Forty-Four Years of Israeli Occupation
By Stephen Lendman
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, June 6, 2011
On March 7, Palestinian Prisoners Society head Qadura Fares
presented a paper to the UN International Meeting on the Question of
Palestine, addressing the plight of political prisoners in Israeli
prisons and detention facilities, saying:
Palestine "has been
under criminal occupation for 44 years. During that time, (Israel)
committed the worst crimes against humanity, violating every
international instrument. The occupier has killed tens of thousands of
our struggling people, most of them defenseless civilians. There have
been over 800,000 instances of imprisonment. Tens of thousands of people
have been injured," 30% left with permanent disabilities.
Moreover, thousands of homes, crops, and other property have been
destroyed. "All this has been done in full view of the world." Even
Israeli rabbis "legitimized the slaughter of Palestinian babies
(claiming they'll) grow up to become enemies."
Citing many other
lawless examples, Fares asked for UN help to end "the occupation and
(let Palestinians) live in freedom in an independent sovereign State
with Al-Quds Al-Sharif (Jerusalem) as its capital."
June 6 marks
44 years of occupation, a crime against humanity by any standard. Yet
world leaders ignore it, denying Palestinians equity, justice, and
freedom, putting a lie to those endorsing democracy. Israel long ago
spurned it, especially for anyone not Jewish.
In 1948, in fact,
its war without mercy depopulated villages and cities, massacred
innocent victims, committed rapes and other atrocities, destroyed
Palestinian homes and other property, and prevented them from returning
after seizing 78% of historic Palestine.
During its Six-Day War,
it took the rest, claiming self-defense against neighbors it attacked
preemptively during its long-planned aggression it knew it could win and
The New York Times quoted Prime Minister Menachem
Begin's (1977 - 83) August, 1982 speech saying:
"In June, 1967,
we had a choice. The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai
approaches (did) not prove that (President Gamal Abdel) Nasser (1956 -
70) was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We
decided to attack him."
In February 1968, two time Prime
Minister Yitzhak Rabin (1974 - 77 and 1992 - 95) told the French
newspaper Le Monde:
"I do not believe Nasser wanted war. The
two divisions which he sent into Sinai on May 14 would not have been
enough to unleash an offensive against Israel. He knew it and we knew
General Mordechai Hod, Commander of Israel's Air Force at
the time said in 1978:
"Sixteen years of planning had gone into
those initial eighty minutes. We lived with the plan. We slept on the
plan. We ate the plan. Constantly we perfected it."
Barlev, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Chief told Ma'ariv in April, 1972:
"We were not threatened with genocide on the eve of the six-day
war, and we had never thought of such a possibility."
Israeli leaders and generals voiced the same sentiment, saying Israel
wasn't threatened, yet preemptively waged war, falsely claiming no other
choice. In fact, it had a clear one. It could have chosen peace, but
didn't and never did earlier or since, pursuing its imperial interests
like America, its paymaster/partner from then to now, supporting its
In 1967, it was Israel's third major war, pursuing
its vision for a Greater Jewish State, justified by the myth that Jews
got there first, establishing their ancestral home on "a land without
people for a people without land."
Israel's 1948 "War of
Independence" was its first preemptive aggression. Palestinians call it
al-Nakba. More aggression followed against Egypt in October 1956, with
Britain and France, after Nasser's Suez Canal nationalization. Eight
days later, US and Soviet pressure ended it, Israel withdrawing its last
troops in March 1957 but not further belligerent intentions.
decade later, more war and occupation followed. Ahead it it, Foreign
Minister Abba Eban got Lyndon Johnson's backing to pursue it.
Begun on June 5, 1967, it was an impressive display of power, Israel
easily destroying 90% of Egypt's 300 + aircraft on the ground and
two-thirds of Syria's Air Force the first day.
After 24 hours,
Israeli Air Force (IAF) Commander Mordechai Hod announced the combined
Arab air forces were destroyed. The devastating toll proved it. In
contrast, Israel lost only 19 fighter aircraft compared Egypt's 300,
Syria's 60, Jordan's 35, Iraq's 15, and Lebanon's one or two.
Palestinians, however, lost the remaining 22% of historic Palestine
leaving them stateless. It began on day two when Israel invaded Gaza and
the West Bank.
On day three, IDF troops entered northern Sinai,
devastated Egyptian brigades, captured Jerusalem, and got Jordan to
On day four, they invaded Haram Al-Sharif and
central Sinai, and by day five advanced to the Suez Canal, taking all of
Sinai and the Syria's Golan (including its valuable water resources).
The war practically ended before it began, but Israel showed no
mercy, using unopposed air power to massacre thousands of defenseless
Egyptian troops on the ground.
It was a turkey shoot
Washington supported, providing Israel with the latest weapons and
munitions, including tarmac-shredding explosives preventing undamaged
planes from taking off, leaving them easy targets on the ground.
Moreover, a US carrier group provided intelligence and communications
help, standing ready to intervene if needed. Washington effectively
partnered in Israel's war, even ignoring the USS Liberty attack.
Monitoring hostilities in Mediterranean waters about 13 nautical miles
off Sinai, Israeli aircraft and torpedo boats attacked it, knowing it
was a US vessel as its lead pilot later admitted. Despite 34 on board
killed, another 170 wounded, and heavy damage inflicted, Defense
Secretary Robert McNamara called it a case of "mistaken identity,"
knowing full well it was naked aggression.
Joint Chiefs chairman Admiral Thomas Moorer called the incident "one of
the classic all-American cover-ups," one of many times Washington
alibied for the worst of Israeli crimes, even against US forces.
End the Occupation - Americans and Other Organizations Against It
Its web site (EndtheOccupation.org) explains its "call to action,"
supporting "freedom from occupation, and equal rights for
all....including the right to exist in peace and security."
members from 325 diverse groups include civil and human rights
activists; faith-based organizations including, Muslims, Jews and
Christians; students; and others for peace and justice in Palestine,
united to end US support for occupation.
Other organizations are
also involved, including the International Solidarity Movement (ISM),
"a Palestinian-led movement committed to
resisting the Israeli apartheid in Palestine" through nonviolent, direct
On May 15, the Iranian Fars
News Agency headlined, "Israeli Occupation of Palestine Continues Amid
Int'l Inaction," saying:
Forty-four years of occupation,
"bloodshed and devastation....falls squarely on (Israel's) shoulders
(in) direct violation of international laws and any reasonable moral
standard." According to Global Exchange:
We "oppose the policies
of the Israeli government and the United States support for them, which,
in our view, prevent any peaceful resolution and guarantee that (neither
side) can live" safely in peace.
Despite international law and
numerous UN resolutions calling for occupation to end and demanding
Israel respect its legal obligations, Palestinians are still denied.
On May 16, the General Assembly published identical letters dated
May 13 from the Permanent Observer Mission to Palestine's Charge
d'affairs, addressed to the UN Secretary-General and Security Council
Palestinians are still "uprooted,
dispossessed and displaced" as refugees or under "belligerent military
occupation of Israel....since (June 6,) 1967 in the Palestinian
Territory, including East Jerusalem, forced to endure the systematic
violation of their fundamental rights and war crimes at the hands of the
occupying power for nearly 44 years."
Israel clearly shows
"contempt....for the rights and very existence of the Palestinian
people, whom it continues to collectively punish, colonize, humiliate,
intimidate and (subject) to all forms of oppression."
firmly confronting it, occupation, conflict and suffering continue,
affecting the entire region and world peace. Again this year,
Palestinians "call upon the international community to enforce its own
Charter by assuming its (legal) responsibilit(y)" for Palestinian
"self-determination and freedom in their independent State of Palestine
on the basis of the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital,
and ensuring a just and lasting solution to the plight of the
"This letter (follows 390 earlier ones)
regarding (resolving) the ongoing crisis in the Occupied Palestinian
Territory, including East Jerusalem....For all of these war crimes, acts
of State terrorism and systematic human rights violations committed
against the Palestinian people, Israel....must be held accountable and
the perpetrators must be brought to justice."
On June 5,
organizers of the Nakba Day rally said Palestinian refugees will again
march to Israel's borders against 44 years of occupation, despite IDF
Nakba Day violence against them, killing over 20 nonviolent
demonstrators, injuring dozens more.
Organizers again said this
is "just the beginning (until) Palestinian refugees return to Haifa,
Haffa, Al-Majdal, Bi'r As-Sab and all occupied Palestinian towns. The
Nakba Day procession was not a one-time event, but rather a new phase in
the Palestinians' historic struggle."
On June 1, International
Middle East Media Center writer Kevin Murphy headlined, "Protests
Announced for Naksa Day ("the setback" on June 5)," saying:
Other marches are planned, including to the Israeli - Lebanese border.
Eil Hilweeh refugee camp official Muneer Maqda "said that 50,000
refugees will march on Israel's borders from two separate locations,
Maron Ar-Ras and Naqoura...." They'll erect tents until their right of
return is granted.
Other demonstrations will support them,
including ones in Gaza, the West Bank, a march to Jerusalem, another
opposite Israel's London embassy, and others worldwide in support of
A Final Comment
On June 1, ahead
of Naksa Day, Israelis commemorated Jerusalem Day provocatively,
marching on the forty-fourth anniversary of its reunification. On June
2, Haaretz writers Yair Ettinger, Jonathan Lis and Nir Hasson headlined,
"24 held during Jerusalem Day violence," saying:
Palestinians and Jews "were arrested yesterday during the
traditional....flag procession which saw isolated instances of racist
epithets, fist fights and stone-throwing. Tens of thousands" of mostly
ultra-Orthodox zealots and right-wing settlers marched through Sheikh
Jarrah, a predominantly East Jerusalem Arab neighborhood, home to about
2,800 Palestinians, as well as diplomatic missions and well-known
Settlers, however, want it back and have encroached
for years, displacing dozens of Palestinian families, putting hundreds
more at risk.
On the same day, Netanyahu addressed a special
Knesset session, affirming continued illegal East Jerusalem settlement
construction, pledging also that the city never again will be divided at
a Jerusalem Day Ammunition Hill ceremony, site of a key 1967 battle.
Kadima leader Tzipi Livni expressed the same sentiment, saying:
"There is no 'their' Jerusalem and 'our' Jerusalem," showing contempt
for Palestinian rights and rule of law justice.
day, tensions remained high, exacerbated by Netanyahu and extremist
supporters defying Palestinians in East Jerusalem.
Naksa Day rallies will affirm their determination to accept nothing less
than liberation on their own land in their own country, no matter the
obstacles confronting them ahead. Their courage deserves everyone's
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
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