Three Heroic Missions by Anonymous Soldiers

On entrenching the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip and other recent achievements of the Israeli army that should not be dismissed

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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Palestinian protesters confront Israeli troops at the Hawara checkpoint south of Nablus city in the occupied West Bank, during a demonstration in support of those under bombardment in Gaza, in May.
Palestinian protesters confront Israeli troops at the Hawara checkpoint south of Nablus city in the occupied West Bank, during a demonstration in support of those under bombardment in Gaza, in May.Credit: JAAFAR ASHTIYEH - AFP
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

During wartime, we know what the Israel Defense Forces does. Its soldiers, even if their identities aren’t exposed or familiar, receive the nation’s collective embrace. In times of quiet not only are the soldiers anonymous, but so are their acts. But why shortchange them, or fail to praise them to their faces and those of their parents? For example: In the six days between June 3 and June 9, IDF troops killed three Palestinians, wounded dozens, carried out 151 raids throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem, arrested 99 people, including 16 minors, and demolished 10 tents and nine huts in the Jericho area.

Now from the general to three specific examples:

The date: June 11

The mission: To protect the settlement enterprise in general and in particular the illegal outpost of Evyatar, near Nablus, which could potentially expand to cover 600 dunams (about 15 acres, as Daniella Weiss, the general secretary of the Nahala settlement movement, which built the outpost, told Haaretz last week).

The target: Palestinian demonstrators who live in the village of Beita, on whose land and that of two other villages (Yatma and Qabalan) Evyatar is being built.

The killed teenager, Muhammad Said Hamail, 15.

The activity: The killing by live fire of Muhammad Said Hamail, 15, the wounding of another 11 by live fire and of six more people due to the firing of rubber-coated metal bullets, the choking of about 60 demonstrators with tear gas, and the beating of another six.

The achievement: Additional Palestinian families with chutzpah, who resist the mitzvah of stealing the land, join the cycle of bereavement.

The background: Construction on the unauthorized outpost began in early May in order to sever the surrounding Palestinian villages from each other; the army allowed the settlers to keep erecting structures despite the demolition orders issued by the Civil Administration. The Palestinians demonstrated in Beita and three have been killed so far, but they continue to demonstrate. The IDF has blocked off the main entrance to the village.

The essence of the activity: Goliath, adorned with Stars of David, attempts to subdue, silence and paralyze Daoud.

The date: June 9

The mission: To incriminate and to bring down Palestinian civil society organizations.

The target: The Heath Work Committee, a nongovernmental organization established in 1985, which works to ensure the Palestinian community’s right to access high-quality medical care. The NGO has 14 permanent and mobile clinics that operate in West Bank villages and towns.

A Palestinian demonstrator gestures as he stands in front of an Israeli soldier during a protest against Israeli settlements near Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, last week.Credit: MUSSA ISSA QAWASMA/ REUTERS

The activity: At 5 A.M., an IDF force with a large number of military vehicles raided the southeastern neighborhood of Al-Bireh, Sateh Marhaba, and broke into the organization’s headquarters, which are housed on two floors in the Al-Sartawi building. The force confiscated hard disks and memory cards, and files from cabinets. It blocked the main door with iron poles and hung a six-month closure order on it; the order also warns employees not to enter their offices, otherwise they will be arrested and tried for violating a military injunction.

The achievement: The undermining of the NGO’s ability to provide health services and carry on with its public health research.

The background: The important Palestinian NGOs in the fields of health, agriculture and women’s rights were established in the 1980s by left-wing Palestinian organizations with a combined goal of fighting for national liberation and advancing the principle of social equality. The Health Work Committee has long since been singled out by the IDF, the Shin Bet security service and privatized espionage organizations such as NGO Monitor, because several of its employees are associated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The group’s administrative and financial director, Walid Abu-Ras, is under arrest and is accused of involvement in the attack at the Ein Bubin spring on the lands of the village of Dir Ibzi’a, west of Ramallah, where 17-year-old Rina Shnerb was killed.

The essence of the activity: To take revenge against the thousands of Palestinians in need of the NGO’s services.

The date: from May 22 on

The mission: To destroy any appearance of a return to the routine.

The target: 2 million people, residents of the Gaza Strip.

The activity: Closure of the Gaza border crossings in order to reduce to a “humanitarian” minimum the entry of goods, and the entry and exit of Palestinians. There is a ban against the entry of fuel, a ban against marketing agricultural produce outside the Strip, and a ban prohibiting the entry of items by mail (including passports issued in Ramallah).

The achievements: The sick become sicker, on the verge of death, because they are not allowed to leave Gaza for treatment while there is still a chance for recovery. The local market is flooded with agricultural produce that was destined for markets in Israel and the West Bank, and local farmers are losing income. The hours in which there is electrical power are limited, places of work are paralyzed, more unemployed people are in need of charity and compassion. Work-, health- and study-related plans to travel abroad via the Rafah crossing on the border with Egypt are being cancelled, not to mention plans to visit family overseas.

The background: Since 1991 Israel has been unilaterally implementing not the “two-state solution” that Oslo Accords supporters had expected, but rather the “solution” of 10 Palestinian enclaves (Gaza, Hebron, Yatta, Bethlehem, Ramallah, Salfit, Tulkarm-Nablus, Jenin, Tubas and Jericho). The Gaza Strip is the model; the others, in the West Bank, are smaller-scale duplications. Gaza’s present is the not-so-distant future of the other enclaves, if they don’t behave nicely.

The essence of the activity: To pretend that Israel is punishing Hamas, while it actually helps that organization to entrench its regime in the severed Strip.

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