Aims served by Israeli arms no loftier than those served by Palestinian pipe bombs
Idan Landau, YNET
The "al-Sanabel" television station in Nablus almost aired an exclusive report this week: An elite unit of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades raided an Israel Military Industries plant in the coastal plain and uncovered sophisticated weapons labs. The arms that were confiscated include 300 air-to-surface missiles for helicopters, 20 tons of plastic explosives, one bullet-proof bulldozer, and six Merkava 4 tanks.
The report that was almost aired noted that this achieved strategic balance against the weapons labs uncovered in the raid on Nablus, where forces confiscated five pipe bombs, one LAW rocket, a large explosive device, and four bags of fertilizer used for bomb-making.
The report, as noted, was not aired. Not only because Israel Military Industries labs were not uncovered, but also because "al-Sanabel" was put out of action. The IDF detained the station manager and confiscated its broadcasting equipment. Why is the IDF assaulting journalists and media outlets? This is apparently an irrelevant question and an almost immoral one under the current climate.
Why did the IDF impose a siege on the government hospital in Nablus and prevent wounded Palestinians from being taken there? Why does the IDF take over a school and turn it into a Shin Bet interrogation center? What was the sin committed by Anan al-Tabibi, who was shot in the head by a sniper while in his own backyard? Again, illogical questions. We have a war, and in war there is no reason to be strict when it comes to respecting life of civilians.
The thing is, this is untrue. This is not a war, but rather, a unilateral invasion into a Palestinian town, and even in wars there are explicit bans on unnecessary harm to the civilian population. The IDF has not heard about it; the Palestinian population, including its assets and needs, are like thin air for the invading forces.
It is doubtful whether anyone in Israel was stunned by the uncovered weapons labs in Nablus. It is even more difficult to believe that anyone is shocked by the strategic threat faced by the State of Israel in light of the quantity and ridiculous quality of weapons that were confiscated.
In fact, what were we expecting? That Palestinians accept our aerial raids and tank shells with a bare chest and an olive branch? This is a violent conflict and each side makes sure to arm itself to the teeth.
The tank shells produced by Israel Military Industries do not serve loftier goals than those served by pipe bombs in Nablus. Both are used, maliciously and arbitrarily, against innocent civilians. The difference is merely in power: The immense damage caused to West Bank towns by Israel's military technology cannot be compared to the limited damage caused by Palestinian terrorism in Israel's cities.
Many Israelis cling to the over-used argument that "yes, but we don't mean to harm civilians, and they do." After 5,000 killed Palestinians
(including about 1,000 minors,) 50,000 injured Palestinians, 30,000 razed homes, and 13 million (!) uprooted olive trees, this justification sounds like a bad joke and nothing but. It's better to remain silent in shame.
No dialogue with Arab world
We say that terrorism needs no excuses, only opportunities: It appears the IDF's periodic invasions into West Bank towns and the extensive
destruction they leave in their wake do not need excuses. And still, it's difficult not to connect the current military activism to the diplomatic freeze we've seen, particularly in recent weeks.
Within an amazingly short period of time, the Olmert government managed to slam shut almost every possible door for dialogue with the Arab world. The Mecca Agreement on Palestinian national unity "did not deliver the good," officials in Jerusalem grumbled. With the Syrians we are not even allowed to make initial contacts, lest we irritate Big Brother Bush; even the release of abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit is not urgent enough for the government.
Diplomatic envoys are running around European capitals and in Cairo, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice comes and goes, and everything is at a standstill.
Actually, some things are moving, the same things that are always moving – the settlements. More than a 1,000 new residential units are being built, while a police headquarters was recently established in the E1 area slated to connect Maaleh Adumim to Jerusalem and detach once and for all the northern West Bank from its south; meanwhile, the fence continues to expand eastward.
This is unpleasant, so Olmert and Peretz sit there sweating and wondering: How do we get out of this mess? The international community is already starting to doubt Israel's willingness to reach a peace agreement. The Israeli public is bored, and is already fed up with the Zeilers and Winograds.
The Esterina Tartman spin barely lasted a day and a half. And suddenly, Army Chief Gabi Ashkenazi bursts in with a sparkle in his eyes: I have an idea! How about we invade Nablus? We'll blow up a few houses, come back with five pipe bombs, the world will see what kind of scum we are dealing with here, and the people of Israel will again be proud. Hmmm, says Olmert. Hmmm, Peretz agrees.
Idan Landau is a Linguistics lecturer at Ben Gurion University. He spent time in prison for refusing to serve in Gaza or the West Bank