Met with silence

Recent Israeli army aggressions against Palestinian
charities, beauty salons and shops show unequivocally that
Israel is morally lost, writes Khaled Amayreh in Nablus

If you still think there are red lines that Israel has not
crossed with regard to its treatment of Palestinians, don’t
be too sure. In recent days and weeks, the Israeli army has
been vandalising, ransacking and confiscating Palestinian
civilian institutions in the West Bank’s largest towns and
cities, including Ramallah, the seat of the so-called
Palestinian government.

Frustrated eyewitnesses and tearful victims spoke of
“unprecedented brutality” and “Gestapo-like behaviour” as
Israeli occupation forces moved throughout the central and
northern West Bank to destroy what was left of the
Palestinian charity sector upon which thousands of
impoverished Palestinian families depend for their
livelihood.

Israel had been targeting orphanages and boarding schools
as well as soup kitchens and sewing workshops serving
orphans in the Hebron region. The campaign of terror, with
many hair- raising scenes of cruelty and moral callousness,
has seriously raised the level of hostility and hatred for
Israel.

Palestinian livelihood, like Palestinian lives, appears
irrelevant to Israel. It is, after all, the tormentor,
murderer, and perpetual oppressor of the Palestinian
people.

The latest savagery occurred last week when dozens of
Israeli army vehicles, including armoured personnel
carriers, stormed the main business district in Nablus, 90
kilometres north of Jerusalem. Nablus is one of the cities
the Palestinian Authority (PA) had declared “sovereign”,
especially after the deployment of hundreds of US-trained
and well armed “security forces”.

When Israeli soldiers violated the city last week,
Palestinian security forces were nowhere to be seen. The
invading Israeli troops stormed schools, commercial malls,
sports clubs, cultural centres, a key medical centre, a TV
station, beauty salons as well as numerous NGO offices,
ransacking and destroying equipment. In one instance,
educational aides — including human skeletons, microscopes
and school furniture — were smashed and thrown into the
street.

Moreover, soldiers stole computers and many electrical and
electronic appliances from the targeted buildings, all
declared “property of the Israeli” army. At the Afaq TV
station in downtown Nablus, the Israeli army confiscated
all its equipment and furniture, “then they left on the
front door a military order of its closure for one year,”
said station owner and director Issa Abul-Ezz in a
statement sent to Al-Ahram Weekly.

The most draconian barbarity, however, targeted a
commercial mall consisting of dozens of shops. The Israeli
army closed the premises, warning that any Palestinian
entering the multi-storey building would be arrested and
imprisoned for five years.

In Ramallah, Israeli soldiers stormed the municipal council
building of Al-Bireh, Ramallah’s twin-town, located a few
hundred metres from the headquarters of PA President
Mahmoud Abbas and the office of his Prime Minister Salam
Fayyad. The Israeli soldiers, with sledgehammers and
welding equipment, forced open offices, confiscating
computers and destroyed furniture.

Again, PA forces remained confined to their barracks “in
honour of agreements and understandings” with Israel. PA
officials, including Prime Minister Fayyad, have argued
forcefully that all social, cultural, educational, athletic
and commercial institutions targeted by Israel functioned
according to the law and were involved in nothing of
concern to Israel whatsoever.

“These are legitimate Palestinian institutions, and
targeting them is aimed at weakening and humiliating the
Palestinian Authority,” said Fayyad while inspecting the
targeted buildings. He added that he would complain to the
United States as well as to Tony Blair, the Quartet’s envoy
to the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. Neither has
uttered a word criticising the latest Israeli savagery.

The Israeli occupation authorities claimed the targeted
institutions were owned or run by religious individuals who
might be sympathetic to Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic
resistance movement. However, the Israeli army, and its
intelligence arm, Shin Bet, failed to produce any evidence
whatsoever linking the institutions to acts of violence.

Ironically, it is provocative actions like these that
seriously weaken the image of the PA while strengthening
Hamas. Fayyad said the Israeli onslaught on Palestinian
charities and other institutions would radicalise
Palestinian society and deepen hatred for Israel. It is
evident, however, that Israel is indifferent to the
long-term effects of its vindictive actions against
Palestinians. Drawing satisfaction at seeing Palestinians
suffer seems to be the main Israeli motive.

The harsh onslaught on the city of Nablus, and the
embarrassment this onslaught has caused to Israel’s peace
partner, the PA, has drawn few reactions from an
international community that appears to have lost hope of
restraining Israel’s wild savagery against virtually
helpless Palestinian victims.

The most outspoken response came from Louisa Morgantini,
vice- president of the European Union, who called the
Israeli raids “a clear violation of international law”.

“The ongoing raids, closures, and confiscations by the
Israeli army against institutions, associations and evens
schools in Nablus are illegal actions, representing not
only a clear violation of international law and more
suffering and injustice against the Palestinian population,
but also a direct attack on the Palestinian Prime Minister
Salam Fayyad’s government.

“Incursions, arrests, closures, sound bombs exploding
during nightly invasions, and now also the order to close
the Nablus mall, including 50 shops and offices,
threatening anyone who enters the mall to be imprisoned for
five years: these orders by the Israeli military are
illegal and invalid.”

On 10 July, Fayyad toured Nablus and urged shopkeepers and
residents to reopen their stores and to resist
non-violently. The Israeli army responded to Fayyad’s
“defiant posture” by re-entering Nablus and sealing
additional premises and by renewing warnings that violators
of Israeli military orders would be imprisoned and have
their homes blown up.

Fayyad, infuriated and clearly embarrassed by the audacity
of the Israeli raids, called on Hamas to work towards the
formation of a national unity government, because “this is
the only way to present a united Palestinian front in the
face of the Israeli aggression.”

Israeli society, which has been drifting stridently towards
Talmudic fundamentalism and jingoistic fascism, generally
ignored its army’s shameful behaviour in the West Bank.
There were two exceptions. First, the small but noted
Israeli peace group, Gush Shalom, published a statement in
the Israeli newspaper Haaretz entitled “Orphans and
widows”.

The statement read as follows: “As part of the actions
against Hamas, the Olmert government is destroying
orphanages, schools and charities in the West Bank. There
are no other institutions to take their place. Orphans,
widows and poor people will be thrown into the street. Will
this isolate Hamas? On the contrary.”

The other exception was an article written by the
non-conformist columnist Gideon Levy, also published in
Haaretz. Levy spoke of the horrific oppression the Israeli
army is meting out to the Palestinians. “Thus the
occupation proves once again that there is no place in
Palestinian lives that it cannot reach, and that it has no
boundaries.”

“An army that closes a school, library, bakery and boarding
school; soldiers who raid a licensed commercial television
station, confiscating its equipment and threatening its
closure, as happened recently at the Afaq TV station in
Nablus… These operations broadcast a message loud and
clear: the occupation has lost all moral inhibitions and
any shred of wisdom.”

“How wretched is an army,” Levy continued, “that empties
storerooms of food and clothing for the needy; how
ridiculous that the army signs orders to close hairdressing
salons; how pathetic is a military raid on bakeries and how
cruel is an occupation that shuts down clinics on any
pretexts.”

It is important to keep in mind that these views in no way
reflect the collective conscience of Israel’s overtly
racist society. Therein, the dominant response to the
occupation’s atrocities is silence.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Met with silence

  1. Shannon

    It is no secret that the Jews are operating the largest concentration camp on the planet openly and with the blessings of the western “democracies”.

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