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Ceasefire On Paper, Fire On The Ground - August 12

Ceasefire On Paper, Fire On The Ground

TOI-Billboard, August 12, 2006

--The Other Israel's weekly comment
--Overview of this week's Occupation Magazine's daily picks attached

So, it goes on.

For the past week and more we had lived under the illusion that when the UN Security Council solemnly resolves to cease the fire, the fire will indeed cease. The media certainly helped create this feeling, reporting extensively and minutely on the the ups and downs of the negotiations between the French and the Americans. And when on Friday the news from New York told of an approaching breakthrough, commentators started talking of the war as if it already were a thing of the past. And a great variety of nationalists and demagogues started crying and howling over "the surrender" and "the betrayal".

They could have saved their breath. Olmert and his Defence Minister Amir Peretz heard last night's news from New York while closeted in the Army's Supreme Headquarters, with the generals making the final preparations for what seems the biggest ground offensive in this war. And after midnight the headlines on the internet websites seemed taken directly from Orwell: "Government to approve UN Ceasefire resolution, major ground offensive into Lebanon goes ahead on schedule".

Looking carefully at the text approved at that hallowed hall of international diplomacy, things become a bit clearer. For the framers of that new UN Security Council Resolution, 1701 (a number which we will undoubtedly hear quoted ad nauseam in the coming weeks and months) - have left a loophole in their "cessation of hostilities". Or rather a gaping opening wide enough to allow the passage of hundreds of tanks and fighter airplanes and tens of thousands of soldiers, the full four divisions reported to be now charging northwards.

The fifteen members of the Security Council have solemnly and unanimously determined that "the situation in Lebanon constitutes a threat to international peace and security" and therefore called for "the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations". However, as anybody knows who had ever attended a lesson in Basic Civics at a Tel-Aviv elementary school, the Israeli Defence Forces never have and never will conduct any offensive military operation. Each and every one of their operations, in this war as in its predecessors, is purely defensive and is conducted solely in order to defend a peace-loving population against unprovoked aggression, for which reason the IDF coat of arms is the Sword and Olive Branch, and third grade pupils are required to paste that coat of arms in their copybooks and write under it the caption "our army hates war and wants only peace".

So, it continues. The number of Israeli soldiers in Lebanon has tripled in the past twenty-four hours, according to Chief of Staff Halutz, all of course involved in the purely defensive race to conquer all the territory up to the Litani River, which the generals expect to take "four days to a week" and then involve "several weeks of mopping up" (not that the army was very effective in "mopping up" the limited parts of Lebanon which it already invaded two and three weeks ago). So far, at least 19 people are reported killed since the diplomats affixed their signatures to that solemn document, and a Lebanese contact just informed us that the villages east of Saida, left untouched since the war broke out, had today gotten a lethal "visit" from the Israeli Air Force.

And so, we must continue as well. A few hours from now, there will be hundreds of us answering the call of Yesh Gvul to climb the hill overlooking Military Prison 6 at Atlit, shouting words of greetings and solidarity and warm support into the plainly visible prison courtyard - to the five soldiers who preferred imprisonment over participation in the Lebanese folly and madness, and also for their fellow-prisoners and guards. Climbing that hill is a tradition dating back to the First Lebanon War, a tradition which it seems we need to revive, like so much else.

At least, the stifling atmosphere of "national unity" which characterized the past weeks seems to have decisively dissipated. "The Big Three" of Israeli literature - "Amos Oz, A.B. Yehoshua and David Grossman - have come out against the war, three weeks after they had endorsed it in public. (Some 60 younger authors, who opposed the war from the first minute, had been constantly snapping at these three's heels). Also, the magnitude of the Lebanon invasion and its similarity to the fiasco of 1982 (except that the guerrillas now seem much better organized and armed...) at last nudged mainstream groups such as Peace Now and the Meretz Party out of their complacency and the "support from the left" which many of their leaders gave to this vicious war on its inception. On Thursday they were in their hundreds in front of the Ministry of Defence, with big signs reading "There is No Military Solution!", and cracks start to appear in the Labor Party support for the mad careering of Party Leader and Defence Minister Amir Peretz - once a staunch dove and militant trade unionist, now the the most hawkish of hawks.

As things stand, it seems that all of us - radicals and moderates, those who opposed the madness from its inception and the latecomers - will still have to go and protest again and again. And meanwhile, the occupation and oppression of the Palestinians are still there, to any who tended to forget. Yesterday afternoon, the weekly anti-Wall procession at Bil'in was viciously attacked by the army and Border Guard troops. Limor, a young Israeli activist, was hit in the head by one of the misnamed "rubber bullets" - which is actually made of metal. After emergency surgery at Tel-Hashomer hospital, he is now under medically induced coma, and only when he wakes up will it be possible to asses the permanent damage. Due to Lebanon, the case got very meagre media attention; updates will appear on the International Solidarity Movement website

Occupation Magazine (articles and action news, look at it daily - includes a useful archive)

ISM website
(informing especially about joint Palestinian-Israeli-international anti-Wall struggle in the villages)

Robert Rosenberg's summary of "peace" issues in the Israeli media (on workdays) (a variety of papers, followed dayly by Shadi Fadda) (Palestinian press agency, including own research) (Palestinian on-line News agency that publishes news and articles in English from it's own as well as other sources, including from the Hebrew press)

TOI-Billboard is the 'ezine' of the independent THE OTHER ISRAEL bi-monthly peace newsletter, existing since 1983, and published by its editors Adam Keller & Beate Zilversmidt.

NB: The Other Israel May issue is now online with a selection of the articles:

For a one time hard-copy (free sample), send your address to:,
US addresses to:

Visit also the archive under construction of issues since 1994
If you got this forwarded and want to subscribe,

THE OTHER ISRAEL pob 2542, Holon 58125, Israel
ph/fx: +972-3-5565804 -

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