This fiile contains:
Tanya Reinhart: Don't say you did not know
ArIeh O'Sullivan: Nahshon battalion ready for urban warfare
Israel accused, a BBC programme
Amira Hass: The mirror does not lie
As the media keeps us busy with reports on cease-fire, peace initiatives, and 'reduction of violence', Israeli crimes in the occupied territories continue undisturbed. To understand the extent of these daily crimes we should look at the injuries, not just at the rapidly growing number of dead. On Friday, November 3rd, CNN reported a 'relative calm' in the territories. By afternoon that day there were 276 people injured (LAW report, Nov 3), and by the final count "Up to 452 Palestinians were hurt on Friday across the territories, according to the Red Crescent" ('ha'aretz', Nov 5). On Saturday, October 4th, as the the media covers in great length of Barak's "plea to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to return to the negotiating table and stop the Palestinian-Israeli bloodshed for the sake of peace" (AP), "another 153 were treated for injuries sustained in clashes with Israeli troops" ('ha'aretz', there), including "5 school children from Sa'ir (near Hebron) who are in extremely critical condition" (ADDAMEER - Prisoners' Support and Human Rights Association, Nov 4.). More than 7000 Palestinians are reported injured so far. Several Palestinian medical sources report that an alarming number of them are injured in the head or legs (knees), with carefully aimed shots, and, increasingly, live ammunition. (Dr. Jumana Odeh, Director, Palestinian Happy Child Center, Oct 24 report; LAW, November 2 report.) Many will not recover, or will be disabled for life. This pattern of injuries cannot be accidental. Dan Ephron, Boston Globe correspondent in Jerusalem reports (Nov 4) on the findings of the Physicians for Human Rights delegation: "American doctors who examined Israel's use of force in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have concluded that Israeli soldiers appeared to be deliberately targeting the heads and legs of Palestinian protestors, even in non-life-threatening situations." Medical School doctors in the delegation explained that law enforcement officials worldwide are trained to aim at the chest in dangerous situations (since it is the largest target), and the fact that Palestinians were hit in the head and legs suggests that there was no life-threatening situation, soldiers had ample time, and were deliberately trying to harm unarmed people. In fact, the Israelis are not even trying to conceal their shooting strategies. Interviews like the following can be easily found in the Israeli media:
JERUSALEM (October 27) - "I shot two people... in their knees. It's supposed to break their bones and neutralize them but not kill them," says Sgt. Raz, a sharpshooter from the Nahshon battalion. A common practice is shooting a rubber coated metal bullet straight in the eye -- a little game of well-trained soldiers, which requires maximum precision. Reports on eye injuries keep coming daily. "On October 11, El Mizan Diagnostic Hospital in Hebron reported treating 11 Palestinians for eye injuries, including 3 children. El Nasir Ophthalmic Hospital in Gaza has treated 16 people for eye injuries, including 13 children. Nine of them lost one of their eyes". (LAW report, Oct 19). "From 29 September to 25 October 2000, Jerusalem's St. John Eye Hospital has treated 50 patients for eye-injuries". (LAW, Nov 2, '...Eye Injuries'). Contrary to the standard 'clashes' reports the victims are not just demonstrators. Here is just one story, investigated by LAW (there). Maha Awad, a 36 years old woman lives with her family in Al Bireh (near Ramallah) in a flat that faces the Jewish settlement of Psagot. "On Wednesday night, 4 October 2000, she was at home... She recalls that: 'At about 9 pm, we heard shooting in our neighborhood; it was intensive random shooting. We did not know what was going on but we were very scared.I closed my room and went to the balcony in order to shut the door. At that moment I was hit in my right eye by a bullet, which entered through the glass door of the balcony'." "Maha was, however, not the only person of the family to be seriously injured that night. After taking her to hospital, her 54-year-old brother, who was visiting from the United States, went back to their home to get some clothes for Maha. When he went to see the spot where Maha had been shot, he himself was shot in the stomach." It is hard to avoid the feeling of some sort of a hunting game, played cold bloodily, by well trained sharpshooters with advanced equipment. Stray bullets do not hit so many people precisely in the eye head, or knee. The Israeli army prepared carefully for the present events: "Established just over a year ago specifically to deal with unrest in the West Bank...The IDF has trained four battalions for low-intensity conflict, and Nahshon is the one specializing in urban warfare. Its troops train in mock Palestinian villages constructed in two IDF bases." (Jerusalem Post, Arieh O'Sullivan,Oct 27.00). Specially trained Israeli units, then, aim, shoot and hit the target in a calculated manner: Cripple, but keep the statistics of dead low. This is reported openly (and quite proudly) in the Israeli media. The same Jerusalem Post article explains that "the overall IDF strategy is to deprive the Palestinians of the massive number of casualties the army maintains Palestinians want in order to win world support and consolidate their fight for independence. 'We are very much trying not to kill them...' says Lt.-Col. Yoram Loredo, commander and founder of the Nahshon battalion." The reason is clear enough: Massive numbers of dead Palestinians every day cannot go unnoticed even by the most cooperative Western media and governments. Barak was explicit about this. "The prime minister said that, were there not 140 Palestinian casualties at this point, but rather 400 or 1,000, this... would perhaps damage Israel a great deal." (Jerusalem Post, Oct 30). With a stable average of five casualties a day, they believe that Israel can continue 'undamaged' for many more months. In a world so used to horrors, many feel that 180 dead in a month is sad and upsetting, but it is not yet an atrocity that the world should unite to stop. The 'injured' are hardly reported; they 'do not count' in the dry statistics of tragedy. Who will pay attention to their fate after the injury, in overcrowded and under equipped hospitals? Who will stop to think how many of them will die slowly, from their wounds, or remain disabled, blind or maimed for life? Or to think about their chances to survive the siege and starvation inflicted on their people?. Never did Israel dare to respond daily with such brutal massive force to demonstrators throwing stones. In the whole six years of the previous Intifada (1987-1993), there were 18.000 Palestinian injuries. Now in one month we are already at 7000. What we witness is a new phase. Israel started launching a systematic and preplanned destruction of the Palestinian infra-structure, towns, and life The Israeli army provoked and enlarged the escalation into firearms, by its massive offensive against angry demonstrators. Under the circumstances of fire (and often with no fire pretext at all), residential neighborhoods are bombarded almost every night from helicopters and tanks, using missiles, machine guns and 'precision' weapons, while the army calls on residents to evacuate "for their own protection". The settlers are given free hand to attack, shoot people and destroy property. In Hebron, a particularly massive Israeli attack has been launched in what looks like an attempt to enlarge the Jewish quarters. All combined, there is an enormous pressure on residents of many areas bordering with Israeli settlements to evacuate, enabling enlargement of the land seized already by Israel. Indeed, appropriation of land takes place every day, bit by bit (See Katriel, Indymedia/Israel Oct 30). Desperate Palestinian reports on all this and much more keep coming every day. It is up to us to choose to know. Not long ago, the Western world was shocked and angered at Milosevic atrocities against the Kosovo Albanians, which were described as ethnic cleansing. But What Israel has started executing is incomparably worse. When faced with terrorist attacks (by KLA) on Serbian institutes and civilians in Kosovo, Milosevic did retaliate brutally, using, no doubt, 'excessive force'. His acts were criminal. But he did not send Apache helicopters to bombard residential areas, as does Israel. He did not put the Kosovar towns under siege; he did not use missiles from tanks, and he did not send snipers to wound and kill en-mass. Israel should be sanctioned.
Znet, Mercredi 8 novembre 2000.
Israel Accused is a BBC Correspondent programme, and will be shown at 1850 GMT on Saturday 4th November on BBC Two.
Khiam prison was a detention and interrogation centre during the years of the Israeli occupation in Southern Lebanon. From 1985 until the Israeli withdrawal this May, thousands of Lebanese were held in Khiam without trial. Most of them were brutally tortured - some of them died.
Israel has always sought to escape responsibility for what was done in Khiam; Israel Accused asks where the blame for what Amnesty International calls war crimes really lies.
To help secure its hold on Southern Lebanon, Israel armed and financed a local Lebanese militia, the South Lebanon Army or SLA. In theory the SLA was there to protect the interests of the Lebanese community - in practice it did Israel's work by proxy. The SLA provided Khiam's guards and interrogators.
Ali Kashmar was fourteen when arrested and detained in 1988. Although he had voiced anti-Israeli opinions in school (his own father was killed fighting the Israeli invasion ten years earlier) there is no evidence to suggest that he was guilty of any crime.
Ali was tortured for eleven days and says he started making up stories to please his interrogators. Ali Kashmar was kept in Khiam for ten years. He grew up from a boy to a man within the prison walls - without even a mirror to use as his appearance changed, and spent time in solitary confinement. Ali was eventually released after a decade as part of a hostage exchange -- fifty-five Khiam prisoners and the bodies of 44 Lebanese were traded for the remains of three Israeli soliders in 1998. Terribly damaged by his years in Khiam, he is still fighting severe psychological difficulties -- and there is nowhere in Lebanon that provides treatment for this kind of trauma.
Ryadh Kalakesh was 17 when he was detained in Khiam. He comes from a family that was deeply involved with the Islamic group Hezbollah -- one of his brothers was a suicide bomber -- and he was picked up by Israeli troops on a sweep through his village in 1986.
Ryadh was tortured for eleven months, and gives a graphic account of what it was like; the use of electric shocks administered through wires attached to the finger tips or the genitals, the beatings, the dousings with hot then cold water, and what was known as "the pole", where prisoners - often after being striped naked - were handcuffed and suspended for hours at a time.
Ryadh's brother Adel was detained in Khiam too; when Adel refused to tell the interrogators what they wanted to hear they hauled in his wife Mona and tortured her so that he could hear her screams. Mona suffered electric shocks -- through wires attached to her nipples -- spent three months in solitary confinement and lost her baby while she was in the prison.
There is a compelling body of evidence about Israel's involvement in Khiam. [On se souviendra que le grand humaniste Bernard Kouchner est venu visiter cette prison dans les années 80 et a déclaré que tout était normal, que c'était une prison comme une autre.] Former detainees all say that in the early days of Khiam's time as a detention centre Israeli interrogators worked alongside their SLA counterparts, and their evidence is corroborated by that of those guards who worked in the prison.
In 1988 the Israel seems to have decided on a change of policy in Khiam, and the Israeli presence in the gaol became less obvious. But in a court case brought by Isreali human rights lawyers, the Defence Ministry has admitted paying all the staff at the gaol, training the interrogators and guards, and providing assistance with lie detector tests.
Israel denied war crimes in Khiam
In May, when Israel withdrew from Lebanon, many of Khiam's guards and interrogators fled across the border among the six thousand members of the SLA and their families who took refuge in Israel, living under Israeli government protection at the expense of the Israeli taxpayer.
No one from the Israeli government was willing to agree to an interview. When pressed to admit Israeli responsibility for the gaol, a man who commanded Israeli forces during the late 1980s finally concedes, "maybe".
Broadcast in the midst of one of the gravest Middle East crises of the past decade, Israel Accused is a timely reminder that there is still unfinished business from Israel's recent past.
This week, military prosecutor, Riad Talih demanded the death penalty for 11 former SLA officials who worked at the Khiam camp, and who will be tried in absentina.
Reporter: Edward Stourton
BBC News | Friday, 3 November, 2000, 18:04 GMT
Date: Sat, 4 Nov 2000 22:23:17 -0600
Haaretz Op Ed Wednesday, November 1, 2000
How perfectly natural that 40,000 persons should be subject to a total curfew for more than a month in the Old City of Hebron in order to protect the lives and well-being of 500 Jews. How perfectly natural that almost no Israeli mentions this fact or, for that matter, even knows about it. How perfectly natural that 34 schools attended by thousands of Palestinian children should be closed down for more than a month and their pupils imprisoned and suffocating day and night in their crowded homes, while the children of their neighbors their Jewish neighbors, that is are free to frolic as usual in the street among and with the Israeli soldiers stationed there.How perfectly natural that a Palestinian mother must beg and plead so that an Israeli soldier will allow her to sneak through the alleyways of the open-stall marketplace and obtain medication for her asthmatic children, or bread for her family. (Sometimes Israeli soldiers do have the guts to disobey orders, although, generally speaking, when encountering such situations, they order the woman to return to her home.)
How perfectly understandable that the Israel Defense Forces is seizing control of an ever-increasing number of rooftops atop the homes of Palestinians in the Old City of Hebron and that Israeli soldiers positioned on those rooftops from time to time open fire on other Palestinians, while, down below, at street level, the Jewish settlers are free to show over and over again at the expense of the windshields, windows and tires of the parked cars of Palestinians who's really the boss. How perfectly natural that a Muslim house of prayer like the Ibrahim mosque should be shut down and declared "off limits" to thousands of Muslim worshipers.
The ease with which a curfew has now been imposed on Hebron and the perception of that curfew as a completely natural occurrence are not the products of the past few weeks. (Incidentally, the residents of the village of Hawara, in whose vicinity and on whose lands the Jewish settlement of Yitzhar was built, have also been placed under curfew; their curfew was imposed more than three weeks ago.)
After the massacre carried out by Baruch Goldstein in the Ibrahim mosque, also known as the Tomb of the Patriarchs, the ones who were punished were the Palestinians, with the punishment taking the form of curfews, closures, "disengagement," the shutting-down of entire streets and the continual, hostile supervision by Israeli soldiers and police officers. And there was an additional punishment that was meted out to the Palestinians: economic disaster.
However, Hebron is only a microcosm, an illustration of the general picture. The protracted curfew imposed on Hebron and the way that this curfew has been accepted in Israeli eyes as such a natural event convey, in a nutshell, both the entire story of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land in general and the essence of the kind of Israeli thinking that has developed in the shadow of obvious military superiority. The curfew in Hebron and the ease with which it has been imposed only illustrate the entire story of discrimination and uprooting that the Palestinians have suffered at the hands of the Israelis a never-ending story that unfolded as far back as the Oslo era and the period of the so-called "peace process." Jews live in Hebron today either because of "ancestral rights" or because they can show proof of Jewish ownership of a given property in the not-too-distant past. It is so perfectly natural that Jews should be able to live wherever they want in the Land of Israel on both sides of the Green Line. It is so perfectly natural that a Jew who was born in Tel Aviv should be able to move to Hebron or to Yitzhar. And it is so perfectly natural that Palestinians cannot enjoy that right and cannot move to Tel Aviv or to Haifa even if their families own lands and houses there.
It is so perfectly natural that, to this very day, Israel is developing and expanding the Jewish community in Hebron, just as Israel is developing all the Jewish settlements in the territories. And it is so perfectly natural that, to this very day, the Palestinians must deal with various limitations imposed on any planned development for their own communities, because most of the lands on the West Bank which is their primary land reserve are under Israeli administrative control. No, the Palestinians do not need the kind of leg-room that Israelis do.
It is so perfectly natural that Palestinians have to obtain a travel permit from the Israeli authorities (only a minority of the applicants are granted the permit) in order to enter East Jerusalem or the Gaza Strip, within the context of Israel's closure policy, which was launched in 1991 and which continues until this very day. On the other hand, Jews are free to travel from the West Bank to Israel and back, using well-built highways that have been constructed on lands that have been expropriated from Palestinian villages.
During the summers in Hebron, sometimes days, even weeks go by without running water in the faucets of Palestinian homes. On the other hand, the Jewish neighbors of Palestinian Hebronites in the Old City of Hebron or in the nearby Jewish quarter of Kiryat Arba experience no problems or shortages as far as their water supply is concerned.
The same situation prevails in many Palestinian communities throughout the West Bank: Whereas the Palestinians have no water, the residents of the Jewish settlements enjoy green lawns. The reason is that Israel has, in effect, imposed a quota on the water that the Palestinians are allowed to consume that is, on the right to use water resources that are supposed to be jointly accessible for both Israelis and Palestinians in the single land they share.
This is a tale that must be recounted over and over again almost to the point of exhaustion because it depicts a situation that is so self-understood in the eyes of Israelis that they cannot even see that there is any problem whatsoever. How perfectly easy to regard the Palestinians as a violent and cruel people and to ignore the cruelty that has accumulated day after day for 33 long years and which has been directed during that long period toward an entire community. This is the kind of cruelty that is characteristic of every occupation regime. This is a cruelty that intensified during the Oslo years because of the gap between the fine talk about a "peace process" and the reality.
The curfew in Hebron and the fact that this curfew is regarded as a completely natural phenomenon in the eyes of Israeli society reflects the twisted sort of thinking that developed in the minds of Israelis during the Oslo years. According to this warped thinking, the Palestinians would accept a situation of coexistence in which they were on an unequal footing vis-a-vis the Israelis and in which they were ranked as persons who were entitled to less, much less, than the Jews. However, in the end, the Palestinians were not willing to live with this arrangement.
The new Intifada, which displays the characteristics of both a popular uprising and a quasi-military one, is a final attempt to thrust a mirror in the face of Israelis and to tell them: "Take a good look at yourselves and see how racist you have become.
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ARTICLE 19 <Tout individu a droit à la liberté d'opinion et d'expression, ce qui implique le droit de ne pas être inquiété pour ses opinions et celui de chercher, de recevoir et de répandre, sans considération de frontière, les informations et les idées par quelque moyen d'expression que ce soit>
Déclaration internationale des droits de l'homme, adoptée par l'Assemblée générale de l'ONU à Paris, le 10 décembre 1948.