VI. Israel as a Colonial Settler State and the Palestinians’ Resistance

 

 

Note of the Editorial Board: The following chapter contains one map. For technical reasons these can only be viewed in the pdf version of the book which can be downloaded here.

 

 

 

 

The Military Regime

 

 

 

Following the war of 1948 and until the eve of the war of 1967 the Palestinians citizens of Israel lived under a military regime and in fact under military occupation. Palestinians faced restrictions on the freedom of movement, restrictions on the freedom of press and opinion and legal confiscation of land and property. Under military law Palestinians faced the possibility of deportations, illegal detentions without trial, curfews, house arrests etc. The end of military rule in 1966 did not end this discrimination that has continued in the 1967 occupied lands.

 

During the 1956 war, a curfew was imposed on the villages near the border. This was known for the local population. Isshachar Shadmi, an Israeli battalion commander, decided to move the curfew time earlier. 50 of the villages residents, who were working at the neighboring Petah Tekva, got massacred on their way home after a day of work because they were “breaking” a curfew they weren’t aware of.

 

In the aftermath, some soldiers who were involved went to prison (all of them got pardoned in a year), and the commander was fined 10 prutot (1/100 Israeli pound). The only crime he was convicted of was exceeding his authority by changing the curfew start time. That was the worth of Arab lives in Israel. During the trial of the soldiers one of them testified:

 

Malinki also said that in response to his question: “What will be the fate of the civilians who return to the village after the curfew [takes effect],” Shadmi said: “I don’t want sentimentality; I don’t want detainees.” When Malinki persisted in his request to receive a straight answer, he claimed that Shadmi said, “Allah Yerhamu” – Arabic for “God have mercy [on their souls].”

 

Before he died at age of 96 Shadami told the historian Adam Raz, who published the Hebrew language book “Kafr Qasem Massacre: A Political Biography”, that the 1958 court case against him was nothing more than a show trial, staged in order to keep Israel’s security and political elite – including Prime Minister Ben-Gurion, IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan, and GOC Central Command (and later chief of staff) Tzvi Tzur – from having to take responsibility for the massacre.

 

Shadmi told that the trial, in which he was initially accused of murder but later acquitted, was intended to mislead the international community with regard to Israel’s ostensible pursuit of justice. Raz is convinced that the background to ostensibly staging the trial was pressure from above to conceal “Operation Mole” (Hafarperet), a secret program to expel to Jordan the population of the so-called Triangle of Arab towns, located southeast of Haifa – details of which have never been revealed.

 

In a meeting of the cabinet on November 23, 1958, about a month before the opening of Shadmi’s trial, Ben-Gurion was already predicting, “From talking with Shadmi, I assume that he will not say that he received an order like that, that one needs to fire…. Tzur isn’t on trial. Shadmi won’t say such a thing.”

 

Shadmi also noted that his father, who until 1958 was president of the Military Court of Appeals, was a friend of Shamgar’s: (later on a Supreme Court Judge) “Shamgar told my father ‘Explain to your son that they aren’t out to get him, but want to protect the IDF.”

 

According to Shadmi, Ben-Gurion, by means of his underlings, made sure that the military judges appointed to conduct the trial would be among those who had been under Tzur’s command in the Givati Brigade, so they would not exactly feel comfortable incriminating him. “They were not chosen by chance,” Shadmi told. And in their outlooks and political positions, they were aligned with the same party of which Ben-Gurion was an admired leader.

 

Shadmi thought that his trial was intended to prevent the case from reaching the International Court of Justice, which had been established by the United Nations in The Hague following World War II. “They explained to me that they needed to put me on trial, because if I had tried in my own country and convicted, even if I was fined only a penny, I wouldn’t go to The Hague…. If they didn’t prosecute me I would be tried at The Hague. And that is something that neither I nor the country were interested in.”

 

In 1986, in an article by Dalia Karpel in the Tel Aviv weekly Ha’ir, Malinki’s widow was quoted as saying: “Part of the trial was conducted behind closed doors and it was clear that it was impossible to go up the chain of command looking for responsible parties, and to reveal the part of the GOC Central Command, chief of staff or even the government in this affair. It would mar the image of the state in the world. Ben-Gurion told my husband: ‘I am asking for a human sacrifice on behalf of the state, just as there are sacrificial casualties, people who fall in war. I promise you that your status and rank will be returned to you.”

 

On the basis of testimonies, written and recorded, that he gathered, Raz is convinced of Shadmi’s version of events, according to which the whole trial was fixed is true “Ben-Gurion sought an insurance policy that would enable him to point to Shadmi as the one who gave the order, and to stop there…. Shadmi would be prosecuted because Ben-Gurion and his colleagues needed to prove to the public and the political establishment that the chain of command led no further than the brigade commander. And in the end, as noted, [Shadmi] was also exonerated.” [1]

 

 

 

The War of 1956

 

 

 

In July 1956 the President of Egypt Gamal Abdul Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal. This angered the British imperialists who considered the canal their imperial property. French imperialists were angered by the support Nasser gave to the Algerian national liberation movement. For Israel it was a chance to expend and control Sinai. However under the US and the Soviet Union pressure Israel had to return Sinai until 1967. At that time Nasser was considered by the USA as a potential ally.

 

 

 

The War of 1967

 

 

 

The “Six-Day war" was launched by Israel was a pre-planned war aiming of bringing Nasser down and occupying the West Bank. [2] Years before the war Israel sought to provoke the Arabs to give Israel a cause to attack. In 1966 the Israeli army attacked the West Bank village of destroyed 125 houses, and killed eighteen Jordanian soldiers. In April 1967, Israel downed 6 Syrian MIGs. On June 4th Egypt’s vice president was due in Washington for talks on the status of the Straits of Tiran, the alleged casus belli of the war.

 

Ben-Gurion, who opposed the plans to occupy the West bank and add more than one and a Half million Palestinians, was ousted in 1963. In that year, the preparations for a possible occupation of both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were stepped up. Over the next four years, the army prepared detailed plans for the eventual takeover of these territories.

 

Legal plans that were drafted from 1963 onwards detailing how to rule the lives of millions of Palestinians: military judges in waiting, legal advisors, military governors and rulers and a firm legal infrastructure to run life from the very moment of occupation. Intelligence on possible resistance and its leaders were properly gathered so that a swift takeover would evolve from the outset of the occupation.

 

Though it is not widely known, the legal status of the West Bank was decided by 1963.[3] It was decided to use the Hague convention and not the Geneva Convention after the occupation. The Geneva Convention restricts the rights of the occupier because it is from 1949 and based on the experience of WWII and not from 1908.

 

On the eve of the war, fifty left-wing bourgeois intellectuals around Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir declared that the actions of the state of Israel demonstrated to the world that it only wanted peace. These intellectuals parroted the Israeli lie after the war that Israel had to fight to save itself from destruction at the hands of the Arab states that were acting with the advice and full support of the USSR. During Stalin’s lifetime, the same Sartre was busy covering up the crimes of the dictator. However, being a smart intellectual he was one of the first rats to abandon the sinking ship and to change his masters.

 

The official Israeli line is that Syria wanted to force Egypt to stand on its side while it provoked the Israeli state, and it was this that led Nasser to send two divisions to Sinai in the middle of May 1967. One thing led to another and two days later, Nasser, preparing for war, demanded the withdrawal of the UN observers (UNEF) that had been stationed in Gaza and Sharam-el-Sheikh since the end of 1956.The final straw, the casus belli, according to this version of events, was the closure of the Tiran Straits, a life line for Israel’s economic survival. This was followed by Nasser's declaration that Egypt would not allow ships carrying Israeli flags to reach Aqaba Bay. Everyone was reminded of when Israel had been forced to withdraw from the Sinai Peninsula after 1956, and Ben Gurion had stated that Israel would have the freedom of navigation through the same Straits.

 

The statements made in Syria and Cairo gave credibility to the Israeli claim that the Arabs wanted to destroy it. In 1965 and 1966, Nasser's rhetoric became increasingly more aggressive: "We shall not enter Palestine with its soil covered in sand," he said on March 8, 1965. "We shall enter it with its soil saturated in blood." [4]

 

When the war began, Moshe Dayan, the new Minister of Defense told the Israeli soldiers: "We do not want to conquer, only to prevent the Arabs from conquering us. The Arabs are many and strong but we are a stubborn small nation ready to fight to save ourselves."

 

Israeli leaders spoke the truth - but only after the war. What the Israeli government and the official propaganda machine did not tell the public, but after the war admitted, was that Israel provoked Syria time and time again and decided to open a war with the knowledge that it would win within a few days.

 

Yitzak Rabin himself said after the war: "I do not think Nasser wanted war. The two divisions he sent to the Sinai would not have been sufficient to launch an offensive war. He knew it and we knew it.” [5]

 

General Ezer Weitzman, the former Commander of the Air Force and late President of Israel stated that there was no threat of destruction from Israel’s neighbors, but that war with Egypt, Jordan and Syria was justified so that Israel could "exist according the scale, spirit, and quality she now embodies.”

 

Menachem Begin later stated that, "In June 1967, we again had a choice. The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him." [6]

 

 

 

Why war?

 

 

 

The question of the Tiran Straits was no more than a red herring. The Straits were inside the territorial waters of Egypt. Egypt and Israel were enemies, and no state would allow its enemies to pass through its territory.

 

Before the war, the Israeli government was divided. On one hand the Prime Minister, Levi Eshkol and the National Religious Party (NRP) wanted to open the war. However, they only wanted war if the US would commit itself to aid Israel, or at least give the green light. On the other hand, and in particular, the Generals wanted to begin the war immediately. On the question of the Tiran Straits, the Israeli historian Tom Segev wrote that the leader of the NRP, Moshe Shapira, was opposed to the war because of the Straits. Rabin tried to change his mind. “’Explain to me, just explain to me,” he said to Rabin, “do you really think the Eshkol-Rabin team should be bolder, more courageous, than the Ben-Gurion-Dayan team was? Why? The Straits were closed until 1956—did it threaten Israel’s security? It did not!’” [7]

 

The immediate causes of friction between Israel and Syria were the result of disputes about fishing rights in Lake Tiberias, Israeli incursions into the demilitarized zone that had been established after the 1948 war, the guerrilla and terrorist attacks of Fatah, and the Israeli development of a water project involving the Jordan River. The long terms reasons were the Israeli decision to become the powerhouse of the region, to transform the growing class struggle into a chauvinist war and to expand its territory and control over cheap labor and markets.

 

Israel entered into an economic slowdown in 1966. The slowdown was obscured by elections later in that year. However, by 1967 it was very clear. The recession began in Israel’s large construction industry, and soon many business connected to this industry went bankrupt. There was a sharp decline in investment. Investment in construction fell by 30% and in industry by 20%. This was followed by a sharp rise in prices and a lack of money in the hands of the working class and consumers.

 

In 1964, the amount of money Germany had agreed to pay to the state of Israel in compensation for the crimes of the Nazis was reduced. The Israeli government itself, which until 1966 had built many large-scale projects, stopped coming up with new ones. The government also denounced workers who demanded pay raises and praised a group of professors who agreed to accept lower wages.

 

At that time a common joke in Israel was: "The last one to leave please put out the lights". The rulers of Israel faced opposition of the workers. To prevent the sharpening of the class struggle they used an ages old trick - they turned the unrest into a war. In addition, they understood that winning this war would turn Israel into a major force and the most important strategic asset of the US in the region. It would also provide Israel with other benefits. The war would expand its borders and gain the ruling would gain new sources of cheap labor and new markets.

 

A genuine revolutionary workers’ state in Egypt would have turned to the Israeli working class and exposed the real aims of the Israeli government, explaining that it was plotting not only against the Arabs but against the Israeli working class itself. This would have created a chance of turning a section of the Israel Jewish workers away from Zionism. This however, was beyond the capacity of the left-wing Bonapartist regime such as Nasser’s. In fact, Nasser’s propaganda turned out to be very useful for the Israeli government.

 

 

 

Alone in the war?

 

 

 

Israel wanted to go to war but not alone. Lyndon B. Johnson had already moved the US Sixth Fleet to the eastern Mediterranean. On May 23, while declaring an embargo on the shipment of arms to the area, Johnson secretly authorized the air shipment of important spare parts, ammunition, bomb fuses, and armored personnel carriers to Israel. [8] The first major U.S. arms agreement with Israel was in 1966. It involved A-4 Skyhawk planes and Sherman tanks, and was worth more than all other U.S. arms supplied since 1948.

 

The Eshkol government tried to secure France’s support. On May 24, the Foreign Minister of Israel, Aba Eban arrived at the Elysee Palace and was received by President de Gaulle who told Eban: "Ne faites pas la guerre" (Do not go to war), and warned him not to shoot first. On that same day, at Number 10 Downing Street, Prime Minister Harold Wilson invited Eban to attend a cabinet meeting. The reply of the British government was that it would act to open the Straits if there were agreement with other nations, but advised Israel not to act alone.”

 

Eban’s next stop was Washington on May 27. He had a telegram with him from Prime Minister Eshkol informing the US government that the Arab states intended to attack Israel immediately. The information Dean Rusk had from US intelligence sources was that there were no signs that the Arab states wanted to launch an offensive. In the meeting with Johnson, the US President, who did not want to be involved in two wars at the same time in Vietnam and in the Middle East told Eban, “Israel should get the other maritime powers on its side. Any participation of the USA will need the approval of Congress. We do not believe that the Arabs are about to attack Israel, and if they do you will win within seven days. You are not in danger." After Eban left, Johnson turned to Walt Rostow and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and told them, "I have failed. They are going to go to war.”

 

In the report of his recent trips Eban told the Israeli cabinet that President Johnson had promised that the US would take all the necessary measures to open the Straits. This however, was not true. Prime Minister Eshkol even sent a letter of gratitude to Johnson for this promise. Washington replied that the US government had made no such promise. Eshkol hesitated. Even Ben Gurion advised him not to launch a war without the support of the imperialist powers.

 

"Ben Gurion thought that the crisis with Egypt was the result of the unbalanced actions of Eshkol. In November 1966, Eshekol ordered the attack on Samoa, a village in Jordan, in retaliation for the terrorists who entered Israel from this village. He was very critical of the escalation with Syria after Israel sent 80 warplanes that flew over Damascus." [9] Ben Gurion was even angry with General Rabin and shouted at him saying, "You have brought the state to a most dangerous situation, and you are to be blamed for it".

 

Rabin, as is known, later had a nervous breakdown because he knew that Ben Gurion could have been right. However, some of the generals, including Ariel Sharon, who wanted to launch the war without delay, were planning a military coup to replace Eshkol, whose hesitation grew after he received a message from Kosygin, the President of the USSR, who urged him not to go to war. Clearly, the President of the Soviet Union was trying to prevent the war at the last minute, once it had become clear that Israel intended to go to war.

 

On May 30, Meir Amit, the head of Mossad, visited McNamara after a visit to the Chief of the CIA, Richard Helms. From Helms he learned that the US would not send an armada to open the Straits. He told McNamara the Secretary of Defense that "we want three things from you. One, that you refill our arsenal after the war. Two, that you help us in the United Nations. Three, that you isolate the Russians in the area." McNamara replied, "I hear you loud and clear." He then asked how long it would take Israel to defeat the Egyptians. Amit replied, "One week." Amit added, “I am going home and recommend that we open the war.” In his report to the President, McNamara told him that the Israelis were going to attack. No one was surprised, as everyone knew that he was in favor of Israel striking first.

 

This was the green light that the Israeli government had been waiting for. On June 5th, 1967 the war began. After the start of the war, the United States vetoed a Security Council resolution calling for Israel to return to its pre-war boundaries, and Johnson refused to criticize Israel for starting the war.

 

It is possible that the US was more involved in the war than it admitted. Stephen Green has written that pilots of the U.S. Air Force's 38th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron flew RF-4Cs with the white Star of David and Israeli Air Force tail numbers painted on them over bombed air bases in Egypt, Syria, and Jordan in order to take pictures for the Israelis. He contends that they flew 8 to 10 such missions a day during the course of the war. When the air power of Israel’s enemies was destroyed, the RF-4C missions were changed to tracking the movement of Arab troops so that the Israelis could bomb them the next morning. In the end none of these missions proved decisive in the war. However, the Arabs did accuse the United States of providing tactical air support, which apparently was untrue. In response, President Johnson declared publicly that the US had provided no assistance of any kind to Israel. [10]

 

 

 

The “Miracle”

 

 

 

The Israeli government claimed that a miracle happened. Like all kinds of such miracles, this one was a fake. A strong and modern capitalist state on its way to becoming a regional imperialist power destroyed the weaker Arab armies within six days. Israel had already won the war on the first day when it destroyed the Egyptian Air Force.

 

Early in the morning of July 5, 200 Israeli jets attacked the Egyptian airfields in Sinai and destroyed the entire air force. Within three days the Israeli army had defeated the armies of Egypt and Jordan and had captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. The rest of the war was only a question how far and wide Israel would expand before international pressure forced them to halt their advance.

 

On June 8, Egypt, having lost the Sinai to Israel, accepted the UN-proposed cease-fire. Syria accepted it the following day, however Israel launched an additional offensive and conquered the Golan heights.

 

On June 8 another myth was created by the state of Israel and its friends. On that day, Israeli war planes and torpedo boats attacked the USS Liberty, an intelligence gathering ship, while it was on a surveillance mission off the shores of El Arish, in the Sinai Peninsula. 34 Americans died and 171 were injured. Israel claimed that it mistook the Liberty for an enemy vessel. US governments have since backed up this story. In 1999, a National Security Agency report from 1981 was released claiming that, "the tragedy resulted not only from Israeli miscalculation but also from faulty U.S. communications practices." Since July 2003, this report has been available on the website of the National Security Website.

 

However, this "conclusion" has been disputed. In 1976, James Ennes, a survivor of the attack on the Liberty, argued in his book “Assault on the Liberty” that Israel was actually planning a surprise attack on Syria and was worried about the interference of the United States. The bombing of the Liberty was an attempt to disrupt the ability of the US to gather intelligence about the plan. This argument was presented in a History Channel production that aired in 2001 called “Cover Up: Attack on the USS Liberty”. Another writer, James Bamford, in his 2000 book “Body of Secrets“, argued that Israel attacked the ship because it was worried that the Liberty would learn of the killing of hundreds of Egyptian POWs by the Israeli army that had taken place nearby. (Ret.) Admiral Thomas Moorer, a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a leader in the effort to expose the cover-ups of the attack, stated in a press conference on October 22, 2003 that Israel planned to sink the ship and then implicate Egypt, thereby pushing the U.S. to fight on the side of Israel.

 

At the same press conference, Capt. Ward Boston, a retired Navy lawyer and counsel to the Court of Inquiry in the Navy's investigation into the case released a statement, in which he declared: "I am outraged at the efforts of the apologists for Israel in this country to claim that this attack was a case of 'mistaken identity." Boston also said that officials in the White House at that time had ordered investigators to conclude "that the attack was a case of 'mistaken identity'".

 

Boston also said that he was told by Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, who served as president of the Court of Inquiry, that he had been forced to find that the attack was unintentional.

 

Was it at all possible that Israel attacked an American ship? The history of Israel shows that it was possible. In 1954 Israel carried out terrorist attacks on Egyptian, British, and American institutes. In Israel it is called "the bad business" or the “Lavon Affair” (Lavon was the Minister of Defense at the time). The idea was to create a conflict between Egypt and the US. The group responsible was caught after a small explosive exploded in the pocket of one its members while trying to carry out a bombing mission in a cinema.

 

Israel and its supporters presented the war as a great event and a monumental achievement. Once again David had defeated Goliath. In reality, it was a reactionary war on the part of the Israeli rulers with the blessing of US imperialism. It derailed the class struggle in Israel and strengthened the most reactionary sections of Israeli society. It created the reactionary Gush Emunim, the fanatical settlers’ movement. It would also bring Begin's right-wing government to power in 1977 and would later on usher in Sharon the butcher.

 

On the Egyptian side, the war would bring down Nasserism and replace it with the reactionary regime of Sadat, who was followed by Mubarak. These regimes turned Egypt into a bastion of reaction in the region.

 

For the Palestinians the war meant the occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. This was to prove a vicious and bloody trap for both the Israeli and Palestinian people, the main victims of the 40-year cycle of violence and bloodshed.

 

The victory of Israel has pushed the Israeli Jewish population further to the right and opened the road for Israel to become an apartheid state from the river to the sea.

 

 

 

The War of 1973

 

 

 

On October 6 the 1973 war began. In 1972, Sadat expelled 20,000 Soviet advisers from Egypt and opened new diplomatic channels with Washington. To excuse this turn which will lead to the peace agreement in 1978 with Israel it was necessary for Egypt to win some battles. The United States made Israel to promise not to response for at least 48 hours. Israel was informed by Jordan of Sadat plans to attack but was “caught by surprise” blaming the failure of the security intelligence. Thus the US plans were to allow some Egyptian victories before repelling them. The peace with the Egyptian ruling class would open the road to Israel war on Lebanon in 1982 while Egypt did not intervene.

 

 

 

The PLO

 

 

 

The Palestine Liberation Organization, or PLO, was founded in 1964 in Cairo, Egypt. Only after the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War of 1967, the PLO became an independent organization with the aim of liberating Palestine. In 1969, Yasser Arafat became Chairman of the PLO’s Executive Committee, until his death in 2004. The PLO in its first years used guerrilla and terrorist actions. It historical charter stated:

 

“Article 3 The Palestinian Arab people has the legitimate right to its homeland and is an inseparable part of the Arab Nation. It shares the sufferings and aspirations of the Arab Nation and its struggle for freedom, sovereignty, progress and unity.

 

Article 4: The people of Palestine determine its destiny when it completes the liberation of its homeland in accordance with its own wishes and free will and choice.

 

Article 5: The Palestinian personality is a permanent and genuine characteristic that does not disappear. It is transferred from fathers to sons.

 

Article 6: The Palestinians are those Arab citizens who were living normally in Palestine up to 1947, whether they remained or were expelled. Every child who was born to a Palestinian Arab father after this date, whether in Palestine or outside, is a Palestinian.

 

Article 7: Jews of Palestinian origin are considered Palestinians if they are willing to live peacefully and loyally in Palestine.” [11]

 

While this is a principle charter of the liberation of Palestine it suffered from a flow as it does not call for one democratic state for all the people who live in Palestine. This approach united the Israeli Jews around the Zionists rather than split the Israelis or at least a section of the Israelis. The event in 1970 in Jordan when the PLO fought against the army of Jordan forced the PLO to move to Lebanon where they were forced to leave in 1982 to Algeria. The PLO began to change its charter already in 1974 with the famous speech of Arafat known as the “gun and olive branch" speech. Among other things he said: ”Our world aspires to peace, justice, equality and freedom. It wishes that oppressed nations, bent under the weight of imperialism, might gain their freedom and their right to self-determination. It hopes to place the relations between nations on a basis of equality, peaceful coexistence, mutual respect for each other's internal affairs, secure national sovereignty, independence and territorial unity on the basis of justice and mutual benefit”… thereafter for the preservation of universal peace. For only with such peace will a new world order endure in which peoples can live free of oppression, fear, terror and the suppression of their rights. As I said earlier, this is the true perspective in which to set the question of Palestine. I shall now do so for the General Assembly, keeping firmly in mind both the perspective and the goal of a coming world order. If the immigration of Jews to Palestine had had as its objective the goal of enabling them to live side by side with us, enjoying the same rights and assuming the same duties, we would have opened our doors to them, as far as our homeland's capacity for absorption permitted., we respect the Jewish faith. Today, almost one century after the rise of the Zionist movement, we wish to warn of its increasing danger to the Jews of the world, to our Arab people and to world peace and security. For zionism encourages the Jew to emigrate out of his homeland and grants him an artificially-created nationality. As he stood in an Israeli military court, the Jewish revolutionary, Ahud Adif, said: "I am no terrorist; I believe that a democratic State should exist on this land." Adif now languishes in a Zionist prison among his co-believers. To him and his colleagues I send my heartfelt good wishes.” [12]

 

 

 

The Left Fronts

 

 

 

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) was founded on December 11, 1967, with the union of two left-wing Palestinian organizations. Its leaders were Wadi' Haddad and George Habash, the general secretary. The group was originally backed by Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser.

 

The PFLP was influenced by the strategy of Che Guevara of guerilla warfare. The PFLP never agreed to recognize Israel and left the PLO after the acceptance of the “Stage Strategy” (June 1974) as adopted in Cairo by the Palestinian National Council. The PFLP opposed the Oslo accords and is critical of the Palestinian Authority but it returned to the PLO.

 

The collapse of the Soviet Union has weakened it. Today the PFLP aim is to mobilize and lead the struggle of the Palestinian masses for the return to Palestine, self-determination, and the establishment of a Palestinian state, liberating all of Palestine, and establish a democratic Palestinian state where all citizens enjoy equal rights, free from discrimination on the basis of race, sex, or religious belief. Thus the declared aim of the PFLP is the establishment of a democratic socialist society.

 

The Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PDFLP) was founded on February 22, 1969, after it split from the PFLP. It was founded by Naif Hawatmeh. The DFLP, belongs to the PLO and initially supported armed insurrection against Israel. After it was expelled from Lebanon in 1982 it became closer Fatah. It is part of the Palestinian Authority and has a present in Gaza as well.

 

 

 

Land Day

 

 

 

On 30 March 1976 thousands of Palestinians from towns and villages in the Galilee region, northern Israel, marched in protest against an Israeli order to confiscate land belonging to indigenous communities in the area. The equivalent of 2,000 hectares was ordered for appropriation.

 

Israel’s move to seize land was viewed as a continuation of the policy to “Judaise” the territory at the expense of Palestinians. The vast majority (750,000) had already been expelled by Israel and the land and property they left behind was seized by the Israeli government through dubious legal means.

 

Israeli security forces reacted by deploying the army, border police and armored units to the Palestinian villages. Violent confrontations ensued resulting in six deaths and injuries to over one hundred people.

 

It is not an accident that the people of Gaza have begun their latest protest on Land day, nor that Israel reacted with killing 200 people among them children, invalids, journalists and medics. It is another war crime.

 

 

 

The First Intifada

 

 

 

In December 1987, after twenty years in which Israel, enforced curfews and raids, arrests, deportations and house demolitions, the First Intifada broke out in the 1967 occupied lands of Palestine. It was an uprising which would last for over five years, in which Israel killed close to 2,000 Palestinians and wounded many thousands who struggled for their freedom, according to Israeli Human rights organization B’tzelem. (See Tables 1-4) [13]

 

 

 

Table 4. Palestinians killed in the Occupied Territories (including East Jerusalem)

 

Year                                      Palestinians killed            Of them: Minors                  Palestinians killed            Of them: Minors

 

                                              by Israeli                              under age 17                        by Israeli civilians             under age 17

 

                                              security forces

 

Dec 9-31 1987                     22                                                   5                                                 0                                      0

 

1988                                       289                                              48                                               15                                     2

 

1989                                       285                                              78                                               17                                     5

 

1990                                       125                                              23                                                 9                                     2

 

1991                                       91                                                24                                                 6                                     3

 

1992                                       134                                              23                                                 2                                     0

 

1993-13.9.93                        124                                              36                                                  5                                     1

 

14.9.93-31.12.93                 30                                                  4                                                   8                                     0

 

1994                                       106                                             16                                                38                                     8

 

1995                                       42                                                 4                                                   2                                     1

 

1996                                       69                                               10                                                   3                                     1

 

1997                                       18                                                 5                                                   4                                     0

 

1998                                       21                                                 3                                                   6                                     0

 

1999                                       8                                                   0                                                   0                                     0

 

2000 until 28.9                   12                                                   2                                                   0                                     0

 

Total                                 1,376                                             281                                               115                                   23

 

 

 

 

 

Table 5. Israelis killed in the Occupied Territories (including East Jerusalem)

 

Year                       Israeli civilians killed       Of them: Minors                   Israeli security forces

 

                                by Palestinians                  under age 17                        personnel killed by Palestinians

 

Dec 9-31 1987     0                                              0                                              0

 

1988                       6                                              3                                              4

 

1989                       3                                              0                                              6

 

1990                       4                                              0                                              3

 

1991                       7                                              0                                              1

 

1992                       11                                           0                                              14

 

1993-13.9.93        16                                           0                                              15

 

14.9.93-31.12.93 11                                            0                                              3

 

1994                       11                                           0                                              12

 

1995                       7                                              0                                              9

 

1996                       3                                              1                                              19

 

1997                       4                                              0                                              0

 

1998                       8                                              0                                              3

 

1999                       1                                              0                                              2

 

2000 until 28.9    2                                              0                                              0

 

Total                      94                                           4                                              91

 

 

 

 

 

Table 6. Palestinians within the Green Line

 

Year                                       Palestinians killed                                            Palestinians killed

 

                                                by Israeli security forces                                by Israeli civilians

 

Dec 9-31 1987                     0                                                                              0

 

1988                                       1                                                                              5

 

1989                                       1                                                                              2

 

1990                                       1                                                                              10

 

1991                                       5                                                                              2

 

1992                                       2                                                                              0

 

1993-13.9.93                        7                                                                              2

 

14.9.93-31.12.93                 4                                                                              0

 

1994                                       7                                                                              1

 

1995                                       0                                                                              1

 

1996                                       0                                                                              2

 

1997                                       0                                                                              1

 

1998                                       0                                                                              1

 

1999                                       1                                                                              0

 

2000 until 28.9                    4                                                                              0

 

Total                                      33                                                                           27

 

 

 

Table 7. Israelis killed within the Green Line

 

Year                        Israeli civilians                  Of them: Minors                  Israeli security forces personnel

 

                                killed by Palestinians       under age 17                        killed by Palestinians

 

Dec 9-31 1987                     0                              0                                              0

 

1988                                       2                              0                                              0

 

1989                                       17                           1                                              5

 

1990                                       13                           0                                              2

 

1991                                       7                              0                                              4

 

1992                                       8                              1                                              1

 

1993-13.9.93                        6                              0                                              5

 

14.9.93-31.12.93                 3                              0                                              2

 

1994                                       47                           2                                              4

 

1995                                       9                              0                                              21

 

1996                                       38                           7                                              15

 

1997                                       25                           3                                              0

 

1998                                       1                              0                                              0

 

1999                                       1                              0                                              0

 

2000 until 28.9                     0                              0                                              0

 

Total                                      177                         14                                           59

 

 

 

This was a new generation who did not suffer from the feeling of shame and humiliation of the defeat in 1967. Israel, the so called only democracy in the Middle East, used all its military power to crash the popular uprising and failed. It began after hundreds of Palestinians witnessed the killing of four men who were run down by an Israeli jeep outside Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza on 8 December. Ten thousand people attended the funerals of those killed. The following day Israeli troops fired aimlessly into a demonstrating crowd, killing 17 year-old Hatem Abu Sisi and wounding 16 others. Palestinians took control of neighborhoods, barricaded roads to prevent Israeli army vehicles from entering. They defended themselves by throwing stones at the soldiers and their tanks. Shopkeepers closed their businesses and the workers refused to go to their workplaces in Israel where they were used as cheap labor.

 

Since the Israeli state could not break the intifada by force they had to look for political and diplomatic means. In 1993 Rabin was the Prime Minister of Israel who signed the Oslo agreement and since then has been considered a peace loving person. After his assassination by a right wing fanatic Yegal Amir, he became a symbol of the good Zionist, a martyr of peace even by the left and soft Zionists and pro-Zionists.

 

But what was his history? The Los Angeles Time reported in June 1990:”An Israeli colonel accused of ordering soldiers to break the limbs of Palestinians testified today that beatings were "part of the accepted norm in that period" of the Palestinian uprising. Testifying in his own defense, Col. Yehuda Meir told three military judges that his superiors did not question the beatings because "there was nothing special in it. . . . There was nothing out of the ordinary." Meir testified Thursday that former Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin gave orders in January, 1988, to break the bones of Palestinian inciters as punishment.” [14]

 

In July 1948 Zionist soldiers under the command of Yitzhak Rabin expelled most of the Arabs from Lod (Lydda) and Ramleh: “On July 11th, two platoons from the 3rd Battalion advanced from the conquered village of Daniyal toward the olive groves separating Ben Shemen from Lydda. The Arab militia defending the city held them off with machine-gun fire. In the meantime, the 89th Battalion, led by Moshe Dayan, had arrived in Ben Shemen. In the late afternoon, the battalion, consisting of a giant armored vehicle mounted with cannon, menacing half-tracks, and machine-gun-equipped jeeps, left Ben Shemen and stormed Lydda. In a forty-seven-minute-long blitz, dozens of Arabs were shot dead, including women, children, and old people. The 89th Battalion lost nine men. In the early evening, the two 3rd Battalion platoons were able to enter the city. Within hours, the soldiers held key positions in the city center and had confined thousands of Palestinian civilians in the Great Mosque. (…) The brigade commander was a Ben Shemen graduate, too. He gave the order to open fire. Some of the soldiers threw hand grenades into Arab houses. One fired an anti-tank shell into the small mosque. In thirty minutes, two hundred and fifty Palestinians were killed. Zionism had carried out a massacre in the city of Lydda. When the news reached the headquarters of Operation Larlar, in the Palestinian village of Yazur, the military commander, General Yigal Allon, asked Ben-Gurion what to do with the Arabs. Ben-Gurion waved his hand: Deport them. Hours later, Yitzhak Rabin, the operations officer, issued a written order to the Yiftach Brigade: “The inhabitants of Lydda must be expelled quickly, without regard to age.” [15]

 

 

 

The Oslo Agreement

 

 

 

Needless to say the Zionists rejected his plea. In the Oslo agreement that came after the first popular and heroic struggle of the Palestinians, the PLO accepted the idea of two states which included the readiness to recognize Israel. Furthermore, the PLO following this agreement began to collaborate with Israel against its own people who rejected this plan. The Zionist propaganda has been that there is no partner for peace and have continued to expand the Jewish settlements in order to prevent a Palestinian state in the 1967 occupied lands. In addition since 2005 the Zionists separated Gaza from the West Bank and turned Gaza to the largest Ghetto in history.

 

Since the war of 1967 Israel has not been very successful in its wars. It had to escape Lebanon in 2000. It has not been able to destroy Hamas. In spite of its military strength the rot is growing in every corner. Yet no part of the ruling class is able to get Israel away from the path leading to an open apartheid from the river to the sea, a path leading to even worse oppression and isolation. Today Israel has many far right friends, but the opposition to these regimes and movement is growing and many in this opposition oppose Zionism. To hide the progressive opposition to Zionism the Zionists attack all progressive movements as “Anti-Semites”.

 

As reactionary as Israel’s wars are, as progressive are the effects of its defeats. We saw this very clearly that with the defeat of Israel in Lebanon when it had to escape in the middle of the night in 2000, in the second war of Lebanon when it was defeated by Hezbollah, in the war of the Palestinian Authority backed by Israel against Hamas in 2007 and in the wars against Hamas. They were important factors in the break out of the Second Intifada in September 2000 as well as the Arab revolutionary uprising in 2011.

 

 

 

The Wars in Lebanon

 

 

 

In 1972: Members of the Israeli Olympic team at the Munich Olympics are taken hostage and were killed during a rescue attempt. At the same time, the Israeli government conducts operations against Palestinian leaders in Europe and Beirut. The Israeli air force killed scores of people in Jordan and Lebanon during frequent raids.

 

In 1973: Three Palestinian leaders were assassinated in Beirut.

 

In March 1978: Al Fatah militants landed on the Israeli coast south of Haifa, attacking a bus and cars on the Tel Aviv-Haifa highway. Thirty-five Israelis were killed and at least seventy-four were wounded.

 

In April 1978: The IDF launched Operation Litani. This Israeli military offensive forced an estimated 285,000 people to become refugees, with over 6,000 homes destroyed or badly damaged and between 1,000 - 2,000 Lebanese civilians were killed. [16]

 

“When Anwar Sadat was murdered, on the eighth anniversary of the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War, Menachem Begin hastened to annex the Golan Heights, in the hope of pushing Hosni Mubarak to freeze the Israeli-Egyptian peace and so provide Begin with a pretext for cancelling the evacuations of Yamit and Sharm al-Sheikh to which Israel was committed. In this scenario, Syria was cast as the agent of a violent response to the annexation. In response to the response, the Northern Command would embark on a campaign including an invasion of Lebanon, for a threefold purpose – to wipe out the PLO forces, push out the Syrian army and get as far as Beirut to help Israel’s darling, Bashir Gemayel, get elected president. [17]

 

In 1982: The Israeli government invaded Lebanon after the assassination attempt against Israel's ambassador to the United Kingdom, Shlomo Argov, by the Abu Nidal Organization, Fatah – The Revolutionary Council (Fatah al-Majles al-Thawry) an organization that opposed the PLO.

 

This provided the excuse. After attacking the PLO, as well as Syrian, leftist and Muslim Lebanese forces, Israel occupied southern Lebanon for 18 years. The PLO was surrounded in West Beirut and, after heavy bombardment, the PLO fighters negotiated passage from Lebanon with the aid of Special Envoy Philip Habib and the protection of international peacekeepers. The PLO moved to Algeria and will return to Palestine only after the Oslo agreement.

 

“The documents of the Institute for Palestine studies (IPS include transcripts of meetings between senior Israeli officials and Lebanese Force (Phalanges) leaders starting in January 1982 that include discussions about ‘cleaning out of the [Palestinian] refugee camps,” and the need for “several D[e]ir Yassins.” They include as well several explicit references to the decimation and expulsion of the camps’ population from Lebanon, such that “Sabra would become a zoo and Shatilah [sic] Beirut’s parking place.’ These documents show that Israeli defense minister Ariel Sharon, Chief of Staff Lt. General Rafael Eitan, Chief of Military Intelligence Maj. General Yehoshua Saguy, the head of the Mossad, Yitzhak Hofi, and his deputy and successor, Nahum Admoni, were fully informed of the murderous proclivities of the LF long before they decided to introduce them into Sabra and Shatila. They had detailed knowledge of the massacre the LF had perpetrated in August 1976 at Tal al-Za‘tar camp (the documents show that Israel had liaison officers on the spot), and elsewhere during previous phases of the Lebanese civil war. They were fully aware of LF atrocities against Palestinians and Lebanese in the areas of South Lebanon, the Shouf and ‘Aley that the Israeli army occupied during June 1982, and where it allowed the LF to operate freely. They knew perfectly well the lethal intentions of the LF towards the Palestinians. While these documents show that Sharon and others sought to evade their responsibility for the massacre before the Kahan commission, no reader of them can have the slightest doubt about what Sharon and his generals intended in deciding to introduce their LF allies into the camps”.

 

Israel occupied Lebanon for 18 years. If it could it would annex it. However Israel had to escape due to the military actions of Hezbollah. During this occupation it jailed many Lebanese and Palestinians. The most known was Ansar. “It was not a traditional prison camp, neither in terms of the aims the Israelis wanted to achieve in that prison camp, nor as far as the number of detainees was concerned, nor as far as the legal status and the nature of the prisoners themselves were concerned.

 

Ansar began a few weeks after the beginning of the war. Every single soul was brought to detention places in Sidon and Tyre; children – even newborn infants carried by their mothers –; all had to assemble in the church yards or mosque yards, or on the seashore of Sidon and Tyre. At one time, they herded about 20, 000 people on the seashore of Sidon. The most infamous places of detention were the Nuns' School of St. Joseph and the Safa factory in Sidon. Those places were mini-holocausts. Those who experienced either of these places still have marks on their souls. Many died under torture there. Then a bigger and more permanent place was needed, and Ansar came into being.

 

The population – both the Palestinian and Lebanese populations – were divided: the males were in Ansar exposed to all sorts of ill treatment, and the rest – mainly women, children and old men – were in the South, facing all kinds of insecurity. Wives were compelled to leave their homes seeking work to support their children. Children were compelled to leave school to find work to subsidize the family. Many students left school because the teachers were detained in Ansar. In this way, both those who were detained and those who were outside the prison were exposed to pressure and to danger.

 

When the tanks were advancing through the south of Lebanon, a committee called the Committee for the Rehabilitation of Palestinian Refugees was established, headed by Meridor, the Israeli Minister of Finance at that time. The establishment of such a committee must have been premeditated. In Sidon, during a meeting between the Finance Minister and some other Israeli officials, an official asked the Minister, "What shall we do about the Palestinian refugees?" The Minister waved his hand and said, "Push them east" the same phrase used by the German Nazis.

 

The number of prisoners who passed through the gates of Ansar was about 15, 000. According to the figure registered with the International Red Cross and according to Israeli documents, 12, 000 passed through. This is not the real figure, however, because a few thousand prisoners didn't have numbers and were not visited by the ICRC, neither in Ansar itself, nor in Sidon and Tyre where there were other detention centers. The largest number of prisoners in Ansar at one time was about 9,500, distributed among 22 sections.

 

Who were the prisoners? In fact, less than 10 percent were active PLO members, arrested from all over Lebanon. Some of them were kidnapped from boats sailing between Cyprus and Tripoli; others were taken from Beirut itself, in addition to those taken from the South. The rest of the prisoners were UNRWA employees, teachers, headmasters of schools, doctors, lawyers, artists, Lebanese government employees, mukhtars of the Lebanese villages and the refugee camps, merchants, laborers and male nurses. Ansar was, in fact, a microcosm of the society itself. The ages ranged from 12 (the youngest prisoner), to 85. Thousands were over the ages of 45 and 50. [18]

 

 

 

The Occupation of 1967

 

 

 

Since 1967 to 2014 800,000 Palestinians have been in Israeli prisons. [19] In the recent past around 20,000 Palestinians have been in prison a year which means that by now 900,000 Palestinians have been in Israeli prisons.

 

 

 

Map 3. Palestinian Loss of Land 1946 - Present

 

 

 

Around 650,000 settlers live in over 230 settlements built illegally since the 1967 occupation of the Palestinian lands, over 42% of the West Bank.

 

The new National Law states:

 

“A. The land of Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people, in which the State of Israel was established.

 

B. The State of Israel is the national home of the Jewish people, in which it fulfills its natural, cultural, religious and historical right to self-determination.

 

C. The right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.

 

 7 — Jewish settlement

 

A. The state views the development of Jewish settlement as a national value and will act to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation.” [20]

 

Thus this law is a clear and open statement that Israel is an apartheid state.

 

 

 

Gaza

 

 

 

Most of the Palestinians living in Gaza are of families who were expelled by Israel in 1948. When Israel considered annexing Gaza it built there settlements. When Sharon became the Prime Minister of Israel he removed the settlements and Israel imposed a siege on it since 2005. It simply changed the form of Israeli occupation and became the largest ghetto in history. In 2006, Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary elections and took control of the Palestinian government. Israel and the U.S have imposed sanctions against the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority because the imperialists have declared Hamas a terrorist organization. It cannot be denied that Hamas have used the method of terror, however comparing Hamas‘s terrorism to the Israel and the US terrorism is like comparing a Mosquito to an elephant. The movement of both goods and people into and out of Gaza is severely restricted by Israel and has been restricted for decades. Prior to 1991, Palestinians could move with relative freedom between the West Bank and Gaza. Israel has placed a blockade over Gaza, severely limiting exports and imports and banning nearly all travel by residents of Gaza. Between 2007 and 2010, even basic necessities such as cooking gas, water filtration equipment, toilet paper, tooth paste, clothes, noodles, candy, and spices were blocked from entering Gaza. In 2010, the Israeli government announced an “easing” of the blockade and allowed for a limited increase in imports such as clothing and food.

 

“According to Defense for Children International—Palestine, during the first year after the disengagement the Israeli military fired over 15,000 shells into Gaza, conducted over 550 airstrikes on Gaza, and carried out regular military incursions into Gaza. Operation Summer Rains during June 2006 left at least 256 Palestinians dead and 848 injured. At least 85 more Palestinians were killed in Gaza during a November 2006 military offensive which was codenamed Operation Autumn Clouds. In Operation Warm Winter in February and March 2008 Israel killed 120 (34 children) and injured 269 (at least 63 children). Israel during Operation Cast Lead in December 2008 killed more than 1,400 Palestinians, the majority of them civilians. More than 16,000 Gazans were permanently displaced from their homes which were destroyed during the attack. In Operation Pillar of Cloud in Gaza during November 2012 Israel killed 168 Palestinians and destroying hundreds of homes. In July 2014 Israel began Operation Protective Edge. According to U.N. OCHA, 2,220 Palestinians in Gaza, including more than 550 children, were killed since 30 March last year Israel killed 200 people and injured many thousands.” [21]

 

The UN Human Rights Council will accuse the Zionist entity of war crimes for its bloody repression of Palestinian protests in the Gaza Strip that have killed more than 190 Palestinians. This however is not going to stop Israel from committing war crimes, because of the role it plays for the imperialist control of the region.

 

Today there is no Zionist party with any weight that is ready to accept a solution based on the borders of 1967 that has given Israel 78% of Palestine. The right-wing Zionist parties are openly for one apartheid state from the river to the sea. The so called center Zionists support the large settlements and reject the right of the return of the Palestinian refugees. The only Zionist Party that accept a two state solution on the borders of 1967 is the small party Meretz which cannot prevent turning Israel to an open apartheid.

 

Clearly the Zionists have condemned the Palestinians to life of discrimination and repression and the Israeli Jews to wars until Israel will lose badly one of them.

 

Thus the only way forward is one democratic state that will accept the refugees where the Palestinians and the Israelis will be equal. This will happen either when the Arab revolution will win or Israel will be defeated very badly in a war. For this to be realized a workers mostly Arabs must win and establish red democratic Palestine as part of the Socialist Federation of the Middle East. For this we need to build the Fifth International.

 

 

 



[1] Ofer Aderet: Israel Genocide? Oct 13, 2018, https://israelgenocide.com/tag/david-ben-gurion/

[2] For an extensive analysis of the 1967 war from a Marxist point of view see e.g. Yossi Schwartz: Israel’s Six-Day War of 1967. On the Character of the War, the Marxist Analysis and the Position of the Israeli Left, July 2013, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/israel-s-war-of-1967/

[4] Howard Sachar, A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1979, p. 616

[5] Yitzhak Rabin, Israel's Chief of Staff in 1967, in Le Monde, 2/28/1968

[6] New York Times, August 21, 1982; Noam Chomsky: The Fateful Triangle

[7] Tom Segev: 1967. Israel, the War, and the Year That Transformed the Middle East, Metropolitan Books, New York 2007, p. 261

[8] Cheryl A. Rubenberg, Israel and the American National Interest: A Critical Examination, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986, p. 113

[9] Bar Zohar: Ben Gurion, p. 158

[10] Stephen Green, Taking Sides: America's Secret Relations with a Militant Israel (Brattleboro, Vt.: Amana Books, 1988), pp. 204-11. Green's principal source claims to have participated in the operation

[11] The Palestinian National Charter, Resolution of the Palestine National Council July 1-17, 1968, https://unispal.un.org/DPA/DPR/unispal.nsf/0/B508C2071B4377DB85256CED00716FA3

[15] Ari Shavit: A city, a massacre, and the Middle East today, The New Yorker October 21, 2013 Issue

[17] Amir Oren: With Ariel Sharon Gone, Israel Reveals the Truth About the 1982 Lebanon War, Haaretz, September 17, 2017

[18] Palestine: Information with Provenance (PIWP database), al-Ansar prison camp, Lebanon

[21] Information based on report of American Service friends Committee https://www.afsc.org/resource/gaza-under-siege