The Bulldozer State: Commentaries
- Celebrating Life in Rafah
By Ramzy Baroud - June 1, 2004
Rafah, Jenin, Khan Yunis, Zeitun: Foreign sounding names of so
distanced and disturbing a reality. All that we know of them is what
media has selectively determined to impart, if we are interested to
hear the story.
The Rafah refugee camp, a small strip of land at the southern edge of
Gaza was the target of Israel's most ruthless attack in years.
Between May 17-20, forty three Palestinians were killed, mostly
civilians. Among them, nine children, most of them struck by missiles
while protesting peacefully with flags and banners. "End the Siege on
Rafah", declared a white banner, torn and saturated with blood.
Media reports said Israel was responding to the killing of 13 of its
troops by Palestinian militants.
Homemade land mines killed the Israeli soldiers. However, the blasts
were exasperated by the large amounts of explosives hauled by Israeli
armored vehicles, apparently on their way to blow up Palestinian
homes somewhere in Gaza.
Even before the Rafah atrocities subsided, US President George W.
Bush told AIPAC lobbyists that Israel had the right to defend itself.
Can logic be any more fallacious?
Israel's murder of civilians is sanctioned as self-defense;
Palestinians, once again, are labeled "terrorists".
Israel can assassinate any Palestinian at the time of its choosing
with a ready-to-serve verdict. It killed and wounded hundreds of
civilians in those "targeted killing" sprees. Yet, Palestinians are
condemned if they show the mere desire to respond. Even the targeting
of occupation soldiers is taboo.
So what is it that Palestinians are permitted to do in self-defense,
in accordance with the so twisted pro-Israeli Bush doctrine?
How about marching in a peaceful demonstration?
In Rafah, that too was an anathema and could not be tolerated. It was
handled with resoluteness and vigor, the same way any "terrorist"
threat deserves to be handled. A missile fired from a US-supplied
Apache helicopter was all that took to eliminate that option of
"Photos below are too graphic", read a warning posted on a
Palestinian website of images of dead civilians in the tragedy-
stricken refugee camp. They were of the dozen bodies piled up in a
local farmer's cooler since the hospital's morgue was overfilled with
One picture refuses to escape my mind. An olive-skinned child with
slightly opened eyes. Dead. An unknown hand, holds the child's wholly
disjoined arm closer to the dead body, as if he is telling the
camera: "This arm belonged here." The boy was nameless. I quivered.
The feeling of being that boy's father is horrifying.
In the case of Israeli victims of suicide bombings, reality can be
equally gruesome. But Bush dares not use the same logic when
Palestinians fall victim: "Palestinians too entail the right to
defend themselves." Never once has he uttered these words. So what
else should Palestinians attempt, now that even peaceful protests are
crossing the line?
Peter Hansen, the chief of the United Nations agency for refugees in
the region confirmed that in Rafah refugee camp, homes were toppled
on their dwellers.
Even as Hansen himself walked through the camp assessing the damages,
Israeli soldiers were still shooting. "We have now confirmation from
the hospital that a girl was shot and killed in one of the two gun
bursts we heard," he said.
She was Rawan Abu Zeid, a 3-year-old girl from Rafah. Her peers said
that she was skipping in her way to the candy store. Two bullets
struck her, one in the head and the other in the neck. Was she taken
to the same makeshift morgue, or did her tiny body find room for
itself in the local hospital?
This time I implore an answer: What must Palestinians do to stand up
to the Israeli occupation without being blamed for their own misery,
now that suicide bombings, fighting occupation soldiers, protesting
peacefully, huddling in fear with one's family in one's own home, or
coveting a piece of candy from a nearby shop warrant so violent an
Israeli response? Of course we are expected to pay little attention
to the Palestinian victims, to ask who are they and who will pay for
their death. In fact, few of us bother to find out what can be done to
help those fortunate enough to evade the bullets and the bulldozers.
But enthusiastically we indulge in analyzing Ariel Sharon's motives,
as if such senseless murder might possibly adhere to some kind of
Is it blatant revenge that compelled the killings? Is it another
campaign of ethnic cleansing of areas adjacent to the border with
Egypt to establish yet another Israeli "security zone"? Is it a round
of muscle flexing, such as South Lebanon's defeat complex, prior to a
partial pullout from Gaza?
Whatever the reasons, the fact is, Sharon will not cease his
murdering of Palestinians with impunity. His logic, however twisted,
will prevail as long as the United States government continues to
supply him with all the weapons, money and political clout needed to
defy international law. His victims will maintain their status among
the "unimportant people", and shall be reprimanded if they even dare
to vent violently, because by doing so they veer off from the
teachings of Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
In a few days, the name Rafah shall concede to make room for more
important headlines. It might be a few more days before another
foreign sounding Palestinian name, associated with tragedy and death
was introduced, and with it a long list of Israeli pretences, coupled
by a quote or two made by president Bush somewhere on his fundraising
trail: "Israel has the right to defend itself." The chances are, the
Rafah morgues shall be emptied and dusty yellow bulldozers shall
remove the debris of over 230 destroyed homes. Whose morgue shall be
filled next is hard to predict.
As for the refugees of the devastated camp, left alone atop the
debris of their homes, scores of death certificates and hundreds of
wounded to care for, they, astonishingly have a way to cope. For one,
they insist that there are millions of people around the world who
care about them. Someone chanting for their rights and freedom
anywhere in the world feeds them with urgently needed hope for one
Speaking to Gaza's Voice of Freedom Radio, Moawiya Hassanein, a
physician in Gaza City told the station that by the time 40
Palestinians were killed in Rafah, 39 others were born. I am "so
happy because the births were some compensation for the human loss,"
A Palestinian friend of mine, who is living far away from home, told
me that as she witnessed the images of the victims of Rafah, she felt
a strange and overpowering sense of pride. She said, "If I had not
been born Palestinian, I would've wished to be." I understood, and I
too felt the same.
-Ramzy Baroud is a Palestinian-American journalist.
Short-term gains detrimental to long-term interests
By Hasan Abu Nimah
The Jordan Times
26 May 2004
"Israel is a democracy and a friend, and it has every right to
defend itself." That was President George W. Bush's response to the
Israeli onslaught on the Palestinian civilians in Rafah. Thousands
of people were made homeless and scores were killed.
It is against the refugees who have been straining under the
occupation for over 37 years that the Israeli right to self-defence
is recognised. And why are they refugees? Simply because they were,
in 1947-48, driven from their homes in Palestine by the Israelis
intent on cleansing the land of its original owners and creating
A couple of years ago, and when Israeli tanks were destroying a
refugee camp near Jenin in the West Bank, causing unspeakable
devastation, Bush stunned the world then when he referred to Israeli
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as a "man of peace".
But there is nothing unusual here. The United States is totally and
openly committed to Israel. Recently, the president, in blatant
violation of international law, committed himself in writing to full
endorsement of Sharon's plan to consolidate Israeli expansionist
plans in the West Bank, in return for Sharon's promise to leave
Gaza; a promise which was later voted down by Sharon's Likud Party.
In addition, the president decided that the internationally
recognised right of return of the Palestinian refugees since 1948
would be virtually abolished.
With the situation of the occupation forces in Iraq steadily
worsening, and with it the approval ratings of the president and his
Republican Party, the significance of the Jewish vote becomes all
the more obvious. It seems that any one single vote in the current
critical race takes precedence over any other consideration for the
The president and the team advising him seem to be focusing on
securing the short-term policy needs -- winning the elections at any
cost -- while leaving everything else for later. The danger is that
this may not lead to balancing the stumbling nature of the US policy
in this region, and indeed worldwide, an obvious result of only
focusing on the short-term. That is why the war on terror has
failed, the Afghanistan campaign has failed, the Iraqi adventure is
falling apart, the US attempts to improve its image and make more
friends have been totally counterproductive, and the risk of the
president loosing his second term is growing more real.
The problem with the US is that its continued reliance on its power
has been blinding it from seeing what is just, what is right, what
is legal, what is compatible with international law, and what is
also good for the others, especially in a world growing increasingly
No doubt, the president was pleased with the astounding cheers of
the AIPAC crowd when spelling out his unreserved support for Israel
and the Jewish state's "right to defend itself from terror" a week
ago. What might have been overlooked, though, is that claps aside,
millions of Arabs and Muslims around the world were deeply hurt by
the president's injustice. These people know that the president is
distorting history and turning facts upside down. They know that
Israel is not defending itself but that it is engaged in ethnic
cleansing and war crimes against helpless innocent civilian
Palestinian refugees. They know that the Israeli occupation of Gaza
and the West Bank is illegal and unjust, and that it is an Israeli
aggression that has been going on since 1967. If anyone has the
right to defend himself, it is the Palestinian victim and not the
Israeli occupier and attacker. These people ask why the Palestinian
should not dig tunnels and smuggle weapons from anywhere to defend
themselves against one of the strongest and most equipped occupation
forces in the world.
There is no way that this injustice can last. Neither will the
American distortion of the striking realities in the region lead to
anything but more violence and more disasters.
If the Sharon plan to leave Gaza, described by Bush as "historic and
courageous" is true, why the daily incursions in Gaza and the
routine demolition of houses? Why were fourteen innocent
demonstrators, mostly children gunned down by helicopter missiles
last Wednesday, and twenty more killed the day before?
A recent Amnesty International report accused Israel of committing
war crimes by demolishing over 3,000 Palestinian houses since the
Intifada began three and a half years ago.
It is time that the US government and president realise that while
they can say whatever they like about Israel and Iraq without
fearing any adverse consequences, because they are the strongest,
America's image and credibility are sinking deeper and fast.
If that might rescue short-term gains, it will certainly destroy
America's long-term interests in the world.
The writer is former ambassador and permanent representative of
Jordan at the UN. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.
The bulldozer state
By Roger H. Lieberman
The Jordan Times
21 May 2004
The most recent days of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have
been among the most horrific in years -- perhaps the ugliest since
Ariel Sharon's phalanx stormed into West Beirut in September
In the impoverished city of Rafah, in southern Gaza, thousands of
Palestinian houses have been destroyed in the past week and dozens of
innocent Palestinian civilians have been murdered. According to UN
estimates, at least 1,600 people lost their homes. The Gaza Strip,
whose population minus the 7,500 Jewish settlers who monopolise one-
third of the territory has teetered on the precipice of
humanitarian disaster for months, is being raped once more by the
most powerful military force in the Near East.
But where is the outcry from the Western democracies? When Serb
soldiers and paramilitaries massacred Bosnians and Kosovars in the
1990s, the United States and its NATO allies responded with air
strikes. When Saddam Hussein's regime slaughtered Iraq's Kurdish and
Shiite citizens, he quite justly became reviled by Western liberals.
Yet, when Ariel Sharon's thugs brutalise the Arab population of
Palestine, what does he get from Washington? A big, juicy check
for $3 billion or more to help him keep on killing and maiming
innocents! And on those rare instances when he does get a slap on the
wrist from the White House, the sting is promptly soothed with a
sanctimonious Bush sermon about Israel's "right to defend itself"
(occasionally feminised to "defend herself"!)
The Bush administration's deliberate, pathological denial of Israel's
atrocities has permitted the Zionist state to descend to new levels
of depravity in the occupied territories. In a nauseating action
reminiscent of George Orwell's 1984, the Israeli army christened its
new state terror offensive in Gaza "Operation Rainbow"! I do not
believe so grotesquely incongruous a name has been bestowed upon an
act of organised barbarism since Maoist China's "Great Leap
Forward" the campaign of forced collectivisation that resulted in
the deaths of millions in the 1950s.
It is vital that the American people reject the sick propaganda
churned out by the Bush administration and the pro-Israel lobby for
the horse manure that it is. What is happening in Gaza is nothing but
a "scorched earth policy" designed to appease the most violent
members of Sharon's constituency, who rejected his two-
faced "disengagement plan" in the recent referendum.
Throughout history, vicious occupying powers have always sought to
make any territory they relinquish unliveable for its inhabitants
after their armies withdraw. The world witnessed this ugly phenomenon
quite recently, in 1999, when East Timor was set aflame by
Indonesia's fascist militias, following a UN referendum on Timorese
independence. Israel itself carried out a scorched earth policy in
the Syrian Golan Heights in 1974, when it systematically levelled the
city of Quneitra after agreeing to withdraw under the auspices of the
What has made all such actions possible throughout history has been
the refusal on the part of the aggressors to recognise the humanity
of their victims. That is the essence of the "bulldozer mentality"
a moral blindness that permits those possessed by it to plough
tempestuously through a country, without one iota of consideration
and respect for those who already call that country home. It was the
bulldozer mentality that allowed the Zionists of the early 20th
century to proclaim Palestine "a land without people, for a people
without land", and allowed Golda Meir, in 1969, to proclaim
that "there are no Palestinians". It is a kindred form of denial that
allows so many Americans, from Senator John Kerry to pop diva Whitney
Houston, to go gaga over Israeli "democracy" a term that grows more
Kafkaesque with each passing week. Their woeful ignorance of post-
Biblical Palestinian history permits them to treat the land as a
blank canvas on which they may paint their misguided fantasies.
At this juncture, it is admittedly very difficult for an honest
person to know where the best path to lasting peace in Israel-
Palestine lies. On the one hand, Sharon's campaigns of destruction
and George W. Bush's unforgivable endorsements of "Greater Israel"
have negated any remaining husk of a possibility for a viable two-
state settlement. On the other hand, however, it is undeniably very
hard to envision two peoples as estranged and alienated from each
other as Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs are now forming a
successful single, secular state in the near future. But, perhaps, we
should sidestep this political briar patch for now, and instead focus
on what is essential for a peaceful future, irrespective of lines on
the map: creating a climate of mutual understanding and recognition
of the humanity of one's neighbours.
One of the most inspiring initiatives undertaken to achieve this end
was conceived several years ago through the creative partnership of
Israeli musician Daniel Barrenboim, and the Palestinian-American
scholar, Dr Edward Said. Their foundation has brought together dozens
of talented young Israeli, Palestinian, and Arab musicians and
created a shining example of how shared love of learning can conquer
prejudice and ignorance of the "other". Recently, Barrenboim
conducted a concert in Ramallah on the West Bank, as a moving tribute
to his friend, Professor Said. He announced plans to create a
Palestinian National Orchestra within five years, and has pledged to
donate the monies of the prize recently awarded him by the Wolf
Foundation to support this cause.
What an inspiration to all of us, especially to the peoples of the
Middle East! The spirit of neighbourliness embodied in the work of
Daniel Barrenboim and Edward Said could do much more to further the
cause of Israeli-Palestinian peace than a thousand Camp David summits
and photogenic handshakes between diplomats. If it could be emulated
throughout the region, it would bring about a transformation of
hearts and minds more wondrous and beautiful than any vision
of the prophets.
The writer is graduate of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New
Jersey, with a bachelor's degree in geology. He contributed this
article to The Jordan Times.
They must pay the price
By Gideon Levy
23 May 2004
On a day when bodies of children were being stuffed into a big
refrigerator used to store potatoes, and when thousands of
homeless people were fleeing for their lives (some of them
refugees rendered homeless for the second or third time), life in
Israel went on as usual, as though what was happening in Rafah
was not being done in the name of the country's citizens. Such
apathy renders all of us responsible - and yet there are some who
bear a heavier burden of responsibility. In a climate less lax
than the one which has gripped Israel in recent years, they would
When Ariel Sharon was found guilty of indirect responsibility for
the massacre in Sabra and Chatila, he was denounced by wide
sectors of Israel's public. Demonstrators denounced him as a
"murderer," and some of his personal friends turned their backs
on him and cut off relations with him. Like his predecessor Moshe
Dayan after the Yom Kippur War, during the Lebanon War, Sharon
was ostracized. Nobody thought to fete and honor him. For his
part in the killing of Israelis and Palestinians in Lebanon, he
paid a heavy personal price, beyond his removal from the post of
Some 22 years later, Sharon again bears direct responsibility for
bloodshed, but this time nobody considers ostracizing him. He
continues to be perceived as a sympathetic figure, one who enjoys
an image as a friendly farmer and grandfather. Whatever he does,
he does not encounter a hostile public. Benjamin Netanyahu, who
caused far less serious damage to Israel and the cause of peace,
is the scourge who is loathed by the left.
Nor have the two other architects of the bloody IDF operation in
Rafah and of the brutal policies in the territories in general -
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon
- paid a personal price for their acts. On the contrary: last
week, Mofaz received an honorary doctorate from Bar-Ilan
University; a few days before that, he was the guest of honor at
the annual Israel Bar Association conference in Eilat. Why,
exactly, was an honorary doctorate conferred on Mofaz? Why did
lawyers pay tribute to a figure whose actions are deeply
problematic in moral and legal terms?
As the heads of Bar-Ilan University and of the bar association
(two bodies whose acts exert a normative influence in Israel's
society) see it, the fact that Mofaz serves as defense minister
is enough to warrant the conferral of honors on him, no matter
what he actually does. Sharon has also received two honorary
doctorates - from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (a few
lecturers raised their voices in protest) and from Bar-Ilan.
In past years, these three generals - Sharon, Mofaz and Ya'alon -
have been responsible for a long list of despicable acts. At the
end of last week, Haidar Hasuna told an investigator from
B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the
Occupied Territories, about bulldozers that began to demolish his
home in the besieged Tel Sultan neighborhood in Rafah, when he
was sitting with his wife and children in their living room. When
he tried to leave the house, he was floored by tank fire.
Miraculously, the family survived.
Members of the Mantsur family from the Brazil neighborhood told
Haaretz's Amira Hass how they fled barefoot from their home as
the IDF began to demolish it. A few months before this incident,
a pregnant woman was killed during similar house demolition
circumstances in the El Bureij refugee camp, in plain view of her
children. Somebody is responsible.
The mass demolition of innocent civilians' houses in Rafah is
considered a war crime under criteria accepted around the world -
despite the fact that the High Court has given the demolitions
its typical stamp of approval. And this crime is no orphan; it
has parents. And these parents must no longer be indulged. It's
wrong to continue to blame the errant tank shell, and the tunnels
and the terrorists themselves, for every lethal blunder committed
by the IDF.
The virtual imprisonment of the Palestinian people, the
prevention of medical care, the mass arrests, the assassinations,
the needless killing, the bombing of residential neighborhoods -
the prime minister, the defense minister, the IDF chief of staff
and other top officers all bear responsibility for such acts.
They should pay a price for their acts, at least in the
public-social spheres. The time has come, at last, for Mofaz to
feel the heat of public pressure, for Ya'alon to experience what
it's like to be denounced and for him to display some sense of
shame, and for senior IDF officers to worry about their public
futures. Anyone who thinks Israel is committing crimes against
the Palestinian people must demand that those responsible for the
crimes pay a price.
Who really smuggled weapons to Rafah?
Arjan El Fassed, The Electronic Intifada, 20 May 2004
Israel's ongoing assault on human lives and property, killing
civilians and demolishing homes is, according to Israeli
spokespersons, "aimed at preventing a huge shipment of arms from
being smuggled". According to Israeli spokespersons, Israel
launched "Operation Rainbow", its largest military raid on Palestinian
civilians since "Operation Defensive Shield", in a bid "to rid the
border zone of its tunnels and capture the militants using them."
The past four days, Israeli forces have killed 39 Palestinians. Its
military assault on Palestinians in Rafah includes extensive house
demolitions along the so-called "Philadelphi route" that runs along
What no one asks, however, is the question who supplies Israel's
military occupation of Gaza, a strip of land, slightly more than
twice the size of Washington DC, housing at least 1.2 million
Palestinians and 6,000 Israeli settlers. It is not hard to guess that
the U.S. administration is the largest supplier of arms and aid to
Israel. The common figure given for U.S. aid to Israel is $3 billion
per year$1.2 billion in economic aid and $1.8 billion in military
aid, representing about one-sixth of total U.S. foreign aid. Israel is
one of the U.S.' largest arms importers.
In the last decade, the U.S. has sold Israel $ 7.2 billion in
weaponry and military equipment, $762 million through Direct
Commercial Sales (DCS), more than $6.5 billion through the Foreign
Military Financing (FMF) program. In fact, Israel is so devoted to
U.S. military hardware that it has the world's largest fleet of F-16s
outside the U.S., currently possessing more than 200 jets. The
U.S. also gives Israel weapons and ammunition as part of the Excess
Defense Articles (EDA) program, providing these articles completely
free of charge. Examples of U.S. weaponry being used by the Israeli
army against Palestinian civilians and their property are AH-64
Apache and Cobra attack helicopters, missiles and other heavy arms.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan called the Israel's assault on
Rafah "troubling" and said: "The Israelis have told us they will make
every effort to minimize the impact on Palestinians not involved in
acts of terrorism or arms smuggling." While he had learned that U.S.
delivered Apache helicopters fired missiles in a peaceful
demonstration, he said: "We understand their explanation but we still
find the violence troubling."
Israel not only uses arms transferred from the U.S., despite
restrictive policies on arms exports to states that violate human
rights, Israel also uses arms being transferred and exported from the
A week ago, on May 14, Amnesty International reported that EU arms,
security equipment and services are contributing to grave human
rights abuses and that the scale of potential abuse is now enormous.
The major EU arms exporting countries - France, Germany, Italy,
Sweden and the United Kingdom - account for one third of the world's
arms deals. In its report, Undermining Global Security: the European
Union's arms exports, Amnesty International highlights serious flaws
in the European Union's key arms control agreements, especially the
1998 EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports.
Today France is one of Israel's main suppliers after the US and
Germany. According to SIPRI, France exported major conventional
weapons worth $50m to Israel between 1996 and 2000. This included a
delivery of seven AS-565SA Panther helicopters between 1996 and 1998
which were ordered through and partly funded by the US.
According to figures from SIPRI, Germany supplied Israel with major
conventional weaponry worth $765m between 1996 and 2000. In 2000
alone, the last year for which figures are available, Germany sold
about $170m in military equipment, including parts for tanks and
armoured cars. This included key parts for the Israeli Merkava tank,
which are currently being used in Rafah. Israel is Germany's seventh
largest military client.
The US Data Device Corporation (DDC), which has production facilities
in Cork, Ireland (DDC Ireland Ltd) states on its website that its MIL-
STD-1553 Data Bus products are used in the AH-64 Apache Attack
Helicopters. Its MIL-STD-1553 data bus, the life line of the
aircraft, include a lethal array of armaments, including a mix of up
to 16 Hellfire missiles or 76 70mm aerial rockets and 1,200 rounds of
30mm ammunition for its M230 Chain Gun automatic canon.
A large part of Dutch exports are components for incorporation into
larger weapon systems, mainly to be assembled in the U.S. which, in
turn, is the major supplier of arms to Israel. In compensation orders
Dutch companies are involved producing components for Apache attack
helicopters and F-16 fighter planes to the U.S.. In general is not
announced who the end-user of these aircrafts will be. In 2001
transfers of components were worth EURO 87 million. The Dutch
company Stork Special Products produces components for Hellfire
rockets, which are frequently used by the Israeli airforce in extra-
judicial executions and to shell Palestinian residential areas. The
missile is produced by Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman
and a number of subcontractors and exported to thirteen countries,
At least one Dutch company is open about the end-user of its
products, on its ethical policy page: "In principle, Philips
companies do not produce products or render services specially
designed or developed for the military, except for the following
products: F16 parts and Apache parts supplied to NATO countries and
Israel (under compensation agreements US/Netherlands)." Eventhough
information on end-users remains largely secret, Philips announced
that its components are incorporated into Apaches that are in action
in Israel. Additionally, in 2002 the Netherlands granted Israel
export licences worth 1.46 million euros, approximately half of the
licensed Dutch transit trade. The licences were granted for goods
under the category A2, which are those connected with armoured
vehicles. This is despite the consistent reporting by human rights
organisations of the misuse of such equipment by the Israeli security
forces. Since 22 August 2002, the Dutch Central Service Import and
Export received 24 "notifications" to transit small arms and light
weapons from Israeli Airways for shipments originating in the United
States with destination Israel.
The United Kingdom
The UK has sold Israel equipment and components for tanks, combat
aircraft, combat helicopters, missiles, ammunition, mines, machine
guns, tear gas, and electronic equipment for military use. UK
companies with known connections with Israel include: the
Airtechnology Group, which supplies parts to IMI for the Merkava
tank, BAE Systems, which has provided head-up displays for US-built
F16s214 and whose subsidiary Rokar International is the current sole-
source supplier of counter-measure dispensing systems for the Israeli
airforce, and Smiths Group which has supplied missile triggering
systems for Apache helicopters.
Israeli Merkava tanks had been equipped with a cooling system made by
the Surrey-based Airtechnology Group, and UK components, including
missile trigger systems made by Smiths Group, are used in US-made
Apache helicopters supplied to Israel, both in action killing and
injuring Palestinian civilians in Rafah.
In March 2002, Junior UK Foreign Office Minister, Ben Bradshaw,
disclosed that the Israeli armed forces had modified UK Centurion
tanks, exported between 1958 and 1970, and were using them as
armoured personnel carriers. He stated that this contradicted a
written assurance from the Israeli government on 29 November 2000
that "no UK-originated equipment nor any UK-originated systems/ sub
systems /components are used as part of the defence force's
activities in the territories". The UK government has continued to
supply arms and equipment to the Israeli security forces. Such
transfers continue despite reports that generic types of such
equipment have been used by the Israeli security forces in Rafah to
commit human rights violations and breaches of international
The European Union: What Code of Conduct?
The situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories
should be foremost on the minds of European officials when they carry
out their reviews of the EU Code of Conduct for Arms Exports. The
code was adopted in 1998 with the aim of "setting high common
standards" over arms exports. Criteria include respect of human
rights in the country of final destination; in particular, member
states will "not issue an export license if there is a clear risk that
the proposed export might be used for internal repression",
including, inter alia, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading
treatment or punishment, summary or arbitrary executions, arbitrary
detentions and other major violations of human rights and fundamental
freedoms as set out in relevant international human rights
Human rights organisations and various bodies of the United Nations
have documented such major violations of human rights and fundamental
freedoms in the case of Israel. Other criteria include the existence
of tensions or armed conflicts, and whether there is a clear risk
that the intended recipient would use the proposed export
aggressively against another country or to assert by force a
territorial claim. Political and military experts can provide the
necessary assessment that, indeed, Israel would fail the test on this
item. Moreover, an assessment includes "the behavior of the buyer
country with regard to the international community", in particular
with regard to respect for international law, "its compliance with
its international commitments, in particular the non-use of force,
including under international humanitarian law applicable to
international and non-international conflicts".
The world has seen and condemned Israel's human rights record. The
transfer of arms to Israel is inconsistent with the criteria provided
in the EU Code of Conduct. Export licenses should therefore be
refused. Taking into account the volume and gravity of human rights
violations and breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention, including
acts of war crimes, that have been documented by various human rights
organisations and United Nations bodies, and the volume of Israeli
forces and military equipment stationed in the occupied Palestinian
territories, and since there is no common system of monitoring the
end-use of European arms by the Israeli forces in the Palestinian
territories, only a full arms embargo will prevent European arms from
being used to commit war crimes and other human rights abuses. The
European Union, therefore, should renew its arms embargo against
Israel, which it lifted in 1994.
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