I. State Terrorism: Intrinsic to Israel’s Zionist Ideology
“A war of terrorism was forced on us”, announced Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in a live televised broadcast outlining Israeli war plans in the wake of the weekend suicide attacks within the Zionist State. “If you ask what the aim of this war is, I will tell you. It is the aim of the terroristsé to exile us from here.” He added that: “This will not happen. We know who is responsibleé Arafat is responsible for everything that is going on.”
We should contrast this with the eye-witness report of New York Times journalist Chris Hedges in Gaza, published in Harpers Magazine:
“It is still. The camp waits, as if holding its breath. And then out of the dry furnace air, a disembodied voice crackles over a loud speaker. ‘Come on dogs,’ the voice booms in Arabic. ‘Where are all the dogs of Khan Younis? Come! Come!’ I stand up. I walk outside the hut. The invective continues to spew: ‘Son of a bitch!’ ‘Son of a whore!’ ‘Your mother’s cunt!’
“The boys dart in small packs up the sloping dunes to the electric fence that separates the camp from the Jewish settlement. They lob rocks toward two armored jeeps parked on top of the dune and mounted with loudspeakers. Three ambulances line the road below the dunes in anticipation of what is to come.
“A percussion grenade explodes. The boys, most no more than ten or eleven years old, scatter, running clumsily across the heavy sand. They descend out of sight behind a sandbank in front of me. There are no sounds of gunfire. The soldiers shoot with silencers. The bullets from the M-16 rifles tumble end over end through the children’s slight bodies. Later, in the hospital, I will see the destruction: the stomachs ripped out, the gaping holes in limbs and torsos.
“Yesterday at this spot the Israelis shot eight young men, six of whom were under the age of eighteen. One was twelve. This afternoon they kill an eleven year old boy, Ali Murad, and seriously wound four more, three of whom are under eighteen. Children have been shot in other countries I have covered – death squads gunned them down in El Salvador and Guatemala, mothers with infants were lined up and massacred in Algeria, and Serb snipers put children in their sights and watched them crumple onto the pavement in Sarajevo – but I have never before watched soldiers entice children like mice into a trap and murder them for sport.” Does this sound like a “war of terrorism” was forced on Israel by Palestinian children – or more like the other way round?
According to the American Heritage Dictionary, ‘terrorism’ is defined as follows:
1. The use of terror, violence, and intimidation to achieve an end.
2. Fear and subjugation produced by this.
3. A system of government that uses terror to rule.
In light of this authoritative, lucid and comprehensive U.S. definition of ‘terrorism’, Sharon’s words take on a new light. It so happens that the facts are exactly the opposite to his claims. Contrary to Sharon’s spin, it is a matter of record that throughout the history of the State of Israel, the regime has consistently foisted wars of terrorism on the indigenous Palestinians in order to secure the State’s expansion and consolidation. As early as 1940, the noted Zionist Yossef Weitz, Director of the Jewish National Fund affiliated to the World Zionist Organization, wrote that:
“It should be clear for us that there is not room for two peoples in this country. If the Arabs leave it, there will be enough for usé There is nothing else to do but to remove them all; we mustn’t leave a single village, a single tribe… We must explain to Roosevelt and all the heads of friendly states that the land of Israel isn’t too small if all the Arabs leave and if the borders are pushed back a little to the north, as far as the Litani, and to the east, on the Golan Heights.” It is therefore not the Palestinians who desired to expel all the Jews from the region. On the contrary Jews and non-Jews had lived in peace for thousands of years in the land of Palestine. It was the foreign Zionist movement which at its inception envisaged the complete “exile” of the non-Jewish Palestinian people from their ancestral homeland, to make way for the new Zionist regime. Israeli historian Professor Benny Morris of Ben-Gurion University records the little known fact that: “Ben-Gurion clearly wanted as few Arabs as possible to remain in the Jewish state. He hoped to see them flee. He said as much to his colleagues and aides in meetings in August, September and October .”
The Zionist leadership had thus clearly planned from the very beginning to absorb the entirety of Palestine in accordance with consolidating the State of Israel. In internal discussion in 1938, the first Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion declared that: “[A]fter we become a strong force, as a result of the creation of a state, we shall abolish partition and expand to the whole of Palestineé The state will only be a stage in the realisation of Zionism and its task is to prepare the ground for our expansion into the whole of Palestine.” A later Israeli Prime Minister Menachim Begin elaborated that:
“The partition of the Homeland is illegal. It will never be recognized. The signature of institutions and individuals of the partition agreement is invalid. It will not bind the Jewish people. Jerusalem was and will forever be our capital. Eretz Israel (the Land of Israel) will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And forever.” As a consequence of this dogmatic mentality, the policy of pursuing the mass ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population from their own land was an integral Israeli military strategy, although this was never widely publicised to avoid international and historical condemnation. Tzvi Shiloah, a senior veteran of the Mapai Party and a former deputy mayor of the town of Hertzeliyah recalled that “in 1948, we deliberately, and not just in the heat of the war, expelled Arabs. Also in 67 after the Six-Day War, we expelled many Arabs.”
Unprovoked and systematic genocidal massacres of Palestinians in their villages subsequently occurred as a consequence of these operations, as has been documented by the Israeli military historian Aryeh Yitzakhi é Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Eretz Yisrael Studies at Bar Ilan University (Tel Aviv) and Senior Lecturer in Military History in Israeli Defence Force (IDF) courses for army officers. Yitzahki is particularly qualified in this area due to his in-depth acquaintance with IDF archives, on which his conclusions are based. In the 1960s, Yitzakhi served as Director of the IDF archives within the framework of his IDF service in his capacity as historian. He records that:
“In almost every conquered village in the War of Independence, acts were committed, which are defined as war crimes, such as indiscriminate killings, massacres and rapesé For many Israelis it was easier to find consolation in the lie, that the Arabs left the country under orders from their leaders. This is an absolute fabrication. The fundamental cause of their flight was their fear from Israeli retribution and this fear was not at all imaginary. From almost each report in the IDF archives concerning the conquest of Arab villages between May and July 1948 – when clashes with Arab villagers were the fiercest – a smell of massacre emanates.” One of the biggest but least publicised massacres is that of al-Dawayima village in Hebron District (population 4,300). On the afternoon of Friday, 29th October 1948, three units of the 89th Battalion (8th Brigade) entered the village from three directions, leaving the east open, and occupied it “without a fight” according to an Israeli soldier’s testimony. The soldier continued:
“The first wave of conquerors killed about 80 to 100 Arabs, women and children. The children they killed by breaking their heads with sticks. There was not a house without dead. One woman, with a newborn baby in her arms was employed to clean the courtyard…. (they) shot her and the baby…. This was not in the heat of battle…. but a system of expulsion and destruction”. The 1948 war of Zionist terrorism thus resulted in a large-scale Palestinian refugee problem, with at least 750,000 men, women and children forced to flee from their homes, many of them forcibly expelled by the Israelis. More than 300,000 Palestinian refugees went to the West Bank, and some 200,000 went to Gaza Strip, to settle in squalid, crowded, barren refugee camps managed by United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). After 1948 Palestinian refugees attempted to return to what had by then become the State of Israel, in violation of the Zionist regime’s concocted ‘Law of Return’. An estimated 2,700-5,000 of them were subsequently killed by Israeli troops while crossing the borders – only very few succeeded. Dubbed “infiltrators” by Israel, the returning refugees had clashed with Israeli settlers, army and police, during which the number of Israeli casualties amounted to approximately 190-220 dead during 1949-1954.
II. A History of Systematic Aggression
The systematic initiation of “wars of terrorism” by the State of Israel since then is a matter of record. The 1967 Six Day War, for example, although blamed by Israel on the dire threat posed to the Zionist State by the Arabs, was in fact the primary responsibility of Israel. General Ezar Weizman, then Israeli Chief of Operations, admitted that Egypt and Syria é which are conventionally blamed as the initiators of aggression – had never posed a threat to Israel. “There was never a danger of extermination. This hypothesis had never been considered in any serious meeting.”
The 1967 Six Day War was actually a war of Israeli aggression, perpetrated to illegally expand the State’s borders. Yigal Allon, Minister of Labour and member of Eshkol’s Military Advisory Committee on the origin of the Six-Day War, had asserted unequivocally: “Begin and I want Jerusalem.” Indeed, the entire episode was meticulously planned by the Israeli military. General Mordichai Hod, Commanding General of the Israeli Air-Force admitted that: “Sixteen years’ planning had gone into those initial eighty minutes [of the Six Day War]. We lived with the plan, we slept on the plan, we ate the plan. Constantly we perfected it.” Menachim Begin himself has admitted in this regard that: “In June l967, we had a choice. The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.” Dayan testified that “at least 80 per cent” of two decades of border clashes were in fact initiated by Israel, under pressure from land-hungry farmers and army commanders in Northern Israel.
The details of these clashes have been documented by British journalist and Middle East scholar David Hirst, who notes that the Israelis “began by staking an illegal claim to sovereignty over the zone [on the Syrian frontier] and then proceeded, as opportunity offered, to encroach on all the specific provisions against introducing armed forces and fortificationsé
“They repeatedly obstructed the operations of the UN observers, on one occasion even threatening to kill them. They refused to cooperate with the Mixed Armistice Commission, and when it suited them they simply rejected the rulings and requests of the observers. They expelled, or otherwise forced out, Arab inhabitants, and razed their villages to the ground. They transplanted trees as a stratagem to advance the frontier to their own advantage. They built roads against the advice of the UN. They carried out excavations on Arab land for their own drainage schemes.” Swedish General Carl von Horn, head of the United Nations peacekeeping forces in the region, observed that all this was “part of a premeditated Israeli policy to edge east through the Demilitarized Zone towards the old Palestine border (as shown on their maps) and to get all the Arabs out of the way by fair means or foulé
“The Jews developed a habit of irrigating and ploughing in stretches of Arab-owned land nearby, for the ground was so fertile that every square foot was a gold mine in grain. Gradually, beneath the glowering eyes of the Syrians, who held the high ground overlooking the Zone, the area had become a network of Israeli canals and irrigation channels edging up against and always encroaching on Arab-owned property.” U.S. analyst Sheldon L. Richman of the Cato Institute in Washington DC reports that:
“This policy continued well into the 1950s. Most of the 2,000 Arabs living in the zone had been forced out by 1956. Many moved to the sloping land below the Golan Heights. In response to the expulsion of Arabs from the zone, the otherwise helpless Syrian forces on the Heights began firing on Israelis, particularly when, each year, their tractors plowed further into the demilitarized zone. General von Horn was convinced the instances of firing would not have occurred without the specific Israeli provocations.” According to Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Dayan, the Israeli settlers “didn’t even try to hide their greed for their land,” wanting “to grab a piece of land and keep it until the enemy will get tired of us.” Describing the idea that Syria was threatening Israel before the 1967 war as “bullshit”, he affirmed in detail that: “I know how at least 80% of all the incidents with Syria startedé
“We would send a tractor to plow some area where it wasn’t possible to do anything, in the demilitarized area, and knew in advance that the Syrians would start to shoot. If they didn’t shoot we would tell the tractor to advance further, until in the end the Syrians would get annoyed and shoot. And then we would use artillery and later the air force also, and that’s how it wasé You do not attack the enemy because he is a bastard, but because he threatens you, and the Syrians in the fourth day of the war were not threatening us.” As Hirst observes, the most charitable interpretation of this Israeli policy was that the regime had done its best to provoke Syria into opening fire. According to one United Nations observer at the scene: “It was a premeditated raid of intimidation motivated by Israel’s desire… to bait the Arab states into some overt act of aggression that would offer them the opportunity to overrun additional territory without censor”.
Israel’s war had devastating consequences for the indigenous Palestinian population who faced the brunt of the Zionist regime’s policies of intimidation, provocation and terror. Jewish scholar Alfred Lilienthal noted that:
“To solidify their gains after the 1967 war, according to UN figures, the Israelis destroyed during the period between June 11, 1967 and November 15, 1969 some 7,554 Palestinian Arab homes in the territories seized during that war; this figure excluded thirty-five villages in the occupied Golan Heights that were razed to the ground. In the two years between September 1969 and 1971 the figure was estimated to have reached 16,312 homes.” In its occupation of the Golan Heights, Israel expelled a total of over 120,000 inhabitants – mostly Syrians but also several thousand Palestinian refugees. Israel simultaneously destroyed two cities, 133 villages and 61 farms. Only 6,396 inhabitants remained in the six villages left standing. Again and again we find the same policies of aggression and provocation through terrorism being adopted by Israel to manufacture a conflict by which to expand the State’s borders and grab more land. The Yom Kippur War of 1973, for instance, was provoked by Israeli intransigence, and was not an attempt to respond defensively to Arab military threats to the State’s existence. As Yitzhak Rabin admitted:
“The Yom Kippur War was not fought by Egypt and Syria to threaten the existence of Israel. It was an all out use of their military force to achieve a limited political goal. What Sadat wanted by crossing the canal was to change the political reality and, thereby, to start a political [peace] process from a point more favorable to him than the one that existed.” Israeli historian Professor Benny Morris highlights the context of Zionist intransigence in which this occurred, noting that according to the memoirs of several Israeli Labour politicians and officials of the 1970s: “Israel’s premier, Golda Meir, rejected reasonable Egyptian peace or non-belligerency offers in 1970é1, thus ‘forcing’ the Arabs to launch the 1973 October War.”
Throughout Israel’s existence, the Zionist State has thus consistently perpetrated a policy of violent repression against the indigenous Palestinians. As the New York-based rights monitor, the Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR), reports in summary of the bloody record of Israeli terrorism: “In the 1948 War Israel extended its control over 77% of the territory of the former Palestine Mandate and expelled almost the entire Palestinian Arab populationé
Only 100,000 residents remained of a pre-war population approaching one million. Israel conquered the rest of Palestine in the 1967 War, creating another 300,000 refugees, many of them refugees for the second time. To build a Jewish state on these conquered lands and erase the memory of centuries of Palestinian existence, Israel:
1. Razed to the ground over 500 Palestinian towns and villages,
2. Converted Palestinian-owned land into state property for the benefit of Jews only (excluding even Arab citizens of Israel),
3. Rejected the return of any Palestinian refugees while recognizing the right to ‘return’ of any Jewish citizen living in any other country,
4. Maintained military occupation of Palestinian land through an explicit ‘iron fist’ policy of disproportionate response to Palestinian resistance,
5. Refused to allow economic development in the occupied territories while re-orienting Palestinian labor to serve the needs of the Israeli economy, and
6. Refused to define its own borders (despite accepting the borders specified in resolution 181) in order to justify continued illegal expansion.
III. The Invasion and Occupation of Lebanon
Israel’s invasion and occupation of Lebanon provides another outstanding example of the routine nature of the State’s aggressive initiation of “wars of terrorism”. The regime’s policy of unhindered expansion through the violent acquisition of territory continued in February 1973, when Israel began its invasion by attacking northern Lebanon from both air and sea, killing 31 primarily civilian members of the population. Classrooms, clinics and other civilian buildings were indiscriminately targeted and destroyed. In December 1975, over 50 people were slaughtered in the bombing and strafing of Palestinian refugee camps and villages by Israeli warplanes. Both attacks had been without provocation from the PLO. In November 1977, 70 people were killed when the Lebanese town of Nabatiye came under Israeli fire – again, without provocation – being heavily shelled by Israeli batteries on both sides of the border. By 1978, the population of Nabatiye had been reduced from 60,000 to 5,000 when Israel invaded, the remainder having fled in fear of Israeli shelling. Such events were able to continue with impunity, as well as with the approval and support of various Western powers, particularly the United States. Israel first properly invaded southern Lebanon in 1978, with a force of 20,000. The consequence was that several thousand Lebanese and Palestinian civilians were killed, and hundreds of thousands driven to the north. A notorious event during this invasion was the slaughter of all inhabitants remaining in the Lebanese town of Khiam by Major Haddad’s Israeli militia, which was by now in control of a southern region of Lebanon. Thanks to Israeli bombing from earlier years, the population had already been reduced from 30,000 to 32. The remaining population were ruthlessly massacred by Haddad’s proxy force, and Khiam was selected as the site of its new Ansar I prison camp, whose “hideous conditions” and “savage torture” resembled that of the Nazi concentration camps. By August 1979, the Lebanese government reported that almost a thousand civilians had been killed in subsequent Israeli attacks. One may refer to two important statements that unequivocally expose the nature of these, previous and subsequent Israeli wars. General Mordechai Gur admitted in an interview when asked about Israel’s war on Lebanon:
“I am not one of those people who have a selective memory. Do you think that I pretend not to know what we have done all these years? What did we do the entire length of the Suez Canal? A million and a half refugees! Really: where do you live? We bombarded Ismailia, Suez, Port Said, Port Fuad. A million and a half refugees. Since when has the population of South Lebanon become so sacred? é After the massacre at Avivim, I had four villages in South Lebanon bombedé Did you not know that the entire valley of the Jordan had been emptied of its inhabitants as a result of the war of attrition [1969-70]? é When I authorized Yanouch [diminutive name of the commander of the northern front, responsible for the Lebanese operation] to use aviation, artillery and tanks [in the invasion], I knew exactly what I was doing. For 30 years, from the War of Independence until now, we have been fighting a war against a civilian [Arab] population that lives in villages and cities”. He also observed that the Israeli Army had been responsible for extensive looting subsequent to its April 1948 attacks on Jaffa and Haifa; bombing Arab villages and the city of Irbid in Jordan; ‘cleansing’ the Jordan Valley of its entire population; driving a million and a half civilians from the area of the Suez Canal in 1970. Noting Gur’s remarks, the Israeli military analyst Zeer Schiff further commented:
“In South Lebanon we struck the civilian populations consciously, because they deserved it… the importance of [General] Gur’s remarks is the admission that the Israeli Army has always struck civilian populations purposely and consciously… the Army, he said, has never distinguished civilian [from military] targets… [but] purposely attacked civilian targets even when Israel’s settlements had not been struck”. It is hard to imagine a clearer admission of the fact that Israeli military strategy has always and will always employ terrorism, not defensively, but entirely offensively by initiating aggression regardless of alleged security concerns. It is therefore not surprising that Israel’s justification for the occupation of south Lebanon was the maintenance of a ‘Security Zone’ there for the protection of its northern sector. The reality is slightly different – one of the most crucial strategic reasons for the invasion was that Israel wished to secure unimpeded control over the water of the Litani river. The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia reported that Israel had been using water from the Lebanese Litani River via an 11 mile tunnel it had drilled, as well as from Lebanon’s Wazzani springs. The UN Security Council reacted to the 1978 invasion of Lebanon by issuing resolutions 425 and 426, calling for the unequivocal withdrawal of Israeli forces, and establishing UNIFIL to oversee this withdrawal process. Jewish academic Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor of Linguistics and Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), documents the fact that the PLO rigorously adhered to the mid-1981 ceasefire, while Israel escalated flagrant violations of the agreement, “bombing and killing civilians, sinking fishing boats, violating Lebanese airspace thousands of times, and carrying out other provocations to elicit some PLO response that could be used as a pretext for the planned invasion”. The context of the ensuing unprecedented invasion of 1982, masterminded significantly by then General Ariel Sharon, has been outlined by Miller lucidly as follows:
“Things were reasonably quiet for a time but in February, 1982, Israel’s Major General Yehoshua Saguym Chief of Israel’s Intelligence, met with Pentagon officials and Secretary of Defense Haig to outline Israel’s plans for a major invasion and Lebanon. Following this meeting Israel took delivery of $217,695,000 worth of military equipment from the U.S., whereupon our media began to prepare Americans for the military operation by ‘revealing’ the PLO was receiving Soviet rockets and other supplies supposedly to threaten Israel.” Israel attempted to justify its operation by claiming that the PLO had been engaged in terrorism on the State’s borders. In fact, the border had been quiet for eleven months, apart from retaliations to Israeli provocations, as noted by Professor Stephen Shalom of the Department of Political Science at William Paterson University in New Jersey.
An estimated 20,000 Lebanese and Palestinian civilians were killed, over 30,000 injured, the capital city of Beirut and much of southern Lebanon destroyed, water and electricity supplies cut off, and innumerable subsequent atrocities carried out by Israeli troops throughout the invasion. This sequence of events was able to occur primarily due to unfailing U.S. support of the Zionist regime, which included the continual vetoing of Security Council efforts to halt the terror. Ariel Sharon was strongly criticised for his role in this war crime. Thousands of Israeli citizens marched in the streets to protest. To appease the public outcry Sharon was relieved of his immediate command, “but rewarded by a cabinet post in the Knesset.” This invasion “which killed some 30,000 civilians, devastated Beirut where over 500,000 were driven from their homes. As those who had not been killed by Israel‘s ‘cluster bombs‘ fled to surrounding villages, President Reagan‘s U.S.S. New Jersey sitting offshore, fired shells into these towns. Beirut today is still in the process of rebuilding” as late as 1996 – over a decade after the invasion. “The U.S. involvement in Israel‘s 1982 war destroyed what little credibility we had in the Mideast, cost our taxpayers billions plus almost 300 U.S. Marine lives, but left Israel still occupying southern Lebanon despite the UN Security Council directive to get out.“
Indigenous resistance to the Israeli occupation began to emerge and solidify by 1982. The principal group of local fighters was known as ‘Hizbullah‘. They eventually developed into the most potent fighting force in the region, going on to secure the support of other countries in the region. As the U.S. journalist Edward W. Miller points out:
“[T]the much-vilified Hezbulla organization was formed in 1982 after that terribly destructive invasion, specifically to protect southern Lebanon from further acts of Israeli violence. Iran was party to its formation and has maintained some degree of support as has Syria‘s Assad, which is one reason our Israeli lobby in Washington has pressed Congress to isolate Iran and vilify Syria. It really makes little difference who supports Hezbulla. Israel‘s smoke and mirrors campaign to vilify the two Muslim countries and their leaders is intended to distract the world‘s attention from her intent to continue the economic destruction of Lebanon as well as to steal vital irrigation waters from the Litani River. Most Mideast authorities agree the Lebanese will need Hezbulla‘s support until Israeli troops have left the country.“ Between 1985 and 86, Israel began developing a new iron fist policy for the country to eliminate the resistance movement that had formed to drive out Israeli occupying forces. The basic plan was to invade Lebanese villages and massacre their inhabitants, with the view to force Hizbullah out of South Lebanon. This would be achieved by bombarding the area north of Israel’s zone of occupation, in the hope that people who lost their homes would turn against the resistance.
Accordingly, on 25th July 1993, Israel launched what the media has called the “biggest military assault on Lebanon” since 1982. Israel justified the attack by claiming it had been provoked by Hizbullah guerrilla attacks on Israeli troops occupying southern Lebanon, where seven Israeli soldiers were killed. A more redundant – or inaccurate – excuse for Israel’s 1992 onslaught is hard to imagine. Contrary to conventional opinion, indigenous populations suffering under regimes of occupation have the right, guaranteed under the international law, to resist that occupation through military means if necessary.
While Israel had thus continued to indiscriminately and deliberately target civilians, Hizbullah for the most part had refrained from doing so. Indeed, the resistance only began doing so by firing at the civilian sector in northern Israel as a consequence of Israel’s ongoing systematic terrorism of Lebanese civilians. In this respect, we should note Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) comparative review of Israeli and Hizbullah operations. Analysing a sample of 45 incidents during the period between the July 1993 understandings and the commencement of Operation Grapes of Wrath in April 1996, HRW concludes that all Hizbullah attacks on northern Israel are retaliatory. The consistent sequence of military actions is as follows: Hizbullah strikes Israel’s occupying forces in south Lebanon; this is followed by Israeli attacks on Lebanese civilians north of the security zone; this is then followed by Hizbullah’s rocketing of northern Israel. In other words, Hizbullah would only rocket northern Israel in response to Israel’s bombardment of civilians in Lebanon.
On 30th July, a Hizbullah announcement called for “the complete and permanent halt of aggression against villages and civilians and the stopping of Israeli attacks from air, land and sea on all Lebanese territory” as a condition for the cessation of its rocket attacks on northern Israel. The proposal, which basically offered to halt reprisals against Israeli civilian sectors as long Israel ceases to initiate bombardments against Lebanon including civilians and civilian infrastructure, “received a testy response in Jerusalem” according to the New York Times. The proposal was dismissed without consideration. “The rules”, noted Chomsky, “are that Israel is allowed to strike ‘villages and civilians’ at will, anywhere, if its occupying forces are attacked in southern Lebanon. Since these rules are also accepted by Washington, the Hizbollah statement was dismissed here as well.”
It is noteworthy that the rise of militancy among Palestinian resistance groups in general is thus a consequence of daily 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 this policy did not exist for over a decade during the occupation, but 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 Goldsrein, gunned down twenty-nine Muslim worshipers in the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron.” In continuation of the periodic policies of terror and aggression, on 11th April 1996 Israel launched yet another wave of illegal attacks on southern Lebanon and the heart of Beirut. The Coastal Post reported during the commencement of the operation:
“With President Clinton safely in Japan, Israel, obviously with a green light from the U.S. administration, felt free to carry out ‘Grapes of Wrath‘, her fifth major terrorist attack on her old killing fields in southern Lebanon. Using as an excuse a few Katyusha rockets aimed at her military (who have been illegally occupying and threatening the southern Lebanese people since 1978), Israel‘s army on the anniversary of the Holocaust, bent on murder and mayhem, is presently destroying millions of dollars in property, killing civilians and creating chaos as she stampedes populations as far north as Beirut.“ In the initial stages, four U.S.-supplied Apache helicopters swooped over densely populated areas in Beirut and fired at least seven missiles. Civilian homes and cars both in Beirut and in southern Lebanon were destroyed. As usual, blame was laid on Hizbullah by the U.S. Secretary of State for firing rockets at Israel‘s northern border. This claim, however, ignored the fact that Israel had been relentlessly engaged in the systematic terrorisation of Lebanese civilians, continually violating cease-fires and while attempting to consolidate its illegal occupation in contradiction to UN resolution 425‘s call for the unilateral withdrawal of its forces from the region. Hizbullah‘s activity was a response to Israel‘s illegal military occupation of Lebanese territory, and in this case to Israel‘s own violation of the rules of the unwritten 1993 agreement by initiating the shelling of south Lebanese villages. According to British Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk, relying on United Nation sources, Hizbullah had legitimately fired upon an Israeli patrol placing booby-trapped roadside bombs in the village of Bradchit on 18th April 1996. Ten days earlier, a Lebanese boy had been killed by a roadside bomb in the same village planted by Israeli forces. As Fisk observed, Hizbullah’s action was a justified response to the planting of bombs at a civilian site north of the security zone by an Israeli patrol. Hizbullah’s retaliation elicited the Israeli attack on the UN refugee camp at Qana, in which the April 1996 bombardment culminated.
As far as Israel and countries which support the Zionist regime are concerned, the indigenous population has no right to defend itself when the occupying aggressor plants bombs on its territory. When such defence is initiated, it elicits an even more devastating act of terror on the civilian population. Reporting from the scene, Robert Fisk described the resultant carnage in The Nation: “When I reached the compound the blood was flowing in streams, running down the road near me. Inside I found heaps of bodies, a baby without a head, a dismembered woman, a Figian UN soldier holding in horror a headless child.“
The UN Security Council, in response to international anger at the attack, sent Netherlands’s Major-General Frank van Kappen with other experts to the scene. Van Kappen reported to the United Nations that Israel’s slaughter “was purposeful.” Israel’s military had been informed the previous day that the UN shelter was full of refugees. Established “as early as 1978”, the UN command compound had been identified “on every Israeli military map”. Israel’s artillery was also “controlled by a pilotless drone plane delivering TV images to the gunners” – these images could even be seen on videotapes replayed by CNN. “Israeli gunners switched to M-732 proximity fuses (anti-personnel bombs)”, after the first barrage of four regular detonation bombs narrowly missed the camp. The bombs were specifically targeted at the shelters within the compound, resulting in the gratuitous and deliberate slaughter of men, women and children. At the UN, America and Israel attempted in vain “to first deny the report, and then to buy it”.
In the bleak aftermath of this brutal massacre, Fisk condemned the international community’s silence, observing that “neither America nor Europe are going to condemn a country which pounded the refugees of Qana with 155mm shells for 12 minutes…
“On the coast road back to Beirut last night there were burning cars, civilians deliberately targeted by Israeli warships north of Sidon, three of whom had been badly wounded. Had this been a Syrian warship shelling Israeli civilians on the Haifa-Tel Aviv road, of course, Mr Clinton himself would have deplored – rightly – an act of ‘international terrorism‘. But not a word of criticism about this scandalous targeting of Lebanese civilians was uttered by the foreign ministers of America, Russia, France and Italy“. Israeli violence against the civilian population of territories under its occupation is routine. Terror bombing of Lebanon, for instance, continued regularly throughout Israel’s illegal occupation of the country. Examples are numerous. On 25th June 1999, Israel embarked on a 10-hour bombing campaign targeting Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure. Eight civilians were killed and another 62 were wounded, leaving much of Lebanon’s road and power networks in tatters. Among the targets were the northern Metn power station at Bsalim; Beirut’s main electricity grid; the Jiyye, Zrarieh and Awali bridges; and the Cellis cellular telephone company’s main relay station in Jiyye. All were bombed, leaving only rubble and destruction. The night-time destruction of Beirut’s electricity network was particularly devastating, plunging the capital city into blackness.
Such operations even occurred during peace talks. For instance, during the talks between Israel and Syria between 1999 and 2000, launched by U.S. President Bill Clinton in December 1999, Israel‘s proxy militia the South Lebanon Army (SLA) shelled a school in Arab Salim – a village just outside the occupied zone in southern Lebanon. At least 18 children were wounded by flying glass and shrapnel in the mortar bomb attack described as a “nightmare” by a 45 year old teacher, Mohamad Farhat. Some were rushed to hospital and one was in critical condition with a punctured lung. “I was near the blackboard explaining the lesson when I heard the explosion, immediately followed by screaming,” stated Farhat after the attack. “I looked behind me to see some of the kids in pools of blood. I don‘t remember how I carried some of them outside. It is a real crime.” According to a BBC report, Israel had earlier described the shelling as a “mistake“. Yet the same report confirmed later on in the text that the shelling was in fact deliberate: “Israel said the SLA artillery attack was a response to an assault by Hezbollah guerrillas from the village.” There can no longer be any doubt about the attitude behind Israeli military strategy, not to mention the indifferent/complicity international community that supports it: Israel should be allowed to invade, occupy and terrorise any region it likes without any form of protest from the indigenous population, and any attempt by them to drive out the occupying aggressors justifies the infliction by the Zionist invaders of further brutalities upon them. The current Prime Minister of the Zionist State of Israel, Ariel Sharon, is no one to complain about terrorism. His unconscionable attempt to subvert the truth by characterising Israel as a nation “under terror”, the principal victim of terrorism in the ongoing Middle East conflict, is probably best exposed by reference to Sharon’s own systematic involvement in grotesque acts of terrorism in Palestine.
In 1953, Ariel Sharon founded and led Unit 101, a special commando unit which conducted attacks on Palestinian villages, killing women and children.
In 1956, Sharon became a commander of a paratroop brigade and fought as such in the Sinai campaign. It was not long before his impact was felt. Following is a report on the subsequent massacre that occurred under Sharon’s command, worth quoting from extensively here, by Ohad Gozani in Tel Aviv:
“Reports of how Israeli paratroopers killed about 270 Egyptian prisoners of war 40 years ago are straining relations between the two countries. Egypt has demanded an investigation into the alleged atrocities, which date back to Israel’s involvement in the 1956 Anglo-French campaign to take the Suez Canal. The killings were revealed in a paper on the Sinai campaign commissioned by the army’s military history division. They were described in graphic detail in newspaper and television interviews.In all, 273 Egyptians, some of them Sudanese civilian road workers, were killed in three separate incidents, according to the accounts.
“Arye Biro, a retired army general, admitted shooting the Sudanese at a quarry two days into the campaign at strategic Mitla Pass in central Sinai. Mr. Biro, then a company leader in the 890 Paratroop battalion, said the 49 terrified prisoners were taken into a quarry and shot dead. He said: ‘We couldn’t take care of anything else before we got done with them. One escaped with bullets in the chest and in the leg, but came back on all fours because he was thirsty. He soon joined his [dead] comrades.’ Mr. Biro said he and his troops later killed 56 Egyptian soldiers and irregulars as they were advancing in a truck to the oil port of Ras-al-Sudr on the Gulf of Suez. ‘Six survived the initial bursts of gunfire,’ he said. ‘They later went to sleep with the rest. Blood was coming out of every hole in the flatbed truck and in huge quantities.’
“A witness told the newspaper: ‘When the rear flap was lowered, all the bodies poured out in one mass. I couldn’t bear the thought that we shot people without a fight.’ Another 168 Egyptian soldiers were cut down as the paratroopers headed South. Mr. Biro’s commanding officers were Ariel Sharon and Rafael Eytan.”
Dr. Ben Alofs, a Dutch doctor working as a nurse in West Beirut in the summer of 1982, provides a detailed eye-witness account with some crucial background information indicating Israeli – and specifically Sharon’s – complicity:
“The Israeli journalists Zeev Schiff and Ehud Ya’ari describe how Sharon insisted on sending Phalangist militiamen into the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila… To accomplish this, Sharon had held meetings on September 15th with Elie Hobeika, Fadie Frem and Zahi Bustani (leaders of the militiamen) as well as with Amin and Pierre Gemayel, the political leaders of the Phalangist party. The leaders of the Israeli army, Sharon included, were very well aware of the mood of the Phalangists, shortly after the murder of their leader. Anyone with even the slightest knowledge of the feelings of the Phalangists towards the Palestinians knew what would happen if they were let into the refugee camps.
“‘Tell al-Zaater’ is a well-known name in Lebanon as well as in Israel. This camp in East-Beirut, where I met Palestinian refugees for the first time in 1975, had been besieged for 53 days by the Phalangists and Maronite Tiger-militiamen during the summer of 1976. After the Palestinians surrendered, the International Red Cross, which was to give a ‘safe passage’ to the camp’s population, was unable to prevent the murder of over 1000 civilians. Israeli army commanders Eitan, Drori and Yaron made comments on how obsessed the Phalangists were with revenge, talking about a ‘sea of blood’ and ‘kasach’ (Arabic for ‘slashing’ or ‘cutting’). As they made these observations Ariel Sharon gave the green light for the Phalangists to enter Sabra and Shatila. They did so as dusk fell on the 16th of September.
“While the massacre was being committed, I was working in the Gaza hospital in Sabra. The situation was chaotic and confusing. Many wounded were carried into the hospital and our morgue was full within a short time. Most of the victims suffered bullet wounds, but a few were injured by shrapnel. On September 17th it became clear that the ‘Kataeb’ (Phalangists) and/or the militiamen of Saad Haddad (funded and armed by Israel) were slaughtering the civilian population. A 10-year old boy was carried into the hospital. He had been shot, but was alive. He had spent the whole night wounded, lying under the dead bodies of his parents, brothers and sisters. At night the murderers were assisted by Israeli flares.
“I was working with a team of Scandinavian, British, American, Dutch and German doctors and nurses. We had insisted that the Palestinian hospital staff flee to the northern part of West-Beirut. On Saturday morning September 18th, we were arrested by the Phalangists/Haddad militiamen. They forced us to leave our patients behind and took us outside Sabra and Shatila via the main road. We passed by hundreds of women, children and men who had been rounded up. We saw bodies in the road and the small alleyways. The militiamen shouted at us and called us ‘Baader Meinhof’. A Palestinian nurse who thought he would be safe with us, was identified and taken away behind a wall. A moment later came the gunshots.
“Just before we reached the exit of the camp I saw an image that will forever be in my mind: a large mound of red earth with arms and legs sticking out. Alongside the mound stood an army bulldozer with Hebrew markings. Just outside the camp we were ordered to take off our hospital clothing and we were lined up against a wallé After interrogation in their military headquarters the Phalangists took us to the Israeli forward command post just 75 meters (250 feet) away. It was a 4 or 5 story building at the edge of Shatila. (Some weeks later I was on the top floor. It offered excellent views of the destruction in Shatila). The Israeli soldiers were clearly uncomfortable, being confronted with more than 20 Europeans and Americans.” Phalangist forces had gone through the camps, slaughtering unarmed civilian refugees indiscriminately, lining them up and mowing them down by machine-gun fire. Women and girls were raped repeatedly and brutally. Children were shot dead and mutilated. Men were disembowelled just before execution. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) counted 1,500 victims in total at the time of the massacre. By 23rd September, the body count had risen to 2,750.
There should not be any doubt that Israeli troops surrounding the refugee camps were fully aware of the atrocities being committed inside. Dr. Witsoe who was at Gaza Hospital at the time, testified to the New York Times that from 5-5.30AM there were low level flights of Israeli planes over Sabra and Shatila, “after which shelling promptly commenced.” The U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East at the time, Morris Draper, testified to the BBC that U.S. officials were horrified when told Sharon had allowed Phalange militias into West Beirut and the camps “because it would be a massacre.” Shortly after the killings began he cabled Defense Minister Sharon, urging to him: “You must stop the slaughteré. The situation is absolutely appalling. They are killing children. You have the field completely under your control and are therefore responsible for that area.” An official Israeli Commission of Inquiry chaired by Yitzhak Kahan, President of Israel’s Supreme Court, investigated the massacre and found Ariel Sharon, among other Israelis, responsible. In February 1983 the Kahan Commission released its findings that:
“It is our view that responsibility is to be imputed to the Minister of Defence for having disregarded the danger of acts of vengeance and bloodshed by the Phalangists against the population of the refugee camps, and having failed to take this danger into account when he decided to have the Phalangists enter the camps. In addition, responsibility is to be imputed to the Minister of Defence for not ordering appropriate measures for preventing or reducing the danger of massacre as a condition for the Phalangists’ entry into the camps. These blunders constitute the non-fulfillment of a duty with which the Defence Minister was chargedé [I]n his meeting with the Phalangist commanders, the Defence Minister made no attempt to point out to them the gravity of the danger that their men would commit acts of slaughter…. Had it become clear to the Defence Minister that no real supervision could be exercised over the Phalangist force that entered the camps with the IDF’s assent, his duty would have been to prevent their entry. The usefulness of the Phalangists’ entry into the camps was wholly disproportionate to the damange their entry could cause if it were uncontrolledé We shall remark here that it is obstensibly puzzling that the Defence Minister did not in any way make the Prime Minister [Menachem Begin] privy to the decision on having the Phalangists enter the camps.” The former Chief Prosecutor to the International War Crimes Tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda, Judge Richard Goldstone, agreed that Ariel Sharon “should be tried for war crimes in connection with the 1982 massacre of Palestinian civilians in Lebanon.” Speaking in an interview with BBC Panorama, Judge Goldstone observed that: “If the person who gave the command knows, or should know… that there’s a situation where innocent civilians are going to be injured or killed then that person is as responsible, in my book more responsible even, than the people who carry out the orders.” The London Independent further reported that:
“Mr Sharon was Defence Minister when Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, and Israeli forces allowed their allies in the Lebanese Christian militias to enter the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps and massacre up to 2,000 people. An Israeli inquiry held Mr Sharon responsible. Judge Goldstone said it was regrettable that no criminal prosecutions had been brought.” Indeed, both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have echoed the call for Sharon to be tried for war crimes. This is a responsibility of the international community under international law. Article 146 of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War stipulates that each High Contracting Party “shall be under the obligation to search for persons alleged to have committed, or to have ordered to be committed” grave breaches of the Convention, “and shall bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its own courts. It may also, if it prefers, and in accordance with the provisions of its own legislation, hand such persons over for trial to another High Contracting Party concerned, provided such High Contracting Party has made out a prima facie case.” Article 147 of the Convention clarifies that the grave breaches noted in Article 146 include wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement of a protected person, compelling a protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile Power, or willfully depriving a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed in the present Convention, taking of hostages and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.
Israel since its inception has been a colonial terrorist entity that has aimed to marginalise and exile the indigenous population through terror, intimidation, repression and slaughter. Genocide and its justification appears to be built into the State’s military and ideological institutions. Terrorism is an integral aspect of the State’s military policy, designed to secure its strategic and ideological objectives in unhindered territorial expansion at the indigenous population’s expense. It is noteworthy that the intensification of indigenous resistance in the form of the rising activity of groups such as Hizbullah and Hamas has occurred as a direct consequence of brutal Israeli terrorisation of Lebanese and Palestinian civilians. Clearly, the targeting of civilians cannot be condoned and must be condemned by any decent human being. Yet neither Hizbullah nor Hamas initiated the policy of targeting civilians, but only began doing so in response to Israel’s longstanding policy of terrorism. Such policies on the part of the resistance groups should be condemned and labelled correctly as acts of terrorism, but understood in the context of a much more brutal, repressive and extensive system of genocide and terror implemented by the Zionist regime against the indigenous population. It is an unfortunate but undeniable fact that violence only breeds violence.
Given the historical record, it is unsurprising that the current Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, is a war criminal of the highest order, of similar rank to war criminals such as Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein, whose grave acts of genocide and terror have led to them being frequently compared to Hitler by many commentators. It is reasonable to therefore conclude that whereas Milosevic and Saddam were the ‘Hitlers’ of the 20th Century, Sharon is the Hitler of the New Millenium.
The grim irony of the situation is accentuated in light of Israel’s claim to be the principal victim of terrorism in this conflict. The fact of the matter is that the primary aggressor is the Zionist regime, responsible throughout its history for the systematic manufacture of “wars of terrorism” against the indigenous Palestinian population. Unless Israel’s illegal occupation, coupled with its increasingly brutal system of apartheid (for extensive discussion and references see our report, Apartheid in the Holy Land: Racism in the Zionist State of Israel available at http://126.96.36.199/mosaddeq11.html), is dismantled, the conflict will not end. What is needed in the region is willingness to return to the basic ethical values that inform not only the essence of a just and peaceful community, but of decent human relations. But this will only develop in the wake of the recognition and removal of the fundamental cause of the conflict – Israeli apartheid, illegal occupation, socio-economic repression and systematic terrorism in Palestine. And that means the dismantlement of the structures that have contributed to these, both in relation to the current Israeli regime, and the repressive Palestinian Authority, to establish a new system of justice for all.