Israeli-Palestinian Asymmetry

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CNN, NPR, Fox and other US media reported that an Israeli attack ‘injured a Hamas leader and killed two others.’ They hid the facts that the ‘two others’ were a women and child on the street or that such assassination attempts are considered war crimes by International law. This is not an isolated incident but part of a pattern. How else can we explain the failure to mention that 13 Palestinian homes were demolished in the 24 hours preceding that attack. It is time for the US media to stop trying to hide the connection between the Israeli-Palestinian asymmetry and the failure of the long line of road maps and plans given names like Camp David, Oslo, Wye, Camp David II, Tenet, Mitchel, Clinton, Bush and so on.

There are nine million Palestinians in the world, five million are refugees or displaced persons. In the 78% of Palestine that is now called Israel, 1.3 million remaining Palestinians are nominally citizens but do not equal national and social rights. Israel now occupies the other 22% of the area. In this 22% of the land, Israel planted 400,000 Jewish settlers, an illegal action under International law. Israel has 3800 tanks, 1500 large artillery pieces, four submarines, 15-20 warships, estimated 200-300 nuclear weapons, and 2000 combat airplanes (U.S. F-16 and F-15 variants, 25 nuclear capable F-15Es etc.). Palestinians have none of these.

Israel has 175,000 regular troops and 430,000 reserves with obligatory and lengthy military service. Military expenditure in Israel is 8.7 Billion or about 10% of Israel’s GDB and 2 billion of it comes from our taxes. Palestinians have no army. Israel and the Palestinians have police forces numbering around 30,000 each but Israel managed to dismantle the lightly armed Palestinian police. Israel and the Palestinians both have militant and armed groups (Israeli settlers/colonists and Palestinian guerrilla forces).

Since September 2000 and the start of the Palestinian uprising against the occupation, 600 Israelis and 2400 Palestinians have been killed. In both cases, the majority killed were civilian. However, injuries on the Palestinian side were over 30,000, more than six fold those on the Israeli ‘side’. Thus, Israeli forces or settlers injured one in 100 Palestinians. Human rights groups all concluded that Israeli forces target Palestinian civilians. Palestinian civilian infrastructure worth $500 million was largely destroyed by Israeli forces and no Israeli infrastructure was destroyed.

Further, thousands of Palestinian homes were demolished leaving nearly 70,000 homeless. Thousands of Palestinians were detained with no charges or trials. Over 200,000 Palestinian trees were uprooted. Tens of thousands of acres of land were confiscated. There are over 120 Israeli checkpoints in Palestinian territories and towns and villages are under siege and frequent curfews (amounting to 220 little ghettos or large prisons). Walls are being built around Palestinian towns and villages and catastrophic humanitarian crisis is unfolding. The UN concluded that up to 60% of Palestinian Children are mal or undernourished. None of these conditions and atrocities exists for Israelis.

Israel is an occupying power with the fifth strongest army in the world. Palestinians are an impoverished and occupied people; two thirds are refugees. Over 100 UN resolutions condemn Israeli actions and countless others were vetoed by Israel’s main benefactor, the US government. While Palestinians are allocated only 30% of their own water, every Israeli settler/colonist is allocated 6 times more water than a native Palestinian is.

Why are these data and statistics on asymmetry not addressed? In South Africa, the Apartheid regime equally wanted to talk only about the violence and terrorism of the African National Congress rather than the underlying injustice and bondage. Negotiations must be only between free people. Only after the system of Apartheid was dismantled, whites and blacks in South Africa were free to chart a collective course for the future that did not involve violence. When the system of Apartheid in Israel/Palestine is dismantled and Palestinians are freed and treated equally, only then will Palestinians and Israelis be able to chart a similar course. Everything else is an illusion.

Dr. Mazin B. Qumsiyeh is Chair of the Media Committee, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition. He contributed above article to Media Monitors Network (MMN) from Connecticut, USA.

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