Israel and Peace – mutually exclusive terms

Gazan father weeps before dead sonBombs are raining down on Gaza. In that tiny, densely populated strip of land on the Mediterranean, under merciless siege for the past 18 months, there is nowhere to hide, no sophisticated air raid shelters or safe zones. When the chilling phone call comes from the Israeli psyops that one’s home is near a target, there is nowhere safe to go. The initial Israeli attack however was reportedly a surprise.

It is well worth considering that 55% of the 1.5 million Gazan population are under the age of 18. Israel has killed 31 children and wounded 140 thus far in the past 4 days of its pogrom from a total 360 375 people killed and counting.

Israeli politicians and their complicit foreign muppets coldly bleat about how Hamas must stop its barrage of homemade rockets which have killed 4 people during Operation Cast Lead.

Seamus Milne observes:

During the last seven years, 14 Israelis have been killed by mostly homemade rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, while more than 5,000 Palestinians were killed by Israel with some of the most advanced US-supplied armaments in the world. And while no rockets are fired from the West Bank, 45 Palestinians have died there at Israel’s hands this year alone.

Yet Israel refuses to seek a truce – they have more killing in mind and a powerful military funded gratuitously with yankee dollars with which to accomplish their goals.

Are they are enjoying this slaughter, this reenactment of the Shoah which was visited upon them long ago and with which they have threatened the people of Gaza this year? Will they stretch out their criminal collective punishment of the Gazan people until that mindless fool Bush is out of office?

How does Israel benefit from its vile acts of genocide? As Johann Hari accurately comments (the whole story is essential background to the current disaster):

Before it falls down the memory hole, we should remember that last week, Hamas offered a ceasefire in return for basic and achievable compromises. Don’t take my word for it. According to the Israeli press, Yuval Diskin, the current head of the Israeli security service Shin Bet, “told the Israeli cabinet [on 23 December] that Hamas is interested in continuing the truce, but wants to improve its terms.” Diskin explained that Hamas was requesting two things: an end to the blockade, and an Israeli ceasefire on the West Bank. The cabinet – high with election fever and eager to appear tough – rejected these terms.

The core of the situation has been starkly laid out by Ephraim Halevy, the former head of Mossad. He says that while Hamas militants – like much of the Israeli right-wing – dream of driving their opponents away, “they have recognised this ideological goal is not attainable and will not be in the foreseeable future.” Instead, “they are ready and willing to see the establishment of a Palestinian state in the temporary borders of 1967.” They are aware that this means they “will have to adopt a path that could lead them far from their original goals” – and towards a long-term peace based on compromise.

The rejectionists on both sides – from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran to Bibi Netanyahu of Israel – would then be marginalised. It is the only path that could yet end in peace but it is the Israeli government that refuses to choose it. Halevy explains: “Israel, for reasons of its own, did not want to turn the ceasefire into the start of a diplomatic process with Hamas.”

Why would Israel act this way? The Israeli government wants peace, but only one imposed on its own terms, based on the acceptance of defeat by the Palestinians. It means the Israelis can keep the slabs of the West Bank on “their” side of the wall. It means they keep the largest settlements and control the water supply. And it means a divided Palestine, with responsibility for Gaza hived off to Egypt, and the broken-up West Bank standing alone. Negotiations threaten this vision: they would require Israel to give up more than it wants to. But an imposed peace will be no peace at all: it will not stop the rockets or the rage. For real safety, Israel will have to talk to the people it is blockading and bombing today, and compromise with them.

The sound of Gaza burning should be drowned out by the words of the Israeli writer Larry Derfner. He says: “Israel’s war with Gaza has to be the most one-sided on earth… If the point is to end it, or at least begin to end it, the ball is not in Hamas’s court – it is in ours.”

The last thing Israel has ever wanted in its blighted, ugly existence is peace – it has proved this time and time again. Until it has expropriated all it wants from the Palestinians, it is in the interests of the Zionist enterprise to divide and conquer using Hamas and Fatah as pawns, manipulate international opinion, run a concentration camp in Gaza and get away as it usually does with endless bloody murder.

Israel on twitter

Boing Boing posts an alert that Israel is utlising Web 2.0 to interact with the world, with an inaugural citizen’s twitter conference to be held today between 1 – 3 pm EST.

If you are twitter shy, you can follow the conference here and here.

Our questions?

@IsraelConsulate what is your understanding of the word “apartheid“?

@IsraelConsulate why did Israel break the ceasefie with Hamas with incursions in November? http://is.gd/e7c0 #AskIsrael

In contravention of international maritime law, Israel is compounding its criminal travesties with an assault on civilian emergency supply ship Dignity.

So we’ve asked another question:

@IsraelConsulate why is Israel attacking a civilian mercy ship? #AskIsrael #gaza http://is.gd/e8n6

Israel Go Home NowIsrael’s current massacre in Gaza has been characterised by United Nations regional envoy, Richard Falk “as a massive violation of international law because it was punishing an entire population for the actions of a few” – thus an extension of the collective punishment of the blockade inflicted on the civilians in Gaza over the past year.

Falk also accused Israel of “targeting civilians and of a disproportionate response to the threat posed by Hamas’s equally illegal rocket attacks on its southern border.”

Israeli Foreign Minister and electoral hopeful Tipsy Livni’s response, backed by the usual muppets in the US administration? The attacks were needed “to change the reality on the ground. That reality … was one where Hamas continued rocket attacks on the people of southern Israel without retaliation.”

Yet it was Israel which deliberately broke the ceasefire with Hamas last November after which were rockets fired in retaliation that Israel then used as propaganda in a transparently deceitful attempt to justify the present pogrom against the people of Gaza, further claiming spuriously that civilians are not being targeted.

From Jews for Justice for Palestinians:

“The Israeli government steadily sought to break down the ceasefire, not just in Gaza since early November, but also in the West Bank. Israeli forces have carried out an average of 33 incursions, 42 arrests or detentions, 12 woundings and 0.84 killings a week in the West Bank during the ceasefire. The tactic has been to continue attacking Hamas and other militants in the West Bank, provoking responses in Gaza, and to use the responses as the pretext for the massive attacks of the last 24 hours.”

Israel rejected Hamas offers for an extension of the cease fire:

“On 23rd December Hamas offered to renew the ceasefire if Israel would undertake to open border crossings for supplies of aid and fuel, and halt incursions. For those of us appalled at the collective punishment involved in the ongoing siege, and concerned that Israelis should not fear death or injury from Qassam rockets, that seems a truly reasonable response.

For Israel to reject it bespeaks a bankrupt body politic especially since the army and the politicians are acting against the wishes of the Israeli public. It is after all the civilians on both sides who will bear the brunt of this dangerous folly.”

Other sources indicate the planning of Israel’s attack on Gaza occurred over several months, so it’s fair to assume the Israeli incursion provocation in November formed part of the strategy to exonerate the Zionist enterprise from blame.


Israel is refusing any truce with Hamas
and has foreshadowed weeks more collective punishment. Does this mean its government believes its propaganda campaign is working and they can continue to bomb Gaza with impunity, with little to no censure from the international community?

What does Israel really hope to achieve with its abominable slaughter and destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure?

In an excellent dissection of the issues, Hugo Foster discusses the counter-productivity of Israel’s attack on Gaza:

The assumption that hurting Palestinian civilians, either through air strikes or through starvation and power cuts, will make them rebel against their leaders is farcical. Hamas is a religious nationalist movement that above all aspires to defend Palestinian land and security, something that the majority of Gazans believe is worthwhile. This has been shown to be so time and time again.

The EU, France, Russia, UN and belatedly Britain have condemned the ongoing air strikes. But the US, the one power with any real hold over Israel, has shamefully refused to follow suit, urging Israel simply to avoid civilian casualties. As one Jerusalem Post commentator writes, ‘The [US] State Department’s reaction seemed to be a repetition of the one we heard two years ago [regarding the July war in Lebanon], but with Hamas replacing Hezbollah and Gaza standing in for Lebanon: the war is Hamas’s fault, Hamas should stop shelling Israel with rockets, Hamas is a terror organization, the people of Gaza are suffering because of Hamas’.

This kind of nonsense, in ignoring the true dynamics of the Arab-Israeli conflict, will in the long run do nothing for Israelis or Palestinians. Our leaders should remember that most of Gaza’s inhabitants are children of refugees, the sad legacy of protracted conflict in the Middle East, and a reminder that all attempts to date to produce a military solution to the Palestinian question have fundamentally failed. And any government not yet convinced as to just how explosive the issue of Palestine is across the Middle East need only look at the ripples of civil unrest reported in just about every capital city in the region in the last three days.

Nir Rosen describes the counter-productive consequences of Israel’s hideous, masochistic strategy:

The democratically elected Hamas government was targeted for destruction from the day it won the elections in 2006. The world told the Palestinians that they cannot have democracy, as if the goal was to radicalise them further and as if that would not have a consequence. Israel claims it is targeting Hamas’s military forces. This is not true. It is targeting Palestinian police forces and killing them, including some such as the chief of police, Tawfiq Jaber, who was actually a former Fatah official who stayed on in his post after Hamas took control of Gaza. What will happen to a society with no security forces? What do the Israelis expect to happen when forces more radical than Hamas gain power?

A Zionist Israel is not a viable long-term project and Israeli settlements, land expropriation and separation barriers have long since made a two state solution impossible. There can be only one state in historic Palestine. In coming decades, Israelis will be confronted with two options. Will they peacefully transition towards an equal society, where Palestinians are given the same rights, à la post-apartheid South Africa? Or will they continue to view democracy as a threat? If so, one of the peoples will be forced to leave. Colonialism has only worked when most of the natives have been exterminated. But often, as in occupied Algeria, it is the settlers who flee. Eventually, the Palestinians will not be willing to compromise and seek one state for both people. Does the world want to further radicalise them?

In the Independent, Robert Fisk makes some comparisons between Israel’s atrocities in Gaza and British responses to the IRA:

We hear the usual Israeli line. General Yaakov Amidror, the former head of the Israeli army’s “research and assessment division” announced that “no country in the world would allow its citizens to be made the target of rocket attacks without taking vigorous steps to defend them”. Quite so. But when the IRA were firing mortars over the border into Northern Ireland, when their guerrillas were crossing from the Republic to attack police stations and Protestants, did Britain unleash the RAF on the Irish Republic? Did the RAF bomb churches and tankers and police stations and zap 300 civilians to teach the Irish a lesson? No, it did not. Because the world would have seen it as criminal behaviour. We didn’t want to lower ourselves to the IRA’s level.

Yes, Israel deserves security. But these bloodbaths will not bring it. Not since 1948 have air raids protected Israel. Israel has bombed Lebanon thousands of times since 1975 and not one has eliminated “terrorism”. So what was the reaction last night? The Israelis threaten ground attacks. Hamas waits for another battle. Our Western politicians crouch in their funk holes. And somewhere to the east – in a cave? a basement? on a mountainside? – a well-known man in a turban smiles.

The plight of the Gazan people inflicted by the 18 month long blockade and the perfidy of exceptionalist Israeli propaganda is further highlighted in the video below.

Israel’s water theft

Mohammad Ghamlush, “the engineer heading the Wazzani river pumping systems, told Agence France Presse the Israeli army sabotaged the water pumps on the river last week and installed a pipe to pump hundreds of cubic meters to Israel.”

He said the Israeli army has installed two water pumps to transport water from the Wazzani river through two pipes, which run toward villages in Israel.

Ghamlush said the Israelis were pumping every day between 200 and 300 cubic meters of water from the Wazzani to Ghajar and to Israeli villages.

As for water stolen from the West Bank, there’s plenty of evidence for that. It is illegal under international law to retain land captured by warfare. Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Shebaa Farms and Golan Heights is illegal whilst resisting the Israeli occupation is legal.

Of course, Israel doesn’t give two hoots about international law.

“However, soon afterward, the Israelis launched an unrelated attack on a West Bank Jordanian village, killing 53 people which came to be known as the Kibya massacre. As a result of the ensuing furor, on October 18, 1953, the Eisenhower administration made public its cutoff of aid to Israel. Eleven days later, under the pressure from the U.S. Zionist lobby and a pledge by Israel to suspend work on the diversion project, U.S. aid was resumed. (Taking Sides: America’s Secret Relations with a Militant Israel, by Stephen Green, William Morrow and Co., N.Y. 1984. “The 1953 Aid Cutoff: A Parable for Our Times,” pp. 76- 93.)

Israeli work on diverting the water of the Jordan River was only temporarily suspended — perhaps for as long as two years. By 1960, however, the diversion project — which came to be known as the National Water Carrier — was complete and in fact was the target of the PLO’s first (and unsuccessful) attack in 1964.

Jordan and Syria strongly protested Israel’s unilateral appropriation of their water because Israel’s diversion made local agricultural activity impossible.

Before the Israeli diversion, the U.S. plan apportioned 33% of Jordan River water for Israel’s use. As Stephen Green points out, the significance of this figure is that only 23% of the flow of the Jordan River originates in Israel. The Israelis, however, wanted more than 33%. Today, Israel takes virtually all of the Jordan River flow leaving only brackish, unusable water for the Syrians and Jordanians. Moreover, Israel’s diversion of the Jordan River water to the Mediterranean littoral and to the Negev, defies an important principle of international law regarding water use; namely that water should not be diverted from its catchment basin.”

“When Israel conquered the Golan Heights, they captured the headwaters of the Jordan and thus secured for themselves the greatest part of the flow of the Jordan River. Israel captured the final portion of the Jordan River flow in their 1982 invasion of Lebanon when they included as part of their self-declared “security zone” the Hasbani and Wazzani Rivers which arise in Lebanon and flow into the Jordan.”

“West Bank water not only makes up 30% of the water in Tel Aviv households but also is critical to preserving the pressure balance which keeps the salt water of the Mediterranean from invading the coastal aquifers.

Israel has permitted no new drilling of agricultural wells for water for the Palestinians in the territories and has permitted fewer than a dozen for domestic use. Moreover, the Israelis charge the Palestinians fees that are three times higher than they charge Israelis for water for domestic use (with even higher relative charges in Gaza).

As Sharif Elmusa points out: “[I]n terms of relative GNP per capita, Palestinians pay a minimum of fifteen times more than Israeli consumers — a phenomenal difference for water systems managed by the same company.” (“Dividing the Common Palestinian-Israeli Waters: An International Water Law Approach” in Journal of Palestine Studies, Spring 1993, No. 87, p. 63. See also note 11, p. 74.) ”

Here’s more history of Israel’s theft of water from the Jordan and the disastrous consequences.

“The main flow of the Jordan River has now been all but totally preempted by Israel’s diversions. All the headwaters’ flow is now collected by Israel and pumped out of the Jordan Basin, across the mountains, for use in irrigation or municipal water along the Mediterranean littoral of Israel.

The planning for diverting the Jordan River water by the Israelis started as early as the 1940s, but the very idea of capturing it is even more ancient. Much of the design of the civil works for capturing the Jordan River was completed in the 1950s, and they succeeded in diverting the entire volume of sweet water from the Upper Jordan by the late 1960s, when construction of the National Water Carrier system was completed. Pumps lift Jordan River water out of Lake Tiberias, also known as the Sea of Galilee, and convey it across the watershed. The diverted flow is then pumped to Israeli consumers on the Mediterranean coast and down into the northern Negev.”

“To make things even more difficult, there is another source of extra-boundary water that Israel diverts for its own use, albeit less obviously. The amount of water that Israel take from the underground of the West Bank is almost as important as the water diverted from the Upper Jordan Valley. This could surprise as the West Bank appears to be quite dry much of the year. In fact it receives more rain than the coastal plain, mostly in wintertime. As the soil is extremely porous much goes into the ground and thus into the aquifers underneath which is now pumped by the Israelis. This subsurface flow of water is a major contributor to Israel’s water balance, representing with its 400 mcm/y of water just over 20% of total Israeli consumption. This explains why Palestinians have not been allowed to dig new wells since 1967 and why their water consumption was constantly restricted by the occupier: the hegemony over the West Bank is critical for Israel’s water supply.”

The Wazzani River is in Lebanon.

Not Israel. Israel may think it owns all the water in the region, but it doesn’t.

“Withdrawing from some villages, the Israeli forces redeployed to other areas leaving behind them a trail of destruction, such as in Labbouneh, whose trees and horticulture have been totally destroyed by bulldozers. In addition, convoys of Israeli trucks are transporting Lebanese agricultural soil over the border to Israeli settlements and Israeli soldiers are building a water duct to carry water from the Wazzani river to Israel. The deployment of Lebanese and UNIFIL forces is being hampered by Israel’s refusal to hand over the maps indicating the land mines they planted prior to their withdrawal in 2000 and the cluster bombs they dropped on Lebanese sites during the last three days of the recent war. Moreover, reports about Israeli commando operations shifting the border away from the Blue Line into Lebanese territory have prompted the Lebanese government to file a complaint with the United Nations under the new regulations set up by Resolution 1701 which is supposed to safeguard Lebanon against violations of its territory.”

And more:

There are no bilateral water agreements between Lebanon and Israel, but both states are bound by the UN Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses, which has NOT been formally ratified. It must be noted that even this convention does NOT give Israel the right to actually draw water from within Lebanese territory. It merely puts a loose restriction on Lebanon in its usage of international watercourses that have downflow across the boundary. The Convention merely says that the state from which the watercourse flows should make sure to use the water source on its territory in a reasonable manner. This does NOT mean that Israel has the right to extend pipes across its boundary and pump water into Israel!!! Such a thing would fall under a bilateral agreement, which does NOT exist between Lebanon and Israel. Water diversion from the territory of one country by a foreign country is illegal under international law.

In fact, Israel’s occupation of Al-Ghajar and theft of water is merely a measure of revenge at a Lebanese project that dates a few years back, in which the Wazzani waters were to be put into use as part of a project to provide water to south Lebanese villages with no water access (a perfectly legitimate, legal project), and over which Israel was throwing a tantrum. It also explains why Israel has been pressuring Lebanon for the past 3 decades to initiate economic ties with it. This would basically mean the beginning of bilateral agreements, of which water is deemed to be an inseparable part. Direct access to these water sources would ensure that Israel would cover at least 40% of its water needs, not taking into account the Litani.

Between 1982 and 2000 Israel was pumping water OUT of Lebanon. Actually there is a very interesting study on this, I think done by the Lebanese ministry of energy & water, in the form of a booklet, but I think it’s only available in Arabic (a colleague once showed it to me, but I have not been able to get my hands on it). Throughout the occupation, the government in Beirut was prevented from having access to the water in the occupied south, while Israel pumped millions of cubic meters of water into Israel. From 1978 (Operation Litani) onwards, Israel stopped publishing full water and cultivation figures. Instead, only loose estimates were made available. As a counter-proposal to the Johnston plan for an agreement on the allocation of water sources to Arab countries and Israel, Israel proposed the diversion of the waters of the Litani (which does not feed any of the water sources inside Israel). Of course, the Johnston proposal was in itself inherently racist, and though its aspirations were high on resolving water conflict in the M.E as a precedent to political settlement, it nevertheless was a big failure not merely technically but also theoretically, in that it did not look at the core sources of the conflict (dispossession and colonization), but rather focused entirely on arriving to an artificial solution (settling the Palestinians in the Sinai desert). If you can, you should check out an article by John K. Cooley titled ‘The War over Water’, in the journal Foreign Policy, No. 54. (Spring, 1984), pp. 3-26.

For example, the article points out that when they captured the dam and lake at Qirawn in June 1982 the Israelis immediately seized all the hydrographic charts and technical documents relating to the Litani and its installations. The Israelis were openly augmenting the flow of the Hasbani across the frontier into Israel by laying surface pipes to catch the run-off and other waters from the mountains and nearby springs. Moreover, a watchful American military observer claims to have seen Israelis burying pipes deep in a hillside near Marjâuyn [Marjaâayoun] after the Israeli incursion of 1978, indicating that the Israelis might be secretly siphoning water underground from the Marj Plain in southern Lebanon into Israel, without affecting the measured flow of the Litani. Such a diversion would trap the extensive underground aquifer, which is fed by seepage from both the Litani and the Hasbani rivers and by underground streams from the Mount Hermon region. [S]eismic soundings and surveys had been conducted at a spot on the Litani gorges called Deir Mimas – soundings that Lebanese Litani River Authority officials were certain had been undertaken to find the optimum place for the inlet of a diversion tunnel to be dug about three miles into Israel (p. 22-23).

Another interesting read is an article titled ‘Israel’s Water Policies’, by Uri Davis, Antonia E. L. Maks, and John Richardson, which appeared in the Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 9, No. 2. (Winter, 1980), pp. 3-31.”

And yet more:

According to a United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, Israel was using water from the Lebanese Litani River, by means of an 11 mile tunnel it had drilled, as well as from Lebanons Wazzani springs (source: UPI). Note that no journalists can get to the area to confirm information about the siphoning of water and, indeed, such claims are contested (Aaron Wolf, in a U.N. publication, says there’s no way Israel would dream of stealing from the Litani).

But even whilst President Clinton and the Israeli government refused to negotiate over the right of return for Palestinian refugees, Israel imported over 100,000 Jews into the occupied West Bank. Those 100,000 use around the same amount of water that one million Palestinians do (something to do with swimming pools, say partisan analysts). As the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs says:

“Israel’s water economy is on the brink of a crisis.”

Related Links

“No Peace Without Water” – The Role of Hydropolitics in the Israel-Palestine Conflict