Wildfires [+ wild rumors] 60,000+ people evacuated in Haifa area

On the third day of wildfires in Israel and the West Bank, international help began arriving, but conditions suddenly worsened significantly in the morning, particularly in the Haifa area. Israeli authorities ordered the evacuation of at least 60,000 people.

UPDATE: By nightfall, The Jerusalem Post reported here that “80,000 residents have now been told to evacuate”.

Almost exactly six years ago, a similar fire grew out-of-control, some 42 people died in the flames, and Israel’s lack of preparedness to fight fires was exposed. Israel was prepared to fight wars, but not fires. See our earlier reports on that fire in this blog, here and here and here.

In December 2010, Israel had no firefighting airplanes – none.  Since then, Israel has apparently acquired 12 firefighting airplanes, but still needed more in the Haifa area today. Netanyahu, according to the Jerusalem Post story mentioned above, “said that Israel’s squadron of some 12 firefighting aircraft was not enough, and that he turned to other countries for assistance. By midnight, he said, a total of 10 planes will have arrived from Russia, Greece, Italy, Cyprus and Turkey. The [US] Supertanker, however, is the only plane with the capabilities to operate at night, and will arrive in approximately 28 hours”.

    Haaretz: “It was almost six years ago to the day that Israel suffered its worst natural disaster ever. The fire that erupted in the Carmel Forest in northern Israel on December 2, 2010, lasting four days and claiming 44 lives, remains a national trauma.  About 17,000 Israelis were evacuated from their homes during that disaster, and thousands of acres of forest were destroyed. It took U.S. intervention, in the form of a Boeing 747 Supertanker flown across the Atlantic, to extinguish the last flames…The weather conditions then were remarkably similar to those today, as Shahar Ayalon, Israel’s former fire and rescue commissioner, notes. For that reason, he says, he was not surprised by the outbreak of the latest fires. ‘You have a combination of drought conditions and dry winds from the east, and this is the result,. he told Haaretz. ‘It’s to be expected’. Clearly, Israel had been caught unprepared in 2010. It did not have the manpower or the equipment required to battle a fire of that magnitude. Nor did its command and controls systems operate as they should have… Ayalon was appointed head of Israel’s firefighting authorities in 2011, not long after the Carmel disaster, and remained in his post until six months ago. During this time, he says, ‘everything that was promised was fulfilled’.  In recent years, according to Ayalon, 800 new firefighters were recruited – almost doubling the size of the force. A squadron of firefighting planes was established, and 20 new fire stations were opened around the country”. 
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium – report posted here.

However, Reuters reported that “Education Minister Naftali Bennett, the leader of the Jewish Home party which supports settlements in the West Bank where Palestinians seek statehood, said on Twitter that arsonists were disloyal to Israel, hinting that those who set the fires could not be Jewish. ‘Only those to whom the country does not belong are capable of burning it,’ he said in a tweet in Hebrew”. This was published here.

The Reuters report also noted that “On social media, some Arabs and Palestinians celebrated the fires and the hashtag #Israelisburning was trending on Twitter”.

This did not happen in 2010 — a lot has changed since then…

The weather has been a big factor in these fires, both in 2010 and in 2016.

As Reuters stated, “The fires have been burning in multiple locations for the past three days but intensified on Thursday, fueled by unseasonably dry weather and strong easterly winds…Local weather forecasters have said the tinder-dry conditions – it has not rained in parts of Israel for months – and strong winds are set to continue for several days and they see little prospect of normal seasonal precipitation arriving”…

UPDATE: By midnight, YNet reported here: Eight Palestinian firefighter vehicles, escorted by the Commander of the Jenin Civil Administration, made their way to Haifa to help extinguish the fires raging in the city. In 2010 the PA did provide succor in the Mount Carmel Forest fires”.

For longest Palestinian hunger-striking prisoner, Samer Issawi, Israel is now proposing…a real deportation

Samer Issawi, on hunger strike for over 200 days [off and on water with supplements], has refused being sent from Israeli jail to Gaza.

So, AP reports this evening, Israel is now proposing a real deportation:

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel has offered to deport a hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner to Europe or a U.N.-member country, an Israeli official said Friday, in an effort to reach a compromise over the high-profile detainee.  But a lawyer for the 33-year-old hunger striker says he has refused to be deported, and a European Union official denied that Israel had officially made the offer to deport him…The Israeli official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said the prime minister’s office offered to deport Issawi after EU and UN officials expressed concern about his health. The Israeli official said neither body had replied to the offer. The official said if an EU or U.N.-member country was willing to take him, Israel would be more than happy to let him go, but that so far, no country had offered…Jawad Bulous, a lawyer for Issawi, said the prisoner had turned down a previous offer to be sent to the Gaza Strip, and would not accept deportation to any other country. ”He refuses all of these options’, Bulous said”.  This AP report is posted here

.

The AP report contains other real news, which was previously not reported: “The Israeli official said Issawi was re-arrested for trying to reestablish a Hamas cell in the West Bank”.

AP also reported that “Issawi was sentenced to 26 years prison for his role in a series of shooting attacks targeting Israeli police cars and students at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University. He was released from prison as part of a 2011 exchange that freed hundreds of Palestinians…But Issawi was arrested again for violating the conditions of his release by entering the nearby West Bank. He is expected to carry out his entire sentence as a result”.

Another agency, AFP, reported that “Issawi, 33, was first arrested in 2002 and sentenced to 26 years for military activities on behalf of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine…Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Israel was willing to deport Issawi ‘to any EU member country, or any UN member country’, said the official, noting that they had yet to receive an answer from either. An EU spokesman told AFP that ‘Israel has not formally approached the EU on this subject’. However, the Israeli official insisted the issue ‘came up in official communications between officials on both sides’. Lawyer Jawad Boulos said that while ‘Israel had tried to make him agree to being deported’ to any of a number of countries, including Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Finland and Switzerland, Issawi had ‘strongly refused in principle to be deported to any state’.” This AFP story is published here.

The Israeli apology to Turkey – two [mirror-image + nearly-identical] texts

In fact, this was clearly all worked out well in advance — the long-awaited but still not expected apology, by Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu to the Turkish people via his counterpart, Turkish Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan, for the deaths of nine Turkish men.

The brokered by U.S. President Barack Obama [and, according to the Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglo, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was instrumental in the process, which Davutoglu said was “interesting”…]

The Turkish Government has apparently produced two [mirror-image and nearly-identical] texts, in English and in Turkish, here, which are also reproduced below:
Continue reading “The Israeli apology to Turkey – two [mirror-image + nearly-identical] texts”

What Obama said [to the Israeli people]: "the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, their right to justice, must also be recognized"

In an address that was labelled as the centerpiece of his trip to Israel, U.S. President Barack Obama made a speech in Jerusalem on Thursday afternoon in which he said he was speaking directly to the Israeli people.  It had two parts:  the first reaffirmed the Israeli narrative*; the second said that the creation of a Palestinian state was necessary, and just.

(1) “For the Jewish people, the journey to the promise of the State of Israel wound through countless generations.  It involved centuries of suffering and exile, prejudice and pogroms and even genocide.  Through it all, the Jewish people sustained their unique identity and traditions, as well as a longing to return home.  And while Jews achieved extraordinary success in many parts of the world, the dream of true freedom finally found its full expression in the Zionist idea — to be a free people in your homeland.  That’s why I believe that Israel is rooted not just in history and tradition, but also in a simple and profound idea — the idea that people deserve to be free in a land of their own”.
(2) “I’m proud that the security relationship between the United States and Israel has never been stronger. Never. (Applause.) More exercises between our militaries; more exchanges among our political and military and intelligence officials than ever before; the largest program to date to help you retain your qualitative military edge. These are the facts. These aren’t my opinions, these are facts. But, to me, this is not simply measured on a balance sheet. I know that here, in Israel, security is something personal … That reality is why we’ve invested in the Iron Dome system to save countless lives…(Applause.)That’s why we’ve made it clear, time and again, that Israel cannot accept rocket attacks from Gaza, and we have stood up for Israel’s right to defend itself. (Applause.) And that’s why Israel has a right to expect Hamas to renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist. (Applause.) … But make no mistake — those who adhere to the ideology of rejecting Israel’s right to exist, they might as well reject the earth beneath them or the sky above, because Israel is not going anywhere. (Applause.) And today, I want to tell you — particularly the young people — so that there’s no mistake here, so long as there is a United States of America — Atem lo levad = You are not alone”. (Applause.)
(3) “But today, Israel is at a crossroads. It can be tempting to put aside the frustrations and sacrifices that come with the pursuit of peace, particularly when Iron Dome repels rockets, barriers keep out suicide bombers. There’s so many other pressing issues that demand your attention. And I know that only Israelis can make the fundamental decisions about your country’s future. (Applause.) I recognize that. I also know, by the way, that not everyone in this hall will agree with what I have to say about peace. I recognize that there are those who are not simply skeptical about peace, but question its underlying premise, have a different vision for Israel’s future. And that’s part of a democracy. That’s part of the discourse between our two countries. I recognize that. But I also believe it’s important to be open and honest, especially with your friends. I also believe that. (Applause.) Politically, given the strong bipartisan support for Israel in America, the easiest thing for me to do would be to put this issue aside — just express unconditional support for whatever Israel decides to do — that would be the easiest political path. But I want you to know that I speak to you as a friend who is deeply concerned and committed to your future, and I ask you to consider three points:

1) Peace is necessary…

2) Peace is also just … the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, their right to justice, must also be recognized. Put yourself in their shoes. Look at the world through their eyes. It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of their own. (Applause.) Living their entire lives with the presence of a foreign army that controls the movements not just of those young people but their parents, their grandparents, every single day. It’s not just when settler violence against Palestinians goes unpunished. (Applause.) It’s not right to prevent Palestinians from farming their lands; or restricting a student’s ability to move around the West Bank; or displace Palestinian families from their homes. (Applause.) Neither occupation nor expulsion is the answer. (Applause.) Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land. (Applause.)

3) Peace is possible. It is possible. (Applause.) I’m not saying it’s guaranteed. I can’t even say that it is more likely than not. But it is possible. I know it doesn’t seem that way. There are always going to be reasons to avoid risk. There are costs for failure. There will always be extremists who provide an excuse not to act. I know there must be something exhausting about endless talks about talks, and daily controversies, and just the grinding status quo. And I’m sure there’s a temptation just to say, ‘Ah, enough. Let me focus on my small corner of the world and my family and my job and what I can control’. But it’s possible. Negotiations will be necessary, but there’s little secret about where they must lead — two states for two peoples. Two states for two peoples. (Applause.)

(4) “Meanwhile, Palestinians must recognize that Israel will be a Jewish state and that Israelis have the right to insist upon their security. (Applause.) Israelis must recognize that continued settlement activity is counterproductive to the cause of peace, and that an independent Palestine must be viable with real borders that have to be drawn. (Applause.) I’ve suggested principles on territory and security that I believe can be the basis for these talks. But for the moment, put aside the plans and the process. I ask you, instead, to think about what can be done to build trust between people”.
Continue reading “What Obama said [to the Israeli people]: "the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, their right to justice, must also be recognized"”

What Obama said: "Palestinians deserve a state of their own"

In his joint press conference in the Ramallah Muqata’a on Thursday, with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, Obama said:
(1) “Marhaba” [Arabic for “Hi”] – This is posted on the White House website, here.
(2) “I’ve returned to the West Bank because the United States is deeply committed to the creation of an independent and sovereign state of Palestine. The Palestinian people deserve an end to occupation and the daily indignities that come with it. Palestinians deserve to move and travel freely, and to feel secure in their communities. Like people everywhere, Palestinians deserve a future of hope — that their rights will be respected, that tomorrow will be better than today and that they can give their children a life of dignity and opportunity. Put simply, Palestinians deserve a state of their own.” – This is posted on the White House website, in an edited version [which omits the text in bold, above] here, with the full version here.
(3) “Here in the West Bank, I realize that this continues to be a difficult time for the Palestinian Authority financially. So I’m pleased that in recent weeks the United States has been able to provide additional assistance to help the Palestinian Authority bolster its finances. Projects through USAID will help strengthen governance, rule of law, economic development, education and health. We consider these to be investments in a future Palestinian state*”
*Details of this assistance were revealed after Obama left the region, and will be examined in another post here.
(4) “the United States remains committed to realizing the vision of two states, which is in the interests of the Palestinian people, and also in the national security interest of Israel, the United States, and the world. We seek an independent, a viable and contiguous Palestinian state as the homeland of the Palestinian people, alongside the Jewish State of Israel — two nations enjoying self-determination, security and peace”.
Continue reading “What Obama said: "Palestinians deserve a state of their own"”

Palestinians: is "keeping the lid on" a strategy?

All this talk about a possible Third Intifada…

One of the most irritating things about this discussion is the assumption that violence is the strategy of choice for Palestinians.

Palestinians are not ready for violence, and there are absolutely no indications either that they have in any way prepared for it. Moreover, the sentiment most often heard is a refusal to be the one to go out on the street to protest and get arrested, with all the consequences, while their families will be left alone without support and the others will stay in their offices and continue to be comfortable, making money…

But, the situation is getting worse and worse.

Nevertheless, this speculation about another Intifada is a classic example of “the boogeyman” approach: the suggestion is made that if x or y does not happen, then one’s worst fears will come true…

UPDATE: On Thursday 28 February, Dalia Hatuqa wrote about the Third Intifada speculation in The National here, saying that “Of late, Palestinians have become an afterthought for the Israeli public. This was evident in the latest Israeli elections … There is a too-little discussed acceptance in Israel that the denial of rights and the self-determination of millions of Palestinians is a normal status quo”. She added that ‘Neither Israel nor the PA has an interest in another intifada and, as long as security cooperation between the two continues, Israel can rest easy. But the ongoing policies of Israel’s occupation are unsustainable and it is clear that Palestinians will not tolerate them in perpetuity. As long as Israel continues to rely on carrots and sticks to temporarily quash popular outrage, the PA will be walking a fine line between an angry constituency and a demanding occupying force’. Meanwhile, she reported, “A senior Fatah official, Jibril Rajoub, went on Israel Radio to echo Mr Abbas’s statement, declaring ‘on behalf of the entire Palestinian leadership that there is no plan to lead to bloodshed’.”

Continue reading “Palestinians: is "keeping the lid on" a strategy?”

Israel is not happy at all with the UN Human Rights Council's report on West Bank settlements

Dear Readers, a bout of Pneumonia made it  impossible to blog for several weeks.  Now, in a convalescence period, we are re-starting. With apologies, this post is currently under construction, and will be completed within the next 24 hours…

And we will analyze the UNHRC report itself in a separate post…

Update: Israeli international law expert Ruth Gavison wrote in Haaretz on 8 February that Israel “shouldn’t ignore the recent report on West Bank settlements which was written [on behalf of the UN Human Rights Commission], since it reflects the maturation of a prolonged process, typical of international law.  The report reflects the views of the international community that sees Israel not only as an on-going occupier in the West Bank, but one that conducts itself as proprietary owners, perceiving their rights as overruling the Palestinians’ quest for self-determination on part of their homeland.  It should be noted that in contrast to the Human Rights Council’s report, which views the 1967 borders (the Green Line) as the only criterion for the legitimacy of Jewish settlement projects, the Israeli government has before it the report prepared by retired Justice Edmond Levy which states otherwise. This report, basing itself on the same international law, states that the entire West Bank is a legitimate target for Jewish settlement, subject to proprietary rights of Palestinian residents. The state and its courts have done their utmost to avoid taking an unambiguous stand regarding the legality of Jewish settlement beyond the Green Line in the context of international law. The courts have dealt mainly with property rights of individual Palestinians, such as in the case of Elon More, where expropriation of private land by settlers was forbidden. However, the courts have never addressed the significance and ramifications of the injunction against an occupying state transferring its population into conquered territories. The international community was always critical of the settlement enterprise, but the terminology used was more vague, such as ‘obstacles to achieving peace’, rather than explicitly about its illegality, as is now the case”…

Gavison continued: “If Israel continues to argue that it is permissible for Jews to settle anywhere in Mandatory (pre-1948) Palestine (other than on private land), which is what the Levy report recommends, rather than claim that this was how it interpreted international law until the issue was clarified, the country and its leaders will face mounting criticism and even sanctions.  After a deliberate suppression of the topic during the election campaign, the new government will have to decide: It must declare either that it supports a two-state solution or that it continues to see the West Bank as part of the Jewish homeland. It must be aware of the fact that the second choice, based on the Levy report, will be an explicit rejection of the commitment to the concept of international law, as perceived by the entire world. So, in fact, the government has no choice. It’s time that it accepted the fact that, even according to its own courts, these are occupied (or held) territories. As such, they are not part of the state and no ‘annexation’ can alter this fact. According to international law, a country cannot act as the owner of such lands and settle them with its citizens. Such conduct is no longer merely forbidden, but now constitutes a crime” …

It is the Treaty of Rome, which is the foundation for the International Criminal Court, that makes it a crime, Gavison says:  “The Rome Treaty of 1998 that established the International Criminal Court laid the foundation for the UN’s new report. The treaty explicitly defined the transfer of population to occupied territories by a victorious combatant as a war crime. This treaty had the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in mind when choosing the wording of this definition. Thus, the declared and consistent policy of transferring Israeli citizens into the West Bank, in the context of a territorial dispute, is now perceived not only as undesirable, but as patently illegal in the eyes of the entire international community, including the United States. This puts Israel on a collision course with international opinion, and it’s only bound to get worse. Changing the debate over the settlement enterprise into a legal one is indeed bad for Israel. There is no distinction between legal and illegal settlements, as judged by Israel, or between Jerusalem, settlement blocs or more isolated settlements. The new discourse entirely ignores local political and security considerations and does not encourage negotiations and mutual concessions”.  This is published here.

Gavison then argues that “it is of vital urgency that Israel makes a distinction between settlements that are already established, and thus probably not subject to the treaty’s clauses, and settlements not yet built. Negotiations should be based on this distinction. Not every inch of conquered territory must be repatriated. A conquest that follows a defensive war is terminated when an agreement is reached over security concerns that may have underlain the original conflict. The Palestinians are currently not addressing some of Israel’s legitimate concerns. There is also some weight given to facts that were established on occupied territory, even if they turn out to have been unlawful, and to the length of time that has elapsed, not all of which was the fault of Israel. Israel is right in arguing that a total dismissal of the entire settlement project and a call for full withdrawal is unrealistic, and not conducive towards finding a solution”.

She then recommends that “Israel should submit a proposal for solving the conflict in which it relinquishes its claims to the entire area, and recognize the Palestinians’ rights for self-determination in part of their homeland, subject to adequate security arrangements”…

UPDATE: On 2 February

Nachman Shai, reelected to Knesset [for Labor Party, after Kadima imploded], denounces UN HRC report on settlements – http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/israel-right-to-say-enough-to-grotesquely-biased-unhrc-inquiry.premium-1.500876 …

#PT Nachman Shai: “Israel quite rightly will not engage in a process that is effectively a rubber stamp for the Sudans of this world” …

#PT “we will not engage in disc abt report calling, outrageously, for sanctions against our country, by a body whose VP is rep from Sudan”

 

UPDATE: On 1 February
MT @emilylhauser – #Israel can ignore the facts…but abuses & perfidies won’t magically become something else: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/02/01/the-u-n-settlement-report-just-the-facts.html …

MT @emilylhauser only way to be comfortable w/ these facts is to say the Jewish past is more binding than intl law & our lives more special

Emily Hauser: “there’s simply no way to explain away the entire corpus of Israeli actions in the occupied territories” http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/02/01/the-u-n-settlement-report-just-the-facts.html …

Emily Hauser: “The Israeli government and the settler movement know exactly what they’re doing”. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/02/01/the-u-n-settlement-report-just-the-facts.html …

 

On 29 January:
louis charbonneau @lou_reuters —#Israel boycotts U.N. rights scrutiny session http://tinyurl.com/ax2ayh3 

 

Marian Houk @Marianhouk — “Israel cut ties with the UNHRC in March after the HR Council approved a fact-finding mission to investigate Israeli settlement activity”

#PT from Jerusalem Post article – http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?ID=301417 …

 

Marian Houk @Marianhouk  — UN Human Rights Council “regretted” Israel’s decision not to participate in the review of its compliance with HR obligations “at sched time”

 

Marian Houk @Marianhouk — The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva called on Israel “to resume its cooperation” w/ Universal [for every member] Periodic Review mechanism [by November 2013]

 

Marian Houk @Marianhouk — UN Watch in Geneva: Israel decision was due to 1) Israel’s 2012 decision to sever all ties w/ the UNHRC [b/c ofperm agenda item on Israel]

Marian Houk @Marianhouk — UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer: 2) Israel review wld be under “newly-elected UNHRC member Venezuela, the Iranian-allied dictatorship of Hugo Chavez”

Marian Houk @Marianhouk –UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer: 3rd reason for Israel’s non-participation = “in reality, the UPR is, for the most part, a mutual praise society”

Marian Houk @Marianhouk  — UN Watch “is concerned by a deepening culture of mutual praise, where members of large voting blocs grant each other immunity” [via email].

Marian Houk @Marianhouk – UN Watch statement cont’d: “The danger of the mutual praise is that the UPR review is then used as a seal of legitimacy”.

Israeli official in Netanyahu's office: we won't go back on decision on E-1, we said in advance there would be reprisals

Israeli journalist Barak Ravid, who loves having sensational scoops, started off the day Sunday by floating a report that Britain + France may recall their ambassadors to Israel — an unprecedented step — in response to the Netanyahu cabinet’s announcement on 30 November that it would advance the planning process to build in E-1.

The E-1 area is, as Israeli lawyer and Jerusalem expert Daniel Seidemann has said over and over in recent days, the “Doomsday” settlement.

The Netanyahu cabinet also said it would build some 3,000 other settlement units in as-yet-unspecified places in and around Jerusalem [or, what Israeli officials unilaterally defined in 1967 as the “Greater Jerusalem Municipality”].

As it happened, Britain and France were not ready to recall their ambassadors — a futile step in any case, however sensational.

Instead, Britain, France, Spain, Sweden and Denmark called in the Israeli Ambassadors to their capitals, and expressed their dismay and displeasure. UPDATE: Australia and Brazil, Ireland and Finland all did the same on Monday.

The Israeli reaction was unruffled.  What did they expect, Israeli officials said [it was not a question, but an expression of attitude, specifically disdain]: we said we would take retaliatory action if the Palestinians went ahead with their UNGA move, and that’s what we are doing.

In Washington, a new twist: the U.S. equally disapproves of “unilateral” measures such as a.) the PLO going to the UN to upgrade the status of Palestine, or b.) the Israeli settlement building.  This is being called “even-handed”

The flurry of announcements was dizzying.

Settlers moved, unopposed, into empty apartments in a five-story building at Jabel Muqaber [south-east Jerusalem]

A street was closed in Wadi Hilweh, Silwan, for tunnel-digging [which a few meters north has caused collapsing structures overhead]

Ma’ariv reported that a West Bank planning commission would meet on Wednesday to expedite [yes, that’s what the cabinet said it would do, and that’s what’s happening] Israeli development in E-1.

On Tuesday, the Times of Israel gave the first indication of where the 3,000 promised new settlement units would be located, reporting here “Some 1,700 units are scheduled for approval by the [Jerusalem] municipality in Ramat Shlomo, a largely ultra-Orthodox neighborhood on the northern outskirts of the city. The construction plans were initially okayed a year ago, during a visit by US Vice President Joe Biden. The plans were frozen after an international outcry over the timing of the approval, which were seen as disrespectful to Washington.The municipality will also green-light the construction of the first new neighborhood beyond the Green Line since the 1997 decision to build Har Homa. Thousands of apartments are to be approved in Givat Hamatos, located next to the Jewish neighborhood of Talpiot and the Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa”.

These are just north and just south of the “Greater Jerusalem Municipality”.

E-1 is, as the name shows, the first block of land east of the “Greater Jerusalem Municipality”.

Israel’s act of selecting areas of the West Bank to include in its “Greater Jerusalem Municipality” was unilateral…

And, now there’s a new idea being put forward by Israeli and pro-Israeli advocacy groups. Camera.org turns the table and attempts to argue here that it is Israel’s territorial contiguity that will be affected if E-1 is NOT developed… This posting is dated 2 December 2012. The Israel Project [TIP] does the same thing [but with a different map, which doesn’t show this exaggerated detour].

Continue reading “Israeli official in Netanyahu's office: we won't go back on decision on E-1, we said in advance there would be reprisals”

Reflections on the Gaza war [Operation Pillar of Clouds]: Giora Eiland says Gaza is a de facto independent state, so its "national infrastructure" could have been hit harder [to deter Hamas]

This man’s remarks deserve a separate entry all to themselves.

Giora Eiland, a retired Major-General in the Israeli Defense Forces, and former head of Israel’s National Security Council, has written a piece published by YNet, here, in which he attempts to justify attacks on what he called “national infrastructure targets” – in Gaza, in this case.

Eiland — apparently trying to amend longstanding principles of international war — wrote that that national infrastructure targets should be considered more military than civilian targets. “Such targets, which include government buildings, fuel caches, communication centers, bridges and the power system, are legitimate in the event of a military conflict between two countries, and this was the exact situation between us and Hamas”.

Eiland’s new argument depends on seeing Gaza as a state. As he wrote today, “Israel is not fighting terror organizations but a state. Gaza became a de facto independent state in as early as 2007, and that’s a good thing. Israel is always better off facing a political entity which serves as a clear address, both for deterrence purposes and for an agreement, than a situation in which the government is formally in the hands of one body but the ability to use fire is in the hands of others”.

By this line of argument, the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority is not a “clear address”, as the IDF rules the West Bank.

Eiland continues: “Because Gaza is a state which initiated ongoing rocket fire on Israel, in a military conflict the right thing to do is to hit all the targets serving the rival regime and allowing it to continue controlling and conducting a war against us“.

Therefore, Eiland writes, “The operation can and should be expanded against the state of Gaza, yet not necessarily through a ground offensive but by causing much greater damage to the infrastructure there”.

“Had there been an ongoing shortage of water and fuel in Gaza, had the power system been seriously damage, had the landline communication system gone out of order, had the roads connecting the different parts of the Strip been
destroyed, and had the government buildings and police stations been destructed, we could have estimated with greater confidence that deterrence had been achieved. This is an important lesson ahead of the next war, and as important in regards to Lebanon. If we conduct the ‘Third Lebanon War’ exclusively against Hezbollah’s military targets, we may lose it”.

Eiland’s argument ignores the Israeli Supreme Court ruling in late January 2008 saying that because Israel has a “historical responsibility” for Gaza, the Israeli military must ensure that it does not cause a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. [The Supreme Court, however, did not define “humanitarian crisis”…]

There it is: the reason to attack “national infrastructure” is to ensure winning a war. The justification is created separately, by merely inventing a new category in which targets, it will be argued, are not civilian [but maybe “dual-use? A lot of mileage can be gotten by trotting out a “dual use” justification.]

Eiland writes: “Hamas is the establishment in the state of Gaza … [and] we missed an opportunity to extensively damage Hamas’ ruling abilities, guaranteeing even greater deterrence, which was the main goal of the operation”.

Reflections on the Gaza war [Operation Pillar of Clouds]: Sara Roy [Boston.com] + Rashid Khalidi [NPR]+ Eyal Weizmann [LRB] + a JPost editorial

Sara Roy, a economist who’s done extensive work on Gaza over years, now senior research scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University, wrote an article entitled “Where’s our humanity for Gaza”, which is published here on Boston.com. In it, she reports that:

“The Gaza Strip is now in its 46th year of occupation, 22nd year of closure, and sixth year of intensified closure. The resulting normalization of the occupation assumes a dangerous form in the Gaza Strip, whose status as an occupied territory has ceased to matter in the West; the attention has shifted — after Hamas’s 2006 electoral victory and 2007 takeover of the territory — to Gaza’s containment and punishment, rendering illegitimate any notion of human rights or freedom for Palestinians. The Israeli government has referred to its siege policy as a form of ‘economic warfare’ … which was achieved through an Israeli-imposed blockade that ended all normal trade”.

Continue reading “Reflections on the Gaza war [Operation Pillar of Clouds]: Sara Roy [Boston.com] + Rashid Khalidi [NPR]+ Eyal Weizmann [LRB] + a JPost editorial”