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Occupation magazine - Features & Translations

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Red Rag weekly column
By: Gideon Spiro

31 October 2011 (English translation 7 November)

Ten thousand life sentences

Four hundred and seventy-seven Palestinian prisoners were released from Israeli prisons in the first stage of the Shalit deal. Another 550 prisoners are to be released within two months as part of the second stage of the deal.

The Israeli press reported that the prisoners who were released were responsible for the murder of 499 Israelis. The prisoners who were found responsible for the deaths of Israelis were sentenced to life in prison. No distinction was made between the death of a soldier and that of a civilian. A Palestinian whom the courts found responsible for the death of a soldier was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison, and those found responsible for the deaths of two soldiers were convicted of two murders and sentenced to two life sentences. A Palestinian who was found responsible for the death of an Israeli civilian was convicted of murder and sentenced to life, and a Palestinian who was found responsible for the deaths of 20 Israeli civilians was convicted of 20 counts of murder and sentenced to 20 life sentences.

If Hamas had applied that standard to Gilad Shalit, he would have been put on trial for the killing of civilians by shells fired from the tank to which he was assigned, and received several life sentences.

Since the end of the June 1967 war, about ten thousand Palestinians, including nearly two thousand minors, have been killed by armed Israelis: army, Israel Security Agency (ISA � Shin Bet), police, Mossad and settlers.

If we apply to Israel standard to which Palestinians are held, we will have to impose ten thousand life sentences on those who are responsible for those killings. And they are many.

How will we distribute the life sentences among prime ministers, defence ministers, IDF chiefs of staff, division commanders and brigade, battalion and company commanders, right down to rank-and-file soldiers? Will a pilot who shoots a missile and kills twenty human beings receive twenty life sentences? Inevitably we will have to ask the International Criminal Court to make a ruling on the just distribution of life sentences.

After a peace accord all prisoners on both sides should be freed, because those who are murderers on one side of the barricade are heroes of national liberation on the other side. That�s the way it is with us, with them, and with all the nations of the world.

A whistle-blower, or a fool?

Recently the trial of the journalist Anat Kamm, who was accused and convicted of stealing secret documents from the army while she was doing her compulsory military service, came to an end. She was convicted under provisions of the law that deal with espionage. She had served in the office of the head of the IDF Central Command, which rules the West Bank, and she had access to the military computer in which the most secret documents were stored. She copied over two thousand of them onto a disc and gave them to Haaretz reporter Uri Blau. She was sentenced to four and a half years in prison. The documents showed that soldiers of the Occupation army had killed Palestinians in contravention of a ruling by the High Court of Justice that Palestinians who can be arrested must not be shot.

Uri Blau published the story accompanied by a photograph of the incriminating military document. The publication of the photograph was a mistake because it triggered an ISA investigation that eventually led to Anat. At first she claimed that her motivation was ideological, and that she was a witness to how the Occupation army kills people in violation of the law. Later, during the course of the trial and apparently on the advice of her lawyers, she changed her story and claimed that it was the foolish act of a young woman of 20, for which she was sorry.

To convict of espionage a person who gave documents to the press, and moreover to the most democratic newspaper in Israel, is an act that befits a regime of oppression and tyranny of the type that prevails in the Occupied Territories. To reveal military documents to the democratic media is an act worthy of admiration, because behind the veil of secrecy crimes are committed and wars are planned which must be exposed to the light of day if needless bloodshed is to be prevented.

If the plans for the First Lebanon War had come into my possession before that war began and I had brought them to the attention of the public, I would have prevented that unnecessary and criminal war, and today more than a thousand Israeli soldiers who were killed in that war would be in our midst today, and those who were wounded or crippled would be walking among us in good health, as would the thousands of Lebanese who were killed or wounded due to bombing by the Israeli air force.

It is no exaggeration to say that the vast majority of journalists in the established print and electronic media who cover military and political affairs are in possession of secret documents that have been leaked to them by their sources in the army and government, because there can be no free press without the leaking of information that the regime wants to conceal.

Whether Anat Kamm did it for ideological reasons or for other reasons, her act was an important one that contributed to freedom of the press. If it were up to me, I would free her immediately.

A positive development

Recently in Israel a public debate has begun about the prospective Israeli bombing of Iran�s nuclear facilities. Previously there had been no public discussion of the issue. In my opinion this is happening due to the cumulative positive effect of the Mordechai Vanunu affair. The catalyst for the discussion is the fear that Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defence Minister Barak are in favour of Israeli military action against Iran. That view is not shared by the heads of the security branches, the Chief of Staff and the heads of the Mossad and the ISA, who according to reports oppose unilateral action by Israel.

The implications of an Israeli military attack on Iran are catastrophic and could bring about the elimination of Israel. Netanyahu has Churchillian delusions. He likens Ahmadinejad to Hitler and himself to Churchill. He is clearly in need of psychological treatment. The danger is that instead of Churchill, Netanyahu will turn out to be a clone of Gaddafi whose megalomania will get us into a nuclear, chemical and biological bloodbath.

We need the international community to save us from the government of Israel.

Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent
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