Collective punishment, collective guilt

Once again, Israel uses its grotesquely disproportionate US funded weaponry to wantonly slaughter Palestinians. About 100 people were obliterated this time, including 19 children.

Israeli commandant, Barak, foreshadowed an increase in military extermination operations in Gaza in order to bring down the democratically elected Hamas government. Ugly threats mean ugly responses including increased radicalisation, not less, against your apartheid state, Ehud.

From Gush Shalom:

This is not a conflict between two equal forces. The most powerful army in the Middle East, backed by the world’s single remaining super-power, is daily using tanks, fighter planes, helicopters and gunships against the lightly-armed militias and overcrowded population of a small area whose people have lived under occupation and in poverty long before the present siege.

Israel

Israel’s expressed intentions:

“We are justified in bombing Palestinian civilians including women and children because Palestinian fighters are using them as human shields.”

Israel’s real intentions:

“Hey you mob, get your fighters to stop fighting us or we will kill you all, women and children included. And we will take more of your land, with any luck, all of it.”

Then, last week Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai threatened the Palestinians with genocide, veering toward the real intentions above:

The more Qassam fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, they will bring upon themselves a bigger shoah because we will use all our might to defend ourselves.

Shoah means Holocaust in Hebrew. It can also mean disaster – either way, Vilnai’s threat is repugnant and arrogant.

Thus does the racist oppressor state use innocent human lives as bargaining chips with the leaders of the Palestinian concentration camp inmates it has tormented for the past 60 years. Jonathan Swift would smile in recognition of their rhetoric.

Israel’s government seems incapable of realising that the more collective injustices it perpetrates against its hapless victims, the more rockets will come. Humans do not submit to oppressors committing heinous acts. They fight until the oppressor is vanquished or a peaceful solution found. With no hope, there is only despair, and nothing to lose by fighting back to the death if necessary. Yet Israel habitually does not recognise Palestinians as human at all, which perhaps explains why its leaders appear unable to grasp these simple truths.

Eissam Younis, director of the Al Mizan Centre for Human Rights in Gaza, said :

the Israeli army was “intentionally and systematically targeting civilians” and criticised world powers for their muted response.

“Israel puts itself above the law because the international community is always silent,” he said.

Tariq Dardouna, a Palestinian resident trapped in his house in east Jabaliya, told Al Jazeera that Israeli forces were targeting civilians.

“The Israeli army opens fire at everything in our area, including children and houses. There are injured children bleeding inside their houses,” Dardouna said.

Following Israel’s genocidal attack on Gaza, the West Bank offices of democratically elected Hamas leader, Ismail Haniya, were destroyed by Israeli plane strikes. Another 5 people were killed. Israhell complained when Abbas cut off negotiations and condemned the attacks.

“It’s very regrettable that what is happening is more than a holocaust,” Abbas told reporters in Ramallah.

“Children who are barely five-months old are being bombed by the Israeli army.”

“We tell the world to see with its own eyes and judge for itself what is happening and who is carrying out international terrorism.”

Perhaps it will be his offices struck next. Then Israel can joyfully proclaim as it has been wont to do in the past that it has noone with which to negotiate, conveniently placing the blame back on its miserable victims.

Barak no doubt is preparing the way to make support for the Zionist uber state and its abominable pogroms a central issue in the United Stupids election where Obama appears to have the lead at present. Barack may be forced to barrack for Barak and Israel’s acts of attrition, or face an uphill battle in the US election.

For peace to come to the Palestinian region, it is essential that the US is led by someone in step with the rest of the international community and who does not favour privileged Israel with its mansions and swimming pools over the needs of those whom it oppresses and from whom it has stolen and continues to steal, with the pallid, erroneous excuse that Israel is the only democracy of the region.

Israel heading for Iran

Bush to visit apartheid state

Bush’s upcoming visit to Israel is unlikely to stimulate any relief for the collectively punished, long-suffering Palestinians, despite vague waffle by Olmert on illegal settlement evacuations. Israel has a political half nelson on the US, who are blinkered by pro-Israeli propaganda, who do not realise or do not care that they are co-conspirators in war crimes and heinous human rights abuses. For the uneducated, the Israelis are always the good guys and the Palestinians the bad. Nor do any of the Democrat presidential candidates offer any hope for change. The Israel First Zionist lobby is too strong – to speak of justice for Palestine would be electoral suicide. Why the presidential hopefuls speak of Israel as a democracy is mystifying – perhaps it is a reflection of the lack of real democracy in a country primarily driven and controlled by big money lobbies and corporations.

Jonathan Cook analyses the Barak Oslo offers and makes some chilling conclusions about Olmert’s present political plans toward those hapless people the apartheid State of Israel currently occupies and from whom it blithely and cynically continues to steal land:

In truth, Israel’s need for recognition as a Jewish state is proof that it is not a democratic state, but rather an ethnic state that needs to defend racist privilege through the gerrymandering of borders and population. But in practice Olmert may yet use the recognition test to back Abbas, a weak and unrepresentative Palestinian leader, into the very corner that Arafat avoided.

Before Annapolis, Livni declared: “It must be clear to everyone that the State of Israel is a national homeland for the Jewish people,” adding that Israel’s Palestinian citizens would have to abandon their claim for equality the moment the Palestinian leadership agreed to statehood on Israel’s terms.

Olmert framed the Annapolis negotiations in much the same way. It was about creating two nations, he said: “the State of Israel — the nation of the Jewish people; and the Palestinian state — the nation of the Palestinian people.”

The great fear, Olmert has repeatedly pointed out, is that the Palestinians may wake up one day and realize that, after the disappointments of Oslo and Camp David, Israel will never concede to them viable statehood. The better course, they may decide, is a South African-style struggle for one-person, one-vote in a single democratic state.

Olmert warned of this threat on another recent occasion: “The choice … is between a Jewish state on part of the Land of Israel, and a binational state on all of the Land of Israel.”

Faced with this danger, Olmert, like Sharon and Barak before him, has come to appreciate that Israel urgently needs to persuade Abbas to sign up to the two-state option. Not, of course, for two democratic, or even viable, states, but for a racist Jewish state alongside a Palestinian ghetto-state.

With Bush also wanting a two state solution by the end of his disastrous term of office, the future of Palestinians looks as usual, bleak.

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