Wednesday, April 6, 2005


Comments why the "Israeli left" did not demonstrate in favour of Gaza disengagement

I publish an excerpt from by Israeli lawyer Ada Ravon, 20 March, 2005

You made a passing reference to the rationale of the Left that stayed away from the square in your opinion, and in the process you accorded them the distinction of failing to understand the greatness of the moment of “dismantling settlements.” You did not contend with the – in my opinion correct – claim that there is no historical moment here. The Right, including Begin himself, has always conceded the Gaza Strip [they have already left it countless times, by the way; and each time they stand at its gates watching its passageways and cruelly and highhandedly controlling its entrances and its internal goings-on], and even all of Sinai with all the settlements that were in that territory, in exchange for what they wanted: the annexation of most of the West Bank. Thus in terms of historical facts you and all those who claim a historical moment are being imprecise, and to my dismay you are falling into a trap in which you help Sharon perpetuate the occupation. Everyone who has eyes and who sees objectively and independently and precisely, sees that Sharon and his friends have no real intention of reaching an agreement or even the beginning of one with the Palestinians. Today they are the happiest of people: both the Right and the Centre of the map are playing the game and helping Sharon the “go-getter” to realize the annexation of lands in the West Bank, inhabited by Palestinians unable to defend their rights or their existence. .....

3) A third report that is an additional example is the government’s decision regarding the Sasson Report – a decision that is essentially – regarding what is in it, and no less important, what is not in it – a call to set up more outposts, because now it is clear for all to see that they are all in fact creatures of the government, and there is no intention to bring to justice those who have trampled the law underfoot after the truth was exposed, which is that they were always coming at the behest of the executive branch and the Prime Minister! The decision passed without any commotion or opposition from the representatives of Labour, except for the vote of Dalia Itzik – the heroine of the day as far as I am concerned, a real heroine under these circumstances. Today, Sunday [20 March 2005] in the morning it was reported in Haaretz newspaper that satellite photos “revealed” that the outposts were being built incessantly, and their has been no pause in their development – despite the “commotion” of the Sasson Report.

4) The reports from Mahsomwatch and Betselem on what is being done in the Occupied Territories – a terrible escalation of what is being done in the villages. The fundamental abusiveness and the routine and incessant acts of cruelty and dispossession of the occupation, moved from the “official” checkpoints – the ones visible to Israeli and foreign eyes and exposed to media coverage – regarding the numbers and placement of which the IDF is deceptive – to the unfortunate and isolated villages, far from view, hungry for bread and subsisting as a collection of gulags on the edge of survival, with all that this situation implies.

5) The reports of Friday (18 March) in reply to Bush’s announcement that a Palestinian state will require territorial contiguity, on Israel’s plans to dig underground tunnels that will link the different parts of the Palestinian bantustan. The next stage will be to set up the entire Palestinian state underground, to let them leave it for the light of day only to go to work with – Shabak permission – and immediately to go back into the ground. This will achieve several goals: the Palestinian state will respond to the demand made of Sharon that it be “contiguous”, the Palestinians will be under complete control, they will be able to work for us, and most important, they will be removed from the eyes of Israelis and foreigners who will not see or feel their suffering.

Another interesting article which is closely related,, The law of the land grab, By Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank

Whenever Israeli actions in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip are criticised by the international community, state officials readily evoke the defensive mantra that Israel is a democracy and a law-abiding country.

However, Palestinians, human rights activists, including London-based Amnesty International do not buy this argument, dismissing it as deceptive. They contend that when it comes to the occupied territories, the authority of the law in Israel is effectively subservient to the requirements of the occupation. Manifestly illegal acts, such as house demolitions, civilian deportations and the confiscation of privately owned land, are rendered legal by the issuing of a military order. Such orders enable the army to carry out the originally illegal act “in accordance with the law”. Mahmud Nammura, a human rights activist from the town of Dura near Hebron, has ample experience of the Israeli justice system. He says the laws Israel applies in the occupied territories are “inherently incompatible with even most elementary elements of justice”.

“Of course Israel claims it follows the rule of law. The question is: what law? It is the occupier’s law that is designed to torment the Palestinians, persecute and dispossess them of their land and property. The Nazis also claimed they did everything according to the law.” Nammura, whose home and small library were dynamited last year without him being informed in advance as a punishment for his two sons’ involvement in the Intifada, says the problem with Israeli laws, particularly those pertaining to non-Jews, is that they are racist and devoid of justice.

He gives the example of home demolitions, a sinister and routine form of punishment, meted out to Palestinian civilians.

“Where on earth is a person punished for a crime he or she has not committed? Here, in the so-called only democracy in the Middle East. Innocent people, including children, babies and old men and women are tormented and tortured because a grown-up member of the family threw a stone at an Israeli tank or was involved with the resistance. “When Israeli troops come before dawn to demolish the family home of a Palestinian detainee, without giving the family even five minutes to save their belongings and furniture, they are punishing not the culprits but the innocents.”

According to Nammura, the Israeli justice system is used as a “rubber stamp” in the hands of the occupation army for the purpose of tormenting Palestinians.

According to Israeli military law, the family home of a Palestinian detainee cannot be destroyed before the detainee is sentenced by the military court and granted the opportunity to appeal against the sentence. In Nammura’s case, however, his home was dynamited before a court judgment was issued, leaving Nammura unable to appeal a non-existent court sentence.

“A large force arrived at our home at dawn,” says Nammura. “They told us they wanted to blow up our home and that we had five minutes to leave. I asked them if they had a court order to destroy the home. The commanding officer said: ‘I am the law.’” “I told him: ‘You are the most honest Israeli I have ever met in my life. You are telling the truth. You are the law.’”

A historian, Nammura, argues that the Israeli army is “worse than the Nazis”. “History’s worst occupiers didn’t do what the Israelis are doing to us. When the Nazis occupied Paris, they forced the French to do certain work for the army, but they didn’t destroy the homes of French citizens; they didn’t confiscate the private property of the French like Israel is doing in Palestine.”

Ada Ravon is an Israeli lawyer dealing with, among other things, the Israeli occupation army’s violations of Palestinian rights in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. She told whenever it came to the Palestinians, the rule of law (and the law itself) became “utterly emasculated”. “The occupation itself is illegal. The rest is details,” she says.

“Israel knows that what it is doing is blatantly illegal, but it does it nevertheless.” When pressed to explain why the Israeli justice system allowed blatantly illegal activities, such as building “illegal settlements on private Arab land,” Ravon says: “In dealing with the Palestinians, Israel stops acting as a law-abiding country. That is the crux of the matter.”

In addition to “legalising” the oppression of the Palestinians, apparently in order to make their daily life unbearable and force them to immigrate, Israel applies two sets of laws in the West Bank, one for Jews and the other for non-Jews.

According to Yusuf Rabai, a prominent Palestinian lawyer in the Hebron region, Israel uses “anachronistic and draconian laws” dating back to the British mandate era. “They select the harshest and most unjust laws and apply them to the Palestinians. If they find that these laws are not sufficiently oppressive, they issue additional military orders to inflict maximum suffering on the Palestinians.”

Rabai points out that the discriminatory nature of the Israeli justice system is conspicuous in preventing Palestinians from building homes in the vicinity of Israeli settlements. “What they are saying is that only Jews have the right to build on “meiri” or state land. If a Palestinian builds a home on his own land near a settlement, the house is demolished. “Sometimes they claim that the land doesn’t belong to him. But when he produces a land deed, they claim he can’t build for unspecified security reasons. In the final analysis, everyone knows it comes down to the real thing, namely that he is not a Jew. “And they call themselves the only democracy in the Middle East.”


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