Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Seven lies that kill – and the truth on Israel , Palestine, Gaza, Fatah , Hamas and the West Bank

The continuing killing in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel can only happen thanks to seven lies which prevent negotiations and allow the killing to go on as long as enough people believe them.

There's an easier to read version of this post with contents links and links to footnoted sources on my website on this link

Lie One : Hamas are merely a terrorist group that took power by force

Condoleezza Rice told the UN Security Council, Hamas is “a terrorist organization” which came to power in Gaza by force. In fact Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections and they, not President Abbas of Fatah, have the power under the Palestinian constitution to form a government. The Israeli campaign aims at overthrowing the elected government, like the US campaign against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua in the 80s (1)– (8).

Fatah forces backed by the US, Israel and Egypt, attempted a coup in late 2007, after Israel refused to lift sanctions on a Fatah-Hamas coalition government. It failed in Gaza but succeeded in the West Bank (9) (10), (11), (12).

Another part of this lie is that Hamas members are all armed terrorists who aim to kill all non-Muslims. In fact apart from their armed or terrorist wing Hamas are also a political party and run hospitals and schools for Palestinians of all religions and none (13).

Lie Two : Hamas refuse to negotiate with Israel and aims to destroy it

In fact Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Meshal, two of the most senior Hamas leaders, have repeatedly said they could co-exist with Israel if Israel’s government ratified a peace agreement on a Palestinian state in Gaza and most of the West Bank and a majority of Palestinians voted to approve the agreement in a referendum (polls show they would).Haniyeh has also repeatedly offered negotiations with Israel throught 2006, 2007 and 2008 . Hamas leaders are well aware that their machine guns and rockets will never defeat thousands of Israeli tanks, jets, helicopters and artillery units (14) – (20) .

Prime Minister Olmert of Israel has repeatedly refused any negotiations unless Hamas first recognises Israel in its current borders (i.e including the occupied West Bank without any Israeli commitment to recognise a viable Palestinian state in Gaza and most of the West Bank in accordance with UN resolution 242 and others) , gives up violence (which Israel won’t do, even during ceasefires) and abides by the Oslo Accords (which Israel has failed to, continuing to take Palestinian land and destroy Palestinian houses at gunpoint in the West Bank). (14) – (20) .

Lie Three : Israeli forces don’t target civilians

The driver of the U.N. truck died immediately; another worker in the truck died later of his wounds. The truck…in northern Gaza, was marked with the U.N. flag and insignia….We've been coordinating with them (Israeli forces) and yet our staff continue to be hit and killed," said a U.N. spokesman, Chris Gunness...

AP 08 Jan 2009 (24).

In fact Human Rights Watch, the UN, Oxfam, Amnesty international, the ICRC and Israeli human rights group B’T Selem have reported Israeli forces killing civilians including aid workers and ambulance crews in clearly marked ambulances and UN trucks and buildings; bombing the houses of Hamas leaders, killing their families and children with them – and using Palestinian civilians as human shields, as in past wars. So deliberate targeting of civilians has been at least as big a factor as much as “collateral damage” in killing over 250 women and children in Gaza and certainly many more adult male civilians along with Hamas rocket teams and gunmen (21) – (44) .

Comparisons with Hezbollah’s use of human shields supposedly causing civilian deaths in Lebanon in2006 have been rife. The trouble with that is that Human Rights Watch investigations found that wasn’t the cause of most of the civilian deaths in Lebanon.

“Israeli forces have systematically failed to distinguish between combatants and civilians in their military campaign against Hezbollah in Lebanon, Human Rights Watch said …The pattern of attacks in more than 20 cases investigated by Human Rights Watch researchers in Lebanon indicates that the failures cannot be dismissed as mere accidents and cannot be blamed on wrongful Hezbollah practices. In some cases, these attacks constitute war crimes.”(45).

Most civilian deaths in Gaza now and in past Israeli wars are similarly caused by Israeli forces targeting civilians along with combatants as sources (21) to (45) show.

Lie Four : Military action reduces deaths from terrorist attacks and can weaken or destroy extremist groups

As with every previous military strike attacks on Israeli civilians have increased since the offensive began. The Israeli foreign ministry’s website shows one Israeli was been killed by rocket attacks by Palestinian groups firing from Gaza in the six months before the offensive (partly the result of the Israeli blockade and its violation of a ceasefire agreement by bombings killing Hamas members and civilians on November 5th). It three Israeli civilians killed by Palestinian rocket fire in the 18 days since the offensive began (46) , (47), (48).

As for “destroying” or “weakening” Hamas are there really people with decades of experience in the Israeli military and government who could have failed so completely to learn from experience as to believe bombing and shelling can do this?

Hezbollah didn’t even exist before Israel invaded and occupied Lebanon in 1982. Over the subsequent two decades of occupation it grew stronger thanks to Israeli military torture, killings of civilians and backing of nationalist militias against Hezbollah (much like its current backing of Fatah’s armed wing against Hamas in a similar strategy of divide and conquer ) (49), (50), (51), (52), (53) .

Hamas itself won the 2006 elections partly thanks to Ariel Sharon’s campaign of sanctions, bombing and invasion which attempted to overthrow Arafat’s Fatah government by force, declaring that Fatah were terrorists who couldn’t be negotiated with. That, financial corruption among Fatah’s leaders and their willingness to give information on Hamas to the Israeli military all contributed to their election defeat.

Why do Israeli planners and policy makers believe that Palestinians will give in if their fighters and civilians are killed any more than Israelis would after a suicide bombing?
Did 9-11 make Americans surrender to Al Qaeda? Of course not – it made them rally behind the extreme policies of the Bush administration.

Inflicting extreme suffering on Palestinian civilians in Gaza similarly makes them more likely to join and support extremist groups like Hamas’ armed wing – and if the bombing and sanctions continue maybe Islamic Jihad and Hizb Ut Tahrir, who, unlike Hamas’ political leaders, will make no compromises on talks with or co-existence with Israel.

Lies Five and Six : Israel has abided by the Oslo Accords and There’s Peace in the West Bank

In fact negotiations with President Abbas of Fatah in the West Bank have made no progress, partly because they can’t without Hamas, who got 45% of the vote to Fatah’s 42% in the 2006 elections – and partly because there is no peace in the West Bank because Israeli settlers and the Israeli military are killing Palestinians, destroying their homes and taking their land and water. Fatah have called the continued settlement building “a slap in the face to the Peace Process”. One hundred and thirty-one Palestinians were killed by Israeli settlers in the West Bank in 2008, many as the Israeli army watched and did nothing. Palestinian homes have been bulldozed and Israeli settlements keep expanding and new ones are built. All of the settlers removed from Gaza with such televised wailing and theatrics were given $250,000 compensation each and re-settled on Palestinian land in the West Bank. The barrier wall keeps being built, annexing Palestinian farmland and leaving farmers with nothing (54) – (61).

Israeli forces have also killed unarmed Palestinians in the West Bank who were protesting against the bombing of Gaza (62) – (64).

The Gaza fighting provides a convenient distraction from Israel’s total failure to abide by the terms of the Oslo peace agreements, which called for an end to new settlements or the expansion of existing ones in the West Bank. Failure to sign up to the Oslo agreements is one of the charges levelled at Hamas by Israel and “the international community” (the EU, US, Chinese and Russian governments).

Lie Seven : The Israeli blockade of Gaza lets plenty of supplies in and causes no civilian suffering or deaths

Fifth, that the Israeli blockade of Gaza lets enough supplies in. In fact the UN reports severe shortages and many Palestinians searching rubbish dumps for food (65), (66). In 2007 five Palestinians in Gaza drowned in sewage because Israel wont allow spare parts for sewage treatment plants. The World Bank say a similar crisis now risks killing 10,000 people (67), (68).

What we can do

We simply need to challenge these lies and keep responding to them with the truth every time someone makes one of these claims. Repeating these lies or refusing to challenge them results in more civilian deaths in another war that doesn’t need fought.

(1) = US Department of State 08 Jan 2009, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice ‘Remarks at the UN Security Council Session on the Situation in the Middle East’, ; back

(3rd sentence of 5th paragraph reads ‘Eighteen months ago, Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in a coup’)

(2) = Associated Press 26 Jan 2006 , ‘Hamas Wins Landslide 76 Seats’,

(3) = House of Commons Library Research Paper 06/17 ; 15 Mar 2006 , ‘The Palestinian Parliamentary Election and the rise of Hamas’, (see Section C, page 12 ‘Conduct of the Elections’ – also note the paper mistakenly gives the date of the elections as January 2005 – this must be a typo – the parliamentary elections were a year later)

(4) = Political Risk Monitor – Special Coverage - The January 2006 Palestinian Elections , ‘Palestinian elections: MEPs hail success of democratic process but urge Hamas to take the path of peace’,

(5) = Europa (EU) News Service 27 Jan 2006 ‘Palestinian elections: MEPs hail success of democratic process but urge Hamas to take the path of peace’,

(6) = BBC News 9 Feb 2007 , ‘Palestinian rivals in unity deal’,

(7) = NPR 18 Mar 2007, ‘Israel Rejects Palestinians' Unity Deal’,

(8) = FMEP/Reuters 9 July 2007, ‘Abbas Exceeded Powers in Sacking Government’,

(9) = Haaretz (Israel) 28 Dec 2006 , ‘Israeli defense official: Fatah arms transfer bolsters forces of peace’, ; back

(10) = Christian Science Monitor 25 May 2007, ‘Israel, US, and Egypt back Fatah's fight against Hamas’,

(11) = Guardian 26 Jun 2007, ‘A thankless task with four bosses and no office’,,,2111447,00.html

(12) = Israel Today 18 Jun 2007, ‘Bush to replace arms Fatah surrendered to Hamas’,

(13) = Khaled Hroub (2006) ‘Hamas : A beginner’s guide’ , Pluto Press, London, 2006; >(13)

(14) = Telegraph 09 Feb 2006 ‘Hamas offers deal if Israel pulls out’,
; back

(15) = Guardian 4 Mar 2006 , ‘Hamas says peace possible at Moscow talks’,,,1723217,00.html

(16) = Guardian 22 Jun 2006 ‘Climbdown as Hamas agrees to Israeli state’,,1803184,00.html

(17) = Ynet news (Israel) 22 Dec 2007 ‘Report: Hamas weighing unconditional truce with Israel’,,7340,L-3485394,00.html

(18) = IHT 23 Dec 2007 ‘Israel rejects Hamas request for cease-fire talks’,

(19) 21 April 2008 ‘We can accept Israel as neighbour, says Hamas’,

(20) = Khaled Hroub (2006) ‘Hamas : A beginner’s guide’ , Pluto Press, London, 2006

(21) = Amnesty International 08 Jan 2009 ‘Gaza civilians endangered by the military tactics of both sides’, (2nd paragraph reads ‘“Our sources in Gaza report that Israeli soldiers have entered and taken up positions in a number of Palestinian homes, forcing families to stay in a ground floor room while they use the rest of their house as a military base and sniper position,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme. “This clearly increases the risk to the Palestinian families concerned and means they are effectively being used as human shields.”’) ; Back

(22) = UNoCHA 012 Jan 2009 ‘FIELD UPDATE ON GAZA FROM THE HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR 12 January 2009, 1700 hours’,

Under ‘Protection of Civilians’ on first page reads “The Palestinian Red Crescent Society suspended activities in the Al Zeitoun and Al Atatra regions as of 11 January after their ambulances were exposed to gunfire in those regions (on 9 and 10 January, respectively), injuring two ambulance personnel and damaging one ambulance. The Palestinian

Medical Relief Society reported on 11 January that their two mobile clinics, normally serving more than 42 Gaza communities, have not been operating since 28 December due to insecurity. Twelve medical personnel have been killed since 27 December.

The Palestinian civilian casualty rate continues to increase. Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH) figures as of 1600 hours 12 January are 910 Palestinians dead, of whom 292 are children and 75 are women (correction: 71 as of 11 January). The number of injured stands at 4,250, of whom 1,497 are children and 626 are women.”

(23) = The Herald January 6 2009 ‘‘The killings came as a complete shock’’,

(24) = AP 08 Jan 2009 ‘UN curbs Gaza aid after trucks hit by Israeli fire’, ,
9th paragraph reads “"We've been coordinating with them (Israeli forces) and yet our staff continue to be hit and killed," said a U.N. spokesman, Chris Gunness, announcing the suspension. The U.N. is the largest aid provider in Gaza.” ; Back

(25) = Guardian 02 Jan 2009 ‘Israeli bomb kills Hamas leader and six of his family’,

(26) = IRIN 29 Dec 2008 ‘ISRAEL-OPT: Dire humanitarian situation looms in Gaza’,,
(see under sub-heading ‘Air Strikes’ – ‘"Eight students from Gaza Vocational Training Centre in Gaza City were killed and 20 injured? by an air strike," said UNRWA [UN Palestinian agency for refugees] spokesperson Sami Mshasha. "Two UNRWA teachers were also killed.")


(28) = UNISPAL 06 Jan 2009 ‘Dozens killed in strikes on UN schools in Gaza’,!OpenDocument

(29) = Haaretz 07 Jan 2009 ‘UN rejects IDF claim Gaza militants operated from bombed-out school’, = Oxfam 4 Jan 2009 ‘Gaza: Oxfam supported health worker killed, ambulance destroyed’,

(31) = BBC News Online 23 Feb 2007 , ‘UN envoy hits Israel 'apartheid'’, (UN special rapporteur John Dugard on Palestinian terrorist war crimes and Israeli war crimes)

(32) = UN Human Rights Council 8 Jun 2007 ; Fourth session Item 2 of the provisional agenda ; IMPLEMENTATION OF GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION 60/251 OF 15 MARCH 2006 ENTITLED “HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL” ; ‘Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, John Dugard’, (ditto, Dugard reporting Israeli war crimes against civilians “on a much greater scale” than Palestinian ones)

(33) = UNRWA 10 Dec 2002 ‘Ten killed in Gaza including two UNRWA staff’,

(34) = BBC News 06 Dec 2005 ‘British UN worker unlawfully shot’,

(35) = Jessica Montell, Executive Director of B’Tselem (2004) ‘‘The search for truth: human rights documentation in the war of representation’ In
Humanitarian Exchange Magazine Issue 28 Nov 2004,

(36) = Haaretz (Israel) 12 Oct 2004 ‘IDF admits Qassam was not transported in UN ambulance’,

(37) = UNISPAL/Human Rights Watch 13 Sep 2006 ‘Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories: Don't Fire on Gaza Medics ; Six Attacks on Palestinian Ambulances, Paramedics’,!OpenDocument

(38) = Observer 3 Feb 2002, ‘Hatred sown in a carer's heart',,4348774-102275,00.html

(39) = Guardian 28 Jun 2005, ‘Snipers with children in their sights’,2763,1516362,00.html

(40) = BT’Selem eyewitness testimonies – IDF soldier shoots and kills a 14 year-old boy playing with his friends, in Tubas, north of Nablus, January 2005 - witness Abu Muhsen -

(41) = BT'Selem eyewitness testimonies - IDF soldier shoots and kills a 14 year-old boy playing with his friends, in Tubas, north of Nablus, January 2005 - witness Daragmeh -

(42) = Summerfield, Derek ‘Palestine – The Assault on Health and Other War Crimes’,
British Medical Journal 16 October 2004

(43) = Guardian 6 Sep 2005, ‘Israeli troops say they were given shoot-to-kill order’,,1563476,00.html

(44) = Guardian 6 Sep 2005, ‘Israeli soldiers tell of indiscriminate killings by army and a culture of impunity’,,,1563255,00.html

(45) = Human Rights Watch Aug 2006 ‘Israel/Lebanon: End Indiscriminate Strikes on Civilians’,
; Back

(46) = Israel Foreign Ministry ‘Victims of Palestinian Violence and Terrorism since September 2000’, ; Back

(47) = NYT 19 Dec 2006 ‘Gaza Truce May Be Revived by Necessity’,

(48) = Guardian 05 Nov 2008 ‘Gaza truce broken as Israeli raid kills six Hamas gunmen’,

(49) = BBC News 23 May 2000 ‘Q & A: Leaving Lebanon’, ; Back

(50) = Morris, Benny(1999) ‘Righteous Victims – A History of the Arab Israeli Conflict’ , John Murray, London , 2000 (hardback)edition, Chapter 12 especially pages 552-560

(51) = Time magazine 28 Jun 2006, 'Will Hizballah Go To War for Iran?',,8599,1208916,00.html

(52) = BBC News 25 Jan 2007, 'Who are Hamas?',

(53) = Robert Fisk (1990) ‘Pity the Nation : Lebanon at War’ 3rd edition, OUP, Oxford & NY, 2001

(54) = UNOCHA Dec 2008 ‘Unprotected: Israeli settler violence against Palestinian civilians and their property’, ; (54)

(55) = Amnesty International 11 Mar 2008 ‘Palestinian homes demolished without warning’,

(56) = UN radio 11 Mar 2008 ‘UN envoy alarmed at Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes’,

(57) = Independent 10 Mar 2008 ‘Israel defies freeze on illegal settlements’,

(58) = BBC News 02 Mar 2004 ‘Israeli settlement building grows’,

(59) = BBC News 27 Dec 2006 ‘Israel approves W Bank settlement’,

(60) = Guardian 06 Dec 2008 ‘Footage shows settlers shooting two Palestinians’,

(61) = Also see sources at the bottom of this page

(62) = Reuters 4 Jan 2009 ‘Israeli soldiers kill Palestinian WBank protester’, ; Back

(63) = AP 03 Jan 2009 ‘Worldwide protests staged against Israel's offensive in Gaza’'Protests%20against%20Gaza%20assault%20sweep%20the%20Mideast'&dyn_server= – “Protests erupted as well in the Palestinian territories. In the West Bank city of Ramallah, thousands demonstrated in solidarity with Gazans, calling for Palestinian unity and accusing Arab leaders of silence over Israel's bombardment”

(64) = The Herald January 6 2009 ‘‘The killings came as a complete shock’’,

(65) = UN 29 Dec 2008 ‘PRESS CONFERENCE on situation in gaza’,
(4th paragraph includes ‘Because of the blockade that had been in place for months and the recent tightening of that blockade, the stocks of some vital items were very low or non-existent. Today, however, around 60 truckloads of goods had been allowed in, including 4 trucks of medical supplies for UNRWA and 18 trucks of food supplies for UNRWA and the World Food Programme (WFP). UNRWA needed about 100 trucks of wheat flour a day’) ; Back

(66) = Observer 21 Dec 2008 ‘Israeli blockade 'forces Palestinians to search rubbish dumps for food'’,

(67) = Times 27 Mar 2007 ‘Five dead in Gaza 'sewage tsunami'
; Back

(68) = AFP 07 Jan 2008 ‘Threats to Gaza sewage put 10,000 lives at risk: World Bank’

copyright©Duncan McFarlane2008

No comments: