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.”
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.
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)
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.
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.”
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?
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.
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.