Israeli Minister of Ed: “We have to bury Palestinian anti-occupation fighters”

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Naftali Bennett, chairman of the far rightwing Habayit HaYehudi party and Israeli Minister of Education, has once again brought the office of government to a new low.

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“We have to bury Palestinian anti-occupation fighters in secret cemeteries and knock down all the homes in their native villages,” he  recently threatened, according to the Palestinian Information Centre.

“Let’s roll into every single home and rake through every single corner. The anti-occupation fighters must bear in mind that all of those around them are under threat.”

Past the sheer cruelty of such a statement, Bennett proves that the Israeli government’s claims to democracy are farcical. When one of the highest ranking members of the government can incite so furiously against Palestinians with little backlash from his party, the notions of an inclusive and participatory society are negated.

First of all, when Bennett refers to “Palestinian anti-occupation fighters,” does he mean all Palestinians opposed to the illegal, 48 year occupation of Palestine by Israel? Because if he does, there are literally no Palestinians in the world that agree with the occupation. If he does, Bennett is inciting against the nearly 5 million Palestinians living live in historic Palestine, plus another 6 million refugees in the Palestinian diaspora.

All forms of nonviolent resistance against the occupation is a just fight. Just as it was in South Africa during Apartheid, just as it was in the Ghettos of Europe, just as it was in Russia at the beginning of the revolution.

And violent resistance, while abhorrent, is meeting violence with violence. It should not be advocated for, but Bennett’s comments seem to sew more violence than anything.

Nonviolent, anti-occupation Palestinians are being killed everyday by Israeli forces. Between December 2015 and January 2016, five Palestinian protestors were shot to death by authorities during protests near the Gaza border. In October and November of 2015, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem documented 14 additional instances when Palestinians were killed under the same circumstances.

Nonviolent, regular Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank are losing their homes every day.

Yet Bennett’s comments, unfortunately, come as no surprise. An extreme double standard, the racist rhetoric concerning Palestinians is part and parcel of the Israeli rightwing’s arsenal.

These are the same people who hold as their heroes the Haganah and Irgun—pre-IDF Israeli militant brigades that engaged in attacks and sabotage of both the British occupation of Palestine and the Arab natives before 1948 and the founding of Israel. These groups later became the Israel Defense Forces.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon stated on Tuesday that the grief felt by Israelis is distinctly different from that felt by Palestinians.

“Our grief is that of a society that wishes to live, a society that educates our boys to life, to be humans, to behave as human beings, to strive for peace. This is our society,” Ya’alon said, speaking with Yad Labanim, a bereaved Israeli families organization. “And opposing us is a society that yearns for death, as we can see around us in the happiness of a boy in becoming a martyr — a society that does not respect anything.”

“Our society chooses life and does not seek out wars, but strives for peace and sees war as [a] necessary [evil],” added Ya’alon. “On the other side of us is an element that desires death and causes devastation, not only against us but against itself.”

With one government official dehumanizing an entire population and another advocating their deaths, it really defies all logic to say that Israeli society “… does not seek out wars …”

167 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since October; 30 Israelis, an American, a Sudanese and an Eritrean have also been killed in the same period.

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International media outlets have already reported extensively on Israeli commandos’ missions inside Syria to rescue wounded militants but a senior regime official’s acknowledgement of a link with ISIS is unprecedented.

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Ya’alon’s explosive revelation came during an interview reported Saturday on Israeli Channel 10’s website, content portal Mako, which acts as a gateway to Israeli media outlets and websites.

Mako also incorporated footage of the event in the northern city of Afula, during which the former military affairs chief was seen describing an occasion in which Syria-based ISIS terrorists had fired into the Golan Heights.

Golan is a Syrian territory, which Tel Aviv has been occupying since 1967 and lays claim on it as its own property. Save some rare alleged rocket attacks from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, for which ISIS has reportedly claimed responsibility and have not resulted in any human injury or losses, the group has generally refused to target either Israel or the territories under its occupation.

However, Ya’alon said, after opening fire on Golan, ISIS served Tel Aviv with a quick apology, pointing to the alliance between the two, and also suggesting that the group had agreed not to target Israeli interests in line with the rapport.

“On most occasions, firing comes from regions under the control of the (Syrian) regime. But once the firing came from ISIS (ISIS) positions–and it immediately apologized,” he said.

Israeli media outlets, meanwhile, refused to report on the ISIS strike, probably because of either a media blackout or military censorship, reported Tikun Olam, a Seattle-based liberal blog dedicated to outing “the excesses of the Israeli national security state,” which also reported Ya’alon’s remarks.

“In the midst of complaining about the Islamist threat to Israel and the world, Bibi (Benjamin) Netanyahu (Israel’s prime minister) conveniently forgets that his own country enjoys a tacit alliance with ISIS in Syria,” said New York-born Dr. Richard Silverstein, who runs the blog. “It is an alliance of convenience to be sure,” he added.

According to him, Ya’alon has been speaking more candidly about the inner workings of the regime since falling out with Netanyahu and being replaced by successor Avigdor Lieberman.

“But he did reveal how closely tied Israel is to ISIS in Syria,” wrote the blogger, who has also documented Israeli collaboration with al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s Syria branch, which has rebranded itself.

In June 2015, the blog published a story reporting on Israel’s interventions in the foreign-backed militancy in Syria in favor of anti-Damascus militants.

It said Tel Aviv and al-Nusra had forged an alliance, featuring the former’s building camps for terrorists and their families in Israel-held territory, holding regular meetings with terrorist commanders, and providing military and other critical supplies to them.

The report incorporated a video showing Israel’s provision of medical assistance to the terrorists who had been wounded in Syria.

It also cited an incident in which locals had intercepted one Israeli ambulance carrying two wounded ISIS forces, forcing the medics to flee and beating up one of the terrorists to death. The other was also seriously injured when the regime’s forces intervened to saved him.

*(Image: Frame grab shows Israel’s former minister for military affairs Moshe Ya’alon speaking during an event in the northern Israel city of Afula).

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Amid talks between the Israeli and Palestinian leadership over ending Israeli incursions into the part of the West Bank designated under full Palestinian sovereignty, the Israeli military continues carrying out raids and operations, according to the Bethlehem-based Ma’an News Agency.

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During a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Israeli army Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot, the Israeli security concluded it would continue the raids.

A cabinet statement declares “the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) maintains—and will maintain—the possibility of entering Area A, and anywhere necessary, according to operational needs.”

“There is no other agreement with the Palestinians,” added the statement obtained by Ma’an.

Area A was designated under full Palestinian control by the Oslo Accords meaning full civil and military sovereignty. The area makes up about 18% of the occupied West Bank and includes major cities like Ramallah, Nablus and Hebron. Areas B and C are designated under joint Palestinian and Israeli control, however Israel de-facto controls both areas entirely, subjecting the Palestinian residents to varying degrees of martial law.

The Israeli military regularly carries out night raids, military exercises and general destruction under the guise of security operations in Area A, increasingly since the Second Intifada and in clear violation of international law.

This development follows Israel’s signaling it might end the raids in agreeing to talks with the Palestinian leadership.
PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat and chief Palestinian negotiator told Ma’an that the cabinet statements uphold the status quo.

“Israel has insisted for years to violate signed agreements, including daily violations against the Palestinian control over Area A,” Erekat told the news agency. “They’re a belligerent occupying power with a clear political program of colonization, apartheid and destruction of the prospects of a peaceful solution.”

Erekat denounced the narrative that Israel intended to enter negotiations regarding disengagement from West Bank cities, reporting instead that Israeli delegates offered only “starting a process (of military withdrawal) in Jericho and Ramallah,” but not the remained of Area A  as the Oslo Accords clearly state.

“Their response is now being delivered by Mr. Netanyahu, the man responsible for destroying all signed agreements,” added Erekat.

The purpose of Oslo was to begin a gradual transfer of power in the West Bank from Israel to Palestine, yet after 20 years no such transfer has taken place, despite the Israeli military’s ongoing and documented human rights abuses across the territory.

Israel has an earned reputation of reneging on alleged cooperation agreements with the Palestinian leadership as well as using the entrance into peace talks as a cover to continue continue settlement expansion uninhibited.

Such was the case in July 2013 when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry finally persuaded both parties to reenter into negotiations. Yet the talks fell apart due to Israel’s utter determination to continue building settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, illegal under international law and a severe violation of Palestinian sovereignty.

Along with settlement expansion and raids in Area A, Israel has stepped up its punitive home demolitions across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem—especially since the most recent uprising began in Fall 2015.

UN figures show that demolitions of Palestinian homes and structures by Israeli authorities have increased by a staggering 200% over the last three months.

Israel denies Palestinians building permits so often as to be an official policy, then carries out sweeping demolitions of structures it deems are illegal.

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