“You destroy the soldier himself”
That was the response of Munir, a Palestinian who is faced with Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint opposite his shop in Hebron every day, when I asked him how he thought being in Hebron must affect the soldiers.
I have had so many encounters with Israeli soldiers during my time in Hebron – it is impossible not to, due to the intensity of the military occupation.
I have passed the time of day and talked with some of them about what we are each doing here. Some have told me of their boredom, that they would much rather be on the beach. One helped keep a stray dog away from Palestinian school children who were frightened and I thanked him. Another told the police to leave me alone when they were harassing me about where in the street I was standing during the school run, and I thanked him too.
They have also spat at me, shouted at me, threatened to arrest me and called me stupid in Hebrew and a “sharmoota” (“whore” in Arabic). I have refused to follow their orders to move or stop taking photos. I have watched heavily armed soldiers throw stun grenades, and tasted the tear gas they shoot at Palestinian children on their way to school in response to small stones being thrown at their checkpoint. I have seen them harass and detain Palestinians trying to go about their lives, push kids for “facing the wrong direction” as Israeli settlers walk past, and arrest children. I have watched them laughing and joking many times in situations that are far from funny – most recently in the aftermath of an extremely serious attack by Israeli settlers against a Palestinian family.
I have come to know some of the Givati Brigade of the Israeli army, currently serving in Hebron, by sight and a few by name. You can often tell how many schoolbags will be searched or Palestinians detained for ID checks by who is on duty. Almost without fail, the local Palestinians say that their treatment on a given day depends on the mood of the soldiers. I have often wondered what must be going through their minds and wished that I could talk to them properly about what they think. Amidst the tension and violence of Hebron, this is normally impossible.
One Friday night settlers blockaded a Palestinian family’s gateway and stopped them from leaving their home at Tel Rumeida in Hebron. I asked the nine watching Israeli soldiers to please help. They wouldn’t. One of them, whose name is Kawalski*, said “everything is fine.” 34 Israeli settlers were stopping a Palestinian family from walking down the street and thus from entering or leaving their home. Many of the settler children were shouting abuse, hitting our cameras and spitting at us.
They went on to throw two buckets of water at us, followed by a bucket of bleach. It was an awful scene and I cannot see how he could have thought it was fine.
Most of the soldiers in Hebron are young, ranging from 19-22 years old, and are conscripted into military service for three years. This is compulsory with a few exceptions, so most of them have not made a positive choice to be in the army. Yet in Israeli society there is real kudos attached to being a combat soldier like those in Hebron – just take a look at the Israel Defense Forces Facebook page. Only a tiny minority ever refuse to serve and spend time in prison as a result. Kawalski, the soldier on that Friday night, must be no more than 22 years old. After the incident, I wondered a lot about his “everything is fine” comment and thought maybe it was actually his internal reasoning – him trying to persuade himself it was all OK and he was in control (he most definitely was not).
Later, when he called an ambulance for my colleague after the attack on us that he had failed to prevent, he must have been forced to acknowledge that everything had not been fine.
Thousands of settlers and their supporters came to Hebron recently for Shabbat Chayei Sarah, which commemorates Sarah of biblical times, who is buried in Hebron. It was a difficult weekend, with heightened tensions and violence. Movement restrictions were even tighter than usual – the Ibrahimi Mosque and nearby Palestinian shops were forcibly closed. Most of Shuhada Street, which Palestinians are never allowed to walk down, was closed to my colleagues and I as well – “Jews only” as the enforcing soldier told me. Extra soldiers drafted into H2 checked the ID of Palestinian men every 50 metres.
I was patrolling with a colleague and we went to an area with a few Palestinian homes and many settlers nearby. I felt nervous because large groups of settlers, some armed and some drunk, are not normally a great thing to encounter. A Palestinian family was harvesting olives on a hill where many settlers were hanging around. We checked if the family was OK and sat down under a tree, hoping to deter the settlers from coming to bother them, throw things at them etc (there was a fence between us and the Palestinians so we couldn’t help with the olives). A couple of Israeli soldiers were standing nearby.
After a bit, a group of male settlers tried to make their way towards us and I stood up, worried about what would happen next. But rather than standing back and letting them come over, the soldier stepped in the way and asked the settlers to leave. They did. I had never seen such a thing before and, when the settlers had moved away, I thanked the soldier. “Don’t worry” he said. Shortly after, a second group of settlers tried to come and the soldier and his colleague again turned them away. After this the soldiers came to ask if we were OK. I was slightly stunned that they were looking out for us and for the Palestinians. I thanked them both and said that we would move on soon. They told us there was no need for us to leave and not to worry, they would make sure everything was OK with the Palestinians. This was the opposite of what I am used to in Hebron, where the soldiers will often do whatever they can to get rid of us, and simply stand by as settlers harass and attack Palestinians. The first soldier told me that his name was Yossi* and he was not normally based in Hebron.
Later, when there were no settlers watching, I bumped into Yossi again. I asked him if he understood what I was doing there. “You want peace” he said, and told me that he wanted peace too. He told me that after my colleague and I had gone, the settlers had pushed him and thrown stones at him. He was astonished by this and couldn’t understand it. I asked what he knew about Hebron – not much. His orders that day had been to keep the Jewish and the Palestinians apart. I told him what it is like in Hebron – the settler violence, the soldiers refusing to help, the clashes, and showed him pictures. It was all news to him. “It’s good that you are telling me this, I will tell my commander”, he said. I really appreciated this but told him I didn’t think it would help – his commander was 24 years old and decisions about what happens in Hebron are made high up in military and political circles. None of those in charge will be unaware of what actually goes on in Hebron.
Yossi told me that he loved being in the army. He told me that he loved his gun. “Why do you love your gun?!” I asked him, “It’s for killing people.” “No!” he said, “I love target practice, I don’t want to kill anyone.” “But why do you think they give you a gun?!” I asked. I learned that Yossi was 19 years old. He seemed like a good, decent young man and I believed him when he said he wanted peace and didn’t want to kill anyone. But, as I have previously written about other discussions I’ve had with Israelis, I was surprised by his lack of understanding about the facts of the conflict he is part of. I asked him to keep being nice to the Palestinians and he told me to take care in Hebron.
My encounter with Yossi really made me think. That I was so surprised at his fair conduct says a lot about the norm for soldiers in Hebron.
I wonder how it comes to be that so many of the young soldiers behave in the morally unacceptable ways I have so often observed or seen evidence of: arresting children and beating them up; demolishing Palestinian houses with bulldozers and then preventing tents and emergency aid from being delivered; even deliberately shooting innocent people, as veterans’ organisation Breaking the Silence has documented. Sometimes they will be following their orders in doing these things, and sometimes not. Mohaned, a 13 year old from the town of Beit Ummar, told me how soldiers raided his house at 3am, blindfolded and arrested him wearing only his underwear. He was held for 10 days, in which he was slapped, hit with the butt of a rifle, beaten and then released.
Surely it is important to ask how young men, most of whom start off as normal, decent guys like Yossi, end up doing these things?
On a day off I visited the Golan Heights and got talking to some soldiers about their jobs. One of them said that they themselves had been discussing these issues, “Some of us were talking – we are children and they give us guns.” I met another soldier in Haifa, Israel. He was 23 years old and had previously served in the Golani Brigade in Hebron. He recalled an army education week when there had been a discussion about putting the heads of dead Palestinians on poles. He had been in the minority 20:1 to say that such things were wrong. Another former Golani soldier simply refused to speak about what he had done when he served in the army.
My friend Sam is Jewish, an Israeli of British origin who I got to know in our student days. After my blog about my some of my experiences in Israel, he emailed me saying, “I think another big reason why it’s hard to convince Israelis about what’s going on in the territories is that almost every Israeli knows somebody who serves in the territories… it’s hard for us to believe that they are monsters.”
His use of the word “monster” really stuck with me. I don’t believe the soldiers are monsters – perhaps with a few exceptions, as with all people. But sometimes they end up doing monstrous things on a regular basis. They are born into a system which takes apparently normal teenagers and seemingly trains them to behave in these ways.
One soldier who served in Hebron told Breaking the Silence, “In Hebron, I was disturbed and frightened most of all by the unregulated and uncontrolled power, and the things it made people do.” Another said, “Another thing that has stayed with me from Hebron? I think of myself as a little injured maybe, I don’t know. Not physically injured. More emotionally injured.”
Rather than monsters, I think it makes the young soldiers part of the tragedy of the conflict. I am pretty sure that it will damage them too, that they will suffer in the long run. Aside from the terrible harm that the military occupation does to the Palestinians, I am sure that Israel also hurts itself and its own young people in what it does. What kind of society, what kind of country, will Israel end up as?
Avraham Shalom is in a position to know. He led the Shin Bet, the Israeli intelligence service, between 1980-86 and in the film The Gatekeepers he says,
“We have become cruel. To ourselves as well, but mainly to the occupied population.” The Israeli army has become “a brutal occupation force.”
*Not his real name
The UN General Assembly has unanimously adopted a nuclear disarmament resolution that includes proposals forwarded by Iran President Hassan Rouhani as head of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).
The resolution, adopted on Thursday, calls on nuclear-power states to make more efforts to scale down and ultimately eliminate all types of nuclear arms.
In an address to the UN Disarmament Conference in New York on September 25, President Rouhani called for the “total elimination” of nuclear weapons across the world and said no one should possess such weapons.
Rouhani’s proposals included the holding of immediate negotiations on the conclusion of a comprehensive international convention on banning the production, proliferation and use of nuclear weapons; the holding of a high-level conference in 2018 on nuclear disarmament; and designating September 26 as the international day for total elimination of nuclear weapons.
The UN General Assembly’s resolution urges nuclear-weapon states to rapidly adopt the necessary measures in order to abide by their international commitments regarding disarmament. It specifically calls for the full annihilation of nuclear arsenals, transparently, irrevocably, and under international supervision.
According to the resolution, non-nuclear states should be given guarantees that they will not be threatened or attacked with nuclear weapons.
It also calls on the General Assembly to urge all signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to follow up on the implementation of their obligations as agreed in the 1995, 2000 and 2010 Review Conferences.
CNN reports on Israeli PM Netanyahu’s reception at the Vatican and plans for the Pope to visit Israel in May.
Recalling the shabby treatment of religious leaders on previous visits to the Holy Land, let us hope Pope Francis takes a firmer line than his predecessor and insists on seeing Gaza and ministering to his terrorised flock there.
In May 2009, when Benedict was Pope, the Vatican told the Israeli press that the Holy Father would refrain from visiting Gaza. The word ‘refrain’ was a peculiar one in the circumstances. “The Pope will refrain from visiting Gaza….” smacks of abstinence, as in refraining from sexual intercourse. Setting foot in Gaza was as sinful as sneaking into a brothel, it seems. Israel’s hoodlums of course were keen to prevent him seeing how the tiny, overcrowded enclave had been devastated 16 months earlier by their murderous blitzkrieg codenamed Cast Lead. And the Pope went along with it.
Gaza’s isolated and besieged Catholic community were none too happy with the Pope’s attitude, judging by the reaction of their redoubtable old priest Fr Manuel Mussallam. “We will ask him why he came, what he intends saying to the Christians, the Jews, the Muslims and why he isn’t coming to Gaza,” said Fr Manuel. “We’ll tell him that this is not the right moment to come and visit the holy places, while Jerusalem is occupied.”
Time for the Pope to join BDS?
Having decided to go to Palestine (via Israel) it was imperative for the Pope to include Gaza or it would look like he didn’t give a damn about the appalling persecution in the very land where Christianity was born. He might as well hammer one more nail into Christendom’s coffin. Then again, should he be going to Israel at all while Jerusalem, Bethlehem and many other places dear to Christian and Muslim religious belief are under the jackboot?
Indeed, has it finally come to the point where the Pope ought to do the decent thing and boycott Israel… join the BDS movement? Admittedly, it’s a tough call given the Catholic Church’s considerable interests out there.
But we have seen enough wimpish conduct by Christian leaders while Israel defiles the Holy Land. The previous November, while the regime was planning its vicious assault, codename Operation Cast Lead, on Gaza’s Muslims and Christians after softening them up with two years of blockade and starvation, we were treated to the spectacle of the Archbishop of Canterbury joining the Chief Rabbi on a visit to Auschwitz to show joint solidarity against extreme hostility and genocide. The Archbishop called it “a place of utter profanity” and spoke of the collective corruption and moral sickness that made the Holocaust possible.
Would the pair show the same spirit of righteous solidarity by visiting Gaza? The scale of horror might be different but the moral sickness is just as obscene. And this being the Holy Land the profanity is many times worse.
The Pope too had been to Auschwitz to pray for the people murdered there. “I had to come here as a duty to truth and to those that suffered,” he said and spoke of the Nazis’ mania for destruction and domination.
Very commendable. But he wasn’t so keen to come and pray for those suffering in Gaza, victims of much the same kind of criminal insanity. Nevertheless, he turned up at Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and the Western (Wailing) Wall, and hobnobbed with the chief rabbis… but not with his brave priest and the shattered congregation in Gaza. What had happened to his ‘duty to truth’?
After my visit to Gaza in late 2007, 18 months after Israel’s merciless squeeze began, I wrote:
Fuel is running out, so are basics like washing powder. Shattered infrastructure and food shortages mean serious public health problems. Power cuts disrupt hospitals and vital drugs cannot be kept refrigerated. Thousands look death in the face as medicare collapses.
A friend emailed:
“Today in Gaza we have no cement to build graves for those who die.”
The subjugation and dispossession of Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land continues. It remains a mystery to me why our largely Christian democracy in Britain slavishly supports the Middle East ethnocracy that’s doing this…
The last six years have seen things go from bad to worse – much worse. Palestinians in the Holy Land, and especially Gaza, need to be shown that the Christian Church cares about them even if nobody else does. So where are these extravagantly robed and mitred Men of God when needed?
No repetition of the Benedict debâcle, please
Archbishop Rowan Williams, visiting in 2010, did manage to get into Gaza. But as far as I could discover he made no public statement about the wretched conditions there, nor did he reveal his findings to the House of Lords where he had the support of a large gaggle of bishops. This despite his claim to be “in a unique position to bring the needs and voices of those fighting poverty, disease and the effects of conflict, to the attention of national and international policy makers”.
And despite his declaration that “Christians need to witness boldly and clearly”.
And despite his urging greater awareness of the humanitarian crisis to ensure that the people of Gaza were not forgotten.
The Israelis, I heard, refused him access to Gaza from the start and only at the last minute allowed the Archbishop an hour or so, just enough for a quick visit to the Ahli Hospital and nowhere else. For that concession one wonders if he had to sign a gagging order.
His website, however, described how he, like the Pope, hobnobbed with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and paid respects to Yad Vashem and the Holocaust. He also talked with the President of Israel, who no doubt enjoyed his guest’s frustration at being prevented from seeing the horrors that had been inflicted on Gaza.
And news of any get-together with senior Islamic figures on the ground was conspicuously absent, leaving a question-mark over his commitment to inter-faith engagement.
Why on earth did he agree to fraternise with Jewish political and religious dignitaries when it was clear that his wish to carry out his Christian duty in Gaza would be obstructed? Does Lambeth Palace not realise that meekly accepting such insults only serves to legitimise the Israelis’ illegal occupation and gives a stamp of approval to the brutal siege of Gaza, the daily death-dealing air strikes against civilians, the persecution of Muslim and Christian communities and the regime’s utter contempt for international law and human rights?
One can only hope the Vatican realises it too and avoids a repetition of the Benedict debâcle.
The Israelis walk all over fawning sycophants masquerading as Western political leaders. Our spiritual leaders, however, are supposed to be made of sterner stuff and to have the moral backbone to face down evil.
Britain systematically destroyed documents in colonies that were about to gain independence, declassified Foreign Office files reveal. ‘Operation Legacy’ saw sensitive documents secretly burnt or dumped to cover up traces of British activities.
The latest National Archives publication made from a collection of 8,800 colonial-era files held by the Foreign Office for decades revealed deliberate document elimination by British authorities in former colonies.
The secret program dubbed ‘Operation Legacy’ was in force throughout the 1950s and 1960s, in at least 23 countries and territories under British rule that eventually gained independence after WWII. Among others these countries included: Belize, British Guiana, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaysia and Singapore, Northern Rhodesia (today Zambia and Zimbabwe), Tanzania, and Uganda.
In a telegram from the UK Colonial Office dispatched to British embassies on May 3, 1961, colonial secretary Iain Macleod instructed diplomats to withhold official documents from newly elected independent governments in those countries, and presented general guidance on what to do.
British diplomats were briefed on how exactly they were supposed to get rid of documents that “might embarrass members of the police, military forces, public servants (such as police agents or informers)” or “might compromise sources of intelligence”, or could be put to ‘wrong’ use by incoming national authorities.
‘Operation Legacy’ also called for the destruction or removal of “all papers which are likely to be interpreted, either reasonably or by malice, as indicating racial prejudice or bias”.
The newly declassified files revealed that the Royal Navy base in Singapore was turned into the Asian region’s primary document destruction center. A special facility called a “splendid incinerator” was used to burn “lorry loads of files”, Agence France-Presse reported.
The “central incinerator” in Singapore was necessary to avoid a situation similar to that in India in 1947, when a “pall of smoke” from British officials burning their papers in Delhi, ahead of India proclaiming independence, filled the local press with critical reports. That diplomatic oversight was taken into account, as ‘Operation Legacy’ operatives were strictly instructed not to burn documents openly.
But not all the doomed archives could be shipped to Singapore. In some cases documents were eliminated on site, sometimes being dumped in the sea “at the maximum practicable distance from shore” and in deep, current-free areas, the National Archives publication claims.
The newly published collection of documents reveals that the British cleared out Kenyan intelligence files that contained information about abuse and torture of Kenyans during the Mau Mau uprising against British colonial rule in the 1950s. A special committee formed in 1961 coordinated document elimination in Kenya. Yet some files were spared simply when an estimated 307 boxes of documents were evacuated to Britain, just months ahead of the country gaining independence in December 1963.
The existence of some remaining Mau Mau legal case documents was revealed in January 2011.
Even after eliminating important evidence half a century ago, earlier in 2013 the British government was forced to pay 23 million dollars in compensation to over 5,200 elderly Kenyans, who had suffered from Britain’s punitive measures during the Mau Mau uprising.
In another documented occasion, in April 1957, five lorries delivered tons of documents from the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur to the Royal Navy base in Singapore. Files were incinerated there; these contained details about British rule in Malaya, such as a massacre of 24 rubber plantation workers at the Malayan village of Batang Kali in 1948, who had allegedly been murdered by British soldiers.
Despite the mass document elimination, Britain’s Foreign Office still has some 1.2 million unpublished documents on British colonial policy, David Anderson, professor of African history at the University of Warwick, told AFP.
So Her Majesty’s government might still publish more valuable material that can shed more light on how one of the biggest empires in human history used to be governed. Overall, Britain had total control over 50 colonies including Canada, India, Australia, Nigeria, and Jamaica. Currently, there are 14 British Overseas Territories that remain under British rule, though most of them are self-governing and all have leaderships of their own.
One of Pakistan’s major political parties has published the name of what it believes to be the CIA’s chief operative in Islamabad after a US drone strike killed five people last week. The group demanded on Wednesday that the spy chief face murder charges.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), led by the country’s cricket star Imran Khan, dropped the name of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operative to police in a letter in which the party demanded that the agent face up to the “gross offence” of the drone strike.
The letter was released to the media. However, the name could not be independently verified.
“I would like to nominate the US clandestine agency CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) Station Chief in Islamabad … and CIA Director John O. Brennan for committing the gross offences of committing murder and waging war against Pakistan,” PTI information secretary Shireen Mazarisaid wrote in the letter.
“CIA station chief is not a diplomatic post, therefore he does not enjoy any diplomatic immunity and is within the bounds of domestic laws of Pakistan,” the letter added. The complaint was lodged with Tal police station in Hangu district, northwestern Pakistan.
Intelligence agencies in foreign countries make a habit of keeping the identities of their agents and operatives private. If the PTI has successfully named the right person then he may be forced to leave the country.
This would not be the first time that an American operative has been outed in the country. In 2010 a former station chief was forced to leave Pakistan after his name was also revealed during a drone strike which led to the deaths of civilians.
The drone strike on 21 November was extremely provocative as it was one of the first outside the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkwa province, and killed five militants – among them a senior commander of the Haqqani Network.
A separate strike at the beginning of November, which killed Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud, prompted Khan to react with similar fury over how continued strikes could scuttle peace talks.
“The Taliban held only one condition for the peace talks and that was that drone attacks must end,” he said at a press conference. “But just before the talks began we saw this sabotage.”
CIA spokesman Dean Boyd would not confirm the Islamabad station chief’s name to the AP and declined to comment on the matter immediately.
A peaceful agreement has been reached between the P5+1 nations and Iran. As expected, the bomb-dropping idea peddlers are crying like babies:
Daniel Pipes calls peace a disaster: “Barack Obama has made many foreign policy errors in the past five years, but this is the first to rank as a disaster.”
Jennifer Rubin hopes Israel can still find a way to bomb: “Admin needs to reaffirm final deal will comply fully with UN resolutions. If not Israel should act”.
Michael Ledeen is not losing hope for war either: “this might make war more possible, life is full of surprises.”
Michael Rubin grabs for the North Korean Bogeyman: “Iran deal risks creating another North Korea.”
Jeffrey Goldberg takes a ride in the spin machine: “This is, if nothing else, an interim victory for tough sanctions.”
Jonathan Tobin plays monday morning quarterback, and wishes Obama would’ve chose differently: “Everyone knows that the sanctions are hurting, but if Iran’s oil trade was subjected to a complete embargo…Tehran could have been brought to its knees.”
In the final analysis, neocon ideas have ruined so many lives around the Earth it’s hard to even wrap your mind around it. They’ve greatly contributed to bringing about the financial bankruptcy of the US, have encouraged so much hatred around the world by getting involved in everyone’s business, have left entire countries in total ruin, and have stuck the bills to all of us to pay.
If neocons are crying about not getting another war, it means things are going in the right direction for a change. Not attacking Syria was the first good step, and a (even if temporary) rapprochement with Iran provides another step. One more, and we can call this a trend, which is very good news indeed.
Zakusilo pictured on the television show (MaanImages)
BETHLEHEM — An Israeli soldier admitted that she shot and killed unknown numbers of Palestinian people, including children, on a Ukrainian television program that aired in early November.
Elena Zakusilo, a Ukrainian Jewish woman who moved to Israel in order to serve in the Israeli army, revealed on the Nov. 4 episode of the program “Lie Detector” that she had killed Palestinians and had shot at Palestinian children, but was unsure how many she managed to kill.
Zakusilo, who goes by the name Elena Gluzman in Israel, also explained that she trained army dogs to raid Palestinian villages and conducted video surveillance that she monitored from up to 10 kilometers away.
Zakusilo said on the show that one of the times when she shot Palestinians was during protests that broke out after Yasser Arafat died in 2004.
“It’s scary, especially when children run with Molotov cocktails, and they send children, to turn the attention to them, little kid, barely walking, 3-4 years old,” she added, explaining that she was unsure how many Palestinian children she had shot dead.
Although Zakusilo said that she was “not proud” of these acts, she blamed Palestinian mothers for sending their children to be “suicide bombers” and suggested that they did not care about their children’s lives.
Zakusilo also spoke about her work training dogs for reconnaissance missions into Palestinian villages, which involved placing headphones and cameras on them and directing them to attack Palestinians they encountered until soldiers could arrive.
“The doggy gets a little bag in teeth, it can be a video camera.”
“It has an electronic collar, and a camera that hangs on the collar, and the trainer has the remote control, and he, from a distance up to ten kilometers, can watch and give orders to the dog, to attack or not attack,” she added.
Zakusilo explained that she was a “senior trainer” and trained a total of 150 dogs, and for her work she was promoted to the rank of major.
‘Willing to go back to Israel and continue killing enemies’
Zakusilo’s mother was also present during the show’s filming, and when asked if she knew her daughter had killed people, said, “Of course, how can you be in the military without (killing).”
Zakusilo responded in the affirmative when asked by the game show host if she was “willing to go back to Israel and continue killing enemies” if she had financial difficulties in Ukraine, and said that she was unafraid of potential repercussions for revealing what she had done while in the Israeli forces.
She also explained that she goes by the name of Gluzman in Israel, “so that they won’t hear there our Ukrainian family name, and with the other name (Gluzman), with Jewish roots, they’d treat (me) differently.”
Zakusilo added that while at first she hesitated to kill people, she came to see her fellow soldiers as “family,” and they helped her come to terms with killing Palestinian children and other feelings she had.
Referring to her commander, she said, “He is a general, he tells you to go and shoot like this, so you go. But if you come to him and say, just for example, you know, I was walking down the road, and there was a kitten there, ran over by a car, or a person hit, and I feel bad.”
“He will sit with you for an hour to talk, and try to understand why you feel bad.”
The transcript of the television show was uploaded by Palestinian activist Abir Kopty on her blog, and although the video is freely available on the television show’s website, the translation could not be independently verified by Ma’an.
‘Because we’re human, we get shocked by people who kill’
Kopty, the Palestinian blogger who found the video and posted it, explained that she was “shocked,” but not surprised by Zakusilo’s comments.
“We see and hear this all the time and we know it first hand but it’s always shocking. Because we’re human, we get shocked by people when they talk about killing.”
She also explained that the “case represents a wider phenomenon,” and that it shows what “the military does this to people – it disconnects them from their own humanity, and makes it so easy to kill people and do not even remember the number.”
“The Israeli military will probably either discredit her, or justify her actions or say, as always, it’s an individual case” in order to explain it, she argued.
“This case represents the way they act.”
Kopty said that individual Israelis had responded or commented on the piece repeating the Israeli army’s “mantra” justifying what she says, in order to absolve the Israeli forces as a whole of responsibility.
“The machinery of propaganda always works, and they try to justify everything,” she said.
“I really hope, that one day all these criminals face trial.”
An Israeli army spokeswoman could not immediately confirm whether Zakusilo had served in the Israeli forces when contacted over the weekend.
Amnesty International’s 2013 report on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories highlighted the lack of accountability for Israeli soldiers’ crimes against Palestinian civilians, pointing out that, “The authorities again failed to independently investigate killings of Palestinian civilians by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank and Gaza or to prosecute those responsible.”
The Israeli organization Breaking the Silence has collected 700 testimonies of Israeli army veterans, documenting a culture of widespread mistreatment and dehumanization of Palestinians among Israeli soldiers.
The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.
- Report: Hundreds of European mercenaries in the ranks of the Israeli army (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
- Israeli soldiers shoot, wound four Palestinians: medics (dailystar.com.lb)
Thousands of demonstrators protesting US drone strikes in Pakistan blocked a main road Saturday in the Peshawar province used to transport NATO supplies to and from Afghanistan.
The protests was led by the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) party, which is led by Imran Khan, a former international cricketer now turned politician.
They were supported by their allies in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial government and they were also joined by the Jamaat -i-Islami (JI) and the Awami Jamhoori Ittehad (AJIP) political parties.
“We will put pressure on America, and our protest will continue if drone attacks are not stopped,” Khan told reporters.
“We are here to give a clear message that now Pakistanis cannot remain silent over drone attacks,” said Shah Mehmood Qureshi, a senior member of the PTI, addressing the protesters.
Imran Khan has been a fierce critic of US drone attacks, arguing that they violate Pakistan’s sovereignty. Khan said that the Pakistani government is doing nothing to stop drone attacks except for issuing statements of condemnation and that the protest would continue indefinitely.
Khan stressed that NATO supplies would not be allowed to pass through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, formerly called North-West Frontier Province, and added that the province’s PTI-led government had the mandate to block NATO trucks from passing through its territory.
Earlier Imran Khan had warned that NATO supply routes will be blocked if continuing US drone strikes in Pakistan threaten the country’s peace talks with the Taliban.
An attack on November 1 killed the former leader of the Pakistan Taliban, a day before the Pakistani government said it was going to invite him to peace talks. Officials said they were enraged by the attacks, although the Pakistani government is known to have supported some of the drone attacks in the past.
Party workers from the PTI and the JI travelled to Peshawar from across Pakistan and an estimated 10,000 people participated in Saturday’s protests. The protesters shouted anti US slogans such as “Stop drone attacks” and “Down with America”.
“I am participating in today’s sit-in to convey a message to America that we hate them since they are killing our people in drone attacks. America must stop drone attacks for peace in our country,” Hussain Shah, a 21 year old university student, told Dawn, Pakistan’s oldest and most widely read English-language newspaper.
American drones are performing regular extrajudicial killings of Islamist leaders, accompanied by the collateral damage of many civilian casualties.
Strict security measures were in place Saturday, with 500 police personnel on duty. Trucks were directed to use an alternative route, although Tahir Khan, a government official, said there was normally little NATO traffic Saturday as most of the trucks arrive by Friday night to clear the border crossing.
However, protesters said that they would begin to stop trucks carrying NATO supplies through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from Sunday night, which could spark conflict with the federal government in Pakistan.
The US embassy in Islamabad declined to comment.
By Ghali Hassan | December 30, 2008
“It is our duty to back the State of Israel”
A common phrase used by major Jewish organisations.
At least 400 Palestinians, mostly women and children, were deliberately murdered and thousands are maimed and wounded when Israeli F-16 warplanes and Apache attack helicopters began premeditated massive aerial bombing attacks on the densely populated and Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip on Saturday 27 December 2008. It was a classic act of Jewish (State) terrorism.
In order to inflict terror and maximum civilian casualties, the Israeli attacks begun during traffic police graduation ceremony and just as thousands of Palestinian school children were coming home from schools. Vital civilian infrastructures, including hospitals, mosques, houses, schools and universities, including women dormitories have been destroyed.
According to an independent eyewitness in Gaza, five innocent girls were killed in their sleep when Israeli helicopter attacked a mosque. “There is no such thing as precision strike in a densely populated Gaza”, said the eyewitness. Let’s be honest, the attacks against 1.5 million Palestinian civilians (mostly refugees), 750,000 of them are children, have nothing to do with “self-defence”. Israel is not “defending itself”; Israel is committing deliberate war crimes in violation of international humanitarian law as defined in the Geneva Convention. The concentration camp has been under two-year-long total blockade. The blockade designed as a collective punishment (not peace) of the 1.5 million Palestinians and had already caused a humanitarian catastrophe before the anticipated Israel’s terror blitz.
The Israeli blockade policy in Gaza has effectively destroyed the economy and the living condition of the Palestinians. It had impoverished and starved the whole civilian population of Gaza. While this policy is illegal under International Humanitarian Law and a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the U.S. and its European allies have encouraged Israel and Egypt to continue enforcing the blockade. The policy constitutes an indiscriminate collective punishment, a war crime and genocide. As a result, hundreds of innocent civilians have died in what Israeli leaders call “truce” (ceasefire) in which Israel practises violence and acts of terrorism with impunity. Israel broke the ceasefire in order to flex its muscle before Israel’s coming elections and to derail any prospect of peace. It was only after the Jewish State murdered 23 Palestinians that HAMAS fired the ineffective home-made Qassam rocket towards Israeli positions. Israeli Jewish leaders use HAMAS – the only democratically-elected people’s movement in the Arab World – as a pretext to justify terrorising the entire Palestinian population.
It is important to note that Israeli leaders would not have committed such heinous acts of terrorism without the full complicity and backing of the U.S. administration, the European governments, and the dictatorial regime of Egypt and Mahmoud Abbas’ thuggery. Palestinian leaders in Gaza have rightly accused the Egyptian brutal dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak and collaborators in the Palestinian Authority of colluding with Israel against the Palestinian in Gaza. Indeed, the treacherous Egyptian regime – propped-up and financed by the U.S. – has been a willing complicit in the Gaza blockade. Just before the massacre took place, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was in Cairo to consult with the dictator of Egypt.
This is not the first time the Jews have committed acts of terrorism in Palestine. Historically, the Palestinian people have suffering under Jewish terrorism for more that sixty years. The Jewish State was founded by heinous aggression and war crimes in 1984. It is just that Jewish terrorism is deliberately covered-up and justified as “self-defence” by Western media. With the exception of a few honourable voices, condemning the subject of Jewish terrorism remains taboo.
Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and international law Professor at Princeton University was recently denied entry into Israel. He was accused of comparing the policies of the Jewish State with that of Nazi Germany. It is ironic, because comparisons of Israel with Nazi Germany are very common in Israel itself.
However, Professor Falk chose his words carefully when he described Israel’s policies towards Palestinians as a “crime against humanity” that should be stopped by international action. Falk urged the UN to invoke “the agreed norm of a responsibility to protect a civilian population being collectively punished.” He also called for an International Criminal Court investigation of Israeli military and civilian officials for potential prosecution. “The recent developments [the two-year-old blockade and other war crimes] in Gaza are especially disturbing because they express so vividly a deliberate intention on the part of Israel and its allies to subject an entire human community to life-endangering conditions of utmost cruelty. The suggestion that this pattern of conduct is a holocaust-in-the-making represents a rather desperate appeal to the governments of the world and to international public opinion to act urgently to prevent these current genocidal tendencies from culminating in a collective tragedy.” Falk was lucky. Other Americans who dared to criticise the Jewish State were destroyed by a single shot of “ant-Semitism” and lost their jobs before they have committed political suicide.
While the parallels between the Jewish State of Israel and Nazi Germany are frightening, they are not surprising. Zionism grew out of German National Socialisms (Nazism). There are few important differences: (1) Unlike Nazi Germany, Israeli war is entirely against defenceless innocent civilians population resisting the illegal occupation of their homeland; (2) Unlike Nazi Germany, in addition to its superb propaganda system, Israel is supported by a global propaganda campaign led by the like of the BBC, CNN, Fox News, the Murdoch Press, and other Western media outlets which works tirelessly to portray Israel as a victim and propagate Israel’s Zionfascist ideology; and (3) Unlike Nazi Germany, Israel – in addition to possessing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons – is unconditionally supported (financially, militarily and politically) by major Western powers, including the U.S. and Britain. In short, Israel is untouchable. Moreover, like Nazi Germany, the Jewish State of Israel is committing war crimes by a deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing and extermination of a particular ethnic-religious group of people, the Palestinian people.
As Jean Ziegler, Professor of Sociology at the University of Geneva in Switzerland and a Member of UN Human Rights Council’s Advisory Committee said recently; “Behind the headlines of military conflict and escalating [Israeli] violence, there is a continuing physical, social and psychological destruction of a whole and very ancient [Palestinian] society”. The West’s “never again” rhetoric that followed the Second World War seems to be applicable to Jews only. Isn’t it time for the “international Community” to implement its solemn rhetoric?
We know that unlike other peoples, Jews have repeatedly cited the “Jewish holocaust” to gain sympathy and to raise it as a tool to extort money and weapons and political support from Europeans. They have no sympathy for Palestinian victims and Palestinian suffering. Every time Israel commits mass murder of Palestinian women and children, Jews (with a few exceptions) around the world remain silent. In order to deflect attention from Israel’s terror, Israeli Jews and major Jewish organisations have been promoting and “exploiting the wave of Islamophobia [particularly] in the U.S. and Europe, to engage them in this war on the Palestinians, doing their part in suffocating, starving, and weakening the Palestinian people, as Israel caries its mission of destruction”, wrote the late Israeli scholar Tina Reinhart. They are complicit in the Jewish State’s crime against humanity.
A report published in July 2008 by the National and International Relations Department of Palestine in Ramallah revealed that the Israeli military killed 466 Palestinian citizens during military operations carried out in the Palestinian territories during the first half of 2008, including 75 children under the age of 18 and 23 women. At least 200 Palestinians have died as a result of the unjust collective punishment and blockade imposed on Gaza, preventing Palestinians from leaving to receive adequate treatment abroad. “A genocide is taking place in Gaza … an average of eight Palestinians die daily in the Israeli attacks on the Strip. Most of them are children. Hundreds are maimed, wounded and paralyzed”, wrote the Israeli scholar Ilan Pappe.
Furthermore, in the illegally Occupied Territories, Jewish settlers have unleashed new waves of terror attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank city of Hebron. On Thursday, settlers shot at Palestinians, set fire to homes and olive groves, and defaced mosques and graves after Israeli troops evicted a group of settlers from a disputed Palestinian-owned home near a biblical site. Persistent acts of terrorism by Israeli occupation soldiers and illegal Jewish settlers against the Palestinian farmers have destroyed millions of olive trees and farms decimating the livelihoods of Palestinians. “As a Jew, I was ashamed at the scenes of Jews opening fire at innocent Arabs in Hebron. There is no other definition than the term ‘pogrom’ to describe what I have seen,” said the now discredited Israeli PM Ehud Olmert whose government is not only behind the policy of house demolishing but also behind the Jewish settlers’ terror against the Palestinians. In fact the Jewish settles are an effective weapon of the Jewish State to terrorise the Palestinians. The aim is to terrorise the Palestinian and forced them to leave their land.
As Palestinian houses are demolished, the illegal Jewish settlers’ population in the West Bank has grown three times higher than that of the rest of Israel during the past 12 years. An Israeli annual report shows that the illegal Jewish population in the West Bank more than doubled during that time, with a growth of 107 percent. The report also shows that the settler population has surged from 130,000 in 2005 to 270,000 by the end of 2007. Other illegal settlements in the West Bank have witnessed expansion between 50 per cent and 100 per cent of their areas in 1996.
Since 2007, more than 8,000 homes have been built in the West Bank and in the heart of annexed East Jerusalem, the capital of “future” Palestinian state, which is being intensively “Judaised”. Jewish extremist settlers are literally taking over Palestinian homes with impunity. A report by the Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) described the situation in the Israeli occupied West Bank as “reminiscent, in many and increasing ways, of the apartheid regime in South Africa”. The report also revealed that many of the 430 Palestinians killed and 1,150 wounded in the West Bank alone by Israeli soldiers and death squads in 2008 were innocent by standards.
A study published by the Applied Research Institute- Jerusalem (ARIJ) said that the Israeli occupation increased the area of Jewish settlements in the West Bank by 85per cent between 1996 and 2007. The study added that Jewish settlements are the cornerstone of the Israeli policy of Judaizing the occupied Palestinian lands. According to the study the process building the Jewish settlements in various parts of the West Bank and in particular in the Jerusalem district started immediately after the occupation in June 1967 to impose changes on the ground in an attempt to get control of most of the occupied Palestinian lands.
The study concludes that the Israeli occupation seems to have no intention to stop the settlement activity as these settlements doubled since the Oslo accords. This is in addition to the thousands of Dunums of Palestinian lands being confiscated to build the Apartheid Wall and Jewish-only roads to serve the settlements and further isolating Palestinian communities from one another and limiting the expansion of Palestinian towns and villages.
The illegal expropriation of Palestinian lands and the building of Jewish-only settlements have continue thanks to massive injection of fund and investment by wealthy individual Jews and Jewish organisations in the US, Australia and Europe. For example, the Jewish National Fund (JNF), a global corporation, had illegally expropriated most of the land of 372 Palestinian villages, which had been ethnically cleansed by Zionist forces in 1948, to build exclusively Jewish settlements. Like many wealthy Jews, Joseph Gutnick, an Australian wealthy Jew has poured millions into building Jewish settlements on expropriated Palestinian land with Israel’s blessing. Of course, Israel continues to use all kinds of terrorist acts to dispossess the Palestinian people of their lands.
Instead of being sanctioned to stop violating international law and the Geneva Convention, Israel is being rewarded by the U.S. and Europe with closer economic, academic, trade and defence links and privileges. “All we hear is a hollow laugh coming from behind the Apartheid Wall and the seething and starving prison camps for Palestinians under siege in Gaza and the West Bank”, writes Abe Hayeem of Architects & Planners for Justice in Palestine. On the other hand, Israel remains an extremist, right-wing, nationalistic and corrupt society which have rejected every step to live in peace and coexistence with its neighbours.
The ongoing massacre of innocent Palestinian civilians is not the first Jewish-perpetrated massacre and certainly won’t be the last. Israel follows a Nazi-like racist policy based on physical extermination and ethnic cleansing of the native Palestinian population.
Like Nazi Germany, Jewish Israel should be condemned, forced to renounce terrorism and end the occupation of Palestinian lands. The deliberate murder of innocent Palestinians is a classic act of Jewish State terrorism. There is no terrorism like the State of Israel terrorism. It remains to be seen if the world community needs a third world war to stop Jewish State terrorism.
Ghali Hassan is an independent writer living in Australia.
© Copyright 2008 by AxisofLogic.com
New revelations show an undercover unit of the British army was sanctioned to carry out a shoot-to-kill policy in Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, in the 1970s during conflicts known as the Troubles.
The Troubles refers to the violent thirty-year ethno-nationalist conflict that began in Northern Ireland with a civil rights march in Londonderry on October 5, 1968, and came to an end with the Good Friday Agreement on 10 April 1998. The constitutional status of Northern Ireland is said to be at the heart of the conflict, which spilled over into England, the Republic of Ireland and even into parts of Europe.
The UK army unit, dubbed the Military Reaction Force (MRF), admitted for the first time that they had killed an unspecified number of Irish Republic Army (IRA) members regardless of them being armed or not.
Former members of the MRF made the confession to the BBC’s Panorama programme, saying that they had been tasked with “hunting down” the IRA in west Belfast and that they observed no laws in commissioning their mission.
The MRF, which was disbanded in late 1972, had also killed unarmed people on the street in drive-by shootings without any independent evidence showing they were part of the IRA.
“We were not there to act like an army unit, we were there to act like a terror group,” said one former soldier.
The force comprised about 40 men hand-picked from across the British army who operated in west Belfast for an 18-month period between 1971 and 1973, including all through 1972.
“The ex-members said their elite status meant they didn’t believe military regulations against opening fire unless their lives were in immediate danger applied to them,” said the report.
The revelations come as the families of victims in the conflict said they are outraged by Northern Ireland Attorney General John Larkin’s proposal to end the Troubles-related prosecutions.
The offer was made irrespective of the fact that more than 3,000 deaths are being investigated by detectives from the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) as part of the peace process.
When a man shot up a Sikh temple in Wisconsin last year, Barack Obama announced how “deeply saddened” he was that such an attack “took place at a house of worship.” His Republican challenger for the presidency, Mitt Romney, likewise expressed his disgust at “a senseless act of violence . . . that should never befall any house of worship.”
At the time, that was grotesquely funny because, by that point, Barack Obama had himself committed numerous acts of senseless violence against houses of worship. And, being the commander-in-chief of a military fighting a war in Afghanistan and Pakistan that he dramatically expanded upon taking office, he has continued to bomb religious institutions ever since.
As Reuters reported on Wednesday:
A suspected U.S. drone fired on an Islamic seminary in Pakistan’s northwestern region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa early on Thursday, killing at least five people, police said. [...]
Fareed Khan, a police officer, said the unmanned aircraft fired at least three rockets at the madrassa in the Hangu district, killing two teachers and three students just before sunrise on Thursday.
Now, and this is important: an anonymous official did say a potentially bad person was potentially seen at that madrassa a few days earlier (potentially), so Barack Obama can sleep soundly at night knowing he authorized the killing of a few people who were probably familiar with that bad guy…
Meanwhile Reuters continues:
The attack took place a day after Pakistan’s foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz was quoted as saying that the United States had promised not to conduct drone strikes while the government tries to engage the Taliban in peace talks.
The United States has not commented on Aziz’s remarks.
I’m really pretty sure that it has.
About half of Lynch’s points boil down to, “Obama is for x, because he makes speeches talking about x all the time.” He starts out with the best one of all:
“Unlike the many presidents who preceded him, he cares about what is best for the greater good. He truly does represent The People. His actions have always been motivated by a sincere desire to do what is best for the majority, even if it meant losing ground with the wealthy, influential or powerful minority.”
Um, yeah. That’s why he adopted a Republican “universal healthcare” proposal to require everybody to buy private health insurance — and give taxpayer money to the ones who can’t afford it. That should be popular with “The People,” all right — at least those who own stock in insurance companies. That’s why he quietly promised the drug companies he wouldn’t use Medicare’s bargaining power to negotiate lower drug prices. That’s why Joe Biden conducts copyright enforcement policy out of Disney’s corporate headquarters and the administration backs draconian copyright legislation dictated in secret by proprietary content industries.
Among my favorite other howlers:
“2. He is for civil rights. He has consistently spoken on behalf of the disenfranchised, the underdog and the most controversial members of society …”
Yeah, I know he said a lot of stuff about gay marriage and ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. But he refused to actually stop prosecuting gays in the military before the law was repealed, or to put enforcement on the back burner, even when he was fully capable of using his executive authority to do so.
And notice Lynch doesn’t say “civil liberties.” Obama said a lot of stuff about them, too — back in 2008. Since then he’s expanded unconstitutional wiretapping, run interference for the telecoms that help out with it and given amnesty to people who systematically ordered and engaged in torture. Holding war criminals accountable would be “divisive,” you see. He owes the late Nuremberg defendants an apology — they were only following orders, too.
4. Healthcare. I think we already covered that.
“5. He is for the middle class. Here are just a few of the comments made by President Barack Obama in recent months …”
A lot of presidents were for a lot of stuff, if you stick to reading their collected speeches. In practice, Obama’s farm policies are written by ADM and Monsanto, and the office of Secretary of the Treasury is permanently reserved for Goldman-Sachs alumni, just as under his predecessors.
Obama’s actual economic policy is classic Hamiltonianism: Responding to technologies of abundance that reduce the need for capital and labor by using Rube Goldberg mechanisms to artificially prop up the demand for those inputs — even if it means giving people tax breaks for throwing stuff away and replacing it. The stomach-churning irony is that most of the same greenwashed Whole Foods liberals who applaud this also condemn planned obsolescence and the Military-Industrial Complex, which were designed to accomplish exactly the same result. The proper approach to technologies of abundance is to make sure their benefits are fully internalized by workers and consumers, by ceasing to enforce monopolies, artificial scarcities and rents of all kind. If it takes only fifteen hours of labor a week to produce our standard of living, it should only take fifteen hours of labor to enjoy that standard of living. But that would annoy Obama’s Big Business friends.
My favorite, though, is this:
“10. He is for peace. Let us never forget that Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 …”
Yeah, he uses that Peace Prize as a paperweight to hold down his drone kill list. Obama didn’t end the war in Afghanistan — he transformed it into a remote-control video game war in which wedding parties can be massacred at the push of a button. And of course, Lynch can’t resist throwing in a mention of the Zero Dark Thirty crap about killing Bin Laden.
I can’t help picturing someone fifty years ago breathlessly gushing “I love JFK because he’s the Peace President” — while ignoring the Bay of Pigs, the Diem assassination and Green Berets in Vietnam.
Lynch’s points, edited for substance, are basically on the same level as a guy in a bar decked out in Full Cleveland thirty years ago saying “I feel comfortable with Reagan.” Obama’s the Reagan of moderate center-left NPR liberals who shop at Whole Foods. If you’re satisfied with the image of peace and social justice, while government in substance continues to serve the same powerful interests, keep right on voting — that’s what it’ll get you.
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