Ya’alon scolded the committee for revealing that the Israeli occupation army effectively provoked the Palestinians into escalating the violence during the first few months of the second intifada in order to give the army a pretext to hit hard on the Palestinian society and bully it into unconditional surrender.
Earlier, an acrimonious debate ensued between Israel’s current military intelligence chief, Amos Gilaad, and the former chief, Amos Malka, who held conflicting assessments of Palestinian intentions on the eve of the outbreak of the uprising in September 2000.
Malka, in an interview with the Israeli paper Ha’aretz on 14 June, revealed that during the first few days of the intifada, Israeli occupation soldiers fired 1,300,000 bullets on Palestinian population centres and other targets.
This massive firepower, which had no operational justification given the Palestinians’ inherently inferior firepower (they possessed only light firearms and in limited numbers), showed that the Israeli army was interested more in decimating and harming the Palestinians and less in ending the violence.
According to Israeli sources, then-Chief of Staff and now Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz didn’t plan to bring about the end of the conflict.
Instead, he thought he had finally seized the opportunity to “beat and vanquish” the Palestinians in order to “burn into their consciousness” and make them “internalise their weakness and inferiority vis-a-vis Israel’s strength”.
Shaul Mofaz (L) is seen as trying
Mofaz’s ultimate aim, of which he later convinced Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, was to hector Palestinians into negotiations in a weakened and exhausted state whereby they would have no choice but to accept Israel’s dictates and demands.
The new revelations, Palestinian officials argue, prove that the escalation of violence during the first few months of the intifada was, first and foremost, Israel’s responsibility.
“This is what we have been saying all along that this is not about Israeli security but rather about Israel’s terrorising the Palestinian people for the purpose of arrogating their land and rights. Israel is now admitting that,” said Michael Tarazi, adviser to Palestinian Authority leader Yasir Arafat.
“The question is what the international community is going to do about it.”
He told Aljazeera.net that Israel was responsible for the escalation of violence, including the appearance of the human bomber phenomenon.
“From the very inception, the Israeli army goal was to bully the Palestinians into submission and coerce them into signing any piece of paper Israel would throw on to them. It was as simple as that.”
Human bombings were seen as a
Tarazi, a US-trained lawyer, suggested that Israel’s exaggerated violence against Palestinians effectively made the appearance of the bombing phenomenon inevitable.
This assessment is accepted by at least some Israeli commentators, who have pointed out that in the first three months of the intifada.
On 29 June, for example, Reuven Pedatzur wrote in Ha’aretz that the number of Israeli casualties was so low that the army proudly cited the disproportionately large number Palestinians killed and maimed by Israeli forces as evidence “of the military victory and correctness of the policy of massive use of force”.
Two years ago, former Hamas Gaza leader, Abd al-Aziz Rantisi, who was assassinated by Israel in April, justified human bombings against Israel saying they were the “weapons of the last resort”.
“Israel is offering us two choices, either to die a meek lamb’s death at the slaughter house or as martyr-bombers,” he used to tell foreign reporters, defending the phenomenon which claimed the lives of hundreds of Israeli soldiers, settlers and civilians.
Israel eventually manipulated the graphic images of such bombings to vilify the Palestinian resistance movement, overlooking the much superior and deadlier Israeli violence meted out to the Palestinians.
That violence, or state terror as many around the world including Israel itself call it, effectively pushed the Palestinians to the edge.
Strategy of violence
This is the view of Elan Pappie, professor of political science at Haifa University.
He told Aljazeera.net that Israel’s “harsh and criminal” response to the Palestinian uprising was “deliberate and calculated”.
The Palestinians did not take up
“Barak [former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud] offered the Palestinians a take-it or leave-it deal at Camp David. The Palestinians didn’t take it, and the Israeli response was: If you don’t accept our offer, you are going to get crushed and severely punished. This explains the Israeli army brutality and ruthlessness since September 2000.”
Pappie concurred with Tarazi that the Palestinians would have preferred a low-combustion intifada with as little violence and bloodshed as possible had it not been for Israel’s harsh response.
“The Palestinians did try to conduct the Aqsa Intifada along the lines of the former intifada (1987-92). But the Israeli army left them no choice but to react to the much deadlier and superior Israeli violence.”
Pappie believes that the Israeli army was more interested in “imposing the fait accompli” on the Palestinians than in restoring calm for the possible resumption of negotiations.
“The army view was like this: we are powerful, they are weak, therefore, we must be allowed to crush them and impose Israeli will on them, unfortunately, the government adopted this view.”
A spokesman for the Israeli army refused to answer questions on whether Israel has been deceiving the world by claiming that its repression of Palestinians is in response to Palestinian violence, not in fulfilment of a well thought out plan aimed at bringing Palestinian society to its knees.
However, Mohammed Barakeh, an Arab member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, has no doubt that this is exactly what Israel has been doing.
He told Aljzeera.net that the Israeli military establishment viewed itself as above everybody else, including the parliament.
“The army doesn’t want to be answerable to the parliament. Ya’alon wants to shut our mouths and prevent us from criticising the army.”
Barakeh agreed that Israeli “military crimes” against the Palestinians was responsible for the continuation and escalation of violence inevitable.
“Israel sought to and almost succeeded in convincing the world that its violent onslaught against the Palestinian society was in reaction to Palestinian terror. This simplified and erroneous claim ignores the simple fact that Israel’s violent and racist occupation of the Palestinian homeland is the root cause of all violence.”
“You just can’t remove the effect without removing the cause first. When the occupation ends, so will the violence and the resistance.”