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Subject: 115-Expulsion_and_OT_12_92

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Report No. 115 Israel Shahak, 23 December 1992

The Occupied Territories at the Beginning of the Sixth Year of the

Intifada and the Meaning of the Expulsion of the 415 Palestinians


Through the 5 years since the Intifada began in December 1987, the

situation in the Occupied Territories has changed in many respects.

In one respect, though, things seem to stay as they did in December

1987. The conduct of the Israeli government is as disgraceful now as

then. The chief culprit is Yitzhak Rabin, responsible for the

Territories then and now, even if then he was not yet a Prime

Minister as well. As the well-informed Na'omi Levitzki reports

(Yediot Ahronot, December 16, 1992), the weekly meeting of the

Israeli government held on Sunday, December 13, was planned to

celebrate the supposed triumphs of Rabin's policy in the

Territories, and give a signal to the media to exult in those

triumphs. "Scheduled for the meeting was a general discussion of

terror, following the submission of evidence of the government's

successes in confining it to the Territories, and in freeing Israel

itself from the fear of it. Stabbings in Bat Yam or in the streets

of Jaffa have occurred no more, even though Shamir was no longer in

power. Rabin said he considered it his great accomplishment. But he

scarcely managed to finish that sentence, when somebody entered and

handed him a note about the kidnapping of Nissim Toledano".


Rabin's boastfulness was in fact quite imprudent, as it came only

a week after the killing of 3 soldiers in the Gaza Strip which

brought to the surface the grumbling of the soldiers about the

Strip's "Lebanonization". (The term has an ominous meaning in

Israel.) It seems that the kidnapping convinced Rabin that his

attempts to vaunt his security-enhancing achievements, in which he

takes so much pride, cannot be "sold" to the Israeli public. He

probably has also realized that his various symbolic "gestures"

intended to conceal his actual policies in the Territories (which

remain no different from Likud policies) only offend the Israeli

Jewish public to the point of precipitating his downfall. This is

why the turn-about in Israeli policy can be attributed both to the

situation in the Territories and to its repercussions on the Israeli

domestic scene. This report will first deal with the immediate

causes of this turn-about and the unprecedented decision to expel

415 alleged Hamas militants and attempt to explore the deeper

background of this decision, in terms of the military situation and

its repercussions on Israeli domestic politics.


While describing the mentioned government meeting, Levitzki notes

that "although the poker face of Rabin never shows his feelings,

those who know him well could notice he was in distress". His

distress can be presumed to be caused by his sense of failure. Rabin

is callous and unfeeling to the Jews, let alone toward the non-Jews.

He must have been concerned about the evident collapse of his

policies, rather than about the kidnapping as such or the suffering

of its victims. Crucial must have been for him that it occurred in

Lydda, deep enough inside Israel to make the comparison with Bat Yam

inescapable. In actuality, deadly terrorist assaults did occur

within the last 5 months also within Israel, but in uninhabited

areas. As such they didn't have the same shocking effect on a

urbanized Jewish population as the assaults in the midst of cities.

Toledano, a Borderguard Regimental Sergeant Major, was kidnapped

right from a city, after information about him had been gathered by

Hamas most carefully. From the Israeli point of view, this is much

worse than stabbing a haphazardly chosen girl in Bat Yam, which

nevertheless, as pointed out in reports 102 and 105, sufficed to

contribute decisively to Rabin's subsequent narrow electoral

victory. Report 102 argued that although Labor exploited that

stabbing to its electoral advantage, anti-Arab riots which followed

the stabbing could have been seen as a shift to the right in the

Israeli Jewish electorate's mood. Report 105, by quoting profusely

Rabin's own electoral expert adviser, concluded that Rabin owed his

victory to his success in manufacturing for himself an image of a

"true-blue successor of Begin". The same report also predicted that

Rabin's policies would be shaped in accordance with this image. Yet

the conventional wisdom was claiming the reverse of what these

reports said. Many, the Palestinians included, would be deeply

impressed by the delusory "gestures" of Rabin, oblivious of the fact

that nothing thereby changed in the real situation in the

Territories. The assumptions of both reports about Rabin's policies

and the nature of the electorate which assured his return to office

have been amply corroborated by recent developments. In the end,

Rabin's boasts about his successes in containing terror lost all

credibility after an event regarded by Israeli public as far worse

than the Bat Yam stabbing.


But an even greater fiasco was to come. Although Levitzki doesn't

report for how long did Rabin speak about his "successes" in

containing terror, she does say that another government meeting was

convened by him the same evening, this time for discussing the

recent events rather than Rabin's delusions of grandeur. Although

the Chief of the Police and the Chief of Staff delivered their

reports at that meeting, "the person the ministers really wanted to

hear was the Chief of Shabak. All eyes turned to him. The Chief of

Shabak was of course asked to report, but all he said, in quite

apologetic tone, was more or less this: `Ladies and gentlemen, so

far we have learned nothing. We still know nothing about the

kidnappers. It is as if they vanished from the earth's surface. We

don't even have information which would point to a beginning of our

search". (Report 111 dealt with Shabak's ineptitude.) Given the

still rampant cult of Intelligence, Israeli Jews expect Shabak to

know everything. In fact, the truthfulness of the Shabak's chief's

candid acknowledgement of ignorance was confirmed by subsequent

developments, e.g. by the fact that Toledano's corpse was found by

sheer chance. For a government priding itself in its superiority

over its predecessor in handling the security, the implications

could only be catastophic: especially after Toledano's funeral, at

which the crowds furiously scolded the government for its already

too evident impotence.


But ineptitude of the intelligence was aggravated by ineptitude of

the army. In vain the army has tried to conceal it by lying and

witholding information. Widespread corruption in the army ranks

which could no longer be concealed from public eyes has had its

impact upon the masses of Israeli Jews who serve in the reserves.

The most extensive description of these realities, assessed from the

military point of view, can be found in two articles, authored

respectively by the military and intelligence correspondents of

Hadashot, Alex Fishman ("We should have left Gaza [Strip] long ago",

December 8) and Aharon Klein ("`I think next time I am going to

refuse to serve here'", December 11). Fishman accused the Chief of

Staff, Ehud Barak, of misleading the public by reporting "that

`about 20 instances of firing' [by Palestinians] on Israeli forces

have occurred during the past month in the Gaza Strip". Fishman

retorted: "Let me tell you Mr. Chief of Staff, that in a single

district within the Gaza Strip alone, 25 attacks on our forces have

occurred last month, involving either Molotov cocktails, or grenade

throwing or firing". And while providing further gruesome details

about such incidents, Fishman also gainsaid some rather obviously

fabricated stories, which the Israeli army and Shabak had leaked to

the press about the perpetrators, all the while admitting their

ignorance of the latter's identities. According to one such story,

"the killing was something extraordinary, an effect of exceptionally

long training and targeted intelligence collection by a special

Hamas commando unit". Fishman retorted that "such talk is sheer

nonsense. The killing was done by an armed unit seated in a Peugeot

car with local license plates. Such units do have plenty of weapons,

from hardly anywhere else than the Israeli army's stores. The killed

soldiers were randomly chosen as their target. A lonely jeep

happened to be spotted at dawntime and attacked with sustained long

bursts of automatic fire". Fishman also pokes fun at the army's

responses: "The army's instinctive reaction was to order that no

military vehicle was to drive alone, even at nighttime and on

highways. This is like trying to cure a serious illness with

aspirin. The army resorts to such remedies frequently, for example

in its new precautionary regulations to forestall training

accidents. Sealing off the entire Gaza Strip was another case of the

same, and so was the announcement that a total curfew was under

consideration. Had the matters been not as sad as they are, we could

only laugh at such remedies. Only a day before the 3 were killed,

the army announced that it was considering the cancellation of

all-night curfew in the [Gaza] Strip [imposed at the beginning of

the Intifada and never lifted since]. Instead, this morning the

soldiers went on errands to notify the inhabitants that they were

prohibited to go to work. The result is predictable. Resentment of

the population is going to grow and find outlets, the army will

oppress the inhabitants even more harshly in retaliation, and so on

in a vicious circle. Clearly, no seal-off can prevent the bands of

the wanted from continuing to attack the army, just as no previous

seal-offs have produced any such effects".


Aharon Klein says even more. He quotes "soldiers from a reserve

battalion doing their stint in Khan Yunis who no longer are ashamed

to admit how scared they are". They compare their service with their

service in Lebanon. One of them, Eitan, says: "While serving here,

all I want is to survive... I am afraid. I don't think any soldier

serving here could not be afraid... I feel that the service here is

even worse than it was in Lebanon, because in Lebanon, when Israeli

army cars were driving, no civilians were allowed to drive the same

road. But here you cannot paralyze the life of an entire population

by forbidding them to move".


Very minor restraints still imposed on Israeli soldiers in the

Gaza Strip generate a lot of resentment. The same soldiers who want

Israel to get out from the Gaza Strip as soon as possible, are also

in favor of subjecting the civilian population to restrictions even

harsher than those now in force. They resent the army orders

forbidding entry to some locations in the Gaza Strip in order to

avoid unnecessary clashes with either the civilians or the

guerillas. They favor much tougher military reprisals, not only

against the guerillas but also against the civilians. Fishman also

notes the resentment of "army officers who keep complaining that the

soldiers need an express permission of the battalion's commander to

open fire, even with plastic bullets, in response to a barrage of

stones in densely inhabited areas they happen to be patrolling".

Amnon Abramovitz ("To leave Gaza [Strip] right on!", Maariv,

December 8) pokes fun at such views by arguing that "continuous

presence of the army in the towns of the Gaza Strip, especially in

their narrow alleys, is making it easy for the guerillas, while

placing enormous burdens on the soldiers. Every innocuously looking

Peugeot car can suddenly spit out fire. A patrolling army jeep

cannot prevent it by opening fire on each and every innocuously

looking Peugeot car". Yet this is what many soldiers want, the way

they learned to in Lebanon, before they would leave the Gaza Strip.

The fact that the guerillas get their weapons "from the Israeli

army's stores", has been confirmed by Avirama Golan ("They get their

weapons with ease", Haaretz, December 9). She records the

impressions of a reserve officer named Gideon N. (exact identity

known to the editors) who "at the beginning of November received a

call-up order to do his reserve duty in the Civil Administration

Headquarters in Gaza". He is reported as saying that "the premises

looked unkempt, and the morale of soldiers was low. Hordes of Gaza

Arabs, employed there in cleaning jobs, were lingering idly about.

Some soldiers who served in those Headquarters for a longer time

told us that at some time even raising the flag each morning had

been assigned to Arab employees, simply because the soldiers were

too lazy to appear on parade. Some Arabs employed in guarding the

stored heavy mechanical equipment at nighttime would sleep on the

premises. They have access to weapons and can know everything about

when the sentries are being replaced. Other Arabs sleep in a

building separated from the Headquarters' weaponry storeroom only by

a wall of bricks". One can only comment that in bases of the Israeli

army's administration, the purpose of guarding such equipment is to

prevent its thefts by the soldiers, which are quite common. But in

the Gaza Civil Administration Headquarters not only the common

soldiers are suspected of dishonesty. Gideon N. says that "in the

unit I served, the commander and his deputy were shortly before

dismissed, after numerous instances of serious corruption were

discovered in the Civil Administration. It seems that the dismissals

and the still continuing investigation of bribetaking was affecting

adversely the soldiers serving in those Headquarters". Michal Sela

(Davar, December 11) tells the story of this investigation at a

greater length. She informs that "the corruption was discovered by

the Israeli Income Tax authorities which noticed that some

officials, after serving for few years in the Gaza Strip in either

of the two Administrations, had built palatial houses for themselves

in Israel. Thereupon the Coordinator of the Activities, general

Rotschild, [who controls both Administrations] rushed to Gaza,

assembled all the officials and reassured them that, regardless of

how the Income Tax investigation might end up, he was `for prestige

reasons' resolved `to resist to death' the prospect of putting the

corrupt officials on trial for bribery or similar offenses". Sela

and others have been able to disclose the whole tariff of bribes

respectively demanded for a permit to build a house, or for a

driving license, or for clearance to leave the Gaza Strip or to move

undisturbed within its area. No wonder, therefore, that the

militants from any guerilla organization can move freely wherever

they like. No wonder also that Gideon "heard from senior officers

with serving experience there, that in their seasoned judgement none

of these roadblocks, whether inside the Strip or separating the

Strip from Israel, were of any use to the army... All of them just

bred hatreds". Since, as explained in report 111, such permits or

licenses usually need to be approved by a local Shabak agent, one

can only assume that Shabak men receive their no mean share from

corruption rampant in all Israeli conquered Territories, but

especially in the Gaza Strip.


The soldiers serving in the Strip are the first to know such

facts. But their opinions are even more decisively influenced by the

spectacles of military ineptitude which at the beginning of December

became particularly flagrant. By now, these opinions are apparently

shared by an overwhelming majority of reserve soldiers serving

there. As Gideon describes them, "all reserve officers serving with

me in that unit, regardless of their political opinions, returned

home with a feeling that Israel should dump away the keys to the

Strip and forget it forever". While interviewing the younger cohort

of reserve soldiers, Klein could find no more than one single

soldier in the entire battalion who would insist that Israel stay in

the Gaza Strip "because it is a part of the Land of Israel which

belongs to the Jews". Fishman, normally far from being a dove,

recalls that "two last Defense ministers made statements pointing to

the way out. One day before resigning, Arens from Likud said that

Israel should leave the Gaza Strip at once. And a few months ago

Rabin from Labor said that, as far as he was concerned, the entire

Gaza Strip could drown in the sea. Where is their conscience, then,

when they keep sending the soldiers to a territory they want to

relinquish? The quoted statements reflect the truth that the State

of Israel has no national interest in occupying the Gaza Strip any

longer. It is a pity, therefore, that manpower and resources keep

being allocated, and the soldiers' lives risked for nothing of any

use or purpose. In view of the absence of national interest in our

presence in Gaza, we should have left it long ago. This conclusion

is dictated not by defeatism, but by sense of responsibility".

Abramovitz, also quite hawkish, opines that "the continuing futile

method of policing the cities of the [Occupied] Territories have

taught the Israeli media community to adopt a bunker-like

mentality". A case in point was that "in all the interviews and

official commentaries after the deadly armed clash in which soldiers

were killed in Gaza, there was one question repeated with automatic

regularity: Why was the jeep neither accompanied nor guarded by

other [military] units?" He argues that in case this suggestion were

logically followed up, "no one will be left in the broadcasting

studio to ask questions, because we will all be called up to do our

reserve duty in the Gaza Strip". He concludes by reminding that

"before the last Knesset elections the Labor party promised to

separate the Gaza Strip from Tel Aviv. Woe to it and woe to all of

us, if it now fails to separate the Gaza Strip from Tel Aviv and the

army from the Gaza Strip".


Among prestigious commentators who have spoken up in support of

the unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, let me yet

mention the veteran Israeli journalist Dan Margalit, who after being

dismissed from the editorship of Maariv, recently resumed writing

for Haaretz. In that paper's December 11 issue ("Let them govern

themselves") he drafted a detailed plan of how the Israeli

unilateral withdrawal could proceed. In essence, the plan envisaged

that Israel would announce its decision to withdraw from the Strip

in 18 months' time, and erect an electrified barbed-wire fence

circling the area. Once its construction is completed, the Gazans

would be denied entry to Israel, except in convoys under guard in

transit to Jordan. In Margalit's opinion, their freedom to travel by

land to Egypt and Jordan, and by sea anywhere else will then enable

them to find employment opportunities. Responsibility for their

welfare will then rest on the shoulders of the Arab states and the

international Community. In any case, believes Margalit, "the

prolongation of the status quo, pending a resolution of negotiations

with the Palestinians and the Syrians, is more dangerous than any

risks a unilateral withdrawal might entail. Increasing numbers of

Israeli politicians realize it already, but are willing to say it in

the open only after leaving the government, as Dayan and Arens have

done. As soon as they join the government, they follow in the

footsteps of the Foreign minister, Shimon Peres, who this week took

the stand against unilateral withdrawal from Gaza [Strip]", even

though a few months ago he had spoken in its favor.


But the present government, its Meretz members included, firmly

opposes Israeli withdrawal from anywhere. Moreover, that government

is unanimous in advocating tougher Israeli reprisals in the

Territories, in particular mass-expulsions, on the sole condition

that those reprisals are presented as "advancing the peace process".

Avraham Tamir, an erstwhile top rank adviser of Sharon during the

invasion of Lebanon, and currently a member of Ratz, (i.e. the

strongest party within the Meretz bloc) recently received from his

close friend MK Yossi Sarid an affectionate appellation of "Meretz's

Mr. Security". In the capacity of the thus certified security expert

of a supposedly dovish party, Tamir wrote (Yediot Ahronot, December

14) that "until a stable peace is concluded, Israel should continue

to rule all the Territories", and that "no Israeli settlements in

the Gaza Strip should ever be abandoned". According to Tamir, this

is an imperative dictated "by the experience of 1956". Had Israel

continued "to occupy all the Gaza Strip and most of Sinai" after

that year's war, the Six Day War would have been averted. In Tamir's

notion, his "stable peace" would have to consist of the Arab states

forsaking not only terror, but also "all conceivable armament

pursuits", and recognizing the State of Israel not only as a

sovereign state, but also "as a Jewish state"; in addition to

"recognizing Israel's right to permanently station its troops on

borders of the security areas conquered during the Six Day War".

Apparently Tamir's switch from friendship with Sharon to friendship

with Sarid hardly affected his views. Israeli withdrawal from

Lebanon was, prior to June 1985, opposed with the same arguments

that Tamir voices now, and the anti-withdrawal arguments voiced

before October 1973 were no different either. At the same time

however, Tamir also urges the government to negotiate openly with

the PLO, which in his view can alone be expected to consent to

autonomy on Israel's terms. This subject will yet be discussed



Nahum Barnea ("A Somalia in the Gaza Strip", Yediot Ahronot,

December 7) points out that "piles of classified documents are at

the ministers' disposal. All they need is to ask [an official] to

take a look at a given document. Nonetheless not a single Meretz

minister requested access to the complete minutes of the

[Washington] talks. Meretz, for which peace negotiations are

supposed to be a matter of life and death, is not overly interested

in what is being said behind the closed Washingtonian doors. The

party contents itself with short summary reports, drafted by Rabin

and his officials for delivery at government meetings. I was

astonished hearing this, until a Meretz minister uneasily admitted

this fact to me". Barnea concludes that "for all intents and

purposes, Meretz has turned its back on the Territories". I refrain

from reporting here the articles supportive of Rabin's policies, in

particular those which advocate holding the Gaza Strip and

strenghening the settlements there. Such articles have been quite

numerous, usually authored by various Labor party pundits, most

prominent among them general (reserves) Orri Orr, the chairman of

Knesset Committee of Foreign and Defense Affairs.


Still, opponents of withdrawal have had problems in arguing their

case. In military terms, holding on to the Gaza Strip has become

exorbitantly costly, much more so than to the West Bank. For the

Israeli Jewish public such considerations tend to be decisive.

Barnea tells how "a commander in charge of the Gaza Strip said this

week that in order to dominate the Strip, the Israeli army would

have to reconquer it house by house. But", adds Barnea, "there is

another option. Israel can offer the Palestinians an autonomy in the

Gaza Strip, effective at once. Either option is loaded with

consequences difficult to anticipate. But nothing can be worse than

a Somali-like anarchy which is increasingly the case there". He

rightly traces the development of the present quandary there to "a

decision by the Israeli army. Anxious to minimize the incidence of

clashes, it virtually retreated from large chunks of the

Territories. Conditions in the Gaza Strip show it best. Its major

part is controlled by armed Palestinians". As noted by Fishman

(Hadashot, December 18), the decision referred to was taken by Arens

in July 1991. (I discussed its consequences in report 20.)

The difficulties of reconquering the Gaza Strip were lucidly

described by Shlomo Gazit ("This is a transition to war - nothing

less than a war", Yediot Ahronot, December 15). He deplores that in

Hamas' operations, "the targets more and more frequently are

military or security-related", rather than "innocent Israeli

civilians but soldiers or policemen. We can no longer denounce their

struggle as immoral or unjust". Referring to the kidnapping of

Nissim Toledano and keeping him as a hostage before killing him,

Gazit wonders why "they have reached this point only after 25 years

of Israeli rule... They could have learned from the example of the

resistance of Jewish undergrounds against the British. In the summer

of 1947, when this resistance was at its peak, three IRGUN [Etzel]

fighters were hanged. The next morning two British sergeants, who

had been caught and held by IRGUN as hostages, were hanged likewise.

This retaliation by IRGUN put end to executions of Jewish

underground fighters".


Noticing the advances in the Palestinian military performance,

Gazit, while arguing against any deal with Hamas, concludes that "if

we really want to radically change the existing situation, we have

two options. Both are utterly taxing and near-impossible for us to

embark upon.


* The first option is to rely on collective and location-related

punishments on a scale well-calculated to effectively deter the

Palestinian organizations. The experience of some other conqueror

regimes from not too remote past prove that this is possible. After

the Japanese conquered the Far East, there was no "Intifada", no

demonstrations, no stones thrown and hardly any acts of terror.

Still, reliance on similar methods didn't succeed to exterminate the

[anti-Nazi] partisans in large areas of Russia and Yugoslavia. Yet

it can be reasonably supposed that reliance on this kind of

oppression could bring Palestinian violent resistance to a halt.

* The second option is political. Palestinian terror can be halted

if Israel concludes with the Palestinians an agreement which would

amount to a political solution. If so, the sooner it is done the

better, because otherwise a Palestinian leadership we can talk to

may no longer exist".


"A solution which the Palestinian leadership will be able to

present as its accomplishment will entail the delegitimization of

the ideological authority of the leadership which at present directs

the struggle against Israel. This is because the burden of

exterminating the terror bands will then rest on whatever

Palestinian power elite comes to the fore. This elite cannot shirk

its responsibility for using for that purpose to exactly those

methods we are now finding it difficult to use". It should be noted

that both options of Gazit involve unspeakable atrocities which

Israel would either commit itself or dictate to others. The

difference between them lies in the identity of the perpetrators.

Gazit, a former Commander of the Military Intelligence, tends to

belong to what in Israeli notions is considered the

left-of-the-center. He supports an autonomy plan far more generous

than that which Rabin's government currently offers to the

Palestinians. He also foresaw Rabin's concessions to religious

settlers and warned against making them. If this is what he intends

to do, one can imagine what the hawkish ultras around Rabin intend

to do!


The ruthless expulsion of 415 Palestinians followed up by high

Palestinian casualties, also among children, some of them victims of

deliberate shooting, can therefore be regarded as modelled after the

Japanese (or the Nazi) methods of conquest. The crucial aim of this

wave of reprisals is not to suppress Hamas which, as many Israeli

commentators observed, can only gain from them, but to derail the

"peace process". The idea is to destroy Palestinian organizations

unlikely to agree to "autonomy" on Israeli terms, or else to

initimidate them into accepting those terms. In either case it would

mean using brute force for the sake of undermining whatever popular

support they may still enjoy. After all, the Japanese repression in

China, which effectively prevented a Chinese "Intifada", at least in

the cities, also undermined the prestige of the China's pro-Japenese

puppet regime. Likewise, as soon as the Nazis unleashed their

reprisals against the Norwegians, the pro-Nazi Quisling regime found

itself in complete isolation from Norwegian society.

The Israeli conquest regime, whether in Rabin's or Sharon's style,

has always been interested in nothing apart from creating

Palestinian or Lebanese Quislings. Whether the scheme was that of

the "Village Leagues" or of "autonomy", the purpose has been the

same, however the methods might have differed. The specificity of

Sharon (and of Likud in general) was to pay its collaborators as

little as possible, especially in the domain of public honors or

outward symbols of authority. This strategy derived from Likud's

belief in a potency of symbols for boosting the morale. This is why

Likud is so inflexible about prohibiting displays of any non-Jewish

emblems or ensigns in the Land of Israel. On Likud's priority scale,

this issue ranks no lower than any material considerations. As a

consequence of this attitude, Likud had to recruit its collaborators

from the dregs of the Palestinian society, since Palestinian elites

invariably insist on bestowal of honors for themselves and on

visible symbols of that honor.


Labor, however, is much more pragmatic than Likud, and alert to

the need to solicit foreign aid with the help of delusory

appearances and even downright theatrical gestures. This is why

Labor has always been prepared to seek out more respectable

Palestinians to deal with, and to pay them back in outward honors,

on strict condition that they collaborate with the Israeli

authorities. As for the Palestinian masses, they are anyway now

shown in no uncertain terms, who their master is.


Israel makes the granting of autonomy for the Palestinians

conditional on remaining the exclusive "source of sovereignty", to

be exercised by the military governors (not residing, however, in

the centres of the cities), in the same way as it has been done

since 1967. Israeli proposals mention only the transfer of authority

from the Civil Administration to the autonomous authority, without a

single word about the analogous transfer of authority from the

Military Administration. The concept of "the source of sovereignty"

implies that Israel retains its powers to legislate as it pleases

without any constraints. Precisely such powers were used for the

sake of expelling the 415 Palestinians. Their use in this particular

case was not a matter of chance. Expulsion procedures prior to

December 1992 became cumbersome because of the right of appeal to

the Supreme Court, and that precluded the possibility of instant

execution of expulsion orders. To avoid any thus incurred delays,

the Israeli government instructed its military governors to

legislate a new offense, as liable to instantaneous punishment. By

insisting on the "source of sovereignty" formula, Israel wants to

keep for itself the same powers also over the area to be granted

autonomy. The case of the 415 was apparently intended to underscore

that demand. It means that the membership of the "autonomous

administrative council" is going to be liable to expulsions under

the legal formula used in the case of the 415, or any other legal

formula to be yet made into a law of the land by the military

governors. The same may apply to the "transfer" of all the

Palestinians from the Territories. Right now, Israel seeks out

Palestinians willing to content themselves with vacuous honors, such

as the right to invite visiting Foreign ministers to "Orient House",

while "the minister's country's little flag on his car is fluttering

in the air". Moreover, Palestinian unarmed guards are authorized to

perform searches on other Palestinians. Also, the mailbags of the

Palestinian delegation to the negotiations have diplomatic status

and cannot be inspected. All such honors are bestowed generously, in

expectation of reciprocal recognition of "the source of sovereignty"



However, as Danny Rubinstein astutely observes ("The days of fire

and fury", Haaretz, December 20), none of these honors and

concessions have been bestowed in form of guaranteed rights. It is

because granting the Palestinians any rights would be irreconcilable

with the principle of the "source of sovereignty" as resting in

Israeli hands. According to Rubinstein, "some PLO militants and some

members of the Palestinian delegation who still live in the

Territories" have not been overawed by receptions in their honor in

Washington or in Tunis, and they realize the stakes. "They

acknowledge that Rabin's government adopted in recent months certain

measures benefitting the inhabitants of the Territories, but they

deplore the fact that those measures did nothing to enhance the

status of the PLO and of the Palestinian delegation", because all

them "stemmed from a deliberate oversight" rather than from a formal

right. "For example, the members of the Palestinian delegation can

now freely and openly maintain contacts with the PLO leadership in

Tunis while Israel turns its eyes away. Had the Israeli team of

negotiators announced to the chairman of the Palestinian delegation,

Dr. Haidar A-Shafi, that from now on he and his colleagues can visit

Tunis and consult Arafat as they please, he could cite it as an

accomplishment of the Palestinian delegation and of the peace talks.

But this is what Israel refused to do". Rubinstein lists some

Israeli concessions, among them the relaxation of censorship of the

Arab press of East Jerusalem, the permission to hold political

meetings in the open, and the cessation of house demolitions. But

since all this was done in the form of a dictator's good will

gestures, nothing stands in a way of withholding such favors at any

moment in the future, as long as "the source of sovereignty" remains

in Israeli hands. And indeed, the demolition of houses was resumed

already at the beginning of December.


Concessions proposed by Meretz in a letter to Rabin (Haaretz and

other Hebrew papers, December 23) are also envisaged as favors.

Meretz is very careful not to acknowledge that Palestinians may have

some human rights, even individual, let alone national. All its

proposals imply that all the power continues to be safely ensconced

in the hands of the military governors, which actually means in the

hands of Shabak. For example Meretz requested Rabin to let return to

the Territories those deportees "who were expelled many years ago,

and who already are too old or sick to pose any threat". The

disgusting implication is that a young deportee would according to

Meretz have to wait in exile before he would qualify to beg Rabin to

let him be readmitted. But even apart from this implication, the

Meretz proposal clearly assumes that it would be up to Israel

(really Shabak) to determine not only who may "pose any threat", but

also who is "old or sick" enough to qualify for readmission on

Meretz's terms. With all that, Meretz letter containing these

proposals was a sheer exercise in futility. Rabin is not about to

accept even such token and contemptible suggestions, because he can

take it for granted that Meretz leaders will stay loyal to him,

regardles of what he may yet do. In all probability, the letter was

a mere Public Relations ploy.


I don't intend to describe how the expulsion proceeded, which is

relatively well known. Let me, however, point out some of its more

notable circumstances, in the first place the manner in which the

415 were selected. The selection was completely haphazard and

arbitrary, apparently made solely on the basis of "information" to

be found in Shabak's computers, which relies either on wild guesses,

or on denunciations by informers driven by spite or by wish to

swindle that utterly incompetent agency (see report 111). For

example, the Hebrew press reported that among the 415 was the entire

academic staff of the Islamic University of Gaza, as a result of

which the university had to shut down. Some expellees were fetched

from hospital beds, while others suffer from chronic illnesses.

Neither category was provided with medical treatment en route to

Lebanon, and all private medication possession was disallowed. One

expellee, badly suffering from diabetes, and from the thirst that

this illness induces, implored to be given some water to drink, when

no deportees were being provided with anything to drink or eat. As

evidence of "humane deportation procedures" an official communique

reported that "after a consultation on a high level, he was allowed

to be given some water".


Yoram Binur (Hadashot, December 21) shed an additional light on

the manner of selecting the deportees. He reports that an Armenian

resident of West Bank who happened to wear a long beard, was

arrested and almost deported: except that in the end he somehow

managed to convince the Shabak that he was Christian and not Muslim.

The case testifies to the degree of Shabak's competence. Binur

reported other interesting cases as well. In some cases it was the

Civil Administration, which was convinced that Shabak had made some

mistaken identity gaffs. Consequently, "it begged the Shabak for

mercy for people" who to its knowledge had nothing to do with Hamas.

(They may have worn beards, however.) Apparently a few mistaken

identity cases were subsequently rectified. One such case in point,

involving "a major Nablus merchant, Subhi Antabtawati" is described

by Binur in detail. "When the Civil Administration officials noticed

his name on the list of the expellees, they were just shocked,

realizing that his expulsion would have entailed the closure of

businesses providing lots of employment", with the result that his

former employees might join the demonstrators. "In the end, late in

the night, a Civil Administration jeep was dispatched full speed,

and it caught Antabtawati moments before his expulsion. Since no

expellees were formally charged with anything, he could be freed

next morning". I suspect that almost all expellees, although

described as "inciters to murder", really fell victim of racism and

incompetence of Shabak, and of obscene political manoeuvres of Rabin

and Meretz.

The expellees were assembled within the couple of hours. The

initial plan was to transport them by helicopters. Particularly

tight military censorship was to ensure that the expellees would

already be by the dawn beyond Israeli borders, and thus preempt

their appeals to the Supreme Court. (Since the jurisdiction of the

Supreme Court is territorial, it can hear no appeals submitted from

outside Israel.) There were hints in the press that other aircraft

was also to be used in the operation. If so, it would mean that

Israel initially planned to conquer a chunk of Lebanon, in order to

dump the expellees there and withdraw. (Without an aerial

protection, the troops performing this task would risk being engaged

with the Hizbollah.) Due to a raging storm, however, no aircraft

could be put to use. So the expellees, already assembled in one

place, apparently in the concentration camp of Ketzi'ot, were

instead tied hand anf foot and blindfolded, and thus loaded on to a

convoy of buses, which moved northward under the escort of a whole

legion of police vans. Unlike the helicopters, such a convoy

couldn't but be highly visible. With or without the possible leaks

by lower ranking army servicemen, the secrecy could not be possibly

maintained. The whole operation had to be stayed for 14 hours as a

result of desperate appeals to Supreme Court Judges submitted during

the night.


For several days in advance, the Hebrew press expected something

of the kind to happen, but due to an exceptionally tight censorship

clampdown, it could do nothing to alert its readers. The clampdown

extended to banning any mention of previous Israeli deportations, no

matter how long ago carried out. It was even forbidden to use the

word "deportation" in any context. Censorial manpower, reinforced by

call-ups, was instructed to see to it that these draconian rules be

followed to the letter. Rabin, other Laborites and Meretz ministers

had later nothing but words of warm praise for the work of the

censors, and they deplored the leaks.


The Supreme Court Judge Barak, wakened up in the middle of the

night by lawyers notifying him of the expulsion, was at first

reluctant to order staying it. His formal argument was that the

identities of all the expellees 415 were still unknown, some even to

their families and the lawyers. What made him eventually change his

mind, was the intervention of the highly respected Association for

Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) which persuaded him, not without some

difficulty, to issue a staying order. For doing so, the Association

was subsequently scolded by Rabin in a language Shamir had never

dared to use. He unleashed his rancor at the Association on several

occasions, among them on TV and in the Knesset. His acrimony

contained several points. The Association was guilty of obstructing

the salutary expulsion process, as "its interference upset the

army's schedules. Without it, the deportation could have been over

at dawn. Also, ACRI's arguments are being used by `certain elements'

abroad. Also, ACRI is no more than a voluntary association with a

political axe to grind. And finally, it has nothing to do with

democracy". This is just a sample of what Rabin said in the Knesset

Foreign and Defense Affairs Committee (Haaretz, December 23),

apparently provoked by the Association's defense by Yael Dayan

(Labor) and Na'omi Hazan (a Meretz MK who, unlike that faction's

ministers, is reported to have "mildly" opposed the expulsion.) The

only conclusion can be that Rabin and his Meretz lackeys nowadays

constitute a danger to Israeli democracy, even graver than Shamir

and the Likud ever did. And as far as the Territories are concerned,

the dangers they pose can be considered a foregone conclusion.

The events under this report's discussion turned out to have many

domestic repercussions. In the first place, Rabin's and his

government's popularity increased, especially among the masses of

Likud and other right-wing voters. This phenomenon can be dealt with

rather briefly, since Rabin's domestic political profile has already

been discussed in these reports recurrently. The only possible

novelty was Rabin's capable manipulation of the state-owned

electronic media for the sake of swaying Israeli Jewish majorities

in his favor. In this, he has proven more capable than Shamir. But

Rabin also enjoys the support of the two daily newspapers, Yediot

Ahronot and Maariv, whose joint sales amount to about 85% of the all

the daily press. (Yediot Ahronot also controls some local Friday

papers whose role was discussed in report 114.) Taken together,

these factors may explain the reported support of 91% of "the

public" in favor of the expulsion, as found by the "Dahaf" poll

(Yediot Ahronot, December 18). The finding was sensational enough to

be promptly reported by foreign media. There are reasons, however to

take it with a grain of salt. In the first place, the poll was taken

on the very day of the expulsion, in the atmosphere of frenzy over

the whole affair. Moreover, the media, Israeli as well as foreign,

neglected to inform that the samples of the supposedly "nation-wide"

Israeli polls customarily comprise only the Jews. The Palestinians

who constitute 16.5% of the Israeli citizenry for sure didn't

support the expulsion, and they proved it by their general strike in

protest against it! Still, the poll could have possibly reflected

the authentic mood of Israeli Jewish public on that day, instigated

by all the media manipulation to which that public was exposed. But

the foreign media also failed to mention that the poll also

contained a second question: "How do you think will the expulsion

affect the terror?" The results were: "Will weaken it - 55%; will

not affect it - 18%; will strengthen it - 26%". It means that for

44% of Israeli Jews the expulsion had no meaning other than

vengeance. They supported it without seeing how anything might be

thereby gained. One may speculate that more, and even harsher

reprisals may be needed just to gratify this public's inclination

for vengeance. Barnea's observation ("The trouble with Meretz",

Yediot Ahronot, December 22) was in this context highly relevant.

"Rabin has no problems with ordering mass-expulsions, since he has

been advocating them for years. Most Labor ministers don't have any

qualms about them either. During the electoral campaign and even in

the [earlier] party primaries, they saw what popular masses wanted

and egged them on. Since then, they use street language, as if they

had their mouths in their underpants. Since then, they have also

learned to make decisions suiting the shifting mood of the gutter.

This is the first Israeli government which elevated vulgarity to the

rank of an ideology".


Amnon Denkner and Ron Miberg ("Ah dear, the doves went insane",

Hadashot, December 18) cast some light on the background of Yediot

Ahronot's and Maariv's support for the expulsions. "Their editors

and staffers are nice fellows as long as you sit with them in the

city's quiet pubs. But only until they return to their editorial

offices where they become epitomes of vulgarity". Both papers did

actually carry plenty of critical articles on their inside pages

where serious discussions of events normally appear. But on their

front pages little could be found apart from hate propaganda propped

by suitable manipulation of news. In my opinion, there was more to

it than plain profit motive through an expected rise in sales. My

point is that their owners must have felt some affinity for Rabin,

due to their shared involvement in the Irangate affair. The owner of

Maariv is the son of Ya'akov Nimrodi whose involvement in Irangate

was notorious. And Yediot Ahronot is owned by the Moses family,

which includes the widow of the no less notorious Irangate operator

Amiram Nir, Judith Moses, reputed to be particularly active in the

paper's affairs. The fact is that the military censorship clampdown

before and during the expulsion, described by Denkner and Miberg as

"not only brutal but also totally unrestrained", was followed by

nothing more than a perfunctory and courteous protest of the

Editors' Committee and only few protests from other sources, all

milder than those dealt with in report 114. The affinity with Rabin

on the part of the owners of the two papers may provide some

explanation why was it so.


Denkner and Miberg ask some cogent questions regarding this

government's deference to the mood of the masses. "What will happen

if another Jew is killed? What will the government then do? Will it

expel 800 or 8,000? What chunk of meat will then be tossed in order

to calm down people who get not only excited but also incited?" They

leave their questions unanswered. In my view this government is

perfectly capable of outdoing Shamir's. Also Barnea ("Rabin's

pronouncements were meant to influence the Supreme Court", Yediot

Ahronot, December 22), observes that "the hysterical nature of the

acts Rabin's government acts made people compare the functioning of

the present government with that of the previous one". But most

revealingly, Barnea also quotes Shamir's Justice minister, Dan

Meridor, who had succeeded in halting almost all expulsions Shamir's

government intended to effect. "Had a Labor government been in power

during the Gulf War, it would have bowed to pressures of the street,

and dispatched Israeli troops deep into Iraq, without bothering

about the likely consequences. Ehud Barak also submitted to the

government all kinds of proposals, except that my government had a

moral strength to say `no' to him". As is known, Barak, like Rabin,

has also "been advocating expulsions for years", except that, only

under Rabin, he can carry them out. A major war which, as described

in report 113, now has better chances to actually happening.

The second important domestic repercussion of the deportation was

the massive rebellion of the former Meretz sympathizers against the

role of Meretz's leadership in the affair. A majority of those

Israeli Jews who opposed the expulsion had, in the last election,

voted for Meretz. Hence the warm support for mass-expulsions on the

part of Meretz leaders was exploited by Rabin to "soften" all

opposition to those expulsions, whether in the ranks of Meretz

voters, or of liberally-minded foreigners. Now both feel betrayed.

It needs to be pointed out that the opposition to the expulsions,

far from being a sectarian phenomenon, encompassed a majority of

erstwile Meretz supporters, and was backed by a segment of media

community, once supportive of Meretz leadership.

The most ignominious role in disarming that opposition fell upon

the Meretz' Knesset faction chairman MK Yossi Sarid. As a

participant in numerous meetings and symposia attended also by PLO

bureaucrats, Sarid proclaimed himself to be a certified expert in

what the Palestinians "really want". In that capacity, he kept

assuring everybody concerned that the mass expulsion of Hamas

members was what the Palestinians deep down in their hearts "really"

desire. Barnea (Yediot Ahronot, December 18), quotes Sarid as

declaring that "an average Palestinian is by no means averse to

these expulsions", and as implying that the PLO leadership in Tunis,

after having "at its secret meetings" resolved to accept all Israeli

demands regarding the autonomy, passed to Israel a message to the

effect "that the moderate Palestinians in the Territories were

looking forward to merciless punishments expected to be soon

imposed" on Hamas militants. Naturally, Sarid was promptly exposed

as a liar. It can be presumed, however, that during the critical

days his statements must have carried a considerable influence on

Jewish public, and possibly also on the Supreme Court.


True, Meretz had betrayed its electoral platform principles also

before; but none of these betrayals was resented as much as this

one. Consequently, all major press commentators are now in agreement

that Meretz has lost the bulk of its popular support. As Barnea

("The trouble with Meretz", ibid) put it, "during their 5 months in

the government, they had been quite badly thrashed by lesser

scandals so no wonder they failed the test of a really fateful

decision. Instead of doing as their principles dictated, they

reneged on them, with the effect of utterly disgracing themselves.

The past champions of freedom of expression behaved like a herd of

frightened sheep... Any other party would have at least tried to

balance its support for Rabin by pressing him real hard for some

genuine concessions, in making the Israeli stand in negotiations

more flexible or in some relaxations in the conditions of the people

in the Territories. But Meretz confined itself to stammering,

without demanding a thing. They wanted to be raped by Rabin even

more than he wanted to rape them". Recalling how "once in the

Knesset Rabin boasted that he had demolished more [Palestinian]

houses, broken more bones, and expelled more inciters than any Likud

Defense minister", Khami Shalev ("They will be kicked out from the

left", Davar, December 18), concedes that "this government indeed

did what the Israeli Right had dreamt about, but never dared do".

Shalev also points to "the indisputable fact" that Rabin received

"the warmest possible support for the mass expulsion" from his

Meretz ministers. In general, the media were in no mood to spare

Meretz any of their disdain. This is why Barnea ("Rabin's

declarations... ibid) is right on the target with his paradoxical

prediction that Meretz is now bound to remain in the government

whatever Rabin may yet do. For, argues Barnea, "Meretz has already

been humiliated enough not to want to risk the further humilation"

of being kicked out from Rabin's government. And other columnists

have observed that from now on, no other Israeli party is likely to

follow Rabin's policies as blindly and unquestioningly as Meretz,

simply because Meretz alone is not in the position to confront its

former supporters while being in the opposition.


However, Meretz is not a party but a bloc of three separate

parties Ratz, Mapam and Shinui. Denkner and Miberg observe that

"Ratz contains a strong nucleus of activists toughened by years of

campaigning for human rights". No wonder in the ranks of Ratz the

rebellion broke out first. At the time of this writing it could

already claim some successes. After condemning the expulsions and

the party chiefs for supporting them, Ratz' "Youth Movement",

managed to force the party's Council (a rather sizable body by

Israeli standards) to meet the very next day. At that meeting, the

party chiefs were, after a fierce debate, condemned in a resolution

passed by a majority of 86 to 41. Unfortunately, that Council cannot

force the party's representatives to resign. In Mapam things have

been moving more slowly in the same direction, but not in Shinui.

Arguments which the Meretz chiefs adduced in favor of the mass

expulsion can be summed up briefly. Essentially, there were three

such arguments: that the expulsion was "good for the peace process",

that it "helped the PLO to outflank Hamas in competition for support

of Palestinian public" (or even "that it was requested by the PLO"),

and that "since something had to be done, we chose the least evil

among the possible options". But interesting facts came to light as

soon as the Meretz chiefs confronted their former supporters - who

of course refused to accept such arguments - in a debate covered by

the Hebrew press extensively. According to Barnea (Yediot Ahronot,

December 18), it then turned out that long before the formation of

Meretz, when Ratz was in the opposition, "MK Dedi Tzuker had been

running secret errands on Rabin's behalf", i.e. before March 1990.

But the story of the PLO request for some sort of Israeli reprisals

against Hamas militants may have some basis in facts. On Friday,

December 18 Israeli TV showed on its prime-time program a reel

containing an interview with Arafat in Rome about two weeks earlier.

In the interview, Arafat wondered why was Israel "punishing" only

the PLO militants while sparing the Hamas' ones. The authenticity of

the Israeli TV's reel was confirmed by some European spectators and

not denied by the PLO. Arafat's "wondering" has also been reported

by some Arab-language papers appearing in Europe, but passed in

total silence by East Jerusalem press. There are also reasons to

believe that some time ago some PLO figures from the Territories met

the Meretz chiefs in Sarid's Tel Aviv apartment, and that during

that meeting the former indeed requested some reprisals against

Hamas on Israel's part. Ziyad Abu-Ziyad, who is said to have

attended that meeting, was subsequently interviewed on the Israeli

radio. Without denying the story, Abu Ziyad confined himself to

blaming Meretz for breach of secrecy and for the leak to the media.

How can these reports be critically appraised? I find it downright

impossible to believe that any Palestinians might have requested

Israel for a mass expulsion. Also, any PLO militant could predict

that a mass expulsion of Hamas militants was liable to weaken the

PLO's standing in the eyes of Palestinian masses, as it indeed

happened in the expulsion's wake. But a segment of the PLO, from

Arafat down to those who met with Meretz chiefs, can by all means be

presumed to have asked Israel to punish the Hamas activists by

putting them under administrative detention. They must have assumed

that Rabin would go along with so obliging a suggestion, and let

them reap the benefits. PLO thinking on Israeli politics abounds in

delusions. As evidence, it is enough to cite the PLO's

pronouncements that by voting Rabin in Israeli Jewish majorities

proved that they wanted peace. Until the mass expulsion the PLO

perceived the Meretz chiefs and pundits (or other Zionist

"leftists") as their tutors in Jewish affairs. In effect, the PLO

let its ranks be easily penetrated and brainwashed. The PLO's

ignorance of Israeli Jewish society and politics, especially of its

Labor and Zionist "left" segment, helped them to fall prey to


Before concluding, I feel I must repeat something already quoted

in report 113: namely the opinions of the chief political

correspondent of Haaretz, Uzi Benziman, ("Diagnosis", November 13)

about the Israeli army and Intelligence. Speaking in the context of

Lebanese affairs, Benziman talks about "the time-honored assumption

that sheer intensity of firepower will make the South Lebanese

suffer hard enough to remember it forever: enough to vomit the

Hizbollah terrorists out of their midst rather than risk any more of

such suffering in the future". The attitude of the Israeli Security

System is toward the Palestinians no different than toward the

Lebanese. Truly, the high command of the Israeli army and the

Israeli Intelligence branches have learned nothing and forgotten

nothing. They have always acted on the assumption that "the Arabs

understand nothing but the language of force", and that all problems

could be resolved by stepping up the use of force. This made them

assume that the Palestinians could only be be cowed by mass

expulsions and the implicit threat of more to come. To all

appearances, this kind of crude racism is not going to wane, and

will continue to guide Rabin in his policy decisions.