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Friday, February 12, 2010

FISK - GOLDSTONE FACTS,, The real story behind Israel's invasion of Gaza

In the West Bank's stony hills, Palestine is slowly dying

Robert Fisk -- January 31, 2010

Area C doesn't sound very ominous. A land of
stone-sprinkled grey hills and soft green valleys, it's
part of the wreckage of the equally wrecked Oslo
Agreement, accounting for 60 per cent of the
Israeli-occupied West Bank that was eventually supposed
to be handed over to its Palestinian inhabitants.

But look at the statistics and leaf through the pile of
demolition orders lying on the table in front of Abed
Kasab, head of the village council in Jiftlik, and it
all looks like ethnic cleansing via bureaucracy.
Perverse might be the word for the paperwork involved.
Obscene appear to be the results.

Palestinian houses that cannot be permitted to stand,
roofs that must be taken down, wells closed, sewage
systems demolished; in one village, I even saw a
primitive electricity system in which Palestinians must
sink their electrical poles cemented into concrete
blocks standing on the surface of the dirt road. To
place the poles in the earth would ensure their
destruction -- no Palestinian can dig a hole more than
40cm below the ground.

But let's return to the bureaucracy. "Ro'i" -- if that
is indeed the Israeli official's name, for it is
difficult to decipher -- signed a batch of demolition
papers for Jiftlik last December, all duly delivered, in
Arabic and Hebrew, to Mr Kasab. There are 21 of them,
running -- non-sequentially -- from numbers 143912
through 145059, all from "The High Planning Council
Monitoring [sic] Sub-Committee of the Civil
Administration for the Area of Judea and Samaria". Judea
and Samaria -- for ordinary folk -- is the occupied West
Bank. The first communication is dated 8 December, 2009,
the last 17 December.

And as Mr Kasab puts it, that's the least of his
problems. Palestinian requests to build houses are
either delayed for years or refused; houses built
without permission are ruthlessly torn down; corrugated
iron roofs have to be camouflaged with plastic sheets in
the hope the "Civil Administration" won't deem them an
extra floor -- in which case "Ro'i's" lads will be round
to rip the lot off the top of the house.

In Area C, there are up to 150,000 Palestinians and
300,000 Jewish colonists living -- illegally under
international law -- in 120 official settlements and 100
"unapproved" settlements or, in the language we must use
these days, "illegal outposts"; illegal under Israeli as
well as international law, that is -- as opposed to the
120 internationally illegal colonies which are legal
under Israeli law. Jewish settlers, needless to say,
don't have problems with planning permission.

The winter sun blazes through the door of Mr Kasab's
office and cigarette smoke drifts through the room as
the angry men of Jiftlik shout their grievances. "I
don't mind if you print my name, I am so angry, I will
take the consequences," he says. "Breathing is the only
thing we don't need a permit for -- yet!" The rhetoric
is tired, but the fury is real. "Buildings, new roads,
reservoirs, we have been waiting three years to get
permits. We cannot get a permit for a new health clinic.
We are short of water for both human and agricultural
use. Getting permission to rehabilitate the water system
costs 70,000 Israeli shekels [about £14,000] -- it costs
more than the rehabilitation system itself."

A drive along the wild roads of Area C -- from the
outskirts of Jerusalem to the semi-humid basin of the
Jordan valley -- runs through dark hills and bare, stony
valleys lined with deep, ancient caves, until, further
east, lie the fields of the Palestinians and the Jewish
settlers' palm groves -- electrified fences round the
groves -- and the mud or stone huts of Palestinian sheep
farmers. This paradise is a double illusion. One group
of inhabitants, the Israelis, may remember their history
and live in paradise. The smaller group, the Palestinian
Arabs, are able to look across these wonderful lands and
remember their history -- but they are already out of
paradise and into limbo.

Even the western NGOs working in Area C find their work
for Palestinians blocked by the Israelis. This is not
just a "hitch" in the "peace process" -- whatever that
is -- but an international scandal. Oxfam, for example,
asked the Israelis for a permit to build a 300m2
capacity below-ground reservoir along with 700m of
underground 4in pipes for the thousands of Palestinians
living around Jiftlik. It was refused. They then gave
notice that they intended to construct an above-ground
installation of two glass-fibre tanks, an above-ground
pipe and booster pump. They were told they would need a
permit even though the pipes were above ground -- and
they were refused a permit. As a last resort, Oxfam is
now distributing rooftop water tanks.

I came across an even more outrageous example of this
apartheid-by-permit in the village of Zbeidat, where the
European Union's humanitarian aid division installed 18
waste water systems to prevent the hamlet's
vile-smelling sewage running through the gardens and
across the main road into the fields. The £80,000 system
-- a series of 40ft shafts regularly flushed out by
sewage trucks -- was duly installed because the location
lay inside Area B, where no planning permission was

Yet now the aid workers have been told by the Israelis
that work "must stop" on six of the 18 shafts -- a
prelude to their demolition, although already they are
already built beside the road -- because part of the
village stands in Area C. Needless to say, no one --
neither Palestinians nor Israelis -- knows the exact
borderline between B and C. Thus around £20,000 of
European money has been thrown away by the Israeli
"Civil Administration".

But in one way, this storm of permission and
non-permission papers is intended to obscure the
terrible reality of Area C. Many Israeli activists as
well as western NGOs suspect Israel intends to force the
Palestinians here to leave their lands and homes and
villages and depart into the wretchedness of Areas B and
A. B is jointly controlled by Israeli military and civil
authorities and Palestinian police, and A by the witless
Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas. Thus would the
Palestinians be left to argue over a mere 40 per cent of
the occupied West Bank -- in itself a tiny fraction of
the 22 per cent of Mandated Palestine over which the
equally useless Yasser Arafat once hoped to rule. Add to
this the designation of 18 per cent of Area C as "closed
military areas" by the Israelis and add another 3 per
cent preposterously designated as a "nature reserve" --
it would be interesting to know what kind of animals
roam there -- and the result is simple: even without
demolition orders, Palestinians cannot build in 70 per
cent of Area C.

Along one road, I discovered a series of large concrete
blocks erected by the Israeli army in front of
Palestinian shacks. "Danger -- Firing Area" was printed
on each in Hebrew, Arabic and English. "Entrance
Forbidden." What are the Palestinians living here
supposed to do? Area C, it should be added, is the
richest of the occupied Palestinian lands, with cheese
production and animal farms. Many of the 5,000 souls in
Jiftlik have been refugees already, their families fled
lands to the west of Jerusalem -- in present-day Israel
-- in 1947 and 1948. Their tragedy has not yet ended, of
course. What price Palestine?


 "The findings were consistent with those of the other
human rights organizations: Israel is guilty of a very
significant number of war crimes."-Sep 16, 2009,
Democracy Now


 "The Goldstone Commission's findings are in line with
what anyone who didn't shut his or her eyes and ears to
witness testimony already knows."- Sep 17, 2009, Haaretz


 "Israel should thank Judge Richard Goldstone and his
commission's important report. After subjecting him to
useless, automatic mudslinging, Israel suddenly realized
that it should finally investigate the events of
Operation Cast Lead."- Oct 2, 2009, Haaretz


 "In fact, the commission did not say anything new.
Almost all the facts were already known: the bombing of
civilian neighborhoods, the use of flechette rounds and
white phosphorus against civilian targets, the bombing
of mosques and schools, the blocking of rescue parties
from reaching the wounded, the killing of fleeing
civilians carrying white flags, the use of human
shields, and more"-Sep 21, 2009, Counterpunch


 The real story behind Israel's invasion of Gaza
Chapter 11

 Deliberate Attacks against the Civilian Population
 Factual Findings narrated by Ross Vachon
 Factual and Legal findings narrated by Noam Chomsky
 Live Testimonies relevant to the Goldstone Report's Findings

" could you possibly improve it?  It is an
excellent piece.  Congratulations & thank you.  I hope
it will find wide distribution." -- Hedy Epstein

"A faithful and compelling dramatization of a historic
document"  -- Norman Finkelstein

"I found the documentary to be very moving indeed,
choosing as it did material that could engage one's
interest within a time frame that seems to suit
attention spans of our time. I found your selection of
the incident to be exactly right: it is the one that has
troubled me most." --  Colonel Desmond Travers

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