Report: The Impending Abyss

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

I. Ongoing Terrorism in the Occupied Territories

II. What Constructs the Suicide Bomber?

III. Torpedoing the Peace Process

IV. Roots of the Al-Aqsa Intifada

V. Jenin and the 9/11 Bandwagon

VI. Israel’s Manufacture of War: The Role of Hamas

VII. The Israel-Hamas Connection and the Source of Terror

VIII. Zionist ‘Grand Designs’ for the Expansion of Empire

IX. Preparing for “Transfer” by Foiling a Truce

CONCLUSIONS

NOTES

Executive SummaryARY

This report provides a comprehensive overview of the escalation of the Israel-Palestine conflict in the year 2002, its specific concurrent causes, its general political background, and its probable future trajectory if current events continue on their course. The report analyses the broad historical context of the conflict, including the Oslo peace process, Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories, and the policies of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the 1990s.

This analysis provides the basis on which to elucidate the key reasons for the exacerbation of violence and repression, which consist largely of multiple Israeli programmes of domination in the Occupied Territories. Israel’s exploitation of Oslo contributed to the increasing irrelevance and redundancy of the “peace process”, which in turn eroded Palestinian faith in a meaningful political horizon leading to self-determination. Israel’s relentless policies of violence and repression, pursued within the matrix of an unabashed system of apartheid, compounded the latter, contributing directly to increasing indigenous incentive to intensify military resistance against the occupation. The ultimate result has been a cycle of violence, with Israeli State terrorism being preponderant in scale according to a comparative study of statistical data on Israel and Palestinian deaths. In this connection, the nature and impact of Israel Defence Force actions in the assault on Jenin refugee camp are assessed and documented, including a review of the controversy over whether a massacre occurred.

The available evidence, furthermore, strongly suggests that Israeli military intelligence planners have long been aware that the direct consequence of Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories will be to undermine the existing infrastructure of Palestinian society, including the power base of the PA, leading to increasing violence against Israel. The Israeli right-wing é now represented in the leadership of Ariel Sharon in his Likud administration – has for some time supported such policy with the explicitly expressed intention of undermining the PA, bypassing political dialogue, and generating conditions conducive to the rise of Hamas. In this connection, the report examines the sociological and psychological conditions in the Occupied Territories that have led to the rise in Palestinian militancy and the corresponding terror tactic of suicide bombing.

There is a consistent pattern indicating that the recent Hamas terrorist atrocities against Israel are deliberately provoked by the Israeli military in order to manufacture a pretext for brutal Israeli policies in the Occupied Territories. The ultimate purpose of this provocation appears to be longstanding right-wing plans to implement a significant “transfer” é ethnic cleansing é of vast numbers of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories to neighbouring Jordan. The implications of Zionist grand strategy in the Middle East, including Israel’s willingness to resort to the use of nuclear weapons, are also evaluated.

Unless urgent preventative and responsive measures are taken by the international community and, most importantly, human rights activists around the world é as well as the general public – a devastating humanitarian catastrophe of unprecedented epic proportions is more than likely to unfold in the Middle East, with the possible danger of a regional nuclear holocaust that would cause fundamental damage to the entire world.

This report draws from mainstream press sources, human rights reports, and the work of leading experts on the Middle East. It is being issued in an effort to generate public awareness of the past and probable future trajectory of the Middle East conflict, in the hope of contributing to a worldwide movement to forestall and prevent a regional humanitarian catastrophe. In this connection, it is hoped that this report plays the role of a comprehensive introductory guide to the Israel-Palestine conflict, to thus be used as an educational tool with which to inform, and ultimately, reform. Please distribute this report widely.

Despite the historical and documentary record, the myth of Israel’s victim-hood is consistently propagated by the regime to justify its illegal and increasingly brutal occupation of Palestine. This myth is achieved by the constant repetition, and distortion, of the following concept: that the State of Israel is under siege from Palestinian terrorists embarking on incessant suicide missions, resulting in the mass terrorisation of Israeli civilians. This concept is without doubt to some extent correct é however, devoid of qualification it becomes misleading.

The picture of Israel as a victim, rather than a perpetrator of terrorism, can only emerge from a presupposed pro-Israeli agenda, which focuses principally on the killing of Israelis by Palestinian suicide bombers, while completely blocking out all consciousness of the killing of Palestinians by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF). As a consequence, the historical record, along with the factual context of contemporary developments, is almost entirely erased from public consciousness.

To understand the reality of the Middle East conflict as objectively as possible, it is essential to inspect and compare the entire spectrum of violence committed by all actors within the conflict. Only in this way can the reality and scale of terrorism on both sides be clarified, and responsibility for the violence be thus proportionally assigned. This should be done comprehensively by drawing together the historical and contemporary record of conflict between Israeli and Palestinian forces.

We may begin with the current crisis. The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem based in Jerusalem reports that: “Since Israel began its invasions into Palestinian refugee camps on February 27, dozens of unarmed Palestinian civilians have been killed, including children and medical personnelé

“In every city and refugee camp that they have entered, IDF soldiers have repeated the same pattern: indiscriminate firing and the killing of innocent civilians, intentional harm to water, electricity and telephone infrastructure, taking over civilian houses, extensive damage to civilian property, shooting at ambulances and prevention of medical care to the injured.

 

“The grave results have not caused the IDF to change its course of action. Israeli policymakers knew the grave price to the civilian population after the incursion into the first refugee camp. Yet they continue to engage in actions that constitute grave breaches of international humanitarian law.”[1]

According to authoritative statistical data on the number of fatalities for both Israelis and Palestinians published and endorsed by B’Tselem, between the beginning of the Intifada (9th December 1987) and the end of January 2002, a total of 2,166 Palestinian civilians were killed by Israeli security forces and settlers. In the same period, a total of 454 Israeli civilians were killed by Palestinians.[2]

Thus, the approximate ratio of fatalities between Palestinians and Israelis for this period is 5:1. In other words, Israeli violence resulting in death against Palestinians is approximately 5 times that of Palestinian violence resulting in death against Israelis.

Statistical data on the number of injuries on both sides is an even more damning indictment of the Israeli role. According to data produced by the Palestine Red Crescent Society for the period between 29th September 2002 and 6th April 2002 é and endorsed as reliable by B’Tselem é the total number of Palestinians (mostly civilians) seriously injured by Israeli use of live ammunition, rubber/plastic bullets, tear gas, shrapnel and bomb fragments amounts to 18,761.[3] In the same period, the total number of Israeli casualties (again, mostly civilians) amounts to 427. Thus, the ratio of casualties between Palestinians and Israelis is a shocking 44:1. In other words, Israeli violence against Palestinians resulting in civilian casualties is 44 times that of Palestinian violence against Israelis.[4]

The only logical conclusion one can draw from this analysis is that the statistical data proves very clearly that Israel bears overwhelming responsibility for violence and terrorism in this conflict, as a matter of record. The implications have been duly noted by respected observers, such as the Israeli political sociologist Dr. Lev Grinberg, Director of the Humphrey Institute for Social Research at Ben Gurion University in Beersheva. He describes how Israeli State terrorism in the Occupied Territories is tolerated by the international community, and repackaged through the media as “self-defence”:

“What is the difference between State terrorism and individual terrorist acts? If we understand this difference we’ll understand also the evilness of the U.S. policies in the Middle East and the forthcoming disasters. When Yassir Arafat was put under siege in his offices and kept hostage by the Israeli occupation forces, he was constantly pressed into condemning terror and combatting terrorism. Israel’s State-terrorism is defined by U.S. officials as ‘self-defense’, while individual suicide bombers are called terrorists.

 

“The only small difference is that Israeli aggression is the direct responsibility of Ariel Sharon, Benjamin Ben Eliezer, Shimon Peres and Shaul Mofaz, while the individual terrorist acts are done by individuals in despair, usually against Arafat’s will. One hour after Arafat declared his support of a cease-fire and wished the Jews a Happy Passover feast, a suicide bomber exploded himself in an hotel in Netanya, killing 22 innocent Jews celebrating Passover. Arafat was blamed as responsible for this act, and the present IDF offensive has been justified through this accusation.

 

“At the same time, Sharon’s responsibility for Israeli war crimes is being completely ignored. Who should be arrested for the targeted killing of almost 100 Palestinians? Who will be sent to jail for the killing of more than 120 Palestinian paramedics? Who will be sentenced for the killing of more than 1,200 Palestinians and for the collective punishment of more than 3,000,000 civilians during the last 18 months? And who will face the International Tribunal for the illegal settlement of occupied Palestinian Lands, and the disobedience of UN decisions for more than 35 years?”[5]

Having undertaken a comparative analysis of the violence by all actors in the conflict, it is clear that the vast majority of acts of terrorism are committed by the State of Israel against Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. The mass terrorisation of the Palestinian people by the Israeli Defence Force far outweighs in scale and impact Palestinian suicide bombings in Israel. As Ben Gurion University Sociologist Dr. Lev Grinberg notes: “Suicide bombs killing innocent citizens must be unequivocally condemned; they are immoral acts, and their perpetrators should be sent to jail. But they cannot be compared to State terrorism carried out by the Israeli Governmenté

“The former are individual acts of despair of a people that sees no future, vastly ignored by an unfair and distorted international public opinion. The latter are cold and ‘rational’ decisions of a State and a military apparatus of occupation, well equipped, financed and backed by the only superpower in the world.

 

“Yet in the public debate, State terrorism and individual suicide bombs are not even considered as comparable cases of terrorism. The State terror and war crimes perpetrated by the Israeli Government are legitimized as ‘self-defense’, while Arafat, even under siege, is demanded to arrest ‘terrorists’.

 

“I want to ask: Who will arrest Sharon, the person directly responsible for the orders to kill Palestinians? When is he going to be defined a terrorist too? How long will the world ignore the Palestinian cry that all they want is freedom and independence? When will it stop neglecting the fact that the goal of the Israeli Government is not security, but the continued occupation and subjugation of the Palestinian people?”[6]

It is absurd to imagine that such a grueling and brutal occupation that consists not only of military violence, but also of socio-economic repression, can continue without the indigenous population resisting that occupation with military force. Violence breeds violence, and terrorism against a civilian population under occupation will elicit a military response as a matter of that population’s attempt to defend itself and repel the occupying invader. The brutal policies of the apartheid regime in South Africa, for example, inevitably created a climate conducive to black resistance, which faced with violent police-state repression quickly and predictably responded in kind with violent protest, accompanied by numerous assassination attempts, ambushes, attacks on civilians, and so on. This is not a matter of justification é it is a matter of scientifically establishing the causal and contextual connections between violent repression and terrorist retribution.

The point has been articulated well by Ali Abunimah, a leading commentator on Middle East and Arab-American affairs who has written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, Ha’aretz, among others: “As long as Israel chooses violence as its only way of addressing the Palestinians, then there will always be some Palestinians who choose violence in response. The only way to break this devastating cycle is a political process that quickly ends Israel’s occupation and gives the Palestinians their freedom.”[7] But this is exactly what Israel refuses to do. The leading American Jewish journalist Ellen Cantarow – who between 1979 and 1989 reported for the Village Voice, Inquiry, Mother Jones, and other U.S. newspapers from Israel and the West Bank é describes how during those years she witnessed “on the ground the rapid growth of Israel’s settlements and the seizure of Palestinian land and water for them: today over half the West Bank’s resources now are in Israel’s hands. (About a third of Gaza’s resources have suffered the same fate.) é

“I conducted in-depth interviews with ultra-right-wing settlers and settler-leaders whose cry was: ‘Let them bow their heads, or let Israel expel them’. I interviewed Palestinian villagers who had suffered settler vigilante actions and read accounts of these by Israeli-Jewish reporters of conscience in Ha’aretz and other Israeli papers. 

 

“These vigilante actions ran the whole gamut: wanton destruction of property and crops, rampages through villages with cries of ‘Death to the Arabs’ and smashing of car windows, casual in-the-street humiliation of Palestinian civilians, beatings, murder. Within Israel I witnessed the increasing polarization of Israeli society by the occupation; the growing, virulent racism of new generations. Take, for instance, the Moroccan Jews in Kiryat Shemona, members of Menachem Begin’s voting base about whom I wrote for the Village Voice in 1982 and who most commonly told me, ‘The only good Arab is a dead Arab’.

 

“Throughout Israel’s 34 years of occupation, collective punishment for the alleged acts of individuals have been the order of the day – for example, 23-hour-a-day curfews lasting for weeks on end; the bulldozing of homes.”

Most shocking of all, Cantarow reports that the IDF is administrating a system of institutionalised racial discrimination é an apartheid system é in the Occupied Territories:

“On all my stays in the West Bank I personally witnessed the casual, daily humiliation of Palestinians at Israeli checkpoints; the casual landscape and social scenery of apartheid (the most obvious and continual manifestations were the checkpoints with differing treatment of Palestinians on the one hand; Israeli Jews and internationals on the other, and the different color of license plates – blue for Palestinians, yellow for Israelis). I interviewed villagers whose homes had been blown up and/or bulldozed by Israeli soldiers. I heard accounts by men and women jailed, abused, and tortured in Israel’s prisons.”[8]

It is this brutal and repressive system of apartheid occupation, continuing and intensifying for decades, which has increasingly aggravated and provoked tensions among a suppressed people é the Palestinians é whose last, most devastating available means of responding to the massive technological violence of the Israeli military onslaught is the simple suicide bomber. It is a matter of record that Palestinian military resistance has intensified in direct response to the escalation of Israeli State terrorism against Palestinian civilians. As numerous respected commentators have observed, the intensifying resistance to Israel’s illegal apartheid occupation is a direct consequence of the continuation and intensification of that occupation. Cantarow observes:

“During the time I was reporting, stone-throwing and street demonstrations were what brought collective punishment [by the IDF]. Suicide bombing is a post-Oslo phenomenon triggered by the doubling of settlement population after the accords were signed and by the dawning realization that Oslo consolidated a South African-style plan for permanent Bantustanization of the West Bank.”[9]

In other words, the rise of militancy among Palestinian resistance groups is a direct consequence of the provocation provided by daily Israeli terrorism é and the scale of such militancy is barely enough to rival the scale of Israeli terrorism. New York Times correspondent Chris Hedges, former Jerusalem-based Middle East Bureau Chief for the Dallas Morning News from 1988-1990 and former Cairo-based Middle East Bureau Chief for the New York Times from 1991-1995, noted that:

If Oslo had led, as many had hoped, to a two state solution, and thereby given Palestinians some glimmer of a better life, it is a fair bet that Hamas would be a marginal force in Gaza. But Israel’s occupation and Arafat’s mismanagement have made it only a matter of time before the militants come to poweré Hamas is primarily known outside Israel for its suicide bomb attacks against Israeli civilians. The Sheikh tells me that Hamas orders suicide bombers, under its military wing, Iz al-Din al-Qassam, to attack Israeli civilians targets because Israeli troops and armed settlers routinely attack Palestinian civilians. ‘As long as they target our civilians we will target their civilians,’ he says. ‘When they stop we will stop’.”

Hedges further notes that the Hamas policy of targeting Israeli civilians within the recognised borders of the State, did not exist for over a decade during the occupation. In fact, this policy emerged in the aftermath of consistent Israeli terror attacks on Palestinian civilians. “From 1987 to 1993, during the first intifada, Hamas targeted only Israeli soldiers and settlements. It began to attack individual Israeli civilians after a Jewish settler, Baruch Goldstein, gunned down twenty-nine Muslim worshipers in the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron.”[10]

The fact that the real roots of Palestinian militancy are embedded in the consistently brutal nature of Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories has been further elaborated in an authoritative study by the U.S. Library of Congress’ Federal Research Division (FDR), The Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism: Who Becomes a Terrorist and Why?. The FDR is essentially a relatively autonomous U.S. government research body that performs directed research at the request of other federal agencies of the U.S. government, to prepare studies, reports and translations for the latter. The FDR has served the U.S. government in this capacity since 1948. The Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism, commissioned in June 1999 by the National Intelligence Council and presented in September 1999, draws from the work of numerous experts on terrorism, both inside and outside of government. The FDR study discusses the activities of Hamas in some detail, citing the work of Israeli terrorism expert Professor Ehud Sprinzak of Hebrew University:

“The most persistent image of Hamas in the Western media is that of a terrorist group comprised of suicide bombers in the occupied territories and a radical terrorist faction in Damascus. However, Hamas is also a large socioreligious movement involved in communal work within the Palestinian refugee camps and responsible for many civic-action projects.”

Indeed, this provision of socio-communal services to Palestinians is what grants Hamas its popularity, rather than anything else. The FDR study observes that Hamas “runs a whole range of cultural, educational, political, and social activities based on mosques and local community groupsé

“In 1996 most of Hamas’s estimated $70 million annual budget was going to support a network of hundreds of mosques, schools, orphanages, clinics, and hospitals in almost every village, town, and refugee camp on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Consequently, Hamas has massive grass-roots support.

 

“In 1993 Hamas’s support reportedly varied from more than 40 percent among the Gaza population as a whole to well over 60 percent in certain Gaza refugee camps, and its support in the West Bank varied from 25 percent to as much as 40 percent. Hamas was reported in early 1996 to enjoy solid support among 15 percent to 20 percent of the 2 million Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. According to Professor Ehud Sprinzak of Hebrew University, Hamas is so popular among 20 to 30 percent of Palestinians not because it has killed and wounded hundreds of Israelis but because it has provided such important community services for the Palestinian population. Moreover, Hamas activists live among the poor and have a reputation for honesty, in contrast with many Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) activists. Hamas supporters reportedly cross both tribal patterns and family patterns among Palestinians.”

Citing Professor Sprinzak who is also dean of the Lauder School of Government, Policy, and Diplomacy at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, the FDR study reports that the Hamas strategy of suicide bombings against Israeli civilian targets is not a consequence of the organisation’s opposition to the peace process, nor because Hamas resolutely rejects the legitimacy of Israel’s existence. Rather, this strategy has been adopted in direct response to Israeli policies of violence and repression that have led to widespread despair, frustration and misery among Palestinians. The FDR thus concludes, like Israeli terrorism expert Ehud Sprinzak, that the only way to prevent Hamas suicide terror attacks against Israel, is for Israel to desist from its own policies of aggression and expansion in the Occupied Territories:

“Sprinzak points out that Hamas’s opposition to the peace process has never led it to pursue a strategy of suicide bombing. Rather, the group has resorted to this tactic as a way of exacting tactical revenge for humiliating Israeli actions. For example, in a CBS ’60 Minutes’ interview in 1997, Hassan Salameh, arch terrorist of Hamas, confirmed that the assassination of Yehiya Ayash (‘The Engineer’) by Israelis had prompted his followers to organize three suicide bombings that stunned Israel in 1996. Salameh thus contradicted what former Labor Party prime minister Shimon Peres and other Israeli leaders had contended, that the bombings resulted from a strategic decision by Hamas to bring down the Israeli government. According to Sprinzak, the wave of Hamas suicide bombings in late 1997, the third in the series, started in response to a series of Israeli insults of Palestinians that have taken place since the beginning of 1997, such as unilateral continuation of settlements. Similarly, Sprinzak notes, Hamas did not initially pursue a policy of bombing city buses. Hamas resorted to this tactic only after February 1994, when Baruch Goldstein, an Israeli physician and army reserve captain, massacred 29 Palestinians praying in a Hebron shrine. The professor’s policy prescriptions for reducing Hamas’s incentives to commit terrorist atrocities against Israel are to recognize that Hamas is a Palestinian fact of life and to desist from aggressive policies such as unilateral continuation of settlements and assassination of Hamas leaders. Hamas thrives on the misery and frustration of Palestiniansé The harsh Israeli blockade of Palestinian areas has only strengthened Hamas.”[11]

Thus, an analysis of the pattern of Hamas waves of suicide bombing inside Israel demonstrates that every such wave is perpetrated in response to Israeli aggression, and never occurs unsolicited.[12]

It should be noted that despite the increasing popularity of Hamas as an organisation providing important socio-communal services to Palestinians, the majority of Palestinians do not endorse Hamas’ specific ideological scruples with the State of Israel. Aaron Mate of Concordia University, member of the Jewish Alliance Against the Occupation, visited Israel and the Occupied Territories in June 2002 as part of a fact-finding Canadian delegation sent by the Montreal-based NGO Alternatives in order to assess and monitor the living conditions for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip:

It was embarrassing to hear almost every Palestinian that I met having to explain to me that their people really do love life, that their mothers really do love their children, that their struggle was only against Israeli occupation, not the Jewish people. Their nearly automatic need to disavow what are essentially racist assumptions – that they do not value life as much as we do, that the intifada is not a struggle for national liberation, for a state of their own but a jihad to drive the Jews into the sea – is, I think, a sad reflection of the discourse that occurs over here on their plight. Although it is right to condemn the terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians, we have chosen to stereotype an entire community based on the actions of its extremists, ignoring the deplorable and humiliating conditions that could possibly help us understand why human beings could commit such atrocities.”[13]

There is, moreover, a broader crucial context to the rise of Palestinian militancy, rooted in the failure of the U.S.-backed Oslo “peace process”, which thanks to Israeli intransigence has only served to consolidate the Israeli apartheid occupation. It is due to Israel’s exploitation of Oslo in order to expand and empower the occupation that the Palestinians have increasingly come to feel that in the absence of a genuine political horizon, military resistance is the only viable option to repel the occupation. Michael Ben Yar, Israel’s Attorney General from 1993 to 1996, has thus lamented that “we enthusiastically chose to become a colonial society, ignoring international treaties, expropriating lands, transferring settlers from Israel to the occupied territories, engaging in theft” and thus establishing an “oppressive regime [that] exists to this day.” The Oslo “peace process” was an integral dimension of this “oppressive regime”. According to Israeli scholar Schlomo Ben Ami, who later became Israeli Foreign Minister under Ehud Barak and his chief negotiator at the Camp David peace talks in July 2000, the 1993 Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO “were founded on a neo-colonialist basis.” Their “economic protocol”, he explained, “imposed almost total dependence on Israel”, ensuring that “when there will finally be peace between us and the Palestinians, there will still be a situation of dependence, of a structured lack of equality between the two entities.”[14]

Jerome Slater, Professor of Political Science at the State University of New York, argues convincingly that in this manner, it is Israel rather than the Palestinians that bears primary responsibility for the grim course of the Israel-Palestine conflict: “[T]he historical record since 1967, and especially since the Oslo agreements of 1993, makes it clear that the longer ‘the peace process’ is stretched out, the more Israel takes advantage of its unconstrained power to preempt the outcome of negotiations by creating facts on the groundé

“That is the central problem in the argument that Arafat should have agreed to continue the negotiations indefinitely, or settle for some kind of partial or ‘interim’ accord, which continued to postpone definitive agreements on the major issues: borders, settlements, Jerusalem, water, and the right of return. In short, any criticism of Arafat, if it is to be taken seriously, must face up to the fact that the Israelis – certainly including Barak and now Sharon – have given the Palestinians every reason to believe that an interim or transition period would not be one toward general peace and a fair compromise, but rather toward a deeper and more irreversible Israeli consolidation of its occupation.”[15]

In doing so, Israeli policy of itself has guaranteed the rise of Palestinian militancy, and the suicide bombings that have come with it, by rendering political dialogue ineffective and meaningless with respect to Palestinian rights. Simultaneously, the collective Israeli political consciousness, under government influence, has virtually erased all memory of how Israeli policy has contributed to the very brutal socio-economic conditions that are conducive to creating a psychology of despair, misery and desperation, which can eventually lead to Palestinian acts of terrorism. As Ha’aretz points out, the causes of the rise of Palestinian militancy are primarily socio-historical, and relate directly to Israel’s consolidation of its repressive military occupation, both during the defunct Oslo “peace” process and in terms of escalating Israeli violence against Palestinian civilians: “Israelis conclude that the suicide attacks are the result of a murderous tendency inherent to the Palestinians, their religion, their mentality. In other words, people turn to bio-religious explanations, not social or historical ones. This is a grave mistakeé

“If one wants to put an end to the terror attacks in general, and to the suicide attacks in particular, one must ask why the majority of the Palestinian population supports themé The Palestinians support the attacks, even the cruelest ones, because they are convinced that they, their existence and their future as a nation are the real targets of the Israeli regime – both when it applied rule-by-deceit tactics during the Oslo period, and now, when it uses tactics of military escalation and siege.

 

“Israeli society did not pay heed to Palestinian warnings during the Oslo period, that an imposed arrangement would lead to disaster. Neither did Israeli political consciousness listen at the beginning of the intifada when the Palestinians pointed to the excessive use of Israeli military force against the first demonstrations. Now, 22 months later, one can here and there find comments by journalists and politicians who in hindsight admit that under Ehud Barak and Shaul Mofaz, excessive use was already made of lethal methods. If there was indeed a desire to control the whirlpool of violence, that harsh military response was a mistake. But this excessive use of force has not been erased from the Palestinians’ consciousness. And why should they forget their children, who were killed just because they threw stones at armored jeeps, tanks and fortified outposts? Why should they forget the civilians killed by IDF fire at roadblocks and in their homes, not during gunfights?”[16]

London Guardian correspondent Ewan MacAskill provides further insight into this by noting how the gruelling conditions of everyday life for Palestinians toiling under Israeli occupation have produced a psychological state of utter despair: “Palestinian children have suffered disproportionately in the uprisingé

“Many of them have been shot by the Israeli army while throwing stones at tanks or at soldiers. But it has been rare for children to attempt to repeat the activities of Hamas and the other armed Palestinian groups, such as Islamic Jihad and the military wings of Fatah.

“Tawfiq Salman, a psychiatrist in Bethlehem who works with children and carried out a survey, said: ‘Ninety per cent of Palestinian children suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome as a result of the Israeli closures and the shootings.’ Fadel Abu Heen, a psychologist, said many children were severely traumatised by seeing and hearing of Palestinians, especially children their own age, being killed by the Israelis. ‘It is despair, despair and more despair. Children are unable to cope with the sad reality,’ he said, adding that child suicide attackers were motivated more by an overwhelming sense of hopelessness than surging nationalism.”[17] 

Palestinian militancy, including the willingness of some to embark on suicide bombing missions inside Israel, is thus a response to routine, daily Israeli terrorism in the Occupied Territories, coupled with Israel’s transparent attempt to exploit the Oslo process to increasingly consolidate its occupation while diminishing the possibility of the emergence of a viable independent Palestinian state. It is only as a consequence of this that hard-line militant factions such as Hamas, which reject the legitimacy of the Israeli regime partly under the impression that Israel rejects the Palestinian right to self-determination, have become more and more prominent. Again, this is not a matter of justification, for none of these facts justifies suicide bombing é it is, however, a matter of scientifically establishing the causal and contextual connections between violent repression and terrorist retribution. As Jewish American political scientist Stephen Shalom records:

“Hamas and a few other, smaller Palestinian groups object not just to the occupation but to the very existence of Israel. But the Hamas et al. position is a distinctly minority sentiment among Palestinians, who are a largely secular community that has endorsed a two-state settlement. To be sure, Hamas has been growing in strength as a result of the inability of the Palestinian Authority to deliver a better life for Palestinians. If there were a truly independent Palestinian state, one can assume that Hamas would find far fewer volunteers for its suicide squads.”[18]

So how can the rise of Palestinian militancy be stopped? Only by isolating and eliminating its root cause and context. As noted by Gal Luft, former Lieutenant Colonel in the Israel Defense Forces, in Foreign Affairs: “If history is any guide, Israel’s military campaign to eradicate the phenomenon of suicide bombing is unlikely to succeedé [N]o military solution will solve the problemé

“Two-thirds of Israelis, according to recent polls, support the removal of [the dozens of] isolated and indefensible [Jewish] settlements [on the West Bank]. But despite such views Ariel Sharon has reiterated his refusal to dismantle a single settlementé If there is any way out of this dilemma, it may lie in convincing the Palestinian public that its constructive goals can be achieved only by its relinquishing its destructive strategyé The rewards will have to be tangible and meaningful. Israel could, for example, offer the PA the removal of a number of small hilltop settlements in exchange for a period of non-belligerency and unequivocal renunciation of suicide bombing. This cooling-off period could then set the stage for renewed talks on a final-status agreement. Such an approach would indicate to the Palestinian population that Israel is serious about peace and ready to pay the necessary price for it, not only in words but in deedsé Before this intifada, a large majority of Palestinians opposed attacks against civilians inside Israel. They hoped to achieve their aspirations for independence without resorting to terror.”[19]

Jewish American Middle East expert Henry Siegmen of the Council on Foreign Relations further observes that “an Israeli strategy of countering terrorism that relies solely on counterterrorism and greater repression (which also targets innocents) will not produce greater security for Israel’s citizensé

“To the contrary, such a limited strategy will predictably produce only greater losses of Israeli lives. To state this truth is not to condone terrorism but to note the obvious fact that this government, with its focus on violent retaliation entirely unrelated to a political process which offers a viable alternative to violence, is putting its citizens at vastly increased risk. It is to argue the political and moral bankruptcy of policies pursued in the name of greater security which in fact achieve the very opposite. And it is to argue that policies which reinforce the despair of Palestinians by killing their hope for an end to the occupation will inevitably fuel escalating violence.”[20]

In an earlier commentary for the International Herald Tribune, Siegman thus concludes that the only way to end the violence is to eliminate the root of the problem é Israeli colonisation of the Occupied Territories. Siegman points out that “no Israeli government can provide that security as long as it persists in its efforts to maintain its presence beyond Israel’s pre-1967 borders and to retain territories inhabited by 3 million Palestiniansé

“The expectation that a Palestinian government will provide Israeli settlers the security they need to live undisturbed lives on those lands suggests an arrogance echoing colonial sensibilities of an earlier age that Western democracies – one hopes – now find an embarrassing memory. There is only one way out of the current spiral of violence. It requires that Israel limit its national sovereignty to areas within which it can on its own assume responsibility for its citizens’ security. This means a return to Israel’s pre-1967 borders.”[21]

Paralleling Israel’s policy of systematic aggression is the ongoing policy of rejecting a meaningful and just peaceful solution to the conflict, which is reviewed here in detail. In November 1988, the PLO officially accepted a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The first significant agreement between the PLO and Israel consisted of the Oslo accords of September 1993, which called for the mutual recognition of Israel and the PLO. The accords also instituted a 5-year transitional period during which Israel would gradually withdraw its troops and administrative structures from the major Palestinian population centers. The Palestinian Authority (PA), the Occupied Territories’ interim Palestinian government, would take the place of these structures until the establishment of an independent state. The climax of this transition period would herald the agreement on a permanent settlement based on UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. These resolutions order Israel to completely withdraw its forces from the Occupied Territories conquered in 1967. Arafat’s side of the agreement involved ending anti-Israeli violence in the Occupied Territories, along with direct cooperation where necessary with Israeli security forces. There is no doubt that the Oslo accords, within the framework of international law including United Nations resolutions, were supposed to result in a just two-state solution, thus entailing the emergence of a viable and independent Palestinian state.

Nevertheless, the entire Oslo process é which consisted of “Letters of Mutual Recognition” and a Declaration of Principles – had commenced on an entirely unequal footing. Arafat recognised in his letter Israel’s right to exist, accepting various UN resolutions and officially renouncing any resort to terrorism or armed struggle. In his corresponding letter, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin agreed only to recognise the PLO as the representative of the Palestine people and to begin negotiations with it – but there was no Israeli acknowledgement of the legally binding implications of UN resolutions, nor any reference to any official recognition of the Palestinian right to a state.

But two years after the Oslo accords had been signed, Yitzhak Rabin announced in detail Israel’s plans for a permanent and final settlement: Israeli forces would remain in the Occupied Territories, and there would be no return to the pre-1967 borders; Israel would retain exclusive sovereignty over Jerusalem as a whole, including the Zionist settlements in East Jerusalem; the majority of Zionist settlements in the West Bank and Gaza would remain under Israeli sovereignty; Israel would retain unimpeded access to and military control over the settlements; this control would be ensured through the establishment of a network of new roads stretching throughout the territories. By Rabin’s own admission, Israel aimed to retain effective military control over the Occupied Territories, and to ensure the non-existence of a genuinely independent and viable Palestinian state. He admitted, for instance, that Israel’s security border “in the broadest meaning of that term” would be the Jordan River. In other words, Israel would retain settlements and military bases deep inside the Occupied Territories in the Jordan River valley. Thus, the Palestinians would receive only an “entity”, acting as a “home to most of the Palestinian residents living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank… We would like this to be… less than a state.”[22]

Indeed, as was recorded in March 1999 by Joel Beinin – Professor of Middle East History and Director of the Program in Modern Thought and Literature at Stanford University, as well as contributing Editor of Middle East Report, the authoritative journal of the Washington-based Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP): “The Oslo process consigned Palestinians to an inferior status for at least the five-year interim period and established no countervailing mechanism to prevent Israel from taking unilateral measures to extend its domination indefinitelyé

“The Declaration of Principles did not specify the establishment of a Palestinian state. Most importantly, it did not require Israel to seek a relationship of coexistence with the Palestinians on the basis of equality of status. The problems of this arrangement were to be resolved by enhanced capital investment, access to regional markets and expanded opportunities for profit. However, continuing Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, land confiscations and the construction of bypass roads have undermined the economic promise of ‘New Middle East’. The boundaries of potential Palestinian Bantustans are now clearly visible. Even if the Oslo process advances beyond the current impasse, the territorial basis for establishing a Palestinian state capable of exercising significant sovereign powers may no longer exist.”[23]

Oslo, in other words, due to its ambiguity with regards to the crucial issue of a Palestinian state, had granted Israel a cover of legitimacy to maneuver outside the requirements of international law. Gaping holes in the Oslo accords included lack of agreement on the legitimate borders of the Palestinian state-to-be; the problem of the illegal Israeli settlements; the status of illegally occupied Jerusalem; the legally binding right of return of Palestinian refugees; and the division of water in the West Bank. Operating under the ambiguous Oslo framework, Israel not only violated the terms of Oslo, but violated the requirements of international law by exploiting the holes of that agreement é specifically on the issues of borders, settlements and the right of return – to extend its occupation of Palestinian territories. This essentially constituted the decline of the Oslo process almost as soon as it had been agreed upon, and the legitimisation of an apartheid system under that process. Israeli political analyst Avi Shlaim of Oxford University records that subsequent to the assassination of Rabin, “the decline of the Oslo peace process was caused more by Israeli territorial expansionism than by Palestinian terrorism. Israeli settlements on the West Bank, which Sharon’s government continues to expand, are the root of the problem.”[24] The American-born Israeli attorney Allegro Pacheco, Peace Fellow at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, elaborates in the New York Times that: “On the harsh ground of everyday reality in Gaza and the West Bank, the false optimism of Oslo quickly faded when the Palestinians realized that the interim agreement had not significantly changed the conditions of the Israeli occupationé

“Since 1994, Palestinians have seen the influx of 50,000 new Jewish settlers into the West Bank and Gaza, the paving of more than 400 kilometers of roads on confiscated land, demolition of more than 800 Palestinian homes, a threefold increase in unemployment in the territories and a 21 percent decline in their gross domestic product, the arrest of 13,000 Palestinians, and complete curtailment of freedom of movementé

 

“[In September] I was part of a group of 60 Israeli peace activists issuing a warning that resonates today. ‘We believe that the negotiations currently being conducted between representatives of the State of Israel and Palestinian representatives under the supervision of the United States will likely frame the basis for future war,’ our warning said. ‘The establishment of a Palestinian state truncated by a massive system of bypass roads, encircled by Israeli settlement blocs, subject to closures and restrictions on freedom of movement and commerce, with no control of its borders or natural resources, will only create a reality of apartheid; a Palestinian state as a Bantustan’.”[25]

U.S. specialist on the Israeli-Palestine conflict Jerome Slater é University Research Scholar in Political Science at the State University of New York at Buffalo é has discussed in detail how Israel engineered the corruption of the Oslo process even in Rabin’s era. Under Rabin’s peace plan, Dr. Slater reports, “the Palestinians would end up with a series of isolated enclaves on less than 50 percent of the West Bank and Gaza, cut off from each other and surrounded by Israeli settlers and military basesé

“Jewish settlement in an ever-expanding Jerusalem continued, including in Arab areas, and the massive road building project got under way, often requiring the confiscation and destruction of Palestinian homes and orchards. Astonishingly, under Rabin the growth of the Jewish settlements was greater than it had been under the previous hardline Likud government of Yitzhak Shamir. And even the most fanatical settlements, located in the heart of heavily populated Palestinian areas and presumably destined to be removed in a permanent agreement, were maintained. Rabin rejected the recommendation of his own cabinet to remove the small settlement in the Palestinian city of Hebron, following the massacre by a Jewish fanatic of twenty-seven Palestinians praying in a mosque.

 

“Even the letter of the Oslo accords was often disregarded by the Rabin government: Palestinian prisoners that Israel had committed itself to release remained in jail; the promised Palestinian air field in Gaza was delayed; detailed provisions for free Palestinian passageway between Gaza and the West Bank, as well as free movement of people, vehicles, and goods within the territories, were often violated by Israeli closures that caused great personal and economic hardship; Palestinians living outside Jerusalem were often prevented from attending services at the Muslim mosques on the Temple Mount; Israel often did not comply with scheduled partial troop withdrawals; and tax and custom revenues that were to have been transferred by Israel to the Palestinian Authority were frequently held up.”

Indeed, in contrast, the Palestinian Authority did its utmost to comply with its obligations under Oslo, despite Israeli intransigence with regard to the same:

“Yet, throughout the Rabin period the PA complied with its obligation to do its best to end terrorism, perhaps excepting a brief period following the Hebron massacre. And it did so with great (though not total) success, as the Palestinian security forces under Arafat worked hand in hand with Israeli security forces, often in joint patrols, to identify and jail extremists and suspected terrorists, some of them from lists drawn up by the Israelis.”[26]

The policies of Rabin’s successors were even worse. In March 1997 for instance, Yossi Beilin, an adviser to Prime Minister Shimon Peres, has observed that despite his policies, Rabin did envisage a limited Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank. But his successor Shimon Peres, in contrast, wanted Palestinian sovereignty to be limited solely to Gaza, coupled with joint Israeli, Jordanian, and Palestinian rule over the West Bank.[27] Peres’ successor Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu effectively brought the Oslo process to an end. According to the leading Israeli military analyst Ze’ev Schiff, “not one promise made to the Palestinians has been fulfilled” by Netanyahu, who has instead constantly subjected them and the PA to “humiliation and degradation.”[28] Jerome Slater reports that:

“é by May 1999, when the transition process was supposed to have been completed, the Israeli occupation over most of the West Bank and Gaza was still in force, Netanyahu had reneged on any further troop withdrawals, the settlement process was continuing, Israel was tightening its grip on East Jerusalem, the road network was expanding, economic closures of the territories had become more draconic and more frequent, and Netanyahu refused to enter into the Oslo-required negotiations for a permanent settlement. By the time Ehud Barak took office in 1999, not only were Israel ‘s actions nullifying the Oslo process, but they had also gravely undermined Arafat ‘s position among the Palestinians, who were now in worse shape – politically, economically, and psychologically – than they had been when the agreements were signed in 1993.”[29]

It is conventionally assumed that Prime Minister Ehud Barak had offered the Palestinians an unprecedented generous settlement, which if accepted, would have led to the establishment of a viable independent Palestinian state. New York Times correspondent Thomas Friedman, for instance, argues that the Palestinians could have had an independent state without having begun the current Intifada, because in July 2000 Clinton brokered the Palestinians a peace plan that would have ended the occupation. In this imaginary series of events, Arafat is blamed for turning down a generous and just Israeli offer. This widespread notion is only the latest in a long line of myths surrounding the inherently flawed U.S.-backed “peace process”, a process that has largely ignored the binding requirements of international law and attempted to impose a pro-Israeli solution on the Palestinian people. This solution was designed to consolidate the apartheid system and extend the occupation, granting Palestinians insignificant pockets of land under continued Israeli domination.

Robert Malley, President Clinton’s Special Assistant for Arab-Israeli affairs and a member of his negotiating team at Camp David, rubbishes the latest myth. He notes that before going to Camp David in July 2000, during his year in office, then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak had violated various agreements with the Palestinians, and increased the number of Israeli settlers in the Occupied Territories. Malley explains why the Palestinians were wary of so-called Israeli peace offers, thanks to six years of the defunct U.S.-brokered Oslo process during which “there were more Israeli settlements, less freedom of movement, and worse economic conditions.” At Camp David Barak offered to give the Palestinians unspecified land é to be chosen by Israel – equivalent to 1 percent of the West Bank, in return for 9 percent of the West Bank housing settlements that would divide the West Bank into separate regions. In fact, Malley notes that Barak’s “offer” was never made in writing, nor articulated in any meaningful detail. The consequence was that “strictly speaking, there never was an Israeli offer.”[30] Indeed, it is a myth both that “Israel’s offer met most if not all of the Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations” and that the “Palestinians made no concession of their own.” Malley defends his assertion by listing the relevant facts in detail:

“Many have come to believe that the Palestinians’ rejection of the Camp David ideas exposed an underlying rejection of Israel’s right to exist. But consider the facts: The Palestinians were arguing for the creation of a Palestinian state based on the June 4, 1967, borders, living alongside Israel. They accepted the notion of Israeli annexation of West Bank territory to accommodate settlement blocs. They accepted the principle of Israeli sovereignty over the Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem – neighborhoods that were not part of Israel before the Six Day War in 1967. And, while they insisted on recognition of the refugees’ right of return, they agreed that it should be implemented in a manner that protected Israel’s demographic and security interests by limiting the number of returnees. No other Arab party that has negotiated with Israel é not Anwar el-Sadat’s Egypt, not King Hussein’s Jordan, let alone Hafez al-Assad’s Syria – ever came close to even considering such compromises.”[31]

Former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, who was deeply involved in the Oslo process and who is now Israeli Foreign Minister, admitted that the failure of Oslo was because it had been intrinsically flawed from the very outset, since it had offered only limited autonomy within an overall framework of Israeli military control: “Today we discover that autonomy puts the Palestinians in a worse situation”, he stated. Indeed, he went so far as to acknowledge that the second Intifada could have been avoided if the Palestinians had been granted an independent state from the outset: “‘We cannot keep three and a half million Palestinians under siege without income, oppressed, poor, densely populated, near starvation,’ he said, adding that without a visible political horizon the Palestinians will not make peace with Israel.”[32]

The Palestinian Authority under Arafat’s leadership had collaborated with Israel by negotiating within the boundaries of Israel’s extremely unjust offer. Arafat’s aim, it seemed, was to rule over any sort of Palestinian regime, regardless of whether the conditions of that rule in relation to Israeli occupation were unjust. Long-time observer of the Middle East conflict Stephen R. Shalom, Professor of Political Science at William Paterson University in New Jersey, observes that: “The peace process agreed to by Arafat and Rabin called for the redeployment of Israeli troops from most areas of dense Palestinian concentration to other parts of the West Bank, but not for their full withdrawal from the territoryé

“Israeli settlements – whose presence even Israel’s closest ally, the United States government, had always considered a violation of international law – were to remain in place. Israel retained authority over most of the land, and all the settlers, roads, water, and borders, while the Palestinians gained civil control – not sovereignty – over a tiny portion of the West Bank, which essentially meant that they became responsible only for maintaining order over a population seething in grueling poverty and despair. While Israeli analysts saw this arrangement as more manageable than direct Israeli military rule over masses of Palestinians, it was clear that a peace process that did not provide justice and self-determination to a long-suffering people was unlikely to provide much peace either. 

 

“Why did Arafat accept this raw deal on behalf of his people? It appears that Arafat was more interested in being the ruler of a Palestinian State, whatever its condition, than in continuing to seek a just solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Since his return to Palestine in the wake of the Oslo process, Arafat has ruled the Palestinian Authority with a brutally authoritarian fist and, despite some public posturing, has made further concessions to the Israeli government – most notably giving up the refugees’ right of return, something demanded by the U.N. since 1949, and the Palestinian claim to any part of Jerusalem. In so doing, Arafat has further alienated himself from the Palestinian people, who no longer see him as a brave freedom fighter but as a corrupt collaborator.”[33]

Many Israeli commentators were fully cognizant of the unfairness of Barak’s proposals, as well as the fact that the latter precluded the emergence of a viable independent Palestinian state. Ha’aretz concluded, for example, that thanks to Barak’s flagrant violations of the Oslo agreement, “above allé the relentless expansion of the existing settlements and the establishment of new settlements, with a concomitant expropriation of Palestinian land… in and around Jerusalem, and elsewhere as well”, the Palestinians had been “shut in from all sidesé the prospect of being able to establish a viable state was fading right before their eyes. They were confronted with an intolerable set of options: to agree to the spreading occupation… or to set up wretched Bantustans, or to launch an uprising.”[34] Under Barak’s plans, not only would the West Bank and Gaza be divided apart by Israel, both these areas would be sub-divided by a network of interconnected Israeli settlements, bypass roads, and military bases into disparate isolated enclaves. As a consequence, Palestine “would always be at the mercies of Israel, the Israel Defense Forces and the settlers.”[35] Michael Lind é former Assistant to the Director of the Center for the Study of Foreign Affairs at the U.S. State Department, former Executive Editor of the National Interest, and Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation é observes that “most Americans do not know that the Palestinian state offered by Barak consisted of several Bantustans, criss-crossed by Israeli roads with military checkpoints.”[36]

Israel’s biggest mass-selling daily newspaper Yediot Ahranot, commenting on a report by a fellow leading Israeli daily Ha’aretz, exposed the reality of Barak’s unjust and oppressive “peace” proposal in an article aptly titled ‘Land for Apartheid’: “Barak went to the summit with a magic formula: 10-90. 10 percent annexation, and in the rest – a Palestinian state. No previous Israeli plan ever offered so much land to the Palestinians. Where do these numbers come from? é

“The newspapers of March uncover the mystery. The current plan was formed then, but was postponed due to the Syria and Lebanon events. ‘State for annexation’, said the main title of Haaretz on 10.3.00, and the subtitle explained: ‘The prime minister’s 10-40-50 plan – 50 percent of the west bank for the Palestinians, 40 percent under debate, and 10 percent to Israel’. The plan includes a third redeployment which will increase the A area from 42 to 50 percent, in which the Palestinians will be able to declare a state with a capital in Abu Dis.

 

“‘The proposal will leave the status of about 40 percent of the west bank unresolved as well as Jerusalem and the right of return’, said the text. Meaning, in return for his consent to the formal annexation of the whole center of the west bank by Israel, Arafat will be allowed to declare a Palestinian state on 50 percent of the west bank, and to sell to his people that the rest of the problems are still being discussed.

 

“The plan itself is all too well known: it is one of the versions of the Alon plus plan, or the Sharon plan, which robs the Palestinians of half of the west bank lands. (The ‘debated’ 40 percent are lands which have already been confiscated from their Palestinian owners since 1967). The only real thing in this plan is that 10 percent will be annexed now, and, thus, will finalize the disconnection northern half from the southern half of the west bank for good.

 

“What changed since March is only the packaging. 90-10 sounds a lot more convincing than 50-40-10. Instead of emphasizing the debated 40 percent, vague ideas about ‘leasing, for now’ are thrown in the air, and to enable Arafat to sell this to his people, these areas are not distinguished by a different color in the published maps. With the right propaganda tricks, any product can be sold these daysé

 

“[Barak’s supporters] are marching in support of the leader. Many of them were, until 1993, among the objectors of the occupation and believed that its end requires the dismantling of the settlements and return of all confiscated lands. But today they gather to convince the world, the Palestinians and themselves that it is possible to establish a Palestinians state without land-reserves, without water, without a glimpse of a chance of economic independence, in three ghettos surrounded by fences, settlements, bypass roads and Israeli tanks. A virtual state which serves one purpose: separation – apartheid. ‘We are here and they are there’ – behind the fences, as Barak put it.”[37]

At best then, as Jerome Slater concludes in a Political Science Quarterly research paper evaluating the Oslo peace process: “Barak’s take-it-or-leave-it proposals would not have allowed the Palestinians to have a truly viable or independent state, and his actions on the ground, especially the ongoing and even escalated expansion of the settlements and military road-building, would have perpetuated, consolidated, and made even more irreversible the Israeli occupation over much of the West Bank and Gaza.”[38]

The pattern of violence that followed Sharon’s Al-Aqsa provocation thus continued along essentially the same lines as before: Israeli provocation was met with Palestinian stone-throwing; Israeli troops responded to stone-throwing with lethal gun-fire; Palestinian resistance escalated with many taking up arms and firing back; Israeli troops cracked down with unprecedented and indiscriminate force, utilising tanks, helicopter gun-ships, and other heavy weapons designed to destroy Palestinian infrastructure en masse. Research by the New York-based Human Rights Watch released on 17th October 2000 “condemns Israeli police and security forces for a pattern of using excessive, lethal force in clashes with demonstrators over the past two weeksé

“Human Rights Watch said its week-long investigation of clashes in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and northern Israel showed repeated use by Israeli security forces of lethal force in situations where demonstrators posed no threat of death or serious injury to security forces or others. In situations where Palestinians did fire upon Israeli security forces, the IDF showed a troubling proclivity to resort to indiscriminate lethal force in response. At least 100 Palestinians have been killed and 3,500 injured in clashes with Israeli security forces. Human Rights Watch also expressed concern at the IDF’s use of medium caliber munitions, which are meant for penetrating concrete and other hard surface barriers, against unarmed demonstrators in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The military munitions were particularly devastating when they hit civilians.

 

“The organization also condemned the repeated apparent targeting of emergency medical personnel and facilities by the IDF, as well as stoning attacks by Palestinian and Israeli civilians on ambulances. Under international standards on the use of force by law enforcement officials, firearms may be used only ‘in self-defence or defence of others against the imminent threat of death or serious injury.’ Even then, law enforcement officials must ‘exercise restraint in such use and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offence and the legitimate objective to be achieved’, and ‘minimize damage and injury, and respect and preserve human life’é Senior IDF officials did not accept Human Rights Watch’s repeated requests for a meeting to discuss the organization’s findings.”[44]

This critical assessment of Israeli violence in the Occupied Territories has been confirmed by numerous other human rights groups, including B’Tselem, Amnesty International, and Physicians for Human Rights USA. The latter, for example, analysing the high number of killings and injuries that occurred in the first month of the Intifada, recorded that “the pattern of injuries seen in many victims did not reflect IDF [Israel Defense Forces] use of firearms in life-threatening situations but rather indicated targeting solely for the purpose of wounding or killing.” This conclusion was based on “the totality of the evidence”, which included “the high number of gunshots to the head; the volume of serious, disabling thigh injuries; the inappropriate firing of rubber bullets and rubber-coated steel bullets at close range; and the high proportion of Palestinian injuries and deaths.”[45]

Israel’s policy of indiscriminately using “excessive and lethal force” to put down the Palestinian uprising, resulting in the killing and injuring of innocent civilians, has continued ever since. In the aftermath of the 11th September terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the policy was conveniently escalated under the cover of fighting in tandem with the new “war on terror”. Immediately after the 9/11 attacks, Israeli spokesman Bibi Netanyahu announced in public that “It is very good,” because it would strengthen American support for Israel. Similar such reactions from right-wing circles in Israel have been noted by the Russian Israeli journalist and former Ha’aretz correspondent Israel Shamir.[46]

As if to confirm Netanyahu’s reprehensible sentiments, using the 9/11 “war on terror” as justification, Sharon soon began escalating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, pummelling civilian infrastructure in the West Bank and Gaza on the pretext of fighting terrorism. Israeli historian Professor Avi Shlaim of Oxford University, observes how:

“Ever the opportunist, Sharon was quick to jump on the bandwagon of America’s ‘war against terror’ in the aftermath of 11 September. Under this banner, Sharon has embarked on a sinister attempt to destroy the infrastructure of a future Palestinian state. His real agenda is to subvert what remains of the Oslo accords, to smash the Palestinians into the ground, and to extinguish hope for independence and statehood.”[47]

In particular, Sharon commanded Israeli forces to target the Palestinian refugee camp in Jenin. British journalist Phil Reeves reported in The Independent that: “A monstrous war crime that Israel has tried to cover up for a fortnight has finally been exposedé

“A residential area roughly 160,000 square yards about a third of a mile wide has been reduced to dust. Rubble has been shovelled by bulldozers into 30ft piles. The sweet and ghastly reek of rotting human bodies is everywhere, evidence that it is a human tomb. The people, who spent days hiding in basements crowded into single rooms as the rockets pounded in, say there are hundreds of corpses, entombed beneath the dust, under a field of debris, criss-crossed with tank and bulldozer treadmarks… He was trembling with fury and shock. ‘This is mass murder. I have come here to help but I have found nothing but devastation. Just look for yourself.’ All had the same message: tell the world.”[48]

Geraldo Rivera, the respected commentator for FOX News, observed that: “All my life I have been a Zionist. But after what I saw in Ramallah, I have become a Palestinian. Using tanks and F-16 fighter planes against a city population, that is not ‘fighting terrorism’. It is terrorism.”[49] Did IDF actions at Jenin constitute a massacre? Yediot Aharanot reports that:

“The word ‘massacre’ may bring to mind soldiers moving from house to house, shooting everyone they find – men, women and children (as in Sabra and Shatila). Such massacre clearly did not take place in Jenin. No Palestinian source ever described the facts this wayé What did clearly happen in Jenin is that the army simply ignored the fact that there were an unknown number of individuals and families in the areas which were bombarded day and night by missiles from ‘Cobra’ helicopters, or even in some of the houses erased by bulldozers to pave ways for the tanks. No one came to shoot them individually; they were just buried under their bombarded or bulldozed homes. Others died of their wounds in the alleys, or cried for days under the ruins, until their voices faded away.”[50]

Thus, in the sense that the IDF indiscriminately bombarded a heavily populated civilian area, killing many of them as a consequence, what occurred at Jenin did amount to a massacre. Co-founder of the U.S. Partnership for Civil Justice Carl Messinno, a human rights attorney and member of a U.S. fact-finding delegation to the West Bank and Gaza made up of legal and public health experts as well as human rights activists, reported that:

“There can be no doubt, based on the undisputed number of civilians killed by Sharon’s military, the obvious use of indiscriminate forms of violence and weaponry, in addition to the testimony of eyewitnesses to war crimes and countless instances of human cruelty unjustified by any conceivable necessity, that there has been a massacre in Jenin. The evidence of a massacre here is apparent. The only basis on which one could state that there was no massacre here is a political one.”[51]

Testimonies of Israeli reserve soldiers amply confirm the same. “After the first moments of the fighting, when a commander was killed… the instructions were clear: shoot every window, sew every house – whether someone shoots from there or not.” When asked about whether he had witnessed civilian casualties, the Israeli soldier replied: “Personally – not. But the point is that they were inside the houses. The last days, the majority of those who came out of the houses were old people, women and children, who were there the whole time and absorbed our fire. These people were not given any chance to leave the camp, and we are talking about many people.”[52] One IDF soldier from an engineering platoon scheduled to receive the Medal of Honour for its participation in the invasion of the Jenin refugee camp, was especially candid. Moshe Nissim, who operated an armored bulldozer for 75 straight hours in Jenin, declared:

“No one refused an order to take down a house. When they told me to destroy a house I exploited that in order to destroy a few more homes. On the loudspeaker [the Palestinian residents] were warned to get out before I came in. But I didn’t give a chance to anyone. I didn’t wait. I’m sure that people died inside of those houses. From my perspective we left them a football field, they should play there. The 100×100 was our present to the camp. Jenin will not return to be what it was.”[53]

It is not surprising then that on 7th April, Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), Peter Hansen, issued the following exasperated statement to the press: “The Israeli Defense Force has made a hellish battleground among the civilians in the Bata and Jenin refugee campsé

“We are getting reports of pure horror – that helicopters are strafing civilian residential areas; that systematic shelling by tanks has created hundreds of wounded; that bulldozers are razing refugee homes to the ground and that food and medicine will soon run out. In the name of human decency the Israeli forces must allow our ambulances safe passage to evacuate the wounded and deliver emergency supplies of medicines and food. Israel is a signatory to International conventions that protect non-combatants in times of conflict. Those conventions are worthless if they are not adhered to precisely at the times of greatest blood-letting. The world is watching and Israel needs to end this pitiless assault on civilian refugee camps.”[54]

Ha’aretz reported that two days later on 9th April é the seventh day of the Israeli operation in Jenin, “Officers of the IDF expressed their shock” about what happened in Jenin: “When the world will see the pictures of what we have done there, it will cause us enormous damage.”[55] The same day, UNRWA spokesman Sami Mshasha declared that: “If field reports we are getting are accurate, we have a humanitarian disaster unseen before in the West Bank.”[56] Ha’aretz also reports that: “In private, Peres is referring to the battle as a ‘massacre’.” But fearful of the international outcry, the Foreign Minister publicly denies his private admission.[57]

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has accused Israel of “breaching the Geneva conventions by recklessly endangering civilian lives and property during its assault on the Jenin refugee camp, and by refusing the injured access to medical personnel for six days.” Head of the ICRC delegation in the region, Rene Kosirnik, stated:

“When we are confronted with the extent of destruction in an area of civilian concentration, it is difficult to accept that international humanitarian law has been fully respected. What the law says is that you cannot attack or destroy civilians or civilian property. If you are in a military operation you have to take utmost care. If you suspect that your operation will cause disproportionate damage to civilians or civilian property then you have to stop the operation… We were there for six days offering our services and we were refused. As long as Jenin refugee camp was occupied by the Israeli defence force, the first responsibility lies with the IDF to save lives. It is the responsibility of the force concerned to deliver services, to care for friend and foe. That is the rule.”

Amnesty International has concurred with the ICRC’s position on Israeli actions in Jenin. British lawyer Dr. Kathleen Cavanaugh, a member of Amnesty’s investigating team, stated: “There is sufficient evidence to indicate that there have been serious violations of international law. The question of whether this constitutes war crimes… is what we want to ascertain.” Amnesty further reported that the IDF refused civilians in the camp any opportunity to flee, and has called for a war-crimes inquiry of the sort implemented in response to the Balkans genocide.[58] As the Washington DC-based Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP) reported: “é the toll of at least dozens of Palestinian military and civilian dead – which Amnesty International forensic pathologist Derrick Pounder characterized as ‘mass killings’ – cannot be ascribed to ferocious combat aloneé

“Evidence collected by journalists and human rights organizations has demonstrated that in Jenin, Israel systematically violated the laws of war and international humanitarian law, and resorted to indiscriminate violence and wanton destruction on a wide scale – including summary executions and the razing of entire neighborhoods – in many cases for purely punitive purposes well after the cessation of hostilities.

 

“The blunt instruments used, including helicopter gunships and bulldozers, exclude the possibility that a massacre in the sense of a slaughter of dozens of individually selected civilians was perpetrated. That war crimes of equivalent severity and legal consequence were committed is nevertheless clear to the Sharon-Peres government as well as human rights workers on the ground. A prime condition Israel has so far placed upon its cooperation with the UN Security Council fact-finding commission is that the commission agree in advance not to draw conclusions which could lead to the prosecution of Israeli soldiers and officials. The confusion and unfounded allegations that initially swirled around what happened in Jenin came largely from Israel’s refusal of access for the media and human rights monitors to the camp.”[59]

Towards the end of April 2002, the London Independent published the findings of a full five-day on-the-ground investigation by British correspondents Justin Huggler and Phil Reeves. The investigation was based on long detailed interviews of survivors along with a survey of the wreckage wrought by the IDF, accompanied by Senior Researcher for the New York-based Human Rights Watch Peter Bouckaert: “A neighbourhood had been reduced to a moonscape, pulverised under the tracks of bulldozers and tanksé

“A maze of cinder-block houses, home to about 800 Palestinian families, had disappeared. What was left é the piles of broken concrete and scattered belongings é reeked. The rubble in Jenin reeked, literally, of rotting human corpses, buried underneath. But it also gave off the whiff of wrongdoing, of an army and a government that had lost its bearings.”

The Independent’s investigation found that at least “half of the Palestinian dead who have been identified so far were civilians, including women, children and the elderly. They died amid a ruthless and brutal Israeli operation, in which many individual atrocities occurred, and which Israel is seeking to hide by launching a massive propaganda drive.” Collating eyewitness testimonials with firsthand experience of the devastating results of the IDF invasion, The Independent concludes that: “An alarming picture has emerged of what took place… Not all the civilians were cut down in crossfire. Some, according to eyewitness accounts, were deliberately targeted by Israeli forcesé

“Sami Abu Sba’a told us how his 65-year-old father, Mohammed Abu Sba’a, was shot dead by Israeli soldiers after he warned the driver of an approaching bulldozer that his house was packed with families sheltering from the fighting. The bulldozer turned back, said Mr Abu Sba’a é but his father was almost immediately shot in the chest where he stood.”

The Independent proceeds to cite horrifying testimonial after testimonial from Palestinian survivors of the Israeli military onslaught:

“Israeli troops also shot dead a Palestinian nurse as she tried to help a wounded man. Hani Rumeleh, a 19-year-old civilian, had been shot as he tried to look out of his front door. Fadwa Jamma, a nurse staying with her sister in a house nearby, heard Hani’s screaming and came to help. Her sister, Rufaida Damaj, who also ran to help, was wounded but survived. From her bed in Jenin hospital, she told us what happened.

 

“‘We were woken at 3.30 in the morning by a big explosion,’ she said. ‘I heard that one guy was wounded outside our house. So my sister and I went to do our duty and to help the guy and give him first aid. There were some guys from the resistance outside and we had to ask them before we moved anywhere. I told them that my sister was a nurse, I asked them to let us go to the wounded.

 

“‘Before I had finished talking to the guys the Israelis started shooting. I got a bullet in my leg and I fell down and broke my knee. My sister tried to come and help meé She had been shot in the side of her abdomen. Then they shot her again in the heart. I asked where she was wounded but she didn’t answer, she made a terrible sound and tried to breathe three times.’

 

“Ms Jamma was wearing a white nurse’s uniform clearly marked with a red crescent, the emblem of Palestinian medical workers, when the soldiers shot her. Ms Damaj said the soldiers could clearly see the women because they were standing under a bright light, and could hear their cries for help because they were ‘very near’é Eventually an ambulance was allowed through to rescue Ms Damaj. Her sister was already dead. It was to be one of the last times an ambulance was allowed near the wounded in Jenin camp until after the battle endedé

 

“é we heard the story of Afaf Desuqi. Her sister, Aysha, told us how the 52-year-old woman was killed when the Israeli soldiers detonated a mine to blow the door of her house open. Ms Desuqi had heard the soldiers coming and gone to open the door. She showed us the remains of the mine, a large metal cylinder. The family screamed for an ambulance, but none was allowed through.

 

“Ismehan Murad, another neighbour, told us the soldiers had been using her as a human shield when they blew the front door off the Desuqi house. They came to the young woman’s house first, and ordered her to go ahead of them, so that they would not be fired on.

 

“Jamal Feyed died after being buried alive in the rubble. His uncle, Saeb Feyed, told us that 37-year-old Jamal was mentally and physically disabled, and could not walk. The family had already moved him from house to house to avoid the fighting. When Mr Feyed saw an Israeli bulldozer approaching the house where his nephew was, he ran to warn the driver. But the bulldozer ploughed into the wall of the house, which collapsed on Jamal.”

In an effort to deflect responsibility for civilian killings and casualties, the IDF has claimed that Palestinian fighters were using civilians as human shields. There is, however, no evidence for this. On the contrary, while some Palestinian civilians were evacuated by IDF soldiers, others were used by the IDF as human shields. Credible eyewitness reports indicate that Israel has attempted to deflect attention from its own policy of deliberately placing innocent civilians in the line of fire:

“Although they evacuated significant numbers of civilians, the Israelis made use of others as human shields. Rajeh Tawafshi, a 72-year-old man, told us that the soldiers tied his hands and made him walk in front of them as they searched house to house. Moments before, they had shot dead Ahmad Hamduni, a man in his eighties, before Mr Tawafshi’s eyes. Mr Hamduni had sought shelter in Mr Tawafshi’s house, but the Israeli soldiers had blown the door open. Part of the metal door landed next to the two men. Mr Hamduni was hunched with age, and Mr Tawafshi thinks the soldiers may have mistakenly thought he was wearing a suicide-bomb belt. They shot him on sight.

 

“Even children were not immune from the Israeli onslaught. Faris Zeben, a 14-year-old boy, was shot dead by Israeli soldiers in cold blood. There was not even any fighting at the time. The curfew on Jenin had been lifted for a few hours and the boy went to buy groceries. This was on Thursday 11 April. Faris’s eight-year-old brother, Abdel Rahman, was with him when he died. Nervously picking at his cardigan, his eyes on the ground, the child told us what happened.

 

“‘It was me and Faris and one other boy, and some women I didn’t know. Faris told me to go home but I refused. We were going in front of the tank. Then we saw the front of the tank move towards us and I was scared. Faris told me to go home but I refused. The tank started shooting and Faris and the other boy ran away. I fell down. I saw Faris fall down, I thought he just fell. Then I saw blood on the ground so I went to Faris. Then two of the women came and put Faris in a car.’

 

“Fifteen-year-old Mohammed Hawashin was shot dead as he tried to walk through the camp. Aliya Zubeidi told us how she was on her way to the hospital to see the body of her son Ziad, a militant from the Al-Aqsa brigades, who had been killed in the fighting. Mohammed accompanied her. ‘I heard shooting,’ said Ms Zubeidi. ‘The boy was sitting in the door. I thought he was hiding from the bullets. Then he said, ‘Help.’ We couldn’t do anything for him. He had been shot in the face’é

 

“The Israeli army says it bulldozed buildings after the battle ended, partly because they were heavily booby trapped but also because there was a danger of them collapsing on to its soldiers or Palestinian civilians. But after the army bulldozers withdrew, The Independent found many families, including children, living in badly damaged homes that were in severe danger of collapseé What is beyond dispute is that the misery of Jenin is not over. There are Palestinians still searching for missing people, although it is not clear whether they are in Israeli detention, buried deep under the rubble, or in graves elsewhere… At the time of writing, Israel has withdrawn its co-operation from a fact-finding mission dispatched by the UN Security Council to find out what happened in Jenin. This is, given what we now know about the crimes committed there, hardly surprising.”

These are only a few credible accounts out of many. HRW Researcher Peter Bouckaert, who has investigated human rights abuses in a dozen war zones, including Rwanda, Kosovo, Chechnya, among others, notes that the vast number of testimonials is extremely consistent and convincing:

“We’ve carried out extensive interviews in the camp, and the testimonies of dozens of witnesses are entirely consistent with each other about the extent and the types of abuses that were carried out in the camp. Over and over again witnesses have been giving similar accounts of atrocities that were committed. Many of the people who were killed were young children or elderly people. Even in the cases of young men; in Palestinian society, relatives are quite forthcoming when young men are fighters. They take pride that their young men are so-called ‘martyrs’. When Palestinian families claim their killed relatives were civilians we give a high degree of credibility to that.”[60]

Human Rights Watch issued a damning report in May 2002 on Israeli atrocities in Jenin. HRW’s research “demonstrates that, during their incursion into the Jenin refugee camp, Israeli forces committed serious violations of international humanitarian law, some amounting prima facie to war crimes.” HRW has also unequivocally called for an inquiry into the cases listed in the report, each of which in itself “warrants additional thorough, transparent, and impartial investigation, with the results of such an investigation made publicé

“Where wrongdoing is found, those responsible should be held accountable. There is a strong prima facie evidence that, in the cases noted below, IDF personnel committed grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, or war crimes. Such cases warrant specific criminal investigations with a view to ascertaining and prosecuting those responsible. Israel has the primary obligation to carry out such investigations, but the international community also has a responsibility to ensure that these investigations take place.”[61]

In the context of the previous documentation, the dispute over whether or not the IDF atrocities and war crimes at Jenin can be classified a “massacre” is irrelevant. The available data speaks for itself. The IDF targeted civilian infrastructure in the Jenin refugee camp indiscriminately, without any concern for the impact on civilian life. The predictable result was the mass killing of innocent civilians by a wholesale IDF military bombardment. According to the Oxford Everyday Dictionary and Guide to Good English, the word “massacre” means quite simply: “slaughter of a large number of people or animals. é v. to slaughter in large numbers.” The dictionary definition of “massacre” does not specify the means. It is clear then that by this definition, what the IDF did in Jenin was, indeed, a massacre. Any other conclusion is mere sophistry and cynicism.

Sharon’s aggressive policy of terrorism illustrating his disregard for a genuine peaceful solution é manifest particularly in Jenin – was merely the latest in a series of such policies designed to scupper negotiations and obstruct a just peace settlement. As noted by The Other Israel, the bi-monthly Zionist journal of the Tel Aviv-based Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace (ICIPP): “Never during his year in power did Sharon express an outright rejection of a peace plané

“And there were many: the creative schemes thought up by Sharon’s own Foreign Minister, the Mitchell Commission report which became the new shibboleth of Middle Eastern diplomacy, the Tenet Plan which aimed at implementing Mitchell, the later plans and ideas whose purpose was to implement Tenet, the proposals of the ever-present European envoys, later the far-reaching plan of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullahé

 

“To all, Sharon developed a standard response: acceptance in principle while attaching impossible conditions in practice, his favorite ploy being to demand ‘seven days of total quiet’ before negotiations could begin, at the same time conducting an aggressive military policy ensuring that these seven days would never start.

 

“In this, Sharon had the full cooperation of Army Chief of Staff Mofaz and his deputy Moshe Ya’alon; the generals had been eagerly implementing an ever more aggressive policy, and were actively promoting that policy in frequent direct addresses to the media and political system, which more than once seemed to strain the limits placed upon the role of the military in a democratic state.

 

“At the very hour when Peres and Arafat were meeting in the Gaza Strip, August 26, to try and work out a cease-fire, Israeli military units killed six Palestinians during an incursion into the town of Rafah, just a few kilometers away – provoking a cycle of retaliations and counter-retaliations and ensuring that the cease-fire be stillborn.

 

“At another point, the effort of CIA Director George Tenet to set up a system of ‘security cooperation’ between Israeli and Palestinian security services was met by Israeli helicopters shooting a very precise missile into a specific Ramallah office, instantly killing Abu-Ali Mustapha, head of the PFLP and member of the PLO Executive Committee – in the Palestinian hierarchy, just one rung below Arafat himself. This assassination of a ministerial level Palestinian leader was soon followed by the revenge assassination of the Israeli Minister of Tourism Rehav’am Ze’evi.

 

“Ze’evi had been the years-long advocate of the concept ‘transfer’ (i.e. wholesale expulsion) of the Palestinians; the shock over the assassination of an Israeli government minister gave Ze’evi’s racist ideology a legitimacy it did not have before, as well as providing Sharon with an ideal pretext to launch a prolonged invasion of six West Bank cities, and foreclosing for a considerable time the possibility of ‘security cooperation’ or cease-fire.”[62]

The plans for this massive military escalation had, in fact, been long in the making. In the first weeks of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, before any Israeli civilian casualties had occurred, Barak’s government had already formulated its strategy for the invasion and destruction of the Palestinian Authority. The respected Israeli commentator Professor Tanya Reinhart of Tel-Aviv University observed regarding the renewed Israel military invasion of the Occupied Territories: “In mainstream political discourse, Israel’s recent atrocities are described as ‘retaliatory acts’ – answering the last wave of terror attacks on Israeli civiliansé

 

“But in fact, this ‘retaliation’ had been carefully prepared long before. Already in October 2000, at the outset of the Palestinian uprising, military circles were ready with detailed operative plans to topple Arafat and the Palestinian Authority. This was before the Palestinian terror attacks started. (The first attack on Israeli civilians was on November 3, 2000, in a market in Jerusalem). The operative plan, known as ‘Fields of Thorns’ had been prepared back in 1996, and was then updated during the Intifada. (Amir Oren, Ha’aretz, Nov. 23, 2001)é

 

“The [IDF’s] assault would be launched, at the government’s discretion, after a big suicide bomb attack in Israel, causing widespread deaths and injuries, citing the bloodshed as justification. Many in Israel suspect that the assassination of the Hamas terrorist Mahmoud Abu Hanoud, just when the Hamas was respecting for two months its agreement with Arafat not to attack inside Israel, was designed to create the appropriate ‘bloodshed justification’é Israel’s moves to destroy the PA, thus, cannot be viewed as a spontaneous ‘act of retaliation’. It is a calculated plan, long in the making. The execution requires, first, weakening the resistance of the Palestinians, which Israel has been doing systematically since October 2000, through killing, bombarding of infrastructure, imprisoning people in their hometowns, and bringing them close to starvation.”[63]

Indeed, the respected journal The Israeli Insider reported as early as mid-July 2001 that according to the authoritative British intelligence newsletter Jane’s Foreign Report, a “high casualty suicide bombing” against Israeli civilians, would provide the pretext needed to implement existing war plans:

“Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Shaul Mofaz presented the governmentéwith an updated plan for an all-out attack on the Palestinian Authority. The London-based Foreign Report reported that the plan calls for an invasion of Palestinian-controlled territory by some 30,000 Israeli soldiers, with the clearly defined mission of destroying the infrastructure of the Palestinian leadership and collecting weaponry currently possessed by the various Palestinian forces, and expelling or killing its military leadership. As reported in the Foreign Report this week and disclosed locally by Ma’ariv, Israel’s invasion plan é reportedly dubbed Justified Vengeance é would be launched immediately following the next high-casualty suicide bombing, would last about a month and is expected to result in the death of hundreds of Israelis and thousands of Palestinians.

 

“PA Chairman Yasser Arafat would no longer be in control in the West Bank and Gaza Strip at the end of the military action, the IDF assumes, according to the London weekly. The report also discloses the assumption that the massive Israeli military action would result in the stationing of an international peacekeeping force in the territories, but by the time that such a force would arrive, facts on the ground would be quite different, with improved security conditions for Israelé Commentators have noted similarities between the invasion plan and the one that was implemented by Sharon as Defense Minister in Lebanon during 1982. Then, too, the goal was to destroy PLO infrastructure and weapons, and to expel or kill Arafat and his armed forces. The trigger for that invasion was the assassination attempt against Israel’s Ambassador in London.[64]

Evidently this time round, Israel envisaged that a “high casualty suicide bombing” within Israel would provide a trigger for its invasion plans. There is good reason to believe that with this in mind, Israel went about attempting to engineer the required trigger when none was forthcoming é as Reinhart notes above, Hamas had for two months adhered unswervingly to its agreement with Arafat not to launch any suicide bombings inside Israel.

The unofficial ceasefire was broken by Israel. The U.S. special envoy to Israel Anthony Zinni was due to arrive in the region on 27th November 2001. Four days prior, Israeli helicopters fired missiles into a Palestinian car near Nablus, instantly killing the prominent and popular Hamas leader Mahmoud Abu Hunud. Abu Hunud was well-known for “escaping several previous assassination attempts, which gave him a ‘Scarlet Pimpernel’ reputation – in short, a man for whose assassination retribution was certain to come.”[65] As the American Jewish political scientist Professor Stephen R. Shalom of William Paterson University, New Jersey, records: “In November 2001, there was a week-long lull in the fighting. Sharon then ordered the assassination of Hamas leader Mahmoud Abu Hanoud, which, as everyone predicted, led to a rash of terror bombings, which in turn Sharon used as justification for further assaults on the Palestinian Authority.” There can be little doubt that Israeli military planners did not foresee this consequence. Having thus provoked the spate of unconscionable suicide bombings in the first place, Sharon exploited the predictable Israeli civilian casualties as justification for a new series of massive military offensives in the Occupied Territories.[66]

This deliberate complicity on the part of the Israeli military intelligence apparatus in engineering the massive wave of Hamas suicide bombings has been confirmed by the well-connected Israeli military security analyst Alex Fishman in Yediot Aharanot. Fishman’s report apparently reflects the views of dissident elements in the Israeli army and security services:

“Whoever gave a green light to this act of liquidation knew full well that he is thereby shattering in one blow the gentleman’s agreement between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. Under that agreement, Hamas was to avoid in the near future suicide bombings inside the Green Line [pre-’67 border], having come to the understanding that it would be better not to play into Israel’s hands by mass attacks on its population centres. This understanding was, however, shattered by the assassination the day before yesterday – and whoever decided upon the liquidation of Abu knew in advance that that would be the price. The subject had been extensively discussed both by the military and the political echelon, before it was decided to carry out the liquidation.”[67]

The implications are clear é the Israeli military and political echelons were fully aware that the assassination attempt would provoke Hamas into breaking its agreement with the PA on avoiding future suicide bombings within Israel’s recognised borders. By going ahead with the assassination, Israel deliberately provoked Hamas into violating its self-imposed ceasefire and responding with a series of devastating suicide bombings é exactly as Israel had required to trigger the implementation of its longstanding military invasion plans. Israeli complicity in the Hamas attacks is therefore quite apparent. The Zionist regime is thus not only responsible for massive State terrorism against the Palestinian people, but also appears to be tacitly condoning suicide bomb attacks against Israeli civilians to justify expansionist military objectives in the Occupied Territories.

That, indeed, is also the tentative conclusion of other experienced commentators, such as Stuart Tanning, a UK-based producer/director of international current affairs news and documentaries, who in March 2002 filmed on assignment with PBS Frontline’s forthcoming Middle East documentary, ‘Battle for the Holy Land’. Tanner, who has won numerous international media awards including the 1998 Amnesty International Press Award, observed in a Washington Post online Q&A session:

“é what’s interesting about spending some time in the area is that you become aware of deeper and in some sense darker aspects of the conflict. To give you an example, the suicide bombing on Wednesday, the “Passover massacre”, as the Israelis call it, whose interests did that serve? I’d say it certainly undermined the whole Arab summit and peace proposal. It strengthened Sharon’s claim that Palestinians are not interested in peace. And it further damages the image of Chairman Arafat… [P]eople begin to think that maybe these attacks are allowed, because the timing of them would suit Israel politically so strongly. Or that there are elements within the Palestinian side that want to damage Chairman Arafat themselves, and in fact provoke the Israelis into crushing him. The most likely result of which would be the strengthening of the Islamic groups, like Hamas. And it becomes very dark waters in which it’s not impossible that either of those things are true, and certainly you could say that people get involved in that kind of thinking.”[68]

Israeli military strategists had also anticipated that the destruction of the Arafat regime would create a political vacuum that would have to be swiftly filled by other prominent Palestinian factions. The reasoning behind the plans to topple Arafat and his Palestinian Authority have been articulated by former head of the Israeli Security Service, Mossad:

“In the thirty something years that he [Arafat] leads, he managed to reach real achievements in the political and international sphere… He got the Nobel peace prize, and in a single phone call, he can obtain a meeting with every leader in the world. There is nobody in the Palestinian gallery that can enter his shoes in this context of international status. If they [the Palestinians] will loose this gain, for us, this is a huge achievement. The Palestinian issue will get off the international agenda.”[69]

Indeed, Israeli military planners fully accounted for the possibility that the militant faction Hamas might rise to power, or at least become far more powerful than it already is. There is evidence to suggest that the Israeli rightwing has, however, not been adverse to this possible consequence, but on the contrary, has even seen the rise of the militant faction as a boon because of its terrorist activities against Israeli civilians. The Israeli Insider continues to note in its July report that:

MK Michael Kleiner [Chairman of the Herut Party in the Israeli Knesset] called on Israel to either assassinate or topple Arafaté Kleiner suggested replacing Arafat, even if it meant the Hamas would take his place. According to Kleiner, the entire world recognizes the Hamas as a terrorist organization so Israel’s continued efforts against a radical Palestinian leadership would not be condemned.”[70]

Kleiner’s sentiments are not isolated. For instance, senior Ha’aretz commentator Akiva Eldar reports that at a high-level Cabinet meeting, Israeli Minister of Finance Silvan Shalom criticised his colleague Foreign Minister Shimon Peres for advocating “negotiations” with Arafat. “Between Hamas and Arafat, I prefer Hamas,” he declared, explaining that Arafat is a “terrorist in a diplomat’s suit, while Hamas can be hit unmercifullyé there won’t be any international protests.”[71]

Indeed, this ruthless line of thought seems to explain why Israel has targeted Arafat while leaving Hamas untouched. As the Russian journal Pravda observes in an insightful article titled ‘Hamas and Israel Unite Against Arafat’:

“What is the power that the Israeli prime minister stakes on? No matter how strange it may seem, he has chosen Hamas… Sharon is leveling Arafat’s influence, at the same time getting rid of a peace plan that is unfavorable for Israel. The Hamas leader assumes command over the Palestinian opposition, while Arafat is isolated to his Ramallah residence. Political and financial support will be automatically switched from the PLO to Hamas. It is not a delirium, which is confirmed by the following: Israel, which has already declared its intention to liquidate centers of terrorism, does not disturb Hamas, which claims responsibility for several recent acts of terrorism. This is rather strange. The previous connection between Israel and Hamas confirms the statement.”[72]

It should be noted here that Israel’s fabrication, exaggeration and manufacturing of threats to justify the provocation and initiation of “wars of terrorism” appears to be longstanding official strategy for Zionist expansion. In Prime Minister Moshe Sharatt’s personal diaries, there is an excerpt from May 1995 in which he quotes Defence Minister Moshe Dayan as follows:

“[Israel] must see the sword as the main, if not the only, instrument with which to keep its morale high and to retain its moral tension. Toward this end it may, no it must, invent dangers, and to do this it must adopt the method of provocation é and revengeéand above all, let us hope for a new war with the Arab countries, so that we may finally get rid of our troubles and acquire our space.”[73]

It comes as no surprise then that Hamas was originally financed by Israel to undermine the PLO, during the Israeli occupation of Lebanon in the 1980s.[74] PA President Yassir Arafat has commented in detail on the genesis of Hamas and the Israeli connection in interviews with leading Italian publications:

“We are doing everything possible to stop the violence. But Hamas is a creature of Israel which, at the time of Prime Minister [Yitzhak] Shamir [the late 1980s, when Hamas arose], gave them money and more than 700 institutions, among them schools, universities and mosques. Even [former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak] Rabin ended up admitting it, when I charged him with it, in the presence of [Egyptian President Hosni] Mubarak.”[75]

 

“Hamas was constituted with the support of Israel. The aim was to create an organization antagonistic to the PLO. They [Hamas] received financing and training from Israel. They have continued to benefit from permits and authorizations, while we have been limited, even [for permits] to build a tomato factory. Rabin himself defined it as a fatal error. Some collaborationists of Israel are involved in these [terrorist] attacks. We have the proof, and we are placing it at the disposal of the Italian government.”[76]

U.S. terrorism correspondent Richard Sale has provided detailed discussion of evidence for Israel’s covert support of the militant Hamas faction in a United Press International (UPI) report on the subject, which is worth quoting copiously. Drawing on U.S. and Israeli intelligence sources, Sale finds that “according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials, beginning in the late 1970s, Tel Aviv gave direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas over a period of years.” According to Tony Cordesman, Middle East analyst for the Center for Strategic Studies, Israel “aided Hamas directly – the Israelis wanted to use it as a counterbalance to the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization).” A former senior CIA official told Sale that Israel’s support for Hamas “was a direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious alternative.” Sale reports that: “According to U.S. administration officials, funds for the movement came from the oil-producing states and directly and indirectly from Israel. The PLO was secular and leftist and promoted Palestinian nationalism. Hamas wanted to set up a transnational state under the rule of Islam, much like Khomeini’s Iran…

“é with the triumph of the Khomeini revolution in Iran, with the birth of Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorism in Lebanon, Hamas began to gain in strength in Gaza and then in the West Bank, relying on terror to resist the Israeli occupation.

 

“Israel was certainly funding the group at that time. One U.S. intelligence source who asked not to be named said that not only was Hamas being funded as a ‘counterweight’ to the PLO, Israeli aid had another purpose: ‘To help identify and channel towards Israeli agents Hamas members who were dangerous terrorists.’

 

“In addition, by infiltrating Hamas, Israeli informers could only listen to debates on policy and identify Hamas members who ‘were dangerous hard-liners’, the official said.

 

“In the end, as Hamas set up a very comprehensive counter-intelligence system, many collaborators with Israel were weeded out and shot. Violent acts of terrorism became the central tenet, and Hamas, unlike the PLO, was unwilling to compromise in any way with Israel, refusing to acquiesce in its very existence.

 

“But even then, some in Israel saw some benefits to be had in trying to continue to give Hamas support: ‘The thinking on the part of some of the right-wing Israeli establishment was that Hamas and the others, if they gained control, would refuse to have any part of the peace process and would torpedo any agreements put in place,’ said a U.S. government official who asked not to be named. ‘Israel would still be the only democracy in the region for the United States to deal with’, he saidé

 

“According to former State Department counter-terrorism official Larry Johnson, ‘the Israelis are their own worst enemies when it comes to fighting terrorism. The Israelis are like a guy who sets fire to his hair and then tries to put it out by hitting it with a hammer. They do more to incite and sustain terrorism than curb it,’ he said.”[77]

Veteran journalist George Szamuely é former editorial writer for The Times, The Spectator, and the Times Literary Supplement; as well as an associate at the Manhattan Institute, editor at Freedom House, research consultant at the Hudson Institute, and a contributor to Commentary, American Spectator, National Review, the Wall Street Journal, National Interest, American Scholar among many others é has commented on the Israel-Hamas connection in the New York Press: “Starting in the late 1970s Israel helped build up the most fanatical and intolerant fundamentalist Muslims as rivals to the nationalist PLO. The terrorist organisation Hamas is largely an Israeli creationé

“A UPI story last year quoted a U.S. government official as saying: ‘The thinking on the part of some of the right-wing Israeli establishment was that Hamas and the other groups, if they gained control, would refuse to have anything to do with the peace process and would torpedo any agreements put in place.’

 

“The PLO has long been aware of Israeli strategy. In their 1989 book, Intifada, Ze’ev Schiff and Ehud Ya’ari write that Fatah ‘suspected the Israelis of a plot first to let Hamas gather strength and then to unleash it against the PLO, turning the uprising into a civil war… [M]any Israeli staff officers believed that the rise of fundamentalism in Gaza could be exploited to weaken the power of the PLOé’

 

“According to Robert Fisk, Israeli support for Hamas continued after the signing of the Oslo accords [which happens to have been during some of the worst suicide terror attacks against Israel]. One can be pretty sure that this strategy received strong encouragement from Washington, which has also seen the advantage of financing and supporting the most vicious and narrowminded Islamic terrorists on account of their antinationalist and antisocialist credentials. Hamas also served Israel’s purpose admirably by suggesting to the American public that the conflict in the Middle East pitted democratic Israel against all-or-nothing fanatics who wanted to drive the Jews into the sea. Israel’s refusal to surrender conquered land and its continued building of settlements in violation of innumerable UN resolutions could then all be justified as perfectly reasonable responses to an implacable enemy.”[78]

All this should be placed in context with Arafat’s initially successful struggle to block the activities of militant factions such as Hamas. Israeli military planners were well aware that the destruction of the Palestinian Authority would ultimately give free reign to Palestinian terrorism, largely because the PA had é contrary to Israeli myths é been fairly successful in cracking down on the latter. In 1997 for instance, the same year when Arafat is supposed to have given a “green light to terror”, a ‘security agreement’ between Israel and the PA was signed under Stan Muskovitz, the head of the CIA base in Tel-Aviv, which committed the PA to fight “the terrorists, the terrorist base, and the environmental conditions leading to support of terror”. The PA would cooperate with Israel, including “mutual exchange of information, ideas, and military cooperation.”[79]

As Yediot Aharanot reports, Arafat’s security services fulfilled their part of the ‘security agreement’ with enthusiasm, undertaking assassinations of Hamas terrorists that were disguised as accidents, and arresting Hamas political leaders.[80] Then Director of the domestic Israeli secret service Shab’ak, Ami Ayalon, commended the PA in a government meeting on 5th April 1998: “Arafat is doing his job – he is fighting terror and puts all his weight against the Hamas.”[81] It should be noted then that Israel’s recently released official ‘Book of Terror’ é compiled to prove Arafat’s commandeering of suicide attacks and handed to President Bush by Ariel Sharon é “is riddled with errors, omissions and deliberate misinformation” according to British Middle East specialist and London Independent correspondent, Dr. Robert Fisk. The documents collated by Israeli intelligence, in fact, prove the opposite of what they were intended to show: that Arafat is not in control of the militant factions responsible for suicide bombings, but on the contrary has grown increasingly powerless to stop them as Palestinians grow increasingly intent on resisting the occupation through military means: “é in some cases, translations of Palestinian documents allegedly seized by Israeli troops in the West Bank have been doctored to ‘prove’ Arafat’s responsibility for anti-Israeli attacks. At least one ‘translation’ of a Palestinian document posted on the Israeli army’s website is a palpable falsehoodé

“In reality the documents portray Mr Arafat’s military impotence. The papers the Israeli intelligence service have so far produced é assuming that most of them are genuine é paint a vivid, pathetic picture of his loss of power within the Palestinian community over the past 12 months… The original Arabic documents reveal just how the Israelis, in an exercise in black propaganda, have manipulated their true meaning… These reports é and many others é show just how far Yasser Arafat had lost control of the militant organisations flourishing among the Palestinians on the West Bank. But Israel’s reaction was to go public with accounts of their contents that were deliberately misleading and, in at least one case, untrue…

 

“The Arabic texts suggest that Israel is fighting against men who have long ago passed outside Mr Arafat’s control, who are better funded than his Palestinian Authority and whose anti-Israeli attacks can only occasionally be foiled by Mr Arafat’s still-loyal intelligence officers… The Israeli account deleted all reference to the role played by the Palestinian Authority in foiling the attack on the Israelis. The full text shows clearly that Mr Arafat’s men did just what the Israelis would wish: they stopped the attack and persuaded the boy to change sides.

 

“In other cases, however, Mr Arafat’s intelligence officers woefully failed to maintain the loyalty of their own men. Far from controlling the powerful militias springing up in the West Bank who were intent on an open conflict with the Israelis, Mr Arafat was simply marginalised… The documents do provide a rare glimpse into the powerlessness of Mr Arafat, the infiltration of his subordinates, the attempts to suborn his own intelligence officers é one of them loyally tells Mr Arafat’s spooks that he has refused advances from Islamic Jihad. The last thing they prove is that Mr Arafat is behind the wave of suicide bombings that continued in Israel even yesterday. But that is not what Mr Sharon wanted. He wants Mr Arafat removed from power.”[82]

But Arafat was not always impotent. His impotence has grown largely as a result of the inevitable Palestinian response to the harsh conditions imposed under the Oslo process. Indeed, Arafat’s policies against militant factions were originally quite successful in terms of consolidating Israel’s apartheid occupation of Palestinian territory under the Oslo process, so much so that the Palestinians é quite rightly – saw Arafat as a collaborator with Israel. In contrast, Israel’s success in containing terror has always been far lower than that of Arafat’s PA. As British journalist and Middle East specialist David Hirst reports, when Arafat returned to the Occupied Territories in 1994, “he came as collaborator as much as liberator. For the Israelis, security – theirs, not the Palestinians’ – was the be-all and end-all of Oslo. His job was to supply it on their behalfé

“But he could only sustain the collaborator’s role if he won the political quid pro quo which, through a series of ‘interim agreements’ leading to ‘final status’, was supposedly to come his way. He never could… [Along the road], he acquiesced in accumulating concessions that only widened the gulf between what he was actually achieving and what he assured his people he would achieve, by this method, in the end. He was Mr. Palestine still, with a charisma and historical legitimacy all his own. But he was proving to be grievously wanting in that other great and complementary task, building his state-in-the-making. Economic misery, corruption, abuse of human rights, the creation of a vast apparatus of repression – all these flowed, wholly or in part, from the Authority over which he presided.”[83]

The fundamental flaw in this arrangement was the essentially raw deal that Israel was giving the Palestinians through Oslo. Arafat was struggling to maintain Israel’s security despite the growing unrest and discontent among Palestinians with Israel’s continually intensifying and increasingly brutal apartheid occupation. This was a situation that could not be maintained for long é indigenous resistance against Israel’s unjust occupation was bound to grow as long as that occupation continued to become ever more gruelling without any meaningful end in sight. Despite this, as reported by Tanya Reinhart:

 

“Arafat did manage, through harsh means of oppression, to contain the frustration of his people, and guarantee the safety of the settlers, as Israel continued undisturbed to build new settlements and appropriate more Palestinian land. The oppressive machinery – the various security forces of Arafat – were formed and trained in collaboration with Israel. Much energy and resources were put into building this complex Oslo apparatus. It is often admitted that the Israeli security forces cannot manage to prevent terror any better than Arafat can. Why, then, was the military and political echelon so determined to destroy all this already in October 2000 [when Israeli invasion plans were in place], even before the terror waves started?”[84]

The answer to this question can be found in a mid-June 2001 report by the Hebrew daily Yediot Aharanot, which recounts in grim detail the strategic background to the escalation of Sharon’s war plans, and the specific considerations behind their formulation é essentially that the Oslo process was not sufficient to secure broad Israeli aims in the expansion of Israel’s borders through control over the Occupied Territories: “éthe Israeli military and political leadership are aiming, eventually, at a total destruction of the Palestinian authority, and, with it, the process of OsloéWhat can they be after?é

“éa simple solution of annexation of the occupied territories would have turned the occupied Palestinians into Israeli citizens, and this would have caused what has been labeled the ‘demographic problem’ é the fear that the Jewish majority could not be preserved. Therefore, two basic conceptions were developed. The Alon plan consisted of annexation of 35-40% of the territories to Israel, and self-rule or partnership in a confederation of the rest, the land on which the Palestinians actually live.

 

“éThe second conception, whose primary spokesman was Sharon, assumed that it is possible to find more acceptable and sophisticated ways to achieve a 1948 style ‘solution’ é it is only necessary to find another state for the Palestinians. ‘Jordan is Palestine’ é was the phrase that Sharon coined. So future arrangements should guarantee that as many as possible of the Palestinians in the occupied territories will move there. For Sharon, this was part of a more global world view, by which Israel can establish ‘new orders’ in the region.

 

“éThe first step on this route is to convince the public that Arafat is still a terrorist and is personally responsible for the acts of all groups from the Islamic Jihad to HizbollahéIt is hard to avoid the conclusion that after 30 years of occupation, the two options competing in the Israeli power system are precisely the same as those set by the generation of 1948: Apartheid (the Alon-Oslo plan), or transfer é mass evacuation of the Palestinian residents, as happened in 1948 (the Sharon plan). Those pushing for the destruction of the Oslo infrastructure may still believe that under the appropriate conditions of regional escalation, the transfer plan would become feasible.

 

“In modern times, wars aren’t openly started over land and water. In order to attack, you first need to prove that the enemy isn’t willing to live in peace and is threatening our mere existence. Barak managed to do that. Now conditions are ripe for executing Sharon’s plan, or as Ya’alon put it in November 2000, for ‘the second half of 1948.’ Before we reach that dark line, there is one option which was never tried before: Get out of the occupied territories immediately.”[85]

That option é withdrawing from the Occupied Territories – was of course never even considered, largely because the life-long goal of Ariel Sharon and his right-wing colleagues is to expand the borders of the State of Israel to engulf the entirety of Palestine, and if possible, beyond. In May 1993 Sharon had proposed at the Likud Convention that: “Israel should adopt the ‘Biblical borders’ concept as its official policy. There were rather few objections to this proposal, either in the Likud or outside it, and all were based on pragmatic grounds.”[86] A Financial Times profile of Sharon citing his autobiography observes that “he has written with pride of his parents’ belief that Jews and Arabs could live side by side,” and then quotes Sharon’s book as follows: “But they believed without question that only they had rights over the land. And no one was going to force them out, regardless of terror or anything else. When the land belongs to you physically… that is when you have power, not just physical power but spiritual power.”[87] The late John Mitchell Henshaw, who was on the payroll of the giant Israeli lobby group the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and was legman of U.S. columnist Drew Pearson, reported in the American Mercury magazine citing Israeli and Zionist sources that: “The grand design of Judaic-Zionist expansionist doctrine is to seize all the oil-rich lands from the shores of the Euphrates to the banks of the Nileé

“In defining the aims of Zionism, Hebrew scholar Levnoch Osman recently said: ‘In our eternal Book of Books (the Torah), the lofty ethical teachings of which are cherished by all mankind, the land of Israel is described not as a long, narrow strip of land with wavy, crooked borders, but as a state with broad natural borders. God has promised to Patriarch Abraham the following: I give unto them the land where they have sown their seed, from the river of Egypt unto the great river of Euphrates’ (Genesis 15:18). And so, in order to realize the words of this prophecy, the Israeli state had to continue, not in the borders it has today but within its broad historical boundaries.’

 

“And as far back as 1952 Moshe Dayan, the present Israeli defense minister, declared: ‘Our task consists of preparing the Israeli army for the new war approaching in order to achieve our ultimate goal, the creation of an Israeli empire.’é

 

“The scope of this ambitious scheme of territorial seizures and exploitation has been recognized by at least a few of our American military strategists for years… the Zionists plot to annex all of Jordan, virtually all of Syria, half of Iraq and a large part of Saudi Arabia and all of the rich cotton lands of the Nile Valley. It would be a simpler matter then to grab Yemen, Aden, Muscat, Qatar and Oman with their rich oil development. Israel is already well advanced in the development of its first nuclear warhead.

 

“According to the Zionists’ schedule of operations, within a decade the Israeli empire be the master of the Middle East and take its place as a nuclear superpower on equal footing with the Soviet Union and the United States.”[88]

The American Mercury article was first published in 1968. But similar revelations concerning Israel’s grand strategy in the Middle East have surfaced since then. Another more recent notable article of this nature was published straight from the horse’s mouth in 1982 by the Hebrew magazine Kivunim, the official organ of the World Zionist Organization (WZO). The Editor of Kivunim at that time was Yoram Beck, Head of Publications at the WZO’s Department of Information. Excerpts from the article are copiously reproduced below. They demonstrate decisively that Israel’s grand plan is to extend the State’s hegemony throughout most of the Middle East by fracturing the existing Arab regimes:

 

“Since 1967, all the governments of Israel have tied our national aims down to narrow political needs, on the one hand, and on the other to destructive opinions at home which neutralized our capacities both at home and abroad. Failing to take steps towards the Arab population in the new territories, acquired in the course of a war forced upon us, is the major strategic error committed by Israel on the morning after the Six Day War. We could have saved ourselves all the bitter and dangerous conflict since then if we had given Jordan to the Palestinians who live west of the Jordan river. By doing that we would have neutralized the Palestinian problem which we nowadays face, and to which we have found solutions that are really no solutions at all, such as territorial compromise or autonomy which amount, in fact, to the same thing. Today we suddenly face immense opportunities for transforming the situation thoroughly and this we must do in the coming decade otherwise we shall not survive as a state…

 

“Regaining the Sinai peninsula with its present and potential resources is therefore a political priority which is obstructed by the Camp David and the peace agreements. The fault for that lies of course with the present Israeli government and the governments which paved the road to the policy of territorial compromise, the Alignment governments since 1967…

 

“The economic situation in Egypt, the nature of the regime and its pan-Arab policy, will bring about a situation after April 1982 in which Israel will be forced to act directly or indirectly in order to regain control over Sinai as a strategic, economic and energy reserve for the long run… Egypt, in its present domestic political picture, is already a corpse, all the more so if we take into account the growing Muslim-Christian rift. Breaking Egypt down territorially into distinct geographical regions is the political aim of Israel in the Nineteen Eighties on its Western front… If Egypt falls apart, countries like Libya, Sudan or even the more distant states will not continue to exist in their present form and will join the downfall and dissolution of Egypt…

 

“Lebanon’s total dissolution into five provinces serves as a precedent for the entire Arab world including Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Arabian peninsula and is already following that track. The dissolution of Syria and Iraq later on into ethnically or religiously unique areas such as in Lebanon, is Israel’s primary target on the Eastern front in the long run, while the dissolution of the military power of those states serves as the primary short term target…

 

“Syria will fall apart, in accordance with its ethnic religious structure, into several states such as in present day Lebanon so that there will be a Shi’ite Alawi state along its coast, a Sunni state in the Aleppo area, another Sunni state in Damascus hostile to its northern neighbor, and the Druzes who will set up a state, maybe even in our Golan, and certainly in the Hauran and in northern Jordan. This state of affairs will be the guarantee for peace and security in the area in the long run, and that aim is already within our reach today…

 

“Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other, is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel’s targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria. Iraq is stronger than Syria. In the short run it is Iraqi power which constitutes the greatest threat to Israelé Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon. In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, and Shi’ite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north. It is possible that the present Iranian-Iraqi confrontation will deepen this polarizationé

 

“The entire Arabian peninsula is a natural candidate for dissolution due to internal and external pressures, and the matter is inevitable especially in Saudi Arabia. Regardless of whether its economic might based on oil remains intact or whether it is diminished in the long run, the internal rifts and breakdowns are a clear and natural development in light of the present political structure…

 

“Israel’s policy, both in war and in peace, ought to be directed at the liquidation of Jordan under the present regime and the transfer of power to the Palestinian majority. Changing the regime east of the river will also cause the termination of the problem of the territories densely populated with Arabs west of the Jordan. Whether in war or under conditions of peace, emigration from the territories and economic demographic freeze in them, are the guarantees for the coming change on both banks of the river, and we ought to be active in order to accelerate this process in the nearest future. The autonomy plan ought also to be rejected, as well as any compromise or division of the territories… A nation of their own and security will be theirs only in Jordan…

 

“é the solution of the problem of the indigenous Arabs will come only when they recognize the existence of Israel in secure borders up to the Jordan river and beyond it, as our existential need in this difficult epoch, the nuclear epoch which we shall soon enter… rialersal of the population is therefore a domestic strategic aim of the highest order… Judea, Samaria and the Galilee are our sole guarantee for national existence, and if we do not become the majority in the mountain areas, we shall not rule in the country and we shall be like the Crusaders, who lost this country which was not theirs anyhow, and in which they were foreigners to begin with.”[89]

Although the strategy outlined here was articulated in 1982, there is no doubt that it grants us a deep insight into the most far-reaching aims of Zionist strategy. The methodology to be consequently adopted by Ariel Sharon can be inferred from his attempts to shore up his right-wing support base. In early April, he feted the Israel’s extremist National Religious Party (Shas), led by former General Effi Eitam, who has been described by the New York Times as “a messianic nationalist who has talked of ‘transferring’ Palestinians out of the West Bank.” Eitam describes the 20 per cent of the population of Israel who are Palestinians as a “cancer”, and was recently cited by the Financial Times as saying, “I can definitely see that as a consequence of a war, not many Arabs will remain here.” Sharon has also recently held negotiations with former Israeli Tourism Minister Benny Elon, leader of the Moledet Party, in order to absorb the National Union-Yisrael Beiteinu faction into his governing coalition. Elon also openly calls for the forcible “transfer” of Palestinians from the Occupied Territories. His routine exhortations have even been aired on Israeli public radio: “We must not fear bringing up again the idea of a transfer and of open discussion of the various possibilities that it offers.” According to Sharon’s spokesman Ra’anan Gissin, the Israeli Prime Minister does not object to Elon’s proposal in principle – only in terms of practicality: “If the Palestinians would have a change of heart and move elsewhere, OK, but Sharon realizes transfer cannot be done because of the stance of the Israeli public. What Elon is saying is not something that today seems possible.”[90] Presumably then, Elon’s dream will be possible as long as Israeli public opinion becomes predominantly supportive of “transfer”.

Israeli academics Oren Yiftachel and Neve Gordon, both at Ben Gurion University, further describe how right-wing circles in Israel, dominating the media with tacit government support, are now successfully promoting the concept of “transfer” as a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict: “For some months now the nationalist camp, aided by the media, has been trickling into the public discourse the idea of expulsion – branded in Israel as ‘transfer’ – despite the fact that it is antithetical to both international norms and  human rights covenants…

“Accordingly, the idea of expelling Palestinians from their land is already deeply entrenched in the political discourse, and has acquired legitimacy within broad sectors of the Israeli public. Labor Party Minister Ephraim Sneh’s new plan, which proposes territorial exchange of Arab localities in Israel with West Bank Jewish settlements, suggests that even segments within the Israeli peace camp are prepared to adopt political programs inspired by the ‘transfer’ idea.

 

“Recently, the transfer proponents have been handed the chance to begin implementing an expulsion at the expense of a particularly weak Palestinian population, the cave inhabitants living in the South Hebron region of the occupied West Bank. The impact of such an expulsion, particularly as a political and legal precedent, cannot be overstated. A ‘small’ transfer now is likely to sanction more extensive expulsions in the future, just as the first entry of the Israeli military into Area ‘A’ during summer 2001 prepared the ground for the massive and deadly invasion dubbed ‘Defensive Shield’.”[91]

In late June 2002, the New Statesman similarly reported that: “The notion of a ‘final transfer’ is supported by a number of cabinet members in the ruling Likud government, by leading Labour Party members and professors and media commentators.” Israeli historian Professor Ilan Pappe observes that: “Very few now dare to condemn it. A circle has been closed. When Israel took over almost 80 per cent of Palestine in 1948, it did so through settlement and ethnic cleansing. The country has a prime minister who enjoys wide public support and who wants to determine by force the future of the remaining 20 per cent.”[92]

It thus appears that Sharon is creeping inexorably towards the implementation of a substantial “transfer” é ethnic cleansing – of the Palestinian population, in accord with deep-rooted Zionist aims to grab the entirety of what right-wing circles consider to be “Greater Israel”. The authoritative Israeli military historian, Professor Martin van Creveld of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (who has lectured or taught at virtually every strategic institute, military or civilian, in the Western world including the U.S. Naval War College), reports that Sharon’s near-term goal without doubt is the “transfer” or forcible expulsion of the Palestinian people. “I think Mr Sharon is waiting for the day when he can throw out all the Palestinians. It is not so very difficult. I think these attacks are playing straight into his hands,” he observed in an interview with the London Guardian. “I think he wants to escalate the situation because he feels there is no way Israel can make peace with the Palestinians, and he is just waiting for the opportunity to throw them all out.” Guardian correspondent Suzanne Goldenberg further reported that this notion of “transfer” was once “the preserve of the far right. But it has gained greater currency in recent months. Opinion polls last month showed that 44% of the Jewish Israeli population endorsed the mass expulsion of the Palestinians.” With almost half the population backing Sharon’s ethnic cleansing strategy, it is only a matter of time before the IDF begins to carry it out. “Israel is becoming desperate,” comments van Creveld, “and people who even a few months ago would never dream of such a solution are beginning to think it is the only possibility.”[93]

Writing in the London Telegraph, Professor Martin van Creveld recounts how Sharon has often alleged that Jordan, having a Palestinian majority even now, amounts to the real Palestinian state, thus advocating that Jordan is the proper destination to which Palestinians must be forcefully “transferred” é ethnically cleansed. Van Creveld admits that the idea of driving out the entirety of the Palestinian population has always been nurtured by Sharon. All that is required is a pretext, and a cover é this is where the linkage between Israeli strategy and U.S. plans to invade Iraq becomes explicit. Van Creveld notes that a U.S. attack on Iraq would offer the cover required, recalling how Sharon himself insisted to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell that nothing happening in Israel should delay a U.S. attack on Iraq. There are other potential pretexts that have been envisaged by Israel, for instance, an uprising in Jordan leading to the collapse of King Abdullah’s regime or an unprecedented massive terrorist attack in Israel. In this light, one can reasonably predict that if the required pretext does not arise of itself, Israel will take appropriate measures to engineer a pretext, as it did with the Hamas suicide attacks. Van Creveld explains that once the pretext comes to the fore, Israel would be able to launch a massive attack within mere hours:

“First, the country’s three ultra-modern submarines would take up firing positions out at sea. Borders would be closed, a news blackout imposed, and all foreign journalists rounded up and confined to a hotel as guests of the Government. A force of 12 divisions, 11 of them armored, plus various territorial units suitable for occupation duties, would be deployed: five against Egypt, three against Syria, and one opposite Lebanon. This would leave three to face east, as well as enough forces to put a tank inside every Arab-Israeli village just in case their populations get any funny ideasé The expulsion of the Palestinians would require only a few brigades. They would not drag people out of their houses but use heavy artillery to drive them out; the damage caused to Jenin would look like a pinprick in comparison.”

Egypt, Syria, Lebanon or Iraq would not be able to respond effectively at all é indeed, any reaction by the entire international community would fail to deter Israel from carrying out its grim strategy:

“Saddam Hussein may launch some of the 30 to 40 missiles he probably has. The damage they can do, however, is limited. Should Saddam be mad enough to resort to weapons of mass destruction, then Israel’s response would be so ‘awesome and terrible’ (as Yitzhak Shamir, the former prime minister, once said) as to defy the imaginationé If Mr Sharon decides to go ahead, the only country that can stop him is the United States. The U.S., however, regards itself as being at war with parts of the Muslim world that have supported Osama bin Laden. America will not necessarily object to that world being taught a lesson – particularly if it could be as swift and brutal as the 1967 campaign; and also particularly if it does not disrupt the flow of oil for too long.

 

“Israeli military experts estimate that such a war could be over in just eight daysé If the Arab states do not intervene, it will end with the Palestinians expelled and Jordan in ruins. If they do intervene, the result will be the same, with the main Arab armies destroyed. Israel would, of course, take some casualties, especially in the north, where its population would come under fire from Hizbollah. However, their number would be limited, and Israel would stand triumphant, as it did in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973.”[94]

Ha’aretz has further noted the implications of the findings of Jane’s Foreign Report, which has also uncovered the linkage between a prospective U.S. assault on Iraq, and Sharon’s planned war with the Palestinians:

There was something familiar in the story: the prime minister has a ‘grand plan’ for war with the Palestinians. It will break out at the same time as the U.S. attack on Iraq, about which Israel will receive advance warning. After defeating the Palestinians, Sharon will make them a generous political offer. Is there secret coordination between Sharon and the Bush administration over such a horrifying scenario, like there was over Lebanon 20 years ago?”[95]

The danger that this scenario heralds for regional and world peace, particularly in relation to the possibility of a wider Arab-Israeli conflict, is beyond dispute. Indeed, in the context of longstanding Zionist aspirations to conquer Middle East countries such as Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and so on é in order to secure the expansion of the Israeli Empire in accordance with the Biblical borders of ‘Greater Israel’ – one cannot relegate such a scenario to the status of only a narrow improbability. On the contrary, given the consolidation of right-wing power in Israel, represented in the Prime Ministership of Sharon himself, the possibilities are frightening. It barely needs to be recalled that Israel is a regional nuclear power, with an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction sufficient to destroy the entire world several times over. British journalist John Pilger reported in the New Statesman in May 2001 that: “The only weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East are in Israel, an American protectorate. What is not being reported is that, as Israel’s hawks fail to put down the Palestinian uprising, their leader, Ariel Sharon, may well remove the country’s nuclear arsenal from its nominal strategy of ‘last resort’.”[96]

Nuclear scientist John Steinbach, whose previous work includes the mapping of dangerous radiation hazards in the United States, corroborates this assessment in a detailed analysis of Israeli weapons of mass destruction published by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation based in Santa Barbara, California. “With between 200 and 500 thermonuclear weapons and a sophisticated delivery system, Israel has quietly supplanted Britain as the World’s 5th Largest nuclear power, and may currently rival France and China in the size and sophistication of its nuclear arsenalé

“Although dwarfed by the nuclear arsenals of the U.S. and Russia, each possessing over 10,000 nuclear weapons, Israel nonetheless is a major nuclear power, and should be publically recognized as such. Since the Gulf War in 1991, while much attention has been lavished on the threat posed by Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, the major culprit in the region, Israel, has been largely ignored. Possessing chemical and biological weapons, an extremely sophisticated nuclear arsenal, and an aggressive strategy for their actual use, Israel provides the major regional impetus for the development of weapons of mass destruction and represents an acute threat to peace and stability in the Middle Easté

 

“In popular imagination, the Israeli bomb is a ‘weapon of last resort’, to be used only at the last minute to avoid annihilation, and many well intentioned but misled supporters of Israel still believe that to be the case… today the Israeli nuclear arsenal is inextricably linked to and integrated with overall Israeli military and political strategy… Israel has made countless veiled nuclear threats against the Arab nations and against the Soviet Union (and by extension Russia since the end of the Cold War).”[97]

Steinbach cites numerous sources showing that the nuclear option is very much on the table as far as Israel is concerned. For example, according to the late Professor Israel Shahak of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in his highly acclaimed extensive study of Israel’s nuclear capabilities, Open Secrets:

“The wish for peace, so often assumed as the Israeli aim, is not in my view a principle of Israeli policy, while the wish to extend Israeli domination and influence isé Israel is preparing for a war, nuclear if need be, for the sake of averting domestic change not to its liking, if it occurs in some or any Middle Eastern states… Israel clearly prepares itself to seek overtly a hegemony over the entire Middle East…, without hesitating to use for the purpose all means available, including nuclear onesé Israel’s insistence on the independent use of its nuclear weapons can be seen as the foundation on which Israeli grand strategy restsé The prospect of Gush Emunim, or some secular right-wing Israeli fanatics, or some of the delirious Israeli Army generals, seizing control of Israeli nuclear weapons… cannot be precluded… [W]hile Israeli Jewish society undergoes a steady polarization, the Israeli security system increasingly relies on the recruitment of cohorts from the ranks of the extreme right.”[98]

American Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh largely agrees with Shahak’s assessment. He writes in another leading study of the subject that: “é the size and sophistication of Israel’s nuclear arsenal allows men such as Ariel Sharon to dream of redrawing the map of the Middle East aided by the implicit threat of nuclear forceé Should war break out in the Middle East again, é or should any Arab nation fire missiles against Israel, as the Iraqis did, a nuclear escalation, once unthinkable except as a last resort, would now be a strong probability.”[99] Ezar Weissman, Israel’s current President has virtually confirmed the same, promising ominously that: “The nuclear issue is gaining momentum [and the] next war will not be conventional.”[100] A past chilling statement by current Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is even more revealing: “Arabs may have the oil, but we have the matches.”[101]

In April 2002, Sharon began preparations for the “transfer” plan. The Washington Times reported during the current Israeli invasion of the Occupied Territories that Foreign Minister Shimon Peres confirmed Sharon’s “plan calling for Israel to annex 50 percent of land in the West Bank.” The existence of the plan was originally “disclosed by Ephraim Sneh, the Israeli transport minister,” who observed that the annexation plan is “incompatible with a two-state solution,” and thus designed to block the emergence of a viable independent Palestinian state.[102] The Washington Post corroborated to some extent the existence of Israeli plans for a more intensive offensive in the Occupied Territories. Reporting near the end of March 2002, correspondent Lee Hockstader noted that: “Israeli military planners are preparing for a major assault on Palestinian cities, towns and refugee camps that would be broader and deeper than the offensive undertaken earlier this month, according to Israeli officials…

“The officials, speaking on condition they not be identified, emphasized that they intended to give every chance for the cease-fire negotiations under the U.S. envoy, Anthony C. Zinni, to succeed… If the talks fail as Palestinian violence continues, there is widespread and growing support both in Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s government and in the army for what one official called a ‘comprehensive military confrontation’ with the Palestinians… The Israeli warnings seem designed both to prepare domestic and international public opinion for a new round of bloodshed.”

The Post report also noted that Israel’s earlier offensive, including the massacre in Jenin, “appeared to do little or nothing to dent the Palestinians’ will or ability to attack Israelis. In the week since Israel withdrew from the last major chunks of Palestinian territory it had retaken, there have been almost daily suicide bombings, shootings or attempted terrorist attacks.” Israeli officials, moreover, have been tight-lipped about the ethnic cleansing strategy that is so integral to the planned military invasion, which has already been granted a green light from the United States. “Officials are reluctant to reveal the details of the military plans, other than to say they could involve the army driving deeper into Palestinian cities, towns and refugee camps than it did this month, staying considerably longer…

“Shimon Schiffer, arguably Israel’s best-connected political reporter, wrote in the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth today that when Vice President Cheney visited Israel last week, Sharon ‘reached an agreement’ with him that if Zinni’s mission fails, Washington would support Israeli strikes on the Palestinians. U.S. officials did not deny the report… The Palestinians are demanding that any truce be followed by a swift resumption of political negotiations that would include a freeze on all construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. Israel refuses to tie the truce talks to the prospect of political concessions.”[103]

Israel’s refusal to link a ceasefire to the need for a just solution in which Israel halt its illegal settlement constructions in the Occupied Territories, coupled with the already devastating IDF military operation, is a guarantee of the failure of any such ceasefire. Ha’aretz admits that if Israel and the United States “cannot offer the Palestinians, and Arab capitals that support them, any form of political horizon,” then “without such a view, no real cease-fire is possible.”[104] Indeed, Israel’s military policies é publicly touted by Sharon and his spokespeople as attempts to “root out the terror infrastructure” in the Occupied Territories é are in fact doing the very opposite. While the Israeli government continues to call upon Arafat to crackdown on militant factions in Palestine responsible for acts of terrorism, The Other Israel points out that Israel’s indiscriminate bombardment of Palestine has successfully destroyed much of the PA infrastructure, thus substantially weakening Arafat’s regime to the point of almost total impotence: “The Palestinian police and security services have hardly any premises or prisons left in which to put terrorists, even if the decision was taken to arrest them; the Israeli bombardments were all too thoroughé

“More important than the destruction of physical assets, the campaign of the past months clearly changed the internal balance of forces in the Palestinian society, weakening the Palestinian Authority and its apparatus, greatly enhancing the prestige and support enjoyed by the various militias and militant groups.

 

“For Palestinian militants to be convinced of the need to suspend their armed struggle and establish a lasting cease-fire, they would need a clear sign that the end of the occupation can be achieved by political and diplomatic means. [But] Sharoné is not likely to end the occupation or dismantle the settlements which he himself established throughout his career.”[105]

Time Magazine similarly observes that “the Israeli offensive has left the PA’s own security structures in tatters – a fact acknowledged in President Bush’s announcement Tuesday that CIA director George Tenet would be sent to help the PA rebuild a single, consolidated security force to facilitate a cease-fire [although] a renewed Israeli offensive may render that idea a non-starter”, which it did. Notably, “Terror attacks allow Sharon to postpone the drive for a political solution.”[106] Indeed, according to the authoritative U.S. Terrorism Research Center (TRC), Hamas is the most probable candidate to come to power if the current leadership of the Palestinian Authority collapses, an event which Sharon’s invasion policies have openly been attempting to accomplish: “If the PLO is able to accomplish its goals, it will grow stronger and HAMAS weaker. If, however, the negotiations break down, HAMAS is situated perfectly to challenge the PLO for the Palestinian leadership role.”[107] Fully aware of this probability, Arafat “and his officials have made abundantly clear to Palestinian militants in recent weeks that further attacks inside Israel right now will force the PA to launch a Palestinian civil war.”[108]

The TRC’s observation is, unfortunately, being borne out as a direct consequence of Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories. Will Hutton of The Observer notes that: “As Ariel Sharon and Israel’s armed forces have violently dismantled the institutions and physical infrastructure of the Palestinian Authority one has remained intact – and that is Hamas.” He cites one European diplomatic source commenting: “The way things are going, there is the real danger that Hamas could sweep the board in any local elections if it chooses to stand. President Bush says he wants an alternative Palestinian leadership. If he wants it, he will get it. The only problem is that it will be Hamas.”[109]

Sharon’s policies, in other words, amount to a recipe for the promotion of Palestinian terrorism, with the rise to prominence of militant factions such as Hamas being a direct, inevitable and predictable product of Israel’s invasion. “After four weeks of military action, any independent analysis is forced to conclude that Sharon has not increased Israel’s safety or security,” notes Paul Rogers, Professor of Peace Studies at Bradford University. “The evidence is actually to the contrary… Palestinian resolve appears to have been strengthened, in spite of the casualties and destruction, suicide bombings have continued, and very many young Palestinians have been further radicalised… War in Hebron and Gaza may come anyway, but it will be even more likely if there are further bombs in Israeli cities.”[110]

Indeed, just as there is no doubt that Israeli military planners clearly foresaw the consequence of liquidating Hamas leader Abu Hunud, there is no doubt that they also anticipated the product of the current invasion: the rise to prominence – and a freehand – for militant factions such as Hamas. Ha’aretz, for instance, discusses whether “the assassinations and incursions into the cities of the West Bank were effective” referring to the findings of an official Israeli military intelligence assessment: “A Military Intelligence report revealed this week says – somewhat retroactively – that they were not. On the contrary, says the report, the attacks increased the Palestinians’ motivation for violence, just as was predicted by a few commentators.”[111] Israel is therefore fully aware of the impact of its policies in increasing the prominence of militant factions, especially Hamas. As Israeli policies of invasion and occupation intensify under Sharon’s command, the probability of an intensified military response by Palestinian militants accordingly increases é and Israel’s military intelligence infrastructure is fully aware of this. Yet this probability fits very well within Sharon’s near-term plans to implement a large-scale “transfer” of two million Palestinians from the Occupied Territories into Jordan.

Commenting in detail on Ariel Sharon’s plans for the Occupied Territories, Henry Siegman é Senior Fellow and Director of the Middle East Project at the Council on Foreign Relations and former Executive Director of the American Jewish Congress é observes that: “Writing in The New York Times (IHT Views, June 10), Ariel Sharon unveils the fundamental idea that defines his approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflicté

“With an audacity that is breathtaking, Sharon offers an entirely new formulation of the keystone of all Middle East peace initiatives since the 1967 war – the UN Security Council’s Resolution 242 of 1967. In the face of the resolution’s explicit affirmation of ‘the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war,’ Sharon proposes that 242 intended to grant Israel rights to the West Bank and Gaza that are equal to the Palestinians’ rights formally recognized by the United Nations in 1947.

 

“Resolution 242 affirms Israel’s right to ‘secure and recognized boundaries’. Sharon’s unspoken assumption is that it was 242’s intention to allow Israel to construe ‘secure borders’ as applying not to minor adjustments to a pre-existing border but as giving Israel license to claim large parts of the West Bank and Gaza, if not all of them, on security grounds… Sharon is thus informing the international community that Israel’s claim to the West Bank and Gaza is on a par with that of the Palestinians… Given Israel’s control of all of the territories, and given its overwhelming military superiority over the Palestinians, there should be little doubt about the outcome of this contest of Israeli and Palestinian ‘rights’…

 

“One might think that Sharon’s notion of the rights conferred by 242 on Israel is so outlandish, not to say so pernicious in consigning an entire people to permanent homelessness, that there is little danger that he will be allowed to act on it.

 

“But that would be a big mistake. Sharon’s latest fantasy about 242 is no less absurd than was his proposition that he could get Palestinians to end their violent resistance to Israel’s occupation without offering a political framework that holds out the promise of meeting minimal Palestinian national aspirations if they end the violence. Although there are few examples of peace talks that did not take place concurrently with continued fighting between the parties, whether in the Balkans, Ireland or Vietnam, the United States bought into Sharon’s idea, to its subsequent chagrin…

 

“Yet Sharon had no difficulty getting U.S. and international support for his idea. There is every reason to believe that he will be equally adept at getting Washington to buy into his formulation of Resolution 242, a formulation that, for all practical purposes, erases Palestinian rights to the West Bank and Gaza.”[112]

Just before the implementation of these plans, Israel needs a pretext and trigger to justify carrying them out é an unprecedented massive terrorist attack or series of attacks inside Israel is one possible occurrence that would provide the required justification. The unprecedented chaos of a bloody Palestinian civil war would couple well with such a terrorist outrage in generating the pretext for “transfer” Israel requires. Israel’s violent dismantlement of the PA infrastructure, which has given a freehand to Palestinian militants, has thus effectively established the very “terror infrastructure” that may eventually grant Sharon the pretext he needs: more dead Israelis and anarchy in the Occupied Territories. As George Szamuely observes: “The mantra that Arafat crack down on terror has always been a fraud. Who is to do this cracking down? Obviously, Palestinian police, security forces and courts. But they are the chief target of Sharon’s murderous onslaughté

“Sharon’s strategy today is the same as it was in Beirut in 1982. He wants to destroy and discredit the Palestinian Authority so as to ensure the Palestinians are left without a credible leadership. Chaos and anarchy on the West Bank would then provide Israel with the justification it needs to drive out the indigenous population and render the territory governable.”[113]

These exceedingly grim developments should surprise no one. Any observer of the history of the Middle East conflict, and particularly of the career of Ariel Sharon himself, should have been able to predict this turn of events given Sharon’s rise to power.

President George W. Bush’s late June address on the Middle East conflict has failed dismally to provide a way out of what appears to be an impending plunge into the abyss, serving instead to play into the hands of Sharon’s plans to undermine the PA, and to continue “defencive” invasions of the Occupied Territories to forcefully annex as much land as possible. President Bush’s vague “vision” of an undefined Palestinian state with no clear indication of time-scales and no referral to the principal Palestinian rights as defined under international law, was offered on the condition that Palestinian militants put down their arms, cease “the violence” and refrain from terrorist attacks against Israel. But this is a condition which is virtually impossible to meet, as guaranteed by U.S.-backed Israeli policies of State terrorism and repression in the Occupied Territories that have deliberately undermined the very PA security structures that Sharon demands should crackdown on militant factions. This situation is made worse as a result of Israel’s extremely dire track record of consistently foiling previous peace processes with U.S. support. Without precise qualification, specification, and legally binding guarantees, President Bush’s vacuous “vision” of a Palestinian state only appears as another pathetic rendition of the old insincere Oslo promise of the same. Simultaneously, President Bush refused to criticise Israeli military operations in the Occupied Territories, instead asserting Israel’s right to continue its operations to defend itself from terrorism. This of course simply granted Sharon a “green light” to invade deeper into the Territories to consolidate Israel’s apartheid occupation under the banner of “defence”.

President Bush’s offer of a Palestinian state thus effectively amounted to a rhetorical propaganda effort to shield Israel as it embarks upon the implementation of its expansionist strategy. Rather than genuinely addressing the root multiple causes of the conflict, President Bush instead demanded of the Palestinians what – under the impact of ongoing Israeli repression and violence – they most probably will not be able to achieve, with Hamas and other militant groups granted a freehand thanks to the IDF’s dismantlement of PA security structures and ongoing obstruction of a viable political horizon. While Israel continues to ensure that this remains the case, their manufactured failure é virtually inevitable thanks to Israeli policy – is likely to be exploited by the Sharon administration, which will probably misconstrue the failure as clear-cut Palestinian “rejectionism” of a peaceful compromise. This would thus justify the subsequent harsh measures Israeli military intelligence is planning, on the pretext of legitimately cracking down on terrorism and obtaining security é although the latter would in reality constitute “terrorism” consciously fuelled, and “security” intentionally undermined, by Israeli policy itself.

As a consequence of Israeli policies in the Occupied Territories, the Middle East conflict is fast approaching a new cataclysm reminiscent of the 1948 “Nakba” or “Catastrophe” – with U.S. government connivance and duplicity: a “final solution” entailing the ethnic cleansing of masses of the indigenous population from the Occupied Territories by Israeli forces, coupled with the strategic annexation of land. Sources indicate that this would most probably be accompanied or followed by a “generous” peace offer by the Sharon administration, in which some sort of Palestinian structure plays the role of Israeli proxy (as did the PA during Oslo), to consolidate Israeli control of a greatly depopulated network of Palestinian Bantustans in the Occupied Territories é thus making Israeli control far easier than it is presently.

There is no doubt that such a development would constitute a colossal war crime achieved through carefully planned acts of genocide of colonial magnitude, in order to drive out the indigenous population. As Israeli sources cited above suggest, a bare minimum of several thousand Palestinian deaths can be expected to result from the planned IDF assault. There is also the distinct possibility that the conflict escalates into a full-scale nuclear war in the Middle East, if any of the Arab regimes é such as Iraq é chooses to respond militarily to such Israeli actions. Israel has a dangerous nuclear policy that it is willing to implement even under danger of the threat of an attack via conventional weapons.

The escalating instability of the Middle East conflict thus threatens not only to result in a horrendous war crime in the Occupied Territories, but also to draw in the entire region into a series of such war crimes that has the potential to permanently disrupt the entire world. While this has always been a grave possibility, current events are bringing this possibility far closer to imminent reality. It is therefore essential that unprecedented pressure be brought to bear on key media outlets, powerful civil society organisations, and prominent national and international establishments involved in policy formulation or implementation é including of course major governments and related institutions. The aim of this pressure must be to re-direct the current course of events towards a peaceful and just solution.

For such a solution to become a genuine possibility entering the political horizon, the main obstacles to that solution must be challenged and undermined: this includes the right-wing power base in Israel, the militant suicide bombing factions in Palestine, and the support and appeasement of current Israeli policy under the Sharon administration coming from the United States, the United Kingdom and some European powers. Such a vast and swift transformation can only be achieved through a massive intensive attempt at public education within Israel, the Occupied Territories, and the Western countries (principally the United States). Only a drastic turnaround rooted in Israeli, Palestinian and Western public awareness of the realities of the Middle East conflict, the key element of which is Israel’s primary responsibility for the escalation of violence and repression, will suffice to generate the pressure on the relevant institutions required to effectuate a transformation of the current course of events. Although it is not within the remit of this report to consider the mechanics of this collective human effort to be urgently pursued worldwide, it suffices to conclude that such an effort will require the worldwide dedication, solidarity, coordination and pooling of resources of all concerned members of the family that is humanity.

[1] B’Tselem Press Release, ‘The IDF has lost any moral compass’, B’Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, Jerusalem, 12 March 2002, http://www.btselem.org/English/Press_Releases/2002/020312.asp .

[2] B’Tselem Statistics, ‘Total casualties since Dec. 1987’, B’Tselem, Jerusalem, viewed 7 April 2002, http://www.btselem.org/English/Statistics/Total_Casualties.asp .

[3] PRCS Table of Figures, ‘Total daily number of deaths & injuries é West Bank & Gaza’, Palestine Red Crescent Society, Al-Bireh, viewed 7 April 2002, http://www.palestinercs.org/Crisis%20Tables/table_of_figures.htm . Linked from B’Tselem ‘Statistics’ section, http://www.btselem.org/English/Statistics .

[4] IDF News, ‘Terror casualties during Ebb and Flow’, Israeli Defense Forces Official Website, 5 April 2002, http://www.idf.il/English/news/nifg.stm .

[5] Grinberg, Lev, ‘Israel’s State Terrorism’, Tikkun Magazine, 1 April 2002.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Abunimah, Ali, ‘The Aftermath of Sharon’s Visit to the U.S.’, Washington Post Live Online, (Question & Answer Session), 8 May 2002, http://discuss.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/zforum/02/world_abunimah0508.htm .

[8] Cantarow, Ellen, ‘Speak Out’, ZNet Middle East Watch, 6 April 2002,  http://www.zmag.org/content/Mideast/cantarowwar.cfm .

[9] Ibid.

[10] Hedges, Chris, ‘A Gaza Diary: Scenes from the Palestinian Uprising’, Harpers Magazine, October 2001.

[11] Hudson, Rex A. (edited by Marilyn Majeska and managed by Andrea M. Savada), The Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism: Who Becomes a Terrorist and Why?, Report Prepared under an Interagency Agreement by the Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, September 1999, http://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/terrorism.htm .

[12] This has also been commented on by Professor Ehud Sprinzak: “[Hamas’] campaign, started haphazardly in 1992 against Israeli military and settler targets in the occupied territories, failed to produce glaring results. The 1994 Hebron Massacre, when Israeli doctor Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 praying Palestinians, changed everything. Determined to avenge the deaths of their countrymen, Hamas operators resorted to suicide bus bombings inside Israeli cities. In a matter of weeks, the new wave of terrorism had eroded Israel’s collective confidence in the peace process and had played right into the hands of extremist Hamas clerics who opposed negotiations with Israel. Yet, in 1995 these attacks suddenly came to a complete halt. Several factors convinced Hamas leaders to back off: the growing Palestinian resentment against the costs of the bus bombings (expressed in massive Israeli economic sanctions), the increasing cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian security services, and the effectiveness of Israeli counterterrorism. Ironically, Israel unintentionally pushed the organization to resume the bus bombings when, in 1996, then Prime Minister Shimon Peres ordered the assassination of Yehiya Ayash (known as ‘the Engineer’) -a Hamas operative who masterminded many of the previous suicide bombings. Humiliated and angered, Hamas temporarily resumed bus bombings in Israel. A series of three successful attacks by Hamas and one by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad changed Israel’s political mood about the peace process and led to the 1996 electoral defeat of Peres and his pro-peace government.” (Sprinzak, Ehud, ‘Rational Fanatics’, Foreign Policy, September/October 2000, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/issue_SeptOct_2001/sprinzak.html .)

[14] Cited in ibid.

[15] Slater, Jerome, ‘What Went Wrong? The Collapse of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process’, Political Science Quarterly, Summer 2000, Vol. 116, No. 2.

[16] Hass, Amira, ‘Both Sides Are Wrong’, Ha’aretz, 26 June 2002.

[17] MacAskill, Ewan, ‘Children become the new martyrs of Gaza’, The Guardian, 25 April 2002.

[18] Shalom, Stephen, ‘Background to the Israel-Palestine Crisis’, Z Magazine, May 2002, http://www.zmag.org/shalom-meqa.htm .

[19] Luft, Gal, ‘The Palestinian H-Bomb’, Foreign Affairs, July/August 2002.

[20] Siegman, Henry, ‘Here is the Way to Counter Palestinian Terrorism’, International Herald Tribune, 12 December 2001.

[21] Siegman, Henry, ‘Security Means Leaving the Territories and Settlements’, International Herald Tribune, 28 August 2001, http://www.iht.com/articles/30537.html .

[22] Yitzhak Rabin, speech to Knesset (Israeli Parliament) on 5th October 1995. Cited in Report on Israeli Settlement in the Occupied Territories 5, November 1995.

[23] Beinin, Joel, ‘The Demise of the Oslo Process’, Middle East Report, Middle East Research and Information Project, Washington DC, 26 March 1999. For discussion of the essential elements of the Oslo agreements, see Aronson, Geoffrey, ‘Recapitulating the Redeployments: The Israel-PLO “Interim Agreements”‘, Information Brief, Center for Policy Analysis, 27 April 2000, No. 32.

[24] Shlaim, Avi, ‘America must see that Sharon is the problem’, The Observer, 14 April 2002.

[25] Pacheco, Allegra, ‘Israel’s Doomed Peace’, New York Times, 5 October 2000.

[26] Slater, Jerome, ‘What Went Wrong? The Collapse of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process’, Political Science Quarterly, The Academy of Political Science, New York, Vol. 116, No. 2, Summer 2001.

[27] Interview with Yossi Beilin in Ha’aretz, 7 March 1997.

[28] New York Times, 30 August 1996.

[29] Slater, Jerome, ‘What Went Wrong?’, op. cit.

[30] Malley, Robert and Agha, Hussein, ‘Camp David: The Tragedy of Errors’, New York Review of Books, 9 August 2001.

[31] Malley, Robert, ‘Fictions About the Failure at Camp David’, New York Times, 8 July 2001.

[32] Keyser, Jason, ‘Peres Says Mideast Peace Process Flawed From Outset’, Associated Press, 21 February 2002.

[33] Shalom, Stephen R. and Shalom, Alex R., ‘Turmoil in Palestine: The Basic Context’, ZNet, October 2000, http://www.zmag.org .

[34] Schiff, Ze’ev, Ha ‘aretz, 24 November 2000.

[35] Hass, Amira, Ha ‘aretz ,14 November 2000.

[36] Lind, Michael, ‘The Israeli Lobby and American Power’, Prospect, April 2002.

[37] Reinhart, Tanya, ‘Land for Apartheid’, Yediot Ahranot, 13 July 2000.

[38] Slater, Jerome, ‘What Went Wrong?’, op. cit.

[39] Reinhart, Tanya, ‘Mount Temple’, Znet Daily Commentary, 2 October 2000, http://www.zmag.org/ZSustainers/ZDaily/2000-10/02reinhart.htm .

[40] ‘Battle at Jerusalem Holy Site Leaves 4 Dead and 200 Hurt’, New York Times, 30 September 2000.

[41] Siegman, Henry, ‘Israel: A Historic Statement’, New York Review of Books, 8 February 2001; ‘Hopes for Peace Under Sharon’, Ha’aretz , 27 February 2001.

[42] Nonneman, Gerd, ‘The roots of Palestinian despair’, The Observer Worldview, 14 April 2002.

[43] Mitchell, George, Sharm El-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee Final Report, 30 April 2001, http://usinfo.state.gov/regional/nea/mitchell.htm .

[44] HRW Press Release, ‘Research Shows Israeli Pattern of Extensive Force’, Human Rights Watch, New York, 17 October 2001. Also see http://www.hrw.org/reports/2000/israel.

[46] Such reactions cited in Shamir, Israel, ‘Orient Express,’ Media Monitors Network, 14 September 2001, http://shamir.mediamonitors.net/september142001.html .

[47] Shlaim, Avi, ‘America must see that Sharon is the problem’, op. cit.

[49] Yediot Aharonot, 17 March 2002.

[50] Reinhart, Tanya, ‘Jenin é the Propaganda War’, Yediot Aharanot, 21 April 2002.

[51] ANSWER Report, Eyewitness Jenin é Report From Jenin Refugee Camp, West Bank: Jenin like Qibya in 1953 is another massacre by Ariel Sharon, International ANSWER, 23 May 2002, http://www.internationalanswer.org .

[52] Shelah, Ofer, Yediot Aharonot Weekend Supplement, 19 April 2002.

[53] ‘I Didn’t Give a Chance to Anyone’, Yedioth Ahronot, 31 May 2002.

[54] UNRWA Press Release, ‘End the horror in the camps’, United Nations Relief and Works Agency, 7 April 2002, http://www.un.org/unrwa/emergency/index.htm .

[55] Har’el, Amos and Hass, Amira, Ha’aretz, 9 April 2002.

[56] Al-Ahmed, Wael, ‘Refugees trapped in the frontline’, The Guardian, 9 April 2002.

[57] Benn, Alof and Harel, Amos, ‘Peres calls IDF operation in Jenin a “massacre”‘, Ha’aretz, 9 April 2002.

[58] McGreal, Chris, ‘Israel accused over Jenin assault’, The Guardian, 23 April 2002.

[59] Rabbani, Mouin, MERIP Press Information Note 93, ‘Bleak Horizons After Operation Defensive Wall,’ Middle East Research & Information Project, Washington DC, 30 April 2002, http://www.merip.org .

[60] Huggler, Justin and Reeves, Phil, ‘What really happened in Jenin? Evidence of a Massacre’, The Independent, 25 April 2002. Israeli correspondent Amira Hass describes the indiscriminate destruction and vandalism of the offices of the PA’s Ministry of Culture in a Ha’aretz report (‘Destruction and Degradation’, 6 May 2002) revealing the extraordinarily barbaric behaviour of the IDF: “é all the high-tech and electronic equipment had been wrecked or had vanished – computers, photocopiers, cameras, scanners, hard disks, editing equipment worth thousands of dollars, television sets. The broadcast antenna on top of the building was destroyed. Telephone sets vanished. A collection of Palestinian art objects (mostly hand embroideries) disappeared. Perhaps it was buried under the piles of documents and furniture; perhaps it had been spirited away. Furniture was dragged from place to place, broken by soldiers, piled up. Gas stoves for heating were overturned and thrown on heaps of scattered papers, discarded books, broken diskettes and discs and smashed windowpanes. In the department for the encouragement of children’s art, the soldiers had dirtied all the walls with gouache paints they found there and destroyed the children’s paintings that hung there. In every room of the various departments – literature, film, culture for children and youth books, discs, pamphlets and documents were piled up, soiled with urine and excrement. There are two toilets on every floor, but the soldiers urinated and defecated everywhere else in the building, in several rooms of which they had lived for about a month. They did their business on the floors, in emptied flowerpots, even in drawers they had pulled out of desks. They defecated into plastic bags, and these were scattered in several places. Some of them had burst. Someone even managed to defecate into a photocopier. The soldiers urinated into empty mineral water bottles. These were scattered by the dozen in all the rooms of the building, in cardboard boxes, among the piles of rubbish and rubble, on desks, under desks, next to the furniture the solders had smashed, among the children’s books that had been thrown down. Some of the bottles had opened and the yellow liquid had spilled and left its stain. It was especially difficult to enter two floors of the building because of the pungent stench of feces and urine. Soiled toilet paper was also scattered everywhere. In some of the rooms, not far from the heaps of feces and the toilet paper, remains of rotting food were scattered. In one corner, in the room in which someone had defecated into a drawer, full cartons of fruits and vegetables had been left behind. The toilets were left overflowing with bottles filled with urine, feces and toilet paper. Relative to other places, the soldiers did not leave behind them many sayings scrawled on the walls. Here and there was the candelabrum symbols of Israel, stars of David, praises for the Jerusalem Betar soccer teamé Now the Palestinian Ministry of Culture is considering leaving the building the way it is. A memorial. No response was available from the IDF by press time.”

[61] HRW Report, Jenin: IDF Military Operations, Human Rights Watch, New York, Vol. 14, No. 3 (E), May 2002, http://www.hrw.org/reports/2002/israel3 .

[62] ‘The Wounded Lion: An Editorial Overview’, The Other Israel, March 2002. Available online at http://other_israel.tripod.com/index.html , maintained by the America-Israel Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace.

[63] Reinhardt, Tanya, ‘Evil Unleashed,’ Tikkun, March 2002. First published in Israel Indymedia, 19 December 2001.

[64] Shuman, Ellis, ‘Is Israel preparing to dismantle the Palestinian Authority?’, Israeli Insider, July 12, 2001, http://www.israelinsider.com/channels/security/articles/sec_0057.htm . Also see Cordesman, Anthony, ‘Peace and War: Israel versus the Palestinians é A second Intifada?’, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Washington DC, December 2000.

[65] ‘The Wounded Lion: An Editorial Overview’, The Other Israel, March 2002.

[66] See Shalom, Stephen R., ‘The Crisis in Palestine,’ ZNet, April 2, 2002, www.zmag.org/content/Mideast/shalomcrisis.cfm .

[67] Fishman, Alex, Yediot Ahranot, 25 November 2001.

[68] ‘Middle East Crisis With Stuart Tanner’, Washington Post Live Online, 29 March 2002, 4 PM, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/liveonline/front.htm.

[69] Interview with Shabtai Shavit in Yediot Ahranot Weekend Supplement, 7 December 2001.

[70] Shuman, Ellis, ‘Is Israel preparing to dismantle the Palestinian Authority?’, op. cit.

[71] Eldar, Akiva, Ha’aretz, 4 December 2001.

[72] Litvinovich, Dmitry, ‘Hamas and Israel Unite Against Arafat’, Pravda, 4 April 2002.

[73] Rockack, Livia, Israel’s Sacred Terrorism, Arab-American University Graduate Press, Belmont, Massachusetts, 1986.

[74] Ha’aretz, 21 December 2001. Also see Sale, Richard, ‘Israel gave major aid to Hamas’, United Press International (UPI), 24 February 2001.

[75] Corriere della Sera, 11 December 2001.

[76] L”Espresso, 19 December 2001.

[77] Sale, Richard, ‘Analysis: Hamas history tied to Israel’, United Press International, 18 June 2002, http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID=18062002-051845-8272r .

[78] Szamuely, George, ‘Israel’s Hamas’, New York Press, April 2002, Vol. 15, No. 17.

[79] Ha’aretz, 12 December 1997.

[80] See for example ‘The A-Sherif affair’, Yediot Aharanot, 14 April 1998.

[81] Ha’aretz, 6 April 1998.

[82] Fisk, Robert, ‘Israel’s black propaganda bid falters’, The Independent, 9 May 2002. For a detailed analysis of the documents produced by Israel to prove Arafat’s sponsorship of terrorism see Ali Abunimah, Nigel Parry, Laury King-Irani, Israel’s “Smoking Gun” a Damp Firecracker: Israel’s Crude Attempt to “Link Arafat to Terror” Backfires, Special Report of the Electronic Intifadah, No. 27, 4 April 2002, http://electronicintifada.net/actionitems/020404aamb.html . “Israel has failed to prove a credible direct link between Arafat and acts of terrorism. It pursues and promotes this myth to delegitimise the Palestinian national cause and demonise the Palestinian people as a whole. In truth, this smear tactic is effective, as Arafat has no more capacity to prevent suicide attacks than the Israelis were able to when they controlled 100% of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”

[83] Hirst, David, ‘Arafat’s last stand?’, The Guardian, 14 December 2001.

[84] Reinhardt, Tanya, ‘Evil Unleashed,’ op. cit.

[85] ‘The Second Half of 48: The Sharon Ya’Alon Plan,’ Yediot Aharanot, June 10, 2001.

[86] Shahak, Israel, Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years, Pluto Press, London, 1997, p. 9.

[87] Financial Times, 6-7 April 2002.

[88] Henshaw, John Mitchell, ‘Israel’s Grand Design: Leaders Crave Area from Egypt to Iraq’, American Mercury, Spring 1968. Republished by the Media Monitors Network, 14 April 2002, http://167.160.86.106/johnhenshaw1.html .

[89] ‘A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties’, Kivunim, 1982; republished with a foreword by Israel Shahak, AAUG Press, Association of Arab-American University Graduates, Belmont, Massachusetts,  1982. Available online at http://www.globalresearch.org .

[90] Arnove, Anthony, ‘Israel and the threat of transfer’, ZNet Mideast Watch, 9 April 2002, http://www.zmag.org/content/Mideast/arnovetrans.cfm .

[91] Tiftachel, Oren and Gordon, Neve, ‘The Lurking Shadow of Expulsion’, Palestine Monitor, 12 June 2002.

[92] Pilger, John, ‘Ethnic Cleansing and the Establishment of Israel’, New Statesman, 19 June 2002.

[93] Goldenberg, Suzanne, ‘Sharon eyes option of large-scale military offensive’, The Guardian, 9 May 2002.

[94] Van Creveld, Martin, The Telegraph, 28 April 2002.

[95] Samet, Gideon, ‘Secrets, Smoke and Lies’, Ha’aretz, 22 March 2002.

[96] Pilger, John, ‘The big threat in the Middle East is Israel, not Iraq’, New Statesman, 14 May 2001, available at Hidden Agendas: The films and writing of John Pilger, Carlton TV, http://pilger.carlton.com/print/58883 .

[97] Steinbach, John, ‘Israeli Weapons of Mass Destruction: a Threat to Peace’, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Santa Barbara, CA, March 2002. Also published by the Centre for Research on Globalisation, Montreol. See http://www.wagingpeace.org/articles/02.03/0331steinbachisraeli.htm , http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/STE203A.html . Steinbach’s paper was first published by the DC Iraq Coalition.

[98] Shahak, Israel, Open Secrets: Israeli Nuclear and Foreign Policies, Pluto Press, London, 1997, p. 2, 37-38, 150.

[99] Hersh, Seymour, The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy, Random House, New York, 1991, p. 319, 19,

[100] Cited in Aronson, Geoffrey, ‘Hidden Agenda: U.S.-Israeli Relations and the Nuclear Question’, Middle East Journal, Autumn 1992, p. 619-630.

[101] Gaffney, Mark, The Third Temple: The Story Behind the Vanunu Revelation, Amana Books, Brattleboro, VT, 1989, p. 16.

[102] Price, Joyce Howard, ‘Sharon plan for West Bank confirmed,’ Washington Times, April 22, 2002, http://www.washtimes.com/ national/20020422-8855812.htm .

[103] Hockstader, Lee, ‘Israel Plans Big Assault if Truce Talks Fail’, Washington Post, 24 March 2002.

[104] Ha’aretz, 22 March 2002.

[105] ‘The Wounded Lion: An Editorial Overview’, op. cit.

[106] Karon, Tony, ‘Why Hamas Terror Challenges Sharon, Arafat and Bush’, Time Magazine, 8 May 2002, http://www.time.com/time/world/printout/0,8816,236139,00.html .

[107] TRC Special Profile, ‘Hamas’, Terrorism Research Center, 1996-2000, http://www.terrorism.com/terrorism/HAMAS.shtml .

[108] Karon, Tony, ‘Why Hamas Terror Challenges Sharon, Arafat and Bush’, op. cit.

[109] Hutton, Will, ‘Young icons of death who warn the world of Hamas’, The Observer, 30 June 2002.

[110] Rogers, Paul, ‘Iraq and Palestine: two theatres of war’, openDemocracy, 25 April 2002, http://www.opendemocracy.net .

[111] Samet, Gideon, ‘Secrets, Smoke and Lies’, op. cit.

[112] Siegman, Henry, ‘Sharon Rewrites the Peace Script’, Viewpoint ([email protected] ), 27 June 2002, http://www.quotes2u.com/archives/062702.htm . Originally published in the International Herald Tribune.

[113] Szamuely, George, ‘Israel’s Hamas’, op. cit.

Mr. Nafeez Ahmed is a British political analyst and human rights activist based in London. He is Executive Director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development and a Researcher at the Islamic Human Rights Commission. For in-depth discussion of Western policy in Iraq see “The 1991 Gulf Massacre” and “Bleeding the Gulf.” Mr. Ahmed is the author of the new 9/11 study, The War on Freedom: How and Why America was Attacked, September 11, 2001.

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