WATCH: Jeff Halper On Israel Arming Its Settlers In Anticipation Of Palestine Vote

by on Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 4:42 pm in Middle East, World

Ha’aretz reports that Israel is now arming its Jewish settlers in the West Bank with riot gear in preparation for Palestinian ‘mass disorder’, which they say will result from a vote in favor of Palestinian Statehood at the UN General Assembly this September. 

Palestinian leaders have maintained that any and all September protests will be peaceful, but Israeli leaders — such as Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman — are conversely advancing the notion that “Palestinians [are] preparing for ‘bloodshed the likes of which we’ve never seen before’”.

The IDF are being green-lighted to shoot Palestinian protesters in the legs should they cross over an Israeli-imposed ‘red line’ which circles each of the illegal settlements. Settlers are being armed with tear gas and stun grenades, and the Israeli Army Spokesperson refused to state whether they were also being provided with additional arms.

This military buildup and arming of Israel’s most extreme right-winged elements in the occupied territories has peace activists worried:

Hagit Ofran, of Peace Now, an Israeli organisation which monitors settlement activity, said: “We hope the army is making clear that non-violent protest is legitimate and no settlers should use any violence against unarmed demonstrators.”

Arik Ascherman of Rabbis for Human Rights said there were already “serious questions and problems” with settlement security officials acting outside their designated boundaries. “We’re very concerned that [the IDF move] will not reduce conflict but increase it,” he said.

In an interview with RT News, Jeff Halper, the Co-founder of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, explains why Israel is reacting like a cornered animal in anticipation of the UN General Assembly vote to recognize Palestine:

RT: Are the preparations justified? Is the unrest as inevitable as the Defense Forces are making it out to be?

Halper: I wouldn’t call it ‘unrest’. I would call it a demonstration of Palestinian independence. Because if in fact in September the General Assembly recognizes the state of Palestine within the 1967 borders, it means that the settlements, the checkpoints, the Israeli wall — everything that Israel has is now illegally in the sovereign territory of Palestine. And there is actually no legal justification for stopping Palestinians from walking into settlements and crossing checkpoints.

And that, I think, is a real concern to Israel. That simply, they will ignore the fact the army is there. The army cannot shoot at Palestinians, because it has no legal standing there.

[...]

Halper: It is clear that Israel is not going to allow — or gonna try not to allow — September to happen. Israel has no intention of giving up its control of the occupied territory. 

Until today, Israel has managed to keep its whole settlement enterprise, because it succeeded in getting the United States to characterize the occupation as ‘disputed territories’ and not real occupation. Once the UN recognizes Palestine within these borders — now there’s no argument: This is occupation. International law applies.

Probably 140 countries will recognize Palestine, and Israel is gonna be under a lot of pressure to try to maintain the occupation. 

I don’t think the military resistance to the Palestinians is going to help. I think it is actually going to make the entire international community impose sanctions on Israel. The big campaign will be after September — getting the Israeli presence out of the sovereign state of Palestine.

[...]

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3 Comments

  • | 784#
    J.J.
    Sep 3rd, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Settlers shooting rubber bullets or lethal ammo? Even Halper would say there is a distinction.
    BTW. Haaretz wrote that IF the demonstrators cross a line,they will be teargasssed. If they next cross a ‘redline’, than they will be shoot in the feet.
    Let’s try to keep ‘shooting demonstrators in the legs’ in some context.

    • | 786#
      Stan
      Sep 3rd, 2011 at 11:26 am

      Israel shot live rounds at unarmed Palestinian protesters in the Golan Heights just this June (murdering 20, and wounding 100s). From Human Rights Watch:

      It was the second time in three weeks that Israeli forces used apparently unnecessary lethal force against protesters who posed no imminent threat to soldiers’ or others’ lives, Human Rights Watch said. Israeli forces had killed 15 protesters in the Golan and in Lebanon during protests on May 15, when they were commemorating what Palestinians call the Nakba, or catastrophe of displacement that accompanied the founding of the Israeli state. The Israeli military should immediately issue public rules of engagement that prohibit using lethal force except where necessary to protect life, and require independent investigations into every killing of protestors by the military.

      “Israel doesn’t want protesters entering the Golan Heights from Syria, but using lethal force against demonstrators who don’t pose an imminent threat to life is simply unlawful,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Any official who gave contrary orders ought to be investigated with an eye to bringing criminal charges.”

      So your insinuation that Israel would likely use non-lethal methods is undermined by its history in dealing with unarmed Palestinian protests.

      Here is Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian Territories, discussing how Israel ALWAYS uses non-lethal/non-violent methods to control angry Jewish settler demonstrations and then goes on to state how Israel tends to use LETHAL violence when unarmed Palestinians protest or demonstrate.

      As far as shooting at feet versus legs:

      Haaretz said they will shoot at protesters’ feet. The Guardian conversely reports:

      Protesters who breach the first line will be subject to teargas and other methods of crowd dispersal. If a second “red line” is crossed, soldiers will be permitted to open fire at protesters’ legs.

      And the IDF admitted to following orders and shooting at Palestinians LEGS during the Golan Heights protests.

      You can slice and dice all you want, but Israel’s history in dealing with unarmed Palestinian protests overshadows your attempt to muddy the waters.

  • | 787#
    Stan
    Sep 3rd, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Here is a new WikiLeaks cable: “Less violent demonstrations are likely to stymie the IDF.” General Amos Gilad to US on West Bank non-violent protests: “We don’t do Gandhi very well”