Saturday, October 27, 2007

Israeli report: "Shocking" tales of violence by soldiers

Israeli report: "Shocking" tales of violence by soldiers
Thursday October 25, 2007 07:29 by Conal Urquhart in Jerusalem - Guardian newspaper

A study by an Israeli psychologist into the violent behaviour of the country's soldiers is provoking bitter controversy and has awakened urgent questions about the way the army conducts itself in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
Israeli soldier with gun
Nufar Yishai-Karin, a clinical psychologist at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, interviewed 21 Israeli soldiers and heard confessions of frequent brutal assaults against Palestinians, aggravated by poor training and discipline. In her recently published report, co-authored by Professor Yoel Elizur, Yishai-Karin details a series of violent incidents, including the beating of a four-year-old boy by an officer.
The report, although dealing with the experience of soldiers in the 1990s, has triggered an impassioned debate in Israel, where it was published in an abbreviated form in the newspaper Haaretz last month. According to Yishai Karin: 'At one point or another of their service, the majority of the interviewees enjoyed violence. They enjoyed the violence because it broke the routine and they liked the destruction and the chaos. They also enjoyed the feeling of power in the violence and the sense of danger.'
In the words of one soldier: 'The truth? When there is chaos, I like it. That's when I enjoy it. It's like a drug. If I don't go into Rafah, and if there isn't some kind of riot once in some weeks, I go nuts.'
Another explained: 'The most important thing is that it removes the burden of the law from you. You feel that you are the law. You are the law. You are the one who decides... As though from the moment you leave the place that is called Eretz Yisrael [the Land of Israel] and go through the Erez checkpoint into the Gaza Strip, you are the law. You are God.'
The soldiers described dozens of incidents of extreme violence. One recalled an incident when a Palestinian was shot for no reason and left on the street. 'We were in a weapons carrier when this guy, around 25, passed by in the street and, just like that, for no reason - he didn't throw a stone, did nothing - bang, a bullet in the stomach, he shot him in the stomach and the guy is dying on the pavement and we keep going, apathetic. No one gave him a second look,' he said.
The soldiers developed a mentality in which they would use physical violence to deter Palestinians from abusing them. One described beating women. 'With women I have no problem. With women, one threw a clog at me and I kicked her here [pointing to the crotch], I broke everything there. She can't have children. Next time she won't throw clogs at me. When one of them [a woman] spat at me, I gave her the rifle butt in the face. She doesn't have what to spit with any more.'
Yishai-Karin found that the soldiers were exposed to violence against Palestinians from as early as their first weeks of basic training. On one occasion, the soldiers were escorting some arrested Palestinians. The arrested men were made to sit on the floor of the bus. They had been taken from their beds and were barely clothed, even though the temperature was below zero. The new recruits trampled on the Palestinians and then proceeded to beat them for the whole of the journey. They opened the bus windows and poured water on the arrested men.
The disclosure of the report in the Israeli media has occasioned a remarkable response. In letters responding to the recollections, writers have focused on both the present and past experience of Israeli soldiers to ask troubling questions that have probed the legitimacy of the actions of the Israeli Defence Forces.
The study and the reactions to it have marked a sharp change in the way Israelis regard their period of military service - particularly in the occupied territories - which has been reflected in the increasing levels of conscientious objection and draft-dodging.
The debate has contrasted sharply with an Israeli army where new recruits are taught that they are joining 'the most ethical army in the world' - a refrain that is echoed throughout Israeli society. In its doctrine, published on its website, the Israeli army emphasises human dignity. 'The Israeli army and its soldiers are obligated to protect human dignity. Every human being is of value regardless of his or her origin, religion, nationality, gender, status or position.'
However, the Israeli army, like other armies, has found it difficult to maintain these values beyond the classroom. The first intifada, which began in 1987, before the wave of suicide bombings, was markedly different to the violence of the second intifada, and its main events were popular demonstrations with stone-throwing.
Yishai-Karin, in an interview with Haaretz, described how her research came out of her own experience as a soldier at an army base in Rafah in the Gaza Strip. She interviewed 18 ordinary soldiers and three officers whom she had served with in Gaza. The soldiers described how the violence was encouraged by some commanders. One soldier recalled: 'After two months in Rafah, a [new] commanding officer arrived... So we do a first patrol with him. It's 6am, Rafah is under curfew, there isn't so much as a dog in the streets. Only a little boy of four playing in the sand. He is building a castle in his yard. He [the officer] suddenly starts running and we all run with him. He was from the combat engineers.
'He grabbed the boy. I am a degenerate if I am not telling you the truth. He broke his hand here at the wrist, broke his leg here. And started to stomp on his stomach, three times, and left. We are all there, jaws dropping, looking at him in shock...
'The next day I go out with him on another patrol, and the soldiers are already starting to do the same thing."
Yishai-Karin concluded that the main reason for the soldiers' violence was a lack of training. She found that the soldiers did not know what was expected of them and therefore were free to develop their own way of behaviour. The longer a unit was left in the field, the more violent it became. The Israeli soldiers, she concluded, had a level of violence which is universal across all nations and cultures. If they are allowed to operate in difficult circumstances, such as in Gaza and the West Bank, without training and proper supervision, the violence is bound to come out.
A spokeswoman for the Israeli army said that, if a soldier deviates from the army's norms, they could be investigated by the military police or face criminal investigation.
She said: 'It should be noted that since the events described in Nufar Yishai-Karin's research the number of ethical violations by Israeli soldiers involving the Palestinian population has consistently dropped. This trend has continued in the last few years.'
- The Guardian, Oct 21, 2007 –

Friday, October 26, 2007

to the soldier i talked to...

two evenings ago, i began to talk with a soldier that was unusually standing in front of the Bethlehem checkpoint.

he asked me if i was in Bethlehem and how it was there, and i told him it would be so much nicer without the wall that had turned it into a prison./ of course as expected he replied that he was happy about the wall because it was the wall that was keeping him alive.
i asked about the reasons why there were staying in Palestine, and told him that i do believe that with the end of occupation the security of Israel will be more secure. Typically he told me about how they left Gaza to the Palestinians and how they were still attacked.
at that stage it was hard to keep calm. I told him that Gaza was not "given" back to the Palestinians, as the Israeli army still control the borders, the sea and the airspace. and that almost nobody could get in and out. this is not a really what i would call a gift. and anyway how can you give something that it not yours in the first place?
I told him how Gaza had turned into the biggest prison on earth.
I asked him if he knew that some people that are sick just die there because they cannot go out and get the proper treatment. last week Israel denied the entry of products that that are essential for anesthesia for surgery so now no surgery can be performed.
of course he denied it all.
how can the denials and lie continue?
soon Gaza will turn into darkness, as the electricity is going to be cut. what is next? and when somebody will have the courage to call it- crimes against humanity?

as i walked away from the soldiers, i still said goodbye.
i wish that all the news as the one below will begin to be told aloud and aloud in Israel.

Twice turned away at Israeli border, Palestinian heart attack patient dies
Date: 25 / 10 / 2007 Time: 16:33

Erez Crossing [Ma'anImages]Gaza – Ma'an – A Palestinian man suffering from a heart attack died Tuesday after Israeli forces twice refused to allow his ambulance to enter Israel where he was to be treated.A Palestinian human rights group is saying Israeli soldiers fired on the ambulance.According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), Seventy-seven-year-old Nemer Mohammed Salim Shuhaiber from Gaza City was admitted to the intensive care unit at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on Sunday suffering an acute heart attack. The Palestinian Ministry of Health ordered Shuhaiber to be transferred to an Israeli hospital for further treatment.By Monday, the Health Ministry had secured Israeli approval for the transfer. When the ambulance carrying Shuhaiber and his two sons arrived at Erez border crossing, PHCR said, Israeli soldiers fired on the vehicle, forcing it to return Gaza City.Medical officials made a second attempt to transfer the patient on Tuesday. This time, PHCR said, the ambulance was delayed for five hours at the border while Israeli soldiers inspected the ambulance. Shuhaiber, still in serious condition, was laid on the ground in direct sunlight for over an hour. At the end of the inspection, the border guards order the ambulance back to Gaza, where Shuhaiber died.Shuhaiber also reportedly suffered from diabetes and hypertension.According to PHCR, this is the fifth death in six months resulting from the obstruction of ambulances at Erez crossing.

nowhere to run

w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m
Last update - 06:26 26/10/2007
ANALYSIS: Israel's real intention behind sanctions on Gaza Strip
By Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff , Haaretz CorrespondentsThere is an enormous gap between the reasons Israel is giving for the decision to impose significant sanctions against Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip, and the real intentions behind them. Defense Minister Ehud Barak authorized Thursday a plan fordisrupting electricity supply to the Gaza Strip, as well as significantly shrinking fuel shipments. This is supposed to reduce the number of Qassam rocket attacks against Sderot and the other border communities. In practice, defense officials believe that the Palestinian militants will intensify their attacks in response to the sanctions. As such, the real aim of this effort is twofold: to attempt a new form of "escalation" as a response to aggression from Gaza, before Israel embarks on a major military operation there; and to prepare the ground for a more clear-cut isolation of the Gaza Strip - limiting to an absolute minimum Israel's obligation toward the Palestinians there. Several weeks ago, Barak said Israel "is getting closer" to a major operation in the strip. Like Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, Barak is not excited about this possibility. He knows that it will not be easy, and there are no guarantees for positive results. Many soldiers will be killed and so will many innocent Palestinians, because the IDF will employ a massive artillery bombardment before it sends infantry into the crowded built-up areas. This will be a "dirty war," very aggressive, that will have scenes of destruction similar to southern Lebanon in 2006. The sole exception: unlike in Lebanon, the population there has nowhere to run. Moreover, Ashkenazi has told the cabinet that he will only support an offensive operation if it is long-lasting. If after several weeks of fighting, the IDF is allowed time to carry out arrests and gather intelligence, then the chief of staff sees a point for the operation. Defense sources say the sanctions will lead the militants to intensify their attacks to show that they do not succumb to Israeli pressure. And because the sanctions will not be severe - so as not to create a humanitarian crisis - they will not be effective. It is actually expected that the gasoline shortage will have a greater effect than the disruptions in the electricity supply - which normally happens because of equipment breakdowns. The decision on sanctions is also an attempt to give expression to the inclination to completely disengage from Gaza. In this way Israel is sending a message to the Palestinian leadership in the strip that it must seek alternatives, however minor, to goods and services coming from Israel. This touches on the day after the Annapolis summit. Failure at the summit may lead Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas into the arms of Hamas. In such a case, Israel is raising a big stop sign at the exit from Ramallah: Passage to Gaza is closed.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

les gamins du camp de aida a jaffa/ the kids from aida refugee camp in jaffa (1)

(c) Anne Paq/
Jaffa, 15 October 2007.
Les volontaires du centre de al rowwad ont pris l’initiative d’emmener 15 gamins du camp de refugies de aida, situe a Bethlehem pour une sortie a la mer, a Jaffa.
Pour la plupart c etait leur premiere sortie a la mer. Vous pouvez imaginer leur excitation durant toute la semaine. Quel plaisir de voir ces grands sourires, surtout chez des gosses difficiles. nous n'avons pu emmener que les jeunes de moins de 14 ans, au-desssus il faut une autorisation.
pour une fois, pour ceux qui etaient la l'horizon etait grand ouvert devant eux, et ils pouvaient redevenir juste des enfants.
The volunteers of Alrowwad center took the initiative to take 15 kids from Aida refugee camp to the sea in Jaffa.
For most of them it was their first time to the sea so you can imagine all their excitement. it was such a great scene to see these kids so happy especially the ones that are the most difficult. for sure they will remember this day.
unfortunatly we could not take the youth aged above 14, because they need an authorization.
for once, the horizon in front of their eyes was open, and they could be children again.

les gamins du camp de aida a jaffa/ the kids from aida refugee camp in jaffa (2)

(c) Anne Paq/
Jaffa, 15 october

no escape from humiliation, even in death

Gaza unable to bury its dead
Date: 17 / 10 / 2007 Time: 18:36

Cemetery in Gaza (MaanImages)Gaza – Ma'an Report – Gaza has run out of materials for the burial of its dead. Due to Israel's closure of the crossings in and out of the strip, the deceased of Gaza can no longer be buried in shrouds or graves.The remainder of cloth in the coastal region was used to make clothes for half-a-million children for Eid ul-Fitr. The cement for graves was used for purposes which were given priority over the burial of the dead.In consequence, the corpses continue to be exposed to the elements.Minister of Waqf in the de facto government in Gaza Yousif Al-Mansi said that the closure of the crossings has resulted in a humanitarian disaster."Because of the crippling siege," said Al-Mansi, "which has been imposed on the Gaza Strip for a long time, the basic necessities for existence are absent, namely cement for graves. Even the dead are suffering from the Israeli occupation."Al-Mansi insisted the international community exert pressure on Israel to reopen the crossings for goods, particularly cement.There are severe shortages of cement, Palestinians in Gaza reported paying 100 NIS for cement instead of 20.There is also a shortage of stones to cover the graves and Palestinians are using tinplates instead, which are fast running out.Head of the sewing union in Gaza Fuad 'Uda says there are no raw materials for making shrouds.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

comment saboter un sommet/ how to sabotate a summit

whether or not this summit has any chance of success, it is clear that if Israel wants it to succeed it should refrain to take any action beforehand that will be seen rightly as a provocation.
The last few days, we heard again about possible masssive invasion of Gaza, and now about renewing digging next to Temple Mount....the best receipe to be sure that any talks will collapse, but even more than this, it might trigger something bigger that might just backlash on Israel. a new intifada, that will start again on jerusalem.

w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m
Last update - 08:37 14/10/2007
Ministers okay renewing disputed Mugrabi gate dig
By Akiva Eldar, Haaretz CorrespondentThe Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) is set to renew its excavations in the coming days at the Mugrabi Gate near the Western Wall in Jerusalem, which may exacerbate tensions with neighboring countries ahead of next month's planned Annapolis peace summit. The excavations, to prepare for the construction of a new bridge to the Mugrabi Gate, between the Western Wall and the Temple Mount, were stopped in June after they sparked protests from the Palestinian Authority and Arab countries. However, the Ministerial Committee on Jerusalem approved their renewal about two weeks ago. The Jordanian ambassador to Israel, Ali Ayed, asked for clarifications on Friday from the Foreign Ministry and warned that a renewal of the excavations might sabotage next month's Annapolis summit. The committee's decision was approved by ministers Avi Dichter, Rafi Eitan and Jacob Edery, over the objections of the Foreign Ministry, whose representatives told the ministerial committee Israel had pledged to several countries to prevent increased tensions around the Temple Mount. Minister of Culture, Science and Sport Ghaleb Majadele, under whose aegis the IAA falls, told the committee that renewing the work was not in keeping with the desire to promote a diplomatic process, and that the all such work should be coordinated with the Waqf, the Muslim religious trust. Haaretz has learned that the decision to renew work came after pressure on the government by the rabbi in charge of the Western Wall and the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which is in charge of maintaining the Western Wall plaza and surroundings. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's bureau said it saw no problem with renewing the work, and its halt in recent months reflected planning problems, and not a political decision. The IAA said conservation and documentation had been ongoing, and that excavations would be renewed when the appropriate instructions were received. The IAA began a salvage dig at the site at the beginning of the year as part of a Jerusalem municipality plan to build a new bridge for tourists from the Western Wall plaza up to the Temple Mount. In the face of opposition in Israel and abroad due to possible undermining of the foundations of the Temple Mount, and following a visit to the site by experts from Turkey, the municipality stopped the excavations and announced they would resume only after the plan was authorized as part of the city master plan. The Jerusalem Planning and Construction Council gave the green light on a program last August that was much more modest than the original. Now in the final process of approval, it takes into consideration architects' and archaeologists' concerns that the bridge could cause damage to the antiquities and obstruct the view of the Temple Mount's western and southern walls. Another objection raised was that the project would involve construction in the Southern Wall Archaeological Park, which was said to be a dangerous precedent that might spread to other such sites. The Ir Amim association demanded over the weekend in a letter to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz that he instruct the relevant bodies, including the IAA, not to reopen the dig at the Mugrabi Gate until the bridge is approved as part of the municipal master plan and receives all appropriate authorizations. Ir Amim's legal counsel, Danny Zeidman, wrote to Mazuz that the excavations were not for maintenance purposes only, but were extensive and intended to expose and remove archaeological strata from the modern and Ottoman periods. Ir Amim warned that if work was begun before authorization for the bridge was completed, it would put the legality of the construction to the test. The association said the law required reporting such work to the local planing and construction committee at least 15 days before the work started. As far as is known, such a report was not made to the authorities in Jerusalem. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has listed the Mugrabi Gate as a World Heritage Site. A UNESCO source told Haaretz that in June the Foreign Ministry told the UN body that the work had been stopped except for "stabilization work." The chair of the government committee that oversees UNESCO work in Israel, Professor Mike Turner, wrote in a position paper in July that the conservation and protection of the archaeological remains from various historical and cultural periods and their integration into the archaeological park in the Western Wall plaza area must be assured; that safe access must be provided to the Mugrabi Gate in consideration of historic pathways; and that the site must be designed in an authentic manner and ensure the integrity of the site while leaving the option of an overall plan for the area from the Western Wall to the Old City walls. Turner said his statement was prepared in cooperation with the IAA. Turner also stated that Israel had to coordinate its construction at the site with UNESCO.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Eid Mubarak

(c) Anne Paq/, Aida refugee camp, 12 October 2007.

c est la fete qui marque la fin du ramadan. tous les enfants prennent la rue avec leurs pistolets en plastique.
this is the feast that marks the end of Ramadan. all the children take the streets with their plastic guns.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Al Kader night (1)

(c) Anne Paq/

8 october, Jerusalem.

et la nuit fut pour une fois la leur....
la nuit de AlKader est une nuit speciale pour les mulsumans, ils restent eveilles toute la nuit.
Jerusalem etait remplie de monde et d'illuminations, l'esprit etait joyeux. cela faisait plaisir a voir. autour de la porte de damas, de la musique, des jeunes fumant le narguile, des foule s'est mise a siffler les deux soldats israeliens qui se sont faufiles rapidement. oui, pour une nuit, la nuit etait aux Palestiniens, tout du moins pour ceux qui ont pu se rendre a Jerusalem.

and the night was theirs....
AlKader night is a special night for the Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan. They stay up and pray all night. Everybody is out. In the old city of Jerusalem the streets were full of people and lights. there was a lot of joy around, and it is so much rare that it becomes memorable. around Damascus gate, a lot of music, sellers, narguile and food. the crowed whistled as two Israeli soldiers hastily walked through...yes for one night it was all theirs. at least for the ones that could reach Jerusalem.

Al Kader night (2)

(c) Anne Paq/, Bethlehem checkpoint.
8 Octobre 2007.
Alors que d'autres Palestiniens ont pu aller a Jerusalem pour celebrer la nuit al kader, certains sont rester coinces au checkpoint de bethlehem, ferme a 19h (alors que le checkpoint reste normalement ouvert jusqu'a minuit). Ces femmes venaient de Hebron. Certains ont decide de passer la nuit au checkpoint pour aller a Jerusalem au petit matin.
While other Palestinians could go to Jerusalem to celebrate Al-Kader night, many remained stuck at the checkpoint in Bethlehem that closed at 7pm (usually it closes at midnight). The old women on the picture came from Hebron, for nothing.
Some Palestinians decided to sleep in the checkpoint in order to go to Jerusalem the next day.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Democracy and responsability

Democracy is more than going to the polls

Haaretz, October 02

By Amira Hass"The protest wave has calmed down," some Israeli journalists said Friday of the Burmese military junta's success in driving thousands of demonstrators off the streets, using excessive violence. Despite the natural sympathy for the uprisers, several editors chose the word "calm," which embodies the rulers' point of view: The norm is "calm," even if it means constant government violence. The mass protest against the oppression is a disruption of order and calm. The word "calm" was an automatic reflection of how most Israeli Jews and their media see the constant, 40-year Israeli oppression of the Palestinians. This is the norm one thinks of when the Palestinians disrupt the calm. The oppression of the Palestinian people is intended to perpetuate its banishment from its land and the infringement on its rights there. But on the other side of the regime of oppression is democracy for Jews, even those who oppose the occupation. Generally, Jewish dissidents are not risking their life, livelihood, freedom or rights. However, the demonstration against the separation fence does involve certain risks - a few hours in detention, soldiers' fire, tear gas, or a blow from a gun. Therefore, each protester makes his or her own courageous decision to take part in the demonstration. Assisting the Palestinian olive harvest also requires courage, because it could end in an attack by the settlers (while the government's representatives, the soldiers, stand idly by). And yet there are dozens of anti-oppression activities that do not endanger the hundreds of devoted activists (mostly women) who take part in them. Potentially, hundreds of thousands of Jewish Israelis could have taken part in activities against the multi-faceted Israeli oppression - the apartheid laws and orders, military attacks, hidden information, economic siege, land expropriation, expanding settlements, and more. Not a hair on their head would be touched. These are people who say they support peace, with a Palestinian state beside Israel. But apparently their interpretation of participation in democracy is going to the polls once every few years, and faint protest in their living room.

However, democracy also is displaying civic responsibility, by constantly supervising the political decisions and acts between elections, thus ensuring that democracy's essence has not been eroded. Those who say they support a two-state solution are ignoring the other facet of the democracy-for-Jews - the military regime that it imposes on the Palestinians. This regime creates faits accomplis all the time, foiling the last chance for a solution (i.e. full withdrawal with slight changes to the June 4, 1967 lines and establishing a Palestinian state). The Jewish citizens who enjoy their democracy are not personally harmed by its other facet. On the contrary, they gain from it - cheap land and quality housing, additional water sources, a cadre of security professionals in demand worldwide, and thriving defense industries. This is the "calm" that even self-defined peace supporters refrain from disrupting. In the Soviet empire and racist South Africa - like in today's Burma (Myanmar) - objecting to oppression involved a high personal price. Therefore, one could understand the objectors who chose not to act. In Israel, because it is a democracy for Jews, all those who sit idle, ignoring what is being done in their name, bear a heavy responsibility. Chiefs of staff, prime ministers, ministers and generals are not the only ones responsible. Anyone who theoretically objects to oppression, discrimination and expulsion, but does not actively take part in the struggle and in creating a constant popular resistance to topple the apartheid regime we have created here, is responsible.