Israel’s house of horrors

Debris litters the streets of Ramallah after an undercover Israeli death squad shot a 22-year-old man 24 times at close range, an event which was not reported by the mainstream press. (Elias Khayyo)

Reading an account of an Israeli cabinet meeting in Ha’aretz is like a trip through a House of Horrors. Here are some choice excerpts:

“Ministers Meir Sheetrit and Rafi Eitan proposed Wednesday that Israel produce its own version of the Qassam rocket to be fired at targets inside the Gaza Strip in response to Palestinian rocket fire on its southern communities.”

“Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Eli Yishai of Shas proposed that Israel use air strikes to destroy Palestinian towns and villages in response to the rocket fire, after giving local residents advance notice allowing them to evacuate their homes.”

“Shas MK Yitzhak Cohen proposed cutting off the supply of electricity, water and fuel to the Strip, and justify the move by saying that Qassam rockets had destroyed Israel’s infrastructure and that it will take a long time to repair the facilities with which to supply the Palestinians with basic resources. Shin Bet security service director Yuval Diskin suggested that Cohen’s idea is worth examining.”

This is the state that is supposed to be the conscience of the world following the Nazi holocaust? Which other government could openly hold such discussions to such overwhelming silence from the so-called “international community”?

For weeks, Israel has bombed the Gaza Strip killing dozens. In one such attack, on May 20, Israel bombed the house of a democratically-elected legislator Khalil al-Haya, killing eight people, including seven members of his family — among them three teenagers. B’Tselem called for a criminal investigation, but the issue has been long forgotten by the rest of the world.

Israel’s relentless attacks are allegedly a “response” to Palestinian rocket fire which has killed two Israelis, and caused minor damage in the small town of Sderot. Anyone who follows the news carefully, however, knows that Israel has never needed an excuse to attack Palestinians. In the whole of 2006, Israel killed almost 700 Palestinians, according to B’Tselem, of whom half were unarmed civilians, and 141 children. In the same period, Palestinians killed 23 Israelis.

Israel never accepted any of the unilateral truces offered and implemented by Palestinian factions. Once again, today, Palestinian Authority prime minister Isma’il Haniyeh said “We in the Palestinian government are in favor of a reciprocal and simultaneous calm … in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. The ball is now on the Israeli court.” (Ha’aretz, May 30) This was instantly rejected by Israel which demands the right to kill Palestinians whenever and wherever it likes while Palestinians should not in any way defend themselves.

Yesterday, an Israeli death squad carried out a cold blooded execution of a 22-year-old man in the center of occupied Ramallah. After shooting him in the leg, he was finished off with a bullet to the back of the head. He was then riddled with a total of 24 bullets. This brutal murder did not even make the news in the US.

Regular EI contributor Sam Bahour, who was a short distance away when the death squad murder happened, observed:

“On my way home, I passed the Presidential Compound on Radio Street. This is [Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas’s headquarters. Only a few hours before it was reported in the news that he announced that he will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert on June 7 to discuss the ‘peace process.’ Alone, I just shook my head and wondered for how long can this Palestinian President, this Palestinian Authority Government, and this Palestinian Legislative Council continue to go through the empty motions of governance under military occupation, while Israel, with full internationally-sanctioned impunity, assassinates Palestinian citizens — those very same security personnel that are supposed to hold the peace — in broad daylight, arrests dozens from their beds every night — including ministers, mayors and legislators — and prohibit millions of Palestinians whom they have displaced from returning to their homes. I guess the more accurate question I should be asking myself is until when will the Palestinian people continue to accept such inept leadership?”

Of course, the Palestinian people, those under occupation, at least, did express their rejection of this inept leadership in January 2006, when they voted overwhelmingly to replace them with a Hamas-led authority. Since then the will of the occupied Palestinians has been stymied, by a so-called international community — principally the United States and the European Union — who are arming and financing Palestinian collaborator militias whose job is to undermine and destroy the Hamas-Fatah ‘unity government.’

Ronnie Kasrils, South Africa’s minister of intelligence, and an ANC veteran of the anti-apartheid struggle wrote on May 21 “Travelling into Palestine’s West Bank and Gaza Strip, which I visited recently, is like a surreal trip back into an apartheid state of emergency.” Except, adds Kasrils, it’s a situation “infinitely worse than apartheid” (Mail & Guardian).

In such a situation, it is up to people of conscience all over the world to bring Israel to account and not wait for compromised and complicit governments to do it for them: no one who claims to be in solidarity with the Palestinian people can stand opposed to the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions universally supported by Palestinian civil society (see There is no parity between occupier and occupied, colonizer and colonized.

Ali Abunimah is cofounder of the online publication The Electronic Intifada and author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse.