The Israeli Government Is Changing, but Some Things Remain the Same
By Philip Giraldi
Story Code : 937594
Israel is undergoing a change of management, with reliably hardline Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu being replaced by extreme nationalist Naftali Bennett. Bennett has at intervals favored the disenfranchisement of non-Jewish Israeli citizens and the ethnic cleansing of all non-Jews from historic Palestine, killing them if necessary. He opposes the creation of any Palestinian state and routinely describes Palestinian protesters as terrorists while stating his belief that they should be shot on sight. He has also boasted of his shooting Palestinians during his military service, saying at one point “I already killed lots of Arabs in my life, and there is absolutely no problem with that.” He was heavily involved in “Operation Grapes of Wrath” in Lebanon in the 1980s, where his commando unit killed numerous civilians, and takes pleasure in recounting his participation in Israel’s war crimes.
All of which means that there will be no respite from the brutal Netanyahu reign of terror which has been prevailing on the West Bank, in Gaza and also in Jerusalem itself. If anything, the pressure on Arabs forcing them to leave will intensify. Evidence that the recently negotiated cease fire was little more than a pause in the plan to mitigate international pressure before continuing to make the former Palestine Palestinian free is already available. Israeli police and army units have been arresting hundreds of Arabs, many of whom are Israeli citizens, not because they have broken any of the “rules” imposed by the Netanyahu government, but as a preventive measure to have them identified, allowing them to be safely locked away when the next round of fighting begins. Eighteen hundred arrests have been reported since unrest began in April, but the figure is probably much higher than that. An estimated 25% of those who are detained are children and 85% of those children arrested report that they were physically abused. Also, at least 26 Palestinians have been killed while resisting. It has been claimed that the police, embarrassed by being ridiculed by protesting Palestinians, are “settling scores” and “closing accounts,” frequently using savage beatings during arrests and as collective punishment to break the Arab resistance.
Israeli police have also been active at and around the al-Aqsa mosque, where they have been denying Muslims access to the holy site while promoting sightseeing visits by Israeli Jews. This is a clear violation of the rules established for access to the mosque and it sends a strong signal to Palestinians that there is more to come and the intention is clearly that they will eventually be removed by whatever means necessary from Greater Israel.
The Director for the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (ADALAH) Hassan Jabareen observed recently how the violence over the past month was deliberately provoked by Israel both to shore up Netanyahu’s electoral prospects while “the massive arrest campaign announced by Israeli police…is a militarized war against Palestinian citizens of Israel. This is a war against Palestinian demonstrators, political activists, and minors, employing massive Israeli police forces to raid the homes of Palestinian citizens.”
The Israelis, who clearly have a sense of humor, called the first phase of the mass arrests “Operation Law and Order.” The raids themselves have been carried out inside Israel itself and on the West Bank. Those Palestinians who are citizens of Israel have what has frequently been described as “second class rights” in the country’s judicial system. Although Israel claims its Arab citizens—roughly 20% of the nation’s population—have equality under the law, even the pro-Israel US State Department has repeatedly accused Israel of practicing “institutional and societal discrimination” toward its Arab citizens.
As a consequence, Palestinians who are arrested are indicted, charged and in some cases detained indefinitely under existing state of emergency and anti-terror legislation. A common charge is “incitement” which requires little or nothing in the way of evidence. Many of the arrested Palestinians have in fact been released after payment of exorbitant bails, averaging about $1,000. One Palestinian activist reportedly paying $7,400 to be set free.
It should be noted that the armed Jewish settlers who rioted in the lead up to last month’s fighting, destroying Palestinian homes and other property, have not been identified and detained by Israeli authorities. Activist Remi Kanazi notes how “Apartheid inside Israel is when Jewish Israeli mobs chant ‘Death to Arabs’ and brutalize Palestinians in their neighborhoods, while the cops do nothing, only for those same cops to conduct mass arrests of Palestinian citizens two weeks later.”
Outside of Israel proper, other Palestinians, who are citizens of the Palestinian Authority or who have United Nations documentation, have no rights at all under Israeli law and are being detained at will and, in many cases, indefinitely, without any access to legal counsel or to family members. Most of them were not doing anything illegal, even by Israeli standards, when they were arrested. They were guilty of being Palestinian.
In one example of how the process works, well-known Palestinian activist Iyad Burnat, who had previously been arrested at age 17 and imprisoned for two years for having thrown stones at Israeli soldiers has been targeted. He lives in Bil’in on the West Bank and has had his two sons abducted from their home in recent night invasions by Israeli security forces. Abdul Khaliq, 21 years old, was taken away on May 17th and Mohammed, 19 years old, was abducted on May 24th. They are being held in the Almasqubia detention center in Jerusalem and have been denied any contact either with their parents or legal counsel. The Israeli authorities have provided no explanation of why they were arrested in the first place.
In another recent example of the brutality of the Israeli police, al-Jazeera reports in detail how thirteen-year-old Mohammed Saadi was kidnapped, blindfolded, beaten and threatened with a gun to his head by five policemen working undercover in his hometown of Umm al-Fahem. Saadi was among thousands who gathered for a funeral procession held for Mohammed Kiwan, a 17-year-old boy who had been shot and killed by Israeli police a week earlier.
Activists among the Palestinians observe that the Israeli repression has proven counter-productive. Most Palestinians now understand that the Israelis intend to exterminate them. One observer notes that “The fear barrier has been broken. Israeli forces are up against a people who no longer have anything to lose. The young men in Jerusalem don’t see they have a future to look forward to, due to socioeconomic factors that is either the result of or exacerbated by the occupation policies towards them. These people are defending their right to exist, their homes and their homeland, and had it not been for their resistance, Jewish settlers would have taken control of many places in Jerusalem.”
Clearly, the Joe Biden administration will do nothing even if the Israeli government were to arrest and torture 100,000 Arabs, but there is growing sentiment even in Congress and the Zionist controlled media that “what is wrong is wrong.” Congresswoman Betty McCollum’s has twice introduced a bill, which is languishing in congressional committee, that calls on the United States to block aid to Israel that can be perceived as being used to arrest, beat and imprison children. Her legislation the Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act H.R. 2407 amends a provision of the Foreign Assistance Act known as the “Leahy Law” to prohibit funding for the military detention of children in any country, including Israel.
McCollum argues that an estimated 10,000 Palestinian children have been detained by Israeli security forces and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system since 2000. These children between the ages of 11 and 15 have sometimes been tortured using chokeholds, beatings, and coercive interrogation. As of September 2020 there were an estimated 157 children still detained in Israeli prisons, a number that has certainly gone up dramatically given the current crackdown by the police and army. Even though Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi will surely block any attempt to let the McCollum bill see light of day one can at least honor the Congresswoman for what she is attempting to do and hope that some day the United States government will finally act honorably and help deliver liberty and justice for the long suffering Palestinians.