In addition to bombs and missiles that have killed an ever increasing number of Palestinian civilians, Israel has dropped millions of flyers on the occupied, besieged Gaza Strip.
One such flyer, an image of which was sent to The Electronic Intifada, seeks to recruit Palestinian collaborators. Signed by the “Israel Defense Forces command,” and addressed to the “the residents of the Gaza Strip,” the flyer states: “You hold the responsibility for your own fate!” It invites Palestinians to call or email the Israeli army “to inform us about the location of rocket launching sites and the terrorist gangs that made you hostages of their actions.” Because collaboration with an occupier is universally viewed as one of the worst forms of betrayal, the flyer warns “For your own safety, please maintain secrecy when you call us.”
EI decided to call the number provided. What follows is a translation of the Arabic conversation between an EI editor and an Israeli officer who identifed himself using the Arabic name “Abu Ibrahim.”
Israel has used cash, but has sometimes attempted to blackmail desperately sick Palestinians by witholding access to medical care unless they collaborate. Israel may also hope that the humanitarian catastrophe it has deliberately created in the Gaza Strip will make Palestinians more vulnerable to this kind of exploitation.
Israeli officer: Hello
EI: How are you?
Israeli officer: Praise be to God, who am I talking to?
EI: You are speaking to Ahmad.
Israeli officer: Welcome Ahmad.
EI: How are you, what is your name?
Israeli officer: I’m Abu Ibrahim, sir. Where are you from Ahmad?
EI: I’m from Gaza
Israeli officer: Where in Gaza, my brother?
EI: We’ll talk about that in a minute, but I saw one of the flyers you dropped on Gaza.
Israeli officer: Oh yes that’s right …
EI: I have some information for you on members of terrorist groups that are in Gaza.
Israeli officer: Oh I hope so…
EI: We’re on the same side against terrorism … I have names for you too, if that will help you at all.
Israeli officer: Of course that will be helpful.
EI: You don’t know what the terrorists are doing here in Gaza and we want to be saved from them …
Israeli officer: Yes, I think everyone should do exactly what you’re doing because we’re all fed up with them. All they do to us is bad things.
EI: Exactly, the people in Gaza feels the same but the world can’t hear our voice.
Israeli officer: Oh they will hear sir. You know they’ve [people of Gaza] started to phone us and ask for help, and ask us what they should do, and we’ve helped a lot of them. They thanked us for that and we want to help more people.
EI: But you know the terrorist groups are all over the Strip. I mean there’s no place in the Strip where there aren’t terrorists. They’re all over the place.
Israeli officer: You just wait. We’ll get to them, you’ll see.
EI: But as you know, it’s not easy for one to talk from Gaza, to give you information, it’s not an easy thing.
Israeli officer: Look, firstly it’s not easy, second thing, we’ve got other ways to reach you, very good ways not on this line and in the end your assistance to us will end up helping you too. Every person who doesn’t have to be hurt in Gaza helps us and helps you. We benefit and you benefit. We want to destroy this Hamas leadership who are hiding, afraid for their lives. They are hiding and others are being killed because of them. What are we fighting eachother for? Over nothing!
EI: Ok, let’s talk … let me give you some of the information and then we’ll talk some more. Do you have a pen?
Israeli officer: Yes. I have a pen and I’m writing.
EI I want to give you names of the biggest terrorist organizations, not just in Gaza, but in all Palestine.
Israeli officer: Ok, let’s see
EI: Ok, the first one …
Israeli officer: You mean to tell me they’re all from Hamas?
EI: All of them are people … you’ll see. The first one, his name is Ehud Barak [Israeli minister of defense].
Israeli officer: Ehud Barak? By God there’s no one like you …
EI: Second, Gabi Ashkenazi [Israeli army chief of staff]
Israeli officer: Do you know him?
EI: Of course. The third one is…
Israeli officer: Wait a minute, one at a time …
EI: No write it down, I don’t have time. The third one is called Ehud Olmert [Israeli prime minister].
Israeli officer: Look, just a minute …
EI: You think that terrorists are only men? There are also women. Terrorist organizations have women too. The fourth is Tzipi Livni [Israeli foreign minister].
Israeli officer: First, I see that you’re very clever and very experienced and you should …
EI: And then the fifth’s name is Yuval Diskin [head of Israel’s “Shin Bet” death squads]. Write it down and record it my beloved. These are the names of the biggest terrorist leaders in the whole of Palestine and in the whole of the Middle East.
Israeli officer: You know what I think? I think you’re not from the Strip.
EI: Aaaah. You think I’m not from the strip? But you take information on terrorists from any place right?
Israeli officer: Now you’re not benefiting at all. You’re not helping yourself and you’re not helping anyone else. If you were really from the Strip …
EI: Didn’t I just tell you that there were a number of terrorists in the strip? Record it. There’s a group of terrorists. They’re the biggest terrorists in the world. They call themselves the “Israeli Defense Force” but they’re not defending anyone. They’re a terrorist gang.
Israeli officer: You know …
EI: A terrorist, sectarian, racist gang.
Israeli officer: I just want to say a few words to you …
EI: OK, talk, but I can’t hear you very clearly because of the noise of the terrorists bombs and rockets …
Israeli officer: Ah, terrorist bombs and rockets? I understand what you’re getting at …
EI: Let me ask you something, dear Abu Ibrahim …
Israeli officer: Is there anything else, or is it just you who wants to talk?
EI: OK go ahead …
Israeli officer: Oh it’s my turn? Oh thanks there’s no one like you. Look sir, even if you weren’t from the Strip, the thing is you’re still an Arab.
EI: Are you an Arab Abu Ibrahim?
Israeli officer: Me? No I’m not an Arab. I’m a Jew but I was born here.
EI: So what’s your name?
Israeli officer: I’m Abu Ibrahim.
EI: So you don’t want to give me your name?
Israeli officer: And you, you too don’t want to …
EI: As far as the Israelis are concerned all Arabs are called Ahmad or Muhammad so what’s the difference?
Israeli officer: So you want to know my full name, if I asked you your full name … let me say a few words to you. Look, I’m a Jew and I’m from the Israeli Defense Forces. But unlike you, my great, great, great grandfathers were all born here, going back thousands of years. We never left the country. You Palestinians have never been a nation. The Palestinians settled here recently, only a short time ago. What’s that got to do with me?
EI: Ok, the person who wants to help the people of Gaza talks like that about the Palestinians? You deny their existence?
Israeli officer: Look, I’ll tell you …
EI: You really want to help the Palestinians and this is what you say?
Israeli officer: Of course … I am also helping the Arabs who live with us to get into Israel, you also … Don’t mind me saying, but I’m sure now, from your accent, that you are not from the Strip. You’re not from Gaza. But that’s OK. I’m prepared to talk to you.
EI: You know why I’m happy to talk to you? Because every minute I waste your time, you … I like to waste your time because you’re a member of the terrorist IDF.
Israeli officer: That’s OK. You’re not wasting my time. I’m happy to talk to people like you. Why? Because you’re in the wrong but you don’t know you’re in the wrong. So if I talk to you it’s possible you’ll start to understand your mistake.
EI: I don’t want to waste any more of your time. Let me say something to you.
Israeli officer: By God you’re a person I enjoy talking to.
EI: OK, your army that was defeated in Lebanon is also going to lose in Gaza.
Israeli officer: That’s possible. If that’s what you know, maybe you know what you’re talking about.
EI: OK, farewell my beloved Abu Ibrahim.
Israeli officer: Maybe we’ll see each other under better circumstances.
EI: Yes, I hope it will be at the International Court in The Hague.
Israeli officer: That’s alright.
EI: Yes, go and find some collaborators somewhere else. You won’t find any here.
Israeli officer: And in this you’re also mistaken but that’s OK …