While watching the media reports today on the killing of two Israelis
Ramallah and subsequent 3-hour-long Israeli rocket attack on the
town, I was amazed at the capacity for the free transmission of
misinformation, unchallenged and unexplored by journalists.
The issue in question concerns the identity of the two Israeli soldiers
captured and killed by Palestinians, including Palestinian policemen, in
Ramallah Police Station this morning.
The main spin on these two soldiers was that they were innocent reservists
who "took a wrong turn into Ramallah". This was widely reported by all the
international and Israeli media, including the liberal Israeli newspaper,
"After mistakenly entering Ramallah, two Israeli reserve duty soldiers
killed Thursday by a Palestinian mob that stormed the Palestinian police
station where they were being held. Traveling in a car carrying an Israeli
license plate, the reservists inadvertently entered Ramallah, passed an IDF
checkpoint and arrived at a Palestinian police checkpoint. The Palestinian
police then took the soldiers to the Ramallah police station. After word
spread of their presence there, a mob assembled outside which later stormed
the police station and killed the two soldiers, probably with the
of Palestinian policemen. The bodies of the two soldiers were later handed
over to Israel."
The reason that this is important is that Israeli undercover units have
infiltrating Palestinian towns for the last few weeks and assassinating
Palestinians. These "undercover units" -- we would call them 'death squads'
in other countries -- usually travel around in Palestinian cars, dressed
An Associated Press image of one of the captured soldiers appears to
these Palestinian claims up, showing the soldier wearing a Palestinian
and plain, not military clothes:
Ramallah has had Israeli checkpoints set up around the entrances to
for one week now, and the town is clearly marked with large red street
written in Hebrew that warn drivers they are about to enter Ramallah. These
factors would additionally seem to make an accidental entry unlikely.
Palestinians have been frightened to go out on deserted streets at night
fear of attack from undercover units, and have additionally been besieged
for the last five days in their homes while Jewish settlers have committed
acts of violence against them and their property.
Israel's main reason to spin this would be to portray the Palestinians
blood-thirsty mob that won't excuse an accidental wrong turn, rather than a
people that have killed and injured in unprecidented numbers for the last
two weeks by soldiers exactly like the ones they got their hands on.
There have been widespread reports of settlers shooting at school children
on their way home, burning Palestinian homes, cars and agricultural fields,
and doing all of this under the protection of the Israeli "Defence" Forces,
who only stepped in to themselves shoot at Palestinians in many of the
incidents, if the Palestinians dared to retaliate.
During the clashes that started on 29 September, 3 Israeli soldiers
killed and 200 injured according to Shimon Peres, speaking on British TV
tonight. Meanwhile 100 Palestinians have been killed and 4,000 injured, the
majority of which were children, the majority with live ammunition.
To be sure, there have been Israelis killed during these last weeks
death is never pretty, but the vastly disproportionate numbers speak of a
different reality than the media mantra of "Palestinian violence" has
Where is this all going?
Israel/Palestine is a small country, about the size of the US state
Massachusetts, and the removal of Palestinians from historic Palestine has
long been part of the Israeli political repertoire. It was official state
policy during the years of the establishment of Israel.
And that's not just history. These last two weeks we have seen that
state army is going to stand by and do nothing (at best) or join in (at
worst) with settlers committing what can only be described as "pograms"
against Palestinians. Tonight these continue in Hebron.
What I believed was going to take place since seeing the way that the
September 1996 Clashes played out first hand -- and what I believe we are
witnessing in the media at present -- is the beginning of a balloon debate
that Israel is pushing for and that Israeli is intent on winning.
Today's events were a chilling glimpse into a future where Israel finishes
what it started in 1948 when it turned almost a million Palestinians into
refugees by spreading terror with the tool of massacres. There's nothing
like the threat of extinction to clear out a country. That's how this whole
mess started and today's events should give us a big clue of where it could
I mean go look at the Israeli Foreign Ministry website. The murder of
cowering child Mohammed al-Dura and the serious injury of his father is
explained, with annotated pictures no less, as mere "crossfire".
The bullet hits that clearly registered on the wall around the father
son in a tight radius spoke rather of a much darker reality where children
are targeted by soldiers taught to devalue life stamped "Arab".
The kind of reality that makes you want to bludgeon captured enemy soldiers
The Israelis' apportioning of blame for today's rocket attacks on the
Palestinians, was sickening. As one Palestinian friend, Ali Abunimah
(http://www.abunimah.org) put it, "These are the lies of sick people, who
stand on top of piles of bodies when they make [these] shameless
declarations to the world."
In a balloon debate, the losing side is thown out of the basket. Despite
best attempts to work for, and our wishes for another type of resolution to
this conflict, let's not be surprised if the situation goes terminal.
Consider that just 50 years ago, Palestinians were living throughout
historic Palestine, owning land, making business, eating, drinking,
and giving in marriage.
Despite suffering half a century of subsequent dispossession, they still
came to the table at Oslo to negotiate for what they imagined would be
long-stated goal, a state in the West Bank and Gaza, with Jerusalem as it's
capital (probably shared).
Compromise doesn't come any more clearerly defined than that. Seven
later, they are still seeing their land confiscated, they still get
and tortured (now by two, not just one, governments), they still have to
queue up for seldom-granted permits for any movement, and they still live
the mercy of small bands of violent, racist settlers implanted around their
towns or -- in the case of Hebron -- in their midst.
Call me obvious, but that doesn't really make you think that the Israelis
ever really intended to seek peace. This speaks to me more of their
construction of what appeared to be a "peace process" for the purposes of
being able to carry on business as usual without the international
that had characterised their history.
I'll close with an account of the clashes today from Ramallah and a
of what continues to take place on the ground across the country. It's been
a long day for many people today and this report will give you a pretty
idea of how long long can be.
Adam Hanieh and Hanan Elmasu from Palestinian human rights organisation
Addameer reported the following from the Palestian West Bank town of
Ramallah, which was under rocket attack today from Israeli Cobra attack
The Addameer office was evacuated prior to the attack and its Web server
(including the local site of the September 2000 Clashes Information Center)
and e-mail server are currently down.
LSN : LIVING STONES NETWORK
An informal network of friends and supporters of the indigenous Palestinian
Christian community drawn from Friends of Sebeel UK, the Amos Trust and
the Living Stones of the Holy Land Trust.