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<nettime> behind the media .. ethnic cleansing in the tradition of Deir Yassin

local coverage from Israel in English, Hebrew, & Arabic:

anthology of articles from a variety of sources, archival and recent:


Tanya Reinhart
 October 25


 The second stage in Israel's assault on the Palestinians has started 
already. They waited for the Arab League summit to end and then, away from 
the cameras, Barak started executing the big plan.

 There is hardly any media coverage of what is actually happening. The 
propaganda technique for this week is to keep the issue in the news, creating 
an impression of coverage, but in fact, provide no actual information, or 
keep us busy with trivia -like the Israeli coalition negotiations (as if 
there is any difference between Barak and Sharon). Another smoke-screen is 
the heated discussion of Barak's plan for 'unilateral separation' - a 
recycled motive which has been brought up many times already in the past. As 
disgusting as this plan is, it has nothing to do with what is actually going 
on now, beside giving the impression that business is, essentially, as usual.

 But the picture which emerges from Palestinian (and other) electronic 
reports of the last two days is different and terrifying. Already since 
last week "The West Bank and Gaza Strip is under complete siege. Every 
village and town has been cut off, making travel between regions impossible. 
The closure has gravely impacted health service delivery to Palestinians. 
Patients with serious injuries requiring referral to Jordan, Saudi Arabia, or 
Egypt for specialized care are unable to be transported. UPMRC's and other 
health organizations' medical teams are facing incredible difficulties 
reaching sick patients. The Primary Health Care system in Palestine has 
become paralyzed since doctors cannot access clinics and patients in rural 
areas cannot access city hospitals". (Report of Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, The 
Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees). In the last two days the 
siege was severed. "In a highly dangerous step, the Israelis have been 
enforcing the siege imposed upon the Palestinian population centers 
especially the cities of Bethlehem and Hebron in the West Bank. This morning 
the belligerent Israeli Occupation Forces have blocked the entrances of the 
two cities by cement walls. The imposition of siege upon the Palestinian 
cities and blocking the roads connecting them together leads to separating 
them from each other" (AL-MEZAN Center report, 23.10).

 The Israeli army prevents any movement in or out of the sealed areas. There 
are reports on people going to work in the fields and getting shot on their 
way. It is now up to Israel whether the locked people will have food and 
water in the coming days, when the diminishing supply ends. Planes carrying 
aid are denied entrance. Israel controls also their electricity and 
telephone lines. Their disconnection is being discussed in Israeli media.

 With the majority of Palestinians locked defenseless in their towns, israel 
can turn undisturbed to the job of 'evacuation' (transfer). They started 
with Palestinian neighborhoods in the vicinity of Jerusalem. Beit Jala is 
already a ghost town. Hundreds have fled. There is no telephone contact. 
Same with the neighboring Aida refugee camp. Those who resisted Israel's 
earlier call to evacuate "for their own protection" had to flee when their 
homes got bombarded. 

 On Monday, Col. Raanan Gissin, an Israel army spokesman, promised proudly 
that "Beit Jala, Beit Sahour and other (Palestinian) places will turn into 
Beirut" (AP, 23.10). Beit Sahour, then, is probably next. As for the 'other 
Palestinian places', Israel is now bombarding several residential areas with 
rockets from attack helicopters, tanks, heavy machine gun ammunition, and 
'launched' grenades. "Israeli helicopters shelled Bethlehem in the West Bank 
and ordered the residents of the eastern parts of the city to evacuate their 
houses because they were to be shelled". (AL-MEZAN Center report, 23.10). It 
appears that in Hebron, they are trying to expand the "Jewish quarters" and 
drive residents out of neighboring areas.

 Still, they view all this as just the beginning. Dan Halutz, commander of 
the Israeli Army force " has threatened to bring the weight of the air force 
down on the Palestinians if the current unrest escalates" And he provides a 
detailed reasoning for sending the air-force against unarmed civilians: "So 
far, Halutz said,the risks of using the air-force have not outweighed the 
benefits. No helicopters have been at risk. He added that the IAF has no 
information that the Palestinians have shoulder-held anti-aircraft missiles" 
('Jerusalem Post, 24.10). Safe and clean slaughter -lots of benefits. That's 
how they talk now in power drunk Israel.

 Trying to figure out the full picture, it is hard to avoid comparison to 
1948, when the Israeli army, under Ben Gurion's orders, drove hundreds of 
thousands of Palestinians out of their homes, and confined the remaining to 
closed, restricted areas, governed for years by military rule. Barak 
declared many times that his role-model has always been Ben-Gurion. Perhaps 
we are beginning to get a glimpse of what he meant. 

 1948 is already "in the air" in the public discourse in Israel. The pervert 
Israeli self image, guided by massive propaganda, is that it is the Israelis 
who are being under siege, fighting for their independence, threatened by 
the Palestinian empire and the whole Arab world, just like in 48. And we 
already hear main stream commentators saying that "The Palestinians are 
using the same tactics as in 48" (Zeev Shif to Amikam Rothman in radio B 
morning program, 24.10).

 Even the shamefully little that the Palestinians got in the Oslo accords is 
too much for Barak. If we let him, Barak will carry out his Ben Gurion 
vision. And it won't necessarily stop in one front. Assured of US support, 
fascinated by his own power, he may drag the whole area into a horrible war. 
Some analysts have always warned that world war III - the final one - may 
start in the Middle East. Israel is led now by a lunatic, megalomaniac 
general, who keeps his plans secret even from his government. And it is this 
general who is authorized to unleash Israel's nuclear arsenal. This is not a 
risk the world can take.

 But he can still be stopped. This time it is not like Iraq or Kosovo. 
Opposition to Israel around the world is enormous. The US has not managed to 
mobilize even the Western world around this new crusade, as it did then. 
They didn't prepare it carefully enough. The propaganda machine did not 
start on time, and even if it had, it is difficult to sell the world that it 
is the Palestinians who are committing atrocities against the Israelis. 
Empires fell in history precisely when they started to believe they are 

 Tanya Reinhart is a professor of linguistics and cultural studies at Tel- 
Aviv University and the University of Utrecht.


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