza.

[1] This is an abbreviated translation of an article by Dalia Karpel titled HAMEDOVEVET [the one who makes people talk]. The article appeared in the Hebrew Weekend Supplement, on 21 September 2007. It is based on academic research, which Nofer Ishai-Karen and Psychology Prof. Joel Elizur, of the Hebrew University published in Alpayim Magazine Vol. 31.

[2] The article was not translated to English and thus did NOT appear in Haaretz English Language edition.

[3] Psychology Prof. Joel Elizur, of the Hebrew University, who advised Nofer Ishai-Karen’s Master’s thesis, served in the reserves in the Mental Health Department of the Israeli Army. But the IDF wouldn`t allow him to conduct research on Israeli Soldiers’ violence. The researchers hold the interview raw audio material.

4] To my best knowledge the Israeli Army hasn`t either charged a single case of abuse or murder by soldiers of Palestinians in proper court.



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