Civilian Levers

Years ago, the Israeli cabinet openly admitted that it was making the blockade more severe to use “civilian levers” to pressure Gazans against Hamas. This was reported in an article in Haaretz, which censors its reports, and often doesn’t translate Israeli stories that paint the government or military in too bad a light. This is one such instance: the reference to “civilian levers” being used was removed, although as you can see, a comment specifically referred to this phrase.

I referred to this about a year and a half later in a letter to the Jewish News (either 31/01/08 or 1/02/08)

ISRAELI PROPAGANDA

MR Buxton praises Greg Sheridan’s attempt at “correcting the widespread media imbalance in reporting about Israel” (AJN 25/01). He gives as a moderately representative example of this “correction” Sheridan’s claim that “a few years ago… terrorists were murdering 1500 of its citizens a year”. In fact, turning to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, we learn that 1030 Israelis – 325 of them soldiers – were killed from 2000 to the end of 2007. During this period, 4437 Palestinians were killed, including 867 children. According to B’Tselem, of the total killed, 2061 Palestinians were not taking part in hostilities, and the circumstances of the deaths of another 840 Palestinians killed are indeterminate.
Consequently, we learn that what are called “corrections” to “media imbalance” are euphemisms for propaganda and lies on behalf of Israeli atrocities. I would remind readers that the cabinet, in approving further sanctions on Gaza, unanimously supported using “civilian levers”. The criminal effect on Gaza’s electricity, water, sewage treatment and more, for hundreds of thousands of human beings, is being documented by the Red Cross, the UN, Oxfam, Ha’aretz and more. However, I suppose covering this would presumably show the media to be biased, as it might interfere with Israel’s sacred right to commit crimes against the Palestinians.

No one objected, perhaps the reference was still up. Now it has been removed. But the evidence it was there remains: take the Christian Science Monitor.

Haaretz, a leading left-leaning Israeli daily, said the designation of Gaza as an enemy territory is part of new Israeli measures designed to create hardship in Gaza that might lead average citizens to turn against Hamas. Israel said it would disrupt power and fuel supplies, but would not cut off water.

The security cabinet unanimously approved a number of sanctions to be imposed on the Gaza Strip should the rocket fire on southern Israel continue. The steps are designed to create “civilian levers” that will pressure Gaza’s Hamas rulers to bring the rocket fire to a halt.

“The objective is to weaken Hamas,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said during the meeting, according to one participant.

Barak also said that Israel is moving closer to a large-scale military operation in Gaza. “Every day that passes brings us closer to an operation in Gaza,” Barak was quoted as saying. He said an array of options would be considered before a major invasion. [Emphasis added]

Or as progressive Zionist blogger Richard Silverstein wrote,

Depredations on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have verged into outright violations of international law. And Israel’s security cabinet declared itself ready as an entire government to violate the norms of international conduct by turning off power and fuel to Hamas-ruled Gaza:

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s security cabinet on Wednesday voted to declare the Gaza Strip a “hostile territory,” approving among other things the disruption of power and fuel supplies to the Strip, as a response to the ongoing Qassam rocket fire at Israeli communities.

The ministers decided, however, not to disrupt Gaza’s water supply.

The security cabinet unanimously approved a number of sanctions to be imposed on the Gaza Strip should the rocket fire on southern Israel continue. The steps are designed to create “civilian levers” that will pressure Gaza’s Hamas rulers to bring the rocket fire to a halt.

A statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office after the meeting said that Hamas bore responsibility for the “hostile activity” emanating from the territory where the Islamic movement had seized power in June.

“Hamas is a terrorist organization that has taken control of the Gaza Strip and turned it into hostile territory,” the statement said. “This organization engages in hostile activity against the State of Israel and its citizens and bears responsibility for this activity.”

“The objective is to weaken Hamas,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said during the meeting, according to one participant.

These are the facts, openly reported in Israeli media. They just aren’t meant for international audiences.

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