12. Hada Leil
Written by Samer El-Salhy
Music by Bazel Zayed
Performed by Turab
From the CD Hada Leil (Keelani Productions, Israel 2006)



Is this night? Or what?
Is this the sea?
With what will you hang the names and the pictures?
With what will you walk?
There’s no time to forget
How many tents and how many lives
With what will you fight?
There’s no time to die
And you are promising me joy and songs and the moon?

About Turab

‘The musical ensemble Turab (Soil or Earth in Arabic) was started in 2004 by a group of seven musicians living in Palestine. Turab performs original songs based on lyrics by contemporary Palestinian poets. Hada Leil is Turab’s first CD. The music of Hada Leil is directly informed by the lyrics written by five poets. Some of the poetry and accompanying music were written during (and in reaction to) the Israeli invasion of Palestinian cities in 2002. For instance, the words of Hada Leil, the title track, were read to the composer, Basel Zayed, by the poet, Samer El-Salhy, with the last of his cell phone battery during the invasion of Ramallah when the city had no electricity or water.’ [1]

Edited version of text sourced from: http://www.sabreen.org/newproduction_hadaleil.html

Fourteen Notes On Operation Defensive Shield

One: Background

We’d like to begin with a look at the invasion of the Ramallah and its neighbouring cities on the West Bank, by way of an extract from a report published by the Institute of Community and Public Health, Birzeit University on June 1 2002, titled The Impact of Israeli Policies of Siege and Closures, including the Siege and Re-occupation of Ramallah, on the Living Environment of Birzeit Town, and authored by Maisoun Filfil and Rula Abu Safieh.

You can read the complete report at: http://icph.birzeit.edu/ [2] This is actually the introduction to the report and is one of three reports published by the Birzeit University during the invasion. Birzeit was one of the cities invaded by the Israeli Defence Forces during the period the authors describe and was the location of one thousand people whom Israel’s incursions into the West Bank had made refugees:

‘The Israeli reoccupation of Palestinian cities, towns and villages on March 29th, 2002 came as arguably the most aggressive of Israeli measures against Palestinians since the start of the second Palestinian uprising (al-Aqsa Intifada) on September 28th, 2000.

Since the beginning of the uprising, more than 1700 Palestinians have been killed and over 20,000 have been injured. In addition, thousands of buildings have been destroyed and agricultural land has been uprooted and levelled.

Since September 28th, 2000, numerous sieges have been imposed on the Palestinian population, effectively separating the West Bank and Gaza Strip into 64 pieces and 3 clusters. At the most extreme states of siege, these areas have been divided into 120 clusters.

The result was a situation where people encountered great hardships, and sometimes danger, to reach their work, schools, or medical care facilities. Severe economic recession ensued, and Palestinian households have become increasingly impoverished due to loss of work and sources of income. It is estimated that 47% of Palestinians are now living below the poverty line.’

A Population at Risk of Risks: No One is in a Healthy State in Palestine, a report authored by Rita Giacaman and published by Birzeit University informs us that between September 28 2000 and the eve of the invasion on March 28 not less than 1300 Palestinians had died and around 27,000 were injured by Israeli army violence. [3]

Two: Discoursing on colonialism

Recounting a conversation between Presidents Sharon and Chirac, Journalist Robert Fisk identified the thinking that informed the invasion: ‘Sharon told the French President, Jacques Chirac, that the Israelis were ‘like you in Algeria’, the only difference being that ‘we [the Israelis] will stay’… And there you have it. Israel, in Mr Sharon’s own words, is fighting a colonial war. Not the ‘war against terror’, which he tries to mimic in miniature with the United States, but a war to colonise Arab land with colonies for Jews and Jews only, as the colonised (the ‘terrorists’, of course) rise up against them […]’ [4]

Three: On human bombs, Israeli government assassinations, and life during wartime

The suicide bombings of Israeli civilians is given as one of many reasons for the operation. An April 4 entry for the Electronic Intifada by Ali Abunimah, Nigel Parry and Laurie King-Irani quotes The Israeli Defence Forces own briefing document issued for the invasion of Ramallah, Background Information About Ramallah: ‘Following the death of local Tanzim leader Ra’ad Karmi on the 19th (sic: actually the 14th) of January 2002, the Fatah changed its modus operandi from shooting attacks on roads to suicide bombings in Israeli cities, and terrorist attacks against IDF checkpoints.’ [5]

The journalists set the record straight with a quote from an April 4 2002 article by Associated Press journalist Mark Lavie, in ‘Israel Rethinking Targeted Killings’: ‘[Karmi’s] death had been preceded by more than a month without Israeli civilian deaths – the longest such period since fighting erupted in September 2000 – and it swiftly put an end to the lull; 11 Israelis and an American died in a string of revenge attacks.’

The discernable shift of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades away from legitimate forms of resistance and attacks against armed settler militias, towards suicide bomb attacks against Israeli civilians, appears to have taken place only after Israel killed West Bank militia leader Ra’ad Karmi.

They also point out a critical silence in the IDF’s announcement: ‘What the IDF document fails to note is that Ra’ad Karmi did not just ‘die’ on 14 January 2002, but was killed in what was widely presumed to be an assassination attempt. The previous September he had already survived one Israeli missile attack on his car in which two others were killed. On January 14th, while walking down a narrow street in Tulkarem, Karmi was killed by a bomb that Palestinians allege Israel planted beside a cemetery wall.’

Four: ‘I still call it Fascism’

On March 12 20,000 Israeli troops invaded refugee camps in the Gaza strip and reoccupied the West Bank town of Ramallah. The UN Security Council endorsed for the first time an independent Palestinian state: Kofi Anan accused Israel of ‘illegal occupation’ of Palestinian land. President Bush called the invasion ‘unhelpful.’ [6]

You may have friends or family in Ramallah, or you may be thinking of paying a visit to the so-called occupied territories. If either or both of these are the case you might be interested to know how life is in Palestine in the event of an Israeli invasion like the on that preceded Operation Defensive Shield. With this in mind here are a few excerpts from a first hand account from Leya Jayyusi’s diary, of the first reoccupation of Ramallah, from her Letters from the Palestinian Ghetto 8-13th March 2002:

‘March 12 […] Families in Ramallah are being prevented from burying their dead. An Israeli representative on the BBC announces that the infrastructure of terror is being destroyed. Palestinian violence has to be stopped. Arafat has been given permission to move as he wills in the Palestinian territories. There is no prodding question in return.

March 8. The tanks have surrounded the hospitals in Ramallah. They shoot at the medical staff. They shoot at the reporters. They have entered the camps. They are stationed everywhere. We cannot move.

March 5. They shoot at will. They kill civilians and say they are terrorists planning to carry out operations. They drive over ambulance cars with their tanks; shoot at the ambulances to prevent them from picking up the injured, killing the doctors and the emergency personnel and deliberately leaving the wounded to bleed slowly in the streets, in the corners where they were picked out, to bleed until they die. Their tanks storm the small corridors of the camps, shattering the frail rooms of the already dispossessed, destroying lives, gutting neighbourhoods, intending to terrorize a new generation. This is a population which for 53 years now has been hounded by those who conquered their land and homes… The witness, the dispossessed, must be dissuaded from demanding restitution; must be broken so that the world is not reminded, prodded to rehabilitate… Such systematic, insistent and heavily muscled cruelty used to have a name. I still call it fascism: the entire range of military, political, economic, and mediational instrumentalities converging to crush the adversary, to penetrate, shape and master the entire range of ordinary living in the world. The fascism at the heart of all colonial order unmasked by resistance, by an indigenous population awoken to its own rhythms.’ [7]

Five: ‘ghost town’

The invasion of the 8th – 13th of March prefigured Operation Defensive Shield; the invasion also influenced events which took place the day before the Operation was initiated, when on March 27 a Hamas suicide bomber blew him [or her] self up in a hotel in Netanya, killing 27 and wounding 130. The Israeli government denounced Arafat ‘an enemy’ and the army besieged his compound in Ramallah. The following day the Israeli Defence Force invaded the West Bank, enforcing Operation Defensive Shield with a curfew that in the months to come would effect 600,000 Palestinians.

Journalists were banned from the West Bank, but Robert Fisk managed to file a report from Bethlehem which was published in the Independent on April 3. Here are a few fragments: ‘The first to die was an 80-year-old Palestinian man, whose body never made it to the morgue. Then a woman and her son were critically wounded by Israeli gunfire. . . . They waited for some statement from the Pope, from the Vatican, from the European Union. And what they got was an invasion of armour. We watched them all morning, the Merkavas and APCs stealing their way through the ancient streets searching for the ‘savages’ of ‘terror’ Ariel Sharon has told us about. And all the while, on the television set by the window of our Bethlehem room, we watched Palestine collapse around us. The Palestinian intelligence offices had been attacked in Ramallah. The Palestinians said hundreds of women and children were packed inside the besieged and shelled building as well as men. Then shells started falling on Dheisheh camp. We knew that already. Dheisheh was so close that the windows vibrated. . . By the time we were close to Manger Square, we had tanks in front of us, APCs and another tank behind. That’s when the shooting began . . . About 700 prisoners were bound and blindfolded in Ramallah. Colin Powell, the American Secretary of State, was insisting Arafat was ‘recognised’ as the Palestinian leader. . . Only a day earlier, an Israeli soldier opened fire on a group of unarmed western protesters near Bethlehem, wounding five of them in front of the BBC’s own cameras before trying to shoot television reporter Orla Guerin as well.’ [8]

A day earlier, Fisk described a car ride into Ramallah: ‘The nearer we got to the centre, the fewer people we saw. Downtown Ramallah was a ghost town. . . And that, I suppose, is what the occupation of Ramallah is all about.’ [9]

Fisk says a lot more, but we want to stay, just for a minute, with the ghost town and its permutations – the idea, the myth, made real, of the empty land, the notion of the haunt, of ghosts and ghosting, hauntings, spectres and spectrality, and the return of the vanquished…

…okay. We’re done with it. For now…

Six: ‘delay’

On April 6 President George Bush asked Israel to withdraw its troops from Palestine ‘without delay.’ [10] The next day the Independent published a report by Robert Fisk in which he told of a visit to a survivor of the Jewish Holocaust – the youngest survivor of Auschwitz.

Fisk begins in the past: ‘Givat Shaul used to be called Deir Yassin. And here it was, 54 years ago, that up to 130 Palestinians were massacred by two Jewish militias, the Irgun and the Stern Gang, as the Jews of Palestine fought for the independence of a state called Israel. The slaughter so terrified tens of thousands of Palestinian Arabs that they fled their homes en masse – 750,000 in all – to create the refugee population whose tragedy lies at the heart of the Middle East conflict today. . . . Back in 1948, Palestinian women were torn to pieces by grenades around the old houses that still exist in Givat Shaul. Two truckloads of Arab prisoners were taken from the village and paraded through the streets of Jerusalem. Later, many of them would be executed in Deir Yassin. Their mass grave is believed to lie beneath a fuel storage depot that now stands at one end of the Jerusalem suburb. . . . So a visit to Mr Kleinman’s home raises a serious moral question. Can one listen to his personal testimony of the greatest crime in modern history and then ask about the tragedy which overwhelmed the Palestinians at this very spot – when the eviction of the Arabs of Palestine, terrible though it was, an act of ethnic cleansing in our terms, comes no- where near, statistically or morally, the murder of six million Jews? [We think so, yes, if only to ensure the horrors of the past do not render us mute before the horrors of the present: perhaps the one will lend an insight into the other.] Does he even know that this year, by an awful irony of history, Holocaust Day and Deir Yassin Day fall on the same date?. . .’ [11]

Seven: ‘The Warsaw Ghetto Lies in Palestine’

We probably shouldn’t admit it, but until now we had never heard of Yafa Yarkoni. We’re sure you have, though, and if you have, you’ll probably be of the opinion that she’s a good sort. At least that’s the impression we got from a report by Israeli investigative journalist Shraga Elam from Spotlight, dated 14 April 2002, on the sixth day of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. The title of Elam’s report is ‘Israeli national singer compares the Israeli army to the Nazis’:

‘Israeli national singer Yafa Yarkoni has compared the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) with the Nazis. Commenting on the activities of the IOF, Yarkoni said on 14 April, in an interview with GALATZ, the military radio station: ‘It is like what was done (by the Nazis) to us during the Shoa (the Judeocide of World War II).’

Yarkoni, who won an Israeli prize for her life’s work, is known also as ‘the wars singer’, because she used to sing before the soldiers to raise their morale during past wars, starting with 1948. Yarkoni expressed her support for the refusal to serve in the military, saying: ‘What we are doing in the territories (occupied since 1967) has aroused them (the Palestinians). I understand them. If somebody had done the same things to us, we would have reacted exactly like them.’

Hundreds of angered citizens called GALATZ, but Yarkoni is not ready to change her statement. Meanwhile, on 12 April Israeli peace activists demonstrated before the US embassy in Tel-Aviv. Some of the demonstrators wore yellow stars of David. They were shown on Israeli TV, CNN and in the 14 April issue of the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz.

In Zurich, Switzerland, several Palestinian, Israeli, Jewish and Swiss activists demonstrated against the Palestinocide under the slogan: ‘The Warsaw Ghetto lies in Palestine.’ ’ [12]

We were beginning to wonder whether what was being perpetrated by the Israelis was a kind of replaying, a reconstruction, a reanimation, of the ghettoes they were forced into by the Nazis – a forcing of the past back into the present with the twist that the State of Israel, a wish at the time, now assumed the persecutory role of the Nazis and allocated the Palestinians, for whom statehood remains a wish denied by the State of Israel, the role of the persecuted, effectively forcing the Palestinian into the place, the shoes if you will, of the Jew in the holocaust. Isn’t this kind of behaviour, albeit perhaps not on a governmental and military scale, the very thing for which psychoanalysis was invented?

Eight: ‘it seems as if the entire nation needs trauma management’

On April 16, two days after the story of the Israeli peace activists appeared in Ha’aretz, Birzeit University’s Institute of Community and Public Health published a report on the effects of the Israeli onslaught on the health of Palestinians in a review by Rita Giacaman titled ‘A Population at Risk of Risks: No One is in a Healthy State in Palestine’. Reading the document we’re not surprised that the conditions of the occupation described therein made the Israeli peace activists think of Warsaw, and prompted Yafa Yarkoni to compare the Israeli Occupation Forces to the Nazis. Here are a few excerpts from Giacaman’s report:

‘[…] With Israel ‘trying to bury the evidence’ of what happened in Jenin camp, but failing to ‘bury the terrible crime it had committed’, and with reports on Israel digging mass graves to cover up its war crimes increasingly breaking news, the Jenin camp is now becoming the symbol of this tragedy of communal slaughter. With about 47% of its inhabitants children under the age of 15 and people older than 65 years, and an additional 18% women of child bearing age, the onslaught on Jenin was bound to affect innocent civilians first and foremost.

Electricity and water: are essential for health and well-being. What seems like a deliberate cutting off of these two services have been the subject of numerous reports. In Ramallah alone, over 100,000 thousand people in the town and surrounding villages remained without electricity for an entire week.

According to the Chief Engineer of the Electricity company, serious harassment and shooting at crews attempting to fix the different levels of damage – from power feeders to cut off cords and broken poles, even when approval to move around and fix the damage was obtained from the higher echelons of the Israeli Defence Forces – has led and continues to lead to interrupted service. With only general access to information in Bethlehem, Nablus, Jenin and Tulkarm, available reports indicate a major problem there as well. On 16 April, for example Oxfam reported that specific areas of Bethlehem (the Old town), the al-Mahed and al-Fawaghreh quarters and al-Khader, al-Doha villages and the west side of al-Dheisheh camp – are still without water since April 4.

Sanitation: since the beginning of this incursion and curfew, two outstanding sanitary problems remain unresolved. All that one needs to do is roam around the streets of Ramallah when the curfew is lifted to realise the extent of the damage, broken glass, blown out doors, shattered poles, debris everywhere, and above all, refuse piling up way beyond the capacity of garbage containers, spilling out in all directions. With the temperature now rising to up to 30 degrees centigrade yesterday, and with flies beginning to come out of their winter sleep, the situation can only be described as dangerous to the health […]
[…] According to the head of the environmental committee of the Governorate of Ramallah, around 50% of homes are linked with a public sewage network, with the rest relying on cesspits that require emptying regularly, usually, ever 2-4 weeks, depending on size. The majority of villages remain without a piped sewage system, again relying on cesspits requiring regular emptying. Yet the state of siege and curfew have so far not allowed the proper disposal of this sewage, setting the stage for the spread of a variety of diseases. The story from Nablus, Jenin, Bethlehem, and their surrounding villages is similar.

Mental Health: it is beginning to be clear that the level of trauma affecting the population here is much higher than expected. No one really knows the extent of the problem today, nor its ramifications on the future health of the population, especially children. A priority group for action continues to be the ambulance and medical workers who have been exposed to an almost unbearable amounts of traumatic experiences, whether by simply dealing with the tragic cases at hand, or by being themselves exposed to serious harassment and army violence.

[…] And as we continue listing sub-groups within the population that needs help, a simple realisation emerges: it seems as if the entire nation needs trauma management.’ [13]

Nine: On the threat of Jenin

There is an article by Edward Said in the April 18 – 24 edition of Al-Ahran titled ‘What Israel has done – Can Israel be a state like all others?’ In the article Said asked a question: ‘By what inhuman calculus did Israel’s army, using 50 tanks, 250 missile strikes a day, and dozens of F-16 sorties, besiege Jenin’s refugee camp for over a week, a one square kilometre patch of shacks housing 15,000 refugees and a few dozen men armed with automatic rifles and with no defences whatever, no leaders, no missiles, no tanks, nothing, and call it a response to terrorist violence and the threat to Israel’s survival?’ [14]

As if in response to Said’s question, on April 23 an Israeli jeep rolled up toward a group of schoolchildren on their way home from school, and as they passed them by, shot one of them dead with a single bullet. The child’s name was Ameen Ziad Thawabte, age14, from the village of Beit Fajjar near Hebron. We found that incident in ‘The effects of Israel’s ‘Operation Defensive Shield’ on Palestinian children living in the West Bank’, by Samia Halileh of the Institute of Community and Public Health at Birzeit University. Halileh makes it clear that ‘There were no clashes or confrontations with soldiers in the area at the time and there was no curfew on the village. The Israeli army claimed that the children were close to a settlement. However, the nearest settlement, Mijdal Oz, is located three kilometres from the place where Ameen was shot.’ [15]

A Human Rights Watch report on the occupation of Jenin, published two weeks later, has evidence of several witnesses who saw Israeli soldiers using Palestinians as human shields, a clear breach of the Geneva Convention. In a report by Justin Huggler and Phil Reeves, published in the May 3 2002 edition of The Independent, Peter Bouckaert, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch and one of the authors of the document is quoted as saying ‘The abuses we documented in Jenin are extremely serious, and in some cases appear to be war crimes. Criminal investigations are needed to ascertain individual responsibility for the most serious violations.’ [16]

Democracy Now’s website adds the following on the attacks on Jenin: armoured bulldozers completely levelled at least 140 buildings and severely damaged over 200. Many of them were multi-family homes. More than 4000 people – one quarter of the population – were left homeless.

The website also carried this story which originally ran in the Israeli press on June 20, and is about a reserve Israeli soldier by the name of Shlomo Nissin, and his role in the destruction of Jenin, as described by Nissin to Tsadok Yeheskeli, reporter for Yediot Aharonot, one of Israel’s two most widely circulated newspapers: ‘For three days, I just destroyed and destroyed. The whole area. Any house that they fired from came down. And to knock it down, I tore down some more. They were warned by loudspeaker to get out of the house before I come, but I gave no one a chance. I didn’t wait. I didn’t give one blow, and wait for them to come out. I would just ram the house with full power, to bring it down as fast as possible. I wanted to get to the other houses. To get as many as possible. Others may have restrained themselves, or so they say. Who are they kidding? Anyone who was there, and saw our soldiers in the houses, would understand they were in a death trap. I thought about saving them. I didn’t give a damn about the Palestinians, but I didn’t just ruin with no reason. It was all under orders. I had plenty of satisfaction. I really enjoyed it…’ [17]

Ten: Night drive through Tel Aviv

And while Jenin was being smashed to pieces, you may have been elsewhere or on your way there; you may have been a passenger in a car or maybe a people carrier, a civilian or maybe army personnel, cruising down any of the main highways in Tel Aviv, and before drifting off to sleep, caught sight of the huge billboard rushing toward you in the dark, bearing a message from Microsoft on a background made of the Israeli flag: ‘From the depth of our heart – thanks to The Israeli Defence Forces.’ Your eyelids growing heavy, the billboard passes you by… [18]

Eleven: Ofer detention camp

Operation Defensive Shield continued apace. News emerged of Palestinians captured during the invasion being kept in conditions that broke international human rights law in Ofer detention camp near Ramallah, where over 5000 Palestinians were detained at one time or another during the invasion, and where, as of the week of April 25 to May 1, 1400 Palestinians were imprisoned.

Our source for this is Jonathan Cook’s article for Al-Ahram Weekly Online, 25 April – 1 May 2002, ‘Torture en masse.’ [19] We discovered more on Ofer in Samia Halileh’s ‘The effects of Israel’s ‘Operation Defensive Shield’ on Palestinian children living in the West Bank’:

‘Defence of Children International revealed that as of 22 May around 40-50 children were in detention in Ofrah prison. When a DCI lawyer attempted to visit the children, he was allowed to see seven of them, but only after much difficulty. The prison is composed of nine compartments separated by metal wire, with four tents in each section, housing 25 to 35 prisoners. The tents are erected on a concrete floor and prisoners sleep on wooden benches with only a thin mattress and dirty, smelly blankets. There is no electricity in the tents and the prisoners are completely cut off from the outside world. There are no cleaning facilities and two of the compartments have flooded sewage. Food is prepared and eaten from large containers, shared by eight prisoners.

One of the children said he was arrested on 23 April, interrogated and the next day he was taken to Ofrah and beaten on the way. On arrival, he was interrogated again for an entire day and one of the soldiers kept banging his head against a table.’ [20]

Twelve: ‘The real aim of ‘Operation Defensive Shield’

Writing in the Palestine Chronicle of April 27, Uri Avnery reported that almost all of the offices of the Palestinian government had been destroyed: ‘Gone is the information regarding land registration and housing, taxes and government expenditure, car tests and driving licensing, everything necessary for administrating a modern society’. The aim of the occupation, Avnery wrote, was the complete destruction of Palestinian society, and the elimination of the capacity of the Palestinian Authority to govern in any meaningful way. [21]

Uri may have had a point. After meeting with President Sharon in June, President Bush told the press and media that the time was not ripe for an international conference because ‘no one has confidence’ in the Palestinian government.

Thirteen: ‘our lands’

The Israeli government intensified the reoccupation after two suicide bombings in a fortnight, the second killing seven people and injuring thirty. On the ground armed forces attacked the Gaza Strip, Ramallah, Hebron, and Dura. From the air helicopter gun ships attacked Gaza City and the southern Gaza town of Khan Youni. Helicopters, tanks, and armoured cars strike Bethlehem from all sides, and in Jenin the army forces hundreds of residents into its refugee camp.

A few weeks earlier the American government demanded Israel remove its troops from the West Bank, but when the Israelis announce that attacks by the Palestinians will be punished by the seizure of Palestinian land, Washington said nothing.

In a full page ad in the Palestinian press over fifty Palestinians condemn suicide bombings. Yasser Arafat urges the Palestinian militia to cease their attacks on Israeli civilians, warning them that they risk ‘the full Israeli occupation of our lands.’ [22]

In Washington President Bush warns the Palestinian people: elect new leaders, new institutions, and new security arrangements ‘not compromised by terror’ or forego American support for the creation of a Palestinian state. That day, June 24, the Associated Press reports the third Israeli onslaught of Yasser Arafat’s headquarters, the murder by the Israeli army of three members of Hamas, and the confinement of 600,000 West Bank residents to their homes as the curfew continues. The Palestinian Authority (or what was left of it) issued a statement accusing the Israelis of using the invasion to destroy and replace the democratically elected government of Palestinian with an Israeli administration. The invasion, the statement said, was by no means a temporary initiative, but was a long term plan ‘to destroy the future of the Palestinian people and the destiny of peace and security in the region.’ [23]

Fourteen: Aftermath

Operation Defensive Shield was Israel’s biggest military offensive in the territory since1967. The international community proved as powerless to stop the operation as the Palestinian Authority was once the Operation was over; the Israeli government appear to have simply ignored explicit demands to withdraw from UN Security Council Resolution 1403 of 4 April 2002 and the exhortation of their ally President George W. Bush.

Jarat Chopra, author of Third Party Monitoring in the Israeli-Palestine Conflict, described the outcome of the invasion: ‘By the time the operation was over, the notion of ‘withdrawal’ no longer made sense as a new order had been created on the ground: armoured elements of the invading force remained deployed around cities, conducting security raids at will in urban areas thereafter; fences began to be erected around major population centres, including Ramallah and Nablus’. [24]

On February 11 2003 the UN Palestine Refugee Agency reported that because western governments had turned their backs on a UN appeal for £60m in aid funding 1.1 million Palestinians who are already suffering economic collapse, growing unemployment, and malnutrition levels comparable to those in the Congo, are threatened with food shortages.

Three days earlier Ariel Sharon was re elected President, thanks in no small part to his plans for an independent Palestine made up of 42% of the occupied territories, a mere 10% of the lands demanded in the Palestine mandate, and divested of the leadership of Yasser Arafat and such military as the Palestinians possessed. [25]

In October the Israeli cabinet voted to extend the West Bank’s security fence, parts of which are built on land confiscated from Palestinians, further into the West Bank. Wikipedia cites the findings of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA): 15 communities were to be directly affected by the construction of the wall, numbering approximately 138,593 Palestinians, including 13,450 refugee families, or 67,250 individuals. In addition to loss of land, in the city of Qalqilyah one-third of the city’s water wells lie on the other side of the barrier.

Wikipedia also cites a 2004 report Amnesty International which states: ‘The fence/wall, in its present configuration, violates Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law. Since the summer of 2002 the Israeli army has been destroying large areas of Palestinian agricultural land, as well as other properties, to make way for a fence/wall which it is building in the West Bank. In addition to the large areas of particularly fertile Palestinian farmland that have been destroyed, other larger areas have been cut off from the rest of the West Bank by the fence/wall. The fence/wall is not being built between Israel and the Occupied Territories but mostly (close to 90%) inside the West Bank, turning Palestinian towns and villages into isolated enclaves, cutting off communities and families from each other, separating farmers from their land and Palestinians from their places of work, education and health care facilities and other essential services. This in order to facilitate passage between Israel and more than 50 illegal Israeli settlements located in the West Bank.’ [26]

And on the question of the legality of the wall as it stood in 2003, here is an excerpt from an article by Regan Boychuk posted on dissident.org: ‘Not only is the barrier dubious as a security measure, it’s also illegal. Under international law, no territorial acquisition resulting from the threat or use of force can be recognised as legal. This prohibition is confirmed by UN Security Council resolution 242 (1967) and the Oslo Accords, which provide that the status of the West Bank and Gaza shall not be changed pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.

Accordingly, a United Nations General Assembly resolution was recently passed 144-4, describing Israel’s separation barrier as a contravention of international law and demanding that it halt the present building and reverse those sections already built.

Nonetheless, if Ariel Sharon is able to consolidate the Palestinian land seized as a result of his government’s ‘fence’, the land left available for Palestinians will no longer constitute the raw material of a viable state.’ [27]

The little land left to the Palestinians was made available on conditions that served to make accessing the land as difficult as possible. Even as early as 2003 it was observed that the purported aim of the wall – to stop revolts by Palestinians – was also having the effect of further crippling Palestine’s economy from the ground up. From Wiki:

‘According to the Palestinian Negotiations Affairs Department (NAD) and other sources, much of Qalqilyah’s farmland now lie outside the barrier, and farmers require permits from Israeli authorities to access their lands that are on the opposite side […]. The Israeli Human Rights center B’Tselem notes that ‘thousands of Palestinians have difficulty going to their fields and marketing their produce in other areas of the West Bank. Farming is a primary source of income in the Palestinian communities situated along the Barrier’s route, an area that constitutes one of the most fertile areas in the West Bank. The harm to the farming sector is liable to have drastic economic effects on the residents – whose economic situation is already very difficult – and drive many families into poverty.’ [28]

We read in Wiki that the name given to the wall by the Palestinians is ‘the wall of racial separation’ or ‘The Apartheid Wall.’ ’ We also read somewhere that one consequence of the wall was that some Palestinians would have to have seek written permission from the Israeli government to live in their own homes.


[1] http://www.sabreen.org/newproduction_hadaleil.html

[2] The Impact of Israeli Policies of Siege and Closures, including the Siege and Re-occupation of Ramallah, on the Living Environment of Birzeit Town, by Maisoun Filfil and Rula Abu Safieh.

[3] A Population at Risk of Risks: No One is in a Healthy State in Palestine by Rita Giacaman, published by Birzeit University

[4]: Bush is doing nothing to stop Israel’s immoral civil war (Robert Fisk, The Independent, 09 March 2002),
sourced from Robert Fisk – Collected Articles

[5] Israel’s ‘smoking gun’: A damp firecracker, by Ali Abunimah, Nigel Parry, and Laurie King-Irani, The Electronic Intifada, 4 April 2002

[6] A Chronology of the Middle East Peace Process January 2001 – December 2003, by Mustafa Oguz, Faculty of Art and Social Sciences, Sabanci
University, Istanbul

[7] Letters from the Palestinian Ghetto 8-13th March 2002: by Leya Jayyussi
Égypte/Monde arabe, Deuxième série, 6 | 2003, [En ligne], mis en ligne le 08 juillet 2008. Consulté le 16 mars 2009.

[8] Armoured invasion brings no peace to Bethlehem, by Robert Fisk in Bethlehem, The Independent, 03 April 2002, sourced from Robert Fisk -
Collected Articles. http://www.matrixmasters.com/wtc/fisk/fisk.html

[9] Farce and terror in the ‘closed area’ of Ramallah, by Robert Fisk in Ramallah, The Independent, April 2, 2002.
Robert Fisk – Collected Articles. http://www.matrixmasters.com/wtc/fisk/fisk.html

[10] Oguz

[11] ‘Jews may not want to look at this’ by Robert Fisk, The Independent, 07 April 2002.
Robert Fisk – Collected Articles. http://www.matrixmasters.com/wtc/fisk/fisk.html

[12] Israeli national singer compares the Israeli army to the Nazis, by Shraga Elam Spotlight, 14 April 2002

[13] A Population at Risk of Risks: No One is in a Healthy State in Palestine, by Rita Giacaman, Institute of Community and Public Health, Birzeit University

[14] What Israel has done – Can Israel be a state like all others? By Edward Said, Al-Ahram, April 18-24,2002

[15] The effects of Israel’s “Operation Defensive Shield” on Palestinian children living in the West Bank, by Samia Halileh, Institute of Community
and Public Health, Birzeit University, Spotlight, 29 June 2002

[16] News from Palestine & Israel http://www.matrixmasters.com

[17] Israeli Forces Bomb Gaza City and Invade West Bank Cities After Latest Suicide Bombing Kills, by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez,
Democracy Now! June 20 2002. http://www.democracynow.org

[18] Microsoft advertisement supports Israeli military operations in Palestine, by Molouk Y. Ba-Isa, Palestine Chronicle, April 21 2002

[19] Torture en masse, by Jonathan Cook, Al-Ahram Weekly Online, 25 April – 1 May 2002

[20] Halileh

[21] The Real Aim, by Uri Avnery, Palestine Chronicle, April 27 2002

[22] Goodman & Gonzales

[23] Israeli Forces Surround Arafat Compound; 6 Killed in Gaza Strikeby The Associated Press, June 24

[24] Third Party Monitoring in the Israeli-Palestine Conflict, by Jarat Chopra, The International Spectator 4/2003

[25] Arial Sharon and the “Security Fence” by Regan Boychuk December 13, 2003

[26] www.wikipediaIsraeli_West_Bank_barrier.htm

[27] Arial Sharon and the “Security Fence” by Regan Boychuk December 13, 2003

[28] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli_West_Bank_barrier