Recently a group of 12 South African Jews, without any independent investigation (or even consultation of Israel’s response), have responded to the already notorious UN Human Rights Council report on Israeli “apartheid” to express their profound disapproval of Israeli crimes against humanity.
Without questioning Professor Dugard’s sincerity, his sources are open to question. It is a pity he didn’t consult the like of journalist Khaled Abu Toameh, who has an intimate knowledge of the Palestinian terrain. An award-winning journalist and television news producer, he has reported from the West Bank and Gaza Strip for more than twenty years. An insider with an intimate knowledge of the Palestinians, at one time he worked as editor of the PLO’s newspaper Al Fajr.
Toameh told the Middle East Forum in Philadelphia on April 27, 2004 that the world receives an inaccurate picture of what happens in the Palestinian region. The PA’s tyrannical approach and control of the media creates an atmosphere of intimidation and fear among Palestinian journalists and foreign journalists allow themselves to be misled by some of their Palestinian consultants.
Toameh is certainly in a better position to assess the actual situation than short-term visitors who can’t speak Arabic and depend on Palestinians as guides and translators. He relates that when foreigners interview Palestinians through translators, the translators often mistranslate and even reprimand interviewees critical of the Palestinian Authority.
There is another very disturbing aspect to Dugard’s report. His unbalanced mandate as special rapporteur on Palestine, is limited to investigating only violations by Israel, not by Palestinians. He has been faithful to this mandate, presenting the case of a prosecutor determined to obtain a conviction while making no pretence of acting as a neutral investigator,
Your mandate is however, unrestricted and natural justice requires that unlike Dugard, you must examine and weigh all available evidence including the Palestinian provocations, which produce Israeli reactions.
The casualties to which you refer, did not occur in a vacuum. They were the tragic result of operations in reaction to attacks by Palestinians.
The closures of crossing points only take place to avoid terror attacks like the one by the female suicide bomber who detonated a bomb at the Erez Crossing killing four Israelis and wounding 10. Hamas and the Fatah Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed joint responsibility
I am not aware of Palestinians seeking medical attention in Egypt as referred to by you, but last year some 80,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and 40,000 from Gaza came to Israel for medical treatment. All this despite the risk that occasionally bombs are discovered in ambulances at checkpoints and despite the history of two suicide bombers who arrived in Israel by ambulance and then blew themselves up at a hitchhiking station, killing 21 Israelis, See http://tinyurl.com/28cg8q
The real tragedy is that Palestinian extremists have deliberately prevented a thriving cooperative situation with Israel. See http://tinyurl.com/2nsnmz
Before the uprising, up to 100,000 Palestinians worked in Israel, A successful industrial zone was created at Erez employing about 5,000 workers in some 200 businesses half of which were Palestinian-owned. This was part of a larger Gaza Industrial Estate (GIE), slated to provide up to 50,000 jobs. A joint industrial zone was also planned south of Tulkarm intended to provide jobs for more than 5,000 Palestinians and additional areas were planned for Jenin and the Kerem Shalom area near Rafah in Gaza.
Unfortunately the GIE was forced to close when it became the target of deadly Palestinian attacks.
The self-destructive trend continues. Even as recently as last May, opportunities were lost when Gazan gunmen wantonly destroyed thousands of greenhouses and other projects left behind by the Jewish settlers who had been evacuated; projects that could have provided income for over 4,500 families.
* Bait Hanoun. Your reference to the November 2006 Beit Hanoun incident repeats erroneous information. The BBC, which cannot be accused of favoring Israel, reported the total damage as 18 killed and 40 wounded. Your source exaggerates this to 82 killed and 260 injured adding 279 homes plus other buildings destroyed, though even Palestinian sources reported only six adjacent structures damaged by the explosion.
Lacking in your letter is any reference to the fact that Israeli civilians are being bombarded daily by rockets fired by Palestinians from civilian areas into civilian areas (a double war crime). No international law prevents Israel from responding. In this instance shells aimed by Israeli artillery at a rocket-launching site hit the wrong target due to a malfunction. Human errors and malfunctions do occur, even in the most highly disciplined fields such as space exploration.
The reaction of IDF soldiers was described by Steve Linde in the Jerusalem Post, on November 8, 2006. He wrote: “Can you imagine how terrible the artillery troops who fired the shells at Beit Hanun yesterday must be feeling now? After serving in IDF Artillery, I can only say that this is every gunner’s nightmare scenario: killing innocent men, women and children.”
Linde points out that, in response to Kassam rocket attacks, gunners were ordered to “fire at the source” – which they did, firing a dozen or so shells. He adds that whereas the Kassams are intentionally fired at civilian targets, hoping for maximum casualties and damage, the troops who fired at Beit Hanun were targeting terrorists, not civilians. For the complete article see http://tinyurl.com/yhqzn3
*West Bank and the wall: The wall (most of it is wire, like any other fence) to which you object would not have been erected if it had not become necessary to prevent deadly suicide bombings and other terror. That it has been successful in preventing untold massacres must be balanced against the regrettable, temporary discomfort of some residents.
*Settlements, the Geneva convention and international law: Your claim that 40% of land held by settlements is privately owned Palestinian land, is contradicted by a recent admission by “Peace Now”, the most active opponent and monitor of settlement activity, that it has made serious mistakes. For example in regard to the largest settlement, Ma’ale Adumim, it made a 15,900% percent mistake. Rather than 86.4% claimed as Palestinian land, it now claims just 0.54% of that land as supposedly Palestinian. For more details see http://tinyurl.com/2a84bh
Similarly your claim that settlements are in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention has been contested by eminent jurists like the late Professor Julius Stone one of the twentieth century’s leading authorities on the Law of Nations. See http://tinyurl.com/ypg9hg.
With regard to other claims of illegalities I refer you to http://tinyurl.com/2zvwfz