B’Tselem: Israeli Security Forces Killed 660 Palestinians During 2006

Haaretz Service Dec 28, 2006

Report: Threefold increase in number of Palestinians killed compared to 2005; 23 Israelis killed in 2006.

According to an annual B’Tselem report, from the beginning of 2006 to December 27, Israeli security forces have killed 660 Palestinians, a figure more than three times the number of Palestinians killed in 2005, which was 197.

The data compiled by the human rights organization also indicated a significant decrease in Israeli casualties. Palestinians killed 23 Israelis in 2006 – 17 civilians, among them one minor, and six Israel Defense Forces soldiers. The figure constitutes less than half of the 50 Israelis killed in 2005.

B’Tselem also listed the overall figures for casualties since the beginning of the intifada, with Palestinian casualties at 4005 and Israeli casualties at 1017, 701 of which were civilians.

The report states that 2006 saw an improvement in the realization on Israeli civilians’ right to life, while, on the other hand, also seeing “a deterioration in the human rights situation in the occupied territories, particularly in the increase in civilians killed and the destruction of houses and infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.”

According to the report, about half of the Palestinians killed, 322, did not take part in the hostilities at the time they were killed. 22 of those killed were targets of assassinations, and 141 were minors.

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The Ludicrous Attacks on Jimmy Carter’s Book

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN, Truthdig, DECEMBER 28, 2006

As Jimmy Carter’s new book Palestine Peace Not Apartheid climbs the bestseller list, the reaction of Israel’s apologists scales new peaks of lunacy. I will examine a pair of typical examples and then look at the latest weapon to silence Carter.

Apartheid Analogy

No aspect of Carter’s book has evoked more outrage than its identification of Israeli policy in the Occupied Palestinian Territory with apartheid. Michael Kinsley in the Washington Post called it “foolish and unfair,” the Boston Globe editorialized that it was “irresponsibly provocative,” while the New York Times reported that Jewish groups condemned it as “dangerous and anti-Semitic.” (1)

In fact the comparison is a commonplace among informed commentators.
From its initial encounter with Palestine the Zionist movement confronted a seemingly intractable dilemma: How to create a Jewish state in a territory that was overwhelmingly non-Jewish? Israeli historian Benny Morris observes that Zionists could choose from only two options: “the way of South Africa”–i.e., “the establishment of an apartheid state, with a settler minority lording it over a large, exploited native majority”–or “the way of transfer”–i.e., “you could create a homogeneous Jewish state or at least a state with an overwhelming Jewish majority by moving or transferring all or most of the Arabs out.” (2)

During the British Mandate period (1917-1947) Zionist settlers labored on both fronts, laying the foundations of an apartheid-like regime in Palestine while exploring the prospect of expelling the indigenous population. Norman Bentwich, a Jewish officer in the Mandatory government who later taught at the Hebrew University, recalled in his memoir that, “One of the causes of resentment between Arabs and Jews was the determined policy of the Jewish public bodies to employ only Jewish workers.This policy of ‘economic apartheid’ was bound to strengthen the resistance of Arabs to Jewish immigration.” (3)

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Worse Than Apartheid

Chris Hedges, Truthdig, Dec 18, 2006

Blood-stained Gaza streetAP / Khalil Hamra

Water mixes with blood in a street of the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun in this Nov. 8 file photo. Israeli tank shells landed in a residential neighborhood, killing at least 18 people in their sleep, including eight children, according to witnesses and hospital officials.

Israel has spent the last five months unleashing missiles, attack helicopters and jet fighters over the densely packed concrete hovels in the Gaza Strip.  The Israeli army has made numerous deadly incursions, and some 500 people, nearly all civilians, have been killed and 1,600 more wounded.  Israel has rounded up hundreds of Palestinians, destroyed Gaza’s infrastructure, including its electrical power system and key roads and bridges, carried out huge land confiscations, demolished homes and plunged families into a crisis that has caused widespread poverty and malnutrition. 

Civil society itself—and this appears to be part of the Israeli plan—is unraveling. Hamas and Fatah factions battle in the streets, despite a tenuous cease-fire, threatening civil war. And the governing Palestinian movement, Hamas, has said it will boycott early elections called by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, done with the blessing of the West in a bid to toss Hamas out of power. (Remember that Hamas, despite its repugnant politics, was democratically elected.)  In recent days armed groups loyal to Abbas have seized Hamas-run ministries in what looks like a coup.

The stark reality of Gaza, however, has failed to penetrate the consciousness of most Americans, who, when they notice the Israeli and Palestinian conflict, prefer to debate the merits of the word “apartheid” in former President Jimmy Carter’s new book,  “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.”  It is a sad commentary on the gutlessness of the U.S. press and the timidity of the Democratic opposition that most Americans are not aware of the catastrophic humanitarian crisis they bear so much responsibility in creating.  Palestinians are not only dying, their olive trees uprooted, their farmland and homes destroyed and their aquifers taken away from them, but on many days they can’t move because of Israeli “closures” that make basic tasks, like buying food and going to the hospital, nearly impossible. These Palestinians, after decades of repression, cannot return to land from which they were expelled.  The 140-plus U.N. votes to censure Israel and two Security Council resolutions—both vetoed by the United States—are blithly ignored.  Is it any wonder that the Palestinians, gasping for air, rebel as the walls close in around them, as their children go hungry and as the Israelis turn up the violence?

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Jimmy Carter: Israel’s ‘Apartheid’ Policies Worse Than South Africa’s

Former president stands by new book despite criticism, says it is meant to stimulate debate in U.S.

Haaretz Service, Dec 11, 2006

Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter said in remarks broadcast Monday that Israeli policy in the West Bank represented instances of apartheid worse even that those that once held sway in South Africa.

Carter’s comments were broadcast on Israel Radio, which played a tape of an interview with the ex-president, but did not specify to whom Carter was speaking. But has made similar remarks in recent interviews, such as one to CBC television.

“When Israel does occupy this territory deep within the West Bank, and connects the 200-or-so settlements with each other, with a road, and then prohibits the Palestinians from using that road, or in many cases even crossing the road, this perpetrates even worse instances of apartness, or apartheid, than we witnessed even in South Africa.”

Carter said his new book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” was meant to spark U.S. discussion of Israeli policies. “The hope is that my book will at least stimulate a debate, which has not existed in this country. There’s never been any debate on this issue, of any significance.”

The book has sparked strong criticism from Jewish figures in the United States. Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, has said that some comments from the former president border on anti-Semitism.

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The Gaza Crossing

Erez Crossing, Gaza (Credit: The Electronic Intifada, May 29, 2005)

Jennifer Loewenstein, CounterPunch, November 15, 2006

A clear and warm November evening; sun sets in a violence of color to the west over the sea and a full luminescent moon on the rise over Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip. As if on cue, the buzz of the pilot-less drones overhead begins as their nightly circling ritual gets underway. The taxi driver’s hands grip the wheel of the car more intently as we speed along the winding road to Erez past the village huddled in the shadows a few hundred meters away to our right. At the Palestinian side, the driver gets out of the taxi, my passport in hand, and takes it into the shack of an office where a handful of scruffy, uniformed security figures are sitting. Darkness is creeping in from the East.

There is a problem, the driver explains to me in broken English. They won’t let you through. On the other side of Erez where the gatekeepers sit in their park-rangers’ office with the neon lights and the coffee-machine, my number isn’t blinking approval on the computer. Or something like that. A furious volley of phone calls on my behalf commences ­ between the driver, friends in Gaza, PA security and the masters in Israel. Sorry, not coordinated. Sorry, it will take a while; sorry, you can’t leave. Sorry, no. An American citizen in the Gaza Strip will stay with the prisoners for now because the keepers are not ready to let her out of the cage. Revenge for your audacity, I think. Live with the others since you like it so well; eat their dust and shower in their sewers. You wanted to go to Gaza, no?

Darkness covers half the sky and the drones sound hungry. The driver shouts into the phone to my friend, Khamsa Daqa’iq! Khamsa Daqa’iq! (Five minutes! Five minutes!) He’ll wait only 5 more minutes, he says, before returning me to Gaza City ­ but I know better. He’ll wait until his life is in danger trying to help me get out. And sure enough, it is 45 minutes later when he looks at me beseechingly and says we must return. The wardens are not cooperating. My number is not approved. Now it is night.

Drones can’t tell a taxi from a car full of ‘militants.’ In the darkness on the road they won’t know who we are-or at least it will make matters easier when the explanations for two dead civilians come in the next day, one of them an ‘international’. It was dark, you see, and they were ‘suspicious.’ The suitcase might have been full of explosives. Therefore no investigation will be necessary. Therefore it was OK. Therefore it was our fault for being out. Therefore you should not go to Gaza. Is the message clear?

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Jimmy Carter’s Roadmap

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN, CounterPunch, NOVEMBER 13, 2006

The historical chapters of Palestine Peace Not Apartheid are rather thin, filled with errors small and large, as well as tendentious and untenable interpretations. But few persons will be reading it for the history.

It is what Carter has to say about the present that will interest the reading public and the media (assuming the book is not ignored). It can be said with certainty that Israel’s apologists will not be pleased. Although Carter includes criticisms of the Palestinians to affect balance, it is clear that he holds Israel principally responsible for the impasse in the peace process. The most scathing criticisms of Israel come in Chapter 16 (“The Wall as a Prison”). One hopes that this chapter (and the concluding “Summary”) will be widely disseminated.

Below I reproduce some of Carter’s key statements.

***

Most Arab regimes have accepted the permanent existence of Israel as an indisputable fact and are no longer calling for an end to the State of Israel, having contrived a common statement at an Arab summit in 2002 that offers peace and normal relations with Israel within its acknowledged international borders and in compliance with other U.N. Security Council resolutions. (p. 14)

Since 1924, Shebaa Farms has been treated as Lebanese territory, but Syria seized the area in the 1950s and retained control until Israel occupied the Farms–along with the Golan Heights–in 1967. The inhabitants and properties were Lebanese, and Lebanon has never accepted Syria’s control of the Farms. Although Syria has claimed the area in the past, Syrian officials now state that it is part of Lebanon. This position supports the Arab claim that Israel still occupies Lebanese territory. (pp. 98-9)

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November 3, 2006
Anna Baltzer Talk in Madison: “New Directions for Peace in the Middle East”

Edgewood College
Anderson Auditorium
5 to 6:30 pm

Anna Baltzer gives the keynote address of the 22nd annual conference of The Wisconsin Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies entitled “New Directions for Peace in the Middle East and Around the World”.

Anna will be talking about her five months working with the International Women’s Peace Service in the West Bank. She is a writer, activist, and author of the new book Witness in Palestine: Journal of a Jewish American Woman in the Occupied Territories.

The event is free and open to the public. Contact Professor John Fields, Department of Philosophy at Edgewood College at 663-3407 or jfields at edgewood.edu for details.

ACTION ALERT: Stop Israel’s Attacks on Gaza & Lebanon

US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, July 13th, 2006

BACKGROUND:Israel is using weapons supplied by the United States to target Palestinian & Lebanese civilians and civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon in violation of the US Arms Export Control Act and the Geneva Conventions.

* On July 12th, Israel killed 23 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip with missiles fired from aircraft and shells fired from tanks. Israel killed 9 members of one family in a missile strike on a house near Gaza City.

* On July 12th, Israel launched a massive invasion of Lebanon.Israeli aircraft fired missiles targeting civilian infrastructure, including bridges, roads, a mosque, a community center, and the Beirut International Airport, and the Israeli navy is blockading Lebanon’s ports.Israel has killed at least 50 Lebanese civilians and injured more than 100, including entire Lebanese families of 10 and 7 people killed in the villages of Dweir and Baflay.

* On June 27th, Israel launched a massive invasion of the Gaza Strip.Israeli aircraft fired missiles targeting civilian infrastructure.In illegal acts of collective punishment, Israel demolished three key bridges, the Gaza Strip’s only electricity generation plant, and part of a university, thereby endangering Palestinian human rights to food, water, health, electricity, education, and freedom of movement.Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert admitted that the purpose of these measures is to “apply pressure” to the civilian population of the Gaza Strip.

* On June 20th, Israeli aircraft fired at least one missile at a car in an extrajudicial assassination attempt on a road between Jabalya and Gaza City.The missile missed its intended target and killed three Palestinian children and wounded 15.

* On June 13th, Israeli aircraft fired missiles at a van in an extrajudicial assassination of two Palestinians in Gaza City.A second barrage of missiles fired shortly afterward killed nine Palestinian bystanders.

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