All in a day's work

Don’t say you didn’t know.

This information has been published elsewhere, and I’m going to post it here.

You know.

In the West Bank, over the last 24 hours or so, nearly 80 Palestinians have been detained, and whisked off to God-knows-where for interrogation. They were detained in raids, frightening — terrifying — military raids. Their families and neighbors were terrified. Their homes were damaged. These raids are an almost-nightly occurrence in the West Bank, but the numbers involved here are larger than usual.


These reports were published on Tuesday by the Jerusalem Post and Ma’an News Agency:

First report – 16 February:
“IDF troops operating in the West Bank overnight Sunday arrested 37 Palestinian terror suspects. The detainees were transferred for interrogation”. This report was posted here.

Later report:
“Ramallah – Ma’an – Israeli forces arrested nearly 50 Palestinians from across the West Bank Monday, at least 30 from the Ramallah area. All were taken to undisclosed locations, after troops broke into several homes. Soldiers also installed a checkpoint at the entrance of Ni’lin village, west of the West Bank city of Ramallah. In the early morning ‘Israeli military jeeps invaded the city from every direction, broke into several homes—ransacking them—while intensely firing live ammunition and percussion grenades’, Palestinian security sources said … Media coordinator for the village’s (Ni’lin) Popular Campaign Against the Wall, Salah Al-Khawaja, told Ma’an that Israeli bulldozers uprooted around
20 olive trees on Monday morning. ‘The Israeli authorities are trying to change the route of the main road linking the village with Ramallah in a bid to prevent the residents from using it, [forcing them] to use a tunnel instead’, he added”… This report can be read in full here.
According to this Ma’an report, arrested were: 20 from Nil’in west of Ramallah, eight from Al-Jalazun refugee camp north of Ramallah, 12 from al-Am’ri refugee camp, 1 from Silwad northeast of Ramallah, 6 from Azzun village east of Qalqiliya, 2 from Nablus and 1 from Jenin).

Next day:
Overnight Monday, another 29 Palestinians were arrested in the West Bank, according to Maan:
“Israel’s sweep of detentions across the West Bank continued overnight Monday as Israeli Radio reported 26 detentions for ‘security reasons’. The forces detained seven civilians in Tulkarem, seven others in the Qalqiliya governorate, eight from Husan village near Bethlehem, one from Beit Ummar north of Hebron and three others from Hebron city. Locals from Husan village said at least 50 military vehicles surrounded the small village and troops dispersed throughout the town searching the homes of the five men taken for questioning. Meanwhile, Israeli forces stormed the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem on Tuesday morning, detaining eight Islamic Jihad members at dawn, among them a senior member. A second raid Tuesday afternoon saw the detention of 29-year-old Subhi Jihad Ali. His home was raided and ransacked and he was taken to an unknown location. In addition to Tulkarem proper, soldiers also entered villages around the city and the main refugee camps in the area, where they searched for other members to arrest, according to Palestinian security sources. Soldiers stormed the Tulkarem-area villages of Anabta, Seida, Illar, Qaffin and Deir Al-Ghusun in the north, as well as Nur Shams Refugee Camp and Ramin in the east and Kafr Abbush in the south … Israeli patrols reportedly withdrew early on Tuesday, leaving scorched and bullet-ridden homes behind”. This report was published here.


In another development, the Jerusalem Post reported that “The main road in the Jewish part of [the West Bank city of] Hebron will soon be opened for Palestinians, Army Radio reported Monday. For the past 15 years, only Jews were allowed to use the road. The decision to open the route to Palestinian traffic will be brought for approval by the IDF’s OC Central Command and the Judea and Samaria [n.b. – the West Bank] Division during the coming week. Concurrently, a proposal to open Shuhada Street in the city and to allow some 100 Palestinian stores there to reopen is being examined [emphasis added] by the defense establishment”. This was posted here.


Agence France Presse reports that Israel has “declared 170 hectares (420 acres) in the occupied West Bank as state land, a move that paves the way for the expansion of a major settlement bloc near the occupied West Bank town of Bethlehem. The tract, which falls in the northern part of the Efrat settlement, just outside Bethlehem, was declared state land after eight appeals were rejected by the military authority in charge of the West Bank, a military spokesman said” … Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert “has said Israel will eventually have to give up most of the West Bank if it wants peace with the Palestinians, though settlement construction has expanded under his government despite international criticism. Efrat, which has a population of 9,000, is part of Gush Etzion, one of the largest of the so-called settlement blocs Israel wants to keep under any agreement with the Palestinians”. This article can be read in full here.

There are reportedly plans to build 2000 new homes for Jewish settlers in this newly-reclassified area of Palestinian land. AP added that “The rocky plot was recently designated state land and is part of a master plan that envisions the settlement growing from 9,000 to 30,000 residents, Efrat Mayor Oded Revivi said. Israeli officials said any new construction would require several years more of planning and stages of approval. The outgoing government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said it reserves the right to keep building in large West Bank settlement blocs that it wants to annex as part of a final peace deal with the Palestinians. Efrat is in one of those blocs … Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights group involved in the case, said Monday that over the years Israel’s government has assigned almost all areas designated as state land to settlements. Yesh Din said that is a violation of international law, which requires an occupying power to act for the benefit of the local population. ‘Declaring these huge amounts of land as state land, as done by the Civil Administration, is only for expanding the
settlement and not for the local Palestinian population’, Yesh Din said”. This AP report can be read in full here


The AP also reported that “Tzipi Livni, who hopes to be appointed Israel’s prime minister-designate, said Monday Israel must give up considerable territory in exchange for peace with the Palestinians, drawing a clear distinction with her rival, Benjamin Netanyahu. She told a convention of American Jewish leaders, ‘we need to give up parts of the Land of Israel’, using a term that refers to biblical borders that include today’s Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, repeating her well-known view that pulling out of Palestinian areas would be for the good of Israel, to maintain it as a Jewish state”. This is posted here.

The operative word here is “parts” — “we need to give up parts of the Land of Israel’


The BBC reported that “It was four years ago next month that Talia Sasson wrote her report on unauthorised outposts. She was a government lawyer, and was commissioned to investigate the issue by the then Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon. Her report detailed how Israel’s officials actively colluded in the establishment of dozens of outposts across the West Bank … Time and again, Talia Sasson took refuge in what she believed was the iron logic of removing settlements from the occupied territories.
‘I think that the one which is not Zionist is the right-wing’, she insisted. ‘Because where they take Israel to is to a single bi-national state’. But how does the left end up not just talking to itself? There was a long pause. Listening back to my recording of our conversation, the silence lasted for a painful 12 seconds. Eventually: ‘I think there is some historical process that we can’t change’, she said, quietly. And then, later: ‘I’m not sure we have anyone brave enough to challenge the stupidity’.”

The BBC added that “she is still living with the threats and the intimidation which followed the publication of her report into outposts”.

This BBC report is posted here


Meanwhile, in Gaza, Amira Hass reported for Haaretz that “A team trained to remove and destroy unexploded ordnance has been operating in the Gaza Strip for three weeks, but its work is being held up because Israel has not approved the entry of its equipment nor an area for storing and neutralizing ordnance. For now some of the latter, located by the Palestinian police, is being stored in locations that are dangerously close to population centers in Rafah, Khan Yunis and Gaza City. The team was sent by the British humanitarian organization Mines Advisory Group, whose purpose is to reduce the danger to the local population posed by unexploded mines and other weapons in conflict zones around the world. MAG is co-laureate of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize. In Gaza, the MAG team works in cooperation with the United Nations Mine Action Service. The head of the team in Gaza told Haaretz that the actual work of neutralizing and destroying the explosives is not complicated, and that it is the coordination that takes time. The transfer of the ordnance to a safe location for controlled explosion must be coordinated with the Israel Defense Forces as well as with the Palestinian authorities in the Gaza Strip. The neutralization methods chosen will depend on the equipment Israel will allow in. The IDF Spokesman’s Office issued the following statement: ‘The conclusion that the IDF is not permitting the force’s entry lacks all factual basis, since no response has been issued. The issue is being considered with a favorable eye and the IDF’s answer will be given within a few days’. Military sources pointed out that the IDF Spokesman’s Office issued, after the end of the military operation, a severe warning about the danger of unexploded ordnance and that several Arab news media reported the warning to Gaza Strip residents … Despite the delays, the team has made some progress that does not depend on equipment: MAG’s technical director, Mark Buswell, examined six main thoroughfares in the strip to make sure there are no mines or other ordnance that could explode on or near them … White phosphorus bombs found in Gaza City and in the northern Gaza Strip last month and placed in a lot near police headquarters in Gaza City, near bombs with a collective weight of 7,500 kilograms, were neutralized by being submerged in water and covered with sand. Buswell, who served in the British army for nine years, said the Palestinian police did a good job of removing and storing most of the unexploded ordnance. Kerei Ruru of the UN Mine Action Team said that unlike in Lebanon no cluster bombs were found in the Gaza Strip and no evidence was found that Israel had used depleted uranium. Buswell said the team found no Palestinian mines, only indications of antitank mines used by the IDF to blow up Palestinian homes. MAG also found no evidence that Hamas had booby-trapped buildings. Buswell said that if there were still any boobytrapped homes, people would have been injured and the team has received no reports of such injuries”. This report by Amira Hass is published here .


Meanwhile, the BBC’s Tim Franks reported today that “A large stockpile of unexploded weapons has disappeared in Gaza, before United Nations experts were able to dispose of it safely, the BBC has learned. The explosives, including aircraft bombs and white phosphorus shells, were fired by the Israeli military during its recent offensive in the Gaza Strip. UN officials said they were urgently trying to establish where the arms had gone and have called for their return. Israel has accused Hamas of taking the stockpile, which was under Hamas guard … A UN Mines Action Team has been in Gaza since the end of the war, last month, its job to locate unexploded Israeli ordnance and to organise its safe disposal. Two weeks ago, on 2 February, the UN team was given access to a storage site in Gaza City where more than 7,000kg of explosives was being housed. It included three 2,000-pound bombs and eight 500-pound bombs, which had all been dropped from aircraft but failed to explode. There was also a large number of 155mm shells for delivering the incendiary chemical white phosphorus. Many of the explosives had been collected by the Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip. The UN staff had been waiting for the Israeli army to allow them to bring specialist equipment into Gaza so they would be able to destroy the explosives safely. In particular, the team needed explosives or flares to set off a controlled explosion and they needed tools to allow them to extract fuses from some of the bombs. The UN staff were also waiting for permission from the Israeli military to use two safe areas to dispose of the munitions. At a meeting last Thursday with the Israeli army, two areas were identified: one in the north, in a no-go area close to the border with Israel and the other near Khan Younis in the south, in a former Hamas training area. On Sunday, when UN officials returned to the warehouse, which was under a Hamas police guard, they say they found most of the explosives had gone missing. Israeli military spokesman Peter Lerner said the stockpile had been ‘commandeered by Hamas’.” This BBC report is posted here.


The IDF spokesperson informs us that on 16 January 2009, IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt. Gen Gabi Ashkenazi convened the IDF Senior Command Forum, comprised of officers of the rank of Colonel and higher, for a summary of 2008 and a presentation of the work plan for the upcoming year. The participants discussed pressing issues, including different aspects of Operation Cast Lead, the world financial crisis and its effect on the IDF, annual working plans, training schedules and logistical matters … Lt.-Gen. Ashkenazi announced during the assembly, that the IDF will hold special discussions on Operation Cast Lead after the completion of internal investigations at the brigade, division and Southern Command levels as well as within the General Staff. Upon the completion of the investigations, Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi said, the conclusions will be sufficiently developed to be brought to the IDF Senior Command Forum for
discussion …
During the assembly, the IDF spokesperson said, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said: “Without a doubt, nuclear weapons in Iran are a central threat to world order; it is a breach that would cause nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and could form, when it becomes a reality, an existential threat to the state of Israel. It is impossible to ignore the fact that the prospect of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons will enhance the sense of immunity amongst its allies, will lead to the collapse of nuclear non-proliferation efforts and will dramatically accelerate nuclear proliferation in the region.”


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