The Roots of Israeli Barbarism

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The Roots of Israeli Barbarism

The roots of Israeli barbarism

Saturday, March 08, 2008

We have heard from people like UN Special Rapporteur John Dugard, who says that the Zionist regime is worse than apartheid. The Israeli historian Ilan Pappe now argues that Israel is pursuing a genocidal policy in Gaza. The Israeli government’s open threats of ethnic cleansing and mass violence in civilian areas alongside the repeated sieges, the imposed starvation, the mass imprisonment and the killings, coupled with a deep-rooted perception of Palestinians as a ‘demographic threat’ and, well, everything else, could be seen as adding weight to this view. But if the Israeli strategy is genocidal, this is the latest degenerate stage in an ongoing counterinsurgency war, the character of which is not well understood even by our own gluttonously free press. Well, this is what can be said about the ordinary run of the mill war, when there isn’t a major theatre attack, a mass crackdown, a re-invasion, an annexation or another country to bomb: Israeli troops repeatedly use indiscriminate violence, deliberate violence against civilians including against minors, they use civilians as human shields, they detain tens of thousands illegally, and they torture and rape prisoners. If you’re a B’Tselem, Amnesty, or even Human Rights Watch worker concerned with Israel/Palestine, you encounter daily, grinding brutality that is rarely if ever reported. Let me give you only a few examples. Here are some excerpts from the latest B’Tselem report on human rights in the ‘Occupied Territories’:

Of those killed in 2007, at least 132 were civilians who were taking no part in the hostilities at the time they were killed. As for another 50, we were unable to determine the relevant circumstances. According to these figures, approximately 35 percent of the Palestinians killed in 2007 in circumstances known to B’Tselem were civilians not involved in the fighting. In 2006, 348 civilians uninvolved in the fighting were killed (54 percent). Illegal behavior of an individual soldier and his commander is not the only cause for the high number of Palestinians killed who were not taking part in hostilities and posed no danger to security forces. The primary reason for these deaths is Israeli policy, set by the army’s top echelon: illegal easing of the military’s rules of engagement, approval of operations that constitute disproportionate attacks, and failure to carry out independent investigations in cases in which innocent Palestinian civilians are killed.

Another example of illegal expansion of the rules of engagement is the establishment of “death zones” in areas close to the Gaza perimeter fence. According to testimonies given to B’Tselem, certain units are ordered to open fire automatically at any person approaching the fence, without giving prior warning and regardless of the circumstances or the identity of the person. This practice is particularly grave because of the lack of demarcation, by signs or otherwise, of the area in which entry is prohibited. In 2007, security forces killed 55 Palestinians who tried to cross the Gaza perimeter fence or were near the fence, in some cases even at a distance greater than 100 meters. Of these, at least 16 were unarmed and not engaged in hostilities, including four minors.

In 2007, B’Tselem documented in detail 74 cases in which security forces beat (by punching, kicking, clubbing, or hitting with rifle butts), humiliated, or threatened Palestinians. The perpetrators were soldiers (in 41 cases), Border Police officers (27 cases), and members of the regular police (6 cases) … B’Tselem’s monitoring of demonstrations against the Separation Barrier since 2004 indicates that about 1,000 demonstrators have required medical treatment due to injury from rubbercoated metal bullets, beatings, or tear gas inhalation. Over 320 of these people were injured in 2007.

More than 6,000 Palestinians from the West Bank were detained in 2007 by Israel’s security forces. A significant majority of them were subsequently interrogated by the Israel Security Agency on suspicion of involvement in “hostile terror activity”. In these interrogations, the ISA, together with the Prison Service and Israel Police, routinely use prison conditions and interrogation methods that individually constitute forbidden ill-treatment.

The phenomenon of soldiers using Palestinians to perform dangerous military tasks or to protect soldiers from gunfire (in other words, using them as human shields) continued in 2007. Until mid-December, B’Tselem documented 10 such cases, although it is likely that this represents a minority of the cases that occurred.

These are conservative estimates based on documented cases, but they clearly describe the systematic use of indiscriminate killing, beatings, mass imprisonment, torture and the use of Palestinians as human shields. I quoted some other examples of Israel’s regular brutalisation of civilians here. I want also to comment specifically on the treatment of Palestinian children before moving on, because the deliberate harming of children in any war is indicative of its degeneracy – and is used as an indicator of such in most other wars. The arrest and long-term detention of children is typical. For example, in the months of February to May 2002, 8,500 Palestinians were arrested in the West Bank, 10% of whom were children. The circumstances were characteristic of an Israeli crackdown: door to door house searches, with the rounding up of anyone who the soldiers deemed a threat. The children, like their relatives, were frequently beaten before being arrested, handcuffed, blindfolded for long periods of time, denied access to medical treatment which they needed, and subject to physical and psychological torture. One fifteen year old boy described being beaten for an hour, his legs trampled on, then thrown from one corner of the room to another for fifteen minutes, then sprayed with cold water, then tied to iron steps which caused him to fall and injure himself, then punched in the face. He also had cigarettes stubbed out on his body and was struck with a steel ruler. That’s just one example. (See Catherine Cook et al, Stolen Youth: The Politics of Israel’s Detention of Palestinian Children, Pluto Press, 2004). The deliberate baiting and shooting of children has also been reported. Chris Hedges wrote in 2001 of this practise by Israeli soldiers at an Israeli colony (‘settlement’) near the Palestinian refugee camp Faqah:

It is still. The camp waits, as if holding its breath. And then, out of the dry furnace air, a disembodied voice crackles over a loudspeaker.

“Come on, dogs,” the voice booms in Arabic. “Where are all the dogs of Khan Younis? Come! Come!”

I stand up. I walk outside the hut. The invective continues to spew: “Son of a bitch!” “Son of a whore!” “Your mother’s cunt!”

The boys dart in small packs up the sloping dunes to the electric fence that separates the camp from the Jewish settlement. They lob rocks toward two armored jeeps parked on top of the dune and mounted with loudspeakers. Three ambulances line the road below the dunes in anticipation of what is to come.

A percussion grenade explodes. The boys, most no more than ten or eleven years old, scatter, running clumsily across the heavy sand. They descend out of sight behind a sandbank in front of me. There are no sounds of gunfire. The soldiers shoot with silencers. The bullets from the M-16 rifles tumble end over end through the children’s slight bodies. Later, in the hospital, I will see the destruction: the stomachs ripped out, the gaping holes in limbs and torsos.

Yesterday at this spot the Israelis shot eight young men, six of whom were under the age of eighteen. One was twelve. This afternoon they kill an eleven-year-old boy, Ali Murad, and seriously wound four more, three of whom are under eighteen. Children have been shot in other conflicts I have covered – death squads gunned them down in El Salvador and Guatemala, mothers with infants were lined up and massacred in Algeria, and Serb snipers put children in their sights and watched them crumple onto the pavement in Sarajevo – but I have never before watched soldiers entice children like mice into a trap and murder them for sport. (Chris Hedges, ‘A Gaza Diary’, Harper’s Magazine, 1 October 2001).

El Salvador, Guatemala, Sarajevo, and Algeria – those are instructive comparisons. At any rate, this is just to indicate some of the dimensions of Israel’s barbarism that are usually unnoticed or, more accurately, suppressed. It is a routine grind of racially aggravated terror and humilitation, increasingly accompanied by various systems of explicit segregation, including 300 kilometres of roads exclusively for Israeli colonists in the West Bank. To it can be various forms of economic blockade, with predictably devastating effects. As to its roots, I have already argued that the reason for Israel’s resemblance to apartheid South Africa is because of their emergence from a very similar historical complex of causes – colonialism and race ideology in particular. The attachment to race theory, for example, was presumably why it didn’t seem odd for Zionist leaders to be inviting Adolf Eichmann to visit Palestine in 1937; why Vladimir Jabotinsky, the founder of Likudism, so admired Mussolini (who was himself pro-Zionist); why Mossad was working with the Gestapo to arrange Jewish deportation from Germany at the behest of Reinhard Heydrich in 1939, later a chief architect of the Nazi holocaust (he gave his name to one of its chief components, Operation Reinhard); and why the Haganah (the Zionist paramilitary which formed the core of the IDF) was receiving arms from the SS. It was, all of it, part of the same murky world of colonial domination, racist mysticism (the blood and soil kind) and volkish nationalism.

And the techniques of repression that I have described are rooted in, specifically, the British colonial rule over Palestine, with which the Zionists periodically collaborated, and in the inheritance by the Zionist leadership of Britain’s counterinsurgency war, which continues. Some of the key training for Zionist paramilitaries before 1948 was in supporting British colonial repression of the Palestinian Arab national liberation struggle in 1936-9, just as fascism was ravaging Europe and the Gestapo, Wehrmacht and SS were refining their own techniques of counterinsurgency. The collaboration in the repression had started as the revolt began in 1936 with the formation of the Jewish supernumerary police, which was 1,240-strong, but expanded over the next two years so that by 1939, it numbered 14,500 men. The training they received was usually passed on to thousands of others who were not included in the force. The Special Night Squads were a notoriously brutal manifestation of this collusion. Orde Wingate, a senior British army officer and Zionist, organised these. His role in formulating Israeli military doctrine is still commemorated. He is credited with having inculcated the principles of surprise, offensive daring, deep penetration and high mobility, and one of his most notable pupils was Moshe Dayan. He also taught them torture, on-the-spot executions, mass detention without trial, black flag operations. All of which was perfectly normal for the British. In general, British strategy was that any suspicious-looking “Johnny Arab” who looked suspicious could be shot out of hand, while beatings were given out routinely during raids. And the British were not shy of drawing on their extensive history of counterinsurgency in India. Charles Tegart, who had controlled special branch in the Calcutta police, was requisitioned to Palestine during the revolt, where he provided his expert assistance in the formation of Arab Investigation Centres (forebears of Facility 1391) where Palestinians would be tortured. However, the Special Night Squads acquired a justified reputation for brutality of a kind that would be familiar in today’s death squads, including the Special Police Commandos for example. (What does is it say about the world’s military and intelligence classes, that ‘special’ for them always means particularly gruesome murder and torture? For most of us, I suspect, ‘special’ is a wine-drenched sunset or a kind of fried rice). Aside from this valuable tutelage, at any rate, a further 50,000 Haganah troops were trained by the British army during World War II.

It is useful in that context to consider the Zionists at the height of their success, with the Arab armies easily defeated, and at least 700,000 Palestinians ethnically cleansed through a system of terror, massacres, the destruction of villages, and dispossession based on a detailed plan implemented throughout 1948. It had been in these operations, beginning with Operation Nachson, that the various Zionist paramilitaries had first bonded together in a single effort. From that unity, that brothership of blood, was forged the IDF. By 1949, the plan had been more or less fulfilled. But the techniques which they had learned during the 1936 revolt and after would continue to be invaluable. As Ilan Pappe describes it in The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006), there was little let-up in the humiliation of, and attacks on, Palestinians. Thousands of Palestinian men were held in pens after systematic search-and-arrest operations, before being moved to concentrated prison camps. The category of ‘suspicious Arab’ was the basis for many of the arrests, as remains the case today: they closed off cities or towns, started searching the houses, and selected their victims. They took them off to be brutalised, subject to forced labour, or summarily executed. Former Irgun, Stern Gang and Haganah troops were employed as camp guards, and they were – despite occasional formal recriminations – allowed to get away with murder, including the Kfar Qassim massacre in which 49 Palestinians lost their lives. In the towns and villages were Palestinians remained, they were frequently subject to on-the-spot murder, as in Jaffa where Red Cross discovered a pile of bodies and were told by Israeli authorities that the people had been shot for not obeying the curfew between 5pm and 6am (during which time Israelis took the opportunity to loot Palestinian property, thus compounding the earlier waves of expropriation). They were forced into ghettos, as in Haifa were the 3-5,000 Palestinians who remained after 70,000 Palestinians were expelled, were driven into tiny living quarters in the city. ID cards were issued to help restrict and control their movement. They were also subject to rape. One case describes how soldiers had wanted to rape a girl, so they killed her father, wounded the mother, and allowed at least one soldier to assault the girl. Another girl, twelve years old, was kidnapped by soldiers in the Negev in mid-1949, had her head shaved, and was raped and tortured for several days by 22 soldiers in the platoon until one of the men killed her. In general, the Palestinians were subject to martial law, based on the British Mandate’s emergency regulations imposed in 1945, which limited rights of expression, movement, and organisation, a status that ended only formally in 1966. And all the while, the theft of the land continued, as did the expropriation, vandalism and desecration, while the refugees were prevented from returning.

That was the Zionist movement and state in its moment of triumph, when the ‘threat’ of Palestinian self-government had been decisively defeated. They required no Hamas to goad them into it. It was the behaviour of self-confident promulgators of the Iron Wall – a doctrine fit for a Duce – schooled in technique by the most vicious bastards to have ever enslaved a quarter of the planet.

by lenin

Mohamed Al Dura: BenHeine


Early Jewish Terrorism

I’ve had this bookmarked for a long time, but I’m blogging it now as an extension of this short list. This is not a complete list, but rather documents just a few examples of early Zionist terror.

Many of the early Jewish terrorists later went on to become politicians and members of the Israeli ruling elite. Ariel Sharon, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin are just a few.


Soon after the end of World War II, there were three basic para-military Zionist organizations in Palestine, working against the Arab people, with the specific purpose of driving it out of Palestine. These were the Haganah, the Irgun Zvai Leumi and the Stern Gang.

Before the British Mandate, the Jewish settlers had formed a group of mounted armed watchmen called “Hashomar” and with the advent of the British Mandate, it became the Haganah (Defense). With a membership of 60,000 Zionist Jews, the Haganah had a field army of 16,000 trained men and a unit called the Palmach, which was a full-time force, numbering about 6000.

The Irgun Zvai Leumi included between 3000 and 5000 armed terrorists, and grew out of the Haganah and its Palmach branch in 1933. The Irgun was not ready to obey the Jewish Agency which sought to dilute the terror of the Haganah in order not to lose its respectability.

In 1939, one of Irgun’s commanding officers, Abraham Stern, left the parent organization and formed the Stern Gang, numbering some 200 to 300 dangerous fanatics.


August 20, 1937 – June 29, 1939. During this period, the Zionists carried out a series of attacks against Arab buses, resulting in the death of 24 persons and wounding 25 others.

November 25, 1940. S.S.Patria was blown up by Jewish terrorists in Haifa harbour, killing 268 illegal Jewish immigrants (see below).

November 6, 1944. Zionist terrorists of the Stern Gang assassinated the British Minister Resident in the Middle East, Lord Moyne, in Cairo.

July 22, 1946. Zionist terrorists blew up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, which housed the central offices of the civilian administration of the government of Palestine, killing or injuring more than 200 persons. The Irgun officially claimed responsibility for the incident, but subsequent evidence indicated that both the Haganah and the Jewish Agency were involved.

October 1, 1946. The British Embassy in Rome was badly damaged by bomb explosions, for which Irgun claimed responsibility.

June 1947. Letters sent to British Cabinet Ministers were found to contain bombs.

September 3, 1947. A postal bomb addressed to the British War Office exploded in the post office sorting room in London, injuring 2 persons. It was attributed to Irgun or Stern Gangs. (The Sunday Times, Sept. 24, 1972, p.8)

December 11, 1947. Six Arabs were killed and 30 wounded when bombs were thrown from Jewish trucks at Arab buses in Haifa; 12 Arabs were killed and others injured in an attack by armed Zionists on an Arab coastal village near Haifa.

December 13,1947. Zionist terrorists, believed to be members of Irgun Zvai Leumi, killed 18 Arabs and wounded nearly 60 in Jerusalem, Jaffa and Lydda areas. In Jerusalem, bombs were thrown in an Arab market-place near the Damascus Gate; in Jaffa, bombs were thrown into an Arab cafe; in the Arab village of Al Abbasya, near Lydda, 12 Arabs were killed in an attack with mortars and automatic weapons.

December 19, 1947. Haganah terrorists attacked an Arab village near Safad, blowing up two houses, in the ruins of which were found the bodies of 10 Arabs, including 5 children. Haganah admitted responsibility for the attack.

December 29, 1947. Two British constables and 11 Arabs were killed and 32 Arabs injured, at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem when Irgun members threw a bomb from a taxi.

December 30,1947. A mixed force of the Zionist Palmach and the “Carmel Brigade” attacked the village of Balad al Sheikh, killing more than 60 Arabs.

1947 — 1948. Over 700,000 Palestinian Arabs were uprooted from their homes and land, and forced to live in refugee camps on Israel’s borders. They have been denied the right to return to their homes. They have been refused compensation for their homes, orchards, farms and other property stolen from them by the Israeli government. After their expulsion, the “Israeli Forces” totally obliterated (usually by bulldozing) 385 Arab villages and towns, out of a total of 475. Commonly, Israeli villages were built on the remaining rubble.

January 1, 1948. Haganah terrorists attacked a village on the slopes of Mount Carmel; 17 Arabs were killed and 33 wounded.

January 4, 1948. Haganah terrorists wearing British Army uniforms penetrated into the center of Jaffa and blew up the Serai (the old Turkish Government House) which was used as a headquarters of the Arab National Committee, killing more than 40 persons and wounding 98 others.

January 5, 1948. The Arab-owned Semiramis Hotel in Jerusalem was blown up, killing 20 persons, among them Viscount de Tapia, the Spanish Consul. Haganah admitted responsibility for this crime.

January 7, 1948. Seventeen Arabs were killed by a bomb at the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem, 3 of them while trying to escape. Further casualties, including the murder of a British officer near Hebron, were reported from different parts of the country.

January 16, 1948. Zionists blew up three Arab buildings. In the first, 8 children between the ages of 18 months and 12 years, died.

December 13, 1947 — February 10, 1948. Seven incidents of bomb-tossing at innocent Arab civilians in cafes and markets, killing 138 and wounding 271 others, During this period, there were 9 attacks on Arab buses. Zionists mined passenger trains on at least 4 occasions, killing 93 persons and wounding 161 others.

February 15, 1948. Haganah terrorists attacked an Arab village near Safad, blew up several houses, killing 11 Arabs, including 4 children..

March 3, 1948. Heavy damage was done to the Arab-owned Salam building in Haifa (a 7 story block of apartments and shops) by Zionists who drove an army lorry ( truck) up to the building and escaped before the detonation of 400 Ib. of explosives; casualties numbered 11 Arabs and 3 Armenians killed and 23 injured. The Stern Gang claimed responsibility for the incident.

March 22, 1948. A housing block in Iraq Street in Haifa was blown up killing 17 and injuring 100 others. Four members of the Stern Gang drove two truck-loads of explosives into the street and abandoned the vehicles before the explosion.

March 31, 1948. The Cairo-Haifa Express was mined, for the second time in a month, by an electronically-detonated land mine near Benyamina, killing 40 persons and wounding 60 others.

April 9, 1948. A combined force of Irgun Zvai Leumi and the Stern Gang, supported by the Palmach forces, captured the Arab village of Deir Yassin and killed more than 200 unarmed civilians, including countless women and children. Older men and young women were captured and paraded in chains in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem; 20 of the hostages were then shot in the quarry of Gevaat Shaul.

April 16, 1948. Zionists attacked the former British army camp at Tel Litvinsky, killing 90 Arabs there.

April 19, 1948. Fourteen Arabs were killed in a house in Tiberias, which was blown up by Zionist terrorists.

May 3, 1948. A book bomb addressed to a British Army officer, who had been stationed in Palestine exploded, killing his brother, Rex Farran.

May11, 1948. A letter bomb addressed to Sir Evelyn Barker, former Commanding Officer in Palestine, was detected in the nick of time by his wife.

April 25, 1948 — May 13, 1948. Wholesale looting of Jaffa was carried out following armed attacks by Irgun and Haganah terrorists. They stripped and carried away everything they could, destroying what they could not take with them.


November 25, 1940. In September, 1940, around 3,000 Jewish refugees from Vienna, Prague and Danzig were attempting to reach Palestine. In a convoy of four river steamers, they set sail down the Danube and reached the Romanian port of Tulcea where they transferred to three Greek cargo ships named Atlantic, Pacific and Milos. Conditions on board these three ships were horrendous, reminiscent of Japanese hell-ships later in the war. Eventually the ships reached Palestinian waters, but the British Colonial Office refused them permission to land. It was finally decided to deport the refugees to the island of Mauritius where a special camp was to be built. The three ships were then brought into Haifa harbour where the liner Patria was berthed. The refugees were then embarked on the Patria and as the last passengers from the Atlantic were coming on board, a tremendous explosion ripped the liner apart. The death toll amounted to 267 refugees killed. The explosion was the work of the Jewish underground army, the Haganah, who had meant only to damage the ship to prevent it sailing but had miscalculated the amount of explosives needed to disable the ship. Many say that this was no miscalculation and was deliberate murder of Jews by Jews, in an attempt to influence British immigration policy to Palestine.


The first act of air piracy in the history of civil aviation was carried out by Israel, in Dec. 1954, when a civilian Syrian airliner was forced down in Tel Aviv and its passengers and crew held for days, despite international condemnation.

In 1968, Israeli commandos blew up 13 civilian airliners at Beirut airport in Lebanon.

The first deliberate shooting down a civilian airliner was carried out by Israel, when a Libyan airliner was shot down by Israeli jet fighters over Sinai, in Feb. 1973, on the direct orders of Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, killing all 107 of its passengers and the entire French crew.


No More War:BenHeine


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