October 27, 2003

Lesser-Known Stories from the Only Democracy in the Middle East
by Ran HaCohen

 

The Man Who Had Five Heads

Israel's former Prime Minister Barak and his present successor Sharon made extra-judicial killing – euphemised at first as "targeted assassination", later as "targeted prevention" – a key element in Israel's "defence" policy. Gideon Levy of Ha'aretz (14.9.2003) wonders:

"Last week, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) announced that soldiers from the undercover unit Duvdevan had liquidated Ahmed Bader, describing him as 'the head of the Hamas military wing in Hebron.' Seven weeks earlier, on June 22, we were informed that a force of the Border Police and the Shin Bet security service had eliminated 'the head of the military wing of Hamas in Hebron.' On that occasion the part was played by Abdullah Qawasmeh. Three months before that, on March 18, it was reported that the IDF had terminated Ali Alan, who was also 'the head of the military wing of Hamas in Hebron.' Seven months prior to that, on August 28, 2002, it was announced that the IDF had arrested "the head of the military wing of Hamas in Hebron," Abdel Halek Natshe. Less than a year before that, in November 2001, the IDF reported that a helicopter-launched missile killed Jail Jadallah – 'the head of the military wing of Hamas in Hebron.'

Yes, within less than two years Israel liquidated and arrested five people all of whom were described as 'the head of the military wing of Hamas in Hebron.'"

How 10 Dead Killed 180 Living

Uri Misgav of the Tel-Aviv weekly Ha'Ir (25.9.2003) conducted a survey into 10 cases of "targeted assassination" and Palestinian attacks launched in retaliation for them. All these assassinations followed periods of relative quiet. Synopsis:

31.7.2001: 2 Hamas activists assassinated in Nablus.

"Collateral damage": 4 Palestinian adults and 2 children killed.

5.8 – 9.8.2001: 18 Israelis killed in four terror attacks.

27.8.2001: Popular Front leader assassinated in Ramallah.

29.8 – 9.9.2001: 7 Israelis killed in four terror attacks.

17.10.2001: Popular Front combatants assassinate an Israeli cabinet minister.

23.11.2001: Hamas activist assassinated north of Nablus.

"Collateral damage": 2 Palestinian adults killed.

24.11 – 2.12.2001: 35 Israelis killed in eight terror attacks.

10.12.2001: Islamic Jihad activist assassinated in Hebron.

"Collateral damage": 2 Palestinian children killed.

12.12.2001: 10 Israelis killed in revenge in Immanuel.

14.1.2002: Tanzim commander assassinated in Tul Karm.

14.1 – 22.1.2002: 11 Israelis killed in five retaliation attacks.

22.7.2002: Hamas senior killed by a one-ton-bomb on his house in Gaza.

"Collateral damage": 5 Palestinian adults and 9 children killed.

26.7 – 4.8.2002: 27 Israelis killed in seven counter-attacks.

9.11.2002: Islamic Jihad activist killed in Jenin.

16.11.2002: 14 Israelis killed in revenge in Hebron.

10.6.2003: Hamas political leader Rantissi slightly injured in Gaza.

"Collateral damage": 4 Palestinian adults and a child killed.

11.6.2003: 17 Israelis killed in retaliation in Jerusalem.

9.8.2003, 15.8.2003: 3 Hamas combatants killed in Nablus and Hebron.

An Israeli soldier was killed in action.

12.8 – 20.8.2003: 25 Israelis killed in two revenge attacks.

6.9.2003: Israel bombs a meeting of the leadership of Hamas in Gaza, but fails.

9.9.2003: 15 Israelis killed in two counter-attacks.

Sum total: 10 wanted Palestinians assassinated; 30 innocent Palestinian killed; 180 innocent Israelis killed in retaliation directly following the assassinations.

As the Israeli Chief-of-Staff so often boasts, "the 'targeted prevention' policy is working perfectly."

Your Home Is My Castle

The Apartheid Wall – the so-called "security fence" – presently being erected deep in occupied Palestinian land has already left about 12.000 Palestinian villagers outside it, trapped between the Wall and the Green Line. All this territory, between the Apartheid Wall and Israel proper, has been termed "the seam zone." The Israeli Army recently issued clear and detailed orders concerning this zone, as reported by Amira Hass of Ha'aretz (14.10.2003):

"An individual will not enter the seam zone and will not stay there; An individual found in the seam zone will have to leave it immediately."

What about a Palestinian who lives in the seam zone? -Well, he "will be permitted to enter the seam zone and stay there, so long as he bears a permit in writing" issued by the Israeli Army.

So if you happened to have your house in the seam zone, and you are aged 12 or older, you have to persuade the Israeli Army to give you a permit to stay at home, or to go home. If you expect a visit, first make sure your guest fills one of the 12 relevant application forms – for an owner of a business in the seam zone; a merchant; an employee; a farmer; a teacher; a student; an employee of the Palestinian Authority; a visitor; an employee of an international organization; an employee of a local authority or infrastructure company; a member of a medical team; or for 'all other objectives' – the Israeli Army thinks of everything. Once your guest has filled out the form, and has been lucky enough to obtain the permit, he is most welcome to visit you.

Obviously, the Israeli Army may or may not issue the permit. The Army may limit its validity, withdraw it, or suspend it at will. It may take you several days to get a permit, it may take months. But it may also depend on the applicant: he may be politely asked – in a discrete conversation with an anonymous agent in dark sun-glasses – to keep an open eye on his neighbours or family if he wants to get a permit, or to grant the Israeli intelligence some other service: No free lunch.

Obviously, these draconic measures are not really applied to everybody. Some people do not need a permit. These are:

"1. A citizen of Israel;

2. A resident of Israel;

3. Anyone entitled to immigrate to Israel according to the Law of Return."

So if your mother happened to be Jewish, and you live in Montreal, in Mexico City or in Johannesburg, you need no permit at all to go to the small West Bank village of Salim. But if you are a Palestinian, even if you and your family have been living in Salim for centuries, you cannot stay there without a written permit from Major General Moshe Kaplinski "or someone acting on his behalf", as the order goes.

Major General Moshe Kaplinski has not been summoned to the International Criminal Court in the Hague yet for this racist order. I doubt whether he ever will be.

But if you ever wondered what the world would have looked like if Hitler had won the War, I think this could give you a pretty good idea.

Happy Halloween.

– Ran HaCohen

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Ran HaCohen was born in the Netherlands in 1964 and grew up in Israel. He has a B.A. in Computer Science, an M.A. in Comparative Literature and is currently working on his PhD thesis. He teaches in the Tel-Aviv University's Department of Comparative Literature. He also works as a literary translator (from German, English and Dutch), and as a literary critic for the Israeli daily Yedioth Achronoth. Mr. HaCohen's work has been published widely in Israel. "Letter from Israel" appears occasionally at Antiwar.com.

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