[“A significant part of what the IDF [Israel Defence Forces] does is not the “title” [ie defence]. The “title” of what the IDF does in the occupied territories is ruling another people. One of the things you need to do is defend yourself from them, but you also need to oppress the population. You need to weaken the politics, you need to strengthen and deepen your control of Palestinian society so that the [Israeli] state can remain [there] in the long term … We realised that that’s the job of the intelligence.”: — from the interview with 3 of the “refuseniks”, in the 2nd article posted below. The unity of these “refuseniks” is a rejection of the colonial mission to control all aspects of Palestinian life. They do not, as a group, object to other aspects of Israel and Israeli military policy and practice. Nonetheless, their stance is noteworthy, though limited. — Frontlines ed.]
Forty-three reserve soldiers and officers in Israel’s prestigious military intelligence gathering unit, Unit 8200, have refused to take any further part in the gathering of information on Palestinian society in the West Bank.
Their stand is the latest expression of the growing opposition within the armed forces to the ongoing repression of the Palestinian people.
Refusal to enlist was once considered unthinkable among Jewish Israeli youth other than among the ultra-orthodox, but now, as one young refusenik, Shaked Harari, explained, they “are not embarrassed that we are refusing. We believe that this declaration can make an ideological change, and it will not happen if we don’t stand behind it and we are not honest with it.”
Unit 8200 is under the control of the Israel Defence Force’s (IDF) Military Intelligence Directorate, whose role is similar to that of the National Security Agency in the United States. It collects signal intelligence (SIGINT), including eavesdropping on telephone calls, text messages, and emails. As the largest part of the IDF, the views expressed must therefore reflect a much wider layer than the number who actually signed the letter.
The unit has acquired an iconic status, in part because as a result of its technical expertise a number of 8200’s alumni have gone on to found or manage some of Israel’s high-tech start-up companies. Its operations are secret and subject to censorship, while the identities of its leading personnel are never revealed.
It is therefore all the more significant that it is the ethical and political character of the Unit’s work and above all its methods that have come to public attention. While a number of pilots, soldiers and officers from combat units faced with the daily task of humiliating and arresting Palestinians—and worse—have refused service, this is the first time that anyone in electronic surveillance has spoken up and refused to enlist.
Jewish Israeli men are required to carry out three years of military service from the age of 18 and then at least a month a year of reserve duty until the age of 40. They typically spend a few weeks each year in active duty. While women are also obliged to do military service, they are not required to serve in combat units, while their service and reservist duties are shorter.
The 43 signatories, collected over a year, to an open letter to Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, chiefs of the IDF and its SIGINT branch stressed that they believed that the information they collected was often used to exert control over innocent Palestinian civilians and to set West Bank residents against each other. At the same time it was an invasion of the privacy of the Palestinian, said the signatories. Continue reading
[The people of Gaza have, in their determined resistance, brought many issues to the fore among its supporters and defenders. Central to these is the right of resistance itself — “by any means necessary” i.e., with whatever force the defenders can bring to the battlefield. The forces of self-defense and the struggle for self-determination include moral force, political force, and military force. Those who claim to support the victims of imperialist and settler-colonial military aggression, but argue against popular military resistance and armed liberation strategies, are denying the very means by which defense is made and by which liberation is won. In the essay below, Ramzy Baroud of Palestine Chronicle details the background and recent history and “debate” over this issue. (And, an important, but here secondary, difference with Baroud’s concluding paragraphs which cite ‘Gandhi’s inspiring greatness in the struggle against colonialism’ — this is disputed in India and elsewhere, as, most recently, Arundhati Roy and many others have challenged the iconization of Gandhi as a false anti-colonialist who ushered in an “independent” India without breaking the colonialist cultures and structures and laws of caste, class, and repressive state violence, and without empowering the people who, in their overwhelming majority, live today in the same same oppressive conditions that characterized the period of direct British colonial rule. But this is a side-point here, which will be further explored separately and soon). — Frontlines ed.]
Gaza’s resistance paradigm
By Ramzy Baroud, Palestine Chronicle
“Where is the Palestinian Gandhi? In Israeli prison, of course!,” was the title of an article by Jo Ehrlich published in Mondoweiss.net on December 21, 2009. That was almost exactly one year after Israel’s concluded a major war against Gaza. The so-called Operation Cast Lead (December 27, 2008 – January 18, 2009) was, till then, the deadliest Israeli attack against the impoverished strip for many years.
Ehrlich was not in the least being belittling by raising the question about the “Palestinian Gandhi” but responding to the patronization of others. Right from the onset, he remarked: “Not that I’m in any way playing into the Palestinian Gandhi dialogue, I think it’s actually pretty diversionary/racist. But sometimes you have to laugh in order not to cry.”
Indeed, the question was and remains condescending, ignorant, patronizing and utterly racist. But the question was also pervasive, including among people who classify themselves as “pro-Palestinian activists”.
Now that Israel’s latest war – so-called Operation Protective Edge – has surpassed Cast Lead in terms of duration, causalities, level of destruction, but also the targeting of civilians – the Gandhi question seems more muted than usual. To understand why, one needs to first examine the reason of why Palestinians were demanded to produce a non-violent Gandhi alternative in their struggle for freedom in the first place. Continue reading
May 10, 2012 by AlJazeeraEnglish
At least six of the 2,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are in imminent danger of dying, according to their lawyers.
Al Jazeera’s Cal Perry reports from Ramallah, West Bank.
btselem on Jan 4, 2012
In 2011, volunteers in B’Tselem’s camera project filmed over 500 hours of footage in the West Bank.
There are two minutes we collected from it, in order to sum up the passing year.
Tuesday, 27th December, 2011
We, Palestinians of Gaza, 3 years on from the 22-day long massacre in Israel’s operation ‘Cast Lead’, are calling on international civil society to make 2012 the year when solidarity with us in Palestine captures the spark of the revolutions around the Arab world and never looks back. On this anniversary we demand an international liberation movement that eventually leads to just that, liberation for us Palestinians from 63 years of brutal military occupation and ethnic cleansing that pours shame on any organisation or government claiming to endorse universal human rights.
We will never forget the hurt of 3 years ago, the criminal onslaught that we lived through, the blood of over 1400 murdered men, women and hundreds of children running through the streets of Gaza, between the rubble, soaking our beds and etched on our minds. We will never forget. For they are still dead, and thousands more are still maimed. 
We will never forget the last 63 years during which our land, homes, olive groves, lemon trees and cherished way of life was taken away from us, while Israeli soldiers held our fathers’ faces in the sands, imprisoned them, or shot them in front of us. We will not forget the sickening cowardice of the international community that has allowed and enabled this ethnic cleansing of our people, subjecting us to Israel’s racist Zionist vision that defines us, the indigenous people of Palestine, as the undesired ‘ethnic group’ for the region.
The US continues to ‘reward’ Israel with 6 billion dollars of tax-payers money while the EU increases its trade and diplomatic relations. For the Israeli apartheid regime this translates as the green light to unleash the 4th most powerful military on us to ‘do its worst’ against our civilian population, of which over half in Gaza are children and over 2 thirds are UN registered refugees.
[While the Palestine Authority and the US/Israel maneuver to cut a deal or delay on the pending Abbas application to the UN for “Palestinian statehood” (a maneuver so hollow that many Palestinians have dubbed it as nothing more than a marketing strategy for Abbas to hold on to the appearance of credibility and power amid the rising popular challenges and demands, partly fueled by the “Arab Spring”), Palestinian people are not holding their breath for UN action. — Frontlines ed.]
The move would let Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas keep his promise of seeking U.N. membership but allow the U.S. to avoid casting a veto in the Security Council.
By Paul Richter, Los Angeles Times
September 20, 2011, 8:35 p.m.
Reporting from the United Nations—
Diplomats on Tuesday raced to nail down a plan to deflect the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations, crafting a face-saving formula that could lessen the immediate prospect of a Security Council veto, which the Obama administration desperately sought to avoid.
Under the plan, the council decision on the application for recognition, which Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas plans to make Friday, would be put off indefinitely. That would buy time for the U.S. to try to restart negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, and would keep $600 million a year in American aid and other international assistance flowing to the Palestinians. Congress had threatened to cut the U.S. aid.
Diplomats said Abbas, who is scheduled to meet Wednesday with President Obama, had signed off on the plan.
The scenario, which Western officials have been trying to engineer behind the scenes for weeks, “is now likely,” a senior European diplomat said.
Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian legislator and ally of Abbas who is in New York for the U.N. General Assembly session, said Palestinian officials are willing “to accept some delay, of the kind you would have under normal United Nations procedures.” Continue reading