Israel hasn't made big concessions II : The Gaza charade

Photo - Israeli military bulldozers demolishing Arab walls and houses in the West Bank in July 2005 as part of the construction of the 'Security Wall' (see below) - Photo taken by 'Wendy Palestine' of the International Women's Peace Service. Peaceful American campaigners for Palestinian rights like Rachel Corrie and unarmed British UN staff like Tom Hurndall have been killed by the Israeli military so Wendy was risking her life to take these photos. To read her full accounts from 2003 and 2005 go here. To read her accounts for 2007 go here.

Photo - Israeli soldiers aim their weapons at the campaigners and Palestinian villagers to prevent them stopping the bulldozing. (also taken by Wendy Palestine of the same incident)

One objection to calls for a fair settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the claim that Israel has already given up so much land in Gaza that it can't possibly withdraw settlers from the West Bank. The facts are very different.

Thousands more settlers into the West Bank than out of Gaza ; Palestinians houses still being demolished and Arabs forced out at gunpoint

The 8,500 Israeli settlers forced to leave Gaza got compensation averaging over $250,000 each (1). At the same time as the settlers were moved out of Gaza the settlements in the West Bank were being expanded and more Palestinians forced out of their homes.

The demolition of the houses of Palestinians and Bedouin Arabs by the Israeli army continued unabated in 2006 and continues now (August 2007), particularly in the water-rich Jordan valley in the West Bank. Israeli forces have cut off water supplies to Palestinian villages, destroyed their homes and “confiscated” their tractors and water tanks until they agree to leave to make way for Jewish settlers. Far from receiving any compensation for any of this many are told they have to pay a fine of 4,500 shekels (about US $1000) for not having left immediately (2), (3), (4),(5).

During the first 10 months of 2005 alone 14,000 new Jewish settlers moved into occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank (6). The settlers now moving into the West Bank include many of those who left Gaza (7), (8),(9),(10).

Photo: A Palestinian family standing in the ruins of their house in the West Bank which Israeli forces have just demolished in July 2005. Such demolitions continue today to make way for more Israeli settlers. Click here to read Wendy Palestine's full account (she took this photo).

Palestinian houses are still destroyed by the Israeli military in 'independent' Gaza too for “security” reasons or to punish communities suspected of harbouring opponents of Israel. In the Gaza strip over 13,000 Palestinian homes were bulldozed by Israeli forces in 2004 alone (11).

(Many of the houses bulldozed in Gaza were in the Rafah refugee camp, where the American campaigner for Palestinian rights Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israeli bulldozer repeatedly driven over her as she attempted to prevent houses being destroyed. Many Palestinians are killed in their houses or the street by Israeli bulldozers, explosives or gunfire during Israeli raids and assaults such as that on Jenin in 2002 (12) , (13).

The 'Security' Wall that actually annexes Palestinian land to Israel

Photo: The wall constructed by the Israeli government in the West Bank - but is it really about preventing terrorist attacks or is it annexing more land?

The Israeli barrier or “security” wall was (and is) being built miles further into remaining Palestinian territory in the West Bank, annexing more farmland and water supplies. It’s route does not follow the high ground and observation points it would logically follow if its purpose was to prevent suicide bombings or rocket attacks (14), (15), (16). Nor has it prevented such attacks (17).

Smoke and mirrors to hide continuing Israeli settlement and forcible expulsion of Arabs

The Gaza withdrawal was in fact a diversion from the continuing land grab in the West Bank , designed to create political opposition in Israel and the US to Israel being made to make any more “painful concessions”.

Look at a map and you’ll see that Gaza is a narrow coastal strip of desert. It also has almost no fresh water supplies. The West Bank has significant fresh water supplies.

The Israeli government’s smoke and mirrors withdrawal from Gaza covered a massive and continuing expansion of settlements annexing Palestinian land at gunpoint in the West Bank.

Nor has any Israeli government ever planned to end or reduce new settlements. The current Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said that he aims to ensure a substantial Jewish majority in an Israel whose borders won’t be finally defined (unilaterally , without negotiation with any Palestinian) till 2010 (18), (19). Like his predecessor Ariel Sharon his method is to keep encouraging new Jewish immigrants from around the world to settle in Israel and subsidise the building of new settlements for them with the Palestinian inhabitants gradually killed or left in poverty until they see no option but to become refugees in another country. Sharon planned to bring 1 million new Jews to Israel and used a campaign to exaggerate the levels of anti-Semitism around the world to try to scare Jews from France and elsewhere into emigrating to Israel (20).

The half of the plan emphasising forcing Palestinians and “Israeli-Arabs” (the Palestinians who weren’t forced out or killed in previous wars and their descendants) out of a Greater Israel entirely is covered in the section on the two kinds of anti-Semitism.

copyright©Duncan McFarlane 2007

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Sources and Footnotes

(1) = BBC News 15 Aug 2005 ‘Gaza settlers get golden farewell’,

(2) = 'Amnesty International Annual Report 2007; Middle East & North Africa; Israel and the Occupied territories', , ( Final paragraph reads “Other Palestinians were made homeless when Israeli forces bulldozed their houses in the West Bank, including in the East Jerusalem area, on the grounds that they had been built without licences which the Israeli authorities require but make it impossible in those areas for Palestinians to obtain. The same reason was invoked to destroy tens of homes of Israeli Arab Bedouins in unrecognized Bedouin villages in the south of Israel, which the Israeli authorities intend to uproot.”)

(3) = Amnesty International 14 Aug 2007, ‘Israel/Occupied Territories: Further information on house demolition / forced eviction’,

(4) = Amnesty International 3 Aug 2007 ‘Israel/Occupied Territories: Further information on house demolition / forced eviction’,

(5) = Amnesty International 27 Apr 2007 , ‘Israel/Occupied Territories: House Demolition/forced eviction’ ,

(6) = Guardian 18 Oct 2005, ‘Israel redraws the roadmap, building quietly and quickly’,,,5311688-117700,00.html , (cited in Pilger, John (2006) ‘Freedom Next Time’, Bantam Press, London, 2006, pages 150-151, 327 )

(7) = Baltimore Sun 11 Jan 2007, ‘West Bank plan for settlement raises hope, fury’,,0,152106.story?coll=bal-nationworld-headlines

(8) = Financial Times/ 16 Feb 2005 , ‘Gaza Strip evacuees able to move to West Bank’,

(9) = Haaretz 26 Dec 2006 , IDF offered to 'transfer' 2 W. Bank villages, court told,

(10) = Haaretz 26 Dec 2006 , ‘New settlement planned for former Gaza settlers’,

(11) = Guardian 19 Aug 2005, ‘The settlers' retreat was the theatre of the cynical’,,,1552360,00.html (cited in Pilger, John (2006) ‘Freedom Next Time’, Bantam Press, London, 2006, pages 150-151, 327

(12) = Guardian 8 Oct 2005, ‘Rachel was bulldozed to death, but her words are a spur to action’,,,1587540,00.html

(13) = Amnesty International 4 Nov 2002 , ‘Israel and the Occupied Territories Shielded from scrutiny: IDF violations in Jenin and Nablus’, - see especially the case of Jamal Fayed

(14) = BBC News 15 Sep 2005, ‘Q&A: What is the West Bank barrier?’,

(15) = Cook, Jonathan (2006), ‘Blood and Religion : The Unmasking of the Jewish and Democratic State’, Pluto Press, London, 2006, page 153

(16) = Amnesty International 4 June 2007 , ‘Enduring occupation : Palestinians under siege in the West Bank’,

(17) = Guardian 28 Oct 2005 , ‘Barrier under fire for security failings’,,,1602413,00.html

(18) = Independent 10 Mar 2006 , ‘ Olmert to redraw Israel's borders 'within four years'’,

(19) = USA Today 9 Mar 2006 , ‘Israeli PM: Jewish state to set borders’,

(20) = Cook, Jonathan (2006) , ‘Blood and Religion : The Unmasking of the Jewish and Democratic State’, Pluto Press, London, 2006, pages 115,163

copyright©Duncan McFarlane 2007