Introspection begins here

By Amira Hass, Ha'aretz, Jan 24

This war is the war for the well-being of the settlements. The
settlements and the roads which connect them were meant to
perpetuate a type of Israeli domination over the Palestinians and
of Jewish superiority, even if the situation is called peace.
Every lethal bullet in the rifle of every soldier is, therefore,
a stage in Israel's settlement policy.

Public curiosity (with the aid of its earthly representatives -
the press - and thanks to the generous leaks from the place of
detention) quickly located the home and family of Amana Jawad
Mona, the Palestinian woman who is suspected (more precisely,
almost accused) by the Israeli security services of involvement
in the murder of Ofir Rahum (victim of the "Internet murder").The
families of the soldiers who, in suspicious circumstances, shot
and killed a large number of Palestinians are, of course, spared
this kind of painful pilgrimage. Abad al-Muin Ibrahim, Muhammed
Qasem, Fatma Abu-Jish, Yusuf Awad, Muad Abu Hadouan (aged 10) and
Arij Al-Jebali - are some of the Palestinians killed by the
gunfire of the Israel Defense Forces, and whose names have been
mentioned in the past two weeks in various articles and news
items (in the three leading daily Israeli newspapers, Ma'ariv,
Yedioth Aharonoth and Ha'aretz). These articles and news items -
some relying on the few investigations conducted by the
Military Police - refer to the itchy trigger fingers of soldiers
involved in the above-mentioned cases. The questions raised in
the articles are a very late echo of the conclusions reached by
Palestinians on the first day of the clashes - that the IDF fires
lethal shots without regard for the degree of danger faced by the

The names, privacy, families, feelings and thoughts of the
soldiers who kill are jealously protected by the military system,
and a lack of public curiosity. Even the soldiers who were
photographed dragging Shakhar Hasuneh (dead or seriously wounded)
several hundred meters - at least one of them shows clear signs
of happiness and satisfaction beneath his helmet - did not
sufficiently arouse the curiosity of the Israeli press that
journalists wanted to discover the identity of these soldiers.
Nobody ran to find the mother of one of these men and ask her
what she thinks of her son; not surprising when the soldiers
remain entirely anonymous, and had not been photographed carrying
out an act such as the execution, without trial, of Thabet

Israel's lack of curiosity in these cases is easily understood.
Every soldier is a son, a neighbor, a cousin's friend, a
brother. Every soldier is us. His family is our family. Why,
therefore, should we make an effort to defy the strict rules that
bind the IDF spokesman, disregard the ethos of comrades-in-arms,
and find the family of the soldier who squeezed the trigger and
cut short the life of a 14-year-old boy? The answers to this
question are known: they were following an order; they are
exhausted; they are under pressure; the Palestinians want to kill
them; the
Palestinians hate us; he's such a good boy at home; and tell the
Palestinians not to send their children to throw stones, this is

In refraining from trying to find out the personal identity of
the soldiers, there is an instinctive distancing from the need to
find (and blame) the soldier who was simply standing guard.
Everyone knows that the soldiers - even those who could clearly
be seen on television - are part of an overall system. This
system, from the first stone thrown at a uniformed Israeli, gave
the green light for a lethal response.

Months before the outbreak of the Al Aqsa Intifada, the IDF
prepared its soldiers on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip for a
"low level" war, on the assumption that political stagnation
would lead Palestinian Authority Chairman Arafat to initiate
clashes. The IDF prepared a series of military responses in
ascending order of severity. At the throwing of the first stone,
figures from the security establishment bombarded the Israeli
public, including
soldiers, with theories that the PA and Arafat had planned
everything in advance. From the start, the IDF, the police and
the Shin Bet (General Security Services) did not respond
appropriately to the first stone and to its message, namely that
the "peace process" was a cover-up for reinforcing the Israeli
occupation. The security authorities reacted from the outset with
disproportionately harsh means - means appropriate to Palestinian
actions higher up the presumed sequence of possible actions

For the IDF, the presumed targets of the hypothetical sequence of
Palestinian actions are the settlements and the settlers. This
much could be gleaned from many statements made by IDF officers
in recent years. The IDF's goal is to protect Israeli citizens,
whose hold on the territories captured in 1967 was deliberately
strengthened by an Israeli policy which cut across governments
and coalitions. From Yigal Alon, Moshe Dayan and Shimon Peres,
through Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu, to Binyamin (Fuad)
Ben Eliezer and Ehud Barak: All these policymakers knew that the
settlements would determine the size of the Jewish state and the
Palestinian entity's dependence on Israel - and they wanted this
to be the case.

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