Anti-mine campaign denounces new IDF minefields planted in Golan to stop civilians

Australian media analyst/publisher/journalist Mike Hitchen has just written a post on his blog, here, reporting that the Campaign to Ban Landmines has strongly condemned the IDF move — leaked and widely reported authoritatively in the Israeli media, though only coyly hinted at by the IDF spokespersons — to plant new mines in the Golan to deter protesters coming across from Syria in September.

Israeli soldiers were reportedly stunned to see Palestinian protesters coming from Syria and crossing old minefields in the Golan in protests on May 15 [Nakba Day, marking the dispossesion of some 700,000 Palestinians in the fighting that surrounded the creation of the State of Israel in 1948] and June 5 [Naksa Day, commemorating the 1967 war].

Reports about what happened are contradictory. A recent news story suggested that old landmines failed to go off during both protests, which is a justification for planting new landmines. Earlier reports said that new mines had been planted between May 15 and June 5. A number of protesters were reportedly killed by landmine explosions set off, according to the IDF Northern Command, when brush fires set off by their Molotov cocktails exploded some mines [not clear whether these were new, or old, and the explanation is curious]…

The IDF spokespersons have not responded to multiple requests from this journalist for clarification, and correct information.

In September, the Palestinian leadership has announced, it intends to move to upgrade Palestine’s status at the UN. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has recently called for non-violent popular demonstrations in support of the move, at the same time. The IDF has publicly announced it is making various types of massive preparations in anticipation of possible protests in the coming weeks.

In Mike Hitchen’s post, he reports that Kasia Derlicka, Director of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), said that “There can be absolutely no justification for the use of these indiscriminate weapons, and to hear that these mines are aimed at civilians is particularly shocking … Earlier this year the Israeli government began clearing some of its deadly minefields, in recognition of their lethal humanitarian impact. Now, at the same time, to use this inhumane weapon against civilians is absolutely disgraceful”.

On Twitter, on 15 August, the @IDFSpokesperson called our attention to a video dated 28 July, on which the Golan Brigade Commander is speaking, apparently to journalists [well, they are holding microphones], in a public information exercise to show off [as deterrence, as well as reassurance to the Israeli public] the new fence that the IDF has built in the Golan since May and June, to ward off more protests. This video [subtitled in English] is posted on the IDF Spokesperson website here, and it is also on Youtube here.

In the video, the IDF Golan Brigade Commander, Colonel Eshkol Shukron, says that the IDF will not tolerate “border provocations” by “terrorists or civilians from Syria“:

The new fence, he said very suggestively, is only “one of a number of components” that Israel is deploying on the Golan to stop further protests [the IDF calls them “provocations”, “infiltrations”, and “riots”] … but made no mention of landmines.

The IDF language here does raise a problem — it is linguistically, and conceptually, turning unarmed civilian demonstrators into military [security] threats, and effectively describing them as legitimate targets.

IDF use of the language of propaganda, as here, is both unnecessary and dangerous — and gives rise to serious alarm about how events will be handled in the coming period.

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