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Wed

07

Jan

2009

A Repeat of Sabra-Shatila?
Wednesday, 07 January 2009 05:36
by Tom Chartier

In a humanitarian gesture, if you can call it that, Israel was benevolent enough to allow Palestinian civilians out of the Gaza War Zone as a New Year’s present. How nice. Is my cynicism showing? It should be.

The catch was that freed civilians had to be holders of foreign passports. That limited the number of civilians allowed to escape the coming carnage to somewhere between 300 and 450 people. It’s a nice publicity stunt. However, that’s not a very high percentage of civilians out of a population of 1.5 million. These were mostly women and their children… but not their Palestinian husbands.

I’m sorry but I do not sense any humanitarian sincerity in this gesture by Israel. Males are fair game, and that includes boys. It matters little to the IDF and the Israeli ruling elite if they are actual Hamas guerillas. All males are potential Hamas guerillas. How to tell the difference? That’s easy. If they get killed they are militants. If they survive, they are future militants to be dealt with later.

Certainly any male youths left behind who survive this IDF onslaught have less than a zero chance of becoming successful businessmen, farmers, doctors, lawyers, teachers… you name it. The siege of Gaza shall continue regardless of the outcome of Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s name for their current all out war. Embittered, imprisoned and with all hope crushed there will be little choice for today’s Gazan youth but to turn to militancy. And after all, what else will they know but hatred and warfare?

According to Israeli Prime Minister:

“We will treat the population with silk gloves, but will apply an iron fist to Hamas.” Iron fist eh? Where have I heard that before?


Since when the benevolent change? Ever since the Hamas democratic victories, official Israeli policy has been to collectively punishing the entire 1.5 million people of Gaza. In fact, treating any Arab civilian population with “silk gloves” has been an alien concept to Israel’s leaders throughout Israel’s history, right from the ethnic cleansing of al-Nakba in 1948 to today.

The civilian population of Southern Lebanon was not treated with “silk gloves” during the 2006 war with Hezbollah. In that military debacle more civilians died than any actual “terrorists.” Is the use of cluster bombs a discriminating method of treating civilians with “silk gloves?”


Or let’s recall the 1996 Qana Massacre in Southern Lebanon. Targeted by the IDF was not a Hezbollah enclave of rockets and guerilla fighters but a refugee camp. The Qana camp was even under the protection and operation of a Fijian unit of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Hundreds died, all civilians, all deliberately targeted.

As one IDF sergeant stated in the Israeli weekly Kol Ha’ir:

“It’s just a bunch of Arabs. Why are you taking it so hard?”


Most notorious of Israel’s various “silk glove” operations on civilians was the Sabra-Shatila Massacre of 1982 in Beirut. Arafat’s PLO had been defeated and crushed. The men were escorted out of Beirut under UN protection and shipped off to their own Diaspora throughout the Arab world. Wives, children and the elderly were left behind under guaranteed protection of UN peacekeeping forces, the U.S., France and Italy. However, with the PLO enemy safely removed, the UN forces left. Two days later Ariel Sharon declared that there were 2,000 PLO “terrorists” remaining in the camps. Clever devil war hero Sharon was, the IDF chose not to do the killing themselves. Instead they put the camps under siege and turned the Christian Phalange forces seeking revenge for the assassination of Phalange leader and President Bashir Gemayel lose on the refugees in the camps.

Two and a half days of slaughter ensued. The death toll is impossible to count. Many males were led away, never to be seen again. Many of the dead were bulldozed into hastily dug open grave and covered up. Today, human remains are still being discovered. A reasonable estimate places the murdered at around 2,000. Some sources claim it was less. More likely, it may have been nearly double.

Either way, the Palestinian refugees of Sabra-Shatila were not treated with “silk gloves.”

Sunday, as anticipated, IDF ground forces moved into Gaza. Israeli Capt. Benjamin Rutland stated: “We do expect casualties… This is a real war.” I assume he was referring to Israeli casualties, not Palestinian civilian casualties.

I expect the Palestinian civilian casualties to be shockingly high when this is over. This time the IDF will have to do its own killing. The result is likely to completely obscure the Sabra-Shatila Massacre for horrors and war crimes.
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