Forty-Four Years of Occupation – by Stephen Lendman
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 did easily.
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 it.”
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.”
General Haim 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.”
Other 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 worst crimes.
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.
A 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 surrender.
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.
Later, retired 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.”
Its 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), calling itself:
“a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli apartheid in Palestine” through nonviolent, direct activism.
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 President, saying:
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.”
By not 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 Palestinian refugees.”
“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 Palestinian liberation.
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:
Twenty-four 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 landmarks.
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.
Throughout the day, tensions remained high, exacerbated by Netanyahu and extremist supporters defying Palestinians in East Jerusalem.
Nonetheless, 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 support.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.